Thursday, 30 September 2010

Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow Showdown: The Balm vs Benefit

Disclosure: the Balm eyeshadow was a PR sample, and the Benefit eyeshadow I swapped for myself.

Ah, cream shadows.  Beloved by many, and hated by those of us with oily lids, there have been a fair few released recently bearing the "creaseless" moniker.  The Balm's slightly daftly named Batter Up Creaseless Cream shadow is the latest brand to take on the cult favourite that is Benefit's Creaseless Cream shadow.  But how do they compare?  Which one is better?  Read on to find out more.


There's no doubt that these two products are very similar.  Both come in screw top jars, with a glass bottom holding the product itself.  Both jars are weighty, and both look like you're getting more product than you actually are, due to the lids being rather deep and the actual jar being deceptively small.

Both products are pretty, with simple printed sticky labels atop the screwtop container.  The Benefit one is the prettier, in my view, as I quite like the simple and elegant design of birds, whereas the rather random baseball silhouette on the Balm product just confounds me.  What does baseball have to do with eyeshadow?

Left to right: Benefit Creaseless Cream in Gossip;
 the Balm Batter Up Creaseless Cream in Grand Slam Pam
 Shade Range

Swatched, these two shades both apply smoothly and fully opaque, although you could sheer them down if you wanted to.  The Benefit offering is slightly less obviously metallic and shimmery than the Balm.  Benefit offer a grand total of up to 21 shades, including limited editions, from dramatic to neutral.  The Balm's shade range is much smaller at present: just four shades, all of which are on the more neutral side of the colour spectrum.  That said, they might well introduce more shades in the future, if the product becomes successful.

Personally, of the two purple shades I've swatched above, I prefer the slightly deeper, richer the Balm shade.


I've been testing out these cream shadows with a firm bristled synthetic brush; firstly loading up the brush by dabbing or swirling it over the product, and then stroking it onto my eyelid and blending out the edges.  Both products apply relatively smoothly and quickly, although the Balm eyeshadow sets faster, leading to a few slightly clumsy looking edges in the application.

The photo above shows one pass over the eyelid with a fairly well loaded brush.  Using less product will result in a sheerer application, and both products claim to be easily layered for a more intense effect.  For me, this is enough - I look to cream shadows for that slight sheen you get on the lid, rather than the intensity of pigment.

While the Benefit eyeshadow feels as if you've got nothing on your lids, the Balm shadow wears with a slightly strange feeling on the lid, almost as if it's drying down further and shrinking on the lid.  Twice I've felt like it's pulling on my lids, which has been a very disconcerting feeling!


So, the big question: how creaseless are these creaseless shadows?  From the photos above, taken after about 6 hours wear, it's pretty clear that the Balm shadow has not fared very well.  It's creased badly, and looks pretty terrible on my eyelid.  The Benefit shadow, however, hasn't really creased too much per se - but the undefeatable oiliness of my eyelids has diluted and dulled the shadow such that there's very little left.  It doesn't look anywhere near as terrible as the Balm offering though!


Thanks to my oily lids, neither of these shadows is going to find their way into my heart.  The after photos are taken after just six hours of wear; I usually expect my eyeshadow to look good after a fourteen hour day, and neither of these products would cut it for that long.  Of the two, the Benefit Creaseless Cream shadow has the best wear, the best application, and lacks the strange shrinking feeling I experienced with the Balm Batter Up Creaseless Cream shadow.

Price wise, the Benefit product costs £14, and the Balm product costs £18.  If you're lucky enough to have eyelids less oily than mine, you'll probably fare well with either of these, but if you want blendability, a good colour range, and consistent wear, the Benefit Creaseless Cream shadow is the one to go for.

What do you think?  Love cream shadows?  Tried either of these?

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Review - Benefit Erase Paste in No. 1 (Fair)

I wouldn't have purchased this, if it hadn't been used on me to great effect by makeup artist supremo Katy Messer when she made me over a couple of months back. We discussed how surprised we'd been to discover that underneath all the over-pushy sales patter, Benefit had some really genuinely excellent products. Katy rates Erase Paste among them, and I was glad to take her advice.

At £18.50 for a 5ml jar, it's not cheap, and my first experience of it (overapplied by an SA in a Benefit store) was not good. But I've since found a place in my heart for Erase Paste, a thick and creamy concealer that sells itself as "brightening camouflage for eyes and face".

What sets it apart from its counterparts is its consistency. Where other concealers tend to be slightly chalky and highlight dry patches on the skin, Erase Paste has a thick emollient texture that feels more like a balm or face cream than a makeup product. The shades tend to run cool (despite the yellow appearance of the swatch above, IRL the No. 1 Fair shade is quite pink toned). Coverage is very good, and despite the oily/greasy texture I haven't had any particular problems with this moving around or settling in lines.

A glance at the ingredient list on the box explains the texture thing right away. Top of the list, two effective moisturising ingredients - one natural (Lanolin - from sheep), and one mineral (petrolatum, close relative of the much-maligned Mineral Oil). There are also additional oils, waxes and a bit of Vitamin E in there.

The presence of Petrolatum (Vaseline to you and me) makes me very hesitant to use this for covering blemishes. It's an effective occlusive moisturiser, which means that it creates a barrier over the skin and to my mind that's not something you want where pores are already clogged and inflamed.

However, for undereye concealing and general skintone-evening, I think this product is a great choice, providing you can find a suitable shade (always an issue with Benefit - there are a grand total of three colours to choose from.) It's definitely something I'll be reaching for more as the cold weather dries my skin in the coming months.

Erase Paste is £18.50 and is widely available. As usual, I suggest purchasing from Boots to get the Advantage Card points.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Deal Alert! Seche Vite on 3 for 2 at Boots!

Annoyingly, Boots' website doesn't sell the all-important Seche Vite topcoat, only the less-famous Seche nailcare products. But if you can find it in a local branch, this is a great chance to stock up on the miracle fast-dry topcoat that nail-bloggers and manicurists swear by. It's £8.95 a bottle but I promise it's totally worth it.

The offer's on now at selected branches of Boots and is valid on all Seche. I'm afraid I can't tell you when it runs until as I only stumbled across it by accident while shopping!

Monday, 27 September 2010

NOTD: Lippmann Happy Birthday (again)

I know, I'm boring, and I've posted this already.  But seriously, I love it so much I'm posting again - particularly as Happy Birthday will shortly be coming to the UK alongside the rest of the gorgeously unique polishes in Deborah Lippmann's range, via House of Fraser's Apothecary.

Simply gorgeous.  This is one coat of Happy Birthday, which is made up of multi-coloured, differently sized foil particles in clear polish, applied over the top of two coats of Diamond Cosmetics Midnight Blue.  Yes, it was a pain to remove, but well worth it, particularly if you love the glitter.

A Little Reminder: WIN L'Occitane Goodies!

If you've not already entered our competition to win two products from the newest addition to French brand L'Occitane's skincare stable, there's still a week to enter!  It's ridiculously simple: simply follow the blog and make up a name for your own anti ageing product.

Don't miss out!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

NOTD - Illamasqua Viridian

Another day, another blue-green iridescent polish that's impossible to adequately depict.

Illamasqua Viridian is part of the new Art of Darkness collection. I was totally smitten with it at the Illamasqua blogger event last week, so much so that I went back to the new Beak St store yesterday and bought it.

Such. A. Good. Decision.

Simply put, I love this. It's a blue-green shimmer on a dark base, and in that respect it's similar to the Barbara Daly Aqua Shimmer I showed you the other day. However Viridian's base is darker and it leans more towards a bottle green colour rather than teal. It's almost exactly the kind of duochrome colour you can see on a Lebia viridis beetle (possibly the very beetle on the collection's specially-designed packaging). I've tried here to capture some of its shimmery multi-faceted properties, but the pictures show only a fraction of the vivid colour.

This is two coats. The polish is slightly draggy on application but coverage is very good. I've only been wearing it a few hours, so I can't comment on wear, but to be honest I think I would recommend this just as highly even if it peeled off after a day, just because of the breathtaking colour.

Not cheap at £13 for 15ml, but I defy you not to fall in love with this regardless.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Review: Bare Escentuals Flawless Definition Volumising Mascara

Disclosure: PR sample

Lashes so big when you blink the earth quakes.
Lashes so full of volume they brush up against your neighbour

With promises like that, Bare Escentuals new mascara, Flawless Definition Volumising Mascara, has a lot to live up to.  I love a good volumising mascara: with my thin, spindly lashes, I always go for volume over length. 

So, aside from earth quakes and neighbourly fondling, what does this latest mascara promise?  Definition, as is obvious from the very wordy name, and also softness - Bare Escentuals promise that due to the inclusion of minerals, antioxidants and extracts, the lashes will be left soft and fluttery instead of brittle with product.

The photos above show you the extent of the volumising, and it is indeed impressive.  This is two coats - and while the large brush does take some careful wielding to ensure a perfectly defined, clump free application, the end results are definitely fulfilling my volumising expectations.  The promised softness and flutteriness was definitely there; my lashes didn't feel brittle at all.

The mascara lasted pretty well - at the end of a twelve hour day, I saw a few flakes underneath my eyes, but nothing major.  Although the pigmentation is plenty black and deep, I also have no trouble getting this mascara off my lashes, and one pass with my cleansing oil was enough to remove it completely, which is a definite bonus.

All in all, this is a good volumising mascara - worth trying if you particularly like having soft lashes, or can't stand brittleness.  If you don't like large brushes, though, this is best avoided - having been away from big brush mascaras for a while, I did find the brush a little on the unwieldy side!  

If you'd like to try this for yourself, you can get it from Bare Escentuals stockists and at the Bare Escentuals site from October, and it will cost you £15.  And don't worry - you won't really be generating earthquakes!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Review: Philosophy Supernatural Mineral Blush + Bronzer

Disclosure: PR sample

I'm on a bit of a blush kick at the moment.  After years of being mostly interested in eyeshadow and lipstick, I've finally come to see just how pretty a sweep of blush can be.  And this new Philosophy blush and bronzer certainly is pretty.  Part of their Supernatural makeup range, it's just launched on QVC.

The compact is black and weighty, with a split pan containing a medium bronzer and a pretty medium peachy blush - I have the Healthy/Happy variation, which is described as bronze shimmer with coral shimmer.  Swatched, you can see that the shimmer isn't of the overly chunky or glittery variety; the shimmer is very fine, and shows up on the skin as more of a healthy glow than as an obvious shimmer.

The powders themselves are soft, finely milled, and rather well pigmented - I've been applying them sparingly so as to not overdo it, and I suspect that if you were to go in all gung ho with a brush, you might end up with more colour than you'd expect.  As the powders are mineral based, they blend out beautifully.

The concept is that you apply the bronze shade under your cheekbones, and the peachy shade on the cheeks themselves, or of course you could swirl your brush over both to get a third, custom colour.  I quite like a bit of cheekbone definition, so I've been applying the colours separately, and have found that together they provide definition and a delicate burst of colour, with the added bonus that the fine shimmer has a highlighting effect too.

Perfect for a natural, soft flush with a bit of a glow.  I've been very impressed with this product, and have reached for it a surprising amount over the past few weeks - I particularly like that it serves two purposes in one compact.  I'll definitely be checking out Philosophy's makeup in the future, and if this runs out, I will most likely repurchase.

If you'd like to try out this product for yourself, you'll find it at QVC, where it will cost £18 - and for me, it's definitely worth the price!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Review: YSL Ombre Solo Eyeshadow in Midnight Purple

Disclosure: PR sample

Hello, gorgeous packaging.  YSL's new Ombre Solo eyeshadow singles come in the usual shiny golden packaging, which isn't really anything new or exciting, but the inclusion of a tiny tiny brush and sponge applicator in the lid of the compact definitely is.  In a colour like this, the delectably named Midnight Purple, the tiny brush makes this the kind of product you can throw in your handbag and carry around as a one step smoky eye to go.

The eyeshadow itself is very well pigmented and very easy to smoke out.  I've found it difficult to apply this colour as a wash to the entire lid, though - it's a little bit too intense and rich to get a sheer application.  This is an eyeshadow just begging to be applied to the lashline and blended out.  So that's what I've been doing with it.

The photo above shows Midnight Purple blended out along the upper and lower lashline on top of Urban Decay's greyish silver Gunmetal shade, which I applied to the lid and under the lower lashes.  You can see the deep, smudgy purple along the lashline; not only does it give a gorgeously smoky look, but it also brings out the green in my eyes.

Swatched, the shadow looks a little muddy and blah, and the multi-coloured micro sparkle is much harder to see.  The purple tone is definitely more subtle than it appears in the pan.  This is one of those shades that looks much better on the eye than it does swatched.

While this isn't the most original shade, nor the most buttery blendable texture, I really enjoy using this shadow.  I think it has a good balance of sparkling but not shimmery pigmentation against a smudge-able and long lasting texture.  I personally wouldn't use this is anything other than a liner, as I think the level of pigmentation would make it too intense for the lid or the crease.  I like the portability, and will be carting this around as a day-to-night essential, but I'm not sure I'd repurchase - the price is pretty high, and even though it's definitely a luxe product, the way I like to use it is a bit limited for the price.

If you're interested to try this for yourself, you can find it on YSL counters now, where it will cost £19.50.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Review: Bourjois Rose Exclusif Lipgloss

Disclosure: PR sample

Do you remember when Smashbox first introduced their O-Glow products?  They claimed to magically transform from clear into your "perfect pink" on application.  Bourjois' latest lipgloss, Rose Exclusif, is of the same ilk - it claims to use your skin's natural pH to give you the perfect shade of pink for your complexion.

Now, I can't really speak for the science, but I've been around my house testing the gloss on a variety of things (such as paper, my mirror, my husband) and have found that it turns the same shade of pink on everything.

As a gloss, it's rather lovely; the applicator brush is small, and has a pointed tip, which allows you to get a very precise application.  The gloss itself is relatively thick, and slightly sticky, which does enable it to last for a fair old while.  And by heck is it shiny.  It's one of the shiniest glosses I've ever used.

On my lips, it applies first off as a medium, slightly mauve toned pink which is fairly subtle.  After an hour or so, it generally deepens to a sheer fuchsia.  While I like both shades equally, I've paired it with strong eye makeup once or twice, and then suddenly realised when I've made it into the office that I'm wearing a strong eye and a strong lip at once, when I really didn't intend to.

The fuchsia shade shown is the colour I've seen it turn to on pretty much everything I've applied it to (and I recall that this is a similar shade to what the Smashbox O-Glow products turned to on most people too).  I quite like the colour - the fact that it's relatively sheer balances out the brightness.

The best thing about this gloss is the way that it stains the lips once the gloss has dried down.  My lips are left stained the exact colour of the gloss in the bottom photo above, and the stain takes a fair bit of rubbing to shift.  This property makes the gloss so much more appealing to me, as I love a stain, and it's good to know that one application of gloss is going to go such a long way.

Overall - I doubt the science behind the "perfect pink" premise, but I really like the gloss anyway; not just because it leaves such a pretty stain on the lips, but because the gloss texture is rather gorgeous too.  While I probably won't buy this particular gloss again, I will be investigating more Bourjois glosses because of it.

If you'd like to try this for yourself, you'll find it in Boots, Superdrug, and other Bourjois stockists, where it will set you back a reasonable £6.99.

Models Own Parodies Chanel: The Car Key Collection

We don't usually post press releases, but Models Own's parody of Chanel's Les Khakis collection, entitled Car Keys, really made us laugh.  The three shades shown are left to right Grace Green, Becca's Brown, and Purple Ash, and have the same dusty, greyish tones as the much more expensive (and exclusive) Chanel shades.  Available from October in Boots stores, at just £5 each.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Review - Crabtree and Evelyn Iris EDT

Disclosure - PR sample

This fragrance has been a really happy discovery. Since receiving my sample I've reached for it nearly every day, craving its fresh, friendly floral notes. It's definitely flowery, but not a sickly or overblown way. There's something fuzzy and low-key about the way it smells. It's not massively girly, but it is pretty. Kind of like a tomboy who scrubs up well.

The packaging is similarly straightforward and likeable - a tapered, chunky glass bottle with a solid plastic cap that pulls off with a smooth motion. A photo-real illustration of an iris is printed on the bottle.

I wasn't expecting something like this from Crabtree and Evelyn, a brand who, despite their beautiful La Source range, are strongly linked in my mind with nana-tastic talcum powder gift sets, old lady cabbage-roses and guest soaps in frilly wrapping. I think I've seriously misjudged them!

Iris costs just £12 for a 30ml EDT, or £24 for a better-value-but-more-expensive 100ml. Recommended!

Monday, 20 September 2010

NOTD - Barbara Daly at Tesco Aqua Shimmer

Disclosure - PR sample

Try as I might, I can't capture the stunning indigo-blue-teal duochrome of this polish. It's basically a lot of green-blue shimmer in a dark blue base, with some very subtle blue glitter. It's absolutely lovely. Far nicer than these pictures suggest, as the teal iridescence is much more prominent and eye-catching.

These pictures were taken after 4 days of wear. Apart from the usual tip-shrinkage which is a side effect of my Seche Vite topcoat, the finish is in mint condition. Huge thumbs up there! It applies fairly smoothly and was opaque in 3 coats - not stunning coverage but definitely acceptable, especially for a tiny £3 per 7ml.

Aqua Shimmer is part of the A/W collection from Barbara Daly Makeup. Here's a picture of it with a couple of others from the collection. It's mostly reds and wine shades, with the Aqua Shimmer providing a distinctive off-set. The collection was released on 1st of September, so it's hopefully in Tesco near you now!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Dupe Alert: MUA Lip Gloss Tube = MAC Lip Gelee

Disclosure: PR sample

I've professed my love of MAC Lip Gelee before - they're juicy, shiny glosses in the style of the classic Lancome Juicy Tube, but with an absolutely silky and non-sticky texture.  They cost £12 a tube.  Above, I'm wearing a gloss which has almost the exact same silky, juicy texture - and it's from budget brand Make Up Academy (MUA), which costs just £1.  Yes, £1.  

Like the MAC counterpart, the MUA gloss doesn't last a particularly long time on the lips, and like the MAC counterpart they're best reapplied often to maintain maximum shine.  The similarities continue on the pigmentation front: both glosses look much more intense in the tube than they do on the lip, applying as a sheer wash of colour.  The swatch above is of shade 4, which looks a little bit too orangeypeachy in the tube for my liking, but applies as a sheer peachy pink with golden shimmer.  The biggest difference, to my mind, is in the scent - the MUA gloss smells of sweeties, a little like Love Hearts.  Mmm.

I'll definitely be picking a few more shades up.  If you'd like to try one for yourself, they are available from Superdrug for the very reasonable price of £1.  

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Le Metier de Beaute Classic Flawless Foundation - AAAAH MY EYES!

This foundation costs £45. (Just had to put that out there right away. Take a moment to absorb the shock, and I'll continue with the review.)

Le Metier is one of the most aspirational beauty brands around at the moment. Their reputation and exclusivity (they're only available at Liberty in the UK and Neiman Marcus in the US) along with their sumptuous shades and sleek, serious packaging have helped them achieve their position as a status-symbol purchase.

I'll be honest, it was partly this sense of elite exclusivity that convinced me to part with £45 for just less than 30ml of goop in a weighty glass pump bottle. I was probably feeling a bit "hey I'm worth it!" consumer brainwashed.

It was also the fact that I wanted a perfectly matching and totally reliable product for the occasions where I decide I need the extra level of made-up-ness that a good foundation provides.

Flawless Foundation contains Hyaluronic Acid, a plumping/hydrating skincare ingredient that's currently en vogue. That might be the reason it applies so well, sinking into the skin like a lightweight moisturiser and leaving no visible excess. The pump dispenses almost exactly the right amount for a full face, so nothing is wasted. (Which at the price, is a very good thing.)

Coverage is light to medium. Here's a couple of pictures to illustrate - the black eyeliner mark is there as a control.

It doesn't quite match my hand, there, but on my face it's spot on. So far so good.

BUT! I don't like using this foundation, and I won't be repurchasing. Why? Because if this stuff gets anywhere near my eyes, it stings like crazy. I didn't realise until I got this how easily foundation can get into the eyes, especially when blending around dark circles. Every time I've worn this, it's been totally game over for my eye makeup, thanks to the stinging and watering caused by me getting the Le Met in my eyes.

Verdict - could have been a Holy Grail, but sadly more of a Poisoned Chalice. I'll stick with the lovely Kaleidoscope palettes from Le Metier in future.

WIN! L'Occitane Divine Immortelle Serum + Eye Treatment

French brand L'Occitane are releasing a new range of (rather dramatically named) anti-ageing skincare, which includes Immortelle essential oil, believed to help with cell regeneration and to have anti-ageing properties.  It's due to launch in October in the UK, and we've got a set of the Divine Extract serum and Divine Eyes treatment to give away to one lucky reader!  Alongside this competition, we'll also be putting samples of the same products through their paces via Sarah's Mum (thanks Sarah's Mum!).

So, if you'd like the chance of trying out these luxurious new products, you need to do two simple things; firstly, you'll need to be a follower of the LBR, and secondly, leave us a comment below (using the account with which you are a follower) answering the following question...

If you were to create an anti-ageing range, what would you call it?

Silly or simple, terrible pun or elegant name, we've all seen some very strange names being applied to anti-ageing products, and we'd like to see what you can do on the same theme!

The competition will close in two weeks, on Saturday 2nd October.  Good luck!

International entrants welcome.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Review: Decleor Aroma Cleanse Cleaning Mousse

Disclosure: PR sample

Decleor's latest product was originally intended to be a permanent QVC exclusive, but once developed, Decleor decided it was too good to keep from the mass market.  So, it's available for an initial period as a QVC exclusive, and will then be made available via other channels.

Exclusiveness aside, what we have here is a cleansing mousse with an impressive list of claims: softening, exfoliating, hydrating, and indeed anti-ageing.  The sleek pump tube is supplied in a chic white bag with two of the white muslin clothes becoming so ubiquitous with a good cleanse.

Dispensing about a half pump into the palm of your hand and lathering with a bit of water produces a rich, mousse-like foam; you have to be careful to use enough water, or you end up with a hard to spread, thick emulsion which isn't particularly easy to use.  The theory is that you apply it to clean, dry skin, and then use a damp muslin cloth to remove it, enhancing the exfoliating effects.  So far so Cleanse and Polish, right?

I'll admit that I've been cheating, and not using the muslin cloths at all.  Apparently, to ensure proper cleanness, one should wash them after each use in the washing machine, which frankly sounds like too much washing to me.  Rinsing under extremely hot water is OK too, but only extends the wear of one cloth by a day - so if you're using these as prescribed, you'll be washing them at least twice a week.  I'm too lazy busy for that, so I've been using the cleanser both alone, and with my Clarisonic.

The foaming texture works very well with my Clarisonic, providing plenty of soapy lubrication (I can't believe I just wrote that) to help the Clarisonic glide across the skin.  It also effectively cleanses the skin when massaged across the face with the fingertips.  Once the foam is splashed off, the skin is left feeling very clean, and rather squeaky.  While my skin doesn't feel dry and gasping per se, I imagine that there is a little bit too much cleansing going on here for dry skins - for normal to oily skin, it's acceptable, so long as you don't mind that squeaky feeling.

I've been using the foam for a few weeks now and it's showing no signs of approaching the end of the bottle, which is rather good as it costs around £25 a tube.  My skin is indeed very smooth and clear, although I'm not sure how much of that can be attributed to a cleanser - it's on the skin for such a short amount of time, I can't really credit it with much other than a good deep cleaning action.

If you have oily to normal skin and like a good deep cleanse, or want to remove every last scrap of your foundation, you might well like this product - but if you have dry skin, I'd steer well clear, despite it being aimed at all skin types.  And although the tube says that it's suitable for removing eye makeup, I'd advise you keep it well away from your eyes - mine stung painfully when I tried to remove my eye makeup with it.

If you'd like to try this for yourself, you can find it exclusively at QVC, where it will set you back £24.56.  What do you think?  Do you like a really deep cleaning, squeaky cleanser?

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Review: Lanolips Lip Ointment

Disclosure: These were PR samples

Lanolips.  If you read Charlotte's excellent blog, you'll have heard of these before - and you'll know that Charlotte, not one to gush unnecessarily, absolutely adores them.  Lanolips is an Australian brand, who produce these gorgeous tubes of goodness in both tinted and original variations, using "medical grade" lanolin.  Lanolin, in case you've not come across the ingredient before, is the waxy substance produced by woolly animals such as sheep - it's what keeps their coats waterproof.  As Sarah so charmingly put it, Lanolips is based pretty much on sheep grease.

But hell, if it works, I'll happily cover my lips in sheep grease - and work it definitely does.  The ointments are smooth and very moisturising - you know how some lip balms just sit on the lips, and when they eventually rub away your lips feel pretty much the same as when you put it on?  This stuff is the opposite: it sinks in, and leaves lips feeling comfortable and looking soft.  I'm fully expecting these to be a big part of my usual winter battle against dry, chapped, painful lips.  The inclusion of SPF15 is an added bonus, as lips are so often left unprotected in the sun.

The tinted versions are essentially the same lanolin rich base with a dose of colour included.  The colours look significantly stronger in the tube than they apply to the lips; the pigmentation is pretty low and the effect is a sheer, pretty gloss rather than a dramatic shot of colour.

Top row: Original (clear), Rose
Middle row: Sunshine, Rhubarb
Bottom row: Dark Honey, Apples

I really like the way these look on the lips.  They're an ideal accompaniment to a strong eye or cheek, as the colour is subtle and the finish glossy.  They don't last a particularly long time on the lips; after an hour or so, the balm has sunk in, and the pigment doesn't stick around once the base has gone.  That said, I've been perfectly happy to reapply frequently, as the tubes are small and easy to use (although a slanted applicator wouldn't go amiss), and the colours are sheer enough that you don't need to pull out a mirror.

I'll definitely be buying more of these when my sample tubes run out.  My favourite shade, Rhubarb, is already half gone because I've been applying it so much - and I can definitely see them becoming a permanent part of my collection. Well worth checking out, particularly if you suffer from very dry lips!

If you want to grab a few of these for yourself (and I'd highly recommend you do!), they'll be available at Victoria Health from the end of September.  The original clear will cost £10.99 a tube, and the smaller tinted versions £7.99 a tube.

What do you think?  Something you'll buy into?

Mum Review: Using Boots Smooth Skin IPL for the Face

Disclosure: This unit was supplied as a PR sample, which I handed over to my Mum.

One of the many sad facts of growing older, so I'm told, is the growth of annoying hairs upon one's face.  We've all seen old ladies with slightly furry chins, and while my Mum is definitely nowhere near old lady age, she's very concious that as she ages, more errant hairs grow.

My Mum remembers her own mother asking often if her chin hairs were visible, often whilst hunched over a mirror, plucking them out.  Luckily, nowadays we have more high tech ways of dealing with unwanted hair than just the good old tweezers - so when I received a Smooth Skin unit to test out, I thought my Mum (and her chin) would be a good test subject.

Suffice to say, she was beyond excited at the thought of blasting those hairs to oblivion.  She's now run through the full ten sessions recommended for a permanent result, and is a full on convert to the Smooth Skin.  She said that she found the unit very easy to use - and for those of you wondering about the pain factor on delicate facial skin, she reported that the only thing she felt was a light burst of heat.  She's been using it not only on her chin, but also on her upper lip.

The best thing about the effects, according to my Mum, is not just that the number of hairs has been dwindling - the hairs that are still growing are easier to pluck.  She's found that she doesn't have to pluck every day as she did before - the hairs haven't disappeared entirely, and the few that are still growing are doing so much more slowly.

In fact, my Mum has decided that if I ever take the unit back to test it myself, she'll be buying herself one to keep those hairs at bay for good.  Which, in my view, is the highest recommendation it can get - at around £300, the unit represents a pretty big investment.

If you're interested in the Smooth Skin, you'll find plenty of documentation at the website.  You can also read more about the Smooth Skin and other IPL devices here on the LBR.  This is a serious piece of kit with a correspondingly serious price tag: make sure you do your research, and ensure that the unit is suitable for your skin, before you buy.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

No.7 GWP eyeshadow palette - not half bad

 Gemma's rave review of No 7's Exceptional Definition mascara had me curious, and when I saw that there was also a GWP deal on it, I had to get my own. I bought mine with a £5 tillspit so in effect I got the mascara (RRP £12.00) and this 4 colour eyeshadow palette for just £7.00. Not bad. 

The colours are autumnal and on the warm side, and they have a swirly, baked look to them in the pan. The pale gold is a bit gritty, but the green, brown and cranberry shades are rich and smooth. The palette is unusually solid for a GWP, is generously sized but still slimline, and has a good quality mirror in the lid.

Recommended bargain! Get yours now at Boots.

NOTD: Milani Digital

Hold on to your hats, ladies - this is a gloriously beautiful holographic polish.  A pretty, pale to medium blush pink, the holographic sparkles really stand out, even in muted light.  It's part of Milani's 3D Holographic collection, a range of six affordable and very pretty drugstore holographic polishes.

With a flash, you really get to see the holographic effect in all it's glory.  I've never really seen a pale pink holo which really looks like a holo - usually I find that holographic polishes look best in dark colours, so the particles really get the chance to jump out at you.  Milani Digital, though, succeeds at being both a pretty, wearable pink polish with that gorgeous holo effect.

Application was good; this is a relatively thin polish, and applied easily with no dragging or bumpiness.  This is three coats, which was opaque enough that I couldn't see my nail line.  Wear so far has been fantastic - no chips, and virtually no tipwear after three days.  

If you'd like to grab one of these for yourself, you'll find Milani 3D Holographic polishes at, where they'll cost you a very, very reasonable $4.49.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Review - Urban Decay Black palette

Disclosure - PR sample

Urban Decay are really spoiling us with palettes lately. There's the new Book of Shadows, the Naked palette, the Black Palette and the new Vegan Palette (in which every shade is free of animal extracts), all releases hot on one another's heels ready for the Christmas shopping season.

The Black Palette (maybe a reference to Metallica's The Black Album?) is something that I probably would have moved heaven and earth to get hold of in my younger and more rock-obsessed years, and even today it's ticking quite a lot of boxes for me. The packaging is superb. It's a glittering black pocket-sized cardboard enclosure with a mirror in the lid and a glossy silver "UD" design in gothic script on the top. It's slightly larger than the Preen/Showpony palette, but still very compact.

Six shadows, each a MAC-sized circular pan, are inside, along with the ubiquitous Zero 24/7 mini eyeliner. (If you're a UD palette collector like me you'll have at least 6 of these by now.) Each colour has a rawk-tastic title, and each is predominantly black. Five of the shades have a shift of colour, and Black Dog is a straight matte black. Each one is velvety-smooth and heaping with pigmenty goodness. Because this is clearly a night-out type of palette, I decided to photograph and swatch these under artificial light to show them off in their natural habitat.

Look at them glow!

Eagle-eyed readers will also have spotted that we get a miniature Urban Decay Primer Potion in new shade Eden. This is the UK's first exposure to Eden, which like Sin before it is a coloured variant of the standard UDPP formula. Eden is a matte nude shade, and is great for evening out skintone on the eyelids. However the downside of this is that, like a concealer, it has its own shade and it won't necessarily match everyone's skintone. The swatches above are done over a layer of Eden, and you might be able to see that it leaves a slight orange tidemark where it mismatches my arm. Here's Eden (lower swatch) and the original UDPP together so you can see the difference.

The Urban Decay Black palette is a very reasonable £23 and is available now. I'd buy from Boots because of the Advantage Card points.

What do you think? Interesting?
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