Sunday, 31 October 2010

Review - Neal's Yard Daily Brightening

Disclosure - PR sample

Neal's Yard is a brand that carries strong positive associations for me. I love the calming herbal smell that floats out of the shops, and the pretty Bristol blue glass bottles. The name "Neal's Yard" reminds me of visiting Covent Garden on trips to London with my mum. I also like the aura of peaceful craftsmanship that comes across from the white-aproned staff I've met at Neal's Yard - there's not a trace of pushy salesmanship to be found, just helpful service and advice if you need it. Recently I bought a packet of lavender from the Kings Road branch to keep on my desk at work (it's great for stress), and enjoyed seeing how carefully it was weighed out and hand-labelled.

When I received these samples, I'll admit that the dice were already loaded in their favour thanks to my soft spot for the brand. But we're nothing if not impartial here, so I put on my rational, unemotional tester's hat and tried them with a mind open to fault as well as merit. I tested them for just over a month.

There are two products in the Daily Brightening Range - a moisturiser and a serum. The moisturiser costs £22 for 100ml, while the serum is significantly more expensive at £39.50 for 30ml. The "hero" active ingredient is African Star Grass, and the claim is reduction of dark spots for a brighter, more even complexion.

First impressions - the products smell delightful. They're as fragrant and herbal as anything else from Neal's Yard, and if you like that sort of gentle floral-herbal smell then you won't be disappointed. If you prefer a more clean, clinical skincare scent you may be less keen. The fragrances arise naturally from the ingredients, so there's no issue with irritation from synthetic scents. The serum smells slightly different to the moisturiser, with a faintly tangy, hops-y undertone.

Consistency-wise, they're very different. The serum is a light, honey-coloured liquid that sinks into the skin almost instantly, leaving an immediately smoother, softer surface. It spreads fantastically well, and a small drop goes a long way, despite the absence of silicone. (Can I just say here how delighted I am to find a serum without silicone?)

The moisturiser is a thicker, white opaque cream that sits on the skin for a few minutes before drying and absorbing. A thin film of product is left on the skin, giving a slight tightening effect.

The moisturiser definitely loses a point on packaging, as the nozzle clogged frequently during my testing period. Firm pressing resulted in it squirting out dramatically as the congealed product was dislodged. In contrast, the serum bottle has a different (and better) nozzle design that dispenses a perfect amount of product each time.

I used these before the weather got chilly, and I found them light and comfortable to wear. They're totally non-greasy and I experienced near-zero breakouts while using them. I thought I might not get on well with the moisturiser due to the tightening effect, but I ended up quite liking it, and I can imagine it making more mature skin feel firmer and smoother too. For winter, a supplementary night cream might be a good idea, but for summer these were the perfect weight for my normal/dry skin.

Despite the iffy pump on the moisturiser, (really that's a minor gripe,) I enjoyed using these products very much indeed, and would absolutely return to Neal's Yard for more skincare based on the experience of using them.

However, I must be totally honest - I didn't see any evidence of my skin becoming brighter or more even-toned after a month of use. They made me happy and kept my skin well moisturised, and that's enough for me. But if I had been hoping for them to fade dark marks I think I would have been disappointed.

Your mileage may vary, and I do recommend trying the Daily Brightening range if you want a gorgeous cruelty-free organic skincare regimen at a reasonable price. Just treat the brightening as a possible added bonus rather than a guaranteed outcome.

I'll shortly be checking out Neal's Yard's White Tea Enriching Facial Mask I think. I'm a sucker for anything White Tea and I'd love to see NYR's take on it. It promises to be nice and hydrating for winter too.

Have you tried any Neal's Yard skincare? Any recommendations from their range?

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Review: Decleor Harmonie Calm Soothing Milky Cream

Disclosure: PR sample

Decleor's new Harmonie Calm range is designed to be suitable for sensitive, reactive, fragile or irritable skin.  It includes two moisturisers, an eye treatment, and a mask, all of which promise a long lasting and immediate soothing effect on sensitive skin.  I was given a pot of the richer cream, Soothing Milky Cream, to try out.

I've not got the most sensitive skin in the world, but I do find that some products cause burning, itching, or make me break out.  I was pleased to find that applying this very lightly textured gel-cream to my skin resulted in absolutely no reaction; my skin was left feeling soft, quenched, and devoid of any residue.

Despite being a very light textured gel-cream, a single application in the morning keeps my skin feeling well moisturised and calm all day. The cream itself is beautifully spreadable; you need a very small amount to moisture the whole face, and while it does need a bit of working in with the fingertips, once absorbed, it doesn't feel at all heavy.

I've been using the cream for the past few months, and I've been very impressed by the effect it's had on my skin.  It provides excellent hydration, feels very light, and mixes very well with other products such as sunscreens.  Although I don't suffer from full on rosacea, my cheeks do show a bit of redness, which has definitely diminished over the time I've been using this cream.  Overall, the effect has been very calming; I've had no random angry-skin days, and very few breakouts.  I'll keep using this cream until the very end of the jar, and would definitely repurchase.

Decleor's Harmonie Calm range is available from Decleor's website, where 50ml of cream will cost you £46 - expensive, yes, but given that my pot has lasted three months so far and isn't quite finished, not so unreasonable.

Friday, 29 October 2010

FOTN: Le Metier De Beaute

Disclosure: I received a complimentary makeover and a few PR samples at a Le Metier blogger event.

As we posted earlier in the week, Le Metier de Beaute's top makeup artists are in town, running a week of masterclasses at the all new Selfridges counter.  I popped down to have a good stare, have my makeup done, and chat with the artists - and wow.  Literally, the best makeover I've ever had.  Dustin Lujan spent plenty of time talking me through every product used, alongside being incredibly friendly - even joking with my Mum, who was wandering around in the background.

I walked out of Selfridges with glowing, flawless skin, gorgeously emphasised eyes, and a killer red lip.  Dustin was all about balancing cool colours against warm colours and playing up the skin with sheer, natural foundation and non-cakey powder.  From memory, the products used were:

  • Peau Vierge concealer
  • Peau Vierge tinted treatment mixed with a touch of Flawless Finish Foundation
  • Flawless Finish loose powder
  • Blonzer in Maldives Magic and Echo powder blush
  • Kaleidoscope for eyes in La Cirque over Dualistic Eye Pencil in Champagne as base
  • Precision Liquid Liner in Noir, and Dualistic Eye Pencil in Noir
  • Anamorphic Mascara in Jade
  • Brow Bound eyebrow pencil in Auburn
  • Bombay lipstick and Turkish Smoke lipgloss 

So if you're in London this week, hot foot it down to to the new counter at Selfridges.  And give Dustin a kiss for me if you do!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

NOTD: OPI Princesses Rule

This is OPI's Princesses Rule, a pale pink shimmer which is sheer, yet buildable, with subtle white, gold, pink, and even green sparkle.  Released with the Princess Charming collection quite some time ago, it's now a permanent part of the collection, and is apparently their most popular pink.  I'm utterly unsurprised by this, as for me this is the perfect pink - unobtrusive but not boring, pretty but relatively subtle, and sparkly without being over the top.  

It's my go-to polish when I don't have a lot of time for a careful application: three coats gives the above effect, but if I'm pressed for time, one coat still looks polished and groomed with minimum effort.  As it's a pale shade, it doesn't show chips easily, and it's hardwearing too - I can stretch an application out for five days or so with a good topcoat.  Application is smooth and non-globby, drying time is pretty decent, and it comes with a Pro Wide brush, which I personally love.

And indeed - I've used a quarter of a bottle.  I barely manage to make a dent in most polishes before they go thick and unusable (or unloved), so this is a real rarity.

If you like the look of this beautiful polish, you can grab it from BeautyBay, where a 15ml bottle will cost £9.95.  Which is definitely worth it.

Clinique Mascara Swap

Is it just us or are there a lot of freebie offers around at the moment?  Between the 29th October and 16th November, Clinique counters at Boots stores will be taking in old mascara from any brand and giving out deluxe samples of your choice between High Impact Mascara (for volume) or High Lengths Mascara (for length).  If your old mascara is running dry and you're in the market to try something new, this is a good way of doing so without having to get your wallet out.  The usual one per customer caveat applies.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Review: Burts Bees Citrus and Ginger Root Body Wash

Disclosure: PR sample

It's not often that I'm truly bowled over by a body wash.  And unfortunately, this isn't one of those times: this Burt's Bees wash is joining the category of body-washes-that-are-okay.  Burt's Bees say that this body wash will leave your skin feeling soft, smooth, and clean - and indeed, it does.

One of its selling points is the zesty, "extra energising" fragrance, which comes from orange oil and ginger oil rather than from a synthetic fragrance, and if you're looking for a product to really wake you up in the morning, this'll definitely do the trick.  The scent isn't overpowering, nor does it feel like it's assaulting your nose; it's just extremely fresh and invigorating.

The fairly thin gel doesn't foam a great deal, as it's free from SLS.  I found that without a bath puff, I didn't really get a lot of foam action - you'll need a bath puff or flannel to get any kind of lather going on.  Despite the lack of bubbles, my skin was left feeling clean but not squeakily so, and very definitely not dried out.

While this is a decent, SLS-free, natural body wash, I'm finding it hard to get excited about it.  It does a good enough job, but at the high price of £9.99 for 350ml, I'm struggling to find reasons why it's better than cheaper SLS free alternatives from companies like Naked Bodycare.

If you'd like to try it for yourself, you can grab a bottle from the Burt's Bees website, where 350ml will cost you £9.99.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Amazing £4 MAC Duochrome Dupe from Accessorize

Good evening ladies. Thanks so much for joining us. Without further ado, let me present to you: My left hand.

And introducing: My right hand.

Spot the difference? Look closely now. Crap photography aside, I mean.

Would you in fact believe that one hand sports the limited edition cult Mean and Green from MAC's Venomous Villains collection, £8 for 10ml, while the other is daubed with a humble £4 for 10ml high street nail polish, namely Aztec by Accessorize?

No, not even Gemma could tell the difference between the two polishes on my nails. (And that is saying something.) Virtually identical. Possibly the closest dupe I have ever seen.

If you're playing close attention while applying, you'll note that the Accessorize polish has a thicker and more bottle green coloured jelly base - MAC's is sheerer and less blue-toned. But it's imperceptible after 3 coats, as you can see above.

Accessorize have brought out an entire range of cosmetics in the last month, although we've been unable to find the full set of products in store despite hunting the high-streets of London. There are various duochromes available, and if this one is anything to go by you should have no trouble duping all 3 MAC Venomous Villains duochromes and the Orly Cosmic FX collection to boot.

Happy shopping!

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Le Métier de Beauté Makeup Masterclasses

Le Métier de Beauté are celebrating the opening of their new Selfridges counter by getting their All Star Team in to run a week of themed days highlighting makeup techniques.  Now, this wouldn't be quite so exciting - it's not unusual for brands to bring their makeup artists on counter for special events - but as it's 
Le Métier, there's a twist.  They're giving away product.  Oh yes.  

If you're in London between the 29th October and the 2nd November, it's well worth taking a trip to Selfridges to check out the new counter.  Here are the details:

Friday 29th October – Flawless Foundation
Create the perfect base and glow with immaculate skin.  The first 5 customers to quote ‘Flawless Foundation’ at the counter will receive a complimentary Blonzer.

Saturday 30th October – Treat Yourself
Discover Peau Vierge and the first 5 customers to quote ‘Peau Vierge’ at the counter will receive a complimentary Peau Vierge Anti-Ageing Correcteur.

Sunday 31st October – Perfect Lips
Perfect your pout with luscious glosses and lip sticks.  The first 5 customers to quote ‘Perfect Lips’ at the counter will receive a complimentary limited edition Sheer Brilliance in Turkish Smoke (not available at retail).

Monday 1st November – Couche de Couleur
Learn the Le Métier de Beauté signature smoky eye.  The first 5 customers to quote ‘Couche de Couleur’ at the counter will receive a complimentary Precision Liquid Liner in Noir.

Tuesday 2nd November – The Finale
Attend a master class with Mikey Castillo to create your signature look.  The first 5 customers to book in and attend will receive a goody bag including the coveted Precision Liquid Liner, Sheer Brilliance Lip Gloss, Blonzer in Maldives Magic and the versatile Dualistic Lip Liner in Rose.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Review: Andrea Fulerton Nail Tattoos

The reputation of nail art has changed somewhat recently.  Barry M's crazily popular Instant Nail Effects and YSL's Couture Manicure have helped to capture the imagination of those of us who are ordinarily too lazy or busy to dedicate the time to nail art.  Having discovered the joys of interesting nails myself recently, I've been keeping a look out for products that help to get that ornate look with as little effort as possible.

Andrea Fulerton's Nail Tattoos are one of those products.  Available in Superdrug stores alongside her acclaimed nail varnishes (which I intend to investigate further soon), there are four designs available: crosses, chains, locks and keys, and skulls and crossbones.  Quite simply, you peel off one of the tiny decals, press it firmly down on clean or polished nails, whack on some topcoat, and voila!  Instant nail art.

I purchased some skulls and crossbones, using one of the skulls and one of the crossbones to create a slightly skew piratey motif on my thumbnail.  I made the mistake of applying the tattoos to polish that was still slightly wet - so I ended up with a little bit of bubbling as I pressed down.  A good layer of topcoat prevented it from looking weird, though, and the tattoo lasted on my thumb for about four days before I decided to change my polish.

I was highly tempted to put another skull and crossbones on my other thumbnail, facing the opposite way, and  make them talk to each other.  I'm easily amused like that.

All in all, these tattoos are great fun, and help even the least arty person (that's me!) create an interesting design.  They're pretty easy to apply, provided that you follow the (very simple) rules - make sure your polish is absolutely dry before application to prevent bubbling, and go heavy on the topcoat - I found that the edges were prone to lifting if I didn't use enough.

At the very reasonable price of £1.99 for a sheet, I've very much enjoyed using these - but I'd love to see some more designs.  Four is quite limited!

If you'd like to try these for yourself, you'll find them at Superdrug, where they cost £1.99 a sheet - and currently come free with any purchase from the Andrea Fulerton nail line.  Bargain!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Estee Lauder Christmas 2010: Extravagant Lips

Disclosure: PR samples

If you're a regular reader, you've probably noticed that I absolutely love a reddish lip.  Or a plum lip.  Or a berry lip.  Anything, pretty much, aside from a nude, natural lip.  So I was pleased to be able to try out the berry shades of Estee Lauder's Christmas lip gloss and lipstick.  Both are rich, deep purplish red colours, with the lipstick offering a dark, almost vampish look that fits in nicely with the current goth lip trend, whilst the gloss offers a more daytime friendly sheer look.

Pure Colour Long Lasting Lipstick in Extravagant Berry.  This shade strikes me as being less berry, and more blackened red; there are some purplish tones in there, but they're subtle.  I'm guessing that this is because a lot of purple is difficult to pull off on most skin tones.  The lipstick is extremely well pigmented (this is two swipes over the lips), moistly textured, and comfortable to wear for the first couple of hours of wear.  It lasts until well after lunch on my lips, although it does start to feel a bit dry and uncomfortable after 6 hours - in my book, though, 6 hours between touchups is pretty darn good.

Pure Colour Gloss in Extravagant Plum.  A pretty, sheerly glossy wash of sparkly colour with enough glitter to catch the light, but not so much that it's too much.  The pigment tends to build up in the lines on the lips, although it's significantly less noticeable when not using a zoom lens.  This gloss is completely non sticky - it has that plush, ultra slick balm-like feel that feels lovely on the lips.  The downside of that is that the shiny finish doesn't last very long at all; you'll need to touch up every hour if you want to maintain the gloss.

Finally, the gloss and lipstick layered up together.  This is a gorgeous, sophisticated and very juicy looking lip, which looks best paired with neutral shadow and black liner - the colour is very intense and eye catching.  As with all Estee Lauder products, the packaging is very pretty; weighty, golden, and substantial feeling, with the products themselves being scented with fig - which is a nice change from the ubiquitous vanilla!

If you'd like to try out these colours, you'll find them at all the usual Estee Lauder stockists, including Boots, where the gloss will cost £15, and the lipstick will cost £17.

What do you think?

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Review: Naked Take Control Firm Hold Styling Gel

Disclosure: PR sample

Naked are a LBR staple: we both love their foaming products, which are SLS free and rather gloriously scented, and I'm a convert to their conditioners, which work fabulously well on hair that's sworn off SLS and silicone.

Their Take Control firm hold styling gel has the same eco and skin friendly credentials: no silicones, vegetarian and vegan, and with very little weight to it, the instructions direct you to apply to dry hair and allow to dry.

Well.. that's not quite how I use it.  Styling gel is not just the bastion of those looking for a slicked back, well held style - it's also very useful for controlling curls whilst they air dry.  I apply a glob of gel to my wet hair, scrunch thoroughly (how very 80s), and leave to dry.

The aim is to reduce the frizz that can form during the four or five hours it takes to air dry my hair.  And the result is indeed less of the fuzzy edged look that I hate so much; it's not miraculous by any means, but it definitely does help.  Curls are also enhanced and defined by scrunching gel into wet hair; the scrunching action helps to form the ringlet shape, and the gel itself helps to hold that shape whilst the hair dries.

So far, I've told you mostly why gel is useful in general, and not much about the Naked gel specifically.  Let's remedy that with a handy list:

  • As with all Naked products, it's incredibly light. No build up, no residue, no heaviness.
  • The scent is pretty much undetectable on the hands and in the hair
  • Once dry, the hair is completely non crunchy.  Not one jot of crunch.
  • Despite the presence of alcohol in the ingredients, it's not drying at all
All in all, a pretty serviceable gel, for use on wavy/curly hair.  While the lack of crunch may be a positive point for most people, I actually prefer a bit of crunch - it signifies an ultra-strong hold which really secures the curls in place whilst they dry, keeping frizz and flyaways to a minimum.  Anyway - that's just me.  For most people, I imagine the lack of crunch is a good thing.

If you'd like to try this one out for yourself, you'll find it at Boots, where it will cost £1.99 for 150ml, or on Naked's website, where it will bizarrely cost you quite a bit more, at £3.49 for 150ml.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Guest Review: Facegoop Tries YSL Teint Radiance

Disclosure: PR sample

M: So, E.

E: What, M?

M: What do we look for in a foundation?

E: We wish it to make us look like Christy Turlington. And attract owls. That's very important.

M: Erm. Riiiiight. Can we deconstruct Christy Turlington's face please? I feel it's important to understand the individual components.

E: Uh. Dewy. Perfect. Smooth. Nice shape. But don't forget the owls.

M: Of course, E. Owls are good. OWLS ARE ACE.

E: Yes. My foundation better fucking attract owls or I want my money back. Why do you ask?

M: Well, I've been asked to review this foundation for London Beauty Review.

E: Oh?

M: It's YSL. TEINT RADIANCE, it is called.

E: YSL. Hmm. I had a bad experience with them back in 1994.

M: Oh yes?

E: They said I was autumn and made me wear orange lipstick.

M: Oh god. How can you be a season? HOW? (and why would autumn wear orange?)

E: Dunno. Like a pumpkin maybe? Do you think they've mended their ways, M?

M: I don't know. Back in the nineties I had this sort of base product, which was just sort of vaguely pink and did nothing.

E: Sounds... rubbish.

M: Here's what they have to say about this though:

"Just like an Yves Saint Laurent dinner jacket in the closet, TEINT RADIANCE is the classic indisputable foundation in your make up bag".

E: Ha. Like le SMOKING? For le face? Wow.

M: Yes. It is supposed to be le SMOKING of the foundation world. I am not adding the capitalization, by the way. That is all them.

E: D'ACCORD. Does your face have shiny lapels? Does it look like Bianca Jagger?

M: Ssssh.Do you want to know the secret of its effectiveness?


M: "the transparent mineral particles that reflect the light and the dual-reflecting pigments that sculpt the light ad shade of your face to enhance its glow". Eh?

E: I've read that three times, I still don't understand it.

M: Nope. Nada. Zilch.

E: what is "dual-reflecting"?

M: Reflects both ways? like... erm. A double faced mirror?

E: Oh, like in a line up in The Bill. Ok. It almost makes me nostalgic for the orange lipstick/pink goop that does nothing days.

M: I don't know. TEINT RADIANCE makes no sense. BUT.

E: Mmm?

M: I actually quite like this. Well, I hate the rather strong smell. And the sample I was sent was a bit too light.

E: So far so .. crap.

M: But my skin feels... naked. And smooth. And dare I say it, RADIANT.

E: LORDY. Well. That's impressive.

M: Yes! I am touching my face, and I can't feel anything. It's just a shame it smells like a grandmother. One of those antique french ones who lives in the 16th arrondissement.

E: Oh, I like that smell. Eau de mamie. What is the colour range like?

M: Hold on, let me check (I am clicking on the bit that says" DEVOTE YOUR FACE TO THE GLOW!). Oh, I get it now. This is the Touche Eclat of the foundation world. Why don't they just say that?

E: Aha. Ze ways of YSL zey are mysterious.

M: Well, the colour range is not bad... if you're somewhere between sickly marble white and mildly coloured.

E: Ok. Le Smoking Pour Le Face. We like?

M: I think so. You know, this is one I might just have to go and try for myself. I may even like it more than gasp! Mr Armani's foundation.

E: NOOOOOOOOOOO (ducks in fear of attack from lizard empire).

M: (Makes goat offerings to the lizard king).

If you liked that, you'll find more Facegoop at their truly excellent blog.  If you'd like to try YSL's Teint Radiance for yourself, it's available now at all YSL stockists, including Boots, where it will cost £28 for 30ml.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

L'Oreal Beauty Advent Calendar

I'm sure you've seen this little beauty being widely reported over the last two days.  L'Oreal's luxury products division have produced this gorgeous beauty Advent Calendar, which includes goodies from Giorgio Armani Cosmetics (including the very lovely Eyes To Kill mascara), Kiehl's, Lancome, Shu Uemura and YSL.

There are some real cult products on offer, including Viktor and Rolf's Flowerbomb fragrance, Shu Uemura cleansing oil, YSL Faux Cils mascara, Lancome Genifique, the ubiquitous Juicy Tube gloss, Lancome bi-facil makeup remover and Kiehl's Creme De Corps.

The only problem?  The products are rather tiny - fragrances are between 5ml and 7.5ml and skincare products are between 7ml and 30ml.  So you're essentially buying into 24 sample sized products - at a cost of £60.  If you're happy with paying around £2.50 per item, or you want to make a beauty addict extremely happy this Christmas, you can grab the set exclusively at Selfridges.

What do you think?  Lusting after one, or think it's overpriced?

Boots' Sanctuary Christmas gift discount is a cracker!

It's not often we get an embargoed press release. It's kind of a quaint concept - how can you embargo something online, where information flows as freely and unstoppably as water?

Anyway, the embargoed press release we got this week was to tell us about the latest in Boots' series of knock-down gift deals. Remember last year, the Soap & Glory hatbox set that was less than half price and sold out in hours? Well, Boots have decided to court that same frenzied popularity this year with a weekly deal leading up to Christmas, each week choosing a luxe gift to slash in price by over 50%.

This week's deal, available from 7.00am on Friday 22nd October (my birthday!), is a bumper kit of classic Sanctuary bodycare items (when I say "classic" I mean "the orange stuff they've been doing for ages that has that distinctive nice scent"). It comes in a beautiful miniature chest of drawers made of sturdy cardboard and while there are too many mini-sized bits in there for it to be worth the RRP of £40 in my opinion, it's definitely worth picking up at the offer price of £19.

The full contents:
  • 1x 250ml Body Wash 
  • 1x 50ml Body Scrub 
  • 1x 75ml Luxury Bath Float
  • 1x 75ml Foaming Bath Soak
  • 1x 250ml Body Lotion
  • 1x 150ml Body Butter
  • 1x 25ml Classic Eau de Toilette
  • 1x 30ml Hand Cream
  • 1x 60g Salt Scrub Sachet
  • Luxury Shower Cap
  • Spa Skin Body Polisher
Sound good? Check it out here.

Don't go getting too far ahead of yourself and loading up your basket though - crafty Boots will be clearing all shopping baskets of these sets just prior to 7.00am on Friday so that nobody can hog the deal by "pre-ordering" in bulk.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Review: NYX Rouge Cream Blush

Ah, NYX - I love their products.  Particularly their lipsticks, and their eyeshadows.  Being on a bit of a blush kick at the moment (I can't justify owning more lipstick or eyeshadow), I recently ordered a couple of their Rouge Cream Blushes.  I chose Glow, which is a rather strong, cool pink, and Rose Petal, which is a more beige toned blush pink.

First off, the packaging on these is pretty basic: your standard black plastic circular case, hinged lid with clear insert - nothing special.  The blushes themselves are comparable to MAC in their size; you get a reasonable amount of product in each pan.

The texture is absolutely lovely.  Soft, creamy, but almost mousse-y, the blush is highly pigmented, ultra blendable, and a little goes a long way.  Glow is much brighter and cooler than the more wearable, natural Rose Petal.

Blended, the colours are more wearable and subtle.   As you can see, the colour is still fairly strong, given the small amount I used to swatch; it'd be easy to go overboard with this product if you weren't careful.  The amount used above is as much as I've been using to blend across both cheeks, which is enough to give a healthy, noticeable yet subtle glow.

Wear-wise, I've found that the cream texture sticks very securely to the skin, lasting the whole day with ease. As the texture is so creamy, the finish is a little bit on the shiny side - I quite like it, as it gives a sort of built-in highlighter effect, but if that's not to your taste, a touch of powder over the top dampens the shine down to less obvious levels.

Overall, if you're in the market for a well pigmented, light textured cream blush, NYX Rouge Cream Blush is a good product to try out - particularly as they cost around $6 - very reasonable, given that you need so little - these are sure to last a long time.

If you'd like to try these for yourself, you can get them from, where they will cost around $6 - less if you wait for one of CherryCulture's frequent sales!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

New Boots 17 Christmas Collection - sparkly!

Disclosure - PR samples

This week, we've been getting acquainted with "Starry Eyes", the new Christmas collection from Boots 17. It earns an Ellie Goulding-esque "oh oh" from me because of the sumptuous choice of colours, especially in those glitter eyeliners.

There are 4 new eyeshadow trios, 4 glitter liners and a special "Wild Black" version of the blog hit Wild Curls mascara. There's also a new matte top coat for nails, although this is a new permanent addition rather than part of the Christmas collection.

17 makeup artist Vanesa Guallar told us that her favourite of the trios is easily Neptune, the gold, burgundy and forest green one. She showed us how to use the trios for a smoky eye with a pop of contrasting colour in the inner corner, and a glitter liner used to accent the lashline. It's a very easy, very flattering party look and these colours are perfectly chosen to create smoky eyes with a distinctive edge.

Here are the swatches (yes, we know that's what counts):

Glitter liners (top to bottom) Northern Star, Supernova, Stardust and Moonrock.
These liners are slightly multi-dimensional thanks to subtly different coloured glitter particles. Once dried they hold firmly to the lid, even after some rubbing with a finger, and there's little to no risk of glitter fallout. Although they will flake slightly after a few hours, they don't crumble to nothing like some cheap glitter liners will tend to. A bargain at £3.99. Stardust and Moonrock come especially recommended.

Eyeshadow trios (left to right) Neptune, Moondust, Starstruck, Galactic.

These are all shimmers, with the exception of the pink in Starstruck, which is matte, and the pale green in Moondust which is a glitter. There is some very fine glitter overspray to most of the other colours but underneath they're shimmer through and through. My favourites are Galactic and Neptune, mostly for those deep greens. All of these shadows are smooth and pigmented enough to thoroughly exceed expectations for their £4.99 pricepoint. They don't punch far enough above their weight to compete with Nars or Urban Decay, but on an off-day they give MAC eyeshadows a run for their money.

The Starry Eyes collection is out now at Boots, and happily coincides with a 3 for 2 offer on all 17 products. 

Monday, 18 October 2010

NOTD: Eyeko Pastel Polish

Disclosure: This polish was a gift from a friend, who received it at a recent Eyeko event.  So it's not a PR sample, but I still didn't pay for it myself.

Eyeko's Pastel Polish is a beautiful, pale blue shade which appears to have a cream finish.  Thanks to a very subtle shot of mid-blue shimmer, though, it looks like a gorgeous, glowing pale blue which catches the light so prettily.  Personally, I think Pastel is a very unremarkable name for such a remarkable colour; I probably would have called it Moonstone, myself!

The texture of the polish is a little on the thick side for my liking; this is three coats, each of which was pretty thick and consequently took absolute ages to dry.  The polish is also a little sheer; despite the three thick coats, I can still see a bit of visible nail line in some lights.  There's great scope for streakiness too - a hefty application of topcoat is definitely required.

That said, though, the wear has been excellent for a product that costs a mere £3.50 - these photos were taken after four days, and it's only starting to chip a little, mostly at the sides of the nails - no tipwear yet.

Although there are some definite issues with the application, I'm in love with this colour - it's been catching my eye every day that I've worn it with its ethereal glow.  It's unusual to find a colour which feels so absolutely unique, but this one really does feel like more than a standard baby blue, because of that oh-so-subtle shimmer.  That subtle shimmer, by the way, is incredibly hard to photograph: this is the best I could capture!

Eyeko Pastel Polish is limited edition, so if you like the colour, grab it now from, where it will cost you £3.50.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Beauty in aid of Breast Cancer: The Sanctuary Spa

Last week we posted about a small selection of the special edition products being released to support Breast Cancer awareness in October.  Today, we're highlighting a special deal being offered by the Sanctuary Spa in Covent Garden, in aid of Breast Cancer Care, for the month of October.

The package, which costs £99, includes a £5 donation to charity (not a massive proportion, but every little helps).  The Pink Pamper Day includes day entry to the famous spa and use of its facilities, a 25 minute treatment, pink prosecco and cupcake, and a Jessica pink nail polish to take home.

I've always wanted to visit the Sanctuary, but found that £60 entry fee a little high given that it only includes use of facilities and no treatments.  While this package is more expensive, it feels like you get more for your money, as well as contributing a little to a good cause.  A good choice if you were planning a little bit of me time this month!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Filthy Gorgeous Opens At Debenhams Oxford Street

Filthy Gorgeous is a new beauty concept that's just opened in Debenhams Oxford Circus, following their opening earlier this month in Glasgow.  Including both beauty services and product retail, the treatment menu is a bit of a departure from the usual facial-manicure-massage; some of the more unusual treatments are airbrush temporary tattoos (£5-£18) which last up to 10 days; and airbrush hair, which lasts until you shampoo your hair and promises instant highlights or root touch up (£5 per shade).

Package deals are also available starting from £50 for an hour, which gets you a polish application using Filthy Gorgeous nail colour, brow shape, airbrush foundation (which I've always wanted to try) and makeup application, and finally hair curl or straighten.  Pretty much everything you need to prepare for a night out, hot date, or just for a bit of pampering me time!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Review: TRESemme Salon Professional Curls Styling Wand

Disclosure: PR sample

TRESemme, king of reasonably priced shampoo and styling products, has brought out a range of styling appliances.  Sarah reviewed the Volume Styler that she'd been given to trial a while ago, and I received the Styling Wand - a conical ceramic styling wand which heats to around 200 degrees to give perfect, glossy curls.

The styler comes accompanied by a heatproof mat (which also wraps around the wand for storage) and a heatproof glove.  The basic premise is that you hold the wand vertically with the cool tip pointing downwards, using your gloved hand to wrap strands of hair around the barrel.  After spending a bit of time holding it the wrong way up and failing to make any curls (which is what happens when you don't read the instructions), I soon got the hang of using the wand to create gorgeously smooth loose curls.

The wand has three heat settings, for fine, normal and coarse hair.  I went straight for the coarse setting, as my hair is colour treated and quite unruly, and found that the wand managed to create curls pretty well at that setting, which is the hottest - I'd recommend trying out the lower settings first so as not to damage the hair, as the hottest setting is indeed very hot.

My next test was to hand the wand over to my good friend and hairdresser Silvie, who usually uses a Babyliss  curling wand day-to-day.  While she was initially sceptical, being that TRESemme isn't a brand you'd usually associate with professional usage, she quickly warmed to the wand - praising in particular the integrated stand above the grip, which allows you to set the wand down without any hot parts touching the surface you've stood it on.  She also liked the way that the heatproof map wraps around the wand, eliminating the worry of any residual heat damaging surfaces once you're done curling.

Overall, I've been very impressed with the quality of the TRESemme wand - it performs on a par with other professional wands I've used (via Silvie) in the past, and it's also very reasonably priced at around £29.  The curls it creates, spritzed with a bit of hairspray, last for around 8 hours for me, which is pretty good: my hair doesn't hold a style very well.  If you've got a hankering for a conical styler, you can't really go wrong with this!

Available at Boots, Tesco, and online at Just Beautifully, and it will cost you around £29.

What do you think?  Love conical stylers?  Tried this?

Estee Lauder Makeup Artist Colour Collection 2010

Every year, Estee Lauder release a colour collection that can be purchased alongside any one of their fragrances for significantly less than the contents cost separately.  This year, the Makeup Artist Colour Collection contains a whopping amount of product for the mere price of £49 when you buy any fragrance.  Having had a good look at a recent Estee Lauder Christmas event, I was very impressed by the quality (and quantity!) of makeup you get.
  • Four lipsticks
  • Double ended lipgloss
  • 18 eyeshadow palette
  • 4 blush palette
  • 3 eyeliner pencils
  • 4 makeup brushes (with glittery handles.  I'm in love)
  • Small makeup bag
  • Vanity case
  • Mirror
Quite a lot for £49, no?  I particularly love the golden vanity case; it reminds me of my Mum's vanity case which, before airline liquid restrictions, she would always carry as hand luggage onto planes, laden with lotions and potions.  I thought it was the height of glamour when I was little, and I can't help but want one for myself!

What do you think?  Something you'd give as a gift, or something you'd keep for yourself?  Bought any of these in the past?  Let us know in the comments!

Today only: Stupidly good Nails Inc offer - 10 polishes for £25!

Via Lipglossiping (that temptress of an enabler), here's an offer that'll have you sprinting for your debit card. 10 Nails Inc polishes for £25, available online today only.

You get:

Berkeley Square – dark grey (nice)
Eagle Street – dusky nude (nice)
Duchess Street – vibrant purple (oh yes)
The Vale – deep plum (eh)
Eden Grove – vibrant teal (totally!)
Montrose Place – iridescent hot pink (less sure)
Buckingham Street – hot pink glitter (maybe over black)
Dean Street – pillar box red (can't go wrong)
Maple Street – metallic brown (nice for autumn)
Shelton Street – gold glitter (handy to have)

There's enough good stuff in there to make this deal totally worthwhile in my opinion, and even if you don't love them all, at this price you can happily give some away to friends and family.
Charlotte's also turned up a handy discount code that promises a further £5 off.

AND - Nails Inc are doing a postal promotion at the moment too, so you can get next day delivery for the usual standard delivery rate of £3.95.

Just think, this time tomorrow you could be happily painting each nail a different colour, high school style.

Go get 'em! (I'm typing in my card details right now.)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Airport Beauty: Lancome and Clinique Travel Palettes

Disclosure: PR samples

Once upon a time, I got the opportunity to go to San Francisco for a conference.  The downside was that the trip was finalised on Friday night, and I needed to fly early Monday morning.  Oh, and I was at my then-boyfriend-now-husband's house in Yorkshire, with a train ticket that got me home to London at midnight Sunday.  Naturally, I threw some t-shirts, jeans, and pants into a suitcase and ran to the airport, and naturally, the first thing I did when I arrived in the US was to head to a department store and buy a full set of new makeup.

What I should have done, of course, was to pick up one of the travel exclusive palettes that are available at the airport, such as these two offerings from Clinique and Lancome.  Offering a compact kit which contains enough makeup to keep you going if you're short on time or packing space, these versatile little palettes even contain miniature brushes.  

Read on to see exactly what you get!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Lip of the Day: Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss #58 Emoi

Chanel's latest gloss, Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss, is super shiny, highly pigmented, long wearing gloss with a gel texture.  Designed to sit alongside the Rouge Allure lipstick, and Rouge Allure Laque liquid lipstick, this is the slightly sheerer, more gloss based sister to the already very well regarded lipstick shades.

Number 58, Emoi, is described as a "timeless, feminine red".  It's a red that's balancing finely on the edge of red and deep pink, making it much more wearable during the day than a classic bright red lip.  The pigmentation is striking, but not overwhelming, and the texture is very smooth and luxurious.

It does last a good few hours on the lip, and while the shine eventually dulls a little, it's still impressive for such an emollient gloss to not slip off within an hour or so.  Encased in a shiny black tube with golden top, it looks every inch the luxurious high end gloss option.  Lovely.

Available at Boots, department stores, etc, this gloss will cost you £22.50 a tube.  

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

NOTD: Estee Lauder Extravagant Night

Disclosure: PR sample

It's a bit of chameleon colour, this - in natural light, the silver sparkle really shows up and it shifts from deep purple to a sort of mauvey bronze, but in artificial light there are glints of golden sparkle and the colour looks more like a rich aubergine.  

The photo above shows three coats, and to be fair I could have done with a fourth coat, as I could still see a little bit of my nail line through the polish.  Wear was pretty good; the photo was taken after three days wear, and there is no chipping to be seen, although there's a fair bit of tipwear.

Available as part of the Estee Lauder Christmas collection as a limited edition product, this is a very unusual polish - sparkly and interesting, but not over the top, I think I'm going to be wearing this a lot this winter!  You can find it on counter now, where it will cost you £12.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Barry M Instant Nail Effects Winners

 Thanks all for entering!  Without further ado, our three winners are:



Talula B

Congratulations ladies!  You should have email from us at LBR asking for your addresses.  Hope you enjoy playing with your prizes.

Thanks all for entering, and we hope that Instant Nail Effects makes its way into your collection soon!
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