Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Review - Lush Dirty Springwash shower gel

Dirty was probably my favourite fragrance from the Gorilla Perfumes range back when it was sold in B Never Too Busy to be Beautiful (Lush's sadly now defunct cosmetic arm). I was delighted to learn it was coming back in a new incarnation, sold through Lush stores. And while I preferred the old distinctive B Never packaging to the standard Lush white-on-black, I'm very pleased that the range has been diversified to include lots of new products, including this Dirty Springwash shower gel.

Marketed at men, but by no means aggressively masculine, Dirty Springwash brings the Dirty minty-toothpaste vibe in spades, but lacks some of the deep herbal complexity of the fragrance proper. That said, it's a cool and refreshing take on the minty shower gel idea that leaves the burning menthol out of the equation and keeps things fresh and minty without being aggressively decongestant-like (I'm thinking of the first Original Source shower gels and the copycats that followed back in the day).

Dirty Springwash boasts bicarbonate of soda as one of its ingredients, which apparently can help soften hard water. Like most Lush shower gels, it also contains SLS, so if that disagrees with your skin/buying preferences then be aware before you take the plunge.

Generally, I'm a fan of this - it's a light, refreshing spearmint shower experience that leaves skin clean, soft and delicately scented. I wish there was more of the depth of Dirty EDP to it (I can't help feeling this is just mint and not much else) but it's still worthy of the Dirty name and will layer well with the fragrance.

Dirty Springwash is available in 100g (£4.25), 250g (£8.50) and 500g (£14.95) sizes from Lush stores or at www.lush.co.uk

Monday, 30 May 2011

5 steps to a perfect cateye with liquid eyeliner

Recently, a friend posted on Twitter that she'd just bought a liquid eyeliner and was trying to work out how best to use it. My first thought was to direct her to a good tutorial, and Google provided me with plenty of them, but most were in video form. I couldn't find a good text & image tutorial anywhere. So I decided to make my own picture-based post on how to do a quick, easy cat-eye.

For this tutorial I've chosen to use Urban Decay's Liquid Liner in Revolver; a) because it's an inkwell liquid liner, probably the best-known format, and b) because, God bless you Urban Decay but the brush on this is really thick and unwieldy. Plus, mine is starting to clump like crazy. So, this will be an exercise in how to do a good cat-eye even without your fine liner brush and expensive smooth liner - if it's possible to do a good cat eye with my beat-up old Revolver, it should be a breeze with whatever you're using.

Let's begin.

Step 1
Start with a liner-free eye. You might want to apply an eyeshadow base or a wash of eyeshadow before your liner to make the application easier. If you're just practising your cat-eye, don't spend too much time on prepping the eye, though, as mistakes are difficult to fix without messing up your eyeshadow.

Step 2
Bring the liner brush up to your eye and hold it parallel to the lash line. Lightly press the brush against the lash roots, as close against the lashes as you can. Don't draw the brush across at this stage. Just press. Repeat along the lash line until you have a patchy line.

Step 3
Now, draw the brush along the whole lashline from the inner corner outwards, joining up the patchy line you made before, and making it smoother and more even. Don't extend the line up your lid - keep the brush close to the lashline still. You're just getting coverage right beside the lashes at this point - you'll build up the cat-eye later on.

Step 4
Now, the flick. With your eye open, observe how your lower lashline curves upwards, and use your brush to continue this curve, extending for about 5mm (1/8 inch) out and upwards from the corner of your eye. Start the upward "flick" line from the end of the first line you made on the upper lid. Don't worry about connecting the two lines neatly at this stage - just get an angle you're happy with.

Step 5
The final step is joining up the flick with the rest of your lashline. Start from the outward point of your upward "flick" line, and, keeping the skin as taut as possible, draw a line across to meet the highest point of your lashline. You should have a triangular outline. Just fill it in.

That's it!

Was this helpful? Do you do your liner in a different way? Let us know in the comments.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Sunday Home Spa

Does anyone else use Sunday late afternoons and early evenings to finish the week with a bit of a home spa session?  I feel much happier, more relaxed, and ready for the week ahead once I've given myself a top-to-toe treat.  Here's the lowdown on some great products to create that home spa experience.

Nothing starts off a home spa evening like a facial:  I begin with a good double cleanse.  A hard-working oil like Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil takes off any makeup, and something a bit creamier, like Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish*, completes the cleansing.  I skip the muslin cloth because of the exfoliation to come.

After a thorough rinse, I use NuBo's Diamond Peel and Reveal*, which is essentially a two-step home microdermabrasion treatment - you can only use this once a week, it's so powerful.  After use, my skin is incredibly clean, bright and smooth - but very, very dehydrated due to the intense exfoliating action.

A calming, moisturising mask like Decleor Harmonie Calm Comforting Mask*, or Caudalie Vinosource Moisturising Cream-Mask injects some much needed moisture into the skin - with the added benefit that both masks can be left on to sink into the skin completely whilst you relax.

A long, relaxing bath with a good book is a Sunday essential for me - and if I'm in the mood for foam, it's Soap and Glory's Calm One, Calm All, which manages to be both bubbly and moisturising, or for those bath oil days, Penhaligon's Bluebell Bath Oil* is supremely relaxing.

After a good soak, there's nothing like a full body exfoliation to make you feel fresh, clean and silky smooth.  I'm a lazy cow, so I use the Body Shop's Bath Gloves with whatever shower gel is nearby from top to toe, paying extra attention to feet and elbows.  A quick rinse down with some cool water leaves me feeling refreshed, and I finish off with some lazy moisturising - dry oil spray.  I've been using dry oil from Somethin' Special, a cottage industry company dealing in handmade products.  The oils, whilst not cheap, are very moisturising and come in hundreds of scents.

Topped off with a quick change of nail polish, my Sunday spa regime leaves me feeling very relaxed and refreshed, ready for a new week.  What's your favourite way to relax at the end of the week?  Do you have a home spa regime?  What products work for you?  Let us know in the comments! 

* Denotes PR samples

Saturday, 28 May 2011

NOTD - Wild and Crazy Hard Ball

During a recent trip to my hometown I picked up a few US import polishes from a local shop there that does Sinful, Wild and Crazy, NYX and other exciting things. Hard Ball is an unusual duochrome with a metallic sheen. It took about 4 coats to go on opaque, so would probably be better on a grey or sky blue base.

The colour is really distinctive. The base colour is pale blue, with a contrasting sheen that shifts between orange and lemon yellow. It reminds me of the light at sunset in California (on the two occasions I've been there).

I paid around £2.99 for this, and for the distinctive colour and 4-day wear, I'd have been glad to pay 2 or 3 times as much. If you see this around online, I recommend picking it up.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Lip of the Day: Inglot Slim Gel Lipstick #55

This is Inglot's Slim Gel Lipstick in shade 55, a brownish red with subtle coppery glitter.  I chose it because I love a red lip, and own rather a lot of red lipsticks, but don't have anything anywhere near this shade.  It's rich, dramatic, and flattering, and would look rather lovely paired with neutral blush and copper-brown liner.  Lovely.

The formula of the Slim Gel Lipstick is strange; until it's warmed up, it's like a stick of wax - hard, unyielding, and draggy when applied to the lips.  Once it's warmed up, though, it takes on a much softer, weightless feeling, and is extremely comfortable on the lip, whilst maintaining a texture that grips the lips and doesn't feel slippy.  I like it - and I might have to investigate a few of the other colours in the range soon.

Unfortunately, Inglot still haven't sorted their online store for the UK out - so if you'd like to check this out, you'll have to trek to Inglot at the Westfield shopping centre in London, where the lipstick will cost you around £10.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Sneaky Peek: No 7 False Lashes

No 7's new range of false lashes come in a wide variety of styles to take you from daytime flutter to nighttime glamour.  Here's a sneaky peek at the 50 Lash - the second most dramatic in the range.

They're supplied with clear glue, and whilst I could feel the glue along my lashline once they were applied, there was absolutely none of that heaviness you sometimes get with a fluttery pair of lashes.  For such a dramatic effect, I can barely feel them on my eye at all - I'll definitely be trying some of the more natural styles when they're released!

No 7 lashes will be available from late August and will cost you a very reasonable £7.50.

Disclosure:  Applied free of charge at a press event

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Review: Nude Replenishing Night Oil

It's not often that I take before and after photos for skincare.  I do it for eye creams which promise to cut down dark circles, and for short-term radiance boosting products, but generally not for more basic maintenance products.  This is simply because it can take a long time for any difference to appear on the skin and a photo of a single moment in that long time period isn't necessarily indicative of any result.  So, when I started using this Nude Replenishing Night Oil, I didn't take a before photo.  And now, I'm really wishing I had!

Nude Replenishing Night Oil is a bit of a rare beast in that its ingredients list is composed of entirely oils, both base and essential.  No chemical bits you can't pronounce, let alone understand.  Just oil.  I've been applying two drops to just-cleansed skin on a nightly basis and I've been very, very impressed.

Facial oils can sometimes be slightly heavy, and if they are heavy, they can also be difficult to blend over the skin.  I've tried a fair few which have been best applied to a slightly damp face, so the oil can move atop the water for even distribution.  Nude's facial oil requires absolutely no tricks, though - it's incredibly light and velvety for something which is made entirely of oil, and is very easy to spread across the skin.  Two drops is enough to more than adequately cover my entire face.

Once applied, I can almost feel my skin start to absorb the oil immediately.  There's no going to bed with a residue on the skin with this oil, as by the time it's been applied, and massaged in slightly, it's pretty much absorbed.  I've been applying a bit of moisturiser on top of the oil, as my forehead is quite dry at the moment, and I've been waking up with incredibly soft, plumped up, glowing skin.

A month later, and I'm pretty sure that my frown lines and forehead lines are softened and less noticeable, and that my skin overall is more radiant, softer, and generally looks very, very healthy.  And that's why I'm kicking myself about the lack of before and after photos!  At £44 for £15ml, this is an expensive oil - but the gorgeous, melting texture, and glowy, healthy skin effect, I reckon it's worth it.  I'll definitely be repurchasing.

Nude Replenishing Night Oil costs £44 for 15ml and is available from SpaceNK, and the Nude website - although it's quite hard to find stock right now, as it's been featured in the Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible as a bit of a wonder product.  What do you think?  Tried this, or any other facial oils?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Review: Estee Lauder Sumptuous Waterproof Mascara

I love a bit of mascara, me.  So long as it's volumising, lengthening, non-clumping, non-smudging, wears well, creates world peace, and doesn't cost an absolute bomb, I'll try pretty much any brand - and I can count on one hand those which I've bought more than once.  This Estee Lauder Sumptuous Waterproof mascara was a PR sample that sat in my makeup bag for quite some time gathering dust, until the recent heatwave kicked in and I became obsessed with makeup that doesn't budge, even when you're unglamourously sweaty.

With its traditional fibre brush, Sumptuous Waterproof isn't going to give you that absolutely clean, perfectly defined look that you get from mascara with a plastic bristle brush.  And indeed, you do need to be a bit careful in the application to ensure that clumps are kept to a minimum.  Putting a bit of effort in is well worth it, though - apply carefully and you'll end up with luscious, dramatic lashes which are sooty black.

I'm very pleased with the effects - I love lashes that are thick and voluminous and really, really black.  Having hooded, oily eyelids, I've found that even waterproof mascara can smudge and transfer onto my lid - and I was very happy to discover that Sumptuous Waterproof doesn't smudge or transfer at all.  In fact, this is probably one of the best waterproof mascaras I've ever tried - it blends excellent waterproof wear with a reliable formula, unlike the last high end waterproof mascara I tried.  If I end up with any wedding invitations for the next few months, I'll be sure to wear this.

If you'd like to try Sumptuous Waterproof mascara for yourself, you'll find it at Estee Lauder counters at Boots and major department stores, and via their website, where it will cost you £19.  What do you think?  What's the best waterproof mascara you've ever tried?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Monday, 23 May 2011

Review & Swatches: L'Occitane Tourbillon Cerise Lipstick

L'Occitane are best known for their divine skin and body care products, but their recent decision to release limited edition makeup collections has found many beauty lovers flocking to try out their flattering, wearable shades and soft textures.  The limited edition Pivoine Flora collection, released in conjunction with the fragrance of the same name, is just as desirable.  This lipstick is one of the four available in the mini-range, and is a gorgeous red that veers more towards the crimson or garnet end of the spectrum.  It's deeper and richer than a classic red, and thanks to the well pigmented but not totally opaque finish, incredibly wearable - this is not a loud, shouty red lip at all.

Texture wise, it's a pretty standard affair for a semi-matte lipstick.  It's not overly moist, and doesn't glide on the lips - there's a tiny bit of dragging until the lipstick warms up on the skin.  It is, however, very comfortable to wear - it lasts for about three to four hours before it's faded enough to need a top up, and I've not noticed any dryness cropping up during the wear time.

All in all, this is a lovely red lipstick - particularly for those who prefer a less shouty, more subtle red lip.  At £12, it's not cheap, and whilst the product itself is absolutely lovely, I'm not convinced that the cardboard packaging is sturdy enough to justify the price.  If you're only likely to pop it in your handbag every so often, it will probably last pretty well - but after a week knocking around in my lipstick purse, my sample is looking a bit dented.  

If you'd like to try out L'Occitane's limited edition Pivoine Flora lipsticks, you'll find them at L'Occitane stores and concessions, and via their website, where each lipstick will cost you £12.  What do you think?  Is this your kind of red?  Tried L'Occitane yourself?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Urban Decay Primer Potion Now Available In Tubes!

Urban Decay's cult Primer Potion, so famous for its eyeshadow gripping properties that it's known just by its initials, is now available in a squeezy tube.  This is great news for consumers - as any UDPP user will know, the original packaging rendered about half the primer unusable unless you were prepared to take a knife to your tube and scrape the primer into a pot.

The new squeeze tubes are 11ml instead of 10ml in the original, and with that new packaging, hopefully the whole 11ml will be easy to use straight out of the tube.  The price, unfortunately, has gone up - the original 10ml tube was £11.50, and this new squeezy version is £14.50.  That said, I'll quite happily take the price hike to avoid having to chop up my makeup to get good value out of it!

Available in original (clear), Eden (matte yellow), Sin (champagne shimmer), and Greed (gold shimmer), you'll find the new tubes wherever UD is stocked - including BeautyBay online.

Clarins Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balm

Look at this amazing thing. It's like a push-pop. It's bright orange and translucent and smells of strawberries. Brilliant.

It's Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balm from Clarins, a limited edition product for spring/summer. This is its second outing, brought back by popular demand after it achieved cult status during its first release last year. It comes in three shades, Crystal Coral, Crystal Red and Crystal (which is pink). This one is Crystal Coral. It's not coral though, it's bright day-glo orange, and I'm not going to listen to a word suggesting otherwise. I love that its orange. If I'd made it, it would be called Clashing Clementine or Tangerine Tantrum. That's not very Clarins, but still.

It's a balm in bullet form, and it comes in a lovely heavyweight silver-toned tube with clear orange accents. The texture, when applied, is much like a sheer lipstick - very light, comfortable and (as the name implies) instantly smoothing. I don't recognise much from the ingredient list, but the blurb assures me that it contains lip-conditioning substances. Not dimethicone, lanolin or petrolatum though, so I'm not sure exactly what is at work here. Apparently it uses "gelled oils" and borrows filling and smoothing ingredients from Clarins' skincare line. Here's how it looks on my lips:

Not much colour or shine, but quite smooth and soft. It sinks right in and leaves lips well moisturised but not slippy or coated.

To be honest though, the lip conditioning element is of secondary importance to me. I mainly love looking at its insane orange translucent-ness, and playing with the shiny heavy tube, and smelling its strawberry scent when I apply it. Look at the embossed bullet, there. So cool. And the top of the tube is embossed too, with the Clarins logo.

I realise this hasn't been much of a review - more a post in which I indicate the amazing bright orange see-through lipstick/balm and kind of point at it and go "look, look, it's brilliant!" But I encourage you to get one. Because it's classy, original, super-smoothing and a pleasure to use. Worth £16.50 of anybody's money.

Clarins Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balm is available from June 2011 at £16.50 from Clarins counters nationwide.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Review & Swatches: Liz Earle Sheer Gold Shimmer

Liz Earle's Sheer Gold Shimmer is described as "light, refreshingly scented gel", containing lots of golden glitter suspended in it, to give light and sparkle to the face and body.  Perfect, then, for summer evenings when you want a bit of shimmer on your skin.  It certainly is light - a small dollop smoothed across the skin goes a bit further than I'd thought, and leaves the skin feeling refreshed and looking sparkly, with absolutely no residue whatsoever.  This is definitely a product to use for the effect rather than any skin benefit!

A splodge on the skin shows the density of the golden glitter - I was a little bit afraid of the sheer amount of glitter in this product when I first squeezed a dab out of the tube, but luckily due to the spreadability of the gel, you end up with a subtle, dispersed effect.  The glitter itself is also very fine; there's no gritty feeling to this gel at all.

In the sunlight, you can just about see a subtle golden gleam on the skin.  Very wearable, and a lot less glittery than I'd thought it would be!  Once the summer gets going properly, I can see myself using this on my collarbone (and perhaps my shins if I'm brave enough to get my lily-white legs out of their tights) for a pretty sheen.  I'm not too sure, though, that I'd use this on my face - whilst the effect is subtle, it's probably still too sparkly.

If you'd like to try Liz Earle's Sheer Gold Shimmer for yourself, you'll find it at Liz Earle stores, concessions, and via the Liz Earle website, where a 50ml tube will cost a very reasonable £8.95, and a smaller 15ml tube will cost £4.60.  What do you think?  Like a bit of shimmer for summer, or scared of looking glittery?  Tried this product yourself?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Friday, 20 May 2011

Kryolan Shades palettes in Rio - matte rainbow eyeshadows

We recently received a few samples from the Kryolan range, which took me right back to 5 years ago when I used to browse the makeup communities on Livejournal every day. (That was before social media, kids, and before there were even beauty blogs in the UK, if you can imagine such a thing.) On those makeup communities, pigmentation was everything, and Kryolan was considered the last word in colour.

Kryolan is stage makeup from Germany, aimed squarely at the professional makeup artist. The packaging, which is very hard-wearing and practical in design, bears the Kryolan logo of a theatrical mask. It may be no surprise to you that Kryolan are also the suppliers of Illamasqua's eyeshadows, which are famous for their uncompromising vibrancy.

Back when I was reading the Livejournal makeup communities, I didn't have the budget for Kryolan. So although these days my tastes run to less vibrant makeup, I was still quite excited to get a chance to actually play with some real Kryolan at long last.

The palettes we were sent each contain 5 MAC-sized pans, along with a high-quality (relative to the usual cheap brushes and sponge applicators) eyeshadow brush. The hinges are solid and feel like they'd really last the distance, and the mirror is good too. Colour-wise, this palette doesn't disappoint. It's a real primary spectrum, running from red to blue.

The most pigmented shades are the blue and the two greens. The yellow is quite sheer, and took a few swipes to show up in the swatches above. The red is somewhat better, but it does lean towards faded pink. I found that it was best used to layer over the blue shade to make a purple.

Here are some pics of the colours on the eye. The lime green creates an amazing vivid look, and goes extremely well with the teal and blue shades.

I found that these need to be packed on to really show true to pan, and like Illamasqua's shadows they're very dry and fine, so they will lift off the skin unless there is a base underneath for them to grip to. (You can see that happening in the top picture, because I didn't use a base here.) I much prefer this to overly-greasy shadows which adhere to the skin because they're full of mineral oil, but it does mean that a base is a must unless you're happy for the colour to fade or you want to apply lightly for a sheer effect.

Luckily, Kryolan also make an eyeshadow base, which comes in a squeezy tube. It deserves its own review really, but suffice to say it does the job very nicely.

Kryolan Shades palette in Rio, £16.30 from Love Makeup

Disclosure - PR samples

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Review & Swatches: Accessorize Merged Blusher in Pretty Pink

Having adored the Accessorize eye shadows I tried out, I decided that it would be rude not to try one of the blushes from the range, so I picked up a beautifully marbled blush in Pretty Pink.

In the pan, the blush looks like a delicate pale pink, with veins of icy lilac and a slightly paler golden pink.  It's a very pretty little pot of colour, from the butterflies on the outer casing, to the intricately marbled blush itself.

Swatched, though, it becomes apparent that this shade is very unlikely to work as a blush for even the palest skins.  It's much more of a highlighter; a beautiful, useable pale pink highlighter which is very flattering on the skin, but still... it's not quite the product I purchased.  As a highlighter, I like it very much - it's softly textured, has a beautiful non-glittery sheen, and gives a gentle radiance to the cheekbones.  But I'm disappointed - I purchased a blush, and I was expecting a blush.  Be warned!

Accessorize blush (or highlighter) is available at Superdrug stores, where it will cost you £5.50 and online at the Accessorize website, where it will cost £5.  What do you think?  Tried this product, or one of the more blush-y shades in the range?  Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Lip of the Day: Clarins Colour Quench Lip Balm in Sweet Fig

This summer, Clarins will revamp the existing lineup of Colour Quench Lip Balm shades, introducing eight juicy new shades.  Sweet Fig is one of them - and it's instantly become my new favourite neutral shade.  It's pigmented enough that it covers the slight blueness around the outside of my lips, with a glossy, slightly shimmery finish.  The best thing about this product, though, is the texture - it's ultra silky, with a jelly like feel on the lips, and once the glossiness has worn off, it leaves the lips feeling gorgeously well moisturised.

Top row, left to right: Pink Marshmallow, Peach Nectar, Candy Pink, Raspberry Smoothie
Bottom row, left to right: Delicious Plum, Sweet Papaya, Strawberry Sorbet, Sweet Fig

On the topic is wear, this product is designed to last longer on the lips - and indeed, I find that the glossy finish lasts about an hour and a half, which is pretty good for something that's a silky soft balm as opposed to a sticky gloss.  Paired with a strong eye, this slightly pinkish neutral has become a firm favourite in my lipstick purse.

Available with the Clarins summer collection in June, Colour Quench Lip Balm will cost £15.  I'm rather tempted by Strawberry Sorbet, a bright mid pink, which looks pretty perfect for summer.

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