Wednesday, 31 August 2011

NOTD Illamasqua Raindrops

I had been meaning to try and get hold of Raindrops ever since it was released through one of Illamasqua's public competitions last year. Raindrops was one of three polishes conceived by fans of the brand and chosen for their originality. This one is the brainchild of Ann Black (thanks Ann!) and is inspired by raindrops on a monorail window on a wet day in Seattle.

Luckily, I found it last week as part of the Illamasqua summer sale, and was quick to pick up a bottle online. It's a grey-blue shade, a bit reminiscent of Eyeko's similarly-themed Rain, although this is a jelly rather than a creme, and is made more unique by the inclusion of small silver flakes of reflective stuff that give it a really striking twist.

This is 4 coats (jelly polish, go figure). The flakes are very densely packed, however, so it could easily be worn as a topcoat over a similar colour to get the same effect more easily.

Raindrops is currently £5 in the Illamasqua summer sale. Regular polish price is £13.50.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Tom Ford's new makeup line - first thoughts and swatches

We were invited down to an opulent Park Lane hotel last week to take a gander at the new cosmetic line from Tom Ford. Following the rave reception of his Private Blend lip colours, Mr Ford has pushed the boat out with a complete new cosmetic line featuring over 100 products, including skincare, eyeshadow, mascara, base, powder, eyeliner, blush and generally everything you could need to create a perfectly made-up face.

The following snaps were taken on the night, after dark and under artificial lighting so they're not the best we've ever taken, but hopefully they'll give an idea of the delights Tom has in store for the UK's discerning cosmetic-o-phile.

Skincare - here you can see eye makeup remover, cleanser, moisturiser, serum, eye cream etc. We didn't get a chance to sniff or swatch these, but can report that the packaging looks both practical and high quality.

Bases ahoy - here are 9 shades of Traceless Foundation (with a matching stick version for each shade). To the right are a highlighter, and a highlight/contouring kit with 2 cream pans in one mirrored compact. The tubes at the front are mascara.

Face powder compacts - each with TF's initials embossed onto the powder cake and with a high-quality miniature brush for application.

Blushes - 6 high-pigmented shades. We especially liked the cool bright pink on the far right. In the foreground you can see a clear gloss and the beginning of the row of lipsticks. Behind, there's a selection of eyeliners and a cream liner in a round pot.

The lipsticks - these are going to replace the white casing versions on sale at the moment. The colour choices will be slightly different too. Some shades, like Cherry Lush, will be preserved from the white editions, while some (like Moroccan Rouge) will be lost. There are also plenty of new shades in the new black casings, including a generous selection of nudes.

Eyeshadows. Tom has really gone to town on these quads, which feature a range of matte, glittery and shimmering shades that run the gamut from cool to warm to bright to neutral, all highly pigmented and velvet-soft. These were an instant focal point for us. We managed to swatch a few too -

 Titanium Smoke

Crushed Amethyst 

 Cobalt Rush

Sahara Haze

Silvered Topaz

Finally, there are 2 new additions to the sublime Private Blend fragrance family - Santal Blush, a spicy oriental with a base of skin-scented musk, and Jasmine Rouge, an all-out sensuous white floral packing plenty of jasmine and tuberose. If Santa is reading, Santal Blush is very high on my Christmas list indeed.

Tom Ford Beauty will be available on selected Tom Ford counters from September 3rd, and will hit all counters nationwide from October 3rd. Start saving now - the range is pricey, with blushes coming in at around £40, foundations £60 and those divine eye quads £62. Later on in the autumn there will also be nail lacquers added to the collection.

Will you be indulging?

Monday, 29 August 2011

Review: Hairfix Release, Revive and Replenish Hair Recovery Regime

A recent QVC browsing session introduced me to the HairFix range, which was rated as one of the best selling and best reviewed ranges that QVC stock.  My curiosity piqued, I couldn't resist trying to range out for myself.

The HairFix Recovery Regime is designed for hair that's damaged, depleted of moisture, and overloaded with product.  My initial thoughts were that my hair doesn't fulfil all those requirements - I stopped using products containing silicones a while ago in a bid to stop using harsh surfactants (SLS), and now only use PEG silicones, which are more easily removed from the hair, so I get very little build up nowadays.  Still - anything that deep cleanses whilst rebuilding and moisturising is well worth a shot in my book!

The regime is made up of three products:
  • Release, a non-foaming pre treatment which loosens build up
  • Revive, a gentle keratin-packed foaming cleanser (SLS free) which removes build up entirely and deep cleanses
  • Replenish, a keratin based conditioning rinse, which adds moisture
Once a week, you work your way through each phase, massaging a few pumps of each product into the hair and leaving for a few minutes before rinsing.  I've been concentrating on the roots with Release and Revive, ensuring that I work the products throughout the lengths of the hair after a good initial rub at the roots, and rinsing thoroughly after a minute.  With Replenish, I've been applying mostly to the mid lengths and ends, and leaving for a good couple of minutes before rinsing to get as much moisture into the hair as possible.

After use, my hair is incredibly soft, very light, and swishy in a way I've never experienced.  After washing with Revive, my hair already feels calm, hydrated, and not overly tangly, and the application of Replenish ensures that my hair is absolutely smooth and silky - for a conditioner with a medium thickness, I'm surprised at how well it detangles and hydrates with just a few pumps of product.

I'm convinced - this regime is an excellent weekly treat for the hair, leaving it fresh, shiny and bouncy.  If you like products that contain silicone, or use a lot of styling product, you'll probably find that this regime makes a big difference to the condition of your hair.

If you'd like to try the regime for yourself, you'll find a travel sized collection at QVC, which would be a great introduction to the range, containing 100ml sizes of the three products and costing around £12.  If you're after full size products, BeautyBay carries the range and sells them individually too, where a single product will cost £9.95 for 240ml.  What do you think?  Tried Hairfix?  Hair feeling the need for a detox?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: The Replenish product was a PR sample.  I couldn't resist buying the sister products to give the range a proper test!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Quick Pick: Waitrose Pure Gentle Eye Makeup Remover

I'll admit it, I rarely buy own brand skincare products.  I also rarely buy eye makeup remover, preferring to dissolve my eye makeup with a good dose of oil cleanser.  When a beauty therapist recommended Waitrose Pure Gentle Eye Makeup Remover, though, I had to buy a bottle and try it out.

At a very wallet friendly £1.94 a bottle, the packaging is basic and functional.  The product within, though, is surprisingly good.  It's a thin, slightly cloudy liquid, with very little discernible scent, and rubbed gently over the eye with a cotton pad, it effectively removes eye makeup.  Granted, you'll have to apply a bit more pressure for waterproof formulas, and ultra waterproof products may not come off cleanly, but for normal eye makeup, it works a charm.  The eye area is left feeling cool, clean and refreshed, with no residue and absolutely no stinging at all.  Even with oil cleansers, I'm sometimes left with eyelashes that feel like they've still got a bit of mascara clinging to them, but with this remover, my eyelashes are left absolutely clean and soft.

Overall, this is a gem of an eye makeup remover, and one I'll definitely repurchase.  At £1.94, it's perfect for the smallest of budgets, too, leaving more money in your wallet for high end lipstick - works for me!

If you'd like to try Waitrose Pure Gentle Eye Makeup Remover for yourself, you'll find it at Waitrose and Ocado, where 200ml will cost £1.94.  What do you think?  Tried this yourself?  Already got a favourite budget eye makeup remover?  Let us know in the comments!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Swatches: Estee Lauder Eyeshadow Duos











Vanilla Pods

Vanilla Pods
Disclosure - PR samples

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Review & Swatches: GOSH Nail Glitters

GOSH nail glitters are little pots of sparkling goodness, designed for dipping the nail to produce a high-opacity, high-sparkle finish.  Start off by coating the nail in a thin coat of polish - quick drying is probably not what you want here - wait a moment for it to become tacky, and then dip your finger into the pot.  

The pots are deep enough to allow you to get your entire nail and fingertip fully immersed.  They're also only half full of glitter, to ensure plenty of space for the finger, which helps ensure that the glitter can reach the whole nail.

After a few seconds of immersion, the glitter will have adhered to the nail polish, and also to the surrounding skin!  I've found that I get a fairly opaque covering of glitter on the first dip.  After a few minutes, the underlying polish dries down - after a bit of experimenting, I've found that the best way to clean up is to hold the fingers under a running tap for a few moments, which allows the excess glitter to be swept away.

The finished nail has an ultra sparkly, glamourous finish, which would be perfect for a night out on the town.  That said, given the application technique, the finish isn't particularly even - the glitter sticks a little unevenly, and it's hard to get a truly precise finish without a lot of practice.  The nail texture is also rather rough, because the glitter is stuck to the surface of the nail, rather than suspending in liquid like you'd get with a normal glitter varnish.  Additionally, as the glitter is stuck only on one side, you can't really apply a topcoat over the top to anchor it down, as the topcoat brush will pick up any errant loose bits, filling your bottle of topcoat with unintended sparkles.

Blue Sapphire and Amethyst Purple

Rose Quartz and Jade Green

Ruby Red and Turquoise

Silver and Gold

Grey Moonstone and Topaz Lavender

The verdit, then?  These nail glitters are pretty cool, making for some fun, sparkly nail looks which will add impact on a special occasion, but I'd probably avoid wearing the full sparkly nail look day to day.  Due to the lack of protection over the nail surface, the glitter finish wears off over time and after a day or two, the glitter becomes a bit patchy.  I've been really enjoying the effect of using the glitters to apply colourful tips to polished nails, though.

GOSH nail glitters are available exclusively in Superdrug stores, where they cost £3.95 each.  Have you tried them?  What do you think?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Quick Pick: Ciate Love Me Cranberry Cuticle Oil

Ciate's Love Me Oil is a pink-tinted, cranberry scented cuticle oil.  Packaged in Ciate's trademark curvy bottle, it's not as heavy as some cuticle oils I've tried in the past; it's light, relatively easily absorbed, and effectively softens and conditions the cuticles.

Generally, there's not much to separate cuticle oils - and whilst this one is rather lovely to use, it's relatively expensive at £11 for 13.5ml.  Given the tiny amount needed per application, it's likely that a bottle of this will last a very long time - but still, it's definitely possible to get find cheaper oils on the high street.  If you're interested, you'll find it at Ciate's website.  Do you use a cuticle oil?  Tried this one?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Monday, 22 August 2011

Beauty Box Showdown: Glossybox vs Boudoir Prive

Left to right: Boudoir Prive box; GlossyBox

In the past couple of months, two companies have released beauty boxes into the UK market, providing monthly deliveries of trial-sized products which cost £10 a month on a subscription basis.  But which is best?  Read on for a comparison on the first Boudoir Prive box, dispatched in August, and the first GlossyBox, dispatched in May.


The two beauty boxes are incredibly similar in their outer postal packaging - both arrive in heavy duty yet still pretty printed cardboard, with their pink inner boxes nestled within.  The inner boxes (which contain the product) are nigh on identical - very similar shades of pale pink, with a black accent in the centre of the top face to give a bit of brand identity.  The GlossyBox sports the brand's stylised crown logo, with the Boudoir Prive box attired in a more verbose stamp design bearing the brand's name.  The GlossyBox features a fully removable lift-off lid, where the Boudoir Prive box has a folding flap lid.  

Boudoir Prive

The internal packaging is also spookily similar.  Black tissue paper wraps the products, which lie on black shredded cardboard, with a pale pink ribbon tying the whole kit and kaboodle together.  Note that the placement of the brand logo sticker, which holds the tissue paper closed, is exactly the same.  At this stage, I was starting to wonder if perhaps these boxes are created by the same company.  Otherwise, one could speculate that the Boudoir Prive folk (who launched after Glossybox) were perhaps inspired by the first-to-market product.

Product Selection


The GlossyBox contains five products, including a full size All For Eve lipstick and NARS Orgasm Illuminator (in the old, discontinued packaging), and smaller sample sizes of Como Shambala Invigorate body lotion, Bionova cleanser, and Alterna hair repair spray.  My first thought upon opening the box was "OMGFULLSIZENARSPRODUCT" (and I suspect many others thought the same).  I feel mildly guilty about the inclusion of the All For Eve lipstick - it is, first and foremost, a charity product, designed to raise money for the Eve Appeal, which funds gynaecological cancer research.  Its retail cost is 50p more than the £10 you'd pay for a GlossyBox.  I hope this doesn't mean that the charity got less money because of the lipstick's inclusion.

Overall, GlossyBox has a good range of high end brands which are likely to be recognisable to your average, well informed beauty lover.  A full size high end makeup product is always going to go down well.

Boudoir Prive
The Boudoir Prive box contains seven products - none are full size, and none are mass market brands.  The box includes Sachajuan hair repair, Jane Iredale lash conditioner, Olavie body butter, Babor night cream, two Etat Libre d'Orange perfume samples, and some tea bags.  Firstly... tea bags?  I know health and beauty are often lumped together, but tea bags are not beauty products (unless they are an eye compress or something), healthful as they are.  I've heard of Babor and Jane Iredale before, but Sachajuan is only vaguely ringing a bell in my mind, and I've not heard anything about Etat Libre d'Orange or Olavie.  The prices given in the handy leaflet included in the box tells me that these are high end, niche brands, with the full size Olavie body butter costing an eye watering £45.

Overall, the Boudoir Prive box seems to be more about niche, luxe products, and I'd expect to be surprised by the contents of future boxes more than I would with GlossyBox.  Although I really hope there isn't more tea.


What we have here are two incredibly similar products; there's nothing between them in packaging terms, with both boxes giving you an experience akin to opening a little gift rather than a box of stuff you chose and paid for.  Product wise, the selections in the launch boxes are very different - GlossyBox seems tuned more to the well informed high-end shopper, with a few curveballs thrown in, whereas Boudoir Prive seems to be aiming more for the beauty addict who's seen it all and is looking for more niche, elusive brands.

Ultimately, if you'd like a box of interesting little surprises once a month, there's not much between Boudoir Prive and GlossyBox.  GlossyBox does claim to target its box contents towards the individual (with varying results), but in essence, you're taking a risk with either box - you could end up with a load of products you love, or a load of products you don't care about.

If you'd like to subscribe to either service, the charges are £10 per month for Boudoir Prive, and £10 per month for GlossyBox, with GlossyBox rising to £12.95 from September.  What are your thoughts?  Have you received boxes from either company?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: My GlossyBox was a PR sample, and I subscribed to Boudoir Prive for the purposes of comparison using my own money.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

New Love: ELF Bamboo Eyeshadow and Blending Eye Brushes

I picked up these bamboo brushes as part of a recent ELF order, and I've really been enjoying using them since.  Costing just £5.50 each, the brushes feature bamboo handles, and synthetic Taklon bristles.  They're incredibly soft and lightweight, with handles that are long enough for easy grip, but short enough to be portable.

The Blending Eye brush is a gently tapered, and fits beautifully into the crease to add definition, or to blend out the edges of eyeshadow.  I was very pleased to find that whilst the brush is fluffy and pliable, it's also relatively small - perfect for applying eyeshadow to the crease with precision.

Conversely, the Eyeshadow brush is reasonably firm.  I've been reaching for it to build up colour onto the eyelid, as the firm, thick bristles make it more suitable for packing on colour than creating a soft wash of colour.  It also works really well for cream textures.

ELF bamboo brushes are available exclusively via the ELF website.  The Eyeshadow and Blending Eye brushes cost £5.50 each.  Have you tried ELF brushes?  What do you think?  Let us know in the comments!
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