Monday, 31 December 2012

Seriously, enough with all the eating now

Hello!  Hopefully you've had a restful break and are now finding yourself contemplating how much glitter you can get away with for New Year's Eve (I know I am).

Normal blog post service should resume over the next few days, but in the meantime, I wanted to squee excitedly over a few of the presents I received for Christmas.  I was expecting more beauty related stuff, but apparently I'm too exacting and already own too much stuff to be easy to buy beauty for.  My stepkids did manage it though - the nail polishes are from my stepdaughter Leilah, who insisted that I should have glittery nails, and the Estee Lauder Sensuous Noir is from my stepson Lou.  Amazingly, he smelled his way through the whole Estee counter before settling on Sensuous Noir because it smells like me - and indeed, it's a rich, deep, woody fragrance which I already really like.

My husband bought me the red Hush Puppies, and the 1928 vintage style dangly earrings and necklace.  My sister-in-law gave me the watch, another vintage style thing by Sekonda, encrusted with marcasites (which I love).  My husband also treated me to a couple of tops from Freddie's of Pinewood.

What did you get for Christmas?

Monday, 24 December 2012

NOTD: A Very Festive Manicure

So far I've avoided using the C word on LBR, but Christmas is almost here and I feel it's time for a festive manicure.  The base colour is Nails Inc Bruton Mews, a gloriously dark glossy green, accented with  two different kinds of glitter on the tips:  Servin' Up Sparkle by OPI, and a golden glitter by Le Chat I got in a multi-pack a long time ago.

My favourite thing about this sort of manicure is that it looks really impressive and is seriously easy to do.  Starting halfway down the nail, apply a thin layer of glitter, and then build up closer to the tip.  Easy.

Disclosure: Nails Inc Bruton Mews and OPI Servin' Up Sparkle were PR samples

Sunday, 23 December 2012

New haircut

I had a good four inches lopped off my hair last weekend.  Not because I particularly fancied a change - I loved my long loose red curls - but my hair has been falling out at an unusual rate and I wanted to get rid of some of the weight and let it bounce up a bit. I'm blaming the hair loss on my contraceptive implant, which I may well be having removed soon due to its affect on my skin and hair.

This is the freshly coloured, freshly blow dried look. I doubt I'll be able to replicate it at home - my attention span is far too short for this level of blow dry perfection - but hopefully I'll be able to get close! Any blow dry tips gratefully received!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

It's almost Christmas, I'm settled in at home with a Christmas tree guarding lots of presents, my husband and my stepkids, so posts might be a bit scarce and ad hoc from here.

Have a wonderful, restful festive break!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Review: Stila Stay All Day Foundation & Concealer

Stila's Stay All Day foundation promises a flawless finish which lasts (unsurprisingly) all day.  It's a similar proposition to that offered by Estee Lauder's cult favourite, Double Wear foundation, but with this Stila version you get not only a medium-buildable coverage foundation, but also a matching high coverage concealer.

The concealer nestles in a cap which fits over the top of the foundation bottle, making both products portable both separately and together.  The cap also contains a little mirror - not big enough for a full-face foundation application, but certainly big enough to dab concealer under the eyes or onto blemishes.  You also get a foundation brush in the box: it's got a small handle, and the bristles are flexible yet still reasonably firm.  Stila recommend applying foundation using quick, feathery strokes using this brush, but I've found I prefer the finish I get using my fingers - more natural, less heavy.

The absolute strangest thing about the foundation is that the lid contains this oversized scoop thing.  It does help you to get the foundation out of the bottle, but I'm not quite sure why it's so large - it's surely not a measurement device, as the amount of foundation it scoops out of the bottle would be enough to do many, many faces (unless you like the Polyfilla look, that is).

For a long-wearing product, I was surprised at the luminosity in the finish.  It's also pretty natural looking, for something with a thick texture and a medium finish.  As for the longevity, it does indeed last the whole day - I typically apply my makeup at 6.30AM and remove it at 10PM, and my complexion still looks even and fresh.  Impressive stuff.

Find Stila's Stay All Day Foundation & Concealer at BeautyBay, where it costs £29.50 - expensive indeed, but you are getting two products in one, and there's a decent amount of foundation in the bottle.

Disclosure: PR sample

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Review: Lush American Cream Conditioner

I bought Lush's American Cream conditioner recently as I realised I'd never actually tried a Lush conditioner.  Speaking with one of the lovely store assistants, I learned that American Cream is the second-richest conditioner in the Lush range, and given that my hair is pretty dry and frizzy, I snapped a bottle up.  Not least because of the amazing scent - American Cream smells of milkshake, with a definite vanilla edge, which apparently lingers in the hair for hours after use.

Having used it a few times now, I'm a bit underwhelmed.  The texture is a thickish fluid, and it doesn't have a huge amount of slip to it - it takes quite a lot to saturate my hair, and once coated I find it quite difficult to detangle my hair.  After rinsing, though, my hair is soft and light, sweetly scented, and feels moisturised if not amazingly well conditioned.  So, for dry, chemically treated hair, probably not the best match.

My husband, however, has recently started stealing my American Cream, and he absolutely loves it.  His hair is pretty fine, and falls into the normal category - not oily, not dry, just normal.  He says that American Cream keeps his shoulder length hair knot free and smelling great.

So there you go.  Good for normal hair, not good for dry hair.  Find it at Lush stores and online, where a 250g bottle costs £8.90.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

NOTD: HJ Manicure Tinsel

This is HJ Manicure's Tinsel, part of their Festive collection.  It's not the most original colour I have in my collection - Dairy Milk purple with red and pink flash is quite a popular combo - but it glimmers absolutely beautifully in the light.

This is the second HJ Manicure colour I've tried (the first was the very unusual Cracker) and it's also quite thick.  Definitely less gloopy, though.  Two coats gave a deep, rich, shiny finish which dried relatively quickly.

Find it at the HJ Manicure website, where a 5ml bottle costs £4.50, and a 15ml bottle £9.50.

Disclosure: PR sample

Monday, 17 December 2012

Review: Benefit She's So Jetset Palette

I do love a good Benefit set.  They're so cute - always packaged beautifully, always containing mini products  which I actually stand a chance of using up before they're too old to use.  She's So Jetset, one of Benefit's Christmas palettes, is no exception - I particularly love the little airplanes flying around the edges of the palette.

Inside, you get a mini POREfessional primer, four eyeshadows, a sponge applicator (ick), two shades of blush, a mini blush brush, a mini lipgloss and a mini They're Real mascara.  Pretty much everything you could need for a pared down travel makeup kit - add your favourite foundation and brow product, and you're good to go.  

Champagne Please, Gold Card, Pretty in Mink, Elegant Espresso - natural light

Champagne Please, Gold Card, Pretty in Mink, Elegant Espresso - direct sunlight

A look using all the products in the box.  POREfessional is an exceptionally silky primer and helps foundation glide on for a really smooth finish.  They're Real is a great mascara - I'm on my third tube now, and it's definitely in my top two mascaras of all time (the other one is Lancome Hypnose Drama, by the way).  

The eyeshadows are really pretty - they have a super high shine, shimmery finish, and they make for a perfectly pretty neutral look, with the dark brown shade being perfect for smoking it up a little.

I'm not too sure about the blush or the lipgloss - the blush is very pale, and takes some layering up before you can see it on the skin.  I wonder how noticeable it would be on darker skintones.  Similarly, the lipgloss is really pale and milky, and applied heavily is way too light for my liking.  Applied lightly though, it's a pretty pale pink.

Overall this is a great little set - I do wish that the blush were a little deeper in colour, and that the lipgloss wasn't quite so light.  Still, for £29.50, you get a lovely set of eyeshadows, and some miniatures of some of Benefit's most popular products - making this palette a great value, travel appropriate little kit.

Find it at the Benefit website, or at Boots.

Disclosure: PR sample

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Ms Patisserie Bath Bakes

This is not a picture of five delicious cupcakes, waiting for someone to lick the icing off the top of them.  They're actually Bath Bakes by Ms Patisserie, and they're made of a fizzing bath-ballistic style base, with the icing making up a reusable solid exfoliant.

They cost £6.50 each, which is certainly an indulgence, but for the odd bath when you're looking for a bit of a treat, totally reasonable.  I'm going to try to track one down to see how well it performs.  Find out more at the Ms Patisserie website.

Soap and Glory The Best of All Set - Half Price at Boots!

Boots Star Gift this week is this Soap and Glory set, which costs just £27 instead of £60.  It contains a truckload of lovely products, including:
  • The Righteous Butter Body Butter (300ml)
  • Hand Food Hand Cream (125ml)
  • Sugar Crush Body Scrub (300ml)
  • Smoothie Star Body Milk (500ml)
  • Clean On Me Shower Gel (500ml)
  • Heel Genius Smoothing Foot Mask (125ml)
  • Peaches & Clean Cleansing Milk (200ml)
  • Super-Colour Sexy Mother Pucker Lip Plumper (3ml)
  • Thick & Fast Mascara (10ml)

Bargain!  Already sold out online, but do have a look in store to see if there are any left near you!  The offer ends on Thursday 20th, so be quick!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Quick Pick: Melvita Fresh Micellar Water

Micellar waters are one of those things that are a bit of an insider's secret.  Bioderma make one of the most often spoken about: it's hugely popular and yet hard to find outside of France.  Melvita recently added a gently rose scented micellar water to their skincare lineup, and when I found myself outside their Covent Garden boutique recently, I had to buy a bottle.

I'm really glad I did - it's a fresh, floral cleanser which is surprisingly good at removing dirt and makeup given that it feels more akin to a toner than to a "proper" cleanser or makeup remover.  It dissolves the thickest, heaviest mascara and leaves the skin feeling fresh and clean.  Granted, if you're wearing a significant amount of slap you may need to use a couple of cotton pads worth of this, but it will eventually defeat any amount of makeup and dirt on the skin.

The rose scent is sweet, not at all synthetic, and refreshing - it turns the act of cleansing from something basic into something a little more luxurious.  Lovely stuff.  

Find it at the Melvita website, where it costs £15.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Review: Violent Eyes Violet Glitterati

Violent Eyes are the latest appliques from the people behind Violent Lips.  They claim to give you a high impact, high glitter look that lasts for up to sixteen hours (depending on your skin type).

The pack contains eight sets of eyeliner appliques: two pairs of each design shown above.  You also get some pretty comprehensive illustrated instructions.

The appliques themselves come with handy trim lines, to allow you to tailor them to your eye size and shape. I tried out the topmost design, with the biggest flicks - in for a penny, in for a pound, right?  I had to cut them down to the smallest size to fit my eyes.

To apply, you peel off the protective clear film, and then wet the paper backing with a damp cotton bud until it becomes bendy.  Then, you simply position over the eye, trying to line up as close to the lashline as possible, and use a damp cotton bud to smooth the applique onto the eye whilst removing the paper backing.

It's worth mentioning that these look much better on the skin than they do in the pack.  They looked like a fairly uninspiring flat glitter in their pouch, but have much more dimension on my eye.  

I really struggled to apply the applique smoothly.  I thought I'd lined it up well against my lashline, but it seems I've managed to overhang my lashes with the applique (albeit just a little).  I found that my hooded eyelids really worked against me as I tried to smooth the applique out - it'd be smooth, then I'd open my eye, and my lids would scrunch it back up again.

Applied alone with a bit of mascara, the applique doesn't really look crisp and clean enough to my eyes.  Much of that is probably in my cack handed application, but still - I'd rather a more pointed flick.

To balance it out, I applied loads of black kohl and surrounded the applique with a layer of Illamasqua Precision Ink in Glister, a metallic nude with purple sparkle.  I even went over the applique with Glister to try to give it a more cleanly defined shape.

The end look is pretty cool, but I did have to work around my slightly dodgy application, and I really think I'd struggle to get these on exactly right.  They're pretty fiddly, and I have quite low patience levels - particularly given that I can draw on this kind of flick with an eyeliner much faster.  The applique also felt a little heavy on my eyelid.  Blinking gave me a slightly uncomfortable skin stretching feeling - somewhat like flexing your hand if you've just covered it in PVA glue (I assume other people did this when they were kids!).

Overall, whilst I like the idea and some of the overall look (particularly the intensity and the glitter), I'm not convinced that these appliques are going to become a big part of my going-out makeup routine.  Perhaps I'll get along better with the thinner styles, but overall, I reckon these will work best on those with taut eyelids with plenty of space, and not so well on those of us who have hooded lids or wrinkles in the skin.

Find them at Harvey Nichols, where a pack of eight pairs of appliques will cost you £7.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Quick Pick: Homedics Tanda Zap


Meet the Tanda Zap - a handheld vibrating battery operated device (stop smirking) which claims to clear breakouts via blue light, a gentle vibrating action, and gentle heat.  The theory is that whenever you feel a spot is about to emerge, or whenever one has emerged, you press the orange button and place the Zap atop the spot.  Done twice daily, it helps clear spots faster than they would otherwise disappear alone.

My husband believes that is a vibrating blue torch and that it cannot, in fact, clear spots.  My husband, however, is incorrect.  I've been using it twice a day (three times if I'm home in the daytime) on those big, nasty cystic spots caused by hormones, and they definitely clear faster with the treatment than they would otherwise.  From the first couple of uses on a fresh spot, the spot feels less inflamed and angry.

I'd definitely recommend this if you suffer from the odd hormonal breakout.  If you suffer from more persistent breakouts, though, I suspect that you'd end up exhausting it really quickly - the unit dispenses around a thousand two-minute bursts of blue light, vibration and heat, and then it's done.

Find it at Boots, where it costs £40.

Disclosure: PR sample

Sunday, 9 December 2012

NOTD: Nails Inc Concrete in Stonehenge

This is one of the many interesting new textures Nails Inc are bringing us over the next few months - meet concrete finish polish!  It looks smooth in the bottle, and applies reasonably smoothly given the tiny bits of grit in the polish.  Two coats gives you an opaque finish with a really interesting concrete texture - it's bumpy, uneven, and a little scratchy if you run your fingertip over the nail.

Wear isn't fantastic - I get a couple of days before the chipping becomes a major issue.  The semi-matte, knobbly finish looks best without a topcoat, which doesn't help the longevity of the polish.

I'm in two minds over whether I actually like this.  It's definitely cool - and very definitely unusual.  But is it attractive?  I'm not sure.  One thing I do know is that I don't like the way it half-catches on my tights when I put them on in the morning, and I do quite like the way it feels when I rub my fingertips across my nails.

If you fancy a go at concrete nails, they're launching sometime this month, and will cost £12.  As well as this lovely cobalt blue shade, there's also a neutral mushroom taupe, a bright red, and a green toned yellow.

Disclosure: PR sample

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Review & Swatches: Daniel Sandler Waterblush in Charm

I recently picked up Charm, the latest shade of Daniel Sandler's cult favourite, Watercolour Blush.  Charm is described as a pinky peach shade designed to flatter every skintone.  The first thing I thought when I read that description was that it sounded like a liquid version of Orgasm, which makes similar claims of their pinky peach shade.

Watercolour Blush's selling point is that it's a liquid blush, and this is a single drop applied to the back of my hand.  To use, you dip your brush gently into the liquid and buff onto the cheeks.  A drop per cheek works pretty well for me for a soft but still noticeable flush.  The Waterbrush shown above is an absolutely perfect partner to this blush - it has a mix of hairs to pick up as much product as possible, and is angled to allow easy application on the cheekbones.

You can see that this is quite similar to NARS Orgasm - it's a very neutral toned pinky peach which doesn't run too warm or too cool.  Like Orgasm, it has a decent amount of sparkle to it, although Charm boasts silvery shimmer rather than Orgasm's golden shimmer.

In the sunlight, you can see the subtlety of the colour and the gentle glow brought by the shimmer.  It's certainly not an in-your-face shade, but it's also not so subtle it needs building up on the skin.

The texture, being fluid, is incredibly light and once applied I can't feel it on my skin.  It also lasts really, really well - still visible after a long day's wear, which is more than I can say for some of my drier powder blushes.

Find it at Daniel Sandler's website - if you buy Charmed (for £14.50), you'll get the Waterbrush (worth £15.50) absolutely free - this is down to Charmed being a charity shade, with a donation being made for every one sold to Cancer Research UK.

Friday, 7 December 2012

NOTD: HJ Manicure in Cracker

This gorgeous little bronze number is Cracker, by HJ Manicure.  HJ Manicure was set up in 2009 by model and session manicurist Helen J - one of the things that differentiates their products is that you can buy them in full size 15ml bottles, or in tiny little 5ml bottles - perfect for those of us with so many polishes, we never reach the end of a full size bottle.

Cracker is a wonderfully metallic foil in a particularly orangey bronze colour.  It's not particularly brown, boasting more copper and more orange, which makes for a festive nail look that's a bit difficult.  Application was interesting; the polish is quite thick and gloopy, which does bring great opacity, but also requires careful application to avoid dragging.  Two reasonably thick coats later, and I had beautifully smooth and shiny nails which catch the light prettily and gathered many compliments the next morning at work.  Lovely.

You can find Cracker at the HJ Manicure website, where it'll cost you £9.50 for a 15ml bottle.

Disclosure: PR sample

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Lip of the Day: Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Legendary

This is Smashbox Be Legendary lipstick, in the signature Legendary shade, a true blue based red.  It's a bit of a corker - bright but not over the top and luscious, with a really glossy finish to it.  It's incredibly pigmented - the photo above shows a single swipe of colour applied directly from the bullet.  It also feels comfortable on the lip - that glossy finish implies a moisturising formula, and it definitely delivers, with the lipstick gliding onto the lip from the bullet.

Despite the impressive moisture hit it doesn't remain super slippy on the lip, setting down to an almost waxy texture which clings onto the lips well and doesn't dry out.  I can get around 3 hours before it starts fading away, and when it does fade, it fades evenly, leaving a lovely rosy stain.

Find it at Boots or at the new Smashbox website, where it costs £15.50.

Disclosure: PR sample

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Winter Favourites: Cargo Suedeblush in Barbary Coast

I've been reaching for Cargo's Suedeblush in Barbary Coast a lot since the weather turned all cold and wintery.  It's a lovely pinkish plum with a glorious soft shimmer which warms up my face and adds definition and glow in one quick sweep.

Unfortunately, though, Cargo have gone and discontinued their entire Suedeblush line.  Damn you, Cargo.  Apparently their newer stripy BeachBlush is the closest thing you can buy nowadays.  I think I'll have to check them out sometime soon.

What's your favourite winter blush?

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Treatment Review: The Comforter? at Lush Spa

A couple of weeks ago, I trundled down to the Kings Road branch of Lush, which houses not only an emporium of deliciously scented things, but also one of the Lush Spa locations.  I was lucky enough to be invited by Lush to experience their newest spa treatment, called the Comforter?.  It's a scrub/massage type thing - but with a bit of a twist.  The reason for the question mark, I was told, is that whilst the treatment is supposed to be warming and comforting, it also has a fun, light hearted element which is different to your average spa treatment.

When I first entered the treatment room, I couldn't help but smile.  A machine projected sparkles of green light around the room, emulating a starry sky, a bubble machine gurgled away to itself, and the lighting was predominantly pink.  I disrobed and snuggled into the extremely comfortable bed - there was a memory foam mattress and a heated blanket, making it incredibly snug and cosy.  The treatment is accompanied by a specially created soundtrack by Lush's spa composer Simon Emmerson, and it's about as far from whalesong and pan pipes as you can get.  A little bit of instrumental music from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a little bit of I Can See Clearly now - it was very uplifting, comforting in the way it reminded me of being a child, and it was actually something I wanted to listen to, rather than something washing over my ears in the background.

The scrub itself is administered with a molten hot chocolate product, which dries down onto the skin and is rubbed off, eliminating the need for a shower midway through the treatment.  As with the massage serum used afterwards, it was applied warm to the skin - and it smelled absolutely fantastic.  Warm, comforting, and deeply chocolatey, I kind of wanted to eat it.  Luckily I was too comfortable to try.

After a thorough scrubbing, I was massaged gently with a warm, liquid body serum in a rolling motion which was relaxing but not sleep inducing.  The massage wasn't the kind I'd normally go for - I'm usually a bit of a no-pain-no-gain girl - but it left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside and out.  After the treatment, my skin felt gorgeously soft and smooth, and I felt incredibly happy and content.

Emerging from the treatment room, I went to the country kitchen-style reception area and was treated to a special post-treatment drink - candyfloss and rose syrup mixed with sparkling water mixed in a cocktail glass - which was an unexpected and very sweet way to finish off a spa session (and quite different to the usual glass of water).

All in all, I really enjoyed the Comforter?.  My skin felt amazing, I felt uplifted and happy and for once I'd stayed awake throughout an entire treatment and appreciated every moment.  If you're looking for something a bit fun as well as a bit pampering, I'd highly recommend this - it's the antithesis of most spa treatments I've tried before, and I absolutely loved it.

Disclosure: Treatment received free of charge for review purposes

Monday, 3 December 2012

Lip of the Day: Paul & Joe Lip Lacquer in 06 Can Can

This milky, glossy pink lip is brought to you by Paul & Joe.  Their Lip Lacquer is a more pigmented gloss than their standard lip glosses, but it's still relatively sheer - it's not pigmented to the extent that it's a liquid lipstick.

Can Can is a really pretty pale pink which has a brightness which stops it being too sugary or pale.  The texture is quite thick and sticky - not something I usually like, but it does help the gloss to last (and remain shiny) for a good couple of hours, much longer than most glosses I've tried in the past.  

If you like the look of this, ASOS are currently selling a three-pack of soft neutral shades (which looks like it might contain one of these) for just £18.

Disclosure: PR sample

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Urban Decay Fun palette

Here's the third palette in Urban Decay's trio of limited edition 6-pan eyeshadow palettes. Gemma previously showed you the Dangerous and Feminine palettes. This one is the Fun palette.

NB These palettes have the same names and themes as a previous trio of UD palettes, but the shades are not the same.

So, first things first - IT HAS AN OCTOPUS ON IT. This clearly makes it amazing regardless of what shades it contains, but in the interest of thoroughness, I'll also be showing you the shadows, with some swatches.

The golden octopus on the front is set on a ground of sparkling teal glitter, with the brand name and logo above it, also in gold. Like its sisters, the palette is cardboard with a fabric outer. Its closure is a zip, also gold toned. Very attractive altogether.

Inside, the cardboard inner (which pops out, so you can use the fabric outer as a purse) is also covered with brightly coloured designs of octopuses and planets on a black background. Unimprovable!

Now for the shades... top left is Maui Wowie, a UD oldie which contains the infamous microglitter - you either love it or you hate it. It's a cool gold that leans slightly towards khaki. Then there's Deep End, a rich shimmering teal last seen in the 15th anniversary palette. Top right is Sellout, a pale champagne shimmery highlight-type shade. On the second row, Fishnet is a bright pinkish-purple with a blue duochrome. This used to be one of the UD Deluxe eyeshadows. Middle is Stray Dog, a hard-working taupe. On the right, Freakshow is another purple, this time deeper and more smouldering.

The palette also contains a titchy Lip Junkie lip gloss. It's a very pale, sheer pink loaded with multi-coloured sparkles.

You can buy this palette at BeautyBay, where it will cost you £25.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Quick Pick: Tony Moly Latte Art Milk-Tea Morning Pack

Okay, I admit it.  I bought this product solely for the packaging.  It looks like a cup of coffee!  Complete with spoon and little package of milk!  So cute, seriously.  

The product itself is a "morning pack" which is actually a moisturising, smoothing gel-cream primer/moisturiser.  The milk package can be mixed in with the cream in the main cup container, acting as a booster to the base product.  Not quite sure what else it actually adds, but hey, it's in a coffee cup container.

The product itself is in the bottom part of the cup - the top twists off to reveal the peach-toned gel-cream underneath.

After adding the contents of the milk package, you can stir it all up with the included spoon (which is actually just a metal stick).  To use, you simply take a small dab of product and massage it into the skin - it's designed to be used before makeup, and has a smoothing and slightly tightening effect which makes a great base for foundation.

Mostly, though, it looks really cool in my bathroom.

Find it on eBay for around £15 - unfortunately Tony Moly is a Korean brand and not easy to get hold of in the UK!

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