Thursday, 31 May 2012

Duochrome Showdown: OPI vs Topshop vs Revlon vs Barry M

I don't know. You wait ages for one grey-green-lilac duochrome polish to come along and then three turn up at once.

I thought OPI's Not Like In The Movies was a one-of-a-kind sort of shade, but in the last couple of months I've come across three other polishes that disprove that theory - Revlon's Smoldering (sic), which I picked up in the US in January, Barry M's Silvery Lilac, which came out last month, and lastly Topshop Hypnotic, part of the Sisters of the New Moon summer collection.

All of them have a medium shimmer finish with tiny speck-sized silver microglitter, and all of them shift from purple through silver to green depending on the light.

What I found really interesting though, is that two of the polishes shift in a *different direction* to the others. While Not Like In the Movies is being green, Smoldering is being purple. Same with the Barry M and Topshop shades - somehow they react differently to the light and shift in opposite directions.

Which can only mean...

Reverse-shift duochrome accent nail! I think I've gone to makeup-nerd heaven.

In terms of showdown-ness, I must apologise, because this isn't an especially good post for those looking to snap up a dupe: only one of the polishes is a permanent shade from a UK brand (that's the Barry M). Truthfully, all of them perform well, with OPI perhaps a little more pigmented than the others. But unless you have access to US brands or you're quick enough to catch either the OPI or the Topshop colours before they go, you're stuck with Barry. (No offence, Barry.)

If you fancy doing the reverse duochrome thing, Barry M vs Topshop is the cheapest and most accessible way to go.

OPI Not Like in the Movies is available from a few sites, costing around £10 for 15ml. I just spotted it here for £10.50
Topshop Hypnotic - £6.50 for 8ml
Barry M Silvery Lilac - £2.99 for 10ml
Revlon Smoldering - $4.99 for 15ml (US only - but if you've found this in the UK please do let us know)

Somewhat disturbingly, none of these are PR samples. Disturbing because it means I went out and bought four basically identical polishes using my own ill-gotten money.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Review & Swatches: Lipstick Queen Liptropolis

Sarah and I were lucky enough to meet Poppy King at a recent Space NK event.  Being a fan of both lipstick in general and the Lipstick Queen herself, I was pretty excited.  My excitement was soon surpassed by the little look I got of Liptropolis, volume one of an unspecified number of lipstick libraries, encased in book-like packaging and containing three shades apiece.

The inside of the book contains a missive from Poppy, and three lipsticks in silver packaging, encased in silver cardboard.  Liptropolis is inspired by New York, and Poppy says she's chosen the three shades included to represent the distinctive areas of the city.

The shades are, from left to right, Soho, described as a fashionable red; Upper East, described as an elegant nude; and Central Park, described as a refined peach.

Soho.  This one looks a little different in the tube than it does on the lips - I thought it'd be a blue toned true red, but it turns out it's a little more pink toned, more of a ruby red.

Upper East.  I was expecting this to be a fairly standard beige tone, but it's actually a slightly peachier shade.  

Central Park.  I'm usually afraid of peach - it tends to clash with my hair.  But this shade reads much more coral on my skin, and is deliciously bright and wearable.

Left to right: Soho, Upper East, Central Park

These lipsticks take a little while to warm up on the lip, much like the regular Sinner line from the main Lipstick Queen collection.  Once warmed up, though, they glide on with only a little dragging, have a medium opacity, and can be easily built up to the full colour shown above, in just a couple of passes over the lips.  They're wonderfully comfortable, combining lightness, moistness, and the feeling that they're there for the duration.

I like these a lot.  I like the shade selection and the fact that the shades themselves surprised me, and I love the collectible, decorate packaging.  I would definitely buy another edition.  Sadly, Poppy wouldn't give us any hints on the theme of the next library - but she did say that it wouldn't be city themed.  

At £40, this certainly isn't a cheap set - but if you've ever tried a Lipstick Queen lipstick before, you'll know that the quality level is high enough to justify around £13 a tube.  Find it at Space NK now.

Disclosure: PR sample

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

FOTD with YSL Touche Eclat Foundation

YSL's new Touche Eclat foundation lands in stores in July, and given the almost fanatical following that the original highlighting pen has gathered over the years, it's set to be a big launch.  At £28, it's very definitely a high end foundation - but it does make some rather high end claims too, including a weightless texture, brightening properties, and a lightweight, natural finish.

Does it deliver?  I think so.  I'm wearing it in the FOTD above, and I've found it to be incredibly brightening, making my skin look awake and glowing without leaving it dewy or shiny.  The texture is indeed lightweight, and the finish is natural.  It's also totally buildable, and you can apply a tiny bit for a bit of a kick in the morning, or a full face of the stuff for a smooth, even, glowing finish.  It doesn't really cover blemishes, so if you want more of a medium/opaque coverage product, this one probably isn't for you.

I'm wearing shade B10, the palest neutral shade available.  There are 22 shades available, covering warm, neutral and cool undertones, and it looks like the shade range is wide enough to match the palest to the deepest of skintones.  Lovely stuff.

YSL Touche Eclat Foundation in B10*
Cargo Tonga blush

Kiko eyeshadows (brows)
Lancome Hypnose Drama mascara
Clarins Long Lasting Kohl Kajal (more on that later this week)*


* items marked with an asterisk are PR samples

Monday, 28 May 2012

Review & Swatches: Bare Minerals Ready Eyeshadow Duo in The Showstopper

Bare Minerals, famous for their loose mineral makeup, particularly foundations, have recently released a set of pressed mineral makeup.  This makes me happy - mostly because I've always admired the beautiful multi-dimensional shades of the Bare Minerals loose eyeshadows, but generally consider myself too cack handed and sleepy to deal with loose shadow in the morning.

This is The Showstopper, a beautiful combination of pale blue and a lovely purple with a blue duochrome flash.  Packaged in NARS-like black rubberised palettes, the eyeshadow duo feels solid and well made.  Like NARS products, it's likely to get a little grubby in your makeup bag, but it's definitely not going to fall apart.

These shadows are soft and buttery, picking up easily with a brush and blending very easily onto the eyelids. They're so buttery, in fact, that they almost feel a little greasy - this is something I've often noticed with pressed mineral shadows (Sleek, I'm looking at you), and in this case it doesn't really affect the texture too much, nor affect the wear when applied over a decent primer.

Both shadows are pretty, with a high-sparkle finish for each, but the purple shade is the knockout of the pair.  That icy blue flash is just gorgeous.

This duo is incredibly flattering on my greenish eyes, and I absolutely love the sparkling, shimmery finish.  At £19, they're not cheap, albeit it a fair bit cheaper than the comparable NARS duos, which are £23.50.  Given the quality of the shadow, the etheral finish, and that beautiful duochrome, I'd definitely invest in more shades.

Find them at Bare Minerals stockists, and via their website.

Disclosure: PR sample

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Clarins Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balms 2012

I've developed a bit of a thing for these limited edition balms from Clarins, ever since my socks were rocked by the Crystal Coral one last year.

This year there are 4 of them (there were 3 last year - they're multiplying!), and they come with a new trick, namely a core of colour down the middle of the bullet. The shades are 01 Crystal Pink, 02 Crystal Violet, 03 Crystal Coral and 04 Crystal Red.

The texture hasn't changed much despite the lipsticky bit in the centre - they're still quite light and moisturising. However the colour is more intense than before, so they're slightly less "on-the-go" appropriate. You may want to use a mirror when applying to avoid streaky colour or "colouring outside the lines" disasters.

L-R: 01 Crystal Pink, 02 Crystal Violet, 03 Crystal Coral, 04 Crystal Red

Here are a few comparison pics with last year's Crystal Red and Crystal Coral vs this year's. As you can see, the brand name is no longer embossed on the bullet (sadface) but the packaging is the same heavy, classy silver tube.

L-R Crystal Coral 2011, Crystal Coral 2012:

L-R Crystal Red 2011, Crystal Red 2012:

And finally, Crystal Coral 2012 (above) and Crystal Coral 2011 on the lips.

I'm happy to see a bit more colour "oomph" from this year's rendition, but I think the previous version without the colour core is a bit more practical. It depends on what you want the product to do - balm enthusiasts might prefer the old incarnations, while lipstick fiends are likely to be pleased with these more colourful versions.

Each one is £16.50, out later this month and as last year, limited edition for summer at and at counters nationwide.

Disclosure - PR samples (except Crystal Red 2011)

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Review & Swatches: Burberry Lip Cover in Primrose Hill Pink

A couple of weeks ago, I went to San Francisco for a two-day meeting.  A long way to travel for a short meeting, no?  Given the insane jetlag that this was likely to cause, I figured I was due a few treats from Duty Free on the way out.  Once there, I headed straight to the Burberry makeup stand - this is the first piece I've tried from the collection, and I was drawn by the heavy, classy looking packaging, and of course the amazingly detailed embossing on the lipstick itself.

One of the most satisfying and frustrating things about this lipstick is the magnetic closure which holds the lid tightly to the bullet casing.  Once aligned properly, it clunks solidly and strongly into place, but the problem is that it's not actually that easy to align it properly.  The magnet only works if you've got the right side of the lid aligned with the right side of the casing.  You can feel the magnet pulling a little if you pop the cap on incorrectly, but still, it's a little niggle I wish didn't happen.

Anyway - the lipstick itself is very, very pretty, embossed with the same linear, tweedy signature pattern that's used on the lid.  The texture is intensely buttery and emollient, and the colour just glides off the bullet onto the lip with no dragging at all.  I'd expected that such a rich texture would have trouble sticking to the lip, but it actually sets after a few minutes, and then proceeds to hold on for around four hours before succumbing to the ring-of-death we all know and dislike.  Not all that bad for something which wears so comfortably, and leaves lips feeling soft and hydrated.

On the lip, Primrose Hill Pink is a medium-pigmented coral pink with a moist, semi-glossy finish.  I think it makes my lips look plump and lovely.  The colour is soft and neutral, but not in a boring beige way - it does go with plenty of eye and cheek combinations, and it's not really a statement lip, but it's definitely not subtle.  I had wondered if it would clash terribly with my red hair, but in fact, it's a warming, fresh colour on me.

Overall, I'm pretty impressed with this lipstick - and I'll definitely consider buying another.  The wear time is pretty decent, the finish is luscious, and comfort levels are good, although I do wish it didn't wear unevenly towards to end of the lifetime of a single application.  Particularly given it's £23 price tag.  

Find it at Harrods, or at the Duty Free area in Heathrow Terminal Three, which incidentally is really good, and a massive temptation any time I find myself there.

Friday, 25 May 2012

NOTD - Nails Inc Kensington Park Road and Superdrug nail stencils

Important news: Nails Inc have invented a nail polish the exact colour of blue Smarties. 

Through what must have been hours of painstaking drop-by-drop matching work, the Kensington Park Road polish from their Neon collection contains the exact tiny hint of green needed to make a routine mid-blue creme into this unmistakable chocolate-connoting shade. Unfortunately my camera has washed this tiny hint of green straight out again, but I promise - it's there.

The other point of this NOTD is to show you the effects you can get with Superdrug's new nail stencils

They're small stickers you put on nails, either over a base coat or (as shown here) on top of a dried coat of polish. You then sweep a single coat in a contrasting shade over the top, allow to dry for a few seconds, then peel off the stencil and finish with a clear top coat. They also work with nail glitter - you paint clear polish over the stencil, add your glitter, then peel and reveal.

This one is raindrops, and there's also a heart version. You get 10 stencils for £1.99, and don't quote me on this, but I reckon you could squeeze more than one go-round out of them if you peel them off with care and re-adhere to the backing sheet.

Disclosure - Nails Inc polish is a press sample

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Too Pretty To Swatch: Clarins Enchanted Colour Quartet and Liner Palette

Everything about this limited edition palette, part of Clarins' Enchanted summer collection, is incredibly, perfectly pretty.  The packaging bears a beautiful floral pattern inspired by traditional sari prints, picked out in tiny dots, which appeals to my OCD side with its preciseness and symmetry.

Opening the guilded case, you'll find four eyeshadows in warm, neutral shades with a punch of violet for good measure, and a strip of deep golden brown powder liner.  

The shadows and liner are further embellished with more beautiful sari-inspired patterns.  The level of detail is stunning - the miniature reproductions of the floral print from the case in eyeshadow form is meticulous to the extent that you'd need to squint to try to see the detail.

And that, my friends, is all you're going to get from this post.  I'm afraid that no matter how many times I tried to put my eyeshadow brush near this palette to get some swatches, I just couldn't do it.  Admittedly even if the patterns on the shadows themselves got smushed to oblivion by use, I'd still have the gorgeous outer design... but still.  For me, this one is tending towards collectable makeup art rather than day-to-day slap.

Find it at all Clarins stockists late May.  This palette is limited edition and costs £30.

What do you think?  Could you bear to use this palette?  Am I a wimp?  Answers on a postcard...

Disclosure: PR sample

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Review: Cowshed Slender Cow

Cowshed have released a trio of cheerily-packaged products for summer, all with the aim of firming skin. The bright pink range is called Slender Cow, and while I think it'll take more than a tube of body lotion to turn me into one of those, I was pleased to be given the opportunity to try out the Extra Firming Body Butter from the range.

At £28, this is a decidedly premium buy, despite the jaunty positioning, and it's got the ingredients to back up its pricetag. A base of coconut oil (always a winner with me), tamanu and rosehip oil is blended with uplifting-type essential oils including grapefruit, ylang ylang and petitgrain. Cinnamon, grapefruit, lavender, black pepper and benzoin are also in the mix, to name just a few. Seaweed and marine extracts are tasked with "waking up" the skin and improving circulation, while star turn Dermochlorella improves tone and firmness (up to 46% in vivo over 12 weeks, according to the stats on the packaging).

It's designed to be used in conjunction with the other two products from the range, a sea salt scrub and a firming serum. Lots of body brushing is also encouraged, and Cowshed's combo deal on the range is that if you buy all three you receive a rather nice wooden body brush gratis.

I've been using this product for around 4 weeks now and I can confirm that its moisturising properties are superb. It sinks into the sink easily, yet it's rich enough to send dry patches packing in a single application. For this I love it. But sadly, I won't be returning to it once I've finished this tube, the reason being that it carries quite a potent smell. To describe it, the best I can do is to say that it smells like when you walk into a health food shop (not Holland and Barrett - a proper, old-school one). A rich, heady mix of natural oils and scents.

I'm someone who takes a bath last thing at night before bed, and before I go to bed, I like to spray on a little of whatever fragrance I'm into that evening. It's a little personal ritual I have. Using this lotion after a bath means I can't do this, because the smell of the product overwhelms everything.

If you love this smell, it'll be a positive factor that will probably encourage you to apply more often. But for me, it's a fatal drawback in an otherwise very appealing product.

Cowshed Slender Cow costs £28 for 200ml at

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Quick Pick: Kerastase Oleo Curl

I have a soft spot for Kerastase. In recent years I've found myself veering more towards products that are light on silicone, but there was a time in the past (which coincidentally corresponds with a period of intense straightener usage) when little else would make my hair glossy, manageable and soft.  Whilst their products are ludicrously expensive, they're undeniably luxurious to use, and generally deliver on their promises.

Oleo Curl is a curl definition cream which add moisture and shine to the hair, defining curls and protecting against tangles too.  The texture is relatively light but with a lot of slip (that'll be the silicone alongside some natural oils).  A small dab is all that's needed to make my thick, dry, curly hair smooth - and whilst the curl definition it provides isn't the most ringlet-spring inducing thing I've ever used, it's enough to keep the hair looking groomed and non-fuzzy.  Plus, it dries soft, not crunchy, always a plus point with curl enhancing products.

Finally.. my favourite thing about this product.  In keeping with the orange packaging and orange colour, the scent is a light, fresh citrus-y orange affair, which I absolutely love.

Find it at HQHair, where a 150ml bottle will cost you around £15 (RRP £18).

Monday, 21 May 2012

Urban Decay new eyeshadow singles and Build Your Own palette

I have been a bit worried about Urban Decay's single eyeshadows over the last couple of years. Don't laugh. With all the insanely popular palettes offering incredible value, it felt like the stand-alone singles had been getting neglected. The permanent line of subway-token themed circular pots sat on the counters much as they had for nearly 10 years, notwithstanding a few additions and discontinuations of shades.

I shouldn't have worried - the singles have just undergone a colossal revamp, bringing them up to date with the latest packaging themes (shiny chrome and gothic script) and with a new and more vividly-coloured buttery formula.

Here is Evidence (new type, right) next to Mildew (previous packaging). I tried to dig out one of the even-older-style metal tins, but the ones I had seem to have passed on to makeup heaven.

The eyeshadow singles have also been given a new lease of life in the form of the Build Your Own Palette, which as the name suggests, is a customisable palette with slots to house your choice of shadow singles. It comes with a starter eyeshadow in Walk of Shame, a matte pinky-beige, a big "proper" mirror and a short-handled taklon eyeshadow brush.

To use the BYO palette, you pop out your shadow from its casing by pressing on the bottom - the pan and fascia of the pot then pop out, ready to be pressed into the palette.

This mechanism seems to work really well. The design of the wells in the palette means there's plenty of purchase for your fingertips when retrieving a pan, and getting them out of the pots is as easy as applying a bit of gentle pressure with a finger on the base.

There's virtually no risk of dinging your eyeshadow when doing this thanks to the wide lip of the fascia. If you remember the agonies of trying to depot the old-style shadows to use in MAC palettes (hands up if you  burned yourself on your hair straighteners while melting off the plastic), you'll be delighted with how easy it is to reorganise your palette or add new shades.

The palette is also retrocompatible with old-style pots, although you'll need considerable confidence to take off the outer part of the pot if you want to do this. To take the picture above, I used a screwdriver and a lot of patience and force to depot my old-version Mildew, which promptly flew across the room like a cricket - luckily no damage was done. It sits perfectly in the palette though, and is easy to take out again.

The palette's outer is made out of brushed metal with a textured, brightly-coloured cover design. There's a snap-shut clasp with a very large indented access point that should be easy for most people to open.

The brush that comes with it is excellent quality too, with soft, springy taklon fibres in a rigid oval shape.

Overall, I love the design of the palette, with max points going to the big mirror and how easy it is to change out colours. The one point I would query is the hinge. It's made out of a plastic strip across the back of the palette, which is crimped in two places to allow movement. I'm slightly concerned about the durability of this - a couple of barrel-type hinges might have been better. But it's hardly a deal-breaker.

Colour-wise, there's been a massive update to the range of eyeshadow singles, with many of the previously palette-only colours now available in single form. Great news if you have a few favourites from - for example  the Naked palette - and want to be able to replace them without buying a whole palette again.

I chose a mix of neutrals and dark teal/blue shades. L-R Walk of Shame (which comes with the palette), Pistol, Verve, Hijack, Evidence, Loaded.

You can see the complete list of shades at the Urban Decay website, or for swatches, see Makeup And Beauty Blog for nearly all the colours swatched in one post

Quick EOTD: Evidence, Hijack, Verve and Pistol:

The new eyeshadow singles cost £14 each. The palette (which includes Walk of Shame and the brush) also costs £14, making it excellent value (although if you want multiple palettes, you will end up with multiple Walk of Shames - I can see these flooding eBay and MUA in droves in a year or so). Both are available from Debenhams and House of Fraser.

At the moment, Debenhams is offering 10% off all beauty, so you can get the palette and shadows for £12.60 a piece until 27 May.

Disclosure - PR sample
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