Saturday, 31 March 2012

NOTD - Illamasqua Stance

Stance is one of two new nail polishes that came out with Illamasqua's Human Fundamentalism collection. It's a shade unlike anything else in my collection - it sits just perfectly between pink and purple. I suppose you'd call it magenta. The texture seems a bit like a hybrid too. To my mind it's somewhere between a jelly and a creme, with a kind of juicy glossy finish. It's very vivid and quite a bit more pink in colour than these pictures suggest.

These pictures show the polish after about 3 days' wear. I've now been wearing it for about 6 days and there's definitely chipping and tip wear, so I'd score the wear about average. Application was good - smooth and easy. This is 3 coats, but 2 generous coats would probably be enough to make it opaque.

Disclosure - PR sample

Friday, 30 March 2012

Learning a thing or two with Jemma Kidd

I recently visited Jemma Kidd's makeup school in Ladbroke Grove, West London (you know, THE Jemma Kidd Makeup School - pretty exciting!) to catch up with the latest news from the brand and experience a taste of the masterclass@home service, which offers home makeup lessons.

Jemma's as tall, slim and graceful as you'd expect, as well as being very pleasant and welcoming. Here she is with her lead artist Korben. She started her school by holding professional classes that have now been extended to the public, and has recently expanded further into a nationwide home service, masterclass@home, where you can have a 2 hour makeup lessons in the comfort of your living room from £20 a head.

Korben led a group of us through a  mini makeup lesson. It was focused on creating a flawless base using products from the JK range, including the Mannequin Skin Complexion Enhancer, a highlighting primer that's definitely worth checking out. Lucky me, I was the model for the demonstration. (No, I have no pictures I am prepared to share!)

I was really impressed by Korben's knowledge and his skill at communicating his expertise to a crowd. He explained how natural hair brushes cling on to product giving gradual application whereas synthetics are better at transporting it to the skin, and gave a practical demonstration of colour theory using a yellow nail polish, a blue cake of creme colour and a red lip gloss. He's an excellent teacher, and makes a great figurehead for the masterclass@home service.

Next, Jemma showed us some pieces from her upcoming spring collection, including a preview of some tempting palettes and glosses.

Jemma explained that she's all about the non-sticky gloss and has even developed her own protocol for avoiding sticky formulas which she calls the "fish test" - this involves smacking lips together repeatedly like a goldfish to check the stickiness of the gloss. Apparently it goes down a storm in the Italian factory where most of her products are made. 

Jemma's newest initiative is a collaboration with eyesight charity Orbis. For each Jemma Kidd product sold, Orbis will receive a donation that will keep a family of 5 safe from preventable diseases like trachoma, which causes blindness when left untreated. The project is called One Product One Vision

She is also developing her own fragrance (which will be called simply Jemma Kidd) and has been experimenting with notes, from florals to woods and musks, in her quest for the perfect scent. 

Disclosure - samples received at the event

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Review and Swatches: Illamasqua Neutral Palette

Illamasqua's latest collection, Human Fundamentalism, includes some interesting products, including that teal lipstick, and an opaque white eyeliner.  It also includes this incredibly wearable palette of neutral shadows - something I never thought I'd see in an Illamasqua collection!

Inside the beautifully shaped black plastic palette, you get four shadows, all of which are intensely pigmented. The creamy white, chestnut brown, and black shade are all matte, with the golden mid-brown being a full on sparkly metallic.

Swatched, you can see the level of pigmentation in the shadows.  The creamy white is the least pigmented, but to be honest, I've yet to find a matte cream or white which doesn't apply more sheerly than it looks in the pan.  

All four colours applied.  They make for a wide variety of neutral looks from day appropriate to all out smoky.  One downside of the high pigmentation is that the shadows are not the easiest thing in the world to blend, particularly with the matte shades.  My first attempt to use the chestnut brown with a reasonably precise crease brush led to a muddy mass of colour that refused to blend smoothly - I've found that it's best to use soft, fluffy brushes with the matte shades, as packing the colour on makes blending very difficult.  Not shades for the beginner then!

Blending difficulties aside, I'm really pleased with this palette and can see it becoming a staple alongside my beloved Urban Decay Naked and Naked2 palettes.  If you're similarly enthralled, you can find it at Illamasqua counters and online, where it costs £30.

Disclosure: PR sample

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

NOTD: Topshop Mermaid

This Topshop polish is described as a multi-tonal metallic shade.  Metallic it certainly is, and it comes with all the usual troubles metallic polishes suffer with - this was brushmark central until it had dried completely and been topped off with a good layer of topcoat.  I struggle to see the multi-tonal, though - whilst the silvery green-blue shade does appear more silver in bright sunlight and more blue-green in shade, it's not a really strong shift.

Either way, it's a really pretty spring/summer colour, and it definitely makes the most of short nails.  Application was okay; the polish has a reasonably smooth and thin texture, but I did find it dragged a little; unsurprising for a metallic shade. You'll find Mermaid at Topshop stores and online, where it costs £6. 

Disclosure: PR sample 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Sneaky Peek: New Clinique Chubby Sticks for Summer

Clinique's incredibly popular Chubby Stick lineup will be expanded this summer, with eight new shades being added to the existing range.  Here we have a sneak peak of two of the newest colours, Pudgy Peony and Curvy Candy.

Curvy Candy is a sweet, light pink, and Pudgy Peony is a slightly more fuschia toned pink.  I can't say I'm crazy about the names - as with the rest of the range, they still smack of slightly softer ways to describe something that's just plain a bit fat, which makes me feel slightly uncomfortable (perhaps because I need to drop a few pounds myself!).

The texture, as always, is soft and buttery, imparting plenty of moisture and a hint of colour to the lips.  

Curvy Candy, Pudgy Peony

Curvy Candy

Pudgy Peony

The new shades will be released in June, and will cost £14.  You'll find them at Clinique counters and concessions, and online via their website.  

Disclosure: PR sample

Monday, 26 March 2012

Quick Pick: Fudge Redhead Colour Conditioning Treatment

I regularly cover my hair with a home made colour treatment to keep my red hair as bright and non-orange as possible.  So, when I heard that Fudge make a ready made colour boosting treatment, I had to give it a shot.  And I'm actually incredibly impressed - unlike some colour conditioners, which barely add any colour at all, this one is highly pigmented - so much so that I stained my hands in applying it!  Left on for fifteen minutes, it left my hair looking shiny and with a glowing red tint.  It's not the most conditioning thing I've ever tried, and those with super dry hair might find that they need a bit more in the moisture department, but for a colour boost, this is the best treatment I've yet to find.

The colour conditioning treatment is available in brunette, blonde, copper and mahogany as well as the red shade I tried.  Find it at Feel Unique, where two 25ml sachets costs £4.30.

Disclosure: PR sample

Sunday, 25 March 2012

NOTD - Revlon 480 Chic

I picked up this beautiful blue-green-grey sludgefest of a polish from a drugstore while I was in New York recently. I have no idea if it's available in the UK, but my eye was drawn to it instantly among the huge range of Revlon polishes at Duane Reade. (To tell you which Duane Reade would be tough, since they seem to have multiplied exponentially since I was last in NYC and are now on every corner of the metropolis.)

I haven't yet seen Revlon's latest UK teal release, Fashionista, and I did wonder if it was the same shade going by a different name, but as the shade numbers are different (Fashionista is shade 471) I guess not. I'd be interested to see the two bottles side by side to compare.

Chic applied slickly and smoothly over a basecoat and was opaque in 2 coats. The manicure you see here was applied around 5 days before the photo was taken - pretty impressive wear I think, even if there was a layer of Poshe topcoat to protect it.

Teal polishes just never get old for me, and I can see this being one I return to again and again in all seasons.

This cost around $5 (USD).

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Review & Swatches: Rimmel Traffic Stopping Shadow Trios

Wouldn't it be funny if eyeshadow could actually stop traffic?  When I first tried these baked trios from Rimmel, I found myself imagining an eye look so striking that it would actually stop the stream of London taxis which makes me wait at the curb for ages in the mornings on my way into work.  If only, eh?

Anyway, the eyeshadows, traffic stopping or not, are actually little gems for their tiny £6.49 price tag.  Each palette contains three shades of baked (although apparently not mineral based) shadow in complimentary shades.

Speeding, Sharp Turn, Over The Limit, No Parking

There are green, smoky, copper brown and purple colourways available, and they're actually surprisingly highly pigmented.  Granted, you will need to load your brush with colour to get the kind of payoff shown below, but you'll still find the colour to be soft and buildable.  And incredibly easy to blend.


Sharp Turn

Over The Limit

No Parking

Of the four colourways, I think the purple has the least pigmentation - it's not bad, but certainly not as full on as the coppery brown or green colourways.  All the shadows have a lovely shimmery finish which really catches the sunlight and glows with a pretty luminosity.  

The packaging is basic, and I do find the plastic closures a bit of a challenge to open, although that might be a case of over-paranoia about the state of my nails on my part!  That said, though, these shadows are excellent for their low price point, and the copper brown combo has become a firm favourite for a quick and easy morning look in my house, not least because it's extremely flattering on hazel or green eyes.  

You'll find Rimmel's Traffic Stopping Shadow trios at Boots, Superdrug and all the usual suspects, where each colourway will cost you £6.49.  They're on 3 for 2 at Boots at the moment too.

Disclosure: PR sample

Friday, 23 March 2012

MAC By Request collection - a new take on the LE merry-go-round

If you've grown weary of speeding to the MAC counter to grab multiple back-ups of the must-have colours in every seasonal collection, this might be the moment you've been waiting for. MAC are re-releasing 3 cult lipstick, lipglass and eyeshadow shades in a collection called "By Request", launching in selected territories this August. The twist? Which 3 shades are included in the collection will be determined by MAC's fans and customers (that's you).

How do you choose which shades you want to bring back? By the power of good old social media of course. MAC-a-holics can cast their votes via the MAC Facebook page, where 18 nominated shades will vie for a place in the collection. You have until March 30th to have your say.

The list of nominated shades (direct from MAC's own press release):







Just one question MAC - WHERE'S PARROT?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Review: Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow Foundation

Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow may be a bit of a mouthful of a name, but it's designed to be a faceful of natural looking, radiant skin.  Benefit's new foundation has been in development for three years now, with the brand starting off with a wishlist as long as your arm including great sun protection, a lightweight finish, brightening and hydrating ingredients, an oil free formula... 

The finished product comes in 9 shades, aimed at fair, medium and deep skin tones, with three variations for different undertones within each shade.  Confusingly, there are two shades called Ivory - one subtitled "I'm pure 4 sure" and one subtitled "Believe in me".  I turned out to be "I'm pure 4 sure", which is the cooler of the two pale Ivory shades (no surprises there).

The foundation comes in a smart looking box and includes a sample of Benefit's primer, The Porefessional, which is apparently now the UK's best selling premium primer.  Samples are always good, as you get to try a product before you lay out the full price, and samples targeted to work alongside the product you've received are even better!

Formula wise, this stuff is incredibly light - it's a very fluid foundation, with a single pump giving you a decent puddle of foundation which is enough to give light coverage across the whole face.  Applied, it blends quickly and seamlessly, and feels absolutely weightless on the skin, even when layered up for a little more coverage.  If you're looking for something with medium to full coverage, this isn't likely to be for you - it's a sheer, natural finish foundation which can be built up to a medium coverage, but it's never going to cover everything.

You can see that it acts more to smooth and even the skin, without looking heavy or obviously makeup-y.  The finish is radiant and a tiny bit dewy, but it's definitely the right side of dewy - slightly glowy, rather than all out shiny.  And it wears well, too - I've found it lasts the whole day with ease, although I do need a spot of powder on my oily nose halfway through the day.

Overall, this is a good foundation if you've got decent skin and are looking for an even, bright effect.  I particularly like the SPF 25 PA+++, which affords maximum protection from UVA and UVB rays, which is unusual in a foundation, especially one with such a light texture.  If you'd like to try Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow for yourself, you'll find it at Benefit stores, counters and concessions, and online via the Benefit website, where a bottle will cost you £24.50.

Disclosure: PR sample

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Pantone Universe + Sephora Tangerine Tango collection

I had one overriding cosmetic mission on my recent trip to New York - namely to witness this stridently orange collection that Sephora have developed in conjunction with Pantone. It's an homage to Pantone's official "colour of the year", Tangerine Tango - a vivid red-orange. Orange is one of my great loves in the realm of makeup, and I can rarely pass up a product of this hue, especially when it's a lipstick or gloss.

I couldn't find the products out on counters or fixtures, but the assistants at Sephora Soho were good enough to dig around out the back and find them for me (I think they were yet to be put out on display).

The showstopper is the Color of the Year collector's edition, aka "The Box" (as the girls in the store called it), a compendium of orangeness that includes an eyeshadow palette, blush palette, eyeliner, lipstick, eyeliner, gloss and single blush.

Here are a few swatches:

Single blush + gloss (and a little bit of the gel eyeliner pencil off-shot to the left)

Blush duo

Eyeshadow palette.

I was really impressed by the quality of the packaging, especially on the palettes, which have translucent frosted lids which close via 4 magnets in the corners - like one of the square-type Inglot palettes. The pans are really generously sized. I also adored the white creme lipstick, which has a gorgeously expensive weightiness.

I was swatching away at The Box and soon found myself joined by 3 or 4 different Sephora assistants asking what it was and admiring it - drawn by the orange awesomeness from around the store. They all agreed that the collection a step up for the Sephora makeup line. They were especially keen on the blush.

Here's the lovely Gina from the store - by her you can see some of the other packaging from the collection, including a very tempting brush set with orange-tinted fibres.

Finally, here are the items that came home with me to the UK. A trio of lomg-wear gel eyeliners (with twist-up "leads") and a set of 4 orange glosses with various finishes - sparkly, colour-heavy, shimmery and sheer. I'll be getting stuck into these properly in time, but at the moment I can't quite bear to break into them and am keeping them pristine.

The eyeliners were $22 (USD), and the glosses were $20 (USD). I haven't tested them yet, but based on the swatching I did in store, this seems like great value for the quality of the products.

See the full Pantone Universe + Sephora range online at Sephora
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