Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Review: Mandara Spa Honeymilk Dream Pampering Honey Bath

This bumper bottle of bubbles is Mandara Spa's latest bath treat: Honeymilk Dream.  It's apparently inspired by Hawaii, and contains acacia honey and kukui nut oil which help to "cocoon you in a magical spa where the mind and body will be soothed and enriched".

Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure I agree.  The scent is a little flat and overly soapy for my liking, and dissipates almost immediately after the thick cream is added to the bath.  I also found that I had to add multiple great big handfuls of the stuff to get a decent pile of bubbles in the tub - and that those bubbles only lasted around half an hour before disappearing into nothing.

I'm feeling a little underwhelmed by this product.  Given that Mandara Spa are made by the same folks that make Elemis, and that Sarah's head over heels about some of their other products, I'm really disappointed that I didn't get a glorious bathing experience with this one.  If you'd like to give it a try yourself, you'll find it nationwide at Sainsbury's, where it costs £12.

Disclosure: PR sample

Monday, 29 October 2012

Review: Tony Moly Shiny Foot Peeling Liquid

Today, dear readers I'm going to be talking about my feet.  I appreciate that feet are a bit of a polarising topic - some people hate them, and some people are ambivalent towards them, and very few people actually like them.  The following review may contain pictures of my feet in plastic booties (not so bad) and of my feet after applying this peeling product (not so nice).  Read on after the jump if you're curious.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Quick Pick: Clinique Stay Matte Hydrator

If you saw my recent post begging for advice for oily skin, you'll know that I've gone from being slightly dry to being slightly oily since getting a contraceptive implant.  It must have been fate, then, that saw this little beauty pop through my letterbox a few weeks ago.

Clinique's Stay Matte Hydrator promises to keep skin matte and shine free for up to eight hours, whilst providing a moisturising boost.  So pretty much, matte but not dried out matte.  And it really does work - applied under liquid foundation (which I've been struggling with since my skin changed), I've found that it does keep the dreaded nose-shine under control til well after lunch.  It's also got a lovely silky texture, is absorbed quickly, and doesn't interfere with the blendability (is that a word?) of foundation.

My only complaint is that eight hours is not enough.  I typically work ten hours a day, travel two, and often head out straight from work to dinner or drinks with friends - so ideally, I'd like it to keep the shine at bay for about 16 hours.  But, y'know that's probably rather a lot to ask.

At £32 for 50ml, this isn't a bargain product - but the teeny tiny amount needed for each application (a single pump, which is a rather small dab indeed) makes the bottle likely to last for a good long while.  Find it at Clinique counters and concessions, and online via the Clinique website.

Disclosure: PR sample

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Review: Liz Earle Botanical Essence No. 15

This sleek white box contains the second of Liz Earle's forays into fragrance.  Botanical Essence No. 1 was a light, fresh, citrus scent: great for summer, bursting with fruit and sunlight.  Nice, but not really my kind of thing.  No. 15, however, is right up my street.  It's a deep, rich, almost gourmand oriental fragrance, and I kind of want to eat it.

It arrives encased in a sturdy cardboard box which folds out to reveal both the perfume bottle within and a detailed breakdown of the ingredients used in its making.

The bottle itself is a very minimalist affair - a simple cream bottle with a glass top, it bears Liz Earle's name and logo, the name of the fragrance, and that's it.  

As for the scent itself, it's absolutely perfect for winter.  Warm, rich ingredients like tonka bean and vanilla are tempered with woody, earthy vetiver and cedarwood.  Add spice, such as clove and pink pepper, and you get a fragrance that evokes evenings by the fire with a mug of mulled wine, the scent of some kind of delicious cake floating in the air.  It's a little bit foodie, a lot comforting, and it's exactly the sort of scent I turn to come autumn.  There's something about it (probably that tonka bean and vanilla combo) which draws a parallel with my absolute favourite (and much more expensive), Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille.  I'll definitely be repurchasing.

Find it at the Liz Earle website, where a 50ml spray bottle will cost you £45.

Disclosure: PR sample

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Quick Pick: Benefit Sugarlicious Lip and Cheek Kit

This super cute set from Benefit contains mini versions of the cult Benetint and High Beam products, a mini Sugarbomb powder, and a full size Sugarbomb lip gloss.  The tagline is "deliciously nude", and with the soft reddish flush of Benetint, the pink glow of High Beam, the pearly pinky-peach of Sugarbomb powder and gloss, this kit provides everything you need for a softly glowing, naturally pretty lip-and-cheek look.

The set has two sisters: Feelin' Dandy, which contains mini Posie Tint, High Beam, and Dandelion powder, alongside a full size Dandelion gloss; and Go TropiCORAL which contains mini ChaCha Tint, High Beam, and CORALista powder, alongside a full size CORALista gloss.

I particularly love the fact that these little sets give you the chance to get a number of Benefit cult classics at a reasonable price - each kit costs £24.40, and given that a full size bottle of Benetint, ChaCha Tint, or Posy Tint costs £24.50, and High Beam £18.50, the comparative cost of the kit makes it excellent value.  I also suspect that given the amount of tint and High Beam you need per application, you stand a better chance of actually finishing these miniature sizes compared to the full size products.

Find it now at Benefit counters and concessions, and online at the Benefit website, where it'll set you back a very reasonable £24.50.  

Disclosure: PR sample

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

NOTD: Models Own Hot Stuff (Mirrorball Collection)

This is two coats of Models Own Hot Stuff, from their latest bling-tastic Mirrorball collection, applied over one coat of Revlon Cherries in the Snow, a reddish pink.  The Mirrorball collection boasts polishes which just scream with sparkle - they combine glitter particles in different sizes and shapes for an incredibly glittery finish.

Hot Stuff has shades of red and pink glitter alongside opalescent and golden flakes.  There are tiny dots of hot pink glitter sitting alongside large diamond shapes which shift colour in the light, small golden green squares alongside larger pinkish purple shards.  The overall effect is pretty intense.

Now, as you might expect, this glitter is a little difficult to apply - you can end up with a nail full of subtle, tiny glitter flecks, or you can end up with a nail piled high with larger shapes.  There's definitely some work to be done to arrange the glitter evenly on the nail.  It eventually dries to a semi-matte finish, and requires two thick coats of topcoat to feel smooth on the nail - and even then, the edges of some of the largest glitter pieces may still catch in your hair and clothes if you've not positioned them just right.

All that glitter and two coats of topcoat makes for a manicure which lasts pretty well - I've worn Hot Stuff layered up over a base colour for about six days, which is a damn good run in my opinion.  Removal is unsurprisingly difficult - definitely best off done by soaking small squares of cotton wool, then wrapping them around the nail with tin foil, and leaving for ten minutes to soak off the glitter.

Still - for results this sparkling, I'll take the difficult application and difficult removal.  Perfect for party season!  You'll find Hot Stuff alongside its four sisters at the Models Own website, where it costs a reasonable £5.

Disclosure: PR sample

Monday, 22 October 2012

Dangerous Nail Files

These weapon-shaped nail files have been designed by Shelly Getzendanner from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and are new in at the Conran Shop.  At £7.95 each, or £19.95 for a pack of three, they're a little bit different, and likely to attract plenty of attention if you use them on the Tube!  Available in store at the Conran shop, or online - there's only the three-pack available right now, but the individual files should become available later this month.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Swatches: Smashbox Image Factory Photo Op Eyeshadow Palette in Muse

When I first saw this little palette from Smashbox, I was a bit underwhelmed.  Meh, I thought.  It has some neutral shades.  It has some fairly uninspiring packaging.  Meh.

Turns out it's not actually meh at all.  It's actually oh, really quite nice.  Yes, the shades are neutral - three matte and three shimmers.  No, it's not as hype inducing as an Urban Decay neutral palette.  Yes, you get a rather nice double ended brush, which has a fluffy shadow brush and a more stiff-bristled brush perfect for liner.

Swatching and wearing these shades really changed my mind about their level of meh.  They're all pink/purple/bronze toned, which happens to be a really perfect set of tones to go with my hazel eyes.  Each and every shadow is complimentary and oh so flattering on my skin.  Also, that purplish taupe (fourth from the left) is amazing.  Definitely not meh.

So, plus points: really lovely, usable colours; buttery soft shadows, excellent quality brush, small sizes mean you actually have a chance of using it up someday (unless you own 200 eyeshadows like I do).  Pretty good, really.  On the negatives front, the shadows are so soft that they crumble if you're not really careful, and you can get some fall out as a result.  Oh, and that packaging is still a bit uninspiring.

You can find it at the Smashbox website, where it costs £31.50 (which is a little high for such small pans of colour).

Disclosure: Press sample

Saturday, 20 October 2012

NOTD: Avon Green Goddess

This is Avon's Green Goddess, from the new Arctic Goddess collection for AW2012.  It's a gorgeous, foily, shimmery green, with a slight khaki/greyish tone which keeps it wearable and not too in-your-face.  I love to way that it appears metallic and soft in indirect light, and bursts with sparkle in bright sunlight.

This is the first NailWear Pro+ polish I've tried, and I'll confess to being pretty impressed.  The formula is thin and easily spreadable, it dries quickly, and this shade at least is really well pigmented - the photos above show two coats.  The brush is pretty thin - I'd quite like it to be a little wider, but it's not a deal breaker.  

Green Goddess launches with the Arctic Goddess collection in November, and costs a very reasonable £6.

Disclosure: PR sample

Ojon Trade In Day - Free Things!

Fancy a free bottle of shampoo and a free bottle of conditioner from Ojon?  Who would honestly say no?

On November 8th, the brand is running a one day trade is program - take in an empty bottle of shampoo or conditioner (from any brand) and receive full size bottles of Damage Reverse shampoo and conditioner worth £41.50 free of charge.  Pop down to your nearest John Lewis, selected Boots stores, House of Fraser, Fenwick and Harrods to get in on this most fabulous offer.  See you there!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Quick Pick: Mandara Spa Amber Heaven Moisturising Bath Essence

I'm just coming to the end of a bottle of this, and will absolutely be repurchasing it. Mandara Spa products come from the people who make Elemis, so you know you're in pretty good hands despite the prices being very reasonable. All their products are free of SLS, parabens, mineral oil and all that sort of jiggery pokery, which shows that their formulations are reasonably ahead of the curve. And they have some extremely nice scents.

Amber Heaven is billed as a mix of sandalwood and patchouli, but I actually find it more sweet and delicately spicy than those note names suggest. There's a comforting, starchy sweet rice scent in there too. It bubbles up a treat, and is joined by a variety of other products in the same flavour, including a body wash - essential stuff if like me you favour a bath/shower combo ("bower", or "shath", if you like) and want all your scents to match up.

You can find this in Sainsbury's, where there is currently a 33% off deal on much of the Mandara Spa line. So you get it for £5.33 for 500ml (usually £8)

Disclosure - PR sample

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Lip of the Day: Dita von Teese for ArtDeco Art Couture Velvet Lipstick in Maitresse

This rather beautiful red is from the Dita von Teese range by ArtDeco.  It's called Maitresse and it's described as a deep ruby red which "evokes the image of the femme fatale".  I think the description is pretty bang on - this is a little richer, a little pinker, and a little deeper than your classic blue toned red.  It has a lovely moist sheen to the finish and great opacity - this is a single stroke across the lips.  

One of my favourite application techniques is to do my top lip properly, then press my lips together so that the bulk of my lower lip is covered, and I just have to fill in the remnants.  This technique just doesn't work with this lipstick - it's so grippy, even freshly applied, that very little transfers to my bottom lip, and I have to apply the colour direct from the bullet.  This grippiness continues on throughout the day after application - the colour just lasts and lasts.  

I'll definitely be checking out more ArtDeco lipstick shades - there are some gorgeous moody pinks and even a hot orange matte in the range, as well as the traditional blue toned bright red.  Find them at BeautyBay, where they'll set you back £17.50 - not cheap, but worth it for the comfort and the longevity.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

NOTD: Look Beauty Nail Pop in Cool Britannia

Admittedly the time for celebrating this patriotic polish has somewhat passed - the Jubilee was ages ago and the Olympic and Paralympic Games have drawn to a close. But this is nonetheless a very decent tri-coloured glitter. It's absolutely laden with tiny red, blue and silver glittery bits - so much so that it looks opaque in 2 coats. Pretty impressive for a drugstore polish costing a mere £5. With a liberal helping of quick-dry topcoat, the surface of my nails was reasonably smooth. The pictures here were taken on the 5th day of wear, and as you can see it was starting to look a little tired, but that's a respectable innings in my book. 

By the way, the accent nail is Illamasqua Scarab.

Look Beauty are currently offering 2 for £6 on their Nail Pop polishes, saving you £4. If you're thinking of taking them up on it, we can definitely recommend their gorgeous Spotted The Lizard-esque duochrome, Kimono.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Guest Review: Clairol Extreme n'Easy in Cherry Red

Today we have a guest review from my friend and work colleague Marby.  She kindly volunteered to try out Clairol's latest home colour, Extreme n'Easy, on her naturally dark, already colour treated her.  She says...

"Instructions were very easy to follow in the box and it came with the hair dye, activating lotion, seal conditioning gloss and plastic gloves.  I have naturally very dark brown hair (with a bit of damage on the ends from past bleaching) so I left the hair dye in for 45 minutes as suggested in the instructions, just for a bit more intensity."

"Colour was intense and vibrant, a bit darker than I expected. The conditioner was amazing and totally sorted out my dry and brittle hair and split ends. The effects of it lasted for around 3 days after one application so I had lovely soft and silky hair for 3 days!  Whenever my hair is in sunlight it gives a beautiful, radiant red glow. Quite subtle but really lovely."

"One small con about the product was there was a lot of red washing out of my hair, even a week and a half after the initial dyeing. Even though I rinsed it under water for a long time, the dye was still running out in the water. It just meant I had to be very careful about drying my hair and not using light coloured towels in case of staining them." 

"Other than that, I highly recommend this dye and would use it again, the colour sealant serum really works wonders and they provide enough for another 2 applications after the first wash. Unlike other dyes that dry my hair out, this one felt super soft and shiny and nourished from the conditioner in the colour sealant."

You can find Extreme n'Easy at Boots and other hair colour emporia now, where it will cost you £5.99 a pack.

Disclosure: Colour provided as press sample

Monday, 15 October 2012

FOTD: Smashbox O-Glow and O-Gloss

Here's a quick look to show off Smashbox's O-Glow blusher and O-Gloss (gloss), two seminal products from the Los Angeles brand. Both of them go on clear but react once on the skin to create a pink flush. The brand blurb says they react with the moisture in your skin to create a shade that's spot-on for your particular cheeks or lips.
O-Glow was originally released by Smashbox a few years back and it created a buzz thanks to its unusual colour-changing action. It's a smooth, silicone-rich gel (think Smashbox primers) that comes in a squeezy tube with a screw cap. A small dot on each cheek is plenty to create a natural colour effect on my fair skin, and it blends hyper-smoothly thanks to its texture. However, despite its adaptive powers, I've heard that it doesn't pack much punch on darker skin tones (your experiences with this are very welcome). You get 15ml in a full-size tube, which is quite generous when you compare it to your typical 5-10 gramme pan of blush.


The O-Gloss was released as a flanker to O-Glow following the blush's popularity. I think I actually like this even more than the blush. It's got a very balm-like texture and manages to be quite thick and moisturising without feeling sticky or tacky. It creates an extremely wearable pink tint that makes me feel a slight bit more presentable in the mornings, and I find it does the job of lip-balm. The squeezy tube has a slanted applicator, making it very easy to put on. You get 10ml in a tube - about standard for a gloss.

Smashbox O-Glow costs £21 and O-Gloss costs £16. You can buy both online at Boots

Disclosure - PR samples

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Quick Pick: Schwarzkopf Igora Color Remover

This product is one of those things I've been using for years, on a regular basis, but have somehow never posted about: Schwarzkopf's Igora Color Remover is a light fluid which lifts colour stains from the skin, without drying the skin out. I used to use it to tidy up my hairline after applying at home permanent dye, and I now use it to tidy up my hairline (and my wrists, fingers, etc) after applying highly staining vegetable colour to perk my red hair up in between permanent applications.  Before I picked it up for the first time on the offchance from eBay, I would scrub at my skin with water and exfoliator to try to shift colour stains - now I just use a little squirt of this on a cotton pad.  

You'll find it on eBay, and from Salons Direct, where it'll cost around £4.  Bargain, really!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Review & Swatches: FrontCover Party Queen

FrontCover are well known for their great value makeup kits, presented in themed boxes complete with instructions on how to create a multitude of looks using the products included.  This one, Party Queen, is part of their winter/Christmas offering, and it's seriously impressive.

Party Queen contains everything you could possibly need to create dramatic night time looks, apart from mascara.  The looks illustrated go from smoky to sparkly, and from black to colourful.

The top row of shadows are baked powder eyeshadows, which feature interesting pearl and glitter effects.  The bottom row is a new innovative powder product that can be applied with a damp brush for a high shine metallic effect.  There are two sparkly glimmer powders, and a fine silver glitter, as well as some larger face jewels.

You also get a mini opalescent top coat for the nails, two metallic cream shadows, a glue for your jewels and glitter, an opalescent lip glaze, shimmering eye shadow base, a double ended brush and a black kohl with smudger.  That's a lot of makeup in a single box.

These swatches are the baked eyeshadows, swatched in the same order as they are in the box.  They're a little on the sheer side, although the rightmost three are more pigmented and less glittery.

The wet and dry metallic shadows are the standout of the box for me - they're amazing.  These swatches were done with a damp brush - you can see that the finish is beautifully metallic, and the pigmentation pretty strong (this is a single swipe of the brush).  The colours are also lovely, and suitable for day as well as night.  Beware of Lime Soda, the bright green - it stained my hand a little, and I can only imagine it will do the same to eyelids.  

I think they look a lot more expensive than they really are once applied.  This is a mixture of Mosaic Lilac, the leftmost shade, and Tawny, the rightmost.  The effect is not dissimilar to my much loved and much more expensive Chanel Illusion d'Ombre.

Finally, swatches of the glimmer powders and cream eyeshadows.  The leftmost swatch is of the whitish glimmer powder, which flashes pink and blue when the light hits it.  Next to that we have the black based glimmer, which has more pigmentation in the base and is still delightfully sparkly.  The cream eyeshadows are both emollient but not greasy and have a lovely, metallic pigmented finish.

So, that's only some of the products swatched - I think I'd be here all year if I were to try to swatch them all.  Needless to say, this box is incredible value - at just £35, you're getting a lot of slap for your money, and said slap is of a really good quality for the price.

Find it at the FrontCover website now.  Seriously, you won't regret it.

Disclosure: PR sample

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Bliss launch Limited Edition Pink Glamour Gloves for Breast Cancer Awareness


Bliss have released a special pink edition of their famous Glamour Gloves in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.  Whilst they aren't donating a proportion of the money handed over for each pair of gloves, Bliss have made a donation to Breast Cancer Awareness in honour of the charity's work.

I've never tried Glamour Gloves before - they have a layer of hydrating gel inside them, which softens and conditions the hands when you slip them on.  The lining lasts for 50 uses, say Bliss, making them a definite luxury item - they cost £36, giving them a pretty high cost per use.  You could always use them to improve the absorption of a layer of hand cream by putting them on freshly moisturised hands, though, I guess.

Bliss are also running a Twitter based competition, asking that Glamour Glove owners tweet pictures of themselves with their pink-gloved hands on display throughout October using the hashtag #SpreadTheGlove.  The most creative picture wins its subject a pink iPad, with runners up being treated to a variety of Bliss products and spa treatments.

Find them at now.

Disclosure: PR sample

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

NOTD: Eye Candy Colour Flip Green With Envy

This duochrome bobby dazzler hails from the unlikely shores of... well, your local Big Sainsbury's, actually. You'll find it and its fellow polishes (including two other duochromes) alongside the yoghurts and the loo rolls in Britain's orangest supermarket.

They're sold on cards (good for those who like to know their polish hasn't been tinkered with before purchase) and will likely be hanging on hooks at the end of the aisle with all the hair dye, shower gel etc.

Despite being a supermarket special, this polish isn't cheap - it goes for around £8 for 10ml. 

The coverage of this is excellent. The manicure here shows 3 coats but you could get away with 2. It chipped a bit, as you can see from the pictures (taken at 3 days' wear). But basically the headline is that this is a superb duochrome with an impressively broad spectrum of colours within its shimmery, metallic repertoire. Well worth a look if you've got a mind to treat yourself during the weekly shop.

Disclosure - PR sample

Monday, 8 October 2012

Review & Swatches: Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Chunkiest Chili and Plushest Punch

Clinique have taken their incredibly popular Chubby Sticks and turbocharged them.  Chubby Stick Intense promises more colour, with the same comfortable balm texture.  They're being released in eight brand new shades for a pop of colour and the same pretty shine.

The packaging is exactly the same as the original Chubby Sticks, which is good because the packaging is half of what makes the Chubbies so brilliant.  It's also a bit bad because if you have a few Chubby Sticks in your makeup bag already, it'll be difficult to tell them apart from the Intense ones.

Anyway, on to the swatches!

This is Plushest Punch, which is a bold mid pink.  I was impressed with the pigmentation - this is a single pass over the lips, and the colour is just the right blend of strong but still moist and soft.  Unfortunately this clashes terribly with my hair.  Sigh.

And this is Chunkiest Chili, a reddish brown with an unapologetic shot of shimmer.  This one is even more well pigmented than Plushest Punch.

Overall, I'm impressed with these new Intense Chubby Sticks.  They retain the same soft, comfortable feeling on the lips, despite the extra pigment, and they leave the lips feeling hydrated after wear.  The packaging brings even more to the party with this more pigmented version - the slim bullet and pointy end make it very easy to line and fill the lips easily.  

If you fancy a more Intense Chubby Stick, you'll find them on counter and online in mid-November.  They'll cost £16 each, same as the originals.

Dislcosure: PR sample

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