Friday, 31 May 2013

Lip of the Day: Illamasqua Posture

Illamasqua's newest collection, Paranormal, has two lipsticks in it, both shades of purple - ESP, a rich violet, and this shade; Posture, a grey-lilac.  Both have a matte, almost chalky finish, and when I first saw them I had some serious doubts I'd be able to wear either.

I was lucky enough to bring Posture home from the launch, and I immediately photographed it and slapped it on my lips.

Unfortunately, as I expected, it looks awful against my pink-toned skin.  The texture is quite dry, and the lipstick drags against the lips until it warms up.  I've seen the shade work on some others - Alice from Super Gorgeous, for example, wears it brilliantly as a twist on a nude lip - but to be honest I suspect most will struggle with this shade.  If you're curious, try it on in store before you commit - the £16.50 price tag makes this a product you won't want to buy before you try!

Disclosure: PR sample

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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Tutorial: Contour and Highlight with YSL Touche Eclat Vanille Lumiere and Rose Lumiere

I recently had a makeover with one of YSL's global makeup artists, who hailed from Dubai.  Her makeup style was so different to mine - she wore bright lips, smoky eyes, and her face was impeccably contoured.  After she applied my foundation, she took me through using two shades of Touche Eclat to add subtle dimension to the face.  Needless to say, I found it really interesting and thought I'd try to reproduce it, step by step, at home to see what you think.

Left to right: Vanille Lumiere #2.5, Rose Lumiere #1

Touche Eclat now comes in a number of different shades; Rose Lumiere is the original highlighter shade, shown on the right of this swatch, and Vanille Lumiere is a newer shade designed for fair skin with neutral undertones.  In my makeover, I was shown how to use the lighter, brighter Rose Lumiere as a highlighter, and use the darker Vanille Lumiere shade for a subtle contour.

The above photo shows my face before I begun.  I'm wearing a spot of foundation, and have filled my eyebrows in so that they vaguely match my hair.

I apply Vanille Lumiere to areas I want to contour - underneath my chin, the sides of my nose, and under my cheekbones.  I also apply a little under my eyes, using the peach tones of Vanille Lumiere to neutralise my blue-ish dark circles.

Vanille Lumiere all blended in.  My undereye circles already look better.

I apply Rose Lumiere to the areas I want to highlight and bring forward: the tops of my cheekbones, my browbones, the cupid's bow at top of my top lip, and the bridge of my nose.  I also apply a little under my eyes and to the inner corners to brighten them, and a little bit in the crease under my lip caused by my chin.  Apparently this will stop it from looking quite as deep; if you have noticeable smile lines, applying the highlighting shade to them will help them fade into the rest of the skin.

With Rose Lumiere all blended in.  My skin looks bright and even.  Yippee.

And finally, a comparison - before face on the left, and after face on the right.  The difference is very subtle, but I think that the after face is slightly more defined.  It's not the sort of thing I'd do every morning, but for a special occasion when you know there'll be a lot of photographs taken, it's a little more appropriate.

What do you think?  Is there a difference?  Is this something you'd try?

Disclosure: Touche Eclat shades used are PR samples

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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Three great niche lipbalms

Of the many lipbalms that have been kicking around in my handbag over the last year, these 3 are the pick of the crop. They all happen to come from reasonably niche brands, too, so I felt like giving them a bit more public praise.

1. Nuxe Reve de Miel lipbalm (stick version)
This is the portable edition of Nuxe's much-loved balm from the Reve de Miel ("honey dream") range. It's quite different to the pot version, with a lighter scent and a less "paste-y" texture - it melts onto the lips to create a slight shiny finish, whereas the pot version is thicker and gives a matte finish. What both have in common though is an ability to moisturise the lips with relatively infrequent application, and a formula that doesn't taste horrible. This costs £6, and you can get it in M&S beauty halls

2. Fresh Sugar Rose
US brand Fresh are well known for their gourmand fragrances, and I've previously reviewed this petite metal-cased lip balm along with the Brown Sugar fragrance and body cream. I'm now on my second tube and still a huge fan of both the lovely packaging and the product. This is tricky to find in the UK, with just one Fresh store in Marylebone and no international online ordering from the US-based website.

3. Apivita Lip Care with Blackcurrant
Greek bee-based brand Apivita are stocked in Marks and Spencer's new beauty halls, which is where I picked up this balm. It's tinted (ish) and is composed of natural oils of various types (olive, beeswax, shea etc). It has a lovely texture and a fresh, fruity scent. This costs £5 and you can get it in M&S

(L-R Nuxe (nearly insivisble), Apivita, Fresh)

Have you tried any of these? What are your lip balm picks?
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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Foundation Love: YSL Le Teint Touch Eclat Foundation

I've rediscovered a love for YSL's Le Teint Touch Eclat foundation in the past few weeks.  After a long while of having skin that seemed to be permanently covered in spots, and wearing heavy foundation to disguise it, I'm pleased to be wearing something lighter.  

Packaged in a simple glass tube with a gold cap, it's a very luxe foundation, and not one I'd want to carry around with me - it weighs a ton.  The foundation inside, though, weighs virtually nothing - it's light, medium coverage, and adds loads of light and radiance to the skin.

I like that it still lets my freckles show through, yet still evens out my complexion and tones down fading spot scars.  Mostly, I just love the radiance - my skin always looks super bright when I use it.  I apply a pump's worth with my fingers - I've been told that using a brush gives an even better finish, but I find my fingers quicker in the morning, and I'd rather reclaim the extra moments to do more with my eyeshadow.

At £29, it's undoubtedly a treat - but one that's well worth it in my mind.  Find it at Boots.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating our copyright.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Review: Illamasqua Hydra Veil

Illamasqua's summer 2013 collection broke the mould, as usual - the Paranormal collection is surprisingly smoky and intense for summer.  So far, so Illamasqua.  One product, though, marks a new endeavor for the brand - Hydra Veil is a skincare / primer hybrid which offers plenty of hydration with a super lightweight texture.

Inside the sleek black packaging, an inner lid ensures that the product inside won't dry out.  There's also a little spoon, which you'll need to scoop up some of the product.  Although this is a totally necessary step to keep the product moist and aid application, it does make for a bit of fiddlyness.

Hydra Veil, stirred up with the spoon, has a strangely frogspawn like texture.  Given a few hours, though, the churned up bobbly gel texture settles back down to a solid gel texture - the air bubbles meander to the surface and pop out.

Anyway, interesting texture aside, the product itself is pretty amazing.  It's a very light gel which disappears into the skin very quickly, yet still manages to keep the skin hydrated for a matter of hours.  It also controls oil at the same time, and I've found that my foundation stays on better when I'm wearing this underneath.  It also provides an incredibly smooth base for blending foundation over - definitely makes a difference.

At £27, this is an expensive primer option - but given that it's part skincare, part makeup essential, it's a price I'd be happy to pay again.  If your skin type craves hydration but still gets oily during the day, this is a great way of balancing out hydration with natural oils.  Find it now at the Illamasqua website.

Disclosure: PR sample

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Friday, 24 May 2013

Review: L'Oreal Skin Perfection 15 Second Miracle Cleansing Oil

I was curious to try this L'Oreal cleansing oil as it's a great example of a niche product going mainstream.  At a mere £7.99, this one is one of the most reasonably priced oils on the market, and L'Oreal are clearly trying to bring more niche cleansing to the masses - the Skin Perfection range also includes an oh-so-trendy micellar water.

The snazzy orange bottle certainly looks bright and cheerful in my bathroom, and I've actually found it to be a very nice cleansing oil - a few drops dispensed into the palm and spread around the face dissolves makeup effectively.  I'm not too sure about the 15 second claim, though - three layers of waterproof mascara requires a few more moments, in my experience.  The oil emulsifies nicely and rinses cleanly away, leaving skin feeling soft and clean.


The first ingredient in the ingredients list is mineral oil.  That, then, is why this product is so pleasingly cheap - and it's a contentious ingredient, with many people avoiding it, generally because it's a by-product of crude oil refinement.

Personally, I'm not overly spooked by mineral oil, but I would rather use a cleansing oil based on plant oils rather than mineral oil, but if it doesn't bother you, this is a good inexpensive find.  Find it at Boots now.

Disclosure: PR sample

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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Lip of the Day: YSL Rouge Pur Couture Vernis À Lèvres in 20 Rouge Enamel

I absolutely love YSL's Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stains, and I absolutely love red.  And I am completely in love with this red Glossy Stain - it's part of the summer lineup (and has a sister coral shade), and it's the most gorgeous ruby red.  It's a very similar tone to my hair colour, and unlike some reds which can shrink the lips, it adds volume and plumpness.

The texture is fabulous - it's more of a gel than a creamy lipstick or sticky gloss, and the pigmentation is very high.  The applicator gives you a good clean point for a really precise application, which is needed.

And a bonus picture:  this is the stain imparted by the product.  Bear in mind I was wearing it for about ten minutes for swatching purposes.  Impressive stuff.

As you might be able to tell, I adore this shade, and I'll be pairing it with a soft shimmery golden eyeshadow and lashings of mascara for summer.

Find it at the YSL website, YSL counters, and at Boots now.  It costs a spendy £23.50, but it's totally worth it if you love high pigmentation shine and lovely reds.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating our copyright.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Unfortunately underwhelming: Elemis Pro-Radiance Illuminating Flash Balm

I've tried to like this product, I really have, but I just don't quite get it.  Elemis' new Pro-Radiance Illuminating Flash Balm seems heavily inspired by the Clarins cult classic flash balm, and promises moisturising properties alongside an instant shot of radiance.  To be fair, I don't really get the hype around the Clarins flash balm either - I just can't see the difference made by a single application of one of these balms.  And it's the same for the Elemis product - it's perfectly hydrating, if a little tacky immediately after application, but my skin doesn't look any more radiant.

Granted, it is a rather lovely foundation primer, smoothing the skin out and resisting balling underneath a multitude of my foundations, but it just doesn't deliver on the radiance promise enough for me to love it.  At £32, it's not cheap, either.  If you want to try it out, you'll find it at Elemis' official online stockist, Time to Spa, but I'd definitely recommend trying a bit in store before you jump in.

Disclosure: PR sample

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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

NOTD: Mavala Chilli and Spice shades Bamako, Trinidad, Jaipur

What could be nicer than a stocky, cheerful little pot of Mavala colour? How about three pots at once?

Part of the beauty of these pigment-saturated summer shades from Mavala is how well they offset each other. So I decided to wear a few of them together by way of an accent nail. The main manicure colour is Trinidad, a rich ultramarine blue. The accent nail is a combo of Jaipur, the vivid orange shade, and Bamako, a strident forest green.

I photographed this manicure on a slightly overcast day, but even so, you can see how punchy these colours are. As with Mavala colours generally, the wear is pretty good - 4+ days before chipping. Each one is 4ml and they cost around £4 each.

Look out for these new summer shades in Boots, Debenhams and about 1 billion independent chemists (who always stock Mavala for some unknown but welcome reason).

Disclosure - PR samples

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Monday, 20 May 2013

Lip of the Day: Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Lipstick in BG 955

I bought this rather lovely lipstick whilst shopping in Shu Uemura for an eyebrow pencil for my sister-in-law-to-be to use for her wedding.  She also bought a Rouge Unlimited lipstick, and me being me, I couldn't resist getting one for myself.  I chose this rather glorious neutral-but-not-neutral mid pink, and it's become one of my favourites in the past few weeks.

The packaging is a standard twist up format, with a clear, rounded lid.  It looks rather classy, although I have found that tiny smears of lipstick get on the inside of the lid, which looks a little messy.  

On the lip, it's a beautiful mid pink which makes for a neutral but not beige look.  The lipstick has a high level of pigmentation, and also a glorious sheen which hints at the level of moisture it provides.  It wears really well, too - I get a good four hours before it starts feeling a little dry and needing a top up.

And finally, here's how it looks within the context of my whole face.  I really don't like beige nude lips - they make me look washed out - and this pink is a lovely alternative.

At £19, this is an indulgent purchase (particularly for someone with around a hundred lipsticks in their collection already...) but the quality of the product makes it worth every penny.  Lovely.

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Sunday, 19 May 2013

A little KIKO haul

My closest friend lives in Stratford, which means I often end up doing the odd tour of Westfield shopping centre on my way to or from the station there. The other day I wandered into the KIKO store and decided to treat myself to a few bits. (Here are said bits.)

Firstly, a single powder eyeshadow with a super-interesting pseudo-liquid texture and a surface design that makes it look like it's been swatched by a giant's thumb. Its official name is "Water Eyeshadow". This stuff is made out of very slippery particles - must be some kind of silicone. It's a cool taupe with a dark base. The finish is lovely - richly pigmented, pearly and multi-faceted. It cost £8.90. I can't help putting my thumb on it.

Secondly, an Eyebrow Marker (great descriptive product name). This was a bit of a gamble as basically all eyebrow colours, whether they're liquid, powder, pencil or anything else, tend to look reddish on my skin. This one is pretty good - it's a greyish, cool light brown. The payoff is very very light, meaning that there's little danger of terrible Sharpie-marker eyebrows. You can wear it very subtly. It cost £5.90.

Finally, a liquid eyeliner (Super Colour Eyeliner). It's a black base with bottle green shimmer. The formula is polymer-based (i.e. it flakes or peels off, rather than smudging). It's a bit on the thin side, and doesn't produce an opaque line on the lid. This was on sale for around £4, but its full price is £6.90.

Swatches. Are you feeling that taupe?

Assembled together on face:

I'm really happy with these, especially the brow marker. KIKO is one of those wildcard brands - I never know whereabouts on the mass-to-prestige spectrum it's supposed to sit, although the packaging and the quality I feel are quite similar to MAC. Not that I've bought any MAC in quite a long time. But then it sells nail polish for just £2.50, suggesting it's a bit more drugstore.

In the UK its distribution is too small for it really to have an established market niche. There are 2 KIKO stores that I know of in London, one in each branch of the Westfield shopping centre (Stratford and White City). I don't know where it sits in its native Italy in terms of price point.

What's your take on KIKO, if you've tried it?

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Saturday, 18 May 2013

Paul & Joe Beaute Beach Baby Pressed Powder UV

Paul & Joe's summer collection is called Beach Baby, and features a selection of lip, eye and nail shades in retro pastels and fun brights. The theme is inspired by beach locations and general fun in the sun.

Contrarily enough, the piece I was most taken with out of the collection has nothing much to do with beaches or bikinis (although it does have UV filters). It's the pressed powder compact, which has a picture of two snow leopards on a background of green foliage.

Our cosmetic hero Craig-Ryan French (Paul & Joe's creative lead), who introduced us to the collection at a PR event awash with leis, palm leaves and pretty seashells, explained the relevance of the leopards to the beach theme by saying "you'd better stay on the beach, because in the trees beyond there are leopards." Of course!

There are some other lovely items in the collection too, most notably some eye/lip gloss duos which have shimmery cream eyeshadow at one end and juicy, high-pigment lip gloss at the other.

The powder compact is limited edition and comes in two translucent shades - one a bit pinkish (003, shown in these pictures), and one a bit bronzerish (004). They're both delightful and cost £28. You can buy them at, or pick them up in person at Harrods, Fenwicks and Selfridges.

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Friday, 17 May 2013

Review & Swatches: Bourjois Little Round Pot Cream Blush in 01 Nude Velvet and 03 Rose Tender

Bourjois have made a cream blush!  This is excellent news, as cream blush can be difficult to find on the high street, and they're brilliant for easy application and long wear.  Packaged in the iconic little round pot, they're held together with magnets and come in four natural shades.

The texture is light and silky, and I think they're best described as cream-to-powder blushes.  They don't have any stickiness or greasiness to the finish, setting down to a velvety finish which has a subtle sheen.  These two shades are 01 Nude Velvet, and 03 Rose Tender.  

Left to right: Nude Velvet, Rose Tender
Swatched, they're not wildly different shades.  Nude Velvet is a peachy nude shade, and Rose Tender is slightly more pink.  The swatches here are done with a well loaded fingertip - the colours themselves are actually very sheer.  

Wearing 03 Rose Tender on the cheekbone
Very sheer, yes, but totally buildable.  The above photo shows around three layers built up slowly, which has given me a lovely soft natural flush.  I can imagine, though, that darker skintones may find that they need to build up the blush a fair bit to get it to show up.  For us pale skins, though, it's perfect.

The Little Round Pot cream blushes were originally a Selfridges exclusive (amazing to think that Bourjois is so in demand Selfridges get the exclusive on a new launch!) and are now in stores nationwide as of the 15th May.  They'll cost £7.99, very reasonable for such a lovely texture.

Disclosure: PR samples

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Thursday, 16 May 2013

REN: Three Saviour Products for Combination Skin

I was recently recommended this trio of products for combination/oily skin when I visited the REN headquarters.  And they've turned out to be utterly brilliant!

Of the three products, the Clarifying Toning Lotion, £18 for 150ml, is probably the least revolutionary.  That said, given that it's a toner for combination/oily skin, it manages to balance and clarify the skin without being overly harsh or stripping, unlike some other clarifying lotions I could mention (ahem, Clinique).  It's also very refreshing, and contains glycolic acid to provide a mild exfoliating effect.

T-Zone Balancing Day Fluid is a wonderful moisturiser - although it is expensive at £26 for 50ml.  It has a light texture which is incredibly easy to spread across the skin but isn't too fluid; it definitely injects moisture into the skin but doesn't feel heavy, greasy, or overly rich.  I have noticed that the dry patches on my forehead can look pronounced halfway through the day, so it's worth using a richer cream on any dry spots to keep them hydrated through the day.

My favourite product of the three is the Invisible Pores Detox Mask, which is worth every penny of its £18 for 50ml pricetag.  It's incredible.  Having a clay based formula, it deep cleanses and draws out impurities, but doesn't dry out the skin or leave it feeling in desperate need of hydration.  It's become part of my routine to deal with pesky, deep rooted spots - I apply a herbal astringent in the evening, and then apply this in the morning to dry out the spot.  I particularly like the packaging - it has a little cap to go over the end of the pump spout, which helps prevent the product drying out in the pump.  Brilliant.

Disclosure: PR samples

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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

NOTD: China Glaze Jungle Queen

China Glaze Jungle Queen is a lovely smoky purple polish with a bit of a secret:  it's got a subtle purple shimmer which is almost impossible to capture with my camera.  Temptalia manages better:  her photos show the beautiful micro-shimmer which only emerges in sunlight.  It's a very unique colour - I don't have anything quite like this in my polish collection.

Regardless of the shimmer, this colour is gorgeous - and so very shiny that it becomes almost mirror like with a bit of topcoat.  Two coats gave perfect opacity, and wear was excellent - a good four days before the tipwear became noticeable.

Find it at BeautyBay, where it costs £6.95.

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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Swatches: YSL Marrakesh Sunset Eyeshadow Palette

Meet the palette component of YSL's summer offering: Marrakesh Sunset.  It's a surprisingly wearable set of shades with a twist - and the outer packaging, as usual, is beautifully luxe.  The heavy compact encases the shadows in YSL's signature gold, with a subtle design worked into the lid.  Pretty, but not as stunning as Clarins' latest palettes.  

Inside, you get five shadows and two (shudder) foam applicators.  YSL suggest using the left two for daytime, with the central gold as a base, and then adding the right two for night time.

All five shades are very pretty - but very shimmery.  This isn't a palette for those who like their colours muted or satiny.  The left shades, mid-brown and golden pink, are very daytime appropriate.  I've been enjoying adding a pop of the purple (which has tiny purple and blue sparkles within it) along the lower and upper lashlines.  The central pale gold makes for a lovely highlighter as well as a good base, and the gold on the right is an almost coppery, rich shade which blends well with the brown and the pink.

Swatched, the shades appear a little sheer - and indeed, the first application is relatively sheer unless you really pack the colour on with a densely bristled brush.  The colours are very buildable, though, allowing you to go from a soft wash to a more intense look.

At £42, this is an expensive palette - but the eyeshadows are high quality, buttery soft and buildable.  For someone with an eyeshadow collection the size of mine, they're not particularly unique - I have a number of shades in this golden - bronze - pink range.  The pop of purple does stop the palette from being yet another neutral palette.  Find it on counter and online now.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating our copyright.
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