Sunday, 30 June 2013

Swatches: & Other Stories Lockram Cactus and Shetland Brown Eyeshadows

These little eyeshadow singles come from & Other Stories - the slightly more upmarket brand from H&M which everyone is talking about because a) their clothes cost more than £10 b) they have a full range of quite nice looking makeup and c) they stock interesting brands like theBalm, Eborian, and Dr Bronner alongside their in house stuff.

I picked up two eyeshadows whilst browsing the store on London's Regent Street recently.  The packaging reminds me very much of the old Shu Uemura eyeshadows - clear plastic, squared off case, very minimal.  These are quite a bit bigger than Shu eyeshadows though.  I chose to purchase Lockram Cactus, a greeny taupe, and Shetland Brown, a metallic bronze.

Swatched, you can see a pretty, sparkling metallic finish on Shetland Brown, and a really unusual green flash on the dark taupe base of Lockram Cactus.  Of the two, Lockram Cactus is the really special shade - I don't think I have another taupe eyeshadow with a green flash to it.  

Both shadows are well pigmented, but lack that buttery soft texture which almost it applies itself to your eyelids.  They're perfectly usable, but expect to need to pack the colour on and give it a good blend before you're ready to go.  

You'll find Lockram Cactus and Shetland Brown at the & Other Stories website, where they cost a fairly mid range £7 each.

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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Swatch: Maybelline Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in Light In Purple

I was pretty impressed with Maybelline's creamy yet utterly budge proof Color Tattoo eyeshadows when I tried them a month or so ago.  My original review had an on eye swatch of Rose Gold, the more wearable, neutral pink shade I bought, but it didn't contain an on eye swatch of Light In Purple, the shimmering blue which appears to have a purple duochrome in the pot.

As you can see, there's no purple to be seen once it's applied to the eye.  This makes me sad.  I feel slightly cheated by that gentle flash of purple duochrome.  Granted, as frosty pale blues go, this one is rather nice, but I still wish it lived up to its purple promise.

At least it's pretty damn cheap at only £4.99.  Find it at your local Superdrug, Boots, or other Maybelline stockist now.

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Friday, 28 June 2013

NOTD: OPI A Woman's Prague-ative

As a copywriter, I take certain wincing delight in OPI's shade names. But although I've never met Suzi, and I'm sure she's a lovely woman, I have to say right out loud here that I think this is one of the worst names she's come up with, like, ever. Sorry Suzi.

Anyway, for better or worse, A Woman's Prague-ative is the name of this gorgeous russet metallic orange polish from the OPI Euro Centrale collection. It's highly reflective and richly toned, with brassy metallic shimmer in a red base. Glorious, eye-catching, rich, nuanced and unapologetically orange. What's not to love?

Some may think this is odd, but I can't look at this polish without being reminded of Queen Elizabeth I. It's something about the way the glowing metallic orangey colour offsets my pale hands. I've been wearing this polish for around a week now (no chips, v good) and at least once a day I've fallen into a mini-reverie about Elizabeth and how hard it must have been to know that your dad beheaded your mum and to be pitted against your half-sister for the crown. And then to lead an inherently sexist England as a woman, and one of questionable legitimacy at that...

Even if you don't care much about Elizabeth I, I recommend giving this polish a try, especially if you have pale skin, as it will set off the pallor and give your hands a lovely porcelain quality.

So, thank you Suzi, for making this polish and for making me dream of a ginger queen.

OPI's official stockist is Lena White -, where this will cost you £11.50

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Thursday, 27 June 2013

Urban Decay Rebound Build-Your-Own Palette and Moondust Shadows

So, Urban Decay have a new, very pretty create-your-own eyeshadow palette out.  This is my first time trying out their new, easy to depot and move around system, and I'm definitely attracted by the subtly coloured design on the sturdy metal tin.  It almost reminds me of tattoo designs, albeit less brightly coloured.

Top row: Stargazer, Desperation (matte satin)
Bottom row: Glitter Rock, Diamond Dog

This review also includes a peek at the Moondust shadows, which aren't particularly new themselves but are definitely new to me.  Score two for new things, yay.

Urban Decay describe these eyeshadows as having "intense hues, microfine sparkle and lush, 3D metallics".  Here we have Stargazer, described as lime-gold; Glitter Rock, described as metallic pink, and Diamond Dog (which clearly has the best name), described as deep brown. The one in the top right hand corner, by the way, is Desperation, a plain old normal shadow, with a matte-satin finish.  However, it's also taupe, which makes me immediately love it.

The pans snap out of their casing and into the palette with extreme ease.  I recommend using something like a table knife to gently prise them out - the plastic surrounds are hefty and durable, and feel like they'll withstand plenty of popping in and out of palettes.

Left to right:  Stargazer, Desperation, Glitter Rock, Diamond Dog
Swatched, you can see that the Moondust shadows have an incredibly sparkly finish which is very, very eyecatching.  These are finger swatches - and indeed, Urban Decay recommend applying them with the fingers rather than with a brush.  I'd agree with them - applying with a brush can result in a fair bit of sparkle falling onto the cheekbones, which is very annoying.

Desperation is also a lovely colour - I do love a good taupe, and this one is stormy and dark and intensely pigmented.  It also works absolutely beautifully as a base colour with some Diamond Dog applied on top of it.

Smouldering, eh?  If you enlarge this photo, you can see the way that Diamond Dog catches the light - it's very pretty.  And very noticeable - if you like your sparkle subtle, the Moondust shadows aren't for you.

Overall, I'm impressed - both with the create your own system and with the Moondust shadows.  The palette costs you £8 at BeautyBay (don't be misled by the photo, I'm pretty sure it comes completely empty).  The Moondust eyeshadows are £14 each, and Desperation is currently a mere £12.60 in the BeautyBay sale.

Disclosure: PR samples

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Quick Pick: Paul & Joe Blotting Papers

This cute, dolphin-printed card wallet contains a simple but very effective beauty product.  Blotting papers have become super popular in recent years - but to my shame I'd never actually tried any.  Well, now I have - these Paul & Joe ones are part of their Beach Baby summer collection, and they're awesome.  Inside of applying powder when your skin starts getting a little shiny, you simply blot the skin with one of these - they absorb the excess oil.  The skin is left looking cleaner and less oily, but without any chance of caking or a heavy powdery finish.  Brilliant.

Another bonus is that while Paul & Joe products can be an expensive splurge, these are only £3.50 for 100 sheets.

Disclosure: PR sample

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

KIKO Colour Shock Long Lasting Eyeshadow in Island Shimmer and Fierce Violet

These KIKO eyeshadows are rich, vibrant creams which can be used as eyeliner or eyeshadow.  They claim bright and sparkling shades with a creamy, light texture.  In their heavy glass pots, they certainly look bright, both colour and sparkle wise.  They're also not a dry, solid texture, as you can see from the fact that some time spent on their sides has led to the eyeshadow cream shifting about a bit.

Swatched, you can really see how intense the colour is, particularly on Fierce Violet, which is an absolutely stunning colour.  Island Shimmer, a fine silvery pink, is also very pretty, albeit eminently dupeable.

They also blend out very well, losing little of their intensity - Fierce Violet is still incredibly bright, and Island Shimmer has only a little less concentrated shimmer.  Luckily, the shadows remain blendable on the lid for a good minute before they set down firm, giving you plenty of time to work them into the lid and smooth the edges out.

I chose to apply Island Shimmer on the inner corner, blending it across the centre of the lid, and the blending a dot of Fierce Violet into the outer corner.  You only need the tiniest amount of shadow - they're very pigmented, and a little goes a long, long way.

Wear wise, I managed around five hours without creasing without primer, which is impressive given my super oily lids.  With primer, my purple gradient lasted a full fourteen hours before I removed it with cleansing oil.  Impressive stuff.

Given the quality of these lovely cream shadows, I was really surprised to find that not only do they usually retail at just £6.90, a fraction of the cost of some of the cream eyeshadows I've tried recently, KIKO are currently selling them for just £3.40.  Run, don't walk, to the KIKO website now - or pop into their stores at either Westfield centre in London.

Disclosure: PR samples

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

Monday, 24 June 2013

Review: YSL Tie and Dye Cool Coat Nail Lacquer

This is one of YSL's recently released Tie and Dye polishes.  The set of four top coats all separate out into this very interesting stripy effect when left alone, and when shaken form a sparkling topcoat - each shade has a slightly different effect.  Cool Coat separates into a clear top layer, milky pink middle, and sparkling pale pink bottom layer - it does take hours to form this pattern after you've shaken and used the polish.

Shaken up, it's a pearlescent pale pink.  It looks almost like an opaque nail polish, but applied to the nail, it's actually rather sheer.

This is the nail polish I started with - a plain purple cream (one of the Mavala summer shades).  It's looking a little bit worn, no?

With the Cool Coat applied over it.  The purple base shade is transformed with a pink/green duochrome shimmer which is very, very sparkly indeed.  This is a single coat.  I did need to apply top coat afterwards as I found that the Cool Coat dries relatively matte, and I like a shiny nail.

Cool Coat, along with its sisters Pop Coat, Hip Coat and Ice Coat, costs £18 exclusively from Selfridges.  Is it worth it?  Well... the effect is undoubtedly pretty, but it's totally dupable with cheaper polishes.  And the three-layer thing?  Very cool, but there's very little actual point to it unless you display your nail polishes.

Disclosure: PR sample

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Sunday, 23 June 2013

First look: new Soap & Glory packaging

I recently went along to spend an evening with Soap & Glory and take a look at their newly repackaged and revamped facial skincare range. Basically... they've gone minimal. In a really good way. The vintage ladies and the mischievous wordplay are still in evidence, but the retro has been scaled right back in favour of clean white space and squinty-eyed-in-the-shower-friendly fonts.

They've also introduced a very logical colour-coding element which separates their wide stable of products into 4 distinct ranges -
everyday skincare (For Daily Youth) = pale pink,
oily skin (The Fab Pore) = blue-green,
anti-aging (Make Yourself Youthful) = silver,
and brightening (The Bright Stuff) = bright pink
As you will notice, their love of puns remains as strong as ever.

As well as repackaging, S&G have taken the opportunity to reformulate some of their classic products and add some new ones into the mix too.

I took home two products to road-test.

First is the Make Yourself Youthful Super Serum, from the silvery anti-aging range. I had the chance to stick my curious blogger paws in all the products, and I noticed how pleasantly light and un-cloggy the anti-aging bits were. My perception of anti-aging products is that they tend to be quite heavy and rich, but none of the Make Yourself Youthful products fitted this stereotype. Instead they're comfortably emollient and feel very "breathable". This serum is the richer of the two in the range, but it still feels both light and fresh on my first-signs-of-aging-type skin. It costs £20.

My other pick was Scrubatomic, an exfoliant designed for daily use. I'm very keen on the existing S&G facial scrubs because they offer such fine grains - I'm continually annoyed by scrubs that have about 8 gigantic plastic balls and that do basically nothing. Scrubatomic delivers the same fine granularity as Scrub Your Nose In It and The Greatest Scrub of All and has a pleasant tropical fruit scent. It's part of the everyday For Daily Youth range, and comes in a crumply sort of squeezable tube with a screw cap. If you've tried the Body Shop's Hemp hand cream, you'll know the sort of toothpaste-esque tube I mean. It costs £9.

The new packaging and products are getting a gradual roll-out, with products starting to appear on shelves soon (summer 2013). Keep your eyes out!

(This lolly will not be for sale, but it's quite pretty and contains a raspberry.)

Disclosure - PR samples

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

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Swatch: YSL Terre Saharienne Bronzing Powder in 10

This bronzer's pretty casing is a limited edition for the summer, but the "Y-conic" powder within is a classic, according to YSL.  It claims to give a sunny glow to the skin with a matte finish.  

I love the large YSL logo embossed on the powder!

As you can see, YSL weren't lying when they said this stuff was matte - not a single sparkle to be seen.

I was somewhat surprised when I swatched this powder - it's really, really sheer (and also very soft and finely milled).  But then I thought about it a bit more, and realised that this is probably a good thing for a bronzer - better to build up sheer layers than to apply a pigmented powder and instantly look like you've been Tangoed.

Unfortunately, even though 10 is the lightest shade in the range, it's not quite right on my skin - although I think it's down to tone rather than lightness.  Like many bronzers, this one is quite warm, which looks great on warm toned or neutral skintones, but not quite so great on cool toned skin like mine.  Damn shame.

Find it at the YSL website for a very spendy £34.

Disclosure: PR sample

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

Friday, 21 June 2013

Swatch: Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencil in Mushroom

This chunky eyeshadow pencil is the companion released to the 24/7 Shadow Pencil in Noise, which Gemma swatched recently. Both were debuted for summer 2013, and where Noise is a statement shade that's suited to push-the-boat-out occasions, Mushroom is your archetypal everyday workhorse shadow. It joins the Mushroom powder eyeshadow and Mushroom 24/7 eyeliner to complete a taupe trio that is destined for squillions of makeup bags worldwide.

As taupes go, it's on the warm side, with a light brown, almost tan coloured base underpinning the silvery-grey shimmer. It's still eminently wearable for all skintones, but if you like your taupes on the cool side, it's worth noting that this has a warm base.

Wear is exemplary as usual, and application is as simple as a quick doodle and smudge.

You can find it at Debenhams and House of Fraser, where it costs £14.

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Adorable Tiny GWP Alert: Nuxe Huile Prodigeuse

My purchase of a new Nuxe cleanser last week concluded with the addition of an unexpected and very welcome GWP. This tiny little bottle of Huile Prodigieuse was added to my shopping bag at Clan Pharmacy, an independent chemist in Islington. It's 10ml, which is just big enough to try out the glorious cult HP, or to take on a short break if you fancy a bit of luxurious moisturisation on, say, a business trip to Bournemouth.

I'm not sure how widely these GWPs are distributed or if there's any rationale for handing them out, but I have spotted one or two on eBay, in case you're keen to get a dinky HP but haven't struck lucky while shopping.

I lined it up next to my full-size bottle of Huile Prodigieuse for the purposes of a) scale and b) that Russian-doll-like urge that grips all women when they are presented with multiple matching pretty things. (If only I had a 50ml bottle to complete the set.)

Unlike the big one, it doesn't include a spray mechanism, but instead has a screw cap.

Disclosure: the full-size Huile Prodigeuse is a PR sample

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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Quick Pick: Bumble and Bumble Thickening Hairspray and Styling Creme

My local Boots recently got a Bumble and Bumble stand.  As well as tons of lovely looking hair products, it also boasts a lovely lady who explains and recommends B&B products, and will give you a demo at the built-in hair station.  Brilliant, eh?

I wandered over a short while ago looking for some new products to give me VOLUME.  In capitals.  Because my hair still hasn't fully grown back from the contraceptive implant debacle.  I was recommended these two products, because apparently used in tandem with heat, they give plenty of volume and enough hold to keep it in the hair.

I took home two small 50ml bottles to try them out, and I'm impressed enough that I'm going to buy the full size versions.  I apply small amount of Styling Creme through the midlengths and ends, and a good spritz of Thickening Hairspray through the roots before blow drying - and the result is full, bouncy hair which keeps its bounce pretty well between washes.

In fact, if I blow dry my hair upside down with this stuff, I get so much volume that I end up looking like a LION.  A redhead lion, admittedly, but still, damn impressive.

Find the little sizes of Styling Creme and Thickening Hairspray at Boots now, where they'll set you back £6.50 and £7 respectively.

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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

NOTD: Illamasqua Freckle

One of five speckly releases from Illamasqua's spring 2013 I'mperfection collection, Freckle is a mid-toned beige creme with non-sparkly black hexes and smaller particles suspended in it.

The speckle polish thing has been much imitated (and some might say emulated) by drugstore brands, but I have to admit there's something uniquely egg-like about Illamasqua's polishes that out-does the competition. I think it's the level of translucency of the base polish that lets the speckles show through to just the right extent, as well as the choice of the pastel colours. There's a generous helping of speckles too, so that 2 coats were plenty to achieve the effect shown here.

The wear on this has been superb, with a full 5 days before any signs of wear appeared. The only reason to remove it is to put new polish on. The exceptional quality is reflected in the cost, which is a rather bracing £15. I was lucky enough to pick this up in a flash sale, so it was £7.50, and a bargain at the price.

You can see swatches of Fragile, the pale blue speckle from the I'mperfection collection, on Gemma's post here.

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Monday, 17 June 2013

Swatches: Urban Decay Summer Collection 24/7 Eye Pencils in Empire, Scorch, Smoke & Loaded

Urban Decay have added some new shades to their lineup of 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencils for summer 2013.  I'm not really sure how there can be many more shades left to dream up, really - we've seen the Vault, which contains 40 shades of eyeliner, and really, how many more slight variations can there be?

Anyway, these four are Empire, a deep plum purple; Scorch, a bright golden bronze; Smoke, a matte grey; and Loaded, a shimmering bottle green.

They're all pretty, but I suspect some are somewhat dupeable with other shades from the 24/7 pencil line up.  There are a number of shades in the copper/bronze family, for example - Scorch, which is described as bronze shimmer with silver microsparkle (which I can't quite see, myself); Smog, which is a plain copper shimmer; and Roach, which is a deep copper brown shimmer.

All four shades are beautiful, and as easy to use and long lasting as you'd expect, but I'd check your existing liners before you take the plunge with new ones.  Out of interest, how many shades do you actually own?  I think I have about 20, a mix of samples and ones I've bought myself.

Find them at BeautyBay for £14 each.

Disclosure: PR sample

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