Friday, 31 January 2014

Ciate Nail Lab

This Nail Lab from Ciate is perfect for anyone who's ever wanted to try blending their own nail polishes.  It contains six mini Paint Pots, four empty Paint Pot bottles, six mini top coats, loose glitter, nail art tools and shade recipe cards to help you customise your manicure.  There's even a comprehensive set of mini funnels, scoops, and mixing dishes.

At £65, it's expensive, but to be fair you do get a lot of kit, and it's the ideal gift for anyone with a creative nail streak.  Find it at the Ciate website, where it's currently available for pre-order.

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

Thursday, 30 January 2014

AVON Luxe Collection

Avon's Luxe collection is intended to be the more luxurious, upmarket part of their extensive makeup range - encased in gold packaging, and wrapped in purple snakeskin printed cardboard outers, it certainly looks the part.

I received two eyeshadow palettes, two lipsticks and a lipgloss to try out.  The packaging is very curvy - all the products have a gently domed top and a flat bottom.  Whilst the metallic finish looks like it'll be weighty and well, metallic, it's actually coated plastic, and feels a little lightweight in the hand.

Purple Smokes, Cocoa Couture
The eyeshadows are a little Lauder-esque, but with smaller pans.  The textures are a little bit powdery, with decent medium buildable pigmentation.  The shades are very blendable, and stay well on the lid atop a bit of primer.  I really like that the five eyeshadows in the palette aren't all matchy-matchy - they're complimentary, but there's enough interest and variance to keep it fresh and modern.

Purple Smokes
Purple Smokes contains two taupe browns, a deep purple, a soft cream and a lilac grey.  Some of the shades swatch completely differently to how they look in the pan - the purple appears almost blue, and the lilac grey appears more like a blue grey.

Cocoa Couture
 Cocoa Couture is a lovely set of shades - three brown toned shades in varying finishes , one pale beige, and a warm, mid pink matte shade.  I've been using these shades for a neutral eye which goes brilliantly well with Stiletto Red lipstick (below).

Dazzling Nude
 Dazzling Nude lipgloss isn't setting the world on fire - it's a fairly standard pink with lots of multicoloured shimmer.  It's sheer, super sparkly, and very, very comfortable on the lip - the formula is plush, slippy and hydrating.

Dazzling Nude

Silky Apricot, Stiletto Red
The lipsticks are my favourite part of the collection - they have lovely moist textures, glide onto the lips, and last a good five hours once applied, eventually fading down into a soft stain with no patchiness or unevenness.  They perform well beyond their price point.

Silky Apricot
 Silky Apricot is a medium peach shade - it reminds me of Estee Lauder's Blushing lipstick, which was a surprisingly wearable shade for my skintone.

Stiletto Red
Stiletto Red is absolutely gorgeous - a rich, ruby red, it's got a moist, glossy finish and contains tiny tiny sparkles, which add dimension but aren't really visible on the lips.

The collection is all reasonably priced - £10 for the eyeshadow palette, £8 for the gloss, and £9.50 for the lipsticks - making it comparable with mid-range high street brands.  The standout product for me has to be the lipsticks - the textures are wonderful, the wear time is excellent, and Stiletto Red is the most glorious, tooth-whitening, rich shade.  Find them in Avon catalogues now - for some reason they seem to be missing from the Avon website at present.

Disclosure: PR samples

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

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Two hair products I've been loving recently from Bumble & Bumble and Joico

I've been hitting the bottle hard recently.  Well, two bottles, really.  These two bottles of haircare goodness, more specifically.  The first is Bumble and Bumble's latest product, Pret a Powder, which comes in a lovely opalescent bottle and is a dry shampoo / volumising powder thingy.  Rather interestingly, it's not a traditional spray - the bottle is about half full of powder, and you use it by squeezing it in the general direction of your roots.  The powder is expelled using air pressure alone, and while it does mean you have to squeeze it a few times to get good root coverage, it's a great example of something super simple doing the job very well.  The powder itself is fabulous for volume - applied to the roots and then scrubbed into the scalp, I've managed to build almost lion's-mane like volume on my noggin.  The only downside is that the hair is left a bit stiff in the roots, but that's a minor thing given its oil-banishing, volume-building goodness.

The second bottle is Joico K-Pak Smoothing Balm, a heat activated smoothing balm.  Nothing wildly new or interesting, but it does its job very, very well - the balm isn't too heavy, smells lovely, and works really well with heat.  I've been using it with my Big Hair, and managed a blow dry which almost looks like a professional did it, all by myself.

Yay, smooth loose curls.  You only need a small blob, too.

You'll find Bumble and Bumble's Pret a Powder at Boots, where it costs £21.50 for 56g (ouch), and Joico's Smoothing Balm at Feel Unique for £12.95 for 200ml.

Disclosure: PR samples

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

Monday, 27 January 2014

Urban Decay Naked Ultra Nourishing Lipgloss in Walk of Shame, Liar, Freestyle and Beso

Urban Decay just keep adding to the Naked line.  We have Nakeds 1, 2 and 3 eyeshadow palettes, Naked Basics (mini eyeshadow palette), Naked Flushed (blush), Naked double-ended 24/7 eyeliners, and Naked Illuminated (scarily sparkly highlighter).  And now, Naked lipgloss.  I predict that there'll be a nude range of nail polishes next.

Naked Ultra Nourishing Lipgloss comes in nine shades, four of which I have ready to swatch.  The formula is very soft, very plush, and definitely falls into the lip-balm-gloss category - it's silky on the lip rather than tacky.  Wearing it for a few hours does leave me with nourished feeling lips, and wear is reasonable - three or four hours before it vanishes.  There's an ever so slight minty tingle, but it's very subtle.

The applicator is a slightly-longer than usual doe's foot, with a slight angle to it.  It makes for a fairly normal application.

Walk of Shame, Liar, Freestyle, Beso
Swatched, the glosses are super-shiny with a hint of colour.  

Walk of Shame
Walk of Shame is a light nude pink.  It's very natural on my lips, almost looking like a clear gloss, although it does have a nice milkiness which makes it a little more noticeable.

Liar is more of a soft mid-pink, again with a milky edge.  It's not massively different from Walk of Shame, though.

Freestyle is a more brown-based nude, with a hefty dose of golden shimmer to it.  

And finally, Beso - my favourite.  It's a berry-nude, with a still natural tint of pink-berry to it.

All in all, these are lovely glosses, and will appeal particularly if you're fond of smoky-eyes-and-nude-lips.  That said, the nine shades aren't massively different from each other, thanks to the sheerness of the colour.  Don't invest in all of them - but if you like a soft, nude glossy lipgloss with a moisturising, comfortable formula, it's well worth choosing a shade or two.

These launch on February 1st, and will cost £14 each.  Find them at BeautyBay, Debenhams, HQHair or House of Fraser when the time comes.

Disclosure: PR sample

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

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Quick Pick: KIKO Pearly Eye Base

At a mere £6.90, KIKO's Pearly Eye Base is much, much cheaper than my favourite eye primer, Urban Decay Primer Potion (which costs £15).  It promises to keep eyeshadow in place for longer, make application easier, and to brighten up eyeshadow thanks to the shimmering white base.

In its concentrated form, it's very pearlescent, but spread out over the skin (or eyelid) it's more subtle - and actually rather nice alone if you're looking for a natural eye look which brightens up the eye area.

And how about longevity?  It's good, keeping my eyeshadow in place for around ten hours before it creases.  Not quite as good as Urban Decay, but if you've not got insanely oily eyelids (like I do) then it should be fine.  It's also much easier to blend shadow over this than it is over UDPP - it leaves the skin feeling dry, primed and skin-like, rather than slightly draggy like UDPP does, making blending easy.

At £6.90, it's a bit of a bargain, particularly if you have normal or slightly oily lids.  It's also available in a non-pearly version for the same price.  Find it now at the KIKO website, or at one of their three London stores.

Disclosure:  Part of a haul I paid for partially with a PR-provided gift card, and partially with my own cash.  

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

Thursday, 23 January 2014

NOTD: Orly Halo

I love love LOVE Orly's little bottles of polish - at £5 they're quite expensive, but they're dinky, great quality, and small enough that I actually stand a chance of using a whole one up (maybe).  Halo is a sparkling combination of silver and gold glitter in a clear base - the glitter varies from tiny little specks which give an almost foiled looking base, to larger chunks which catch the light.  

I'm wearing three coats here, and surprisingly, the polish was perfectly smooth to touch with a bit of topcoat on top.  It also applied smoothly, with no dragging, and no need to poke glitter into place to get an even finish.  Three coats is plenty for an opaque glitter nail, if that's your thing, or a single coat works well to add sparkle as a topcoat.

You'll find Orly mini polishes at - or in store, where the selection is much better.

Disclosure: PR sample

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

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Bobbi Brown Nude Glow Collection

Bobbi Brown's latest collection is all about bright, glowing skin - shades for eyes, skin, lips and nails which are all about adding shimmer and glow, rather than high pigmentation colour.  The collection is split into skintones to allow you to find the most natural glow-makers for you - there are variation for extra-light-to-light, medium, and medium-to-dark skintones.

This Sheer Lip Colour in Pink Gold, £19, is recommended for medium-to-dark skin tones, but actually, it's sheer and neutral enough to work well on any skin tone.  The texture is soft and buttery, glides onto the lips, and adds a whisper of colour.

Sheer Lip Colour in Pink Gold
Pink Gold is more gold than pink, and adds a shot of shimmer with a neutral-pink base.  It's nice, if you like your lips a bit frosty, which I admit I don't for paler colours.

Crystal Eye Palette
The Crystal Eye Palette contains four shades of eyeshadow; two satin, and two glitter shades.  The shades are Porcelain, a soft cream; Opal Sparkle, a pale silver; Mica Sparkle, a medium silver; and Angel Pink, a pale pink.  The Crystal palette is recommended for paler skintones, and indeed, the shades are all light enough to look brightening and not at all heavy on even the palest skintones.

Porcelain, Opal Sparkle, Mica Sparkle, Angel Pink
Swatched, you can see that the sparkle eyeshadows are actually just shimmering glitter in a relatively sheer base.  They really do twinkle prettily in the light, but beware - if you try to load the lid with sparkle, you'll end up with fallout all over your cheeks.  Apply with caution!

Nude Eye Palette
The Nude eye palette is for medium skin tones, and despite being pretty pale myself, it's my favourite of the two.  It contains two matte and two sparkle shadows in deeper tones of taupe and brown.  Right up my street!  The shades are Dove Grey, a taupe grey;  Ballet Pink, a sparkly pale pink; Nude, a warm brown; and Cement, a cool sparkly taupe brown.

Dove Grey; Ballet Pink; Nude; Cement

Swatched, you can see that these shades are more intense on my pale skin - they'll be more natural on those with darker skin, but they're lovely on anyone looking for glowing, wearable nude shades.  Both of the sparkle eyeshadows in the Nude palette suffer from the same fallout issue as the Crystal palette, so a bit of care is required to avoid metallic taupe cheekbones, and looking like a robot.

And here I am wearing Ballet Pink and Nude layered up, with Nude as a base and Ballet Pink applied as a wash over the top.  The effect is subtle, albeit very sparkly, and goes well with plenty of black mascara and a strong lip (or a nude lip if you're going for all-over glow).

At £35 each, the Eye palettes are pretty spendy, particularly given that the shades don't look the same between pan and eyelid.  That said, the textures are all soft and blendable, and if you like a subtle, polished eye look, you can't really go wrong.  Just don't constrain yourself to the products that match your skintone - there are lovely shades in all categories, and some work just as well outside of them.

Find the Nude Glow collection now at Bobbi Brown counters and at their website now.

Disclosure: PR samples

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

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Mum Review: Elemis Pro Intense Lift Super System

Elemis recently released a 30 day system designed to lift and firm the skin.  It contains thirty serum ampoules, half to be used in the morning and half in the evening, a firming night cream, an eye cream, and four Jowl and Chin Masks which physically lift the chin and jowl areas by looping over the ears, to be used weekly.  Designed for mature skin, I handed my sample directly over to my Mum, who's in her early sixties and is concerned about wrinkles.  I also gave her a few other Elemis sample sizes I had knocking around so she could try the system in tandem with other Elemis products.  Her thoughts follow.

Firstly I must say that I was extremely diligent about following the directions and carrying out the regime ... didn't miss out on doing what I was supposed to all.

Having got a cleanser and various moisturisers from you too I used that in conjunction with the Pro Intense ... day time only as a night cream was included.  So used only Elemis for the full 30 days.

My skin felt good .. Not too oily and not dry .. Tho the serum felt rather oily going on.  I think I liked the eye cream .. unusual for me cause I get puffy eyes very easily when trying different eye creams.  I did feel that my skin was more taut but also felt that it wasn't less lined (my Olay I feel leaves my skin less lined than the Elemis did.)  Having stopped now and really looking for differences, I don't feel that it that much good for me .. Not enough good to spent £155 every month ... When my Olay cost £40 and lasts a lot longer and does almost the same for me.

Being as expensive as it is ... The face masks should have not broken (the loops broke) .. The serum should have been easier to access and I should not have run out of night cream 2 days before the end of the serum (perhaps I just used too much).

Would like to see the before and after photos as it is quite hard to tell just looking into a mirror.  Certainly just looking into the mirror ... magnified and all .. It did not make enough of a difference  that I could see to make me buy it !

And here are the before and after photos.  In the first photo, my Mum isn't wearing makeup, but she is in the second - I think I see an improvement around the jawline, less puffiness around the eyes, and I think the lines under her eyes are a little less deep.  At £155 a pop, though, I'd expect something a little life changing!

If you're keen to try Pro Intense Lift Super Serum yourself, you'll find it at official Elemis stockist Time to Spa, where it costs £155 for a month's supply.

Disclosure: PR sample

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

Monday, 20 January 2014

Max Factor Excess Volume Mascara

Max Factor make some thoroughly decent mascaras at high street prices - and Excess Volume is their latest.  It claims to give plenty of volume (obvs) with a jet black lacquered effect - like most people, I take this to mean a super black, almost wet look finish with a bit of shine to it.  The tube is incredibly fat - you can see it here next to a new eyeliner, Excess Intensity, which is relatively standard pencil-sized, and the mascara is the size of a bundle of five of them.

Excess Volume is a double ended mascara - this end houses the first step, labelled "Extreme Volume", which gives you long, voluminous lashes to act as a base for the glossy lacquer top coat.  The brush is the plastic-y, bendy-bristled kind I'm very fond of - a bit of root wiggling and this kind of brush is almost guaranteed to give you plenty of coverage with great definition without a clump in sight.  The downside to these plastic-y brushes is that I poke myself in the eye by trying to go too close to the root of the lashes at least once a week.

The "Dark Lacquer" end is a more traditional Christmas tree shaped mascara brush with dense fibres.  It doesn't really add a lot by way of volume, but it does intensify the blackness of the lashes a fair bit.

And voila - two coats of the Extreme Volume side, and one coat of the Dark Lacquer side.  My lashes are long, thick, and very, very black, but as for the lacquered effect.... I'm not sure.  I don't really look at my lashes closely enough to detect a glossy finish, and actually, neither does anyone else.  Although the lacquer part of this mascara might be a bit of a gimmick, it's definitely effective - if I've got a bit more time and coordination in the morning to layer on three coats whilst grappling with a big, slightly hard to grip tube, I reach for this mascara for thick, fluttery lashes.

It's also worth mentioning that the Excess Intensity liner that goes with this mascara is very, very good - it's in twist-up packaging, has a firm, deeply pigmented texture, and lasts brilliantly.  Which is pretty damn good for a mere £4.99.

Max Factor Excess Volume Mascara is out now, and currently costs £9.99 at Boots - but it'll be going up to £12.99 in February, so move fast!

Disclosure: PR samples

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

Sunday, 19 January 2014

And we're back

After the longest blogging break I think I've ever had, I'm back online!  We moved into our new house a week ago, it's now (mostly) unpacked, and I've got enough time to start blogging again.  Which is nice, really - the week off has reminded me just how much I love wittering away about makeup and bubble bath.

Unfortunately the bubble bath based wittering may be reduced, as our new bath is quite shallow, and also a bit on the narrow side - which doesn't make it hugely inviting for a long soak.  Might have something to do with the extreme wideness of my arse at the moment, but I'm choosing to blame the bath.

More beauty related posts coming right up, albeit at a very, very slow pace as our broadband isn't yet active, and so I'm blogging tethered to my phone (!).

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

Friday, 10 January 2014

LBR Is On The Move

Seven years after I bought my little terraced house, today we're moving to something a little bigger.  With new houses comes a lack of internet and a ton of boxes to unpack - so LBR may be offline for a while as we get ourselves reconnected and established in our new house.  Hopefully I'll remember which box I've put my hair styling tools in...

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

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Clinique Superdefense SPF 20 Moisturiser and Eye Cream

Clinique's latest moisturiser and eye cream build on Clinique's previous anti-oxidant moisturiser.  Superdefense SPF20 Daily Defense Moisturiser and Superdefense SPF 20 Age Defense Eye Cream are packed full of skin-loving ingredients, including anti-oxidants, and UVA/UVB protection.  There's the usual mention of anti-aging ingredients too, although in the case of these two, it's the early signs rather than full on anti-wrinkle goodness.

Both creams are relatively lightweight for their rich, hydrating textures.  The moisturiser is available in two versions - one for Dry/Dry Combination skin, which I have, and one for Oily/Very Oily skin.  The Dry/Dry Combination variant doesn't sink into the skin massively quickly, nor does it spread over the skin easily, as the texture doesn't have a huge amount of slip in it.  A good dab massaged into the skin leaves it feeling well hydrated, with that slight residue of a decent SPF.  The richness is fine for my combination skin in winter time, but I imagine it'd be too heavy in summer.

The eye cream is also rich and creamy, and unusually also has an SPF - strange that we're so insistent on SPF in our face creams, but don't look for SPF in our eye creams, despite the eye area having thinner, more delicate skin.  After application, the eye area feels moist and hydrated.  The SPF can leave a bit of a glowing white look to the undereye area if you're photographed with a flash, though, although this is pretty standard for SPF products.

All in all, these are great moisturising products for the winter months, protecting and caring for the skin in the cold weather with added protection from city pollution.  Find them at the Clinique website, where the Superdefense Daily Defense Moisturiser costs £39 for 50ml, and the Superdefense Age Defense Eye Cream costs £30 for 15ml.

Disclosure: PR samples

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

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Red Carpet Manicure Sapphire and Ice

My other festive gel manicure also came courtesy of Red Carpet Manicure; this time, the colour was a lovely deep sparkling blue entitled Sapphire and Ice.  Not a very festive name, is it?  Nor, really, a traditionally festive colour - although it is a really, really pretty colour.  The deep blue is studded with twinkling glitter, both tiny pieces of holographic and plain blue sparkle, and larger hexagons sprinkled in there for good measure.

Pretty, right?  As usual, RCM colours cost £12.95 each, and are available from the Red Carpet Manicure site.

Disclosure: PR sample

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

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

2013: A Year in Product

2013 is over, and 2014 has begun.  Here's a look back on some of the year's biggest trends.

BB/CC Creams

2013 was the tail end of the BB cream trend.  Some of the last to the party tried to encapsulate all skintones in just a few shades, leading to bad matches (Clarins) and orange-ness (REN).  Never worry, though, CC creams were hot on the heels of BB creams, and after trying one from Clinique which didn't seem all that different from the original BB, I pretty much gave up and went back to my normal foundations.

Nails: Glitter and Super Shine

Gel nails went from strength to strength this year, with brands like Nails Inc and Bourjois releasing regular polishes which aim to give that ultra-shiny, plush look you get from gel polish.  Following on from 2012's textured, matte nails, we had a plethora of super-sparkly glitter polishes to choose from, including Model's Own's stunning Fireworks collection and all manner of sparkly topcoat goodness from Bourjois.

Glows Under Black Light 

A mini-trend that never quite got going, Stila released some lip pencils which glowed under black light, and Illamasqua released a set of four nail polishes which glowed a complementary colour under black light.  I bet this one failed to take off because no-one actually goes anywhere with black light often enough to care.

Micellar Water

Everyone's favourite micellar water, the legendary Bioderma, came to the UK market, bringing with it plenty of high street and high end alternatives, including a lovely rose one from Melvita and an excellent value one from B.  I ate my own words when I tried Bioderma and realised that actually, it's a cult product for a reason.

Even More Naked

Neutral toned eyeshadow palettes abounded, with some (including this Christmas one from Clarins and this Undressed palette from MUA) looking a little more than 'inspired' by Urban Decay's Naked palettes.  And then Naked 3 came out and rendered them all irrelevant again, because it's all about the rosy neutral now, don'tcherknow.

What was your favourite trend from 2013?  And what are your trend predictions for 2014?  (apart from Radiant Orchid, over that already).  I'm predicting DD creams, which'll normalise bust sizes across the land, making clothes buying easier for everyone.

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