Sunday, 30 November 2014

The best of Christmas gift sets

It's that time of the year again!  Here are a few of my favourite gift picks, starting with Boots' gloriously kitsch Hello Kitty Bath Confetti.  At just £5, this makes a great little present for small kids and big kids alike, who'll appreciate having a Hello Kitty tin to hide things in once the sherbert bath confetti within has been used up.

On a slightly more grown up note, this Box of Delights from the Sanctuary contains nine bath and body treats, with six full size products.  It's also a mere £22.50 in Boots' Black Friday weekend sale - usually £45.

Any bath lover would be pleased to receive this box of ten miniature Aromatherapy Associates bath and shower oils.  Granted, each oil is good for only one bath, and at £35, this makes for a slightly eye-watering cost of £3.50 per bath, but these silky, fragrant oils are well worth it.
Less luxe but more fun, this Soap and Glory set features bright, festive packaging, a pun-tastic name, five travel sizes featuring the brand's most popular products, a bath puff, and a pair of snuggly socks (presumably for wearing whilst your foot cream sinks in).  At £20, you get a decent amount of product for your money, and Soap and Glory's slightly quirky retro appeal means this is a sure bet for any age.

Everyone loves a Philosophy 3-in-1 - and this Christmas Cookie variety is no exception.  480ml costs a very reasonable £14,  Who doesn't want to smell of freshly baked cookies this winter?
If you're lucky enough to be heading over the pond, have someone who can send you stuff, or are happy to order online from Sephora and brave the wait, this Chroma Eye Palette contains a whopping 54 eyeshadows and 12 eye pencils, as well as a double ended brush.   Sephora's in house makeup line is often overlooked in favour of the brands they sell, despite being very well priced for the quality - and indeed, this set is only $65.

 I really, really hope I find one of these NARS Virtual Domination blush palettes under the tree on Christmas morning - three natural blush shades, a super size bronzer, and a shimmering highlighter make it everything you could need for cheeks in one palette.  At £45, it's pretty expensive, but it's also very, very pretty (and NARS blush lasts for ages, so you know, quite economical really).
 It feels like the whole world has been singing the praises of Hourglass' Ambient products - and this Ambient Blush Palette looks gorgeous.  It's rather eye wateringly expensive, at £56 for three shades of blush, but you know... Still want it.
I'm including Sephora's rather excellent Give Me More Lip set because I bought one, and I absolutely love it.  I pretty much guarantee that any lip lover will adore it too.  You get seventeen mini lip products for just $59, which is a bargain, and the cute sample sizes are guaranteed to cause cooing.
For the more adventurous lip lover, this $56 set of twelve mini Lip Tars in matte and metallic finishes promises endless creative opportunities as they can be mixed and layered for a really interesting and artistic lip.  Or, you know, just applied for a highly pigmented pout.

By Terry's Baume de Rose is a bit of a cult classic, and the new tinted ones have proven themselves pretty popular too.  Normally a single jar costs £35, but you can get five mini-tubes for £55 - still incredibly expensive, yes, but for the Baume de Rose lover it presents a great opportunity to play with the new colours whilst ensuring soft lips all winter long.

And on the topic of soft lips, this Kiehl's lip balm set contains two tubes of the original Lip Balm #1, and a single tube of Mango flavoured Lip Balm #1.  At £19, this is begging to be broken up into stocking stuffers for beauty lovers, or given to someone with a serious lip balm addiction.

Nails Inc's Christmas sets are surprisingly thin on the ground this year given the well-priced bunper sets they've offered in the past.  This Be Gelous set, £42, contains six shades of their very popular gel-effect polish in classic suits-all shades.

Finally, this No 7 12 Colours of the Year features twelve shades picked to follow the seasons.  At £25, each polish costs just over £2, making this a bit of a bargain, whether you give it as one gift, or split it up between multiple stockings.

What are you wishing for this Christmas?  What are you buying for others?  Let me know in the comments!

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

Friday, 28 November 2014

Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet AW2014: Personne ne Rouge and Happy Nude Year

Personne ne Rouge

Happy Nude Year
Bourjois' AW2014 collection continues with a new shade of the rather excellent Rouge Edition Velvet lip colour, and a repromote of an existing favourite.  Personne ne Rouge is a bright, true red, and Happy Nude Year is a peachy pink nude which'll thrill those who found the collections existing nude, Nude-ist, a little too brown based.

As usual, the texture of these lip colours is amazing - gel-light, surprisingly soft for the level of pigmentation, and so weightless on the lip that you'll almost believe you're not wearing lip colour.  If I had to pick a lip product of 2014 (please don't make me), these would definitely be in the shortlist.  And in the top five, for sure.

I'm not going to ramble about the amazing formula again - I did it enough in my original review - but I will just say that Happy Nude Year is a lovely brightening nude which is much more modern than the original, slightly retro Nude-ist shade.  If you're after an easy wearing matte nude, you should definitely give Happy Nude Year a go.

Find these now at Amazon for a mere £8.99.

Disclosure: PR sample

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

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie

In another episode of "Things I Bought In America Recently", here's Shea Moisture's Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie, a potently moisturising blend designed to define curls, tame frizz, and make your hair smell amazing.

I chose to pick up this bumper-sized tub because of my overwhelmingly positive experience with some other products from the Shea Moisture range - specifically the Frizz-Free Curl Mousse - and I wondered how my hair would like the much heavier Smoothie.  The Smoothie is definitely one for dry, rebellious curly hair - the Curl Mousse is light enough to use on less demanding hair.  At first, I found myself using far too much Smoothie, and ending up with hair which felt almost greasy on the ends from over-moisturising - a rare experience indeed.

Anyway, for my dry, colour-treated curly hair, a tiny dab distributed through the mid-lengths and ends adds plenty of moisture, and defines my curls somewhat into very loose ringlets.  The Curl Mousse encourages a slightly tighter, although still not too tight, ringlet - neither product causes the hair to spring up shorter.

Whilst I'm enjoying using the Smoothie, I don't think I'd buy it again - I think it's better suited to incredibly dry and rebellious hair which needs weighing down.  My hair is dry, but not that dry, and additional weight tends to make it look lank.  If you're constantly fighting dryness and frizz, the Curl Enhancing Smoothie is definitely worth a try.

I paid around $12 at Walgreens in the States, but you can find it online in the UK for £12.99 - not a massive markup, comparatively, but still a lot more expensive than bribing someone to bring a tub home for you, if you're desperate to try it.

Disclosure:  Bought by me.

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

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Models Own Disco Pants in Roxy, Paradise Garage and Studio 54

Studio 54, Paradise Garage, Roxy
Roxy, Paradise Garage, Studio 54
Ah, Models Own, that's more like it.  After the promise of super-bling nails from the Diamond Luxe collection, which never quite delivered, it's refreshing to find a new collection which delivers on everything it promises.  And which has a cool name.  Disco Pants, how much cooler can you get?

The Disco Pants collection promises, pretty much, to look like your nails are wearing disco pants.  If your eyes have been spared these in-your-face trousers, I can tell you that they're satin textured, stretchy wet look trousers which I would never wear, because they'd highlight every bump of cellulite on my arse.  Anyway - as with the notorious pants, this nail polish promises a pearlescent, metallic finish and smooth application with no cellulite emphasis at all.

And they deliver.  Studio 54, the bright, almost neon-glowing-pink of the bunch, looks almost exactly like some disco pants, and the emerald green of Paradise Garage comes close but suffers from brush marks thanks to its slightly more metallic finish.  Roxy doesn't really look like disco pants at all, but I'm prepared to forgive it, because it's glowing, purple/blue/gold glass fleck finish is very, very pretty indeed.

As usual, these little glowing beauties are £4.99 (much cheaper than disco pants).  Find them at the Models Own website.

Disclosure:  PR samples.  Was not wearing disco pants whilst writing post, promise.

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

Monday, 24 November 2014

Bourjois Color Edition Cream Eyeshadows - New Shades! - Marron Givre & Flocon D'Or

Flocon D'Or, Marron Givre
Flocon D'Or, Marron Givre
Marron Givre
Marron Givre
Building on the success of last year's Colour Edition launch, Bourjois have added two new colours to their cream eyeshadow lineup, and they're both absolutely gorgeous.

Marron Givre is the deeper chestnut brown, adorned with silvery sparkles, and Flocon D'Or is the creamy pale white gold with golden shimmer.  Flocon D'Or is the one to reach for if you need to look bright and wide eyed - the brightness of the colour and the sparkle really lifts the eye area, and paired with plenty of black mascara, looks far more done than the amount of effort you really have to put in.  Marrow Givre is my favourite, though - a rich mid-chestnut-brown with silvery sparkles.  It's so unusual to find a brown eyeshadow with silver - not gold - shimmer, and the result is a uniquely sparkly look which sits on the right side of smoky for daytime, and can easily be jazzed up for night.

Texture wise, they're the same as the original Colour Edition eyeshadows - a dry cream texture, which feels cool under your fingertip and blends silkily on the lid without feeling overly creamy or greasy.  Better still, they last ages on the lids.

Find them this month at the usual outlets, for the incredibly reasonable price of £6.99.

Disclosure: PR sample

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

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Quick Pick: Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner in Topaz

I'd not tried Revlon's long wearing, smudgy soft ColorStay eyeliners before one of the newest shades, Topaz, dropped through my letterbox, but now I have, I'm thoroughly impressed.  The formula is well pigmented with a lovely metallic sheen, and whilst it's soft, it's not so soft that trying to smudge it blends it out of existence.

The twist-up formula means that you don't need a sharpener - a small point, but being the proud owner of a set of Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eyeliners, I often discount them in the morning because I know I'll have to sharpen them, and I barely have enough patience to choose a colour.

My favourite thing about it, though, is the wear time.  I always wear eyeshadow primer, as I have very oily eyelids, but even then some supposed long wearing eyeliners end up smudging under my eyes, usually around the outer corner.  This one absolutely doesn't - once it's in place and set, it's not budging at all.

Oh, and my other favourite thing is the colour - Topaz is a lovely warming metallic copper shade which isn't too in your face, but adds a nice pop of colour, and makes my hazel eyes look very, very green.

Strangely I can't find this shade online, despite it having launched with the rest of the Revlon Autumn/Winter collection - hopefully it's more readily available in store, where it will cost a very reasonable £6.49.

Disclosure: PR sample

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

Friday, 21 November 2014

Models Own Diamond Luxe Polishes in Oval Plum, Emerald Green and Radiant Pink

So, it's taken me quite some time to get round to reviewing these Models Own polishes, due to my nails being in a pretty terrible state, which led to me buying some nail wheels for swatching, and unfortunately not noticing that they would come from China, which led to a four week wait.  Ahem.

Anyway, I now have some nail wheels, so you're spared my splitting, peeling nails and my bitten cuticles, and can focus just on the prettiness of the polish.  In this case, the polish is indeed pretty - albeit a more subtle kind of pretty than I was expecting.  Models Own's recent Diamond Luxe collection contains "real diamond dust" for a "completely unique, multi-dimensional super-sparkly finish".  And that's where I'm unconvinced - the sparkle is definitely there, but it's subtle, appearing more as a slight glow than anything "super sparkly".

Unfortunately I think Models Own have talked me out of this in the way they've marketed these polishes - if they'd said Diamond Luxe meant a lit-from-within finish with a subtle sparkle, I might have been tempted to buy a few more.  If you tell me something is super sparkly, though, and it's not, then I'm not going to be anything other than a little disappointed.

If you're looking for subtle, glowingly sparkly polishes in a myriad of jewel tones, give Diamond Luxe a try.  If you're looking for multi-dimensional super-sparkly finishes, you're probably best off looking elsewhere.  Still, at least they cost the same as the regular range - £5 is still a reasonable price to pay for a well pigmented, smooth application polish, super-sparkly or not.  

Disclosure:  PR sample

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

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Philosophy Time in a Bottle for Eyes

I've been testing out Philosophy's Time in a Bottle for Eyes for about a month now, and colour me impressed.  It's a lightweight, hydrating serum for the eye area, designed to be layered with a traditional eye cream, and it claims to brighten and smooth the eye area.

Texture wise, it's incredibly light and fluid, as you can see from the photo above - it's a silky liquid which sinks into the skin very quickly, leaving no residue and yet still somehow hydrating the eye area very, very well.  I've not needed another eye cream on top of it, but if you have very dry skin around your eyes you might want to layer up with a richer cream.

And as for the effects... I've noticed a marked improvement in the dark circles in the corner of my undereye area, and my fine lines are a little smoother than usual.  I'm more impressed with the day-long hydration afforded by this super-light serum than the brightening effects, though - in the past I've had slightly flaky areas appear towards the end of the day, particularly as the weather gets colder, but I've not experienced any dryness since I started using this lovely product.

At £36 for 15ml, there's no doubt that this is an expensive serum, and if your eyes are used to very rich creams, you might find that the need for both this serum and a cream makes your eye hydration regime a very expensive affair.  Used alone, though, it's actually quite economical - I've been using it twice daily for a month and there are no signs that it's going to run out anytime soon.  Find it now at the Philosophy website.

Disclosure: PR sample

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

Monday, 17 November 2014

Clinique Blemish Solutions Powder Makeup - Amazing for Oily Skin

My forehead and cheeks can be a bit dry, but given a good moisturiser, they're fine.  My oily nose and chin, though, are something else - over the past few years I've been relying on regular powderings during the day to keep my skin looking matte and not-shiny.  Not so since I tried Clinique's new Blemish Solutions Powder Makeup - it manages to cover imperfections, mattify the skin, and last the whole day.  In itself, that's not too tall an order - I've relied on Max Factor's Facefinity powder foundation for similar reasons in the past.  The difference with Clinique's Powder Makeup is the finish - it's not at all cakey, it doesn't sit in my frown lines or the fine lines around my eyes, and it looks pretty natural, not overly matte or powdery.

Which, for an oil-controlling powder foundation, is damn fabulous.

At £24.50, this isn't a cheap foundation, but given that it controls oil and shine so well, it's a price I'd be willing to pay, and will do, when my Makeup Forever handbag-compact runs out (the Cream Rose shade I'm wearing is a little too warm for me to keep it forever).  Speaking of compacts, this one is the usual mirrored outer, mirror plus sponge inner we've seen from Clinique before - nothing fancy, but perfectly robust and featuring a good-sized mirror for on-the-go application.  Find it now at the Clinique website, where it's available in a reasonable 13 shades.

Disclosure: PR sample

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

Friday, 14 November 2014

M&S; + British Beauty Blogger Eye Pencil Set

This Eye Pencil kit, £15, is another of the sets available from M&S this autumn, produced in collaboration with British Beauty Blogger and Nuno da Costa.  It contains eight eye pencils, described as khol by M&S, in a variety of shades which err slightly towards the dark and sulty side of the spectrum - which is fine by me, I have limited use for pale blue eyeliner.

Texture wise, they vary massively shade-to-shade - the plain black is a little hard until it warms up, the pale blue is soft but requires a couple of passes to get good opacity, and the deep aubergine is both softer and more well pigmented than the pale blue.  Overall, I think the darker colours have better pigmentation than the brighter/more metallic ones, although as you can see from my swatches it's perfectly possible to get good payoff out of all of them.

My absolute favourite is the black with silver sparkles.  It's like MAC's Black Tied eyeshadow in a pencil - deep black base, twinkling silver glitter - but in this case the silver glitter shows up on the lashline rather than falling onto your cheeks.  The texture is reasonably soft, and the glitter holds on tight and doesn't migrate at all.  I'd pay £15 for this shade alone - it's so rare to find a pencil with constrasting glitter where the contrast actually carries across onto the skin.

You'll find this at M&S online and in-store, alongside the other products from the collaboration, and you can also nab them as part of M&S regular 3-for-2 Christmas gift promotion.  And trust me, it's worth it for that black-and-silver pencil alone.

Disclosure: PR sample

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

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Bourjois Smoky Stories Eyeshadow Quads in I Love Blue, Rock This Khaki, Over Rose & Good Nude

Bourjois recently moved away from their traditionally domed, baked eyeshadows by releasing these rather pretty Smoky Stories eyeshadow quads, which give you three satin shades and a smaller accent glitter shade.  There are eight colourways to choose from, including some rather lovely neutrals and some more jewel toned shades - nothing too bright, though, because these little palettes are all about moody, smoky eyes.

I Love Blue
I Love Blue

I Love Blue is actually not blue.  It's silver.  I wonder if mine is mislabelled, or whether the ever-so-slight blue tone to these pewtery shades is close enough as far as Bourjois thinks.

Over Rose
Over Rose

One of my favourites, Over Rose is a lovely combination of mauve-toned rose, pale pink, and a pink toned deep brown, with a matching pale pink / gold glitter.
Rock This Khaki
Rock This Khaki
Rock This Khaki is a pretty subtle take on khaki, and swatches much less green and much more olive than I thought it would.  

Good Nude
Good Nude
Finally, Good Nude, which has a lovely lavendar taupe (TAUPE!) as well as deeper browns, and a silvery glitter.

The satin shades are beautifully soft and blendable, and whilst there is a bit of crumbly fallout going on when you load up your brush, it doesn't fall onto the face.  The shades aren't matte, and aren't too shiny, having the slightest sheen, which looks pretty but still plenty appropriate for daytime.  Add the glitter in the mix, though, and you've got a very blingy eye on your hands - and unfortunately, you'll have very blingy cheeks, and a very blingy nose too.  The glitter shades are so fine and soft, they drop everywhere, making a giant glittery mess.  If you're keen on the glitter, apply your eye makeup before your foundation.

At a mere £7.99 each, these palettes are brilliant - they work well from day to night, the shades are well pigmented enough to be applied lightly or layered up for super smokiness, and they all blend beautifully.  Just be wary of the glitter!  Find them now at Boots.

Disclosure: PR sample

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

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Michael Van Clarke 3 More Inches Styling Products

Looking back over some old photos in my camera, I realised I'd not written about Michael Van Clarke's 3 More Inches styling products.  If you read my post about the haircare system, you'll know that the aim of the products is to keep the hair healthy over the long term so it doesn't need to be chopped off - hence, 3 More Inches.  The styling products are additive to that - they help you style your hair (obviously) whilst adding more health-giving goodness into the mix.

Sounds a bit vague, yes, but over the past six months I've found myself reaching for these more often than their non-3 More Inches counterparts.  The Volumising Mousse, £12.50, adds volume and curl definition without crispiness, the Holding Spray, £12.50, doesn't leave my hair feeling stiff, and the Thickening Blow Dry spray, £17.50, really does add thickness, whilst also leaving my hair bouncy and soft.

The only one I'm not convinced about is the Finishing Feed wax, £23.50.  It's a heavy wax, fairly solid in texture, and I really struggled to scrape out enough with my nails to tame my hair, before I got bored.  The wax itself is creamy and thick, but it's just bloody difficult to get out of the tub.

If I had to pick one product to re-purchase, it'd be the Thickening Blow Dry spray, for its heat protecting, nourishing, thickness-giving formula.  It's also not wildly expensive for a brand which positions itself as pretty high end.

Disclosure:  PR sample

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

Monday, 10 November 2014

NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Callisto

Those of you who read my review of Sephora's epic lip sampler will recognise the backdrop of these photos as the glamourous carpet of my corporate apartment in the US, where I spent three weeks in late September.  I bought one of NARS' new Dual Intensity eyeshadows at the same time, diligently photographed it before I messed it up by using it, and then promptly put it into my makeup bag, where it currently lives, and forgot to write it up.

So, here's the writeup - the Dual Intensity eyeshadows are called Dual Intensity because you can use them dry for a surprisingly metallic finish, or wet for a really very metallic finish.  I've not photographed my eyeshadow swatched wet because Callisto is enough of a lavender-pink-silver metallic shade applied dry, and I have no desire to have robotic eyelids.

In all seriousness, I was surprised to find just how metallic the dry shadow is, particularly given that it manages to still remain soft and buttery and easy to blend.  I bought Callisto because it looked like a silvery taupe in-store, and I'm a sucker for a taupe, and whilst it's not quite taupe enough, it's still a lovely silvery shade which is very wearable day-to-day.

I paid $29+tax in California for it, and it's £21 here on the NARS website, so the price difference isn't quite so pronounced on this product as with others.  Yes, £21 is very expensive for a single eyeshadow - and whilst I absolutely love Callisto I'm not entirely sure I'd spend £21 on another shade - mostly because many of the others are deeper, darker, and something I'd get less day-to-day wear out of.  For £21, I want to be able to wear it every day and not just on special occasions.

Anyway - if you're looking for a very blendable, buttery soft eyeshadow which just so happens to have an insanely metallic finish, Dual Intensity is a good starting point.  Just choose your shade carefully to get the most out of your investment!

Disclosure:  Bought by me.

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