Saturday, 30 January 2016

Mixed Bag: Avon True Colour Eyeshadow Palette in Stone Taupes & Avon Ideal Luminous Blush in Russet

True Colour Eyeshadow Palette in Stone Taupes

True Colour Eyeshadow Palette in Stone Taupes

Avon Ideal Luminous Blush in Russet

Avon Ideal Luminous Blush in Russet

I received these two products at an event a while back, and they're really chalk and cheese.  Ideal Luminous Blush in Russet, £6.50, is bold, high pigment, mostly matte with the tiniest glow (not sparkle!), and needs to be applied with a light hand to avoid looking clown like.  True Colour Eyeshadow Palette in Stone Taupes, £9, on the other hand, is disappointingly sheer - I had to layer my swatches to get the opacity you can see above, which is far from impressive.

This, for me, is the problem with Avon - some of their products (like the Russet blush) are absolute bargains, whilst some (like Stone Taupes) are a bit disappointing.  Still, at least the cost of sorting the duds from the hidden gems is reasonably low.

Disclosure:  PR samples

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

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Clarins Instant Radiance Spring 2016: Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in Plum Shimmer & Rouge Eclat Lipstick in Pink Cherry

Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in Plum Shimmer 
Rouge Eclat Lipstick in Pink Cherry

I love a new collection from Clarins, usually because there are guaranteed to be a couple of really cracking lip products.  Spring 2016 is no disappointment:  no completely new products, but new shades in two of my favourite Clarins lip products - Rouge Eclat lipstick, and Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector.

Rouge Eclat lipstick in Pink Cherry, £19.50, is a gloriously buttery hit of colour - Clarins claim that it's an age-defying lipstick, which I don't really get.  I do get the plush, hydrating texture, the medium pigmentation, and the pretty-good-for-a-buttery-lipstick 3 hour wear time.

Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in Plum Shimmer, £18, is a sheer, berry tint which looks like a gloss, but is actually a very hydrating balm.  I absolutely love these things:  I've managed even to finish one or two, an amazing feat when your lip product collection is the size of mine.  Plum Shimmer, like its predecessors, is easy to wear, easy to apply, and keeps lips soft and plump.

So there you have it.  Two new shades of two lovely existing products for spring.  Find the collection now at Clarins counters nationwide, and stay tuned for a a few more pieces from the collection soon!

Disclosure:  PR samples

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

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

BUY THIS NOW: No 7 Moisture Drench Lipstick in Pillarbox

If you're looking for an amazingly pigmented, punchy red lipstick with a comfortable matte finish which won't break the bank, go straight out and buy one of these limited edition Moisture Drench lipsticks in Pillarbox.

At £9.95, it's very reasonably priced, and I was expecting a reasonably average lipstick.  But wow, it's so pigmented, so glowingly, richly red that I can't quite believe it's so cheap.  Texture wise, it's thick and creamy, gliding onto the lips and leaving them feeling comfortable but not overly slippy moist.

I could keep waffling on, but seriously, if you love a red lip, you should go buy one of these immediately.  You'll be very, very impressed.

Disclosure:  PR sample

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

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Delightful: Lush Popcorn Lip Scrub

I remember the days when Sara Happ brought out the first commercial lip scrub, a bargain at around £20 per tiny pot.  Since then, everyone's had a go, and my absolute favourite lip scrubs are made by Lush.  This Popcorn scrub uses a combination of sugar, oil and salt to exfoliate and moisturise the lips.

And damn, it's a good exfoliator - my lips are incredibly smooth after use, in perfect condition for the most matte of lipsticks.  Let's be honest, most of the feeling of moisturisation comes as a side effect from scrubbing off the dead skin, and a little bit from the included oils - super dry lips will still need a good slick of balm afterwards.

The buttery, caramel-y taste is glorious, and if you're a bit greedy like me, you might let a little more scrub pass through your lips than is strictly necessary.  No harm, though, as the ingredients are all edible - there's even a bit of popping candy in there.  And at £5.50, it's a fair bit cheaper than the still iconic Sara Happ.

Disclosure:  Bought by me.

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

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Red Lip Diaries: B. Matte Red Lipsticks in Isabella, Dita, Suki & Alexa

Isabella, Dita, Suki, Alexa 

Isabella, Dita, Suki, Alexa


I do love a bit of B. The inexpensive, accessible yet high quality products are one of the best things to land at Superdrug in recent years, alongside the rather fabulous Makeup Revolution range.  B's newest lipsticks are super matte, high pigmentation, and every single shade available is red - perfect.

Texture wise, the lipsticks are a little bit waxy and draggy until they warm up, and even when they do they never quite become buttery and glide-y.  The draggyness doesn't matter too much, though, because the pigmentation is so high - this is easily one of the most high pigment high street lipsticks I've tried, particularly in such a matte finish.

They do feel a little tight and heavy on the lips, nothing too bad but you'll definitely know you're wearing them.  Wear time is pretty damn good - four hours before the colour faded, and even then it didn't fade too much, just wore down to a slightly more stainy effect.  Shade wise, Isabella is a fairly orange red; Dita is a slightly pinky red; Suki is a true blue based red; and Alexa is a slightly more wine red.

So far, so good, right?  This is where it goes wrong, sadly.  Whilst the lipsticks themselves are pretty damn good for their tiny £7.99 price tag, the packaging is awful.  The tubes are the kind where the cap is the entire height of the lipstick, and the bullet clicks into place inside the cap rather than screwing in.  This is all well and good, but the lipsticks started failing to click into the caps whilst I was swatching them, which meant that my swatching session finished with one of the lipsticks doing a good imitation of being a torpedo launched from a tube, and falling straight to the floor.  As a result I wouldn't trust these things in my handbag - the chances of getting red lipstick everywhere is just too high.

All in all, then, a good product spoiled by bad packaging.  Boo.

Disclosure:  PR samples

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

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Surprising: Original Astral & Astral Soft

When I first tried out the original Astral cream, I had a preconception that it'd be like Nivea creme - thick, heavy, intensely moisturising, and a bugger to rub in to the skin.  Not so - the original Astral has a completely different texture which is lighter, more airy, and less work altogether.  Astral Soft is a lighter still version, less hydrating but even more spreadable, which comes in a tube format - I liked it less than the cream, but I suspect those looking for more portable moisture will prefer the tube format to lugging around a heavy pot.

I'm not sure I'd use either Astral Soft or Original Astral on my face, but for body, the original cream is excellent - the light, almost whipped texture makes it easy to smooth it over the skin, and I've found it particularly effective on my legs post-shave.  A little goes a long way, but really, when a 500ml tub costs a mere £8, you don't really need to worry too much about the cost.  Overall, count me pleasantly surprised.

Disclosure:  PR samples

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

Friday, 8 January 2016

Meh: New CID i-Smoulder in Gold and Sapphire

I've tried New CID's i-Smoulder eyeliner/eyeshadow pens before, but they're adding a few new shades, so it's time to try them again.  I was recently sent Gold, a combo of (surprisingly) gold eyeshadow with a chestnut brown liner, and Sapphire, a combo of blue/black liner and metallic navy shadow.

The main point of i-Smoulder is to simplify the ever elusive smoky eye - you apply the stick eyeliner, and then run the eyeshadow over the top to smoke it out.  The format is part genius, part frustrating - the eyeliner is the usual twist-up stick, but the eyeshadow is compressed into the lid, relying on the pressure from the spongy tip to make the eyeshadow usable.  This is fine just after you open the product, but halfway through application, you have to twist the cap back on and then off again to load on more shadow.

Anyway - packaging annoyances aside, this product is great if you want to use it as a shortcut to smudgy eyeliner heaven.  That doesn't really work for the brown and gold combo, though, so I tried using the gold shadow all over the lid, with the brown liner smudged into the lashline.  Even on top of primer, the shadow creased within a few hours.

All in all, then, this is a great product to use for a shortcut to smoky eyeliner, but it's less adaptable than it might seem.  Given that you could also have the same effect with a regular eyeliner and eyeshadow from a palette you already own, I'm not entirely sure it's worth a purchase on its own unless you're buying a shade you just can't reproduce in your current makeup collection, particularly at the relatively spendy price of £18.50.

Disclosure:  PR sample

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

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

This Works Calm Kiss set

This is a little late, being that This Works' Calm Kiss set is a Christmas gift, but hey, now it's in the January sales, so I get to tell you about it when it's even more of a bargain!

This cute little x shaped box contains two 5ml rollerball vials of Stress Less oil - an aromatherapy blend designed to relax, destress, and prepare you for a great night's sleep.  I'm not normally a believer in aromatherapy, but I have found a bit of this oil on my inner wrists very soothing come night time - particularly when travelling.  Now it's on sale, it's a mere £8 - still expensive for 10ml of oil, but perhaps a price worth paying if you (or someone you know) is in need of a bit of soothing scent at the end of the day.  Find it at the This Works website.

Disclosure:  PR sample

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

Monday, 4 January 2016

NARSissist Dual Intensity Eyeshadow Palette

Top row: Europa, Himalia, Ursa Major, Subra
Bottom row: Andromeda, Lysithea, Glove, Sycorax
Europa, Himalia, Ursa Major, Subra
Andromeda, Lysithea, Glove, Sycorax

I tried out one of NARS' Dual Intensity eyeshadows in Callisto a while ago and really liked the buttery soft texture, the pigmentation, and the insanely metallic finish.  When ASOS offered 20% off the NARSissit palette, containing eight shades of Dual Intensity eyeshadow, I couldn't resist.

The palette is no disappointment - the packaging is sleek, black and shiny, very typical NARS.  The colour selection within the palette is surprisingly wearable given how bold and jewel-like they look in the pan.  Swatched, bright jewel tones like Glove (sapphire blue) and Subra (described as black orchid) are deeper, richer, with a glint of jewel-toned colour flash, but less intense colour off the bat.

My favourite shades are Lysithea, described as a sharkskin grey; Himalia, shimmering topaz; and Subra, black orchid.  They all look stunning on their own, and just as stunning blended together.  I particularly like the slightly metallic sheen to Sycorax - it makes for a smudgy liner with lots of depth, or a very dimensional outer v colour.

Overall, then, I'm very glad I bought this palette - I paid £38 for it, which is a lot, but not that much compared than a single Dual Intensity eyeshadow, which costs £21.  Even at a full retail price of £45, this palette is still a more reasonably priced way to build a collection of Dual Intensity eyeshadows if you know you like them.  You can find it at Selfridges, as ASOS are unsurprisingly out of stock.

Disclosure:  Bought by me.

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

Sunday, 3 January 2016

A year in beauty: 2015 favourites

2015, eh?  One moment it's January, and just a moment later it's over.  Still, 2016 promises a whole new load of experiences and exciting new products, but first... here are a few favourites from 2015.

Hair wise, I discovered a few really excellent masks, which are an absolute essential when your hair is as heavily colour treated as mine.  Bleach London's Reincarnation Mask has become a firm favourite - I'm on my fourth tube now - because of it's rich, thick texture, intensive moisture-giving properties, and the fact that it contains wheat protein, which my bleached hair really loves.

Ojon's Rare Blend Moisture Therapy Conditioner has also become a favourite - it's less intense than the Bleach mask, but it still packs a ton of moisture into my hair in the two minutes I let it sit before rinsing.  When I want a quick moisture fix, this is the stuff I turn to.

And on the topic of Ojon, I'm still very much in love with their Rare Blend Cleansing Conditioner.  It's a very gentle cleanser, and does a great job of cleaning the hair without stripping moisture or colour.  I can't use it every wash, but I alternate it with my favourite low sulphate shampoos to keep my hair super clean.

Makeup wise, I found a gorgeously soft, candle lit blush in the form of Max Factor's Creme Puff Blush - it's cheap, it's buildable, and the finish is natural and glowy without any sparkle.  Love it.

Foundation wise, there's only one absolute stand out from the year - Bare Minerals' Complexion Rescue.  A light, hydrating gel texture combined with a light to medium coverage with a gorgeously fresh and natural finish, I use this product a couple of times a week and have already repurchased.

My brows have gone from red to pink to a cool grey/brown this year, changing to match my ever changing hair colour.  Since I moved away from trying to match my brows to my hair, I've been completely loyal to Anastasia's Brow Wiz in Granite - it's a super fine stick colour with a spoolie included to tame the brows.  The hardness and fineness of the colour makes for a strong, defined brow - something I absolutely love - and the Granite shade is cool and grey enough to match whatever colour I choose to put on my hair.

I loved every last drop of Clinique's limited edition Chubby Lash mascara in Black Honey - an unusual deep burgundy shade, it made my eyes look more green whilst adding a ton of volume.  So sad it's not permanent.  Bring it back, Clinique!

Nails wise, I've spent a lot of the year wearing gel, as a result of a huge amount of travel and a fair amount of laziness.  When I've been wearing normal polish, I've been wearing Kiko's Power Pro - intense colour, smooth application, and amazing wear make it a winner, particularly at the fabulously low Kiko price of £4.90.

2015 has seen some great palettes released, but my favourite came relatively late in the year.  Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani is a fantastic palette if you're pale and cool toned - it's got a great range of pale-friendly neutrals, with a few pops of colour for good measure.  I particularly love the number of matte shades included - there are just a few all-out shimmer shades, with the rest being either a more subtle pearl or true matte.

Brand of the year for me is definitely, definitely Colourpop.  The inexpensive LA brand offers some amazingly metallic and duochrome eyeshadows (see my first purchases, and then my second set) and gorgeously pigmented matte lipsticks.  And now the brand has added gel and pencil eyeliners to their lineup, I can see myself buying more of their stuff in 2016.

Skincare wise, my stand out product of the year is Alpha H's amazing Liquid Gold.  I started using it in August, and my skin has never been more smooth or more even.  I use it every three days - I find it too intense to use every other evening - and always wake up to clear, smooth skin.  My original 100ml bottle is almost finished after six months, which makes this product a bit of a long term bargain - £33 for six months of clear skin?  Well worth it.

So those are my 2015 picks - what have been your favourites?  Here's to a 2016 made of all sorts of gorgeousness.

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