Thursday, 28 April 2016

SEVENTEEN Easy on the Eye Palettes in Birthday Suit and The Big Smoke

Birthday Suit
Birthday Suit
Birthday Suit - eyeshadows
Birthday Suit - eyeshadows
Birthday Suit - metallic creams
The Big Smoke
The Big Smoke
The Big Smoke - eyeshadows
The Big Smoke - eyeshadows
The Big Smoke - metallic creams
The Big Smoke - on my eyes
Whew, that was a lot of photos.  And indeed, SEVENTEEN's Easy on the Eye palettes are a whole lot of palette for a mere £7.99 a pop.  There are two variations - Birthday Suit, a selection of soft nudes, and The Big Smoke, made up of smoky shades with a bent towards blue/purple tones.

Each palette contains eight eyeshadows in a mix of matte, pearl and shimmer finishes; three metallic creams, and one eye primer.  The primer is good but not quite as hardcore as UD's Primer Potion or Too Faced's Shadow Insurance, and if your lids aren't too oily you might find you can get by with it.  For me, I needed a stronger primer to get the colours to stick without creasing.

The shadows are, as you can see in the swatches, a bit of a mix when it comes to pigmentation - the mattes are a little chalky and sheer, with the shimmer finish shadows being the most pigmented.  Despite this, they're all easily layered, so you can build up the colour - something that's generally a good idea with a smoky eye to avoid looking like you've got a black eye rather than an artfully blended smoky one.  The surprise standout for me was the metallic creams - they're densely pigmented, with a ton of shimmer which gives them a beautifully metallic finish which looks a lot more expensive than the product actually is.  Granted, they're a little too creamy to work all over the eye, but dabbed into the inner corners, or onto the centre of the lid, or even applied sheerly onto the cheekbones, they do a great job of catching the light and adding a touch of colour.

All in all then, a reasonably priced palette with reasonably good quality eyeshadows inside to match - you'll need to work a bit to get the most out of them, but for the teeny tiny price, I can't complain!

Disclosure:  PR samples

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

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Clinique Chubby In The Nude Foundation Stick & Foundation Buff Brush

Clinique's ever-expanding Chubby line takes on foundation in its latest incarnation - meet Chubby In The Nude foundation stick, £23, which promises super natural, buildable coverage in a portable stick format.

Stick foundations are nothing new, and are firmly associated with heavy, panstik-like coverage in my mind - but Chubby In The Nude is really the polar opposite.  The coverage is light to medium and buildable, so you can apply a couple of layers to get more coverage without a heavy finish.  I've been applying a single layer, which does a great job of evening out my skintone and covering small blemishes, with perhaps a little more under the eyes to cover my dark circles.

I've been so, so impressed with the finish on this foundation - it's very natural, not too matte nor too dewy, and it looks just like my skin, albeit in much better condition.  I don't usually touch up my foundation during the day, but if I did, I'd find the stick format easily portable, and indeed, it takes up a lot less space than a traditional bottle of foundation when I'm travelling.

One thing I don't quite agree with Clinique on is the level of hydration it provides - it's a fairly dry affair on application, and the skin needs to be well hydrated or primed to enable smooth blending.  That said, once it's on, it doesn't dry the skin out, but I wouldn't describe it as a particularly moisturising foundation.

Alongside the Chubby In The Nude foundation, Clinique have launched a new, dual-fibre Foundation Buff Brush designed to buff foundation into the skin for a flawless finish.  I've been using it to blend the lines of Chubby foundation I've been drawing across my face (fun!) and it does a great job - if you don't already own a dual-fibre buffing brush, it's a great addition to your brush kit, even if it is a little on the expensive side at £28.

Overall, Chubby In The Nude is a hit with me - I love the coverage, the super-natural finish, and the portability.  Well worth £23, if you can find a good match in the 10 shades available.

Disclosure:  PR sample

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

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Cheap & Cheerful: Dirty Works Skincare

I admit it, I'm a bit of a skincare snob.  I generally spend £20+ on a moisturiser, more on a serum, and am a sucker for a 'cult' product which has a subtle effect but costs £30.  Recently, though, a few products from the Dirty Works skincare range turned up at my door, and I decided to give the reasonably priced, supermarket-accessible range a go.

The Perfecting Eye Cream, £5, promises to reduce dark circles and prevent puffiness.  I'm not convinced that it has an effect on dark circles - mine remained pretty much the same for the six weeks or so I used it - but my dark circles are pretty damn stubborn.  It is, however, a really good basic moisturiser for the eye area - not too heavy, but plentifully hydrating.

The Facial Oil, £5, isn't at all what I expected - given the incredibly cheap price point, I was sure that the oil would be mostly based on mineral oil.  But no - there are a few fruit and seed oils in there, alongside a few synthetic oils which keep the texture light.  It is scented, although not noticeably so, and it's one of those oils which leave the skin feeling silky and slippy rather than overly oily.  Hydration wise, it does pack a good punch, although a little less so than more expensive oils I've tried.  Surprisingly good, overall, for such a cheap product.

I was a bit underwhelmed by the 8 in 1 Serum, £8, and the Overnight Facial Lift, £8, which are the anti-aging products in the range, both claiming to smooth fine lines.  The serum has a gel-like texture which sinks in quickly and leaves the skin feeling velvety - there's a fair bit of silicone in the mix, which makes it a surprisingly good primer for daytime.  The Facial Lift has a creamy texture which sinks in quickly to the skin - I was expecting something richer, more moisturising, particularly for an overnight treatment.  Both products kept my skin feeling soft, but didn't really have a noticeable effect on fine lines - in fact, after six weeks of exclusive use, my frown lines were a little more pronounced than usual.

Overall, then, I'm not a convert to budget skincare based on my Dirty Works experience - but I will concede that there are some very servicable products to be had for less than a tenner a piece, particularly if you're looking for simple maintenance rather than a dramatic effect.  Dirty Works products are available at Sainsbury's, and online at the Dirty Works website.

Disclosure:  PR samples

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

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Depotting Everything: Large Z Palette

I bought a large Z palette to house my new shiny Makeup Geek foiled eyeshadows, and they looked pretty lonely in there all on their own.  So I decided to de-pot a number of my favourite neutral eyeshadows and stick them into the Z palette too.

Doing the actual de-potting was a mixed bag - some shadows, like Makeup Forever's large circular pans, were meant for arranging in palettes like this, so de-potting them was as simple as poking a pin through a hole in the back of the compact.  That's because they're already held in with magnets rather than glue.  Pro brands are often this easy to depot - but high end brands like Clarins, Laura Mercier, and Burberry are pretty dependent on glue, meaning that I had to prise the pans out of the compacts with a knife.  Most of the time that worked just fine, albeit with some warping - you can see that the long, thin, rectangular Clarins pan got warped pretty badly.  In some cases though, the eyeshadows were damaged - like the wine coloured Burberry pan in the bottom right - or completely destroyed, as happened with my Estee Lauder Raisins duo.  They were too soft to be depotted, and they shattered. Boo.

Anyway, inept knife handling aside, the process of depotting and rearranging my shadows was a lot of fun.  The large Z palette comes with a set of sticky-back magnets so non-magnetic pans can be put safely into it, which worked really well for most of the bottom right hand corner.  I've still got a few left for future de-potting adventures too.  At £14.95, I'm really pleased with my large Z palette - some of my buried treasures are getting use for the first time in ages.

Disclosure:  Z palette bought by me.  Depotted eyeshadows a mixure of ones I bought myself, and PR samples.

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

Monday, 11 April 2016

Long lasting, Rouge Noir dupe love: Kiko Power Pro Nail Lacquer in 15 Wine

I expressed my love for Kiko's Power Pro nail polishes a while ago, and I recently went out and bought four more shades to add to my collection - each in the dark red/purple spectrum I like so much - to carry me through the week without needing to re-do my manicure.  I used to enjoy a mid-week manicure, but I rarely find myself with a spare evening any more, so a polish that'll last through the whole week is essential.

I love Kiko's Power Pro because it lasts brilliantly well (this photo is from day 4), has a formula which gives a brilliantly shiny, opaque-in-two-coats finish, and the brush fans out wide enough to paint my fingernails in one stroke, and my thumb nails in two.  If you look very, very closely at the photo, you'll see that my nails are so shiny you can see the sky, my dining room, and my hair reflected in them.  Impressive stuff, particularly for the tiny price of £4.90 each.  If you need your nails to last, and you've not yet tried Power Pro - do it, do it now!

Disclosure:  Bought by me.

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

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Spring, Bottled: Diptyque Eau de Sens

A new Diptyque fragrance is always a joy.  If you read my review of YSL's new, almost monotonic Black Opium Nuit Blanche, you'll be pleased to know that Diptyque Eau de Sens is the absolute opposite - it has a complex harmony of notes which come together into something which is at once joyfully spring appropriate, but also a little rich and unexpected.

It's a citrus scent, based on orange blossom, and based on that I set my expectations rather low - I like citrus scents, but they're not my favourite family of fragrance; I prefer spicy, oriental scents with a bit of richness and power in them.  I was expecting Eau de Sens to be light, refreshing, a bit floral - and it is.  What I wasn't expecting was the richness, the spiciness, which comes from heart notes of patchouli and middle notes of juniper berries.  There's a slight powdery, amber-tinged muskiness when it settles on my skin, which brings a gorgeous warmth, turning a white flowers / citrus scent into something much more complex.

It's also very, very long lasting, and smells just as good on my husband as it does on me.   I can't stop smelling my wrists when I wear it.  Eau de Sens is my new favourite spring perfume - the perfect balance between the heavy winter-appropriate fragrances I prefer, and the lighter, brighter weather of spring.  Find it at the Diptyque website now, where it costs £60 for 50ml.

Disclosure:  PR sample

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

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Meh: Clinique Lid Pop in Cocoa Pop and Grape Pop

Clinique's Pop takeover continues, with new Lid Pops, pretty flower-embossed eyeshadows to go with their existing Cheek Pop blushers.  For a new eyeshadow range, the shade selection is surprisingly small - just eight shades, four of which are in the neutral/beige spectrum, and four of which are a little more colourful.

I've been playing with Grape Pop, a mauve purple, and Cocoa Pop, a mid brown, for the past few weeks, and I've found them to be pretty useful as standalone shades for a wash of colour across the lid.  The finish is wearable and well, nice - there's a sheen, a little bit of shimmer, but it's very grown up and subtle.  Pigmentation is good, although you'll need to build up with a couple of layers if you want the pan colour - by default, a single layer gives you a soft wash.  Be careful, though, if you're looking for more pigment - I found that the combination of layering up and blending can lead to a slightly dull, flat finish if you go too far.

Overall, I like these new Lid Pop eyeshadows, but I don't love them - although given how much I love (and still wear) the Cheek Pop blushes, my expectations were pretty high for the Lid Pops.  I think the lack of excitement might be because they don't really bring anything new - Cheek Pops introduced a wonderful barely there finish I hadn't seen on other blushes, but Lid Pops are just another eyeshadow - albeit one in a pretty shape.  Still, if the combination of pretty packaging, gerberas, and grownup finishes sets your heart aflutter, you'll find Lid Pops at the Clinique website, where they cost £15 each.

Disclosure:  PR samples

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

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Garnier Ultimate Blends Honey Treasures Restoring Lotion & Body Butter

Garnier have followed up on the Ultimate Blends haircare range with a matching offering for body.  Ultimate Blends Body comes in four varieties - Delicate Oat, for dry and sensitive skin; Marvellous Oils, for normal skin; Mythic Olive, for dry skin; and Honey Treasures, also for dry skin.  Honey Treasures comes in two forms - a lotion and a body butter, allowing to tailor the richness of the cream to how much moisture you need.  The other varieties typically have two options too - Delicate Oat gives you a lotion and a balm (which can be used on the face too), and Mythic Olive has a dry oil as well as the lotion.  The Marvellous Oils variety, which is for normal skin, comes only in lotion form.

I've been using Honey Treasures for a few weeks now, as has my husband, who has dry skin and suffers from keratosis pilaris.  Fortuitously, I've recently had a pretty large tattoo on my lower calf which has needed a lot of moisure as it heals, which has given me a great opportunity to test just how hydrating the Honey Treasures body butter is.  And indeed - it's incredibly rich, so thick you have to dig out a lump of it from the jar, and despite that thickness it's easily spreadable across the skin once it warms in your hands.  The lotion is also rich, albeit less solid and even more easily spreadable.

The moisture packed into my skin by the Honey Treasure products is impressive, and after a few minutes sinks in to leave skin feeling smooth and uncoated - one of my biggest body lotion bugbears (and the reason I rarely used it before I started getting tattoos) is that whilst skin feels hydrated, it can also feel coated or sticky.  There's none of that feeling with the Honey Treasure products provided you wait five to ten minutes after application.  Similarly, the slightly floral, slightly honey-sweet scent dissipates within five minutes after application - I've not found it to clash with my perfume at all, thankfully.

For a reasonably priced skincare range, I'm impressed - I'll definitely be repurchasing the body butter.  You can find Garnier's new Ultimate Blends Body products, and the Honey Treasures range specifically, at Boots.

Disclosure:  PR samples

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

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Sickeningly, Simply Sweet: YSL Black Opium Nuit Blanche

For the past hour, I've been trying to formulate my thoughts on YSL's latest 'flanker', Black Opium Nuit Blache, which is a new twist on Black Opium, which is itself a twist on Opium.  I've been sitting here, snuffling at my wrist like a fragrance-seeking pig, trying to smell anything other than vanilla, sweetness and a tiny flash of slightly fresh florals.

I'm struggling, I really am.

Unfortunately, on my skin and with my nose, this perfume is nothing but overwhelmingly sweet vanilla - the fragrance notes promise coffee, pepper, rice, white musk, orange blossom, but alas, I cannot smell any of them.  And believe me, I've tried.  I actually feel a bit sick now, having snuffled at this over-sweet scent for so long.

For me, it's too one dimensional, too sickly, and, well... too similar to other sweet vanilla mass market perfumes, particularly given that a 30ml bottle of EDP costs £45.  For eight quid more, you can get a bottle of Tom Ford's Black Orchid, for example, which is a way more subtle, complex scent.

Sadly, this one's not destined to remain in my perfume cache, but if you like your scents gourmand, richly, sweetly vanilla, and generally pretty simple, you may like it.  Just do yourself a favour and sniff it in-store before you buy.

Disclosure:  PR sample

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

Friday, 1 April 2016

Kiko Cosmetics Artist Stroke Mineral Loose Eyeshadow

These little pots of loose mineral eyeshadow are genius - the packaging is the best I've ever seen for a loose eyeshadow, completely eliminating the problems loose eyeshadows have when you try to travel with them.

Many brands have tried to solve the problem of spilling, messiness and over-dispensing by putting sifters in their products, which then means a fair bit of shaking to get to the eyeshadow inside.  Kiko, however, have included an ingenious little mesh across the mouth of the jar - it's flexible and stretchy enough to let you press into it with a brush to load up on eyeshadow.  Combined with a lid which features a bit of plastic to fill the mouth of the jar and press into the mesh, the eyeshadow remains easy to use and totally secure when you move around with it.  Brilliant.

The loose eyeshadow itself is also pretty good - soft, easy to blend, and with a great level of intensity. Surprisingly, they're not the sparkliest of sparkly mineral shadows; there's a glimmer in there, but it's more subtle and dimensional than it is ultra noticeable.  With six shades available, these are a fabulous buy if you're a fan of loose eyeshadow.  Find them now at the Kiko website, where they cost a mere £6.90.

Disclosure:  PR samples

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