Sunday, 31 October 2010

Birthday Beauty

Just a very quick post this Halloween to give you a glimpse of my birthday goodies courtesy of my family and friends (only positive thing about being ill is people are a lot more generous!). Hopefully the picture will give you a good idea of what products will be featured in upcoming posts this month.

Birthday Haul - in case you are wondering, the box half hidden is a huge set of Agatha Christie audio books, am slightly obsessed with murder mysteries!

I picked out my favourite birthday card, sourced by my mother, very appropriate for my blog I thought. So happy to finally have the Le Metier de Beaute Kaleidoscope Eye Kit in Le Cirque and I was even more happy to have been able to successfully recreate the makeup look Mikey did for me in London for dinner last night.

Unfortunately, I had decided to start a diet/healthy eating plan (a struggle for someone who hates fruit and veg) so the Hummingbird Bakery Cook Book will be a big temptation. The chocolate cup cake recipe is to die for, and yes I know because I made them already, diet starts when cakes are gone.

I'm hoping that the By Terry Lip Balm will help my dry lips during the night and the plan is to recreate the YSL Couture Manicure for tomorrow's post after being inspired by British Beauty Blogger's attempts with the purple and gold duo, I even have the manicure guides so am well prepared.

A big thank you for the Happy Birthday comments, I was really touched and it put a smile on my face all day.

Just one slightly random question for you all, does anyone know of any good body creams for very dry skin? In the last six weeks my skin has undergone a total transformation from normal to ultra oily & spotty on my face and dry as the Sahara everywhere else, arms in particular. I had been using Decleor's System Corps but it is just not up to the job anymore. So this is an SOS for any of your tips or must have body moisturisers before my skin turns to scales (is not that far off!).

Friday, 29 October 2010

The Le Metier De Beaute Experience

Four words: I love this brand.

I could leave it at that but I doubt that would really help anybody or give any insight into the wonderful world of Le Metier de Beaute.

Some of you may recall my rather neurotic post yesterday about heading to Selfridges in London. Le Metier de Beaute, and more specifically their Director of Makeup Mikey Castillo, was the reason for the journey. To use the words of L'Oreal, it was worth it!

I braved a two hour train journey at rush hour, and my poor mother had to push me in a wheelchair all the way from St Pancras to Oxford Street, so expectations were high. I haven't been to London in years, let alone an event at Selfridges so I was a little overwhelmed and a lot nervous. I needn't have been though as everyone was lovely and I was immediately placed in the expert hands of makeup maestro Mickey Castillo. He had only just flown in from LA but you would never have guessed it from his boundless energy and enthusiasm for the brand. Here is a man who clearly loves makeup.

Me in the capable hands of Mikey Castillo
I usually always decline any offer to make me over as, I admit, I rarely like the makeup of the majority of counter staff and I feel if I don't like how they apply it to themselves, I am really not going to like it on me. I had a horrific makeover in a hotel in Cyprus that I mentioned in a previous post (she made me look like a drag queen version of Cleopatra, bear in mind I was only 14!) that had, I feared, scarred me for life. Therefore until last night I approached any beauty hall with some trepidation.

However, the opportunity to be made up by a world renowned makeup artist was too good to miss. I had tried a couple of Le Metier de Beaute products before, the foundation and Kaleidoscope Eye Kit (unfortunately I owned the one Mikey hadn't designed himself and didn't really like, oops), and thought they were excellent quality, but I was intrigued as to what more the brand had to offer and how to make the most out of the products I had.
I acquired a number of products from across the range yesterday and I know a couple more are on their way to me for my birthday tomorrow, so to do the products justice, I am going be doing individual reviews/posts on each one. It would be a disservice to try to cram them all in  here, but I will give you a quick top 3 of my favourites:
  • Kaleidoscope Eye Kit in Le Cirque - £65
  • Precision Liquid Eyeliner in Noir - £25
  • Dualistic Eye Pencil in Champagne - £20

I was thrilled that Mikey chose to work with the Le Cirque Eye Kit as it was the item I was most drawn to. My brother had picked me one up from Liberty last weekend but I have yet to get my hands on it. Although I had heard about the famous Le Metier de Beaute 'Couche de Couleurs 'layering technique that is recommended with these kits, I was keen to be shown how to master it by a professional.

The Couche de Couleur technique used on my eyes
 Mikey explained to me that the normal eye looks you see on models are made to make 'children' (his words, not mine) look like they are in their twenties in order to sell to the 20+ market. However, when a woman who is in their late twenties and above (tomorrow I will sadly fall into this category) applies eye makeup in this way, she immediately ages ten years. As few, if any, want this effect, couche de colouers was created to give a softer, more natural look. This, he says, is what all the celebrities ask for and I can see why. It enhances the beauty of the eye colour, really making it pop.

At just three years old, Mikey was keen to get across the ethos of the brand and to show how it differed from the rather crowded market place of sole makeup artist ranges (Nars, Bobbi Brown, Trish McEvoy, he's looking at you). The idea was a fusion between makeup and skincare, and at the forefront was quality, in every aspect of every product. This is a high end brand and rather than make excuses for the price tag, Mikey wanted customers to realise the benefits of the products and where their money went.

 A great example of this is their liquid eyeliner.  As M&S would say, 'this is not just any liquid eyeliner', this is in a pen form designed by none other than Mont Blanc. It gives a beautiful thin line, the best I have ever seen from this kind of product. So good I got two of them. Even the foundation brush is slanted with specially packed bristles so that it hugs the contours of the face and avoids that streaky look so many can give.

To be blunt, I could write a book on all the things Mikey told me in just 45 minutes. I spent the entire makeover desperately trying to remember his words of wisdom on product ingredients, technique, inspiration, everything! Even before I got the chance to meet him,  I knew that Le metier de Beaute was my kind of brand from the moment I set eyes on the innovative kaleidoscope design and felt the divine texture of the eye colours, as well as the imaginative and unusual colour combinations.

 I didn't need any encouragement to buy more from the range, but I relished the opportunity to learn more about it and after last night I feel I have a much better idea of what is behind the brand. From the length of time it takes to design one product, the choice of ingredients and the little details that have been so well thought out, Le Metier de Beaute is all class (e.g. Mikey showed me that the lip brush was specially designed with a bigger cap so you could add lip product from the more bulky Kaleidoscope to the brush, put on the cap and it would remain in perfect condition for touch ups when out and about).

Sorry this has turned into a dissertation type post but as you can tell, I really enjoyed my trip out yesterday and I wanted to get across just how impressed I was with the brand (not to mention the whole of Selfridges Beauty Hall!). Hopefully I won't leave it so long now before I head to London again for more beauty shopping and I won't have a sleepless night beforehand!

A big thank you to Mikey and the rest of his team as well as Lisa for organising the event. If  this post has whetted your appetite, you live in London and can get to Selfridges, Mikey is holding some master classes on Wednesday 3rd November and as if that wasn't enough to get your attention, the first 5 customers to book in and bring a friend will receive a fabulous 4 piece goody bag.

The beautiful display in the Beauty Hall of Selfridges, London
Product reviews will be posted as and when I get around to them (will be distracted this weekend by my birthday), but if anyone is interested, Mikey did let slip that his upcoming Holiday Kaleidoscope Eye Kit will be a cooler colour palette containing a slate grey and a deep navy with micro shimmer. I want it already!

Le Metier de Beaute is now available at Selfridges as well as Liberty, both in store and online, giving you twice the opportunities to try it out and see why I and many other bloggers am raving about it so much.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

My attempt at depotting MAC eyeshadows.......and setting off the smoke alarm

The remainder of my 'Dark Side' posts have not been forgotten, I just got a bit distracted after buying my first ever MAC Pro Eyeshadow Palette, the 15 pan one. I have been meaning to do this for years as I never use my MAC shadows as I can't see them, they have been hidden in an old shoe box on a book shelf for a long time, too long.

As you can see from the picture below, the eyeshadows are all on the bright side as I bought them as a student, when it was far easier to get away with those kind of looks. At my university people were constantly walking around in either pyjamas, togas and any other kind of fancy dress that took their fancy so a very bright eyeshadow was tame in comparison.

After I got my palette home, I had a look on YouTube for guidance on how to de-pot my eyeshadows and was a little concerned when I realised it concerned heat. In my naivety, I just imagined that they would conveniently slot out and fit into place. I was wrong.

I sourced candle, matches, Biro, tongs, knives and a towel from around the house and set to work melting the adhesive and a lot of the plastic (not sure if the last part was meant to happen). I sat diligently in the kitchen bent over the candle when my mother walked in laughing hysterically. I think she thought I was performing some kind of bizarre pagan ritual (we are near Halloween after all). I explained the seriousness of my task and she laughed some more.

When one of my eyeshadows caught fire and set of the smoke alarm she was no longer laughing.

Below are the results and although you can see that a few chunks came out of some colours, overall I was pretty pleased with the results. I now have a beautiful multicoloured palette, although whether this encourages me to use the shadows remains to be seen.

Left to right
Top Row: Beauty Marked (velvet), Black Tied (Velvet), Patina (Frost), Flashtrack (Veluxe Pearl), Humid (Frost)
Middle Row: Plum Dressing (Veluxe Pearl), Idol Eyes (Lustre), Honey Lust (Lustre), Freshwater (Veluxe Pearl), Bitter (Velvet)
Bottom Row: Sweet Lust (Lustre), Forgery (Lustre), Grain (Satin), Parrot (Frost), Silly Goose (Veluxe)

I'm off to London this afternoon for the first time in over 3 years and heading straight for Selfridges beauty hall. I haven't been near a London department store for even longer so I'll be like a kid in a sweet shop, albeit a kid with no money. At least it gives me a chance to swatch, particularly foundations, so I can buy online at a later date. Part of me is terrified though as beauty counters scare me at the best of times, let alone having one of them make me over. I'm worried that due to my health I won't even get to London and my mind runs wild thinking of all manner of things that could go wrong. Will the beauty people recoil at my oily skin, should I wear makeup on the way, what if I collapse on the train, I think you get the idea.

This sounds very melodramatic but I have been practically housebound for 3 years so London is a daunting prospect. If all goes to plan though I will hopefully have some pictures and info for some future posts, especially on Le Metier de Beaute, so I'll try to get it up as soon as possible on my return.

If anyone would like to see swatches of the MAC eyeshadows, just let me know.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Monday Manicure: Chanel Rouge Noir Nail Colour

Chanel Rouge Noir - £16.50
I know it's Tuesday but I was suffering yesterday from an overly traumatic orthodontic appointment so I was in no fit state to be blogging!

For once I am actually not exaggerating, the guy took over 20 attempts to try to fix a wire to a bracket on my tooth, 20 very painful attempts while the nurse silently looked on in disbelief. Then he told me I was a very patient patient, I was not amused. Unfortunately I have to have my teeth done at a training hospital and even though the man I see is near retirement age (still a trainee), he is totally incompetent. Luckily he is leaving so that is my last encounter with him. I never complain because my plan is to get the appointments over and done with as quickly as possible and I don't want to annoy someone who is armed with pliers and has access to my mouth, but I am in angry letter writing mode so we'll see.

Anyway, enough about teeth and more about nails. As part of my 'Dark Side' series of posts, what other colour could I have picked than Rouge Noir by Chanel? Made famous by Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, this is an iconic polish. As the name suggests, the colour is a deep blackened red.

 I haven't worn it for ages but once I had it on I realised how much I love it. It is a magical colour in that it seems to go with everything and is effortlessly glamorous. My nails are getting a bit long at the moment and I was afraid that with this colour it could make them look a little severe, but I think it works (I normally prefer my nails short with dark colours).

The polish has a rich creme finish and although one coat was a bit streaky, two provided perfect opacity. I finished as I always do with Seche Vite Top Coat and this gives a beautiful shine. The only downside with this colour is that because it is so dark, it does have a tendency to stain the cuticles and surrounding skin if you aren't very careful with application.

I don't have the Chanel Rouge Noir Lipstick so I can't say how similar the two colours are (I'm guessing they should be exactly the same). If anyone does have the lipstick, can you give me an idea of how dark it is? It has been on my wish list for a couple of years but I always get a little scared and wonder if I'll really use it, hence why it is still on the list and not in my makeup bag!

2 coats Rouge Noir applied + top coat

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Dark Side: Rimmel Starry Eyed, 17 New Black & Dior Addict Lip Colour in Pinstripe Plum

Onto the next batch of colours, this time all three have much more of a brown base to them and there is a huge difference in price. The lipsticks are:
  • 17 Lasting Fix Lipstick in New Black - £3.49
  • Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in Starry Eyed (128) - £4.49
  • Left to right: Rimmel, 17, Dior
  • Dior Addict Lip Colour in Pinstripe Plum (989) - £21.50
At first glance, there seems to be a lot of variation between the shades, the 17 lipstick looking pretty much black. However, looks can be deceptive and the swatches show that all three are similar but the Dior is more brown, the 17 more purple and the Rimmel more red. Hopefully this will allow you to work with your own skintone when choosing which would look best.

As my last post resembled more an essay than the quick overview I intended, I will try and let the pictures speak for themselves today. The only think I must talk about is the huge difference in quality. I suppose this is only to be expected as there is £18 difference in price, but I would really hesitate to recommend the 17 lipstick. The colour itself is good but was nearly impossible to get an even application from it. It dragged terribly and on one part of the lip would be very dark, and another much lighter. As a stain this could work if you dabbed it on with a finger, but if you want to use it as a traditional lipstick, I would pass.

Left to right: 17 New Black, Rimmel Starry
If you want a budget lipstick for this dark trend, then I think the Rimmel is fantastic. If I had been testing these three blind, I would have thought it performed more around the £16 level than £4.49 (£3.49 if still on offer in Boots). It was a nice balance between the stiffness of the 17 and the creaminess of the Dior. I think the colour is also quite a wearable shade and should suit the majority of people.

If I were to choose a favourite based on value for money, then the Rimmel would be the undisputed winner. With that criteria taken out of the equation though, Dior would be victorious. This is my first ever Dior lipstick and I was very impressed, I prefer it to the Chanel Rouge Coco lipsticks I have. It applied like a dream and having previously tried the two cheaper brands on my lips, it was obvious that this was the premium brand just from the texture. It feels so comfortable but not as slippy as yesterday's YSL Rouge Pur Couture.

The Dior Addict Lip Colour in Pinstripe Plum manages to get its own picture due to the incredibly awkward packaging, it just won't stand up! At least the distinctive look means it is easier for me to find it, I hate how Chanel's products all look so similar, especially their blushers and eyeshadow quads.

Dior Addict Lip Colour in Pinstripe Plum - £21.50

Left to right: Rimmel, 17, Dior

 Here are the swatches taken in natural light (outside, luckily no rain today!)

Left to right: Rimmel Starry Eyed, Dior Pinstripe Plum, 17 New Black

Apologies for the really patchy application of the 17 lipstick, it was the best I could do with the product! No lipliner was used with any of the lipsticks to get a true impression of the colour. I think at least the photos of the product on the lips show very well that the Dior is the more neutral colour in between the cooler 17 and warmer Rimmel.

Left to right: 17 New Black, Dior Addict Pinstripe Plum, Rimmel Starry Eyed

Tomorrow will be another Monday Manicure, and the shade will be in keeping with the whole sultry, dark theme, but on Tuesday there will be another trio of lip products, featuring Nars, MAC and Chanel.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Dark Side: Tom Ford Bruised Plum, YSL Rouge Pur Couture No.8 & Chanel Glossimer

Left to right: Tom Ford Bruised Plum, Chanel
Glossimer No 97. & YSL Rouge Pur Couture
in No.8.
I was going to post this last night but when I took a look at my pictures, taken in artificial light, it would have been useless as they did not reflect the true colours of the lip products. So today, my morning has been devoted to putting this right, trying to grab photos outside in between rain showers and cloudy spells. I hope the result is slightly more helpful.

The three products I have chosen to look at first in this 'Dark Side' series of posts are Tom Ford lipstick in Bruised Plum, YSLRouge Pur Couture No.8 lipstick and Chanel Glossimer in No.97. I picked this trio because the shades are almost identical, magenta is how I would describe it (although they look a little more burgundy before applied), a deep pinky purple with a hint of red. The main difference between them is the finish rather than the colour, and of course the price!

In the photos, the colours look a lot more red than they really are, the swatches show their truer colour. The two lipsticks are very similar shades but the Tom Ford is slightly cooler, with more purple in it, and the YSL has a touch more red to it. The gloss is versatile enough to look perfect used over either colour. It has some shimmer to it so can add a touch more dimension when layered over more intense colour. The gloss is a lot sheerer on than it looks in the tube.

The gloss is a good texture, not too tacky or sticky, and it feels comfortable on the lips. I would prefer it to be a little less sheer (it looks deceptively dark in the tube), but if you are a little tentative about dark lips this could be a great way to get into it. I would recommend using a dark lipstick first, blotting a couple of times with a tissue and then applying the gloss. This gives the ideal level of colour for me.

Now onto the lipsticks. There is over a £10 difference between the two but I don't feel that there is a big enough difference in quality to justify this, especially as the colours are so similar. The YSL was very creamy to apply, but for me, too creamy. I didn't use a lip liner with either lipstick and applied it straight from the bullet, to give a truer idea of the actual colour.

I was a little disappointed with the Tom Ford and impressed with the YSL. The brights I have from Tom Ford apply so effortlessly but this was a lot harder to get right. I suppose it is natural as it is such a deep colour, I think I had unrealistic expectations. This colour is more difficult to wear than the others, I can't apply it with no other makeup and look OK like I can with the others. It is still a great lipstick, but it just didn't feel as extra special as Cherry Lush and Pure Pink.

The two lipsticks - photographed in artificial
The YSL felt better initially than the Tom Ford and as it was my first ever YSL lipstick, this seemed a good sign. When I tried to get a good look applying just from the bullet, it proved a harder task because of the creaminess. It tended to smudge a lot and was difficult to get a hard line. If using a lip liner this will be less of an issue. I think I am too used to matte lipsticks that apply better because they are stiffer, so in comparison this difference was highlighted. I was surprised in the photos that the YSL seemed lighter/sheerer, the Tom Ford is clearly more pigmented.

The only reason I ended up with two such similar lip colours is that I had the YSL and was trying to choose between Tom Ford Moroccan Rouge and Bruised Plum. I can only buy these online and thought Moroccan Rouge looked most similar so went for Bruised Plum. I think I was probably wrong in this choice, but I will never know until I get to see Moroccan Rouge in person. To cut a long story short, I didn't intend the two colours to be so similar and there is really no need for anyone to own them both. If you like the shades, just decide which formula or price you prefer and go for that.

 You should hopefully be able to see from the swatches below the small difference between shades. The Tom Ford appears a truer purple with a softer finish, the YSL is glossier and a little warmer with more red tones. However, the pictures of the lipsticks applied show how much more pigmented the Tom Ford is even if it doesn't appear that way in the swatches. I guess this is what you get for extra money.

Apologies for the state of my lips and the hair featured in the photos (it was windy outside). I did exfoliate my lips beforehand but obviously not enough. At least it shows you how unforgiving dark colours can be when worn this way!

Left to right: Chanel Glossimer, YSL No.8, Tom Ford Bruised Plum


Left to right: Chanel Glossimer applied, YSL No.8 applied, Tom Ford Bruised Plum applied

Overall, the gloss is a lovely texture and the shade, with a hint of shimmer, is perfect worn alone if you don't want such a full on dark lip, or worn over wither lipstick as the colour family is the same. Although both lipsticks are great, there is absolutely no need to own them both (I wish I took my own advice!). They are so similar that unless you are a true dark lip aficionado, you would never be able to tell the difference. If I had to choose between them, I would go for the Tom Ford because the YSL is too creamy for my liking. Also, the lovely gold casing of the YSL is now covered in my very visible fingerprints. Spoils the look.

As you can probably tell from the pictures, I am in desperate need of a new lip exfoliant. I used the Philosophy one before the photos were taken and still flaky skin can be seen. So if anyone has any recommendations I would love to hear them.

  • Tom Ford Bruised Plum - £35, available from Harrods and Selfridges
  • YSL Rouge Pur Couture in No.8 (Belle de Rose) - £22, available from Debenhams online and counters nationwide
  • Chanel Glossimer in No.97 - £19, available from and counters nationwide (could have been a limited edition release)

 Next up will be 3 lipsticks with a browner undertone, featuring Dior, Rimmel and 17. Weather dependant, this should be up tomorrow.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Dark Side - Lipstick Review Part One

Getting all these lip products together is taking a lot more time than I initially thought but I have managed to sort them into two main groups, those with red & purple undertones and those with brown undertones. Each group contains a mix of colours, finishes, lipsticks and glosses. I will try to show swatches of each so you can see the subtle differences between them all and if my lips are up to it, show them applied!

Here is a list of the products in the first group, I will be looking at them all in more detail in upcoming posts, starting with Tom Ford's Bruised Plum.
    Tom Ford Lipstick in Bruised Plum - £35
  • Chanel Rouge Hydrabase Lipstick in Lotus Rouge (No.124)
  • Chanel Glossimer in No.97
  • Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Damned
  • Tom Ford Private Blend Lipstick in Bruised Plum
  • YSL Rouge Pur Couture in No.8
  • Nars Pure Matte Lipstick in Terre de Feu
  • Nars Lip Gloss in Dirty Shame
  • Chanel Aqualumiere Lipstick in Catalina (No.82)
This is my 100th post so I'd just like to quickly thank everyone for reading, commenting and following. It means such a lot to me. It has been a pretty bad couple of years health-wise and this blog has been a wonderful form of escapism. The beauty blogging community seem such a friendly, supportive bunch and I am so pleased to be a part of it. Here's to another 100 posts X

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Dark Side: Autumn/Winter Lipstick Preview

 You all probably know by now that dark lips are very big this season, but with so many shades out there it can be hard to tell which one is right for you. This is mainly because there is often a huge difference between how a lipstick looks in the bullet and how it looks on your lips and in the context of your whole face.

After watching a fantastic dark lipstick tutorial by makeup artist Lisa Eldridge, I felt inspired and decided to dig out all those lipsticks/glosses/pencils I have bought in the last few years and show them the light of day!

Some are very recent releases, some a few seasons old, but the one thing they all have in common is they are dark, often very dark. For the rest of this week (however long it takes really, I'll try not to bore you all stupid with it) I will be going through this part of my lipstick collection to show you the shades in detail. The aim is to put them in some kind of colour groupings but I'm not too sure how this will work in practice.

The Dark Side: My Collection
The products featured range in price from £3.49 to £35 (you guessed it, Tom Ford is there, hidden at the back), from Rimmel & 17 to MAC and Chanel, hopefully there should be something for all budgets. This post is just a preview of the what to expect this week.

If you have any must-have dark lipsticks then do let me know. I haven't been able to trawl the makeup counters very much the last few years and have resorted to buying online, but I desperately miss being able to see lipsticks in their true form rather than poor computerised swatches. For that reason I love personal recommendations. The amount of choice of lipstick out there is staggering so it is always nice to have somewhere to start, be it a specific brand, formula or actual colour.

Now I just need to learn how to apply lipstick properly, these dark shades can be very unforgiving for those of shaky hand!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Nars Pure Matte Lipstick - Swatches & Review

Nars Promo - Versuvio is the shade featured
Before I start this I must confess (if you haven't seen my earlier post) that I adore the original Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils. I mean I am a total addict, I collect them and have three of Sex Machine, my favourite colour in all the world, on the go at the moment.

With this is mind you can imagine my interest when I heard Nars were releasing a new Pure Matte Lipstick this autumn. I had seen them on other beauty blogs and tried to find out how they compared to my beloved pencils, but no one seemed to know the answer. I decided a test was in order so I scrapped my plan of buying the eyeshadow duos from the Fall collection and instead bought some of the lipsticks to try, I really didn't need an excuse!

There are only six shades in this new formula, 3 nudes/neutrals and 3 darker, vampy colours. I am very much into dark lips at the moment so I was drawn to those immediately. I chose Versuvio, a cherry red that is used in the promo picture and Terre de Feu, a black cherry. For a more everyday look I picked Bangkok, a warm, light pink and Tonkin, a warm neutral for my mum.

The other 2 shades that I didn't get are Tashkent, a pale beige, and Volga, a very deep aubergine. I have finally learnt that beige lips do absolutely nothing for me and I felt I'd been adventurous enough with Terre de Feu, Volga would have been that step too far towards the dark side. I wouldn't rule it out in the future though if I start getting more comfortable with the darker lip, but for the moment I have more than enough deep shades to be getting on with (this week's posts will be dedicated to dark lipsticks).

The lipsticks come in slimline packaging and this was quite a change for me, I can't believe I've never used this style of lipstick before! It did make it a bit easier to apply neatly, I am rubbish with lipstick and that is why I love the matte lip pencils, but for the darker colours I had to use a brush and clear lip liner.

Left to right: Terre de Feu, Versuvio,
Tonkin & Bangkok
I have been wearing lipsticks with a much creamier formula recently, Tom Ford in particular, so it did feel a little odd applying a product with such a different texture. They don't apply terribly smoothly, but once on the colour pay off was excellent, probably richer than in the swatches. After about a minute my lips felt completely comfortable, as if I didn't have any product on, and that is how it stayed for the rest of the day. For me they were very long lasting. With the creamier lipsticks, because I can feel it is there, I am always very aware of it and concerned about it smearing etc, but the beauty of the Nars Mattes, both pencil and lipstick, is that they stay where they should be. Once applied you don't need to worry about it.

Matte lipsticks are notoriously unforgiving so your lips do need to be in very good condition to do them justice. I have incredibly dry, flaky lips so matte is not an obvious option for me, but I like the finish so much that I don't mind taking some extra time to exfoliate my lips, apply balm etc.

 Unfortunately I was in a hurry today so I didn't do that before taking pictures! I tried to take photos of the colour on my lips but they aren't great, I'm just a beginner so I hope my technique will improve with practice. Also, Macro mode on a camera is a hideous nightmare, highlighting all your flaws for the world to see. It's enough to make me camera shy forever more but I will try to get over that.

Left to right: Terre de feu, Versuvio, Tonkin, Bangkok

I don't think any matte lipsticks swatch well because of their texture, the colours can look a little dull. In real life the shades are more vibrant, less chalky looking and more individual.

Left to right: Terre de feu, Versuvio, Tonkin, Bangkok

Please don't look too carefully at the application of the lipstick or my lips in general, the photos are not to show off my amazing lips (they are one of my worst features) but simply to give you a better idea of the true colour of the different shades. There is actually a lot more of a difference between Terre de feu and Versuvio than the pictures show.


Clockwise starting top left: Bangkok applied, Versuvio applied, Terre de Feu applied (very lightly, can be a lot darker)

Overall, these lipsticks are a winner for me. I don't think they give as matte a finish as the Velvet Matte Lip Pencils and for me, they are that bit harder to apply than the pencil (as shown by my photos!), but they come in some fantastic colours which aren't available in the pencil format and this in itself is enough to make me purchase them. Volga could be added to my beauty wish list.

Versuvio is now one of my all time favourite reds as it is cooler than most, with a fair amount of pink to it. It is the shade used in the beautiful promo shot. Even though I have a number of reds in the pencils, none come close to Versuvio. Terre de Feu may seem a little like the Matte Pencil in Damned, but Damned is darker and has more purple in it, Terre de Feu is a touch warmer. Tonkin doesn't suit me at all as it is too warm and  is similar to the matte pencil in Bettina. Bangkok has no match in the pencils.

Matte lips are one of the big beauty trends of the season and if you want to ease your way into it, I can't think of a better way than with Nars Pure Matte Lipstick. They are matte enough to be a nod to the trend, but not so as to dry out your lips and look unflattering. I really hope they add more shades soon, a vibrant pink would be lovely. It you are in a hurry though and apply lipstick like a child (that's me), you may want to go for the Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil instead!

The six shades of Nars Pure Matte Lipstick are available online at for £18 each and Nars are currently offering a complimentary mini lip gloss set with every purchase of £30 or more.

If you want to see my post on Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils, check out my post here

Monday, 18 October 2010

Monday Manicure - MAC Mean & Green from Venomous Villains

MAC Mean & Green
Mean and Green is the final colour from the trio of nail polishes recently released with the MAC Venomous Villains Collection. It has the same duo chrome finish as the others with micro glitter shot through it. The colour is quite hard to describe as although it looks similar to Bad Fairy in the bottle, it is not at all when applied. The base tone is a dark green/brown and the shimmer is mauve/pink in some lights and golden green in others.

One coat looks absolutely horrid, but with three coats I got a good opaque finish. Drying time was also very quick but that might be down to using Seche Vite top coat. Overall I am very impressed with the quality of these MAC polishes. The only complaint I have is that the brush of Mean and Green has a couple of bristles that are stuck out and could easily ruin a manicure. Hopefully they will be easy to cut off.

In the photos, which were all taken in artificial light, I have tried to show you the different colours in the polish and how it compares to Bad Fairy. With the colours applied side by side you can see clearly the differences and also how well the polishes last. I've been wearing Bad Fairy for over a week now and am fairly impressed at its staying power. I have been doing a lot of craft work this week, involving much double sided tape and sticky foam, neither of which is ideal for painted nails, but still no chips.

MAC Mean & Green - £8

Left: Bad Fairy, Right: Mean & Green

3 coats Mean & Green applied + top coat

3 coats Mean & Green + top coat applied

After being disappointed with Bad Fairy, too bright and wrong colour for my taste, I was concerned about Mean & Green. Seeing it on the nails though it is a lot more subdued than Bad Fairy and I can see myself wearing it again. I love Formidable, Mean & Green is a nice colour for a change but Bad Fairy will be relegated to the very back of my nail varnish drawer.

I admit that I bought these polishes because I was under the spell of the Disney hype, I love Disney as it reminds me of my childhood (they would release a classic every year in October, so I used to see it on my birthday when I was young). I never normally buy MAC polishes and I doubt I would have normally bought Bad Fairy and Mean & Green as shades if they had been part of the ordinary line. However, I am impressed with the quality for £8 a bottle when compared to Chanel & OPI (OPI is around £10 a bottle here in the UK) and would buy MAC nail varnish again.

Top hand: Mean & Green, Bottom hand: Bad Fairy

Top hand: Mean & Green, bottom hand: Bad Fairy

I think that Mean & Green is sold out but other bloggers swear that Orly Space Cadet is a dupe of it. I can't really say as I have never heard of Orly before, let alone seen the shade in question, but Grace at reviewed the Orly colour herself so you can compare the two if interested. For those in the UK, I think you can find Orly on eBay through cheap American sellers.

Which of the three Venomous Villains shades are your favourites? Do you think the colours MAC chose are the best to represent the Disney villains or is there another colour you would love to have seen in the collection? For Maleficent, I would have liked a really dark purple with shimmer and I was surprised not to see a red for Cruella or the Evil Queen.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Dates for your Beauty Diary

Here are just a few dates that you might want to take note in the next few weeks:

21st October: OPI TSV on QVC
A TSV is a product or usually a collection of products available at a special price for just one day only. On the 21st October, the TSV is by OPI and features products from their latest Burlesque Collection. As far as I know, the TSV will include 3 full size bottles of polish from the Burlesque Collection, a full size of Nail Envy nail strengthener, a crystal nail file and tube of Avoplex hand cream. Please note that this is just a prediction based on the photo of the TSV that in was in the October QVC newsletter (but I would put money on this being correct). Whatever is included, OPI TSVs are usually always great value for money as long as you use Nail Envy. If you want to try some shades from the Burlesque Collection, keep an eye out for this. It will launch at midnight and you can buy online at

5th November: Les Tentations De Chanel Holiday Collection is now available to purchase in store
I still haven't got everything I wanted from the last collection and here is Chanel again trying to tempt me to part with my money! I know I won't be able to resist the fushia nail polish, Pulsion, and the new ombre d'eau in Splash is also catching my eye. I'm not so sure about the eyeshadow quad as I have similar shades already and although I love the tweed blush, I have a lot of similar shades. Will you be buying anything?

15th November: My Tom Ford lipstick giveaway launches today!
I will be giving away one Tom Ford lipstick in the colour of your choice so for more details and how to enter, check back on the 15th.

23rd November: H&M's highly anticipated collaboration with Lanvin hits stores today
Not beauty exactly, but possibly beautiful clothes? I'm a big fan of these designer collaborations, although not so much of it ending up on eBay at vastly inflated prices! It is always interesting to see what they will come up with and I have some great pieces from the Matthew Williamson collection, including a divine maxi dress and cropped leather jacket that I have worn to death. I was a bit disappointed with the quality of the Sonia Rykiel collection and skipped Jimmy Choo completely, too much hype. I am intrigued to see what Lanvin have in store for us as they are adamant that they aim to bring H&M up to their luxury level, rather than go down to theirs. How this will work in practice is yet to be seen!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The natural look vs night time glamour - Gemma Arterton

Gemma Arterton at the film premiere of Tamara Drewe
I have been meaning to write this post for a while but somehow never got around to it. What got me thinking about the natural look vs the more obviously made up look was the recent (well they were recent when I first decided to post about this!) pictures of the beautiful British actress Gemma Arterton at the premiere of her latest film.

A male friend, who knows nothing about beauty I might add, told me that she was being slated in the papers for not having made much of an effort with her appearance. He thought she was wearing no makeup at all. What this really translates to is that she chose a more natural look, something in stark contrast to most celebrities who adorn the red carpet.

I was intrigued to see whether she was, as my friend implied, wearing no makeup at all so I had a look at the pictures. When I found them I couldn't understand what the fuss is about. She looks stunning! To me, it looks clear that is she is wearing some makeup, but in an understated way, to enhance her already perfect features rather than alter them completely.  If I had skin and features that were as good as hers, I would definitely go out like this, regardless of the occasion.

Gemma Arterton - a more made up look
I think the reason this outing by Gemma has caused some controversy is because the media and the public are so used to seeing incredibly glamorous looks on A-listers, looks that are a long way from what any of us would appear like in real life. They represent a beauty that almost seems unattainable for most normal people (who don't have makeup artists, facialists, stylists, hairdressers and airbrushing at our disposal).

I love looking at the different makeup of celebrities, in particular Kiera Knightley, Cate Blanchett, Eva Green, Scarlett Johansson and Kristen Stewart, to name but a few. Cate Blanchett aside, most of these women are usually sporting immaculate skin and at the very least a smokey or a statement lip at premieres, more makeup than you would ever normally wear. Among these stars and at a premiere, Gemma's look does stand out.

Scarlett Johansson

Kristen Stewart

However, I think it stands out for all the good reasons. She is clearly confident enough in herself to choose how she wants to look for a big occasion and the natural look is what she feels comfortable with. Good on her. It is such a shame that she has to put up with criticism for appearing more like a human being than a goddess, with most of that criticism coming from men.
What do you think of Gemma's look? Do you prefer it to her more obviously made up photos? Would you like to see famous faces go more au naturel for big events or is a glamorous appearance what you expect?

My favourite picture of Gemma Arterton, great shot and fabulous makeup!