Friday, 31 December 2010

My last beauty haul of 2010

MAC Cham Pale Collection
I am suffering from major overspending guilt this evening, but I figure if there is a day to do it then it must be today, as tomorrow I can start over with all my good intentions. I put it down to being trapped inside for the past 3 weeks due to snow etc, is enough to drive anyone a little crazy!

My mother uttered the fatal words to me today, 'do you want to pop to Canterbury later?' For me, Canterbury is the nearest place with any kind of a selection of beauty counters plus a big Boots, basically a recipe for spending. This was made worse by the realisation as I walked into Fenwicks that they had the MAC Cham Pale Collection in. I truly only went there to find out the release date for the Chanel Spring Collection, 28th January in case you are interested, but I left with a slightly eclectic array of beauty goodies.

To help ease my conscience I am thinking that my whole shopping expedition was down to fate. Firstly, Champale being released and in stock as I had wanted some of this range. Secondly, there was a big sale section with some All About Eve products in at half price and as I resisted the QVC TSV last week, I felt justified in picking up the body butter, body lotion and lipstick. As I was leaving, I passed YSL where they had a small selection of sale products and to my surprise, they had the Manicure Couture Nail Varnish Duos in Belle de Nuit and Belle de Jour. I had been looking for these for ages and given up all hope of ever finding them so to get them in the sale was an opportunity I could not miss. Somehow I also ended up with concealers from Dior and Chanel (spots are multiplying), false eyelashes (which I have never bought in my life), Chanel Imitable Mascara in Purple and a 200ml bottle of Bio Oil (my new weapon in the fight against stretch marks - got through one of these in two weeks). An odd mix.

I felt even worse when I arrived home to see my Zuneta order had arrived with my sale items and my Guerlain Rouge G lipstick from House of Fraser. I think it's like when you gorge yourself on chocolate cake, which seems a good idea at the time, but then about 30 minutes later you feel quite ill. I'm sat with these things littered over my bed just picturing the items in bank notes and I feel a little nauseous (in fairness though I did spend yesterday listing all manner of items on eBay in an attempt to make money, so I guess it balances out in the end).

Chanel Spring 2011 Collection
To combat this I have decided that in 2011 I will be setting myself a fairly tight monthly beauty budget and sticking to it because I have done serious damage to my plastic in the latter part of this year. This is partly because I have been exposed to all sorts of new and exciting things on other beauty blogs and in the words of Oscar Wilde, 'I can resist everything except temptation'. Unfortunately, I have law school fees (hefty ones) to pay come September so some drastic saving is in order. As beauty is my main expenditure, that is what has to be slashed.

After talking to the sales assistants today though it appears I am not the only one that has been on a spending spree today. The Chanel counter was totally sold out of all its red lipsticks and red nail varnishes because of people getting ready for New Year's Eve parties and Boots was packed with young girls stocking up on false nails, eyelashes and fake tan.

Sadly, my evening consists of watching a re-run of Jonathan Creek, and then the Swedish version of Wallander on iplayer - I've never really been one for going out at New Year. I did Hogmanay once in Edinburgh and although fun, it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. I tend to have better nights out when there is less anticipation and more spontaneity.

I decided not to do a best products of 2010, partly because so many others have done it and although I find them a fascinating read, I didn't feel I had too much else to add, and also as I have discovered a lot of great items in the last month and I want a little longer to test them out before recommending them. I do have a handful of brands that I hope to try out in 2011 though and they are:
  • Ellis Faas
  • Malin & Goetz
  • RMK
  • Cle de Peau
  • Illamasqua
  • Butter London
  • Hourglass

Ellis Faas Eye Lights
Sorry this post has turned into a bit of a ramble, one of my New Year's resolutions will be to make my posts more concise! All that is left to be said is that I have absolutely loved beauty blogging in 2010 and I hope that wherever you are and whoever you're with, you have a great night and a fabulous 2011.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

A little bit of Lola Rose (maybe make that a lot!)

If only for the sake of proving that I do buy something other than makeup and skincare, I thought I would give you a peek at one of the other major drains on my finances, Lola Rose jewellery.

It may sound stupid given the size of my collection, but I'm actually surprised that I like the range so much. I normally go for more delicate styles, but I think Lola Rose just calls out to my love of colour, much like makeup. I never grow tired of looking at different coloured nail varnishes and lipsticks, or semi precious stones. It amazes me what wonders the earth contains. Persian Agate was my favourite stone for a while but I recently saw a special type of grey stone which has so many natural variations ranging from light grey to an almost ochre yellow colour in some pieces on QVC so I think that will be my next purchase.

The Persian Agate is in the necklaces third and fifth from the left

So a bit of a random post but I was sorting through all my drawers today trying to be more organised for 2011 and as I had my camera to hand, I thought it would be a bit of a break from best products of the year etc (don't worry, mine is still to come!). If you like Lola Rose, it is definitely worth checking out their sale as I got a lot of my necklaces in the summer sale, at 75% off, making it much more affordable.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

NOTD - Leighton Denny's Embellish Me

Just a quick nail of the day post today. Embellish Me is a rich blue toned purple which is opaque in just one coat, great if you need to paint your nails in a hurry. I had seen this shade around for a while but it didn't tempt me enough to buy the full size. However, whilst browsing QVC before Christmas (fatal for the bank balance), they had all of the Leighton Denny Winter Collection in a miniature set so I thought I'd try it, knowing I could return if I didn't like it.

Leighton Denny Sweet Petites Opulent Collection
In the set you get the six shades from the Opulent Collection as well as a base and top coat. A full size Leighton Denny Polish is 12ml and these miniatures are 4.8ml, but since I have yet to reach the bottom of any nail varnish I own, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. I have never been overly keen on miniature nail polishes because I find the brushes and the product often poorer quality compared to their full sized counterparts, but these are excellent and I needn't have worried.

2 coats of Embellish Me + Crystal Finish Top Coat
I own a lot of Leighton Denny Polishes but Embellish Me has been by far the easiest and quickest to apply. Although not necessarily a unique shade (I'm sure I have a similar shade by Nails Inc lurking somewhere), the application and finish makes it a must have and I am considering purchasing it in the full size. I can't wait to try the other colours in the set to see if the standard is the same. If so, it will have been money well spent.

Leighton Denny Embellish Me

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

It takes two - products so good I've repurchased

As I, probably like every other beauty blogger out there, am on an eternal quest for my Holy Grail beauty products, I have tried a lot of things in my time. I really like trying new brands and formulations so I rarely by the same thing twice, but there are a few exceptions.

  • Caudalie Cleansing Water - I adore this, great as a cleanser for when I'm feeling lazy or as a toner when I have done a cleanse with my Clarisonic. Gentle enough to use on the eyes and has a lovely fresh smell to it. My favourite product of the year.
  • Elemis Milk Bath - a very expensive treat but as I spend an awful lot of time in hot baths to help my joints, this makes a nice change.
  • Alpha H Liquid Gold - I don't get the amazing results some people rave about (possibly because I have a younger skin), but I still like the smoothing and softening of my skin that I get after a nightly application. Very easy to use and makes my nightly skin routine very simple.
  • Alpha H Absolute Eye Complex - Again, no miraculous results but this gel keeps my under eye area hydrated and sinks in quickly, with no greasiness (an issue I have with a lot of eye creams).
  • Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Sex Machine - My all time favourite lip colour, pinky mauve, in the convenience of a jumbo pencil.
  • YSL Faux Cils Mascara - The best mascara I have found for giving a false lash effect, as the name suggests. Unfortunately it can get a little smudgy under the eyes after a while, but the effect is so good I keep on buying it.
  • Laura Mercier Oil Free Primer - The only primer I can bring myself to use on a regular basis.
  • Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser - Usually I prefer a bit more coverage but on days when I'm not too fussed about how I look, this is a quick and easy way to look a bit more groomed.
  • Chanel Teint Innocence Compact Foundation - I lived in this at university and still come back to it now. Gives the right amount of coverage for me, the only draw back is I find all of the Chanel base shades a little too yellow for me.
  • OPI Nail Envy - I use this as a base coat whenever I do a manicure and it keeps my nails in good condition.
  • Gatineau Floracil Eye Makeup Remover - I used to think that separate eye makeup removers were a waste of money but this product converted me. I am slightly obsessed with protecting my eye area and using a specialist eye makeup remover is part of this. I ran out about a month ago and thought I'd try cheaper brands to save some money, but I have just reordered as for me, nothing beats it.

Finally, there are a couple of products I have only recently rediscovered that I know I will replace when they run out:
  • Chantecaille Lip Chic in Bourbon Rose - Technically this was a Christmas present but I have been using it for the past month. I think this is my favourite lipstick formula of all time and this colour is perfect for a simple day look. My ambition this year is own a lot more of the Lip Chic shades.
  • Le Metier de Beaute Liquid Eyeliner - Beats my Chanel liquid eyeliner hands down. I think it will take me a long time to use it up, but when I do I would definitely repurchase.
  • Clinique Airbrush Concealer - YSL Touche Eclat does nothing for my dark circles but this cheaper Clinique brush concealer offers a bit of coverage whilst still looking natural and not cakey. Once applied, I tend to buff it in with a MAC 217 brush.
Do you have any products, skincare or makeup, that you regularly repurchase?

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Beauty Sale Top Picks

OK, so call me sad but I have stayed up to get a first look at the Zuneta sale. I know it's not what Christmas is about but I guess I could class it as research for the blog. I actually made my first sale purchase on Christmas Eve, Guerlain Rouge G Lipstick in Bee (64) from Fenwicks which was down to £14.50. I have wanted to try the formula for months and swatched the shade a few weeks ago, luckily for me this was the one shade that was in the sale.

I had a brief look at the Space NK offerings today and they have some pretty good discounts. The best deals I think are the Eve Lom kits, Lipstick Queen glosses and the Laura Mercier palettes. I managed to resist as I was holding out for Zuneta and I already have enough skincare to last me the year.

Harrods online sale launched today and like Space NK, they had some good Laura Mercier pieces, all at 50% off. I spied a great eye kit I got last year, mascara, eyelash curlers, 3 cake eyeliners and the best bit, a set of 4 double ended eye brushes. Along with my MAC 217 brush, these are what I rely on when doing my eye makeup and I think it's a great price for everything that you get. Definitely worth checking out.

I was a little sad to see only one Rouge Bunny Rouge item and no Edward Bess or Butter London in the Zuneta sale, but I guess as they are probably top sellers it is only to be expected. However, I had contemplated asking for the Becca Beach Tint Trio for Christmas, but didn't, so immediately snapped that up plus a Rouge Bunny Rouge Eyeliner (non sale) to take me over the free shipping limit. Remember that Vex in the City has a 15% discount code, VEXZUNETA, so that helps bring the price down even further.

Now, enough sale talk, time for bed. Need my rest in order to face another onslaught of relatives tomorrow (love them really).

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas Day. Let me know if you found any great sale bargains.

Becca Beach Tint Trio - now £31.00 at Zuneta

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Christmas is just one week away and as we've had over 4 inches of snow in the last hour here in Kent, I'm feeling festive, finally. I don't know all of you personally but I wanted to wish everyone, fellow bloggers, readers and followers a very happy Christmas. Making handmade cards is the main way I fund my expensive beauty habit and as I can't send you individual ones, the best I could come up with was this:

I'm looking forward to seeing swatches and reviews of people's beauty orientated presents and who knows, maybe there will be some great bargains to be had in the sales (I can dream). I will be kept occupied over the Christmas holiday trying to prepare for my New Year's Resolution, to start tweeting on Twitter. I have been convinced that it is the way forward and I'm sure it can't be too difficult, I hope!

Happy Christmas everyone,


Friday, 17 December 2010

Heavy Natural Face - featuring Suqqu, Le Metier and Nars

I've pinched the name of this from Lisa Eldridge as I couldn't really think of a better way to describe it. I have mentioned before that I prefer cooler, clearer colours in my makeup, purples, pinks, mauves, greys & of course taupes. However, when my Suqqu goodies arrived they were on the warm side so I thought I would do a full face using these kind of brown based shades.

This is the type of look I used to favour in my early university days, rosy brown lips and copper eyes. The paler my skin got though, the more I headed towards pinks and mauves. I think it is always good to try something a little out of one's comfort zone and I am pleasantly surprised at how much I like these shades on me. Although warm, they don't look muddy and foreign on my skin so I might branch out in future with my colour selection.

I have tried all day to get some decent photos of the makeup, to no avail. The best I could do is a number of different pictures that show different parts of the makeup as in one pose the blusher would show but the lips wouldn't etc. So the number of pictures is not to flatter my vanity (especially after my mum took one look at them and said 'you can't put those up, you look awful', I tried to explain it's about the makeup, not me!), but to give you the best idea of what the products I have used look like in natural light.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

My Face - Without Makeup! (I'm sure tomorrow I'll realise this post was not such a good idea)

This is a bit of a new one for me as when I started blogging I had decided that I didn't want post pictures of myself, it was one step too far. However, now I've been doing this for a while, it feels more like I am amongst friends so I've had second thoughts. My main aim with this blog is for it to be as useful as possible for other people and I think that one way I can achieve this is to show you what I look like without any makeup on at all.

This may seem like a drastic step, to go from no photos to some without makeup (and incredibly unflattering!), but when I am talking about my skintone, eye colour, hair colour etc I think it would be helpful for you to see what I am trying to describe. You can see the main concerns that I have and when I mention foundations, blushers etc, you know how the shades look compared to my face in its natural state. To be blunt, I don't think swatches on the inside of my wrist are cutting it anymore.

Another reason for this post is that after watching the new Twilight film yesterday I was trying to look up what makeup was used. I found a great sight,, and looked up the products used in some other film looks that I liked. Now I am not particularly naive and know that an actress doesn't turn up to a film set and with a bit of mascara and tinted moisturiser is ready for HD, but I was shocked at the number of complexion products used, really shocked. I think women, and young women in particular can really beat themselves up about looking less than perfect (I know I do) and it makes it so much worse when trying to compare yourself to your peers on TV, film and the front covers of magazines. It is too easy to fall into the trap of thinking everyone else is naturally beautiful, when really they just spend longer in the makeup chair or know the products that really work for them.

I would like to think I was old enough to not get taken in by the kind of airbrushing, editing etc that I know goes on, but I have to admit I felt a lot better when I realised quite how much work went into transforming Kristen Stewart into Bella Swan, and how much makeup Keira Knightley had to wear in The Duchess. The thing I love so much about makeup is its ability to transform the ordinary into the often extraordinary and the confidence boost that comes with this, so by baring my face I hope you will be able to see what products work for me by having the 'before shot' available

So, not the prettiest sight for you all on a Thursday afternoon but here some photos taken today of me with not a scrap of makeup on, in natural light. You've been warned! (I look pretty pissed off in these but I really struggle to smile in any photos, not helped by orthodontic work having ruined my mouth and jaw!).

So there we have it. I hope you can see how pale my skin is and the pink undertones. My major concerns at the moment are dark circles under my eyes, from medication, some sun damage/pigmentation under one eye, oily skin and some rather large spots that I am doing daily battle with since coming off the pill about four months ago. There are a number of things I dislike about my face but I'm not going to draw attention to them here, I guess you just have to learn to love what you've got.

In terms of foundation, these are my closest matches but none of them are perfect:
  • Bobbi Brown - Alabaster or Ivory
  • Chanel - 05 Faience (their lightest shade but still a little yellow for my taste)
  • Dior - 010 Ivory
  • Clinique - 01 Calming Alabaster
  • Le Metier de Beaute - 1 (probably my best match)
  • Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser - Porcelain
  • Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation - Blush Ivory
  • Nars - Mont Blanc
My aim for next year is to try out a number of different foundation brands, in a never ending search to find my Holy Grail product. The first will be Chantecaille's Future Skin in Porcelain, but I can't say how good a match it is yet until Christmas Day. After that I want to try something from By Terry, RMK and Revlon. Foundation is the main item I don't mind spending a lot on because I think it makes such a big difference to how the rest of your makeup looks.

Now indulge me for a minute. Having posted some awful photos, I thought for the sake of balance, I would post some pictures of me with makeup, just to make me feel a bit better! I like to think that it shows the huge difference that just a bit of makeup can make to the face.

The only look I can vaguely remember what makeup I was wearing: Chanel Teint Innocence, Chanel Blush in Tea Rose, Nars Lipstick in Dolce Vita (I think the eyes were using Stila shadows), MAC Eyeliner in Teddy

So there we have it. I promise future posts will not be covered in pictures of me! As a few of you liked the eye look I posted last week I am going to endeavour to do more of those kind of posts, but possibly a whole face. I've just ordered Photoshop for Dummies so I might learn to be a bit better with the camera and editing next year as at the moment I know nothing. It can only get better!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Suqqu Eyeshadow Quad 05 Mancha

This is my first ever Suqqu product and I was beyond excited when I received it. I have heard so many good things about this brand, mainly the excellent quality of both the makeup and brushes, so I was keen to try it out for myself. The downside is that it is very difficult to find in the UK, stocked in London only by Selfridges (it is available in Edinburgh at Dollyleo).

Suqqu Eyeshadow Quad in 05 Mancha
It may sound silly but the colours of the eyeshadows were not my main concern, I'd probably have been happy with anything as I just wanted to have something by Suqqu to test for myself. As it turns out, the quad I picked was a great choice as coppery tones on my eyes really bring out the green in them. Two of the four shades reminded me quite a lot of the Chanel Holiday Quad, but the Suqqu are much better quality. Sometimes I find Chanel eyeshadows can be a little bit too powdery and lack intensity, but the Suqqu shades are the same on the eye as they are in the pan.

I tried a really quick eye look when I first opened the palette and was very pleased with the results. The shades were a dream to blend, the best quality eyeshadows I've ever tried, and even the mini brush included was excellent (I'm desperate to try one of the full size Suqqu brushes). When I get time I will do a post with an eye look created with these shades, provided I can photograph it well enough.

The quad is comprised with a neutral base colour, a cool dark brown, a light copper and a rich copper. Both the coppers have a tiny amount of incredibly fine glitter in them and the dark brown has a slight shimmer to it. I have never seen glitter/sparkle that fine before and it is nice to see it used in such an elegant way ( I hate chunky glitter).

Swatches - starting clockwise from lower right corner of the quad
Even though this quad was a total pain to get hold of, I am thrilled with it and can see I will get a lot of use out of it. The quality is fantastic and although in the last couple of years I have steered away from browns and coppers in favour of cooler mauves and taupes, it makes a nice change. The look I did reminded me a lot of the type of makeup I used to do at university in my late teens, a lot of brown. It might even persuade me to fish out my old MAC Viva Glam Brown lipstick that I wore to death back then. Maybe these heavy naturals aren't quite as bad on my fair skin as I thought ( I had a bit more colour at uni).

I would recommend Suqqu to anyone and can't wait to try out some more products from the range. The next time I am in London I will have to make time to have a good look at the counter in Selfridges. I like the sound of their foundations, I can never have enough, but I'm not sure if they go light enough for my skintone.

Anyone have any favourite Suqqu products?

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Paul & Joe Creamy Matte Foundation - a big mistake

When does Alabaster not mean pale? When you are Paul & Joe Creamy Matte Foundation, that's when.

Paul & Joe Creamy Matte Foundation - £28

I had high hopes for this, as since my oil glands seem to have gone into overdrive I decided my base needed an overhaul and matte was the way forward. I had read some really good reviews of this product and of the Paul & Joe makeup range in general, and with a discount offered on ASOS, I thought I'd try it.

Charlotte over at Lipglossiping had posted about the 002 shade, the one most suited to skin with pink undertones, but said she found this a bit dark so recommended 00 or 001. Thinking 001 would be a little too yellow, I plumped for 000, Alabaster, and remember being it a little concerned it might be too pale. I needn't have worried. The picture below shows Alabaster applied to my wrist both straight from the pot and blended. I think you'll see my point.

Paul & Joe Creamy Matte Foundation in Alabaster Swatches
I cannot believe that this is the palest shade Paul & Joe do in this foundation. Even when I had a suntan (back in my younger, less SPF obsessed days) this would have been miles too dark for me. I suppose this is what you get when you order a product unseen over the Internet, but I did think that I had made the right choice for me.

I can't really tell you much else about the product itself other than the packaging is cute but not entirely practical. I suppose the reason I am posting this is to see if you all think that this is genuinely what the shade 000 should look like, or whether there has been some kind of labelling mix up. I can spot what looks like some white pigment stuck to the inside of the bottle but even when I have tried to mix it in, it doesn't work. From what I can tell, it looks darker than Charlotte's 002 bottle but the computer can distort these things. Any fair skinned ladies had any luck with Paul & Joe foundation?

Paul & Joe Creamy Matte Foundation in 000 (Alabaster)

Foundation, along with cleanser, is the one beauty item I can never get enough of. No matter how good (or how bad) I think a product is, a little voice inside me always tells me the next one will be better. I am on an eternal quest for perfect skin so despite this recent online foundation disaster, I have just instructed my brother to bring me a pot of Chantecaille Future Skin in Porcelain for Christmas. Hopefully this will be pale enough for my vampire skin! (If not I hear Chanel have a new one out in January, I tell you I'm an addict!)

Gold Nails: Chanel Gold Fiction

A couple of you suggested gold when I asked for your advice on what to wear on my nails for a career event, and although gold wasn't my final choice and the event was postponed, I thought it was about time I got a little festive and dug out some of my gold polishes.

Chanel Nail Colour in Gold Fiction

I had forgotten that a few years ago I had picked up a bottle of Chanel Gold Fiction, a limited edition nail polish. For some reason it had been hidden amongst a number of Nails Inc shades that had been relegated to my second division storage box, but I thought it was time to see what this colour had in store (unlike other Chanel shades you can't see the colour of the polish from the outside). Unfortunately, it would appear there was a very good reason why this polish had been relegated!

I normally don't mind golds, but this shade is everything I hate. It is far too yellow for my taste, clashes with the pink in my skin tone and there was still visible nail line after 4 coats of polish. To me it looks tacky, and I almost feel like I am blaspheming saying that about a Chanel product! I have numerous OPI shades that could be described as gold which I really like, but something about Gold Fiction just makes my skin crawl. I officially hate it.

4 coats of Chanel Gold Fiction plus top coat
(Sorry for the poor application but I took the photo after a few days of wear)
Apart from my objection to the colour itself, the quality of the varnish seemed well below par. It was hard to get even coverage and four coats still didn't provide the kind of finish I could get from OPI with two. Sadly, I doubt Gold Fiction will ever see the light of day again. I think it's a good job this shade is no longer available as I could never recommend it!

For those gold lovers out there (Jeanie, I'm looking at you!), what are your favourite shades for manicures?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Dark Side: Chanel Rouge Allure Laque in Stunt and Rimmel One of a Kind Lipstick

Rimmel Lipstick in One of a Kind, Chanel Rouge Allure
Laque in Stunt (Soho Collection)
My posting this week has been slightly disrupted by my attempts to buy original Christmas presents for the male members of my family. This has been made all the more difficult because I can't give them beauty related gifts. I tried that in previous years, did not go down well, especially when the Elemis shaving gel that was a present for my brother exploded in his luggage when flying on a business trip!

During my search I have discovered, full of fantastic ideas for hard to buy for men. Hopefully it has solved all my gift problems.

As my nails are currently bare I'm doing the penultimate Dark Side post, as the rate I'm going it will be Spring/Summer before I finish! Today's features two brands at opposite ends of the scale, Rimmel and Chanel. The Rimmel lipstick is a lasting finish in 'One of a Kind', No.80 and the Chanel is Rouge Allure Laque in Stunt, from the Soho Collection that was released in the US.

I'll start with the Chanel and admit that I was disappointed with it. The product I adore, but the shade was not quite what I expected. This was my first try of the Rouge Allure Laque formula and I'm impressed. I don't like gloss because it doesn't give the depth of colour that I like so this was ideal for me and I can't believe I didn't discover it sooner. The problem is that I expected the shade to be a mauve/pink, like Nars Sex Machine and in reality, it has a lot more brown in it. I really dislike brown on my lips, reminds me of the first lipstick I ever wore, a hideous, drying brown that I got free with a magazine in the 1990s. I never want to revisit that look!

The other thing that has rather clouded my view of this product is the cost. It was only available in America so I ended up having to purchase it on eBay as in the UK we can't order online from Chanel. I had to pay more than the usual cost price but accepted that as I really wanted this particular shade and it was limited edition. However, what I didn't expect was to get stung by customs. The actual customs charge was not that much, probably about £1.50, but what adds up is the handling fee they charge, around £10. All in all this lipstick is now the most expensive I own and I don't really like the colour. A bad experience all round but hopefully it will teach me never to be so stupid again.

Swatches left to right: Rimmel One of a Kind, Chanel Rouge Allure laque in Stunt
If only the Chanel shade had been more like Rimmel One of a Kind, then I probably wouldn't have minded the astronomical cost! In the bullet it looks like a very cool mauve but actually when swatched, it is quite a bit warmer and has a little more red in it. I really like this shade and out of all the ones I have tried for this series of posts, I think it is now my favourite, a good thing seeing as it is by far the cheapest, the most accessible and the easiest to wear - One of a Kind definitely lives up to its name!

Given it's low price, the texture is surprisingly good. Even though it is long lasting, it isn't drying. When compared to the likes of Dior, Chanel and Tom Ford, it is obvious by the feel on the lips which are the more expensive, but the Rimmel is by no means uncomfortable. If you weren't directly comparing I think most people would be more than satisfied with One of a Kind and if I tried it blind, I would put it more around the MAC/Nars price point. If you aren't too sure about a darker lip, this might be the ideal lipstick to test the water. I don't usually buy cheaper makeup brands because I prefer to have less items of higher quality that I really like, but this lipstick has really made me re-evaluate this strategy.

Does anyone have any favourite shades in the Chanel Rouge Allure laque (I'm thinking of trying another one that is not remotely brown)  they would recommend or any other cheaper beauty buys that perform just as well as their more expensive counterparts?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

My first ever eye look!

So here goes, my first eye look. I was a bit bored this afternoon so whilst watching the tennis Davis Cup Final, I thought I'd play about a bit with a MAC Paint Pot (never used one before) and see what happened. In actual fact, the look morphed into one of Lisa Eldridge's tutorials on the cover she did with Nicole Ritchie for In Style. In wasn't really intentional, just ended up that way.

My main problem is how to photograph myself with makeup applied. I find it incredibly difficult to capture the actual colour, especially when the look is quite complicated. I have tried various different ways but the photos below were the best I could come up with. Sorry the last one isn't quite in focus but at least you see how the eye makeup brings out the green of my eye colour. (If anyone has any tips for taking better pictures of makeup looks I'd love to hear them!).

Products used
  • Clinique Redness Solutions Foundation in Calming Alabaster
  • Clinique Airbrush Concealer in Fair
  • Vichy Dermablend Corrective Foundation in Opal
  • Becca Shimmering Skin Perfecter in Pearl
  • Nars Blusher in Douceur
  • Le Metier de Beaute Flawless Finish Loose Powder in Translucent
  • Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Sex machine
  • MAC Paint Pot in Artifact
  • MAC Reflects Glitter in Very Pink
  • MAC Eyeshadow in Plum Dressing
  • MAC Eyeshadow in Beauty Marked
  • MAC Eyeshadow in Sweet Lust
  • MAC Greasepaint Stick in Slick Black
  • Le Metier de Beaute Liquid Liner in Black
  • Diorshow Extase Mascara (black)
  • Le Metier de Beaute Eyebrow Pencil in Natural Blonde
The main idea was a burgundy eye graduating from dark to light, with a very fine sprinkling of pink glitter on the inner part of the eye to soften the border between the dark and the light. This was paired with a fairly neutral blush and my all time favourite mauve/light pink lip, Nars Sex machine. I'm probably not explaining it too well but if you want a detailed tutorial on how to create the eye, check out the video at

I'm really pleased with how it eventually turned out, although it would have helped if I hadn't put my base on before I started my eyes! The main purpose of the look was to accentuate my eye colour and I think that has worked. Just a shame I have nothing more exciting to do tonight than watch Garrow's Law with a mug of hot chocolate (you can tell I live life in the fast lane!). All dressed up with nowhere to go!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Dark Side featuring Nars

I meant to finish this post weeks ago but got distracted by other things so here it is, better late than never. I have two other posts in this series and will endeavour to get them up this weekend.

Left to right: Terre de Feu, Dirty Shame, Porte Vecchio

Today's trio is all by Nars, 3 different dark shades giving 3 different finishes. The products are:
  • Nars Matte lipstick in Terre de Feu
  • Nars Lip gloss in Dirty Shame
  • Nars Lipstick in Porte Vecchio

    Swatches left to right: Terre de Feu, Dirty Shame, Porte Vecchio
 I think you can see from the swatches that even though they all look alike in the first picture, they are actually very different when swatched. I wish I had learnt never to judge a lipstick by its cover a long time ago, would have saved myself many bad purchases!

Porte Vecchio is very sheer in texture so would be ideal if you are a little afraid of a dark lip. It leans very brown and having just swatched it quite heavily on my wrist, it looks like a bad bruise! It is a warmer shade than most I am featuring and reminds me a little of a less intense version of the Dior Pinstripe Plum. It's very easy to wear and I think would look lovely on a dark skin. I'm going to be posting (late I know) on the blush featured in the Nars Fall Collection, Douceur, but I think this lipstick would work well with it as it also has a lot of brown in it.

If you want to embrace the trend for all things matte ( I don't mind it on the lips but I can't be doing with it on nails), Terre de Feu is a fabulous colour. It is much more my idea of a classic dark lip, a cool, rich shade which makes a great alternative to red. It is best described as a pinky purple, and would give you that Morgana look that is so stunning in Merlin - just watching the finale of it as I write this, for me the best thing about Saturday night TV in the UK, have never watched X Factor in my life.

I love Morgana's makeup, the actress looks like a cross between Rachel Weiss and Keira Knightley, I would imagine a makeup artist's dream. Very happy to see the return of Lancelot this episode as he is almost as beautiful as this lipstick! While I'm rambling about Merlin, anyone else think that the guy who plays the wizard would have been a far better choice than Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter? When I was reading the books, he is far more what I imagined in my head as Harry.

Santiago Cabrera as Lancelot in Merlin
 Getting back to makeup (I told you I was easily distracted), I have included a gloss in my picks for those that find lipstick a bit too much. The good news is that Dirty Shame is almost an exact match to Terre de Feu, but sheerer and with a hint of shimmer. So if you love the shade of the matte lipstick but not the finish, Dirty Shame might be the answer. For the ultimate winter lip, Dirty Shame looks perfect layered over Terre de Feu, giving it that extra bit of dimension for full impact. Even though the undertones are very different, layering the gloss over Porte Vecchio also creates a pretty, more muted autumnal lip. I'm not a massive fan of lip gloss because I like a lot of colour on my lips but this is one of my favourites.

In this series of posts I have been focusing very much on colour, but I should add that I find Nars lip products aren't the most forgiving on less than perfect lips. They can feel a bit dry compared to the very creamy textures that feature in the line ups of other brands so it is something to be aware of. Even though my lips are usually hideously chapped, it doesn't stop me buying or wearing Nars, I just ensure I wear lip balm underneath.

It's been a while since I have deviated from my usual Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils but since swatching these three Nars beauties, they have taken pride of place on my (rather crowded and stained) dressing table.

Friday, 3 December 2010

All I want for Christmas.........

This would normally be the perfect time to write my Christmas List, but in a twist on the usual, I was handed a credit card and told to order my own this year (my family couldn't take the assortment of dates, websites and discount codes that accompanied my list - got a little bit Martin Lewis). The plus side is that I know I have everything I wanted, the minus is that when my Space NK and Zuneta parcels arrived I promptly had to hand them over without so much as a peek inside.

So here is what Santa will be leaving under the tree for me this year:
  • Edward Bess Compact Rouge in Island Rose
  • Edward Bess Compact Rouge in Love Affair
  • Edward Bess Lipstick in Night Romance
  • Chantecaille Lip Chic in Bourbon Rose (the one item that I have already tried)
  • Chantecaille Les Macarons Palette
  • Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm
  • Lipstick Queen Discovery Set
  • Rouge Bunny Rouge Eyeshadow in Solstice Halcyon
  • Rouge Bunny Rouge Eyeshadow in Delicate Hummingbird
  • Becca Showgirl Palette (even though it's from a few seasons ago, I preferred it to more recent offerings)
  • Le Metier de Beaute Peau Vierge
  • Dior Minaudiere in Pink Gold
Father Christmas will be getting a very big thank you come Christmas Day!

My favourite Beauty Bloggers like London Makeup Girl, Replica, Jeanie and Modesty Brown also deserve a big thank you for being the inspiration beyond a lot of the choices. I spent hours and hours looking at different swatches and reviews on your blogs to help decide what would suit me best. Isn't blogging brilliant?!

What is on your Christmas list this year?

YSL Touche D'Or - an easy way to get a golden glow

This was the item I had such a hard time trying to get someone in Debenhams to sell to me! However, I persevered (for longer than I should have really, but I desperately wanted it) and here is a quick swatch for you.

YSL Touche D'Or - £28

Released just for Christmas it is a gold version of the iconic Touche Eclat, which makes a shimmery gold highlighter for eyes and cheeks. I struggle to get to grips with the original Touche Eclat, it just doesn't seem to do anything for me, and I much prefer Clinique's Airbrush Concealer. However, I was very attracted by the simplicity of a highlighter in a pen like this, perfect for adding that Christmas touch to daytime makeup, no need to redo everything if heading out in the evening.

I really like the effect of this, it is more festive and sparkly than Benefit's Moonbeam, but oddly, I also think more sophisticated. Hopefully the swatch will give you an idea of the effect, but it was a little difficult to capture it on camera.

Quite a heavy swatch of Touche D'or
I'm sure you could find similar highlighters for a lot cheaper price as £28 is a lot for a small amount of product, but I like the pen application and well, it's Christmas! This will do me nicely until I can afford one of the Rouge Bunny Rouge highlighters.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Ready For Work: Outfit + Makeup

The snow in the UK is playing havoc at the moment with my plans to venture into London on Friday (I am only a 1.5 hour train journey away so it shouldn't be that bad). Motorways are shut, rails networks are in all kinds of chaos with passengers being stuck on trains all night in the South East . All this means that I might have to try and travel up tomorrow in an effort to get to the Financial District for Friday, but finding a hotel room is another trial. Everything considered, this is becoming very stressful!

As I am having to pack a bag tonight, I thought I'd share some pictures of my outfit and makeup that I am taking with me. I'll start with the makeup. I was watching a Bobbi Brown show on QVC whilst packing so I was inspired to rummage through my collection and rediscovered a few great products.

My work appropriate makeup picks

  • Dr Brandt Pore Effect Moisturiser
  • La Roche Posay Cicaplast (used a a primer)
  • Le Metier de Beaute Foundation
  • Clinique Airbrush Concealer
  • Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Pink
  • Bobbi Brown Blush in Sand Pink
  • Bobbi Brown Long Wear Cream Shadow in Heather
  • Le Metier de Beaute Dualistic Eye Pencil in Champagne
  • Le Metier de Beaute Anamorphic Mascara in Aubergine
  • Le Metier de Beaute Eyebrow Pencil in Natural Blonde
  • Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in Paradoxal
  • Bobbi Brown Creamy Lip Colour in Berry Mauve
  • Chantecaille Lip Chic in Bourbon Rose
  • Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Sex Machine
  • Urban Decay Primer Potion
I am trying to go for a fairly natural but well groomed look, focusing on mauve tones (hence the nail varnish choice). I love the eyeshadow in Heather but I'm not entirely sure which lipstick to go for. I'm torn between my favourite, Sex Machine, but it is matte, and might not last too well. The Bobbi Brown works well with the rest of the colours that I'm wearing but the Chantecaille is the most comfortable to wear and is a bit brighter than the Bobbi Brown (technically it is a Christmas present so I shouldn't have it yet, but it was too gorgeous not to try until 25th Dec). Which would you choose? I think I am more impressed with Chantecaille's Lip Chics than Tom Ford Lipsticks, am now on a mission to own them all!

Left to right: Le Metier Mascara, Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick, Bobbi Brown Blush, Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow, Le Metier Eyebrow Pencil, Le Metier Dualistic Eye Pencil, Chantecaille Lip Chic, Bobbi Brown Creamy Lipstick, Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil

The dress code is smart/casual and I wanted to avoid a suit as I have to travel in it as well as wear it on Friday so I've gone for a simple pair of black wide leg trousers from M&S, a cream wool cardigan with black ribbon and beaded detailing by Karen Millen and some Reiss T-bar shoes. I'm torn over the bag, it's either a large mock snakeskin leather bag by Reiss or a much smaller classic Chanel quilted leather bag (no, it's not real, a present from my brother in Dubai). That is as far as I've got, don't even get me started on coats!

Not the best outfit picture, the point is that the wide leg trousers are high waisted and and the cardigan nips in at the waist with the ribbon tie. My main priority was comfort!

Here's hoping I actually get to London this week!

Elemis Melting Cleansing Gel

QVC are clearly concerned I haven't been buying nearly as many beauty TSVs recently as I am now being bombarded with beauty cards and samples from them, something I never got when I bought regularly.

A little insight into the QVC Elemis TSV this Sunday

There is a special Elemis Christmas TSV this Sunday which includes the launch of their new cleanser, Melting Cleansing Gel. I received a sample of it today and was impressed. As I have only used it once, I can't really comment on any long term benefits but it has three major pluses:
  • I can use it with my Clarisonic
  • The texture is perfect
  • It smells divine!
Elemis say 'Melting Cleansing Gel contains Rice Silk to cleanse and balance your skin, Argan Oil to gently soften its texture, and Papaya for deep down refreshment. This magically turns from a a gel into a milk, gently lifting any daily impurities, perfect to keep all skin types happy and hydrated'.

Ingredients of Elemis Melting Cleansing Gel

Somehow I always seem to have more cleansers than any other product but I rarely use them up. I know I should stick to one and give my skin a chance to get used to it but I am fickle and always think the next one will give miraculous results. I know I'm getting the Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm for Christmas but I know that won't stop me from picking up the Elemis TSV on Sunday as the cleanser smells so delicious. It has a slight citrus tang, but there is a warmth to it, reminding me of the Philosophy Gingerbread Man scent. It is not nearly as heady as the Elemis Exotics range, but the fragrance does make it an absolute pleasure to use.

My favourite cleansers tend to be balms and even though this is called a gel, it did have a balm like feel to it. The way it turns to a milk once water is added also reminds me of a lot of the Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil I've been using, but it feels so much more comfortable on the skin. I've taken a couple of photos so you can get a better idea of the texture and appearance of the cleanser at the different stages for yourselves.

Straight out of the tube

When water is added

I'm not sure what the individual price of the cleanser is but the full size is included in the TSV along with 30ml of Pro Collagen Marine Cream, 200ml of the Exotic Frangipani Monoi Bath & Shower Cream, Skin Nourishing Hand & Body Lotion and a small size of the Monoi Melt. This five piece set is exclusive to QVC and should be just under £40 (the usual price for Elemis TSVs). It is rumoured to be on maximum easy pay so is a great chance to try the cleanser and get some other high quality body and face products. The value is excellent if you will use all the products as just the Pro Collagen Marine Cream retails at £45 for 30ml.

After my mini try out with the new cleanser today, I will definitely be getting the full size to use on a regular basis with my Clarisonic.