Monday, 27 June 2011

NOTD with OPI Designer Series

Am currently totally gripped by the Del Potro v Nadal tennis match going on and as I like to multi task, I have just painted my nails with the OPI Designer Series Nail Polish that came in the June Glossy Box. There is no shade name on mine but I would describe it as a holographic silver. Not entirely appropriate for summer, but still a striking colour.


I used OPI Nail Envy as a base coat and needed 3 coats of the colour to avoid a visible nail line. I then topped with Seche Vite. The colour was easy to apply even though the bottle is a miniature and therefore the brush is quite tiny.

3 coats of OPI Designer Series Nail Polish applied plus Seche Vite Top Coat
This might be a record for my shortest ever post (a tie break is coming up and that needs my concentration)!

Makeup Mavens - Saving the world one beauty addict at a time!

The Makeup Mavens stop by every week to show you makeup and beauty you might have missed. This week, they found some holy grail items, discovered secrets to flawless skin and introduced some bright summer colors. Kick back, enjoy some lemonade (or whatever your beverage of choice) and enjoy some fabulous reads.



Summer is the time for new nail polish and Christina of Lovesong for my Lipgloss shares some of her picks for the season.

Jenn of Hopelessly Devoted to Makeup happened to stumble upon her holy grail base makeup routine. Check out her products, tools and tips for a flawless complexion.

For those with sensitive, redness prone skin, The Black Panties has the secret to perfect skin, Nia24 Skincare! 

Searching for the perfect neutral eye wardrobe? Lipstick Luvvies has found the only eyeshadows she would replace, Edward Bess Private Eyes.

Klara of Mookie on the Bench shares one of her all time favorites for the perfect cheeks, Stila Convertible Colors in Lilium and Gerbera..

Its often good to switch up cleansers for summer and Nat of Raspberry Rouge has the perfect solution for combination and oily skins, REN Mayblossom Balancing Cleansing Gel..

Have trouble applying your concealer flawlessly? Product Doctor has found a new staple in Le Metier de Beaute's large concealer brush.

June Glossy Box - My Thoughts

I had never heard of Glossy Box until Leanne from Obsessive Cosmetics Disorder posted about the company a while back. Although I had no idea as to what would be in the boxes, I loved the concept as I can't easily get access to new and more niche luxury brands due to living away from the cities. In the past I have resorted to buying sample sizes of products I am interested in from eBay, so I felt that Glossy Box had read my mind.
For those of you not already familiar with Glossy Box, here is a brief explanation. For £10 a month, you are sent a box with 5 luxury products in a variety of sizes, most generous samples. You don't pay postage and the idea is that gradually the boxes will be adapted to suit the individual.

I placed my order/subscription (you can cancel at any time) a couple of hours after the May box sold out and I can't tell you how annoyed I was when I saw a full size Nars Orgasm illuminator in it! However, I waited patiently and on Friday morning I got a pleasant surprise when my June Glossy Box arrived.

My June Glossy Box - £10
It came beautifully packaged in a lovely box (which will be put to good use for my craft storage) filled with black tissue and wrapped with ribbon. Most importantly though are the products. This is where I was a little disappointed. The contents were as follows:
  • OPI Designer Series Mini Nail Lacquer in what appears to be a silver colour. There is no name on it but I have a full size silver one and it seems identical to that.
  • Bio Effect EGF Serum in a large sample size but again, no ml measurement given.
  • Batiste Original in a 50ml size
  • Lalique Perles de Lalique Eau de Parfum 4.5ml
  • Abahna White Grapefruit and May Chang Bath & Shower Gel 100ml
I assume that in the same way as the Nars Illuminator was meant to be the big draw in the May box, the Bio Effect Serum fills that role in the latest box. The full size serum costs £125 but I would be more impressed with its inclusion if I didn't know that Bio Effect had offered free samples worth £30 to applicants not so long ago. I haven't tried the serum so can't comment on that but British Beauty Blogger has a great review here.

The shower gel smells nice and I've used it in the bath a couple of times, but I wouldn't purchase a full size. 250ml retails for £17 so at just under half size, I suppose the value is reasonable for the 100ml sample. It is a brand I've never heard of and having had a browse of their website they seem to have some lovely scents so in that way Glossy Box have done what they set out to, introduced me to a new brand.

The perfume sample is an EDP and at 4.5ml, larger than the usual vials. Again, I haven't tried it yet and I know nothing about Lalique but having looked up the price of the full size, around £50 for 50ml, the sample is worth about £5. I hope that Glossy Box continue to use harder to find perfume samples as that is the one product I find difficult to buy from blog reviews alone as scent is so personal. Fingers crossed for some Jo Malone or Illuminum in the future!

As I mentioned above, I already have a couple of the OPI Designer Series colours and have a comprehensive collection of their ordinary colours (think 3 figures). Considering the theme of this month's box was Summer Essentials, I thought the silver colour was an odd choice. It screams winter to me, but each to their own. What would have been more impressive would have been a full size or even a miniature of the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean Collection. That way I would have felt more like I was receiving the latest offerings from brands, rather than products left over from previous seasons. As the shade is not named, I suppose there is a chance it may be from a future OPI release, but it looks suspiciously like a DS colour I bought last year full size so I doubt it.

Finally, Batiste. It is somewhat ironic that the product I had the biggest issue with is the one I like the most. I seemed to have been blissfully unaware of the cult that is Batiste but after trying it last night, I can now proclaim it a miracle! I have been really suffering with my hair since coming off the pill last September. A week later, my hair was oily and lank, and that was right after washing. I tried different haircare ranges and a lovely friend sent me some American SLS free products to try which helped for a while, but seemed to lose effectiveness after a few washes.

I had lost all hope of ever being able to wear my hair down as it looked such a state, but one spray of the Batiste solved this. I cannot believe I never thought about using a dry shampoo before. I may have a degree in Classics but I freely admit I am an idiot. The only problem with the Batiste is as a brunette, I look like I have grey hair. Tomorrow though I will be rushing out to buy the full size brown version. Problem solved.





Judging purely on the box, it definitely has the novelty factor. I mean who doesn't like receiving a beautiful package of surprise goodies through the post? However, the May box seemed vastly superior in terms of contents and value. The Nars Illuminator and full size All For Eve Lipstick far outshine this month's offering. However, I will wait and see what July brings, giving Glossy Box one more chance to impress before I cancel my subscription.

Finally, I thought I'd flag up another issue that I have only just been made aware of. I know that a lot of bloggers were sent out complimentary Glossy Boxes as samples but I want to make it clear I was not one of them. I paid for my subscription and as a result, I got an email from them a few days ago about some recent changes. Apparently the free postage is only for the first 4 Glossy Boxes, I think they put it as a thank you for having faith in them from the beginning. From September each Glossy Box will cost £2.95 more, to account for postage.

I may be wrong but I don't remember anything about originally postage being free for just four months. If I had known this I would definitely have thought twice about it. The cynical part of me can't help thinking that Glossy Box has had a lot more customers than they anticipated as they sold out of May, June and July boxes. As a result, maybe they think they can up the price, and postage is one way to do this without looking totally money grabbing.

With the original cost of £10 a box, the postage increases this price by nearly a third. Unless the boxes rapidly improve and they start doing the personalisation they initially promised, I will be cancelling my subscription after the last box with free postage. I had high hopes for this venture but they are rapidly falling. The email left a bad taste and my opinion of the company has gone down significantly.

I hope that this review has given you a better idea of what the Glossy Box scheme as a whole as well as an insight into what the June box contains. Do let me know what you think of the contents and the idea behind it. Would you hand over £10 for the box now you know what is in it? Is anyone who is already a subscriber upset about the postage charge? I know that Glossy Box is available in Germany and Birch Box is a similar scheme run in the US. Do you pay for postage in those countries and how have you found the contents of your boxes?

NB - Having been away from blogs and twitter for most of the week I wrote this before I saw a number of posts already on Glossy Box and the differing contents of some of the June boxes. Fee at www.makeupsavvy.co.uk has written and excellent post showing oyu the contents of both the May and June boxes and is well worth a read. I do think the huge difference between a full size Rouge Bunny Rouge Lip Gloss and a large sample of shower gel is not on, even if the products are different the value should be the same. I'll still be sticking with lLossy Box until September though so will keep to posted on what next month brings (hopefully a bit quicker this time!)

Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Rise of Online Beauty Shopping

I'm going to sound really old now but I remember the time when the only option was to buy in store, or order by catalogue. This is where magazines played such an important part for me as an avid consumer because not living in London, I didn't have access to a lot of shops and makeup counters. I relied on my monthly fix of glossies to showcase the latest releases (before I realised what a key part advertising played in this, I was young and naive!).

Now how the world of beauty retail has changed. Online shopping means if you have the Internet, you can access nearly every brand around. What's more, you can read comprehensive reviews and see numerous swatches of individual products on blogs before even thinking about handing over your credit card.

Magazines - where I used to find the latest beauty news as a teen, now I rely on British Beauty Blogger!
I know I am not alone in my fear of the counter assistant when I enter the beauty hall and my experience has been they are either stalking you, or there is no one to be found on the shop floor. Online shopping takes away that problem completely. I like to think that if I lived in a big city, I would be great friends with the staff of all my favourite brands and look forward to going in for makeovers and product demonstrations (yes I am jealous of those of you in new York who tell these kinds of tales), but where I live that is never going to happen.
Over the last ten years, it was evident when perusing my dressing table that it was dominated by products that had a counter near me, mainly Chanel. However, in the last few years, since more and more brands have established an online presence, my makeup bag has a far more diverse range of products in it. In the past year alone, having discovered blogs, I have probably tried more than 20 different brands, more than I had used in the last decade. This is all a result of online advances.

Although it has not been healthy for my bank balance, I am delighted by the freedom of choice I now have when it comes to my makeup and skincare. Even when buying off QVC a few years ago, I began to feel irritated that and finally a little stupid that I endlessly bought the same brands time and time again, the brands they chose to show me. Now, one of my favourite ways to while away time I should be spending revising, is to fill and refill various shopping baskets, knowing there is no pressure on me to buy anything at all.

Possibly my favourite beauty counter of all, Le Metier de Beaute, sadly no longer with us in the UK. Could online shopping be partly to blame?
Obviously the main downside of shopping online is you don't get to try the product out first, seeing it in person. However, I have usually felt too awkward to properly test something beforehand and my strategy was to go armed with a list of exactly what I wanted so I knew how much it would cost. I hate having to ask the individual price of items or getting a huge and embarrassing shock when the total is read out at the check out (and I start praying my card won't be rejected), another thing I don't have to worry about online.

Luckily, beauty blogs have solved the problem of not being able to see products in person for me. I follow so many people that have similar tastes and colouring to myself and I trust their reviews implicitly. So much so, that I will even by foundation and concealer unseen. I have had better results shopping this way than I have when I've supposedly been foundation matched in store.

Online retailers seem to have caught on to this, with Zuneta being the trailblazer. They realise that women like to hear from other women with their guest blog feature and reviews, as well as allowing you to create your own profile with hair colour, skin type etc, where they will choose the colours and products best suited to you. These kind of extras make a huge difference in deciding where I will spend my disposable income and although I would be sad to see the demise of the traditional beauty counter, I hope that the threat of online retail forces them to up their game, which can only be a good thing for us, the consumer.

My favourite places to shop online:
  1. www.zuneta.com - I might as well start with what I consider to be the creme de la creme of online beauty websites. It amazes me that this time last year I had no idea it existed! I have a fantasy shopping list about a mile long from Zuneta as they manage to cherry pick the latest and the best products from around the world. If they sell it, I am almost guaranteed to want it. Being the exclusive UK stockists of blogger favourites Edward Bess and Rouge Bunny Rouge is almost reason enough to shop there, but their wonderful customer service, fantastic packaging and super fast shipping shouldn't be overlooked. Perhaps my favourite thing about Zuneta are the videos they produce showing how to achieve certain looks and use different products, invaluable. To me, Zuneta is the net-a-porter of the beauty world.
  2. www.spacenk.co.ukChantecaille and By Terry. The recent addition of the Ndulge Loyalty scheme has been a great move.
  3. www.selfridges.co.uk - Pricey shipping but the only place I have found online that I can purchase Armani Cosmetics and Suqqu brushes. Sadly I am lucky if I get up to the actual department store once a year, so instead I make do with their website. Although it has recent;y been redone, it has gone down in my estimation since Le Metier de Beaute is no longer stocked there or anywhere in the UK.
  4. www.ebay.co.uk - Perhaps a bit of an odd choice but I have bought some fabulous things from eBay. You do have to buy with caution as there are a lot of fakes around and I am strongly against beauty bloggers selling PR samples on eBay, but if you want a limited edition product that has sold out or just want to try some samples, it can come in very handy. For example, I have wanted to try some Jo Malone fragrances for ages, but they aren't stocked anywhere near me. Unwilling to buy a full size bottle without testing first, I spent £5 and bought a selection of testers on eBay. I liked them so much I now have three full size bottles of Jo Malone perfume that I bought from the Jo Malone website sat on my dressing table.
  5. www.asos.com - It took me a while to realise that ASOS sold beauty as well as fashion but once I did, the orders have been fast and furious. The main draw is their free shipping. Usually I see quite a few products I want online, but I am put of by postage so ignore them until I have a large amount to spend. For better or worse, ASOS allows me to fritter! Where I can, I buy all my Nars products from ASOS, especially when there are voucher codes floating around.
  6. www.qvc.co.uk - I hate to think how much money I spent during the 18 months when I was completely housebound by illness with QVC, too much. However, I learnt a lot too, and although postage is high, if you buy kits the value can be excellent and you can't beat being able to try skincare and makeup at home for a month and still being able to return it if you don't like it. The main lesson I learnt from QVC? I have no will power, so in order not to spend, I have to not watch. Beware how hypnotic their selling technique is!
Some of my best online beauty buys

Finally here are my best buys from my online shopping adventures:
  • Zuneta - Rouge Bunny Rouge Eyeshadow in Solstice Halcyon
  • Space NK - By Terry Rouge Terrybly Lipstick in Cherry Cherry
  • Selfridges - Tom Ford Lipstick in Pure Pink and Cherry Lush
  • eBay - Le Metier de Beaute Devotion Eye Kaleidoscope
  • ASOS - Nars Eyeshadow Duo in Dogon
  • QVC - My Clarisonic, Ultrasun sun care and Margaret Dabbs Foot Lotion
Has Internet access dramatically changed your shopping habits? Do you prefer shopping online or in store? Are there any great beauty websites that I'm missing out on? I'd love to know what you think.

I know this post is quite long enough, but as a quick aside, I got my law exam results yesterday through the post (for the first time ever I'd forgotten the date they were actually released online) and was delighted. So a big thank you for all your good luck wishes back in May and for bearing with me while posting has been sporadic at best. I have two more exams left in early October but being a glutton for punishment, have just signed up for four more law courses starting in November!

A few Zuneta staples

When someone mentions Zuneta, the immediate thought is usually of Edward Bess or Rouge Bunny Rouge, two blogger favourites and rightly so. However, Zuneta stocks a number of what I would call hidden gems, and that is what this post is about. Here is quick tour of four of my favourite discoveries, all of which I use on a regular basis.



Malin + Goetz Mojito Lip Balm - £10
A fairly new unisex brand, this lip balm is the only one of their products I have tried so far but I will definitely be branching out into some of their scents and candles. Having always had very dry lips, I am more than a little obsessed with lip balms and have tried nearly every one, from La Mer to Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Creme, Lanolips to By Terry. This Mojito lip balm is by far and away my favourite. Described as a lip gel, it is clear but not at all sticky, and provides just the right amount of hydration. I find many products to be too greasy or smelling heavily of menthol, but this scent is divine. There are more products in the mojito fragrance and my plan is to buy them all as it is so refreshing and perfect for summer. A real handbag staple.

Lucas' Papaw Ointment - £9 for a 75g jar
This cult product is new to me and only came to my attention when a good friend in the US asked me to get some for her. Feeling curious, I added one to my basket for myself but wasn't entirely sure what it did. The answer is that it does almost everything. It is meant to relieve and cleanse, and helps with burns, cuts, insect bites to name but a few. I have fairly sensitive skin on my body and after wearing a scarf with metallic thread in it (quite scratchy), I ended up with a horrible, itchy rash on my neck. I thought I would put the ointment to the test and applied it twice daily. It seemed to do the trick and as well as clearing up the rash, it really helped to ease the ittitation. It is very thick in texture and reminds me a lot of Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream, but a cheaper, better version. Well worth having in your cupboard.

Becca Eye Tint - £20
Like many of my beauty purchases, I have top makeup artist Lisa Eldridge to blame for this. She featured the Baroque shade in a video on Everyday Beauty. The BECCA Beach Tints are probably more famous but the eye tints should not be overlooked. They come in a range of easy to wear shades and are excellent if you just want a hint of natural colour. Longlasting and crease resistent, you only need the tiniest bit of product so they last an age, making the seemingly steep £20 actually quite good value. The swatches show Baroque, and although Zuneta don't currently stock this exact shade, it gives you an idea of the effect of the product. If you wanted a similar colour, Zuneta have Paracus, a smokey brown, which if you use a light application would give a more natural finish. I think Beauty Expret stock Baroque if you really wanted that specific colour. An excellent makeup item to take away on holiday as it is light, takes up hardly any room and can be applied with fingers.

Some quick swatches to show you the texture of the products. Left to right: Lucas Papaw, Malin & Goetz Lip Balm, BECCA Eye Tint in Baroque

Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat - £9
A multiple In Style Best Beauty Award winner, Seche Vite has made manicures so much easier. I have lieterally hundreds of nail polishes but many went unused becuase it simply took too long for me to paint my nails. I would paint them, and even a few hours later they would still smudge and all my hard work would be ruined. I had been using Nails Inc Caviar Top Coat, OPI Rapid Dry and Leighton Denny Crystal Finish Top Coat, but none of these are anything like as good as Seche Vite. At first I was a little put off by the thick texture, but once on the nails it evens out and gives a truly professional finish that lives up to its fast dry name. The only downside to this product is I have found it tends to go thick and gloopy fairly quickly, making it much harder to use. For this reason, a third of the bottle tends to go unused as I buy a replacement bottle when it gets to that stage. I think you can buy a special thinner to avoid this, but I haven't got around to it yet. Even with a third unused, I still rebuy as there is nothing better and it allows me to get the best results from my array of nail colours.

All of the products featured above are available to buy from www.zuneta.com.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Edward Bess FOTD

As promised, here is my very basic attempt at showing you how a couple of the Edward Bess eyeshadows in the context of the whole face. I chose Intimate, which is my favourite, and Dusk to create a simple eye with a touch of smokiness about it.

FOTD featuring Edward Bess Eyeshadows
Here is a list of the products that I used:

Face
  • Laura Mercier Oil Free Primer
  • Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation in Alabaster
  • Clinique Airbrush Concealer
  • Rouge Bunny Rouge Blush in Gracilis
  • Le Metier de Beaute Highlighter in Whisper
Eyes
  • Urban Decay Primer Potion
  • Edward Bess Eyeshadow in Intimate
  • Edward Bess Eyeshadow in Dusk
  • YSL Faux Cils Mascara in Black
  • Smashbox Brow Tech in Taupe
Lips
  • Edward Bess Compact Rouge in Island Rose
  • Le Metier de Beaute Lip Creme in Vanilla Rose (applied after photos)
Edward Bess Eyeshadows in Intimate and Dusk applied
For the eyes, I swept Intimate, what has been described as the perfect taupe, all over the lid and then I paired this with Dusk in the crease and outer V. You can see I think how the colours blend almost effortlessly into each other. I also applied a little of intimate underneath the lash line. The thing that most surprised me about the colours is how green they make my eyes look. Often shadows can make my eyes look a little dull, and it is normally bronzes and purples that make them pop, but this taupe seems to have a magic quality about it.

I'm attempting to grow out my eyebrows so excuse the stray hairs!


This is the only photo taken not in direct sunlight, and really emphasises the need for powder!!!
If you can ever get hold of it, I would definitely try Intimate as your first Edward Bess Eyeshadow. Individual Eyeshadows retail for £22 each from www.zuneta.com or the Private Eye Collection, which features 5 shades and 2 mascaras costs £110.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Edward Bess Private Eyes - the ultimate in eyeshadow

I have heard so much said about Edward Bess in the last year, aside from his model looks and fabulous hair, but have debated for ages and ages which of his classic products to try.  I had made up my mind to go for the eyeshadows in Storm and Intimate, but after stalking Zuneta for weeks it was not to be. It seems so many other bloggers had spread the word about Edward Bess it was proving impossible to keep in stock. Luckily Zu came to my rescue and suggested I went for the Private Eyes kit so here it is in all its glory.

Edward Bess Private Eyes - £110 from www.zuneta.com
Before I rave about the actual contents, I want to mention the ultra luxurious packaging it comes in. I have tried to photograph it but it doesn't come across too well so I will attempt to describe it. Beautifully wrapped by Zuneta (plus it arrived less than 24 hours after I ordered), I tore off the paper and bubble wrap to reveal a sleek black lacquered box. Once this was opened, I found a soft black silky drawstring bag protecting the embossed leather case. Reminiscent of a game of pass the parcel, this slid open to reveal the 5 eyeshadows and 2 mascaras inside. If you are worried about saving the planet in terms of excess packaging, I don't think you will like this kit!



Now onto the contents. Edward Bess started his makeup line with his Lip Wardrobe, a similarly luxe box filled with 10 lipsticks and 5 lip glosses. The Private Eyes Collection is almost the eye version of this, featuring his first five eyeshadows and two mascaras, one black and one brown. The shades featured are (in the order they appear in the box:
  • Night - deep charcoal
  • Dusk - dark taupe
  • Mystery - chocolate brown
  • Escape - bronze brown
  • Intimate - classic taupe
These are not the most exciting colours out there and to be honest, if I saw them at the counter I would probably have skipped then and headed along to the heady colours of Nars, but that would be my loss. They all work beautifully together and never has it been so easy to put together a smokey eye or a work look. Edward Bess has created the eyeshadow equivalent of a capsule wardrobe. If my house burnt down and I had to buy all my makeup again from scratch, I would be tempted to just get the whole Edward Bess line.

Here are some individual pictures of the shadows and swatches, but you don't really see the true value of these colours until you wear them. The shades have also come up a bit lighter than they are in person.


Edward Bess Eyeshadow in Night



Edward Bess Eyeshadow in Dusk



Edward Bess Eyeshadow in Mystery



Edward Bess Eyeshadow in Escape



Edward Bess Eyeshadow in Intimate


Swatches left to right: Night, Dusk, Mystery, Escape, Intimate

Swatches left to right: Night, Dusk, Mystery, Escape, Intimate

The swatches tend to make the shadows look a little grainy, but the only one I would say this is true of it the darkest, Night. The other four apply easily and effortlessly.

I like slightly grungy looking shades that don't make me look like I have a black eye, and it can be difficult to get the balance right. I got a MAC Christmas set of colours I thought would achieve this and they were foul. Many people may wonder what is so special about 5 fairly mundane looking eyeshadows, before you even mention the price, but the work is all done for you. I have many eyeshadows that I adore and my instinct is to go for brights, but I wish I had got this set a long time ago. Sometime too much choice can be a hindrance and Edward Bess has found his niche by carefully selecting only the most necessary shades. Nothing is surplus to requirements.

I can't rate this kit highly enough for the selection of quality colours it contains. I haven't tried the mascaras yet but that was not the reason why I got it. I wanted Intimate, it was out of stock and the only way to get it was the Private Eyes Collection. I don't think I've ever been so grateful that a product wasn't available.

As you can only really appreciate the colours when applied, I've done a quick face of the day using Intimate and Dusk eyeshadows that I hope to post tomorrow.

The Edward Bess Private Eyes Collection is available for £110 from www.zuneta.com. You are basically paying for the shadows and getting 2 mascaras for free. If Zuneta ever do another 20% off event, I would highly recommend this kit.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Makeup Mavens - Round Two

Makeup Mavens present makeup you may have missed. With posts this week on Edward Bess, Tom Ford, Chantecaille, Burberry, Lipstick Queen, Chanel and not one but two posts on the latest offering from Le Metier de Beaute (because it is that special!), you are sure to find something luxurious to tempt you.

Understated elegance is the order of the day at Hopelessly Devoted To Makeup as Burberry Eyeshadows in Rosewood and Trench take the spotlight. Definite must haves.

Lipstick Luvvies continues her love affair with all things Tom Ford, focusing on the perfect lipstick shade for summer, True Coral.

Fabulous trainer and artist Erin for Le Metier de Beaute demonstrated some tips and tricks to Christina of Lovesong for My Lipgloss.

The trend for sheer lipsticks shows now signs of slowing down, but Mookie On The Bench shows that it has been around for longer than you might think, with a look at some of her favourites for all budgets.

Product Doctor gives you the ideal makeup remedy by tracking down the only taupe you ever need, from Edward Bess, who is possibly as beautiful as the products he creates.

Is Raspberry Rouge in 'Ectasy' this week courtesy of Chantecaille's blush? Read her excellent review to find out.

So good it deserves to be mentioned twice, The Black Panties showcases the latest Lip Kaleidoscope from Le Metier de Beaute alongside makeup artist supremo Dustin.

There we have it, all the makeup you need for another week. Having assembled a huge wish list for when my back account is out of the red, I am also longing to take a trip to New York so I can meet Le Metier's Dustin, who I hear so much about on blogs! Have a great makeup filled weekend x

Monday, 13 June 2011

Summer Essentials - Fit for Queens

Being very fair, in recent years I have tended to avoid the sun like the plague, odd as when I was younger I tanned easily. However, seeing the sun damage etched on my face and currently on a cocktail of meds that make me quite sensitive to the sun, avoidance seemed the best strategy. Sometimes there are times when sun exposure is inescapable though and for me, last Tuesday was one of them.

I headed to Queens Club in London for their annual ATP Tour tennis tournament, the first on grass of the season, as my favourite player (the Argentinian Del Potro) was entered. You can almost guarantee that the moment the grass season starts in England, down comes the rain. Luckily, Tuesday was the only day without rain, but that did mean over 8 hours sat in the sun. Here are the products that managed to get me through the day with no sun burn, itchiness or discomfort, quite an achievement!


Left to right: Elemis Tan Accelerator, Alpha-H Essential Moisturiser with SPF 50+, Ultrasun SPF 30
Even though I have little to no interest in tanning, I had heard from the hours I spend glued to QVC that tan accelerators can be great for skins that are very sensitive to the sun. They apparently prepare you skin for the sun, bringing pigment to the surface. To be honest, I don't care about the science as long as it works. I have been applying the Elemis 400ml Tan Accelerator twice a day for a month, simple enough as I use it instead of a body lotion. You still need to use sun protection with this product but since using it I can sit outside for more than 10 minutes without developing a rash. Result.

I have mentioned Alpha-H's Essential Moisturiser before but as I swear by this, I will bang on about it again. I use it every morning as a moisturiser and then can feel confident that my skin is protected. I tried their SPF30 cream last year and found it much to greasy but this is perfect. It doesn't leave a greasy film on the skin, gives a great base for makeup and has no ashy tone to it. I think I'm on my third bottle of this cream. Would not be without it.

My favourite tennis player - Juan Martin Del Potro
My final preparation for my jaunt to Queens was to apply Ultrasun SPF30 everywhere. I put it on before I get dressed to ensure I haven't missed anywhere. The beauty of Ultrasun is you only need one application once a day. My mum refused to be convinced on this and took an ordinary sun tan lotion with us, but by the end of the day I had won her over. No sun burn whatsoever despite 8 hours of sitting in direct sunlight (no shade). I love the sun and am overjoyed that I can finally enjoy it without the fear of repercussions that last longer than our summertime!

View from my seat
In case anyone is interested, the tennis was amazing. The photo above shows my view, front row, next to the players' boxes. Having previously watched matches at Wimbledon and the O2, Queens is incomparable. It is so small! Miraculously, having only decided to go up for the tennis the day before and with hardly any tickets available and no order of play, I managed to see Del Potro twice, singles and doubles. The doubles match was on No.1 court (centre is the one you always see on TV) and it is one of the smallest tennis courts I've ever seen. Points had to keep being stopped because of balls flying over from other courts!

Del Potro was playing with Stepanek against Nalbandian and Roddick, and as it was the last match of the day, spectators were starting to leave. The court was so small that Roddick could see individuals leaving and kept pleading with them not to, saying they were giving up on him! There was a very awkward moment when a couple of girls had got up to leave, looked at Andy and were clearly terrified that he would take it personally if they left! You don't get that at Wimbledon.

Andy Roddick, David Nalbandian and Juan Martin Del Potro playing doubles on No.1 court at Queens
I was rather worried about going to Queens, suspecting it would be full of the upper classes and more of a social occasion rather than a tennis tournament. Someone delightfully described it as 'for city boys and posh totty, with tennis in the background', and while there is some truth in this, the staff couldn't have been more helpful and I would definitely go again. Being able to get that close to the action is worth putting up with an audience consisting of the cast of Made in Chelsea!

For tennis fans, the value is also excellent. We missed out on Olympic tickets for the tennis at Wimbledon (did anyone get anything they wanted in the ballot?) so Queens made up for that disappointment. The World Tour Finals at the O2 are great, but incredibly expensive when you may only see an hour of tennis. At Queens, we paid less than O2 prices for front row and 6 matches!

Now to persuade my mother to take me to Wimbledon ..............

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Say hello to the Makeup Mavens!

Welcome! Makeup Mavens present makeup you may have missed. We will recap the weeks past highlighted posts, always keeping you in-the-loop and feature the finest beauty finds to help you stay looking gorgeous!
Photo courtesy of www.beccacosmetics.com
This week, Hopelessly Devoted to Makeup had you beholding the regal-ness that is Giorgio Armani's Eyes To Kill in Purpura #03

Lipstick Luvvies experimented with BECCA's Halcyon Days Palette. Pop on over and see what beautiful results she achieved!

Love Song for My Lipgloss introduced us to the sheer loveliness that is Giorgio Armani's gloss d'armani How many will you be picking up?

Mookie On The Bench focused her attention on Sarah Chapman Skinesis Eye Recovery, an illuminating eye cream perfect for those dark circles!

Product Doctor is head over heels in love with Edward Bess' Luxury Eye Brush. Another beauty blogger falls for his charms!

Raspberry Rouge had us blushing over BECCA's Flowerchild Mineral Blush and after reading her review, I'm lusting after that shade.

The Black Panties had us all experience some serious infatuation with her insane lashes thanks in part to Geisha Ink Mascara+

Sunday, 5 June 2011

BECCA Halcyon Days Palette - review and swatches

Like many people I suspect, I saw the beautiful promo shot for the latest palette by BECCA and couldn't resist, despite my reservations as to whether or not it would suit my pale, pink toned skin. In person, I think the colours appear warmer than they look on the model, the lip and cheek creme looking positively scary!

The palette consists of 3 eyeshadows, 2 shimmer and 1 demi matte, along with a lip & cheek creme and a lip gloss. I was pleased to see a third eyeshadow rather then the eyeliner that is often included, but the addition of the lip gloss seemed quite pointless as it is pretty much clear. I would have preferred a lipstick or highlighter. The whole palette will set you back £55 and if you set aside 1/5 of this for each product, I do not think the lip gloss is worth £11.

BECCA Halcyon Days Palette - £55 from www.zuneta.com

The colours are as follows:
  • Chamos demi matte eye colour - light muddy bronze
  • Muslin shimmer eye colour - creamy opal
  • Faille shimmer eye colour - golden peach
  • Bouganvillea lip & cheek colour- described as coral but I think tangerine is more appropriate
  • Mai Tai lip gloss - described as peachy nude, I would say clear

Saturday, 4 June 2011

May Favourites - and now for something completely different!

Somehow we are in June already but rather than post the usual products I have loved this month and the products I would like to own by next month (in my dreams), I thought I would focus on my favourite new blogs.

It might just be me being very slow on the uptake, plus I was missing in action whilst doing exams for a month, but all of a sudden a number of fantastic new blogs have come to my attention.

I started reading blogs because I wanted to see swatches of products before I ordered them online, being unable to get to department stores and Space NK easily. First I stumbled across the colossus that is Temptalia, and then from there found London Makeup Girl, Modesty BrownVisionary Beauty and British Beauty Blogger.

Having been a little obsessed with magazines since my early teens, I had never considered looking online for beauty news and reviews, and I am ashamed and a little embarrassed to say that I took every word in print to be gospel. It was only last year, when I found blogs that it dawned on me that I wasn't the only crazed beauty junkie out there, there was a whole community willing and able to advise on and discuss beauty, and the best thing was that it was available 24 hours a day and didn't cost a thing! Gone are the days of watching friends' eyes glaze over when I mention lipstick, since then I've never looked back but I will admit, my bank balance has suffered.

I always love finding a new blog, reading the archives often for hours, so I felt I'd hit the jackpot this month when I saw a number of newish blogs focusing on all the brands I adore but are very hard to find swatches of. One of my best blog friends, the wonderful Jeanie from Makeup Merriment, kindly gave me a blog award for bloggers starting out back in the New Year and I was meant to tag some others, but life got in the way and I never got around to posting about it. Instead of tagging people, I am picking my favourite new blogs from the month of May. Here goes:
If you are on the look out for a new blog to read or just can't get enough of great swatches and thoughtful reviews of beautiful luxury products, I highly recommend all of the above.

Finally, here are a couple of blogs that aren't exactly new (hence not in my May favourites), but in my eyes don't get the amount of attention they deserve:
All in all I have to say May has been a wonderful month for Beauty Blogging!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Let's talk about airbrushing........

A lot has been made of the airbrushing that is so prevalent in magazines, Kate Winslet getting slimmed down for GQ, mascara ads featuring eyelash extensions etc. The most recent example I can think of is the controversy surrounding the Royal Wedding Grazia cover, with suggestion being made that Kate Middleton had been made to look even thinner than she already is in her bridal gown.

The debate seems to be that this is giving women in general unrealistic expectations, striving for perfection when that perfection we see on a magazine cover doesn't exist in real life, resulting in low self esteem. I have heard this issue talked about so often on TV and radio that I believe it has been done to death.

Does Kate's waist look airbrushed?
Instead, what I want to talk about is the increasing rise in personal airbrushing.

Advances in technology have given the average computer owner the ability to subtly transform their holiday snaps or birthday photos before they are uploaded onto Facebook for friends to see. Relatively harmless in itself, but could this trend actually be more damaging to our self-image than the more publicised magazine airbrushing?

To be perfectly honest, I hadn't given the issue much thought until this week. I don't have a Facebook account and apart from photos for the blog, I haven't taken any of me since university. What brought it to my attention was the discovery of Photoshop. I've been struggling away for the past couple of weeks attempting to create a website to sell my handmade cards from and thought Photoshop would aid the process.

I vaguely recall reading some criticism a long time ago about bloggers and YouTube 'gurus' using Photoshop behind the scenes. As I didn't have the software, I didn't really understand what the problem was. However, after just a few hours spent playing around with it, I can now see what people were talking about.

Trying to get to grips with Photoshop, I followed some of the guided tools and one of them was called perfect portrait. With a name like that it was obviously the first thing I tried! Previously, all I have ever done with photos is cropped and rotated. This was something else. I can now blur to get rid of lines and wrinkles, add glow, erase spots and sun damage, whiten teeth, slim my face and body and even darken my eyelashes and eyebrows. What's more, it is so simple to do. I am in awe of this new discovery and have wondered why it had taken me so long to find what others had been talking about for ages.

One of the pictures I contemplated Photoshopping: Love the photo because I look happy, hate the double chin & shine!
I thought back to all my old photos, the ones from my last bout of acne aged 20, shiny ones from nights out, ball pictures that would have been great if I hadn't had a double chin (see above). I had a fleeting thought that I could go and redo all these, create a more polished version of myself (basically prettier) but then I stopped.

I don't think that personal photos should be about perfection. They are memories in visual form, a captured moment. My face was shiny because I'd had a wonderful time dancing all night, my face was flushed because I was stood next to a guy I'd had a crush on for months. Why would I want to alter that? I like looking like me, not an airbrushed version, the real me. It is said a picture is worth a thousand words, but is that still true of an airbrushed picture?

Another picture with Photoshop potential, but it holds happy memories, even if I am shiny, slightly flushed and with devil eyes!
I know quite a few people though who will only put airbrushed photos of themselves on Facebook. Only a few weeks ago I was speaking to a wedding photographer and he was saying how the most time consuming part of the job is the airbrushing. Although people may not always explicitly ask for it, they now expect it as part of the service. I'm not saying whether this is right or wrong, each to their own. However, as has been the case with magazines, will women not feel worse in this sea of airbrushing when they look in the mirror? Photoshop can be incredibly subtle, and I for one had enviously looked at my friend's perfect skin in photos. Until I saw her in person and realised it was fiction.

Could we soon find ourselves in a time where people are almost unrecognisable from their picture?

I for one will be sticking to the line drawing and pop art features on Photoshop, one of the major reasons being that I would hate someone to have seen a touched up photo of me and then be disappointed when they met me in the flesh. I would much rather it be the other way round, even if that did mean there were some less than flattering pictures of me floating around on the internet.

Have you ever airbrushed any of your own photos? Would you if you had the chance? Do you see any problem with it?

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Chanel Bronzers - Summer Collection 2011

Bronzer is possibly one of the makeup items I reach for least now I have embraced being pale in recent years. However, when I do use bronzer I like it to be one made up of a couple of shades, not orange and not loaded with shimmer. Chanel seems to fit the bill.

Clockwise from bottom left: Bronze Rose, Soleil Tan de Chanel, Bronze Corail


I first bought Chanel bronzer a couple of years ago (top in the above photo) but it was limited edition and doesn't have a specific name like the new ones. It is similar to last year's one by No.7 in that it is made up of 4 different shades, graduating from light to dark. Although it looks like it is barely used, it really is. I got my mum one as well and she has run out of hers as she loves bronzer.

Once I heard that Chanel were releasing two more limited edition bronzers with a blusher shade included, I knew I had to get them. Bronze Rose is the lighter of the two so more appropriate for pale lovelies like me, whereas Bronze Corail is darker so my mum is having this one.

Chanel Bronze Corail

Chanel Bronze Rose
Each palette has 4 colours, one shade more reminiscent of a blush and 3 shades of bronzer that range from light to dark. This would possibly work quite well for contouring if you found a brush small enough to only pick up colour from one shade. I tend to either use all 4 colours mixed together or the 3 bronzes together but the blush shade on its own. From what I can make out, only the darkest strip has a hint of shimmer to it, the others are all matte.

For swatching, I have applied each strip individually and also swirled together. I have included my original Soleil Tan de Chanel in the swatches as a comparison. It is the most traditional bronzer as it doesn't have the blush shade included. I thought it would be useful for you to see how much difference the additional strip of blush colour makes to the overall look.

Individual swatches of Bronze Rose

Individual swatches of Bronze Corail

Swatches left to right: Bronze Rose, Bronze Corail, Soleil Tan de Chanel

Top to bottom: Bronze Corail, Bronze Rose (taken in sunlight to show the amount of shimmer)

Although I don't usually use the brushes that come with these products, the Chanel brush included is quite nice and thin enough to be able to pick up just one out of the four colours. However, I tend to use my Chanel kabuki brush when bronzing all over.

Along with Morning Rose Nail Polish, these bronzers are my favourite product from the Summer Collection. They last for ages and the addition of a complimenting blush shade creates a more natural finish when swirled together and applied to the skin. It is unusual to see someone a flat shade of brown when they have been out in the sun, they normally have a bit of a rosy glow under that brown, and this perfectly mimics it.

On a slightly random note, if you have been wondering why the Chanel Bronze Universal cream bronzer is out of stock everywhere at the moment, apparently there is a problem with how it is made. They altered the manufacturing process and the quality has declined so until it is sorted there is no stock available. This is incredibly annoying as I desperately want to try it and almost every YouTube video I watch seems to feature it!

Both Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronze Rose and Bronze Corail are limited edition and cost £32.50.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

NOTD: Butter London All Hail The Queen - review and swatches

Just a quick nail of the day post today, but fear not, I'll be back to Chanel tomorrow reviewing and comparing their different bronzers. Tonight is all about nail polish (again) and Butter London.

Butter London All Hail The Queen - £10 from www.uniqueluxe.co.uk
I didn't have a great experience with Artful Dodger, the last shade I tried from the brand which prides itself on being 3 free, but I have been desperate to get a bottle of All Hail The Queen ever since I heard it was based on the same shade as Yummy Mummy, my favourite nude. It was originally released as a tribute to fashion designer Alexander McQueen, under the name All Hail McQueen, but now the name has altered to All Hail The Queen.

The base colour seems the same as Yummy Mummy, a light mink/toffee colour, but All Hail The Queen has added micro holographic glitter. This addition makes it extra special and one of my all time favourite nail shades. The glitter is so fine and subtle enough to be suitable for a work environment but that bit more interesting than your average taupe.

2 coats of Butter London All Hail McQueen plus Seche Vite Top Coat
I have to be quite careful with nude shades on my nails as few seem to compliment my skintone. I had high hopes for this colour and it has exceeded my expectations. I applied two coats plus Seche Vite top coat and had no problems. I got an even finish that has lasted for days (in the photos the polish had been on for about 3 days).

All Hail The Queen can be quite hard to track down but it should be available at Harvey Nichols and www.uniqueluxe.co.uk for £10.