Thursday, 29 September 2016

Michael Kors Wonderlust: Review

Michael Kors Wonderlust eau de parfum is a new floriental gourmand fragrance inspired by escapism and lust for life.

Smooth, warm and creamy, this is an elegant, womanly scent in a gorgeous amber and gold ombre bottle.


Top: Italian bergamot, Almond milk, Pink pepper, Sicilian mandarin
Heart: Carnation, Heliotrope, Jasminum grandiflorum absolute, Jasmine sambac
Base: Cashmere wood, Sandalwood, Benzoin siam

I go quite lightly with Wonderlust as I find the initial spritz quite heady, though it really is quite soft once it settles on my skin. The jasmine, almond milk and woods are dominant for me and I find that I'm more drawn to this scent with every wear. 

Both sophisticated and comforting (an odd mix, but true), wearing Wonderlust reminds me of being wrapped in cashmere, pretty perfect for this time of year. 

Michael Kors Wonderlust is available now in 30, 50 or 100ml bottles. Find it at John LewisEscentual or Sephora (where it's also available in a cute 10ml rollerball.)  

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Kypris: Luxury Organic Skincare

I'm one of those people who claims to care more about the effects of skincare than the packaging or experience of using it - and I DO - but hands up, I can't deny the absolute pleasure of finding all of the above rolled into one. I've been pretty smitten by my first experience of Kypris skincare, a luxe botanical brand presented in the most exquisite packaging.

Kypris Cleanser Concentrate is a light gel cream cleanser with 30 (!!!) active ingredients including moringa, prickly pear and probiotics. I use this after makeup removal or as a morning cleanse. It almost melts on contact with my skin and feels light and refreshing, yet doesn't disappear when massaged in. The texture is unlike any other I've tried and rinses off easily leaving my skin looking brighter and feeling calm. 

Kypris Heliotropic Pot of Shade is applied over moisturiser to prime skin for foundation, while protecting with a mineral-based broad spectrum SPF30. It leaves my skin feeling plumped and dewy and makeup applies beautifully on top. When using this I need way less foundation and find that my makeup lasts longer rather being sucked into my often dehydrated skin. If you struggle to keep using sunscreen over the Winter months, this will convince you. It's sold out in most places but I've tracked it down here

Kypris skincare is by no means cheap, but the quality of ingredients, effectiveness and integrity behind the brand have seriously impressed me. If you're looking for truly natural, organic products that actually deliver, this is a great place to start. The full range is now available in the UK at Selfridges and Cult Beauty.

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.


Monday, 19 September 2016

Make Up For Ever Water Blend Foundation: Review & Swatches

I've been trying out Make Up For Ever Water Blend Foundation for Face and Body, which I think fans of a very natural finish will really enjoy. Recently reformulated, this waterproof foundation is described as hydrating and transfer-resistant with a glowy finish.


The best way I can describe Water Blend Foundation is that it looks like real skin. Made with 80% vitamin-enriched water and moisturising pro vitamin B5, its sheer texture is best suited to those who enjoy a light, natural looking coverage that's barely detectable on the skin. One pump is enough to cover my entire face with a finish akin to tinted moisturiser, while two layers even out my skin tone, conceal redness and create a more even finish. I haven't personally tried MAC Face & Body, which seems the most obvious comparison, but from what I've seen in photographs, it appears to have slightly more coverage.


The sheer, liquid formula spreads quickly and evenly without streaking. I've tried applying Water Blend with everything from a traditional foundation brush to fingers and my chosen method is to use a buffing brush (Bobbi Brown Full Coverage is my favourite) then go over it with fingers or a beauty blender sponge. I'm a big fan of the Barely range and have been using the Soft Definer (dry) with this foundation.


It sets quite quickly and veers towards matte without looking flat or dull, lasting power is great and I don't really need to powder. While the coverage is light, it's more than I expected. I do tend to prefer a lighter foundation with added concealer where more coverage is needed, rather than a solid mask of coverage. Mid Winter, I'll opt for a medium coverage, but for now, I'm happy with this finish.


Make Up For Ever Water Blend Foundation swatches: Y225 Marble, Y245 Sand
I chose colours based on online swatches and what those of a similar skin tone to me were using. I assumed Y245 would work well for now when I still have a little colour and Y225 in Winter. In fact both were a little pale on me, though Y245 is perfectly wearable warmed up a little with Too Faced Sweetheart bronzer in Sweet Tea. I still think Y225 will be perfect in Winter, when I much prefer to veer slightly light - way more flattering and glow inducing.

There's not a huge leap between these two shades, though Y225 (Marble) is lighter and more yellow based, while Y245 (Sand) leans more neutral with peach/beige undertones. Available in 20 shades (less than the HD and Ultra HD foundations) it comes in several paler than mine and goes right through to Dark Brown. Make Up For Ever is consistent with its foundation colours across the board, so if you already know your colour, you can be confident about finding a good match. NB colours starting with Y are yellow based and those starting with R are red/pink based. 

I'm wearing Make Up For Ever Water Blend foundation in Y245 in this pic, warmed at my temples and cheek bones with Too Faced Sweet Tea baked bronzer. Blush is Tom Ford Frantic Pink and I used the Incandescent shade from my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette as highlight. Lips are Pixi Multibalm in Wild Rose (see previous post) and I used Zoeva Cool Spectrum eyeshadow palette (down to £15!).

Make Up For Ever Water Blend Foundation is available now at Debenhams or Sephora

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Pixi Beauty Multibalms: Review & Swatches

Pixi Multibalm in Baby Petal, Sheer Sculpt, Wild Rose, Watermelon Veil & Soft Strawberry. 
Pixi Beauty Multibalms for lips and cheeks offer a pretty pop of twist-up, blend and go colour on the run. A semi matte cream to powder formula means that they blend well onto skin and set with a lasting finish. Aloe vera, shea butter and rose hip oil add slip, blendability and a comfortable finish. Despite a matte look on lips in particular, they still feel comfortable. The curved bullet makes application quick and easy in comparison to the original flat-topped NARS Multiples. These are also slimmer, similar in size to a fat marker pen, which for me, makes them less daunting to use.

ON CHEEKS: Pixi Multibalm applies well straight from the bullet, though I'd recommend starting with a brush or fingers until you gauge the pigmentation (it's good!). Using the flat tips of my first two fingers, I pat the colour onto my cheeks and finish by blending out with a soft brush. Less is more and it's always easier to add more than take away; if you overdo it or spread the colour too far, soften the effect by buffing in a little foundation. The finish is very natural and not tacky to the touch.

ON LIPS: Wild Rose is my standout shade, a gorgeous mauve pink that's right up my street. Baby Petal is a softer, more subtle version. As I'm not big into matte lips, I usually wear these over a clear balm for subtle sheen or add a touch of gloss on top; if your lips are very dry, you may prefer Pixi Shea Butter Lip Balm (6 shades) or Tinted Brilliance Balm. While they work fine straight from the bullet on full lips, I'd opt for a lip brush for a precise finish on thinner lips, or use a finger.

Pixi Multibalm in Watermelon Veil & Sheer Sculpt. 
The packaging is super cute and I love that the lids are colour co-ordinated to the contents, with a little stripe of the same colour on the bullet. The lids seem secure and so far, haven't popped off in transit, even when I've traveled with these (which they're perfect for!).

Even the boxes are pretty (good for gifting) in Pixi's hallmark mint green and rose gold packaging.


Pixi Multibalm Swatches bottom up:
Baby Petal, Sheer Sculpt, Wild Rose, Watermelon Veil & Soft Strawberry. 

  • Baby Petal: soft peachy beige nude - great on both lips and cheeks
  • Sheer Sculpt: super quick and easy contour 
  • Wild Rose - mauve pink nude - love on lips and cheeks and my personal favourite
  • Watermelon Veil - a sugary pink that I think would work better on medium to dark skin tones
  • Soft Strawberry - berry red - prefer this on my lips though can wear sheered out on cheeks

Pixi Multibalm Swatches: Baby Petal, Sheer Sculpt, Wild Rose, Watermelon Veil & Soft Strawberry. 
I really enjoy using these and am always up for a product that enables quick and easy makeup application. Wild Rose is my favourite and I can see this and Baby Petal being used up the quickest. While I only contour occasionally, Sheer Sculpt is great for this - the perfect tone that looks very natural.

In comparison to similar products, I'd describe Pixi Multibalms as slightly more matte in finish than Clinique Chubby Sticks for Cheeks and less malleable (making them easier to control) than NARS Multiples.

You can see me wearing Pixi Multibalm in Wild Rose on my lips in this pic.

Pixi Multibalms cost £12 each and are available here in the UK or here in the US

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm (& a discount code!)

Yes, it's black. And it's one of the most delicious cleansers I've tried. Ever. In fact I'd go so far as to say that Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm is the best cleansing balm I've had on my face.

(Skinesis Ultimate CleanseEmma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm & Merumaya Cleansing Balm are my Top 3 to date, in that order.)

What's so good about it?

Made with Hungarian Moor Mud, it gently cleanses and detoxifies while nourishing the skin.

It's mineral-rich with hydrating sweet almond oil, uplifting orange blossom and a tonne of natural ingredients including vitamins and essential oils.

A big plus for me is that this cleansing balm is an absolute joy to use. Melting into an oil on contact, it feels almost spa-like when massaged into the skin, rinsing off quickly and easily. Incredibly luxurious, yet fuss-free, it leaves my dry, sensitive skin very calm and comfortable, with no tightness or residue.

I love that it's black, largely for the novelty of cleaning my face with something black (yes I'm like a small child), but also because it's free of synthetic colours, or fragrance, or parabens. In its au natural, raw form. 
One little scoop is all I need for my entire face, though I do sometimes use more and spend longer massaging it in.
Here's how it looks on the skin, becoming almost transparent by the time it covers a full face. Epic. (For a split second I actually considered a. trying to get this little bit back into the jar and b. removing all my makeup an hour after I'd applied it.)

If you can't already tell, I adore this cleansing balm, which is apparently suitable for every skin type. When I told the people at Omorovicza I was writing this review, they kindly offered a 15% discount code for my readers, which is good, as it doesn't come cheap. It is worth every penny though, promise!

Save 15% on Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm with the code PURIFY15 until 11 September 2016. 

PS My nail polish is Jessica Tangled in Secrets, out this month. You can see it better on my Instagram. 

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and purchases. See my full disclaimer here.


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Jo Malone Basil & Neroli Scented Candle

The Jo Malone Basil & Neroli Collection hits counters this week and is an absolute beauty. The first ever Jo Malone citrus floral (but not as you know it), this new permanent line extends from cologne to body cream. If the scented candle is anything to go by, I defy anyone not to fall for it.

I'm a huge fan of herbal scents, with Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay an all time favourite, so the top note of basil received an immediate tick from me. I am that person with her nose stuck in a pot of herbs, rubbing the leaves to release the juicy aroma - and basil is a particular favourite. 

The succulent green scent of Neroli, from the blossom of bitter orange trees, introduces orange flower to the mix, while musk adds roundness and softens any sharpness from the citrus.

Green, clean and exhilarating, this scent is slightly more gentle than Blackberry & Bay, which packs a more distinct herbal punch. (I haven't yet tried the cologne, so am only judging by the candle.)

The Jo Malone Basil and Neroli scented candle makes my room smell amazing, with the kind of outdoorsy freshness that I adore. When I leave and come back in, it's as if someone has left a freshly cut bunch of herbs and flowers on the table.

I imagine that this fragrance will hold particular appeal to fans of Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin, Orange Blossom and my personal favourite, Blackberry & Bay (review).

I'll be hot footing it to check out the cologne when Jo Malone Basil & Neroli launches this Thursday (1st September). I reckon I'll need a treat on the day my baby girl starts secondary school. I just know there will be tears (mine!) as I watch her disappear through the gates... that's my excuse anyway! 

Jo Malone Basil & Neroli scented candle, £42; 30ml cologne, £43; 100ml cologne £86; Body Creme, £50; Body & Hand Wash, £28. 

PS Thank you to my friend, Gillian, for allowing me to photograph this candle in her dreamy garden, a haven of beautiful flowers and fresh herbs. xx

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and purchases. See my full disclaimer here.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Best of KIKO (& a Belfast store!)

If you've ever:
1. read my blog
2. seen inside my handbag
3. watched me apply makeup'll know that I'm a fan of Kiko makeup.

Kiko is an Italian beauty brand renowned for great quality, well-priced makeup. Regular new product releases and limited edition collections sit alongside a range of staples, creatively packaged and presented in stand-alone stores or online. I visited one of its shops in Italy a couple of years ago and have since yearned for the opening of a Belfast store, which is just about to happen. I think it speaks volumes that I'm at least as excited for this as the imminent arrival of our first local Charlotte Tilbury counter.

If you're yet to try Kiko and not sure where to begin, these are the products I think they do best. NB some items may no longer be available (downside of so many limited editions).


Kiko lipsticks are among the best I've tried by any brand. I still wear the mauve pink Lusty Peony lipstick above several times a week and always get complimented on it (limited edition but v similar in colour to MAC Mehr). Well pigmented, creamy and beautifully packaged, these look and feel a lot more luxe than their price point (around £7-10). The sheer and glossy formulas are nice, but the more pigmented ones get my vote.

Kiko single eye shadows tend to wow me even more than the palettes and this green is a favourite. Buttery soft with great colour payoff in a range of finishes from skin toned, sheer nudes to foiled metallics, I just can't fault them.


Kiko blushers are finely milled and generally available in multiple shades to suit different skin tones, which my pale skin appreciates. Again, the presentation is often unique, such as this ombre blush from the Artist Collection. PS that's a Kiko blush brush next to it. High praise for the brushes too - I use several of the eye shadow brushes regularly - this fluffy blending brush is a staple.


Eyeliner is another Kiko product that I reach for almost daily. I find the formulas soft and smooth to apply, smudging out nicely before setting. They often release mega bright shades, which aren't really my bag, but I can always find one in my standard brown/bronze/grey/olive tone. This formula is my current fave.


Kiko nail polishes were one of the first products I tried from the brand and they're ace. Keep an eye on the website for promo offers, esp on discontinued ranges. These are down to £2.50 each at the moment.


Of course I had to save the best for last. Probably Kiko's most talked about makeup product, the Long Lasting Stick Eye Shadow, aka eye shadow crayon. Often compared to By Terry Ombre Blackstar, at a quarter of the price, these glide on, blend out and stay put for the day. I do need to use a primer under mine (as I do for the By Terry, just sayin') but am very impressed by these - and as you can see, couldn't stop at buying just one!

I realise that after promising to share the best of Kiko, I appear to have said that it's all fabulous. I don't love everything I've tried by them, but in all honesty it's been more a matter of personal taste over particular colours (rainbow bright eye liners) or formula (super matte liquid lipsticks), rather than there being any issue with the actual product.

If you only buy one (or two) Kiko products, try a lipstick and/or a Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow

For my local readers, Kiko Belfast opens one week today on 31st August at 10.30am. The first 50 customers will receive a Kiko gift card and the first 200 a gift with purchase. It's at 11 William Street South (near the Topshop entrance to Victoria Square - next to Hotel Chocolat) - see you there!

Have you tried Kiko yet? 

PS Since I know there's always someone who wonders, this post is not sponsored in any way... I just love this brand. I've been thinking about doing similar 'Best of' posts on a number of makeup and skincare brands, as I often get asked about my favourites from one specific company. Please let me know if you like this idea - below in the comments or on Facebook/ Twitter.

PPS I'm now on Snapchat strawbry_blonde so come say hi!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

When Beauty Brands Remember Redheads

I really appreciate it when beauty brands remember redheads. It doesn't happen often - with a lot of lines focusing on blondes and brunettes - but I've noticed a welcome shift towards acknowledging us copper tops. I also had a bit of an epiphany this week when it occurred to me that in 5+ years of blogging, I don't think I've ever written a blog post specifically relating to redheads. Which is utterly ridiculous for obvious reasons - and about to change. 

Today I'm sharing three top picks for enhancing red hair: a recent addition and two old favourites. 

I've been using John Frieda Radiant Red Colour Protecting Shampoo & Conditioner exclusively for a couple of months now. That never happens, but I enjoy this duo and anything that helps stretch the time between expensive salon visits is a bonus in my book. The actual product is a pinky red cream that prevents colour fade and leaves my hair in similar condition to much more expensive versions. 

For the record, I'm a natural redhead, but have been getting my strawberry blonde locks deepened into a slightly richer shade for a couple of years now (I previously had highlights to play down the red - what was I thinking?!). I get an all over semi permanent colour ever few months, or until the greys start to creep through! 

I've written about Maria Nila products before (here) but hadn't tried this at the time. Maria Nila Bright Copper Colour Refresh is a nourishing hair mask with temporary colour pigments that really brings my hair colour to life, makes it look more radiant and glossy and is a godsend for that last week or two before a professional colour. It comes with disposable gloves (an absolute must) and you can leave it in for 3-10 mins depending on the colour intensity you're after. The results last up to 10 washes (I'd say 6) and it comes in a tonne of colours... I'd use it to enhance natural colour too.

Color Wow Root Touch Up in Red does exactly what it says on the tin. The double ended brush has a narrow end for really pushing the highly pigmented powder into the roots, while the wider end can be used for dispersing it evenly for a natural finish. This is a touch dark for my current hair colour, but I can get away with it if I use a light touch. 

Any other redheads in the house?

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and purchases. See my full disclaimer here.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Too Faced La Créme Color Drenched Lipstick: Review & Swatches

Too Faced recently added 10 shades of La Créme Color Drenched Lipsticks to its lineup and I've been having a bit of a play. I do love a creamy lip formula and these are packed with antioxidants and peptides to hydrate and condition. Whether you're a fan of crowd stopper shades, shimmering metallics or a good old everyday nude, I think there's something for everyone here.

Let's start with the three stand-outs for me. Yes that's a blue lipstick - and it's been the talk of the blogosphere with good reason. Not gonna lie, you're unlikely to bump into me wearing Unicorn Tears, but I can appreciate how fabulous it is. I mean the name for starters, the fact that it's BLUE, how it tints lips pink with silvery lilac shimmer... it's kinda magical. 

Swatches of Unicorn Tears, Sugar Daddy and Berry Naughty in natural light (above) and direct sunlight.

Sugar Daddy and Berry Naughty are my two favourites from the line up. Sugar Daddy is a gorgeous rosy brown nude, which I've been wearing a lot, usually paired with my favourite lipliner, Pixi Beauty in Bare Buff. I actually shared a pic of me wearing this combo on Instagram today.

Berry Naughty literally looks like the colour of mushed up berries and I know it will be a staple come Autumn. So rich and creamy with a slightly glossy finish.

Too Faced La Creme Mean Girls & Dubble Trouble
Too Faced La Creme Lipsticks in Ursula, Wham & Topless

Above, swatches in natural light and below in direct sunlight (to show off those metallics).

It's worth noting that some shades have a distinct vanilla scent, including my favourite, Sugar Daddy. For me, this disappears immediately after application and the colour and formula are so good I can live with it, but I wanted to mention as I know it's A Thing for some of you.

If you're looking for a nourishing lipstick or like to experiment with colour, Too Faced La Créme Color Drenched Lipsticks (£18) are definitely worth checking out.

Do you have any Too Faced favourites?

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and purchases. See my full disclaimer here.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Retouching Makeup & New Classics from Bobbi Brown

If you like the idea of flawless skin minus photoshop or filters, look this way... Bobbi Brown's new Retouching Face Pencils and Powders are designed to do just that, while the New Classics lipsticks deliver a perfected pout.

Bobbi Brown Retouching Face Pencil in Porcelain
Bobbi Brown Retouching Face Pencils can be used to highlight, brighten, erase and correct.

Illuminate is the only shade with shimmer to highlight cheek/ brow bones and the inner corner of the eye. The others can be used in a shade to match your skin tone to correct imperfections, or in slightly lighter/darker tones to brighten and bronze.

I've been using mine to add extra coverage to a light foundation and for on-the-go touch ups, particularly useful for concealing redness around the nose and chin where my foundation tends to wear off first.

The creamy matte texture blends easily with the heat of my fingertips and I'd describe the coverage level as full, verging on concealer-like if used intensely on small areas. For example it will cover a large freckle or pigmentation mark completely.

Mine is in the lightest shade, Porcelain and I'm happy to say it's consistent with my Bobbi Brown Porcelain foundation - I'm assuming this carries through with all of the shades.


Bobbi Brown Retouching Powder in Rose #2
Inspired by colour pigments used by makeup artists, Bobbi Brown Retouching Powder is designed to make skin look better, minus any obvious powdery finish. In all honesty these threw me a bit at first as I was unsure how to use them, so was happy when Bobbi Brown Pro Artist, Hannah Martin confirmed that the Pink and Rose shades can be used on the cheeks, as I had been doing. On my colouring, Rose works alone as a subtle blush or over existing blusher for a soft, glowy finish.

Also available in white, peach, pink and yellow, the powders should be applied over foundation and can be used for colour correction - eg pink or peach to warm a sallow complexion. I'd recommend colour matching on counter to find the right shade for you... while I wouldn't call these essentials for every makeup bag, I think true makeup enthusiasts will enjoy them.


Bobbi Brown Retouching Face Pencil in Porcelain & Retouching Powder in Rose
Even in this heavy swatch (to show the colours), you can see the soft velvety finish of the Retouching Powder.


Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color in Bellini & Flame
Ten new shades of Luxe Lip Color have been released for Autumn, inspired by the original lipsticks that launched the brand in 1991. I'm a big fan of Bobbi Brown lipsticks in general and its most luxurious formula is super smooth and moisturising with full coverage.


Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color in Flame (top) & Bellini
Bellini is a very unique deep peach with a definite vintage edge. I don't think it really works with my colouring but can see it looking striking on the right person. It immediately made me think of Audrey Hepburn, whereas Flame, a bold orange toned red, is very Marilyn Monroe... even my 8 year old son loved this one on me! "Ohhh you're wearing lovely lipstick mum!" 

I'll definitely be checking out the other shades, which include some gorgeous Autumnal tones such as Bahama Brown and Uber Rose (is anyone else kinda looking forward to Autumn already?!). The Retouching Face Pencil has already become a firm handbag staple - no mess, no fuss, does what it claims.

Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color: New Classics, £25
Bobbi Brown Retouching Face Pencil, £22 - on counter at John Lewis 4 Sep, nationwide 8 Sep
Bobbi Brown Retouching Powder, £27

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and purchases. See my full disclaimer here.
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