Friday, 23 January 2015

Barry M Chisel Cheeks Contour Kit


Barry M Chisel Cheeks Contour Kit is a great place to start if you fancy trying your hand at contouring without spending big bucks on high end palettes like Anastasia Beverley Hills Pro Series or Laura Mercier Contouring Palette. It includes three matte powder shades to bronze, contour and highlight with a simple to follow guidelines to explain how it all works. All three shades are well pigmented, soft and blendable.


The light shade is a matte cream that adds light without shimmer, unlike most contour kits which do include a sheen at least (Barry M has shimmer and glitter covered elsewhere if that’s what you’re after).  This can also be used to dust all over the face like a standard powder if you wish, though personally I think it’s best use is to blend out the edges of the darker shades, or use all over them to tone down the colour if you’ve gone overboard (who, me?).

The middle shade is a warm medium bronze, neutral enough to suit many skin tones and could be used as a blush replacement for a subtle make-up look.

The cool toned dark shade is my favourite of the three, the perfect contour shade that actually creates the effect of natural shadows on the cheeks. Kevin Aucoin and Chanel have created great cooltoned contour products in similar tone, with even more shadowy grey undertone, but the price and performance of this make it a great alternative.


My favourite contouring combo is the darkest shade of Barry M Chisel Cheeks as contour with Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Highlight where the light catches naturally, on tops of cheek bones and brow bones. You can read more about Clinique’s contour kit in yesterday’s post.

While I think it’s great that these new kits make contouring more accessible to everyone, my only concern is that people will overdo it and end up looking ridiculous. At least with Barry M’s version, you won’t break the bank in the process! If you can’t wait until launch date to get chiselling, have a go with a cool greyish brown eye shadow like MAC Omega.

Barry M Chisel Cheeks, £6.49 launches into Boots on 4 February and Superdrug 11 February 2015.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Clinique Contour: Chubby Sticks & Cheek Palette


Struggle to get your head around contouring? Clinique has demystified make-up artist secrets with an upcoming collection featuring two Sculpting Chubby Sticks to contour and highlight and four Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Palettes.



I’ve been testing out the powder contour in Defining Roses, a trio of soft plum and berry toned pinks with a shell pink highlight. The colours can be used separately with small brushes to sculpt the face, though I like them best swirled together and applied like a regular blush, adding subtle highlight with the palest shade. Above, I’ve swatched the 3 colours both individually and blended - in a surprisingly flattering shade that I probably wouldn’t have picked up myself but like a lot.



Clinique-Curvy-Contour,Hefty-Highlight-swatches.Sculpting-Highlight Contour-pic

As you can see, the tone of Curvy Contour is too warm for my skin, though I’m all over Hefty Highlight… I’ve shown both of these swatched heavily (pretty scary huh) and blended out. Hefty Highlight is a cool toned silvery peach, the kind of shade I find works best on my pale skin. It has a gentle shimmer with no glitter particles and can be sheered out as much as you like for a really subtle effect… just add a single swipe across tops of cheekbones and brow bones and tap to blend. If I’m feeling extra daring I’ll add a little down the centre of the bridge of my nose and on my cupid’s bow - for this I just take a little on my finger tip rather than applying straight from the bullet.

Even if you’re not into highlight per se, a creamy highlight like this is great for awakening the face - just by adding a little brightness. Great for days when make-up looks a bit flat or over powdered, or on tired eyes.

Contouring is something I prefer to keep very subtle. My face is quite long and angular already and emphasising that doesn’t do me any favours, so just a little shadow under cheekbones and a touch of highlight is my thing.

My top tips:

  • If you have lines around your eyes, keep highlighter below this area to avoid errr… highlighting them!
  • Don’t highlight cheeks or any area with large pores or blemishes; you may as well shine a spotlight on them.
  • Blend thoroughly… no-one should see where the highlight starts and ends.
  • Less is more - keep it subtle.

Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour & Highlight, £19 & Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Palettes, £28 are available on Clinique counters from 6 February 2015.

Do any of these appeal to you? Next time, I have a budget contouring option for you - and I’m impressed!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

How to tidy up a mani: Nails Inc SOS


Not many of us get our mani perfect first time, every time - for me, my right hand is always the issue - the line around my cuticle is never as slick as I’d like it to be! Thankfully there are easy ways to fix these and two staples that I use regularly for tidy ups are a finger dip remover sponge and a clean up pen. Nails Inc have just released new versions of both, which are great… Express Nail Polish Remover Pot and SOS Nail Pen mean messy tips are a thing of the past. 


This is my set up pre-manicure (nails already filed, cuticles pushed back etc - separate post coming on my full routine). I started off by making sure my nail beds were oil and dust free with a coat of No7 Nail Cleanse & Prime, which also helps dehydrate the nail. Awful as that sounds, it’s actually a good thing as it helps polish adhere better, whereas moisture will encourage it to lift and peel off.  Since discovering ORLY Bonder, I very rarely stray - it really does help bond polish to the nails. I chose a dark shade of polish to really put these products through their paces, a current favourite, Bobbi Brown Bordeaux.


Express Nail Polish Remover is similar product to Bourjois 1 Second Remover, which now has quite a few competitors. Essentially a sponge in a pot, soaked with remover. You dip one finger in at a time, twist and remove - and tada, polish free. The main difference I noticed with Nails Inc’s version is that the sponge feels more dense and compact around my finger, meaning it grips better and removes polish very easily.  This is perfect for a nail that has gone wrong and looks patchy or uneven. Painting over an uneven surface leads to a thick layer of polish which usually isn’t pretty and is more prone to peeling. Much better to remove and start again. These little pots are great as you can clean up one nail without damaging the rest of your mani (just me that ends up smudging another nail with the remover soaked cotton pad?).

NailsInc-SOS-Nail-Pen NailsInc-SOS-Nail-Pen-review

The SOS Nail Pen looks like a felt tip, soaked in remover and comes with several fresh replacement nibs. Clever design means the lid doubles up as a cuticle pusher and mini nail file, which you can see more clearly in the top pic. Enriched with Jojoba Oil, it is acetone free. Using this to tidy a deep polish shade will mean the nib gets mucky pretty quickly, so wipe off any excess on paper or tissue before moving on to another nail and each nib should last quite a few times.


Left, before - you can see brush strokes next to my cuticle. Right, after - the polish edge is smoother and cleaner (still not perfect, but better!) This isn’t a brilliant example as 1. my mani wasn’t too bad on this occasion and 2. I was tidying up my right hand with an unsteady left hand, so even the clean-up wasn’t 100% perfect, but I wanted to give you an idea of how the SOS Nail Pen works. I had one by Ruby & Millie years ago and have never found a decent replacement, so am delighted to discover this one. I will say that it’s best saved for minor fixes, such as tidying the cuticle line or removing any flecks of polish on the skin next to the nail tip. If you’ve got polish all over your skin, I’d pop the nail in the Express Nail Polish Remover pot and start afresh, otherwise you’ll run out of fresh nibs in a couple of manis!

I hope this helps any fellow wannabe mani perfectionists or other bloggers who post nail polish swatches… it’s pretty unnerving the things you start noticing about yourself when you start blogging - close up pics can be very daunting!

You can buy the Nails Inc SOS Pen on its own here or as part of a duo with the Vitamin E oil here. The Express Nail Polish Remover Pot is available here, where you can currently receive 20% off any two Nails Inc products. I’m a big fan of their nail polish sets, some of which are on offer!

Friday, 16 January 2015

Bobbi Brown Illuminating Nudes


My New Year was brightened with the arrival of Bobbi Brown Illuminating Nudes, a collection described by Bobbi herself as ‘subtle, light-reflective nudes that instantly give you a lift and a healthy, natural glow.’ I’ll have some of that!

The collection features five ‘effortless’ products, four of which I have to share: moisture balm, eye shadow, brow gel and lip gloss, plus two new shades of CC Cream.


Sparkle Eye Shadow in New Golden Peach was the one that really grabbed my attention. It looks bronze in the pan, but transfers to lids as a beautiful warm peach with intense gold shimmer that really makes blue eyes pop. The texture is a creamy powder with great colour pay off… swipe it all over the lid or add a pop of highlight to a neutral or smokey eye. Lasting power is good on me (I’ve been wearing it over NARS eye primer) with a few specks of glitter on cheekbones by the end of the day but the lid look remaining intact. I get the most impact with finger application, though you can get a finer, more subtle finish with a flat brush.


This is a single swipe of the eye shadow swatched on my arm, next to Lip Gloss in Almost Peach, a milky nude that tones down the pigmentation of lips with a semi sheer finish. Two new shades have been released in the Natural Brow Shaper & Hair Touch Up: Slate and Brunette. I think Slate (or possibly Blonde) would be my shade of choice, though I was surprised to find that I could totally get away with this shade for a slightly bolder brow look that still looks quite natural. Application with this is a total breeze and the spacing of bristles on the teeny applicator wand mimics the effect of fine brow hairs, as I’ve attempted to demo in my swatch. By far the quickest brow fixer I’ve tried to date, this applies as smoothly and easily as my usual Eyeko Brow Gel, with a more pigmented punch that requires no additional filling in.


I’ve had a little tester pot of Illuminating Moisture Balm to play with and if you love a luminous base then this is a serious game changer. Bobbi Brown calls this her ‘Dream Cream’ for a lit-from-within-look and I can totally see why. Radiance in a bottle right there, best for normal to dry skin. This can also be used over your regular moisturiser for highlight only where needed (yes, it’s that luminous). Think pretty and glowy rather than sweaty betty. Hooked.

The collection is available now at

Which products do you rely on for a brightening glow?

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Clarins Garden Escape: Spring Lips


Looking out my window right now all I can see is sheet rain and trees being blown almost horizontal. Hard to believe it was so bright and sunny this morning when I took these pics, but let’s pretend that the central heating is sun with actual warmth and take a moment to daydream about brighter, balmier days ahead. Nothing puts a spring in my step like a Spring collection and Clarins Garden Escape Collection is packed choc full of pretty. While the floral eye shadow palette and Blush Prodige look divine, the new lip line-up is my favourite, including Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector, Joli Rouge Brilliant and Limited Edition Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil.



Clarins-Instant-Light-Lip-Balm-Perfector-swatches-orange-rosewood-mypink Clarins-Rosewood-Instant-Light-Lip-Balm-Perfector-swatches-swatch

I’ve been wearing these daily over the past week and if your lips are as dry as mine right now, you don’t wanna wait until Spring to get your hands on them… luckily they’re available now! If you like Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector (In the squeezy tube), you’ll love these. They aren’t poles apart… I’d describe  the new Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector as a slightly more sophisticated grown up sister. The  balm levels are higher here and the texture and sheen finer. Mango, Shea, Vitamin E and Hyaluronic Acid create a very nourishing formula and they feel just as good as they look.

Available in 6 shades, I was sent 3 to share with you and the middle one, Rosewood, is my favourite, a pinky beige nude that’s perfect for everyday wear - see  the middle swatch above and on my lips. Orange will add a lovely pop of colour for Spring and My Pink is completely unique, literally, adapting to your own lip colour via pigments which react with the pH level of your lips. Although it looks like nothing on my arm, it’s a lovely raspberry tone on my lips, a couple of shades darker than my natural colour and less sheeny than the others, but with the same balmy feeling.

Rosewood and My Pink are the kind of colours that can be applied blind, ie keep in your pocket/bag and swipe on without a mirror - my ideal formula for everyday wear.

Clarins Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector, £15.80 (usually £18)



Clarins-Joli-Rouge-Brilliant-Lipstick-Coral-Dahlia-22  Clarins-Jolie-Rouge-Brilliant-Coral-Dahlia-swatch-swatches-sheer-lipstick

Much as I love a bold matte lip, sheer colour is where my heart lies. Stepping up a few levels on the colour factor Joli Rouge Brilliant combines the highly pigmented colour of a lipstick with a similar balmy feeling to the Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector.  Essentially, these are very moisturising lipsticks that pack a good punch of colour. The two new shades are Coral Dahlia, a red-toned coral (above) and Rose Petal, a mid rose pink. The moisturising element and lovely sheen means that lasting power isn’t amazing, but having worn this kind of formula for years, I can live with that. Perfect for daytime wear, I’d opt for a more densely pigmented or matte formula for evening lasting power.

Joli Rouge Brilliant, £16.70



Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil 02 Raspberry LE Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil 01 Honey LE

While I haven’t personally tried these, I wanted to share as these were the first specific lip oils I’ve come across. Clarins are renowned for their fabulous oils, rich in plant actives, and these contain hazelnut oil, mirabelle and organic jojoba oils. The shade names, inspired by their colour, are Raspberry (online only) and Honey. I’ve been told that they don’t add a noticeable colour to the lips, but Raspberry does look particularly pretty. I do use oils on my skin and am not sure that a separate one is needed for lips, but am drawn to these as they are so unique - and of course good for topping up on the go - don’t know about you but I wouldn’t whip out a bottle of face oil on the train. Clearly many others share my enthusiasm as it’s out of stock already, with more stock expected in a few days.

Instant Light Comfort Oil, £18 (back in stock soon!)

Any of these calling your name? And which do you prefer: a balmy wash of colour or matte lips?

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Evening Skincare Routine


Forgive me as I should have shared this with you pre-Christmas - I got caught up in a glitter and tinsel tangle - what can I say? There have been a few tweaks to my routine since then as some of these products ran out and I started testing others - my thoughts on them remain the same and will hopefully be helpful to some of you.

First up, this is my routine post make-up removal, which I normally do using a cleansing oil - favourites include Bobbi Brown, DHC Pore Cleansing and Una Brennan Superfacialist. (Gonna pick up The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Oil to try next as I’ve been meaning to for ages). If you’ve never tried a cleansing oil, I can’t recommend them enough as the quickest, easiest way to break down make-up and get rid of it fast.

Make-up out of the way, I go in with a cleanser that can now access my pores and deep cleanse my skin. You may have seen me rave about Skinesis Ultimate Cleanse in my Top 14 of 2014… deeply luxurious, this slightly oily balm feels heavenly massaged into my skin and leaves it feeling pampered and completely clean (minus the squeak, not a fan of squeaky skin). It’s not the cheapest, but it’s the best cleanser I’ve tried to date and if budget allowed, I’d choose it every time. I bought it during a QVC offer, so worth keeping an eye on there. The closest I’ve found on a similar level is REN Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Balm, also beautiful and less spendy.


After cleansing I go in with an eye cream, in this case one of the priciest I’ve been sent to trial, Elethea Eye Architecture Cream. I love this brand’s ethos and pretty packaging and the cream helped keep my eye area well hydrated. It’s packed with an impressive ingredient list including peptides, tamarind seed extract, rosehip oil and omegas, so was it worth 3 times what I’d normally pay? I had a couple of niggles… that it pumps out more product than needed and takes a long time to sink into my skin. Not massive issues and didn’t interfere with product performance, but worth noting. In all honesty, I think there are equally good eye creams out there for less cash.

Now for a product that’s worth every penny... oh Antonia you can do no wrong. In fact I’m going to do a separate feature on Antonia Burrell’s line up as this brand is one of my best discoveries and I want to share the love. Radiant Light Facial Oil Serum can be used as a final step in your routine, or below moisturiser if you feel it’s needed. The texture leans more towards oil than serum and a drop or two does the job.  It’s quite a bright yellow, which I feel shows up on my pale skin, hence restricting it to evening use (I’m guessing this is due to carrot seed extract/ oil - of course the colour disappears when absorbed into skin!). Made with 18 pure plant extracts, frankincense and rosewood, this gives my dull winter skin back its glow and leaves it looking revitalised and healthy, as if it’s had a vitamin fix!

Speaking of vitamins, a couple of nights a week I’d swap this for Flavo-C Serum, another radiance-inducing product with an extremely rare stable vitamin C formula that stays active for 10 hours. 30% ginkgo biloba adds a powerful antioxidant punch (and herbal scent). This does leave my skin slightly tacky and although the addition of moisturiser helps with that, I prefer to save it for night time use rather than top with make-up.

There are times when I feel a facial oil is enough nourishment for my skin, but 8 out of 10 nights I’ll add a moisturiser - and Merumaya Overnight Recharge Night Cream is just gorgeous. I love the pump bottle and rich texture of this cream, which leaves my skin feeling deeply moisturised with a plumped up, velvety finish. Some rich skincare seems to induce those under skin bumps on my face, but this doesn’t clog or irritate in any way.

My top picks from this line-up which I’ll definitely repurchase are Skinesis Ultimate Cleanse, Antonia Burrell Radiant Light Facial Oil Serum and Merumaya Overnight Recharge Night Cream.

Monday, 12 January 2015

The Beauty Buzz #1

In this new series for 2015, I share my highlights from new and upcoming beauty releases and not-to-be-missed offers, aka the beauty news I’m buzzing about the most!




The cult product that everyone (inc me) stocked up on during trips to France is now available in the UK. I’ve been asking Escentual, one of my favourite beauty retailers, to stock Serozinc since I discovered it and yay, finally they are (I first wrote about it here). Clearly I wasn’t alone in waiting for it to hit our shores as they have sold 1 every 3 minutes since it arrived! So do you need it? A facial mist toner with Zinc Sulphate, it soothes, hydrates, mattifies and treats blemishes. Apparently designed to target oily, blemish-prone skin, my dry-ish, dehydrated skin loves this, so I actually think everyone can benefit. I don’t use it every day, but often spritz it on pre-serum and moisturiser and find that it helps hydrate and calm my skin. It helps reduce redness and speed recovery time of blemishes (on face & body) and is a pleasure to use. 

La Roche Posay Serozinc, £8.50 *PS get 20.15% off EVERYTHING at (ends today)*




Pixiwoo sisters, Sam and Nic Chapman have released a premium collection of make-up brushes aimed at professionals and serious make-up enthusiasts. Made using very high spec, super soft synthetic hair, the brushes have colour coded, weighted metallic handles for ease of use. I mentioned the release on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and the brushes have since arrived in stores. I was very excited to try them on first sight, though with prices ranging from £12-25 I won’t be racing out to buy the full collection. The two that appeal to me most are the oval shadow and blush brushes... now available online and in-store, they are exclusive to Boots in the UK and Ulta in the US.

Real Techniques Bold Metals, £12+ 



Hourglass-Modernist-palette-InfinityHourglass-Modernist-palette-Exposure Hourglass-Modernist-palette-graphite 

Hourglass Infinity, Exposure & Graphite palettes

Pictures of the upcoming Hourglass Modernist eye shadow palettes have been floating around for a while and as a huge fan of the brand, I can’t wait to try them. Available in 7 shades including rose and green tones, the above 3 appeal to me the most. Inspired by an artist’s palette, the sculpted design reminds me of a sandy beach after the tide has gone out, just beautiful. I love the mostly-matte and satin finishes with shimmer highlights and the texture has been described as a buttery, creamy powder.

The palettes launch the UK on 2 February and I’ve spotted them online and ready to go at Space NK , so I’m guessing they may offer pre-ordering, as with previous Hourglass releases. If you can’t wait until then, you can order from from 18 January (now shipping to UK).

Hourglass Modernist, £56 from 2 Feb




In the Autumn, Ruth Crilly, one of my favourite bloggers and YouTubers at A Model Recommends, launched a great new dry shampoo called COLAB, unique thanks to a light finish that doesn’t leave hair looking chalky. In a recent video, Ruth mentioned the imminent release of COLAB Extreme Volume, for adding even more va va voom to the hair... I’m always up for some volume at the roots, so look forward to trying this. If you haven’t given the original a go, it’s very good and well priced - in fact I must stock up on the full size as I bought a mini to try it out (very handy for handbag or travel!).

COLAB Dry Shampoo, £1.99-3.49



   Bobbi-Brown_illuminating_nudes_collection            Clinique-Repairwear-Sculpting-Night-cream       Clarins-Garden-Escape-Collection 

Other new releases I’ve been trialling and loving lately are Bobbi Brown Illuminating Nudes Collection to brighten a weary New Year pallour, Clinique Repairwear Sculpting Night Cream to add luminosity and definition and Clarins Garden Escape Collection, a welcome dose of pretty for Spring (out today). More to come soon on these!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Caroline Hirons at Space NK Belfast

If you have a face and live anywhere near Belfast, you need to get yourself to Space NK this Monday. Caroline Hirons, skincare specialist, beauty blogger and You Tuber will be there offering walk-in skin consultations. You probably already know of her and long term readers will have heard me rave about her advice on numerous occasions.

I met up with her on a previous visit to Belfast and can confirm that she is not only deeply knowledgeable but also warm, down to earth and the kind of woman you’d just love to sit and chat to all day. Not gonna lie, I’d happily have worn a balaclava that particular day (not a recommended look for Belfast gals) as my skin was looking rubbish and yes I did feel like she was looking at my skin with X-ray eyes (shudder), but she knows her stuff and can offer expert advice on your skin on a level you won’t find anywhere else.

3 Top Tips I’ve learned from Caroline:

1. Cleansing matters more than you might think. Not just a quick step before applying your skincare, cleansing should be an integral part of your regime - and doing it properly will ensure that the products applied afterwards can perform at maximum efficiency.

2. Exfoliating toners are the one. Liquid exfoliants applied with a cotton pad will help refine the skin surface, reduce dead skin cells and dry patches and allow other products to penetrate the skin’s surface - and therefore function - more easily. Also much more gentle on your skin than the majority of exfoliating ‘scrubs’.

3. Dry and dehydrated skin are not the same thing. Caroline has done a ‘Cheat Sheet’ guide on this, which you can read for yourself here… (there are more on various skin issues). Like many others, I found this confusing and understanding the difference has really helped me target my own skin with the correct products.

And I’m looking forward to getting a few more tips on Monday!

You’ll find Caroline at Space NK Belfast on Monday 12 Jan, 1-6pm. Full details are on her blog here.



I’ll leave you with a few of Mrs Hirons Top Quotes:

‘Equate your skincare spending to what you would spend on a handbag or shoes.’

‘You need to think of sugar as the Devil. And fizzy drinks/soda as Liquid Satan.’

‘Wipes are for fannies, flights and festivals.’

Monday, 5 January 2015

14 Most Used Beauty Products 2014


Happy New Year everyone! I’ve enjoyed a mini break from blogging, work et al, but am very happy to be back. This has been the most chilled out Christmas/New Year break I’ve had in a long time and I’ve loved every minute with family and friends, going for long walks on the beach and trying to balance the chocolate intake with huge pots of home made soup! 

I’ve rounded up my 14 Most Used (rather than Best of) beauty products in 2014 as I thought these would be the most useful - and hopefully interesting - to read about. I forced myself to choose just one product from each category  - among others which I cherish equally - and in some cases, rate more. This may sound mad, but at the end of the day, the ones I reach for most often are the true winners, right? For example, Anastasia Brow Wiz and Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara give more wow end results than the two options that I’ve chosen, but for speed and ease of use, Eyeko and Miss Manga are the ones I wear most day to day. Shock horror, sometimes beauty is more about practicality! The majority of products in this line-up are winners in terms of both practicality and performance - I’ll mention any exceptional alternatives as I go along.

I didn’t dwell on any of the choices too much, but went on gut /heart instinct… so here are my 14 most used products of 2014.

LOreal-Miss-Manga-Mascara,Eyeko-Brow-Gel,Clarins-Instant-Concealer,Anastasia-Covet-AstralBobbi-Brown-Smokey-Nudes-palette,Clinque-CheekPops-Plum-Pop Michael-Kors-Bronzer-Glow,Diptyque-Philoskyos   Color-Wow-Speed-Dry,Skinesis-Ultimate-Cleanse

FOUNDATION: Clarins True Radiance (shade 103) - medium coverage, glowy finish, great for dry or dehydrated skin. Probably a bit too dewy for oily skin as I do sometimes need to set my T-zone with powder when I wear this… totally worth it for the glow factor. The bottle has a pump, the liquid formula is very quick and easy to use and a little goes a long way.  I know some of you have already fallen for this since my original review here, (best feeling ever when this happens!).

CONCEALER: Clarins Instant Concealer (01) - natural looking coverage that works best under the eyes but will cover redness/ minor blemishes if set with powder. It doesn’t sit in lines, cake or dry out - and actually adds radiance to the eye area (without sparkle or shimmer). For severe dark shadows, I like to use a base of Bobbi Brown Corrector under this. A good alternative is Amazing Concealer (Light Golden), a creamy, highly pigmented, great all rounder and one of the few that works equally well both around the eyes and on blemishes.

POWDER: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette - 3 finishing powders which even out skin tone for a soft focus effect, warm pale skin and add subtle highlight. Review here and multiple raves if you use my search system (top right).

BRONZER: Michael Kors Bronze Powder in Glow - the best bronzer I’ve tried for pale skin and great value as it’s barely dented despite almost daily use all year round. Almost impossible to overdo and leaves a radiant glow (not shimmer) on the skin. My review.

BLUSHER: Clinique Cheek Pops in Plum Pop - a unique ‘bouncy’ powder, this subtle, long lasting blush is one of the best formulas I’ve tried (& there have been a lot). Plum Pop is a light, cool toned pink and works well on both pale and tanned skin. Review. Also a big fan of Clinique Chubby Stick for Cheeks, especially with a more matte make-up look for a lovely natural finish. Chubby review here.

LIPSTICK: Bourjois Rouge Velvet in Hot Pepper - I’ve probably raved about these more than any other product this past year and with good reason. Amazing pigmentation, lasting power, velvety finish - all at a great price - and they don’t dry out my lips. Seriously no need to pay more! Full review.

EYE SHADOW: Bobbi Brown Smokey Nudes - my go-to palette for a natural everyday look or smoky eye. Great mix of very blendable matte and shimmer finishes in lovely cool tones, my personal favourite. All beautifully packaged in a smokey, tortoise shell effect compact.

MASCARA: L’Oreal Miss Manga - I don’t think I’ve mentioned this on here before but it’s one that I keep coming back to as it gives great results in one sweep. The wand is tapered into a fine point which means even the tiniest corner lashes get coated. I’d say this gives more length than volume, but it definitely does give some. Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara is ah-mazing for mega full on false lash effect, takes a little bit more time and effort but well worth it and brilliant for dramatic evening looks.

EYELINER: Anastasia Covet Waterproof Liner in Astral - I love the long wearing formula of these liners but it’s the colour of this one I fell for. The perfect shade for my blue/grey eyes and very forgiving on tired eyes, it’s a greyish green that sometimes leans teal, with a slight metallic finish. The twist up mechanism is a big bonus and the formula is smooth and creamy.  Review & swatches here

BROWS: Eyeko Brow Gel - as I said above, Anastasia Brow Wiz is best for a very precise finish as it’s fine enough to draw individual hairs, but Eyeko Brow Gel is so quick and easy to sweep on that I reach for it about 70% of the time (my ultimate is a combination of the two). It’s slightly tinted gel to suit all brow colours (sounds mad but it works) and gives subtle colour enhancement and definition while holding brows in place.

PERFUME: Diptyque Philosykos - I have a major weakness for perfume and own far too many, but have truly fallen for this beauty since treating myself around this time last year. It’s fresh and green, yet has an underlying softness that both invigorates and calms me at the same time. A serious mood booster, I literally swoon every time I spritz this.

BODY: L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil - not sure I can add to my recent odes to this luxuriously comforting product. Let’s just say it’s every bit as amazing as people say and totally worth the hype. If mornings aren’t your thing, this will help.

SKINCARE: Sarah Chapman Skinesis Ultimate Cleanse - Choosing just one skincare item was my biggest challenge as I could have devoted an entire category to it. Shame on me as I’ve yet to feature this on my blog, though rave about it to just about anyone who will listen. This rich cleansing balm feels like a skin treatment and makes cleansing feel more like pampering than a chore. Massage in, add a little water and it turns to a milk, which rinses off easily with a flannel leaving skin feeling soft, glowing and comfortable. (NB packaging has changed to a pump bottle since I bought this one.) REN Rose Centifolia Cleansing Balm is a fantastic alternative, which I also adore, at almost half the price.

HAIR: Color Wow Speed Dry Blow Dry Spray - I’m all for time saving products and spritzing this into my hair pre-styling products literally cuts blow drying time in half. No idea how… it doesn’t contain alcohol like some similar options do, but it works - and protects hair with keratin proteins at the same time. I’ve been blown away by everything I’ve tried by this brand, also loving the Colour Security Shampoo and Conditioner.

I think I need a wee lie down after that, though for the first time in 2 weeks I have packed lunches to make as my kids go back to school tomorrow. I may also be sneaking a few items into my Hush basket in anticipation of tomorrow’s sale - I fancy this star print top!

I hope you found this useful and discovered some products you might like too. What was your 2014 beauty favourite - go on, enable me right back!




Sunday, 28 December 2014

New Year’s Eve Party Make-up

bronze eyes red lips

It's the one time of year we're allowed to break all the rules… lay on the glitter, brave a bold red lip AND smoky eyes without anyone questioning it. It'd be rude not to. Here are my tips for a sparkling make-up look with wow factor… I'm thinking filmstar inspired glowing skin, red lips, huge lashes and a lil' bit of festive sparkle.


BASE - Since we're blinging up the eyes and lips, it's best to keep the base simple, even and of course, as flawless as possible. Naturally flawless… skip to Eyes (I won’t hold it against you). My foundation choice for such occasions is Laura Mercier Silk Crème (Cream Ivory) for radiant full coverage that leaves skin looking like skin, rather than flat and mask-like. Clarins Instant Concealer (01) obliterates under eye shadows while NARS Creamy Concealer (Vanilla) hides redness and blemishes. Set all of this in place with a light dusting of powder on the T-zone. My favourite is still the talc-free Jurlique Rose Silk powder with a little contouring via the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette. I only use both of these for special occasions, adding the deepest Hourglass shade for subtle warmth around cheekbones, temples, and hairline and the highlight shade on tops of cheekbones. Its ‘soft focus’, candlelit effect still wows me.

CHEEKS - I like to opt for a neutral rose-beige like Clinique Chubby Stick for Cheeks in Amped up Apple. Its creamy formula gives cheeks a dewy, natural looking flush that adds dimension and doesn’t detract from bold eyes and lips. I’ve been wearing this and the coral Robust Rhubarb shade a lot this Winter (full review & swatches here).


EYES - I start by priming eyes to ensure brighter, long lasting crease-free eye shadow, flitting between NARS Smudge Proof and Urban Decay Primer Potion (NARS is longer lasting; Urban Decay is easier to blend over). I like to use a cream shadow base pre-glitter to add intensity and help the product stick around. Max Factor Excess Shimmer Cream Eyeshadows (Bronze) leave a lovely metallic sheen and are easily applied with a finger. I then add a darker matte brown shadow in the crease and then press glitter over the top of my lower lid... I love Bobbi Brown Longwear Gel Sparkle in Sunlit Bronze, which works beautifully over the Max Factor Bronze cream shadow. I’ll then spend 20 minutes (!!) adding a feline flick with Eyeko Eye Do Liquid Liner and lashings of mascara. The new No7 Midnight Lash gives great length, doesn’t clump and has a nicely tapered wand to reach every lash. For extra va-va voom, I like Ardell Demi Wispies false lashes.


LIPS - You just can't beat a red lip for party season. I always start off by lining my lips when I’m wearing a deep shade - the new Bobbi Brown Lip Pencils are great for extra staying power (and also look good worn alone over balm). For a rich dark red, I’ve been loving Bobbi Brown Bordeaux - lightweight, silky and so comfortable to wear. To add volume, top with any clear gloss and press a little pop of highlighter on the centre of your lower lip. If you prefer a long lasting matte lip, Bourjois Rouge Velvet in Hot Pepper is still my go-to, a stunning orange-toned ‘Marilyn’ red.

Do you have any plans for New Year’s Eve - and do you ever plan your make-up in advance?

PS If you read yesterday’s post, the Mint Aero chocolate brownies were awesome. And all gone.

NB The top image, my inspiration, is from Pinterest - click on it to see the original.

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