Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Chanel Magnolia - my favourite lipstick

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My darling sister bought me Rouge Coco in Magnolia #117 – I can’t remember why (she lurves me) and I fell in love with it straightaway. I call it my Audrey Hepburn lipstick, though sadly it’s as close as I’ll ever get to looking like her!

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Please excuse the odd, flat shape my lipsticks go into, unlike most people’s nice slanty ones.  You can see just how loved this lipstick is – and at times I have to force myself to use something else.  Sadly it’s now worn down past the pretty Chanel logo that was once embossed on the bullet.

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Magnolia is a very sweet, pretty, warm mid pink. I’ve found it quite difficult to capture the exact shade in a photograph – the bullet colour in this pic is the closest to it's true colour.

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This lipstick is extremely moisturising, which is my favourite kind of formula as it keeps my lips soft, is comfortable to wear and super easy to apply ‘blind’ if necessary. It has tiny little flecks of shimmer through it, which are invisible unless you are looking at it this close.

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This is it on me today in direct sunlight. I cropped the rest of my squinty face out! (my eyes are incredibly light sensitive).

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Close up swatch of Chanel Rouge Coco in Magnolia #117

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Not the best pic I know and the colour is a bit washed out, but I wanted to give you some idea of how it looks in context. Chanel lipsticks cost around £23 from most high street and online stores… I wouldn’t buy them every month but what girl doesn’t love the luxury of a little piece of Chanel?!

Do you have Chanel Rouge Coco in Magnolia or can you recommend any others from the range? I’d like an ever so slightly deeper pink for winter. What’s your favourite lipstick?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Estelle & Thild Rose Otto Serum

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I’ve been excited about sharing this with you because it’s one of the most beautiful skincare products I’ve tried… Estelle & Thild Ecorganic Facial Serum with Rose Otto for dry/mature skin.

I hadn’t heard of Estelle & Thild before receiving this product for review - it’s a certified organic Swedish brand that’s suitable for even the most sensitive skin.

‘Estelle & Thild’s vast product range has been developed in consultation with dermatologists and toxicologists; it is based on vitamin-rich oils and plant extracts that are good for skin vitality.’

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The Rose Otto Serum comes in a pretty frosted glass bottle with a user friendly, hygenic pump applicator.  One pump delivers the perfect amount for your face, although I used several as I also applied this to my neck and décolleté. 

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A single pump of the serum looks like this. It’s more fluid than some serums I’ve tried, which were a firmer, gel-like consistency. This is super fine and sinks straight into the skin.  It dries quickly, leaving no tacky residue.

The natural fragrance is so beautiful I could honestly apply this 10 times a day. The smell isn’t overpowering by any means – it’s a gentle, sweet yet fresh aroma – mostly smells of rose and melon to me.

How did it make my skin feel?  Soothing is the main sensation I get when I apply this. It feels gentle and nourishing, almost like my skin breathes a sigh of relief.  I’ve had compliments on my skin and it does feel softer and more plumped up. I’d really love to try the rest of this range.

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The ingredients list (click to enlarge) sounds like it would even taste good (no, I didn’t!). 

‘The Ecocert seal of approval represents Estelle & Thild’s Organic and Eco-friendly content, ingredients and materials.’

Unfortunately all this goodness and gorgeousness comes at a price. £46 to be precise – and more than I’d comfortably pay for a serum. Having tried this, I’d seriously consider paying that price now.  I imagine it would last around 6 months and I guess £7.60 a month doesn’t sound toooo bad.

Not everything in the range is this expensive… personally I’d love to try a moisturiser and body wash next. Prices start at £10.50 and include a mother and baby range. Have you tried any or are you tempted?

Estelle & Thild Ecorganic Facial Serum with Rose Otto is available online at Beautique.com for £46.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Makeup - Where do you do yours?

As in, which part of your house? 

I bought this little console table second hand at Easter, with a view to restoring it.  I set my (small) makeup bag on it one day, which has now reproduced into this shameful sprawl… 

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It’s easy for me to apply my makeup in the hall, because there’s a large, well lit mirror and I’m generally trying to do it while rushing out the door, or in between cooking for small children!  Hardly welcoming, is it?

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A closer look for nosey people like me who love to spy on other people’s makeup! 

[For anyone who actually wants to know what’s there… said makeup bag is back right. In front of it is a Daniel Sandler watercolour, Clarins self tan (sample box). Directly in front of that (piled up) are Urban Decay Naked Palette, Laura Mercier Colour Wardrobe, Estee Lauder blush/bronze trio, Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage. Front right is Osis Refresh Dust. Front left – tangle teezer, Clarins Skin Illusion, 2 perfumes, Laura Mercier loose powder and Creme Smooth foundation, and a bowl full of brushes and tonnes of other products (guessing you’re bored by now…)]

These are the basic products that I re-use on a regular basis (yes there is more).  Do you keep the products you use daily/regularly in one place – and the rest elsewhere? Or how do you work it?

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Today I found a product I’d bought a couple of weeks ago (Topshop eye pencil) and completely forgotten I had. Plus my brushes keep going awol. So enough is enough… I hereby pledge to reorganise my makeup and report back with the results.

You thought there’d be an after pic didn’t you?  Nope.  Any tips/links very welcome!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Stella Print Collection Perfume Look 1

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Stella McCartney’s iconic Stella perfume plays dress ups with these dinky little limited edition bottles containing the original fragrance. Three bottle designs are dressed in a print from the designer’s Spring/Summer 2011 catwalk collection. 

I just love the vintage look and feel of them… oh and how they match my cushions so well.

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‘The vintage botanical print features bold multicoloured blooms in a modern interpretation of a classic design. The colourful, dreamy prints perfectly match the story of the rose that is told when the Stella fragrance touches the skin; a tale of fragility and beauty in a cascade of floral and ambery notes.’

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Side on, the faceted bottle design is reminiscent of the original, with transparent purple glass fading out towards the base. I love that I can see the perfume inside as well as the beautiful exterior design. Sorry I should really stop being so distracted by the prettiness and tell you what the contents smell like… which is not what I’d expected at all. Am I the only person on the planet never to have smelt this perfume?

‘A fresh rose essence that is both timeless and the epitome of modernity.’

This eau de parfum has a lot more power than its delicacy suggests…

Top Notes: Rose Essence, Peony, Mandarin

Heart Notes: Bulgarian Rose Absolute

Base Notes: Wood Notes, Amber

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The strongest notes for me are the rose and peony in a much sweeter fragrance than I’d normally lean towards.  The mandarin, woods and Amber are more up my street – and while I’m left with more of the latter after an hour or so the rose remains distinct.  It lasts well on my skin and I get little wafts of the various notes as I go about my day. 

I’d sum this up as a sweet, vintage style fragrance with a distinct air of femininity.

Stella McCartney The Print Collection Look 2 - Eau de Toillette Spray 30mlStella McCartney The Print Collection Look 3  -  Eau de Toillette Spray 30ml

The other bottle designs: Look 2 and Look 3

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This pic illustrates how dinky the bottle is… I like small bottles of perfume a. because I get bored of perfume quickly and this gives me an excuse to try another and b. they fit neatly in my handbag!

The bottle contains 30ml and is priced at £35, which I think is pretty good value for a limited edition bottle of EDP.  This is one bottle I definitely won’t be binning when it’s empty! 

Available now at escentual.com

Sample provided for review ~ opinions 100% genuine

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Well Hello Konjac Wave Body Sponge

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In last month’s post about Konjac facial sponges I revealed that the company would soon launch a larger body sponge – and am so excited that these are now available I had to let you know straightaway!

I ordered mine within minutes of them going on sale to the public and thought I’d let my lovely readers know as so many of you adore the facial sponges. As you can see in the pic above, the sponge has large ridges or ‘waves’ to enable gentle exfoliation.

‘The 6 Wave Konjac Body Sponge is designed to gently exfoliate the body and soothe and cleanse all over! Gently exfoliating and sloughing off tired dead skin cells and helping reduce blemishes, ingrown hairs and generally keeping the skin in tip top condition. Your skin will feel smooth, and supple after use. No tightness or dryness.’

Just like the facial version, 6 Wave sponges are available in pure white Konjac or a variety of French Clays, depending on your skin type. The Red Clay (for dry & mature skin types) is winging its way to me and I will of course let you know how I get on with it!

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One of the best things about these sponges is that they’re full of so much natural goodness there’s really no need to add body wash – and if you must, you’ll only need a teeny amount.

When fully hydrated the sponge measures approx 75 x 135 x 30 mm

Prices start at £8.79 – get yours at the Konjac Sponge Company website

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Nude Nails Tickle My France-y

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All Summer I dressed my nails up in neon brights, corals and beachy pinks. Come the first glimpse of cool weather and I dived into rich Autumnal plums and scarlets. I’d neglected the nudes and had a sudden yearning for their simplicity, so for the past couple of weeks I’ve worn nothing else. 

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OPI’s ‘Tickle My France-y’ is to date, my favourite nude polish. The pale, creamy beige champagne tones are particularly elegant and ‘expensive’ looking. Groomed, but not overdone or in your face. That’s what I love about nude polishes… nothing boring about sophistication I say.

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Admittedly I felt a little guilty when I succumbed to Tickle My France-y. I purchased it in my pre-beauty blogging days when I didn’t realise that it was ok to have two very similar polishes (this now makes me laugh).

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I felt it was way too similar to OPI’s Dulce de Leche – above left – and they do look very similar side by side.

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Until you see them on the nails – where they couldn’t be more different. Dulce de Leche (left) is much more apricot toned, a bit 70s mannequin; whereas Tickle My France-y (centre) is a much cooler beige, which looks mauve toned in certain lights, as above.

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In other lights, I don’t see the mauve at all, as in the above pic.

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I added a third polish to the mix, just for comparison’s sake: OH MY GOSH in Champagne. This is a limited edition shade, which I wouldn’t normally have included since you probably won’t be able to get hold of it, but I spotted a great dupe in Topshop the other day, so head there if you fancy it!

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One final comparison: OPI Dulce de Leche, OPI Tickle My France-y and OH MY GOSH Champagne.  I hope this comparison has been helpful for some of you.

What’s your favourite nude nail polish? I’m ready to add another to my collection!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Alpha H Liquid Gold Skincare Range

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I’ve made no secret of my love affair with Alpha-H skincare.  Liquid Gold in particular is the first skincare product I have ever used that made an instant improvement in my skin.  Much as I adore skincare - and have used it religiously for 20 years - part of me has always been quite cynical about its powers to make a tangible improvement to the quality of my skin. Alpha-H has changed this.

I first heard about Alpha-H on Twitter, where make-up artist Kenneth Soh (@kenneth-soh) kindly took the time and patience to explain exactly how I should use it.  I bought the  5 piece anti ageing discovery kit pictured above at Salon Skincare for the rather bargainous price of £21.

The kit contained:

  • Liquid Gold 50ml
  • Rejuvenating Cream 50ml
  • Balancing Cleanser 50ml
  • Micro Cleanse 4ml
  • Liquid Gold Smoothing & Perfecting Mask 4ml

The heroes of the set for me were Liquid Gold and the Balancing Cleanser, though I also used the Rejuvenating Cream. These products lasted me from May-July and are still not empty.

I would not recommend use of these products for anyone under the age of 25, as I just don’t think their magic powers would be necessary before then.

Liquid Gold

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‘An "overnight facial in a bottle" which revitalises, firms and gives radiance in a single application. The combination of 5% Glycolic Acid and soothing Liquorice Extract resurfaces and brightens dull, tired, ageing skin whilst minimizing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, open pores and pigmentation.’

My Liquid Gold Low down

The best way that I can describe the effects of Liquid Gold on my skin is that it refined the surface and minimised the appearance of pores. 

Hand on heart, I noticed a difference the first time I used it – my skin texture just looked a little finer. I guess a bit like when you apply primer or powder – when the texture of your skin shows a slight visible improvement… like that, only it’s not make up.

Usage

  • recommended for use 2 or 3 times a week
  • a liquid with the consistency of water, which is simply swiped across the face with a cotton pad
  • works most effectively when used at night, alone, without the addition of moisturiser etc which may dilute its effectiveness

A powerful night time resurfacing and firming lotion for the skin. This exclusive complex jump-starts the skin’s metabolism, tightens enlarged pores, and delivers lighter, clearer and more even skin tone.

How does it work?

Alpha-H contains active ingredients:

  • 5% Glycolic Acid, the smallest form of AHA, used to improve the skin’s appearance and texture
  • Liquorice extract, a natural skin brightener when applied topically.
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Liquid Gold ingredient list.

Caution:

Liquid Gold’s active ingredients are powerful – and as such may not be suitable for delicate or sensitive skin. I have one friend whose skin suffered after using these products, so while they worked wonders for mine and many others I know of, they should be used with caution.

The other crucial thing to remember that as with any skincare product containing glycolic acid can make the skin more susceptible to sun damage and absolutely must be used in conjunction with an spf of at least factor 15. I have used a minumum of factor 30 since I started using Alpha-H and usually factor 50. Alpha-H actually produces its own factor 50 sunscreen, which is next on my list of must have products!

Alpha-H Balancing Cleanser

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What I loved most about this cleanser was that it felt super gentle on my skin. It helps reset the skin’s pH balance and contains vitamin E and Aloe Vera, which perhaps explains why it felt so soothing. It also removes make up very effectively, including eye make up (inc waterproof mascara apparently, although I didn’t test this).

‘A gentle creamy cleanser that softly hydrates and cleanses the skin without drying and stretching.  Removes all traces of face and eye makeup whilst balancing the skin.  Three in one action. Suitable for acne prone skin.’

Balancing Cleanser is described as a having a 3 in 1 action because it effectively replaces your eye make-up remover, cleanser and toner.

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With consistent use, the appearance of my skin most definitely improved while using these products. Small below surface bumps that I’d had as long as I could remember disappeared and pores definitely appeared smaller.

Naturally my love affair left me wanting more, so after a thorough consultation with Alpha-H’s amazing in-house skincare expert (via email as this is an Australian brand!) I was delighted to receive several other Alpha-H products for testing:

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L to R: Liquid Gold Daily Poly Oxidant Complex, Absolute Eye Complex and Age Delay Intensive Eye & Lip Treatment Cream.

 

Liquid Gold Daily Poly Oxidant Complex

This helps firm the skin and works as a great base for makeup – I could feel my skin tighten and tingle slightly on application – in a refreshing way.

A light gel serum that firms, plumps, hydrates and gives the skin an instant ‘lift'. Contains the resurfacing and rejuvenating properties of Alpha-H's Liquid Gold plus Lipochroman-6, a next generation antioxidant which protects the skin from environmental aggressions to effectively ‘future proof' your complexion against premature ageing.

I applied this every morning and on the nights when I didn’t use Liquid Gold.

Absolute Eye Complex

This light gel firms and hydrates the eye area and unlike most eye products, can be used over the entire eye area. It contains Hibiscus Flower, Beech Tree, Olive Leaf and Cucumber extracts and is extremely soothing, especially when used straight from the fridge!

‘Provides an instant pick-me-up, reflecting light away from those creeping fine lines, dark circles and tell-tale puffiness around the eye area.’

Age Delay Intensive Eye & Lip Treatment Cream

This extremely nourishing eye cream feels ultra moisturising on the skin. I used it at night and the Absolute Eye Complex in the morning.

‘Skin that has lost elasticity is revitalised by Hibiscus Flower Extract whilst precious Omega 3 oil regenerates and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A complex of natural antioxidants from Grapeseed, Rosehip and Vitamin C works to support these visible results by defending your skin from everyday environmental damage, to further delay the signs of ageing.’

Did either of these products make my eye area look any younger? I’m honestly not sure… but they definitely made the skin feel moisturised and brightened.

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From top: Liquid Gold Daily Poly Oxidant Complex, Absolute Eye Complex and Age Delay Intensive Eye & Lip Treatment Cream.

I’ve really enjoyed using these products and would definitely recommend them. The starter kits are great value and are available from Salon Skincare, Bath & Unwind or QVC. If you do decide to try them, please use a small amount just a couple of times a week until your skin gets used to them – and always use an spf.

If you have any queries, please have a look or seek advice from www.alpha-h.com.au 

Have you used Alpha-H or do you think it might be right for you?

Saturday, 17 September 2011

OSIS Refresh Dust Dry Shampoo Review

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Osis Refresh Dust by Schwarzkopf Professional is a spray on dry shampoo which adds body, texture, light hold and a gorgeous fresh smell to your hair.

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For anyone unfamiliar with the concept of dry shampoo, it’s a powder based product which absorbs excess oil and is generally used to help your hair last another day without washing or to provide that mattified second day lived in look.

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Refresh Dust also volumises the hair, which I hadn’t expected at all.

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When first sprayed, it looks like a clear liquid.

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This dries in about 30 seconds as a fine layer of white powder.

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Its chalky finish spreads easily with the fingers and apparently leaves an invisible finish. I’m not sure how much of it is absorbed into the hair or how the white powder works on dark hair, but it was fine on mine and didn’t leave any chalkiness.

I did a little experiment…

Basically I let my hair get really minging.  I didn’t wash it for 4 days – a long time in my book!  I took a before pic, but honestly, it’s so gross I’m loathe to share it, more out of consideration for my readers than vanity, truly. So you’ll have to take my word for it – think Grease Lightning.

Application

Refresh Dust should be shaken vigorously before use, then applied in short bursts around 20cm from your hair.  I basically put my head upside down and spritzed mostly around the roots, then pulled it up into a ponytail with my hands (no brush).

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Now I know it’s nothing fancy, but trust me, it’s awesome compared to how it looked before!  Apologies for the pic quality – I cropped it to bits to hide as much of the flash as possible.

Then I tried it on a normal day…

Second day hair that had been dried naturally but was a bit icky at the roots as I’d used a deep conditioner.

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I spritzed the roots with Refresh Dust, then forked it through my hair with my fingers. No back combing, brushing or styling and no other products were used.

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I have quite a lot of hair anyway, but it doesn’t normally look as full as this without styling – I was really impressed!  It dropped a bit later, but not much – and it still had more volume than before application.






Will I be buying more of this when it runs out? 100% yes!  
I can see me getting through it much quicker than someone with shorter or finer hair, in fact the bottle is feeling a lot lighter after just 3 or 4 uses, but I’m loving it. In terms of adding volume, I imagine it would work even better on someone with less hair.

Osis Refresh Dust costs around £9.25 for 100ml.

I have used and loved Osis hair products for years, so was really pleased to be sent some for review and discover that Osis hasn’t let me down.  I’ve raved about them to anyone who will listen forever - the ones I’ve tried before and rate include:
  • Magic Anti Frizz Shine Serum (repurchased several times)
  • Sparkler Shine Spray (nice for lightweight shine)
  • Flatliner Iron Serum Spray (strangely works wonders on curls!)
  • Dust It Mattifying Powder (Cult item but i think I’ve too much hair for it!)
Have you tried Refresh Dust or do you fancy giving it a go? I’m hooked!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Topshop Mini Make up Haul Swatched

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I had my first foray with Topshop Make Up today and was really quite impressed with what I found. In fact I spent almost an hour perusing the counter and drawing colourful stripes on my arms.  At one point the Security Man loitered behind me, clearly wondering what on earth I was up to. Thankfully he didn’t follow me into the changing rooms where I photographed the swatches to show you guys, though I’ll save those for a separate post.

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I was very restrained and came away with just two products in my little paper bag…

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Cream Blush, for which I’ve had several recommendations from beauty bloggers and an eye crayon in Tarnish.  I’ll tell you about the blush first…

Topshop Cream Blush in High Five

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Looks pretty scary.  It’s not. This is the lighter shade; the other is called Pinch and is a darker reddy pink. The texture is creamy, obviously, quite soft and easily blendable. It spreads reasonably easily and feels slightly tacky on my skin. I didn’t apply powder over it and am not sure if/how that would work.

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Heavily swatched you can see the slight sheen on my skin… it looks almost gold here. I’m the kind of girl who wears make up to pretend that’s how I actually look, rather than ‘hey I’m wearing make up’ but I’m actually coming around to the idea of heavily applied blusher. Mind you, I think it looks best on under 25s and over 70s, so I’ll steer clear.

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Blended with fingers you can see it looks much more user friendly!

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And applied with a brush, which is how I’d actually use it on my face, for a subtle flush. I think the colour looks rather gorgeous here, a slightly corally toned pink.  You need the teeniest amount… I literally touched it with the tip of the bristles and that was enough for one cheek.

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Sorry(ish) that my face is a bit blurry in this pic, but hopefully it’s enough to let you see the colour of the blush on my cheeks. I also applied a little to my lips… it looks nice over lipbalm. As you can see in this close up of the compact, the colour is softer in tone under the surface.

 

Topshop Eye Crayon in Tarnish

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I’m loving the idea of eye colour that’s quick & easy to apply. I simply don’t  have time for anything else now that my day consists of dropping off and picking up small children at various times. Four different times to be precise. I have about 5 minutes in between to do work, tidy the house, blog and draw a quick Topshop tattoo on my arm…

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Tarnish is a cool peat/espresso brown, no orangey tones there at all, though there are little flecks of bronze through it, enough to catch the light and give a slight metallic look without any glitter or fallout.

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Light swatch, heavy swatch and smudged. I’ll use this mainly as a smudgey liner on my upper lid – it glides on quickly and easily and is very workable.

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It’s not very big, just over half the size of a regular eye pencil I’d say – and as you can see it will need sharpening fairly often – but I couldn’t resist its charms. Other colours include the most delicious dark metallic plummy purple.

Topshop cream blush costs £6 and is available instore or online at Topshop.com

The eye crayon in Tarnish costs £5.

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