Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Nubar Verde ~ Green Fingered NOTD

Nubar Verde

I promised to come back and share pics of my sister’s nails in Nubar Verde - painted in haste after receiving a last minute invite to the MTV Awards in Belfast.  I often have nail polish in my handbag - I apply it when I arrive somewhere if I haven’t had time to do it before I leave.  I have horrified many a taxi driver and been known to paint my nails in the loo of a posh restaurant.  But on this particular day my nail habit was an advantage.

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It was frustratingly difficult to capture the pure gorgeousness of this colour with so little time - the forefinger above probably sums it up best.

Part of Nubar’s Venetian Glass Collection, Verde is a deep, dark, steely green, almost blackened in some lights; tinged with gold and platinum in others.

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It’s full of shimmery sparkle, but completely smooth in consistency.  If you haven’t tried Nubar polishes before, you’re seriously missing out. They apply amazingly well, are ‘Big 3 Free’ (ie no Formaldehyde, Toulene and DBP), highly pigmented and great quality. Do use a base coat though… we didn’t have time in this occasion, resulting in green stained nails - nice! 

I’m so glad UK retailers, Beauty Shed and Beauty Bay now stock Nubar as I used to struggle to find the colours I wanted via US eBay.

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I took a few pics of my own nails later to try and show the sparkle under electric light (above) and the dark steely forest green in dull light (below).

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A final gratuitous shot - I loved how my sister’s specs picked out the lighter green tones in bottle.

I also pictured this polish in my makeup haul post, when some of you said you’d like to see swatches.  I think this shade is a gorgeous alternative to the usual rich AW tones.

Nubar Verde is £5.50 for 15ml at Beauty Bay - an amazing price for such an exceptional polish.

Have you tried Nubar yet?

Monday, 28 November 2011

New Makeup Brushes - Daniel Sandler & Real Techniques

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Hello everyone, it’s breaking my heart a little that I don’t have as much time as I’d like to blog at the moment (the perils of being a work-at-home-mum!), so I’m sneaking in to give you a quick look at my new makeup brushes while Mr SB isn’t looking!

I’ve been feeling the ‘need’ for these beauties for a few months now and finally succumbed! I bought the Real Techniques Stippling brush from Cocktail Cosmetics for £10.95, which I think is pretty reasonable for a quality makeup brush.  It’s as much as I can comfortably afford to pay for a single brush to be honest!

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Delivery was super quick and it arrived nicely packaged like this…  I’ve never used a stippling brush before, so it’s been a learning process the past few days and I’m starting to get the hang of it.  I’m mainly using it to apply foundation, and will do a full review of how I’m finding it very soon. 

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View from above - check out how soft and fluffy it is!

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I also got the Daniel Sandler Waterbrush as part of my Escentual order, which I placed Thursday afternoon and received Friday - amazing service as always!  This was reduced from £15.50 to just £5.00, so it would have been rude not to!  Sorry that you can’t get a great view of it here, but it’s a super smooth angled brush, very densely packed and again, incredibly soft on the skin.

I’ve been using both of these to do my makeup since Friday and it’s been fun using new techniques.  The waterbrush works brilliantly with my Daniel Sandler watercolour blush (naturally, they are meant to be used together but I didn’t expect the brush to make such a difference!) - I’ll do a review of how they work together in a separate post.  Daniel tweeted me to suggest other ways of using this brush, so of course I’ll be sharing his secret tips with all of you!

Wow this has been my quickest blog post ever - and it’s just occurred to me that this is exactly how blogging is actually supposed to be done, as opposed to my usual rambles!  :)

I hope you’re all well and I’ll be back to blogging with a vengeance in the next few days - I’ve got so much gorgeousness I can’t wait to share with you all!

Do you have either of these brushes and do you enjoy using them?

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Spitalfields Candle Company ~ fragrant flickering Christmas

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I love it when someone’s passion becomes their way of life, when they pour so much of themselves into something they love that it touches other people’s lives in a really positive way.  A couple of years ago Andrew and Philippa made a dozen orange and clove candles on the stove as Christmas presents for friends; last year they made more than 4000!

They have now moved from a small stall at Spitalfields Market to the High Street, but each candle is still lovingly hand blended and poured...

“We use a soya wax from a sustainable source, and only aromatherapy-grade essential oils. Wherever possible we use organic oils, or those made from UK-grown plant and herb extracts. The result is a 100% natural candle which gently fills any room with a beautiful fragrance.”

The Spitalfields Candle Company is a small company with big dreams.  Still in its early days, the company has had very little marketing or exposure yet, so I was honoured when Andrew invited me to review a few of his creations.  He’s also allowed me to share a special Christmas discount code with all of you… more about that later.

I’ll start with my favourite…

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039 Orange & Clove I’m not generally a fan of any fragrance that includes clove; it can have a sharpness that just doesn’t appeal to me - but not in this case. This smell is soft, warm and strangely comforting - both calming and uplifting. The orange is stronger than the clove (another plus) and it’s Christmassy, but not the kind of Christmassy smell that you go right off on the 26th December (is it just me that does that?).  Truly, it’s the most perfect Christmas fragrance I’ve ever come across. We’re bombarded with them on the High Street, and the best I’ve found in the past is White Company’s Winter Oil, but this candle knocks its socks off and everyone who comes into our home when it’s burning just swoons. I’d defy anyone not to like it.

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040Frankincense & Juniper are two scents that I personally adore - and a gorgeous alternative for Christmas. This candle is gorgeously rich, warm and spicey… I’d quite happily bathe in this fragrance.  The essential oil content means that you actually do sense the benefits when these candles burn ~ exotic, calming and soothing sums this one up perfectly. 

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041Ylang Ylang & Patchouli is Spitalfields Candle Company’s best seller. A sweet, exotic, floral scent, it is sensual, relaxing and balancing.  My sister, who adores candles, fell so in love with this fragrance I gave it to her.  She normally favours the likes of Diptyque, but has declared this little number the most beautiful candle she has ever smelt! This one, pictured above, is the smaller Classic Votive, 60g size. You can see how it compares to the others in the first pic at the top.

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One of my favourite things about cold dark nights is lighting a candle and relaxing in its glow...

If you’re thinking of treating yourself or a loved one to a fragranced candle this Christmas, I’d definitely recommend that you head over to spitalfieldscandles.co.uk to check out its gorgeous range and support an amazing fledgling company! The full range includes Lavender & Chamomile, Lemon Verbena (next on my list!), Rose Geranium, Rosemary & Thyme, Vetyver & Lavender.

The little Class Votive 60g candles (see Ylang Ylang & Patchouli above) cost £8.99 and the Large 200g cost £25.

Enter CHRISTMAS+2011 at the checkout for 25% discount until 15 December 2011. P&P is free on orders over £25.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Dior Vernis ~ Exquis #611 ~ Holiday 2011 Les Rouges Or

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Exquis is one of the Dior Vernis Holiday 2011 ‘Les Rouges Or’ Collection - and couldn’t be more aptly named in my opinion.  Dior nail polish holds a special place in my heart as I wore it on my wedding day (& still have the bottle to prove it, 6 yrs on!).  It’s the only Dior polish I’ve ever owned, so I didn’t need to be asked twice if I’d like to try this one. It’s even good for your nails…

“The formula is enriched with silicon and proteins to treat and beautify nails by reinforcing the keratin, making the nails stronger and harder with each application. Meanwhile, the glossy coat acts as a shield against external damage, for nails that grow more beautiful with each passing day even when they are not polished.”

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Isn’t is beautiful? I’m not sure this post needs many words to be honest, but no doubt I’ll find a few.  Taupe with a cool shimmering gold running through it is how it looks in the bottle, and on the nails, sometimes.  This polish has a personality of its own and I love how it switches moods according to the light and time of day.

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Most often it’s a dark mushroom-taupe - above left. Moments later, it has a khaki green tinge - above right.

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In the shade it looks different again, still glossy, still a hint of shimmer, but more dark and moody; a steel, mushroom, taupe, chocolate, gold-tinged khaki.

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The new wide cut, graduated brush makes application a dream. Pressed slightly firmly so that the hairs splay out, one stroke almost covers the entire nail (except for my thumb).

“For a quicker, smudge-free, more precise "haute couture" application, Dior has reinvented the brush. Its wider, rounded cut ideally matches the shape of the nail so that varnish can be applied flawlessly, leaving nails looking like they came straight from the manicurist.”

Don’t know about the latter in my case, but the thick and creamy Vernis applies smoothly and is almost opaque in one coat. I used two for these pics and no top coat - and as you can see, it’s very glossy all on its own.  Normally I’d apply a topcoat anyway for a perfect finish and to help it last longer.  I am very hard on nail polish (two small children help with that) but wore Exquis throughout the past week and it did wear well on me around 4 days with no chips or tip wear, which is a miracle in my book!

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The oh so glamorous silver lid comes off to reveal an easy grip cap. Not the prettiest and may be even easier to grip if a little bigger, but this wasn’t an issue for me.

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The pearlescent shimmer plays beautifully in the light and is completely smooth.  Colours for the Dior Vernis now have an extra glossy sheen: “Its new formula includes a cocktail of active ingredients to amplify brightness and shine, aligning the pigments and pearlescent elements in the same direction to reflect every glint of light.”

RRP £17

Do you like? Have you tried Exquis or any other shades from Dior’s Holiday 2011 Collection?

*sample*

Monday, 21 November 2011

Performance & Elegance ~ Soothing products fit for a ballerina

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A secret corner of me has always been a little sad that I never had the chance to wear a pretty tutu and pink satin ballet shoes with my hair tied in an elegant bun. Using skincare products designed to meet the demands of Royal Ballet dancers is as close as I’m likely to get!

‘Performance and Elegance’ is a range of body products designed by Berkley Square Cosmetics in an exclusive partnership with the Royal Ballet.  Not exclusively for dancers, the range aims to “ease demands that day-to-day stress and hectic modern lifestyles impose on everybody’s skin and muscle tissues.”

My demands include:

  • sore back and shoulders from spending too much time on the laptop, usually on the sofa (the shame)
  • aching everything back from swinging small children around the room (my own I hasten to add!)
  • sore legs from wearing stupidly high heels on nights out

If you’re nodding at this stage - or can replace the above with your own version, read on…

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Soothing & Relaxing Bath & Shower Cream is a beautifully scented, rich body wash.  Despite best intentions I haven’t tried it in the bath (I rarely have time for baths) but it’s gorgeous in the shower.  It does feel rich, luxurious and moisturising on the skin and the fresh fragrance is very rejuvenating… surprisingly it doesn’t smell as girly as it looks and is really quite unisex.

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Cooling Muscle Gel contains arnica, seaweed and mint.  In the past I’ve always used heat based muscle gels, so this was a new concept to me and worked surprisingly well. 

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If you follow me on Twitter you might remember me posting about my aching hand a few weeks ago. It felt like a strained muscle or tendon and - hand on heart - the discomfort eased almost instantly when I applied this gel.  I was actually quite shocked (and of course pleased) at the effect.

“High performance Cooling Muscle Gel uses natural menthol, seaweed extract and
Aloe Vera to soothe tired and weary bodies. The bath & shower cream… includes key ingredients Vitamin E and Arnica to further aid the body’s respite and repair.”

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As you can see here it’s a clear gel with a silkiness running through it. The mint fragrance is revitalising and the gel feels cool and soothing on tired, aching muscles.  It absorbs into the skin quickly and easily with a subtle tinglyness.  I love it applied straight after the shower gel, but it’s also gorgeous after an hour too long spent traipsing around the shops (Christmas shopping anyone?).

Soothing & Relaxing Bath & Shower Cream 150ml £12.00
Cooling Muscle Gel 75ml £13.00

For stockists please visit www.bsquare.co.uk

Are ‘Performance & Elegance’ calling out to your aching muscles - or do we have any ‘actual’ ballerinas among us?!

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Friday, 18 November 2011

Sleek Berry Christmas Collection

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It’s that time of year when a girl feels a sudden urge for a berry lip.  I have yet to explore the many options available, which knowing me will take some time & involve much swatching of hands!  I did, however just receive an email with details of a berry bargainous little kit from Sleek’s Christmas Collection - containing a berry lip (Cranberry), cheek (Fenberry) and kohl pencil (Mossberry). 

I’m not sure that a berry eye would be flattering on many people, but do think this blush would give a lovely just-walked-through-a-snowy-forest flushed glow to most skin tones - and the lipstick looks like a pretty shade. Best of all, this little set will cost just £9.99 for the lot!  It’s available for a limited from 23 November  time - or at Cloud10Beauty from 25 November.

I’ve been impressed with Sleek eyeshadows, but not tried their blush or lipstick - if you have I’d love to know what you think of the formula (these ones are matt).

Or if you’ve already discovered the perfect berry lipstick, please share your secret!

Posh PJs ~ Charlotte & Co

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I love PJs. Always have done, though to be honest they’re not something I’ve ever felt the urge to splash out on.  I’m sure I’m not the only one happy to spend a small fortune on an amazing dress and killer heels for a special occasion, yet sleep every night in something I’d frankly not answer the door in!  The older I get the more I think that these little things actually do matter… that we should love the everyday things in our lives.

With this in mind, I happily accepted Charlotte’s offer to try a pair of her PJs.  Charlotte & Co is an online boutique filled with girly gorgeousness to add a little (or a lot!) of lux to everyday life with a range of homeware, clothing and accessories ranging from pretty pure silk knickers to stylish mock croc wellies.

Meet my new PJs…

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I’m a sucker for butterfly prints so couldn’t resist this very girly pink brushed cotton flannel pair.

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They’re so soft and comfy to wear and the genius design means they’re elasticated at the back but the front can be loosened (or tightened, if you’re lucky!) for the perfect fit.  This might just come in handy after Christmas dinner!  I can’t stand tight PJs and usually size up - I didn’t this time, but these are very true to size and a comfortable, relaxed fit without being overly baggy. (ie I don’t feel like I’m wearing a sack & they don’t stretch & hang off my bum after a night’s sleep!)

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It’s hard to photograph PJs - this was the best way to show you them in their entirety (much as I love you all, I’m not ready to pose in my PJs just yet - sorry girls!) The fabric is not at all transparent, despite how it looks against the light.

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This pic is a more accurate perception of the colour and fabric.

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The soft, pretty fabric, comfortable design and pretty finish is what makes these a bit more special than my usual High St options.  And while it’s more than I’d usually pay, I don’t think £39 is extortionate for  cotton flannel PJs - especially as they do make me feel lovely going to bed!

Oh and if you ‘like’ Charlotte & Co on Facebook you can get 25% with the code luxe25 for the next 3 days, which works out at just £29.25!

For those lucky enough to have a super generous Santa in their life, Charlotte & Co also sells Classic Silk Satin pyjamas.  As for me, I may dream on…

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Chanel Paradoxal Dupe ? 2true #46 NOTD

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I picked up this 2true beauty in Superdrug for just £1.99. Bargainous considering it bears a startling resemblance to the stunning Chanel Paradoxal. I thought I’d share some pics to see if you think it’s a good dupe. Sadly I don’t have ‘the real thing’ but know most of you have seen it by now!

Before I go any further, apologies for a less than perfect mani - I just painted my nails at top speed as an interlude from my work!

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I took 53 pictures for this post *wipes brow* - all in attempt to catch the gorgeous duochrome effect in this polish.  I’d describe it as a dark minky-grey-auberginey shade, shot through with a bright pinky-purple duochrome. Honest, it is… and I’ll find it, eventually…

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Not here of course, as this is in the shade. (20 shots on and I’m on the verge of giving up)

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Oh - sunshine *grabs camera* - ok so you can’t see it ON my nails, but here it is in the bottle!

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Do I spy a faint purple glimmer?  The sun is playing games with me now. Every time I’m about to snap it disappears behind a cloud.

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Oh - purple glimmer in the bottle and a whisper on my nails… (in real life it’s as distinctive on my nails as it is on the bottle). The fact that I’m taking pics with my left hand isn’t helping, but the nails on my right hand were neater!

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And finally… got it in 53… one duochrome thumb - nailed!

This polish applied so easily I was amazed - great pigmentation and it was almost opaque in one coat. It’s supposed to last up to 5 days… we shall see about that! 2true nail polish in Shade #46 is £1.99 at Superdrug and is much prettier in real life than my camera can capture! Do you like?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Pai Geranium & Thistle moisturiser

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I had planned to incorporate this into another post on my daily skincare routine, but as a few of you were interested in Pai’s buy one get one half price offer, which ends tonight (!!!) I decided to do it early.

Sorry that I didn’t photograph the bottle before I started using it… but at least you can see that it’s been well tested!

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I’d wanted to try Pai skincare for quite a while.  I first heard about it on twitter and through other bloggers who found it really helpful when their skin was feeling particularly sensitive.  Pai contacted me after I posted about my skin flaring up a bit and gave me some excellent advice about my own skincare routine…. which I’ll do a separate post about another day.  They later offered me the chance to try one of their moisturisers and I’ve been hooked ever since.

If you’re not familiar with the brand, the main thing you need to know is that Pai are experts on sensitive skin - so every product is suitable for sensitive and allergy-prone skin. My skin isn’t normally particularly sensitive, but I’m more than happy to use products that I know won’t irritate it!

‘We carefully select ingredients with proven remedial and skin soothing properties and keep our products free from irritating chemicals and alcohol.’

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The product comes in a chunky, slim glass bottle with a pump mechanism - my favourite as it’s the most hygenic in my opinion - and even better, this one locks really easily so it’s perfect for travel.

But what I love most of all about this moisturiser is that it’s so completely pure.

‘Sensitive skin requires ultra-pure ingredients packed full of high-performance actives. That's why we only use concentrated and premium-grade certified organic botanical extracts that support the skin's natural functions. Our quest for product purity means we never use synthetics, alcohol denat, parabens, phenoxyethanol or other skin irritants.’

Pai moisturisers are free from:

  • All synthetic and natural Parabens
  • Alcohol (dries & irritates skin)
  • Skin irritants including Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Formaldehyde (incl. Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate)
  • Beeswax (comedogenic & pore blocking)

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After an in-depth consultation, Sarah Brown, founder of Pai, decided that Geranium & Thistle for combination skin would be the most suitable for me.  My skin is actually normal to dry, but can be prone to congestion and enlarged pores in the T-zone (nice!).  This cream is designed to clear and re-balance congested or combination skin.

This product feels like a little layer of velvet on my face.  Unusually for an organic product it is mattifying. The first time I used it I was quite shocked… it almost looked as if I had applied a light dusting of powder on my face! My skin wasn’t dry - it just looked like it was in soft focus - always a bonus!  The addition of Jojoba works to clear congested pores while high levels of GLA in Borage oil keep skin soft and supple.

‘Packed full of Essential Fatty Acids and a host of natural-active skin soothers, this moisturiser rebalances the skin and evens out skin tone.’

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It absorbs quickly, feels lovely on the skin, creates a matt finish and a perfect base for make up. I feel no need for an additional primer when I use this.  Now that my skin has settled I feel that I may need a little extra moisture for the winter and have my eye on Pai’s Rosehip and bioregenerate fruit & seed oil blend to use with the moisturiser.

Normally I’d say that every skin is different and while Pai moisturiser has worked for me it may not suit you, but this is one rare occasion on which I’d be shocked if anyone tried this product and wasn’t happy with it.  I’d 100% recommend it to my friends - and that includes you!

Pai moisturisers range in price from £19-26 and are available in four formulas for different skin types. If you purchase before midnight GMT tonight (13 Nov 2011) you can avail of the buy one get one half price offer!

Irish readers, Sarah Brown of Pai will be in Dublin next week, 17-18 November - check out the venues on her blog at paiskincare.com

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