Navy Blue Smokey Eye & Boombastic Lashes!

GOSH blue eyeshadow quad

This is an odd face of the day post with a navy smokey eye, which is a bit out of my comfort zone, but it’s good to do these things sometimes! 

Eyes: I used GOSH navy smokey eyeshadow quad for this look, with the second darkest shade on the moving lid and the darkest to line the top and bottom lashes. I applied the second lightest blue on inner corners and to blend the colour out, then added a touch of MAC Power Surge bronze metallic liner on my waterline. To finish, I used GOSH Boombastic Mascara, which is brilliant for creating voluminous lashes!

GOSH mascara

I’ve shown you one eye done vs one undone (scary!) to illustrate the impact of this mascara.  The eye to your left looks so much smaller and just blah compared to the other.

Face: As a base I mixed Murad Absolute Bronzing Boost {post here} with a Korean BB Cream and added Benefit Hervana as blush {post here}. This combo clearly doesn’t work too well with flash photography as you can see above - there is definitely some flashback due to the SPF content.

GOSH Blue eyeshadow quad (2)

I wanted to keep my lips natural as the eye makeup was quite heavy (for me!), so used Transformulas Lip Volume {post} to plump and smooth, then topped with my go-to nude gloss, Mulberry by M&S Limited Collection.

Blue smokey eye FOTD

Here is the final look… my skin looks ridiculously dark in these pics, taken about a month ago. I’m a whiter shade of pale now, but used the Murad to help my face blend with my (self) tanned body at the time. 

To me, this eye look is a bit old fashioned… maybe I can’t shake off the 80s connotations associated with blue eyeshadow, or maybe it’s just how I applied it!  What do you think?
inc press samples

Vichy Idealia Smoothing & Illuminating Cream


Vichy Idealia is a new smoothing and illuminating cream from Vichy, designed to help restore the behaviour of healthy looking skin.

“Vichy Idealia Smoothing & Illuminating Cream visibly smoothes the appearance of wrinkles and leaves skin's texture refined and softer. It re-awakens the skin's natural radiance for a fresh, and even complexion.”

Vichy_Idealia (2)

The pale pink gel cream is pleasantly fragranced and colour coordinated with the opalescent pale pink jar!  It absorbs quickly and creates an instant sheen on the skin.

Vichy_Idealia (3) Vichy_Idealia (4)

My friend Alison (who knows all about beauty potions) has been testing Idealia for this review… here are her thoughts…

“I have been using Vichy Idealia for a few weeks now.  My skin is dry in the morning and oily by the afternoon (what a combination!) and this product worked really well for me all day.

It feels gorgeous when you put it on in the morning - really light and fresh and I love the smell.  My makeup glides on afterwards and I do think that its marketing claims are true with regards to skin looking more radiant as my skin can look quite dull at times (due to me not drinking enough water!).  The whole texture and smell of it even makes you feel more radiant. 

I can't comment on my wrinkles as I think it is too early yet, but will definitely continue to use Idealia and would recommend to others.  The only downside it that is hasn't got an SPF but then again if it did. it mightn't feel as light on your skin.

So, whilst I still wouldn't pass for a Middleton sister I definitely feel it gives my skin a glow.”

Thanks so much for your brilliant review Alison - I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed using this product.

Vichy Idealia is reasonably prices at £22 for 50ml and available exclusively at Gordon’s Chemists in Northern Ireland until 31 August, instore or online.

press sample courtesy of Gordon’s


And the Butter London Giveaway Winner is…

Butter_London AW 2012 collection

Thanks to all those who entered the Butter London giveaway on my Facebook page… I loved reading the new names you came up with for the stunning but ‘dubiously’ named Fall Collection.

There were many that tickled me…

~ ‘Princess and the Pea’ or ‘Pixie Moss’ for Trustafarian

~ ‘Hollywood Boulevard’ for Gobsmacked

~ ‘Fall Fireworks’ for Shag


But one really stood out for being equally amusing & clever: 

Gobsmacked has been renamed in my eyes to…

 Butter_London_Gobsmacked-Swatch_Autumn_Winter_2012 (3)



Congratulations to the lovely Amanda and thanks for your genius entry!  Please email your address to & a bottle of ‘Gobsmacked-Clooney’ will be winging its way to you this week!


The Fushigi Shop: Handcrafted Wonders


One of the best things about blogging is other bloggers. The majority are hugely supportive and generous with their advice and time - and I’ve made some amazing discoveries thanks to them, one of which I’d like to share with you today.

Since my earliest days, has been a favourite blog of mine. Hugely creative, inspiring, individual and adorable. Please check it out. 

Fushigi Shop (2)

Its fabulous author recently left a longterm job to chase her dream, launching her own business called The Fushigi Shop (Fushigi: mystery, wonder, marvel, strange, curiosity in Japanese). She sells her own beautiful handcrafted creations, ranging from exquisite jewellery to pretty oddments, such as my purchase.

Fushigi Shop (3)

I don’t know about you, but it’s not every day that I receive such a beautifully wrapped and presented parcel, or get thanked for making a purchase.  So what was inside? …

Fushigi Shop

I just love how every detail is so tenderly and perfectly finished. There are not enough of these qualities in this world.  My parcel contained dainty nail stickers.

Fushigi nail stickers (5)

I chose ‘Fushigi Botanica’ and ‘Ladies in Festival’ (also available in black). They are so pretty and delicate. To use them you just cut around your chosen image, peel off the backing paper (gently - it’s a little fiddly so take your time), then place the sticker on your nail and seal with topcoat.

Fushigi nail stickers (6)

I was worried they’d be too big for my nails, which aren’t the longest, but each sticker is smaller than my baby nail, so I needn’t have worried and think they would fit even the shortest nails.

Fushigi nail stickers

I applied mine over Essie Ladylike and didn’t place it particularly well (I decided to do it before I’d had a cup of tea this morning so wasn’t full of patience… don’t ask!)

Fushigi nail stickers (2)

Coincidentally, they did match the maxi dress I later decided to wear! I think this sticker would look better on my ring finger or pinkie. I can’t wait to try the birds next!

The nail stickers cost £3.00 for 22 stickers - and you can be sure no-one will be wearing the same ones. Other designs are also available… do go have a browse and pop back regularly as new items are often uploaded and one-off designs tend to disappear pronto! THE FUSHIGI SHOP

Thank you Y… you are wonderful & I wish you every success with your new business.  I’ll be back! ;) xx


Essie All Tied Up: Summer 2012 Collection

Essie All Tied Up Summer 2012

Essie All Tied Up is a burnished bronze with a gold iridescent finish and dusky pink undertones, which falls more naturally into an Autumn collection in my view.

I got lots of compliments when wearing this, partly because it’s so unusual I think. This polish had the smoothest formula of the three I tried and applied perfectly in two coats. These photographs were taken in evening light and the top left image was taken in the shade.  The gold shimmer is more obvious in daytime sun or under electric light, though it tends to add shine rather than look overtly gold.  This is quite a ‘grown up’ kind of shade, lovely for daytime without looking too OTT or in your face and I’ll definitely wear it most in Autumn.

The other two shades I swatched from this collection were Bikini So Teeny and Mojito Madness.

Essie All Tied up is £10 HERE

Is it just me or is anyone else starting to look forward to Autumn? Bring on the tan boots & cosy scarves!


Essie Bikini So Teeny: Review & Swatch

Essie Bikini So Teeny
This beautiful cornflower blue makes me think of squinting up at the sky while sunbathing on the beach… in a Bikini So Teeny, naturally. The silver shimmer is only apparent in direct light (see top left pic in sunlight), but adds an iridescent glow that sets this apart from other pastel blues I’ve tried. It took 3 coats for a perfect application, though I could probably have got away with two.

It’s a touch cooler and brighter than Nails Inc Bluebell; softer and less turquoise than Barry M Blueberry Ice cream - (see links to posts using both). I’ll swatch them side by side one day. Bikini So Teeny is my favourite of the three, though Bluebell is ridiculously close… if you have it, I’d give this one a miss.

Essie Bikini So Teeny is £10 HERE


Essie Mojito Madness Summer 2012 Collection

Essie Mojito Madness Summer 2012

Essie Mojito Madness is unlike any green polish I’ve ever seen and I just adore it. It’s as bright as emerald but leans ever so slightly blue in undertone, which I guess pushes it into jade territory, though to my eye it’s in a genre of its own. Super sunny, I think this would look incredible on tanned or darker skin tones.

Opaque and creamy, it has no shimmer – just lots of gloss (no top coat in these pics)!  Like all Essie polishes I’ve tried, this applies beautifully and wears well. Although launched as a Summer shade, I think this would be gorgeous at any time of year and would look amazing blinged up with glitter for Christmas!

Essie Mojito Madness is £10 HERE

Would you wear green nailpolish?


5 Micellar Waters: Nuxe, Melvita, Etat Pur, La Roche Posay & Bioderma

Nuxe Micellar Cleansing WaterMicellar Water Melvita, La Roche Posay, Etat Pur & Bioderma H20

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time… I’ve been using Micellar Waters for years, initially Nuxe 3 Roses, which I always purchased from, back in the day when most people I know hadn’t heard or micellars, Nuxe, or Escentual!

Bioderma Crealine H20 has raised the profile of micellar waters like no other.  Most who have tried it love it; most who haven’t, want it.  I’ve no idea if this has sparked the trend for an increasing range and awareness of micellars, but there is a lot of love for them. Hopefully this will help you decide if they’re for you or not - and which one might suit your skin.

What is Micellar Water?

A water based cleanser with a small percentage of barely perceptible oil content, which functions like any other cleanser: cleansing the skin and removing makeup.  A micelle is a miniscule oil molecule suspended in soft water, which quickly and gently absorbs dirt and makeup

Water-like in texture (obvs!), they are super easy to use, by simply soaking a cotton pad and swiping it across the face.  While I did use the Nuxe exclusively for this purpose for a couple of years, I now prefer a much deeper cleanse and reserve these for a pre-cleanse or too-tired-to-do-it-properly cleanse.  I tend to regard micellars as wipes for good girls!

I’ll start with Nuxe as it was my first love. NB I have dry skin… these may work differently for your skin type, but generally I look for a product that won’t make my skin any drier than it already is.  Personally I think Micellar Waters work well on all skintypes and some are available in separate formulas specifically for oily skins, which I’ll link below.

Nuxe Micellar Cleansing Water with Rose and Green Tea

Nuxe Rose Micellar Cleansing Water

Designed to cleanse the face, eyes and lips, this has a beautiful light, fresh rose fragrance.  I did use this purely for eye makeup for quite a while… I’m not sure if the new formula is slightly more gentle or if I’ve just started wearing more makeup, but I now find it removes only light eye makeup. The gorgeous smell and fresh feeling on my skin is still the same and it doesn’t dry me out, thanks to one of my  favourite ingredients, hyaluronic acid.

£15 for 200ml HERE


Bioderma Crealine H20

Bioderma H20 Micellar Water

The best known of all micellar waters, Bioderma sets the standard very high for others.  Loved by makeup artists and models, it removes all makeup quickly, gently and without irritation.  It’s an absolute godsend.  Much as I love some of the others I’ve tried, Bioderma remains a firm favourite, which I have repurchased many times. One of the main reasons for this is that despite being gentle and non drying, it removes all eye makeup with ease, including waterproof.  It’s often difficult to get hold of in the UK and I get mine from ebay… this one was a special deal on 2 x 250ml bottles, which suited me as I wanted to take it travelling. I’ve just discovered that Guru Makeup Emporium has 100ml bottles for just £5.50 or the large 500ml for £15.50 - ohhh I’m excited to discover this!

£5.50 - 100ml or £15.50 - 500ml HERE (UK seller!!)


Etat Pur Micellar Cleansing Water

Etat Pur Micellar Cleansing Water

Interestingly, Etat Pur is a creation of the same man behind Bioderma and Institut Esthederm brands, which admittedly gives me an immediate confidence in what they do.  I have enormous respect for this brand (review on some of their other products coming soon) and in my book, this micellar comes a very close second to Bioderma - and I know of others who prefer it.  Containing pure ingredients in close affinity to the skin, this product is simple, efficient and like all of the Etat Pur range, impressively priced for the quality.

*£6/7.40 for 190ml, available in 2 formulas HERE


La Roche Posay Physiological Micellar Solution

La Roche Posay Micellar Water

Another skincare brand that I’m very fond of, La Roche Posay’s micellar is made with thermal spring water for ultra gentle cleansing.  For me, this works best in the morning to refresh the skin rather than removing evening makeup - maybe it was the products I was using during testing, but I didn’t feel this removed my makeup thoroughly.  Suitable for sensitive skins, this is also available in a separate Effaclar formula for oily skins.

£9.75 for 200ml HERE


Melvita Fresh Micellar Water

Melvita Micellar Water

This is the first Melvita product I’ve tried, though I’ve heard many sing this natural, organic brand’s praises.  Containing wild rose petal extract and rose floral water, this has a distinctively rosy scent (moreso than the Nuxe) and is non drying.  Its packaging is the prettiest of all the micellars I’ve seen, while still looking fresh and natural. I really enjoyed using this one and felt it cleansed well.  (I’ve just been browing some of the other products on the Melvita site and they sound gorgeous, so if you have any recs please let me know in the comments!)

*£14.50 for 200ml HERE

Have you ever tried Micellar Cleansers - and do you like?  Nic x


Butter London Giveaway

As a thank you for the lovely feedback on my recent swatches of the new Butter London Autumn/Winter collection, I’ve decided to do a little giveaway.... 

Positive feedback from readers is what makes blogging so rewarding for me.  Some say they blog for themselves and don’t care if anyone reads… I’m so not that person!!!  Every single lovely comment & new subscriber totally makes my day!

While you loved the Butter London colours, some were less fussed on the shade names (me included!), so I thought I’d have some fun with this one…

The prize

Butter_London AW 2012 collection

A bottle of Butter London Nail Lacquer from the Autumn Winter 2012 Collection in your favourite shade (subject to availability).

New & existing subscribers to Strawberry Blonde Beauty are welcome to enter, just pop over to the Giveaway post on my Facebook page to find out how…

If you’re not on Facebook, you can enter here on my blog… leave a comment below telling me your favourite shade from the collection & what YOU think it should have been called. Whoever chooses the best name will win!

For anyone who missed the swatches, here are Trustafarian, Shag & Gobsmacked.

Closing date: Tuesday 28 August 2012, 8pm GMT.  The prize is at my own expense & no alternative is available.

Good Luck! x


M&S Owl Eye Shadow & Nail Polish: Twit Twoo Adorable

Limited Collection Owl palette (closed) hi res

Owl print is a big trend for AW 2012 and I thought I might treat myself to the M&S owl print dress I’ve been admiring on the lovely jayneskitschen blog today, only to discover that it has sold out and is selling for silly money on eBay!   Moments later, images of this Owl Shadow palette by M&S Limited Collection popped into my inbox and made me smile again… isn’t it adorable?

M&S Limited Collection Owl Palette (open)

Launching in September, ‘Shadow’ contains six owl-shaped eyeshadows in gold, blue, charcoal, nude, bronze & silver and costs a rather bargainous £7.50.


M&S Limited Collection Mini Nail Polish


I’m not sure which I love more… the Shadow set or the matching Mini Polish set.  The packaging of the eyeshadows is a winner, but I know I’d use the polishes more; the peacock green, bronze and burgundy are especially lovely. £9.50 for 8 mini polishes = £1.19 each.  Not sure I can resist…


These cuties are part of the new Limited Collection Ivy League look, which also includes:

Limited Collection Gloss Set, £9.50 – 8 mini lip glosses

Limited Collection Face Palette, £9.50

Limited Collection Balm Set, £9.50 – 3 fruity lip balms


Available exclusively from M&S nationwide and online at from 12 September 2012.

Are you an owl lover - or an animal print fan?


Liz Earle Powder Blush in Peony 07: Review & Swatches


Following my review of Liz Earle’s Cream Blush in Coral {here}, I have some swatches of her Healthy Glow Powder Blush in Peony #07.  The darkest of seven available shades, I’d describe Peony as a deep red toned pink, or puce.

Liz_Earle_Powder_Blush_Peony_07_swatch (2)

The powder formula is very finely milled; at a glance you might think it was a cream and even when swatched by finger, it feels smooth and creamy to the touch, as I hope this pic shows, with zero fallout.

Liz_Earle_Powder_Blush_Peony_07_swatch (3)

Heavily swatched (by hand) the colour is quite daunting to me… it’s not a shade I would have personally chosen (this was sent for review) and is much deeper than any I’ve used before.  (Of the colours available, I would go for the more pink toned Rose or Nectar, or even the lightest shade, Camellia.)


This is how it looks applied with a blusher brush, which I think is surprisingly soft and quite pretty.  The tone reminds me of NARS Outlaw, minus the shimmer, though this does have a whisper of a sheen - it is not totally matt - which makes it more flattering.

Liz_Earle_Powder_Blush_Peony_07_swatch (5)

It looks a bit blotchy or heavy handed in this pic, which I think (hope!) is just the light.  I remember someone saying that we should choose blusher in the same colour as our skin when we blush naturally; I think Peony is a pretty close match.  While it’s far from my usual pinks and corals and I’m not quite used to seeing my cheeks this colour, I think it works quite well - and will probably look even better on deeper skintones.

Liz Earle Powder Blush in Peony is available here for £16.50


Eye Makeup Remover for Sensitive Eyes

Naked Blinking Lovely, Liz Earle Eyebright, Vichy

I am prone to sensitive eyes so have to be careful what I apply to them and what I use to remove eye makeup… I thought it might be useful to share some favourite products - that soothe rather than irritate my eyes.

Naked Skin Blinking Lovely, Liz Earle Eyebright and Nuxe Micellar Cleansing Water are all water based, so basically they look and feel a bit like toner. This is my favourite consistency as the lack of cream or oil = less chance of irritation in my experience.  Vichy Purete Thermal Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover is oil based, but doesn’t irritate.

Naked Skin Blinking Lovely is a recent and very welcome discovery. Clinically tested for sensitive skin, it contains witch hazel and aloe vera to cool and soothe, is dermatologically tested and fragrance & alcohol free.  I find this really refreshing to use and it removes eye makeup with ease.  Just pour a few drops on a cotton wool pad and swipe gently across the eyes.

*£4.49 for 200ml at


Vichy Purete Thermal Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover is my go to when I am wearing more makeup than usual.  I did use it every day for a long time but as I’m trying to drag out the rest of the bottle I now save it for when I really need it!  The oil and Thermal Spa Water must be shaken before use to mix the blue & clear particles. This removes even waterproof mascara with ease and does not irritate my eyes, plus it’s paraben-free, hypoallergenic & has been tested on sensitive eyes.

I got mine from which currently has 15% off all Vichy products.  You can choose between this formula or the (non Waterproof) one for Sensitive Eyes here for £8.90 or £8.50. I might try the Sensitive Eyes one myself this time just to see what it’s like.

Nuxe Micellar, Naked Blinking Lovely, Liz Earle Eyebright, Vichy

While Liz Earle Eyebright is not designed as an eye makeup remover, I find it works well at removing light eye makeup, such as my Max Factor (non waterproof) mascara. Designed to cleanse and revitalise the eye area this is incredibly soothing. Just add some to a couple of cotton pads and set them over closed eyes to refresh tired eyes… straight from the fridge is best for an extra cooling effect!  I’ve had an eye infection this week and this has been an absolute godsend, so I imagine it would be great for hayfever sufferers too. (NB for outside eye area only!) 

*£10.25 for 150ml here (also available in smaller & larger sizes)


Nuxe Micellar Cleansing Water with Roses & Green Tea for the face, eyes & lips is a long term love of mine and my most repurchased beauty product.  Designed for sensitive skin, it is non drying, has a naturally delicate fragrance and is great for removing light eye makeup, though not enough to shift heavy or waterproof products. Ophthalmologically and dermatologically tested, you can now pop it in your M&S alongside your groceries & pants!

Get it online for £15.00 here.


Any other sensitive eye sufferers out there? What are your favourite products?


Butter London Gobsmacked Nail Lacquer Autumn Winter 2012

Butter_London_Gobsmacked-Swatch_Autumn_Winter_2012 (2)

Butter London Gobsmacked: bizarre and beautiful.  This charcoal base with an abundance of glitter is described as a textured polish and application is…. challenging, but worth it.  It is genuinely impossible (for me!) to capture a full sense of its intriguing appearance in pics, but according to the light, the finish reminds me of granite, stone or black diamond dust.  Butter London has pushed the boundaries with this one.


It is not a standard glitter polish… the formula feels a bit like molten lava in a bottle that you ‘spread’ rather than paint on your nail (Seche Vite is the closest comparison I can think of, though this has less ‘give’). It’s not like bits of glitter suspended in a lacquer… it is dense with the glitter particles, which actually feel more like metal filings: it’s almost like metallic dust in liquid form. 


These pics were taken in my second attempt at application.  The polish is thick and heavy to work with: my best tip is to load the brush and smooth it across the surface, without going over the same section again as you might with a regular polish.  I’m not sure if the texture is obvious in the outdoor pic above, but it does look ‘textured’ to the naked eye.

Butter_London_Gobsmacked-Swatch_Autumn_Winter_2012 (7)

In photographs, I think the texture is more obvious indoors, in natural light? The finish reminds me of granite or stone. The charcoal base is almost matt, while the glitter forms the metallic texture and adds sparkle. It’s all very urban and quite edgy, in as much as nail polish can be edgy!


I only added a top coat to my thumbnail, to let you see the polish when it’s smooth and shiny - which is quite magical and appears to have a lot of depth - but is not that different from a standard glitter polish.  If you’re going to add a top coat, I’d just buy a regular grey glitter like Orly Rock Solid, which I reviewed {here}.

Butter_London_Gobsmacked-Swatch_Autumn_Winter_2012 (6)

Can you see how the smooth glossy thumb (with top coat) compares to the other more matt nails?

Butter_London_Gobsmacked-Swatch_Autumn_Winter_2012 (5)

Final verdict: If you’re not normally comfortable applying nail polish then this probably isn’t for you as it is tricky to apply.  If you’re patient and have a steady hand, then I do think it’s worth the effort.  I won’t be applying it every week, but it does look and feel special… I think it would be amazing in nail art or as a feature nail, which is probably how I’ll use it most often. If you wanted you could add lots more texture, peaks and rough edges… it’s quite mouldable and you could def have fun with it!

Butter London Gobsmacked costs £12 at CocktailCosmetics.  Do check out my swatches of Trustafarian & Shag and let me know which is your favourite!  I feel a bit sad that this is the last of my trio of swatches… I may have to buy the other two shades now, just for a sense of completion!

I’d love to know what you think of Gobsmacked? Please leave me a comment below!

Nic x

Press sample


Butter London Shag: Autumn in a Bottle.

Butter_London_Shag_Autumn_Winter_Fall_2012 (3)

Butter London Shag is my new favourite from the Autumn Winter 2012 Collection.  Yes I AM that fickle. Trustafarian was my favourite yesterday {post here} and while I do still love it, it somehow pales in comparison next to Shag.  I know I have a habit of ODing on pics.  If you don’t like that, well… you’re probably not reading.  What follows is a mega edit.  I’ll try not to talk too much to make up for it.

Butter_London_Shag_Autumn_Winter_Fall_2012 (2)

This is a gleaming metallic… droplets of burnished rust, bronze, copper, fire…  it almost looks alive. (drama queen alert)

Butter_London_Shag_Swatch_Autumn_Winter_Fall_2012 (2)

All of these pics were taken in natural light… the following few outdoors, on a dull evening.  Can you imagine how amazing this would look in sunlight?

Butter_London_Shag_Swatch_Autumn_Winter_Fall_2012 (4)

The formula is exceptionally shiny (no topcoat).  It’s thicker than Trustafarian and takes a bit more of a concerted effort to perfect, but does apply well and needed no clean up.  I used three coats here, more to smooth the finish than for opacity.

Butter_London_Shag_Swatch_Autumn_Winter_Fall_2012 (5)

It looks more of a dark chestnut in the shade, but wherever I photographed it, it gleamed. Even now in lamplight it looks chocolatey with a copper glimmer.

Butter_London_Shag_Swatch_Autumn_Winter_Fall_2012 (6)

Butter London Shag will be on my nails a lot this A/W. Fact.

The full Butter London AW Collection is available at CocktailCosmetics priced at £12 each.  See my swatches of Trustafarian here.  I’ll be back with Gobsmacked next time: dark charcoal with silver glitter.

Press Sample

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