The Tinted Lip Balms: from Carmex to Chantecaille


I do love a tinted lip balm for days when I don’t fancy a full-on pout but my lips need a little somethin’ somethin’.  School girls, first daters, no-make-up-make-up-lovers and au natural gals, this one’s for you…


Especially useful in cooler months to seal in an extra pretty layer of moisture, my line up includes pocket-friendly options: Vaseline and Carmex Moisture Plus - and a whisper of balmy high end colour, courtesy of Chantecaille Lip Screen Tint.  I’ve already swatched limited edition Vaseline in Paint the Town Red if you fancy a look.


                   L to R: Carmex Moisture Plus in Pink + Berry Sheer Tint, Chantecaille Lip Screen Tint in Sardinia

I’m probably the last person on earth to try Carmex - and the Moisture Plus ultra hydrating balms seem a great place to start. I didn’t expect to get such good colour pay off from these, especially the pink, but it gives a really pretty wash of colour to the lips that’s quite buildable.  The berry shade is a nice dark red, slightly deeper in tone than the Chantecaille and Vaseline.  The Carmex balms contain SPF 15, Vitamin E and Aloe to moisturise - and the lightweight, slim twist-up tubes are very handbag friendly.  They leave a minty, tingliness on the lip, which I rather like, though don’t suggest eating straight after application for this reason. 

If you like to switch it up a notch, Chantecaille Lip Screen Tint in Sardinia comes in a chic silver lipstick style bullet, and contain a healing formula enriched with a rose and honey blend. This also protects lips with SPF 15 and is recommended for use during sports.  While Carmex feels like it offers a dense, physical layer of balm, the Chantecaille has a much finer, firmer texture and deposits a thin layer that sinks into the lips; if you don’t like the feel of balm on your lips, then go for this option.  One swipe is pretty much undetectable on my lips, besides a slight sheen and hint of colour that could easily be mistaken as my own. It is buildable to a slightly deeper tint and overall gives a lovely natural, healthy lip look. 

At the end of the day, both options do a similar job - there’s not a huge discrepancy - and your choice will most likely be budget based.



L to R: Vaseline Paint the Town Red, Carmex Moisture Plus Pink, Carmex Moisture Plus Berry, Chantecaille Lip Screen Tint Sardinia.

Do you like a tinted balm? What’s your favourite?



New: Clinique Superprimers


Clinique has released a set of six new oil-free Superprimers to address specific skincare needs, while performing all the usual tasks expected of a primer - to create a smooth base for make-up application and hold it in place for longer.


I was sent 3 of the 6 formulas for review:

  • Pink - Colour Corrects Dullness
  • Peach - Colour Corrects Discolorations
  • White - Universal Face Primer, the suit-all option. 

The other 3 address redness, sallowness and dullness in deeper skins.

  Clinique-Superprimers-dullness-discolouration-universal-review Clinique-Superprimers-dullness-discolouration-universal-swatches

All three function well as primers.  The pink and peach formulas are thicker and more paste-y, as you can probably see from the swatches.  These two perform quite differently, creating a smooth, matte base, slightly blurring and minimising pores and lines.  The white Universal formula is a translucent thinner lotion, which sinks into the skin quickly and leaves a light glow.  It’s quicker and easier to apply foundation on top of this one; it adds luminosity rather than blurring and perfecting, so it really does depend what your own skin needs. 

The pic above right shows each product blended. The pink is below the large freckle, opposite the pink tube and looks slightly chalky.  The white appears paler above it - you can see ‘the sheen’.  The peach is above that and looks almost invisible.  I’m not sure that there’s much difference in performance between the pink and peach; as far as I can see, the colour tint is the only difference.

I wear primers even more in Autumn/Winter as I find my make-up needs help to hold up against wind, rain etc than it does Sun, plus I tend to wear more foundation in AW.   While using these primers, I’ve found that I need to use less make-up - and having tested them on various foundations, it definitely does last longer on my skin.

Clinique Superprimer cost £20 for 30ml at Debenhams.

Are you a fan of primers?


Sleek Antique Blush: review & swatches


The new Sleek Romance collection includes Antique Rose Blush - in iridescent rose beige - and Vintage Romance i Divine Eye Shadow Palette, featuring opulent gold and purple tones.

Vintage Romance i Divine

I have swatches of the Antique Blush to share with you today…


Sleek Antique Blush, Romance Collection

This is actually a pretty dreamy shade, which reminds me of NARS Douceur or MAC Blush Baby, with a sprinkling of silver.

I think this rose beige colour would work well on many skin tones… a light dusting gives the kind of faux glow I love to wear with a smokey eye or bright lip - and the texture is really velvety.  I love how it looks in the natural light swatches (above left), but the silver shimmer is very twinkly on application and I personally prefer a matte blush.  I like the shade so much that I tried to dust off those twinkles, but they weren’t going anywhere…  sadly this is not for me, but sparkle lovers everywhere will adore it!

I think Antique Rose* is worth a dabble at just £4.49 from Cloud10Beauty, with 10% discount on first orders!

Do you have any favourites from Sleek Make-up?


SensatioNail Liquid Metal Collection: Rose Gold - swatch + review


SensatioNail has released a Liquid Metal Collection - and ‘Going for the Rose Gold’ is my favourite of the five new metallic shades.  SensatioNail is Nailene’s at-home gel polish, which I’ve become very attached to since my initial review last year, where I illustrate how it works - here.

It’s not easy to find the perfectly toned gold polish for pale skins - some look too yellow, white or orange toned.  This particular rose gold is very flattering and I think would work on most skin tones.  I love that it’s so sparkly without the grit of glitter - and yet applies very smoothly for a metallic polish, none of the usual streaks.  In fact I found this even easier to apply than a standard SensatioNail gel polish. 

Above, with flash and below, in natural light, it’s a very wearable shade that looks glam under lights in the evening but subtle enough for work by day, which is important as these babies stick around for 2 weeks! The opacity is excellent - I used two thin coats for this.


The five Liquid Metal shades are:

  • Rock my Emerald - Deep Emerald Green (my second favourite)
  • Going for the Rose Gold - Pink-toned gold (above)
  • Iron Mama - Deep Purple
  • Don’t Metal Me - Magenta
  • Steel a Kiss - Steel Blue

SensatioNail-Rose-Gold-Liquid-Metal-metallic-swatch-review liquid-metal-collection-bundle

All colours, starter kits and essentials are available at, where you can currently buy all 5 Liquid Metal shades for the price of 4 (usually £12.50 each) or 4 regular polishes for the price of 3 (until 10am, Fri 27 Sep  - usually £10 each).

Have you tried gel nails - and do you fancy doing them yourself?


New MUA Palettes: Smokin & Ever After Matte - review & swatches


Smokin & Ever Matte are the first MUA (Makeup Forever) palettes that excited me enough to purchase.  I’m all over a matte eye shadow and these nude tones were crying out to be tested - and the jewel-like shades of Smokin really did look hot!  After testing these out in various combinations over the past week, here are my thoughts - & of course, lots of swatches!

MUA Smokin Palette


I could actually just stop the review at this point. I mean let’s just pause and gasp at that gorgeousness…. heavily pigmented, smooth and workable little beauties.


The palette includes several matt tones (another tick), meaning you can create quite subtle looks with a subtle pop of colour on the centre of your lid, inner corner or along lash line. Use a thin, damp brush for insane opacity.  The colours also layer well - the blue and green give a gorgeous beetle-back effect.  It also includes a black eye liner pencil.


I decided to swatch the metallic tones with a brush to give you more of an idea how they actually apply on the eye.  You’d expect it to be way more subtle than the finger swatches above, right?   Wrong. Just wow. The steel, aubergine and bronze shades are my faves.


Shade names for you reference.

MUA Ever After - Matte Palette


Until a few years ago, I wouldn’t have considered putting what are essentially skin tones on my eyes - what would be the point… you can’t even see them?!  Thankfully I changed my mind about this, aided by a lovely Space NK girl and Laura Mercier.  Matte, nude eye shadows can even out skin tone on the eyelid, contour and define in a barely there way, or be smoked up into something much more dramatic for evening.  Genius.  Granted, these don’t blend as beautifully as the Laura Mercier, but for a quarter of the price of one shade for a full palette, they’re definitely worth a go!


Final thoughts…

I expected to love Ever After the most - and while I do like it and find the colours are flattering, I think Smokin is streets ahead in terms of quality.  Both work best over primer (I use a Lime Crime one) and there is a little creasing from Smokin shades after a few hours, but no moreso than much more expensive shades.

Apologies for not including pics of the colours applied - I genuinely haven’t had time to do makeup looks lately, but promise to instagram a pic of me wearing them in the next week or so… if you’re not already following, you can find me here.

Ever After is £4 and Smokin, £6 (20 eye shadows & an eyeliner for a tenner!). I bought both palettes directly from MUA here, though I expect they’ll be in Superdrug soon. 


Bourjois Poudre de Riz Java & Blush Exclusif: review & swatches


A luminous glow and natural flush anyone?

Poudre de Riz

To celebrate its 150th birthday, Bourjois has reinvented its best selling cult classic from 1879, in the same package design it had back then.  I’m a sucker for pretty, vintage style packaging so I’m all over Bourjois Poudre de RizDelicately scented, its pale pink tone appears translucent on the skin with a barely there texture.  The best bit? It’s not just adorably cute but a gorgeous product… I’ve even been known to stray from my much loved Jurlique Rose Silk Powder to use this! 

Lightweight powder that sets make-up yet, leaves skin with a (very subtle) glow & zero cakey matt finish is my definition of the perfect formula - & pretty much how I’d sum up Poudre de Riz.


Blush Exclusif

Bourjois Blush Exclusif is a one shade suits all cream blush, designed to react with your skin’s own PH for a bespoke flush.  While once again I loved the packaging, initially I didn’t have high expectations of this and assumed it would be a bit of a gimmick.  I’m always (usually!) happy to be proved wrong and soon discovered that this actually gives my cheeks a natural flush, that literally does look like I’m blushing rather than wearing blush. Is the bespoke element making it appear like my true blushing shade? I don’t know, but it is super cute and I’ve been using it lots.  I press the flat of my finger tip into the colour then pat it onto the apples of my cheeks, blending it out along the cheekbone (it doesn’t seem to like brushes - I’ve tried it with Real Techniques Stippling & Daniel Sandler Watercolour).


I’ve photographed the powder in direct sunlight to show the slight sheen, which really isn’t obvious at all when it’s blended out.  The powder looks a cute baby pink on my skin, but…..


Against the darker pigmentation of my finger tip, it’s a deeper raspberry, so I’m assuming from this that it really does change with different skin tones!

Find Bourjois* Poudre de Riz, £9.99 and Blush Exclusif, £7.99 here, where they’re currently on buy one get one half price!


Neom Perfect Night’s Sleep Kit

Neom Perfect Night's Sleep Kit 

Neom Luxury Organics has launched a Perfect Night’s Sleep campaign in association with The Sleep Council.  Perfectly timed as we acclimatize to cooler days and darker nights, this tranquil trio is available at a special price throughout September.

I think I underestimated just how precious a full night’s sleep was until my first little bundle of joy came along and got hungry every 1.5 hrs, day or night, with each feed lasting 1 hour (you do the math!)  Ever since, I’ve treasured my ability to sleep and been completely thrown when occasionally goes out of sync for any reason.  It’s well known that better sleep can have positive effects on health, so I’m all about striving for that perfect 8 hours.

Neom’s Perfect Night’s Sleep Kit includes 3 key products from the Tranquillity range, combining pure English lavender essential oil, sweet basil and jasmine, blended at the highest legal limit to make the blend work as hard as possible - and yep, it smells as good as it sounds! 

I’ve been using the Tranquillity Candle and Bath Foam for a few months now and love them both... I like to burn the candle in the evenings when I want to unwind, or pre-bath for an extra treat!  For me, these products are as much about relaxing and chilling out as sleep. 

It was no mean feat for Neom to create an SLS and paraben-free bath foam - and my bubble-deprived 5 year old son (who has eczema) appreciates it almost as much as I do. I’m also rather partial to the soothing effect it has on my kids!

I have to resist the urge to spritz the Tranquillity Room Mist ALL THE TIME as it smells so good, but probably wouldn’t help my productivity levels!  I save it as a pillow mist after a quick spritz around the bedroom, then jump into bed in a little sleep-scented cloud.

Neom Perfect Night’s Sleep is only available during September 2013 at the discounted price of £55 (usual price £74.50) here.   You might also like to enter a competition to win a Blissful Break for two worth £2300 (!!!) with Neom and other lovely brands here.

Do you ever have trouble sleeping?


M&S Mega Monday 20% off!

Screenshot (9) 

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have spotted ‘pics of my picks’ of the M&S AW collection, papped at last week’s launch event in Sprucefield, Northern Ireland’s flagship store.  M&S has really upped its game this year with quality and design up a significant notch. I noticed a real difference and although it’s rarely my first stop for clothing, I spotted a few pieces I’ll definitely be picking up.  Oh and don’t even get me started on the beauty hall…

The overwhelming response to my Instagram pic here was omg is that really from M&S?! 

So when an email arrived to say that there is 20% off clothing, lingerie, beauty and homeware today only (here), of course I had to share!  Here’s a closer look at (a small selection of) my faves…

Screenshot (13)  Screenshot (14)

Autograph Navy Suede Wedge Boots (also available in black)

Screenshot (11) 

Softest leather biker jacket words can’t begin to describe how much more gorgeous this looks and feels in real life - buttery soft with really fine quilting that doesn’t add any bulk - I am sorely tempted.

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Limited Edition quilted sleeve jacket - this is quite lightweight, more like a cardi and looks cute open or closed.

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Autograph leather panelled tote bag - there are so many gorgeous bags including a leopard and leather zippy shopper, foldover clutches and more, but I have to draw the line somewhere!


If you fancy a browse, the Mega Monday sale is here!


Monthly Favourites

Clarins-Quench-mask,ESPA-balm,James-Read-Spray-Tan,Fibrewig-mascara,Laura-Mercier-Mod,Kevyn-Aucoin-tinted-sensual-balm,Elemental-Herbology-body (2)

Although I’m always testing new products, there are a handful that I return to throughout the month, the ones that I use when I really want to look and feel my best. These are my recent go-to products.


James Read Instant Bronzing Spray is the only home spray tan I’ve ever tried that I can literally just spray on and go, zero blending required.  This applies in a fine mist with an instant tint, which then develops into a wear-off tan over a few hours.  The colour is very subtle, so great for pale skins.  I’ve discovered that this is brilliant for foolproof hand and feet tanning, so I’m trying to save it for that!  The fine mist does fill the air, so I apply it in the shower cubicle or back garden (weather & neighbours permitting!).

It’s rare that a base makes it into my favourites but Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Tinted Balm totally has. I’d wanted to try this for ages and it was even better than I hoped.  Tinted Balm implies tinted moisturiser, but the coverage is definitely more than that on me, while veering on the light side.  It’s quite thick in texture and stays fairly matt, while retaining a finish that’s close to my own skin - lovely for a natural make-up look and surprisingly buildable.

d.j.v. beautenizer Fiberwig® LX is a mascara with built-in brush on lash fibres, which extend the length of lashes.  It takes a little bit of fiddling to achieve the full effect, but much less than other similar products I’ve tried and oh so worth it.  While it doesn’t add a lot of volume, the length this achieves is total novelty lashes for me.  The djv volumising formula is next on my wish list.

Laura Mercier Rouge Nouveau in ‘Mod’ is my latest going-out lipstick love.  A vivid orange-toned ‘Marilyn Monroe’ red, it’s a real wow colour with a matt finish.  I usually apply this over blotted lip balm and use a lip pencil to subtley define the edges, as the 100% wax-free formula has very little slip, hence the amazing staying power!  Perfect if I’m out for dinner and don’t want to reapply all evening.



I have quite sensitive skin on my body, so try and stick to skin friendly formulas for everyday use.  Elemental Herbology Watermelon & Cucumber is incredibly soothing and refreshing on my skin and I love the scent and texture so much that I do try to save it for when I really need it.  Sunburn, rashes and freshly shaved or epilated legs all embrace this delicious product - and I’d normally completely avoid applying anything on my skin when it plays up. Seriously impressed by this brand.

A number of skin experts (inc Mrs Hirons) have told me that my skin is dehydrated recently (I’m downing a bottle of sparkling water as I type), so I’ve been turning to moisture-giving masks to help restore its equilibrium.  Clarins HydraQuench Cream-Mask has been a bit of a life saver, ok - skin saver!  I apply a layer of this thick creamy mask on my face and neck and watch my skin practically inhale it!   Any excess can be removed after 10 mins, but I like to leave it on overnight.  An essential after a night out or when I want to look my best the next day. 

Intense repairing duo, Alterna Caviar Repairx Instant Recovery Shampoo & Conditioner have been on my hair pedestal for months now and I really recommend it if your locks are in need of tlc.  This set lives in my extra special products basket and is reached for when my hair is desperado, in need of a boost, or on its way to a special occasion. It ain’t cheap, but it is worth every penny.  Super rich, nourishing and glossy-giving; it’s love.

ESPA Mandarin Lip Balm - with wild mango butter, pomegranate and rosemary - is delicately scented and softens lip with a layer of soothing moisture with zero gloop. I love the pretty packaging and mirror inside the lid, a little slice of every day lip-kind luxury.

Which products have you been loving lately?


MAC Antonio Lopez 6 Eyes: Violet Review & Swatches


MAC has a whole lotta gorgeousness lined up for Autumn… I’ve been having a play with a few bits and pieces, which I planned to include in one post, but got involved in pic overload, so I’ll start with the star of the show:  Antonio Lopez eye shadow palette in Violet.  I’m a little shy to admit that this is my first ever MAC eye shadow… call myself a beauty blogger - I realise I’m probably alone in my plight! 


This was attempt numero crazy to capture the true tones on camera as the sun kept washing out that gorgeous pink. 

The colours from top left:

  • Lithe Spirit - cool cream (satin), so much more flattering than white and I actually love this as a stand alone eye brightener
  • Envisioning Pink - cool blue-toned pink (satin)
  • Violet Impact - vibrant purple (veluxe pearl)
  • Showgirl - blue-toned grey (veluxe pearl)
  • Graphic Style -  my favourite of the bunch… looks like steel in the pan but applies more like grey-toned taupe (veluxe pearl)
  • Carbon - matt black



See, not so daunting as they look in the palette?!  This may bother fans of full-on highly pigment colour, but I was happy to discover that I could actually work these into very wearable looks.  All of the colours pair up well together and my most worn combo is Violet Impact, Graphic Style and Lithe Spirit.



This is the colours blended out to illustrate just how soft they can look…. pretty, no?

MAC Antonio Lopez* palettes retail at £35 and are online now.  Also available in Copper (divine, sold out already online) and Teal.

Do you ever wear pink or purple on your eyes?


Beauty Sale at Feel Unique

Emma_Hardie_Amazing_Face_Natural_Lift_and_Sculpt_Moringa_Cleansing_Balmnails_inc_Spring_Summer_2013_CollectionReal_Techniques_Core_Collection_Kit Yves_Saint_Laurent_Le_Teint_Touche___clat_FoundationPhilip_Kingsley_Moisture_Balancing_ConditionerXen_Tan_Moroccan_Tan     

Feel Unique sales are always fabulous and typically I’ve only spotted this one the day before it ends, so here are my tried & tested top picks of regularly used staples in my stash:

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm - die-hard beauty fans need no introduction to this cult status, skin-kind cleansing balm.  I’ve put mine away for Summer, but will definitely be digging it out again soon as it’s incredibly soothing and also works beautifully as a mask. 15% off link

Nails Inc Summer Collection - brights, pastels and a pop of neon - love every shade in this set! 20% off link

Real Techniques Core Collection - the full collection is reduced by 10%, but this one is the best in my opinion, not least because it contains the Buffing Brush, which I’ve used daily since I bought mine. The absolute best for applying foundation easily, quickly and seamlessly. link

YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat Foundation - my holy grail for dewy, light to medium invisible coverage. Skin perfecting yet natural looking.  Works beautifully with said Buffing Brush. With 20% off this is down to £23 - I’ll be stocking up! link

Philip Kingsley Moisture Balancing Conditioner duo - sls free and great for wavy or fine, processed hair - huge quantity for a whopping 50% off! Great discount across this amazing brand, including the Elasticizer (which really does work). link

Xen Tan Moroccan Self Tan - the latest self tanning formula from Xen Tan, made with Argan Oil. No idea why this is reduced by 40%, but not complaining.  Good discounts across the brand (also worth picking up their mitt as it’s a good one.) link

The Feel Unique sale ends midnight Sunday 9 September 2013. Happy shopping!


Vaseline Paint the Town Red: Review

Vaseline Paint the Town Red

Girls looking for an easy to wear every day red lip, look no further…. Vaseline has released a pretty new Limited Edition red lip tint: Paint The Town, now available exclusively at Selfridges.

For starters, who can resist this cute little tin? A subtle slick of colour with a mild spiced berry flavour, this is the easiest on-the-go red lip ever.

Vaseline Paint the Town Red-limited-edition

Admittedly, when I opened the tin I was like whoa, I didn’t expect it to be such a deep shade, but actually…


As you can see, it’s very subtle.  So much so, I wondered if it would even show up on my lips…


It looks exactly how I hoped it would.  An ever so slightly deeper shade than my natural lips, that gives a healthy glow without looking made up. Above in natural light and below with flash to highlight the glossiness.


Don’t ever let me hear you say you can’t wear a red lip!

Vaseline Paint the Town Red, rrp £3.49 is exclusive to Selfridges while stocks last.


Models Own Fireworks: Banger, Sparkler & Roman Candle Swatches


Models Own Fireworks Collection launches this week, with five new glitters made up of multi-faceted fragments allowing you to choose the intensity you want.  I have to confess my love of sparkle has waned a little of late, but these are pretty special and may have rekindled a little spark again… scroll down for swatches of Banger, Roman Candle and Sparkler.


Banger, one as beautiful as you deserves a much more fabulous name.  As soon as I saw this I knew it would be perfectly partnered with Kiko’s new Venom Teal shade, which I promised to swatch last week in my review of Dark Heroine here.  The blue and fuchsia shards pick out the shimmering purple and aqua undertones of Venom Teal beautifully… I confess to being quite bedazzled by my own nails when wearing this combo.


Sparkler is my second favourite from the Fireworks collection, mainly as the silver shards are so holographic I find them mesmerising. I’ve swatched it below over a pastel, but wanted to show you how lovely it also looks contrasted against a dark shade like Venom Teal. It’s also the least dense, so can be used for a fine sprinkling or built up as preferred.

Models-Own-Fireworks-Collection-Banger, Roman Candle, Sparkler-swatchesModels-Own-Fireworks-Collection-Banger, Roman Candle, Sparkler-swatches-review

These are the three shades swatched from my pinkie: Roman Candle, Sparkler and Banger & Roman Candle again. Roman Candle is made up of six pink glitters and shards, pretty but my least favourite - the other two are stand outs for me.  I’ve applied them here over Rimmel Salon Pro in Peppermint (full review here).  I also think they would look gorgeous over black or white.

I’ve included a close up to show you the texture and detail of each shade, from top to bottom: Roman Candle, Sparkler and Banger.

Models Own Fireworks will be available from Wednesday 4 September at Boots.

Any of these lighting your fire?

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