Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Which Face Mask?

Pur-Minerals-Mud-Mask,Bioderma-Hydrabio-Mask,Zkin-Brightening Hydrating-Masque-Mask,REN-Flash-Rinse-1-minute-Facial

When I first started using face masks there were two options: the ones that dry like caked on mud and crack when you smile or the one that dries like plastic and peels off like glue.  I associated both as solutions for oily, spotty skin and steered clear for years. Masks have progressed enormously since, with brands offering a wide range of intense skin solutions for all skin types - and have now become part of my regular routine. If I forget to use them for a while, I notice a difference and would put them on a par with daily serums in terms of impact. A big learn for me was that a mask doesn’t have to be used over the entire face, but can target specific issues from blocked pores to dehydration, just where needed.

So which one’s for you? 

CONGESTION - clogged pores, black heads, spots, a feeling that your skin needs a good spring clean.

Of all the clay masks that I’ve tried, Pur Minerals Mud Masque (now called Dirty Girl) is my absolute No1 and I won’t be straying any time soon. Rich in minerals, it contains Pascalite, a rich form of calcium bentonite clay for deep cleaning and brightening. This is a traditional style, cracks-when-dry, putty coloured clay mask and believe me when I tell you, this literally hoovers my skin, without stripping it. I still laugh when I remember the first time I used it - I applied it right down my neck and honestly, the suction was so strong it almost felt like being choked. Moral of the story - don’t put it right around your neck - just below the jawline is enough and only a thin layer is required. I used to think the more I used, the more gunk would be removed, but not so. I don’t always use this on my whole face, sometimes restricting it to my nose and chin area. It’s also great to help zap spots when they first flare up!

NB I’ve had this (almost empty) tube for a while - it has since been renamed Dirty Girl and comes in much more stylish packaging (identical formula, phew!), which you can find here.  A great budget alternative is Good Things Manuka Honey Face Mask, suitable for sensitive skins.

 

DEHYDRATION - thirsty, lacklustre skin (dehydrated skin lacks water while dry skin lacks oil)

Personally I think we all need extra hydration and it’s pretty much impossible to overdo. I do a lot to rehydrate my skin -from facial mists to toning waters, but it’s hard to beat a long, quenching drink from a hydrating mask. My most used are Bioderma Hydrabio (on offer), Dr Jart+ Most Moist Water Sleeping Mask and Hydraluron Moisture Boosting Mask. The first two are quick and easy to use and I’ll often pop them on as soon as I climb out of bed (the morning after *cough*) for deep rehydration while I eat breakfast, or slather on a layer before bed and leave to work overnight. The Hydraluron is a bit more of a full on treatment, which I’ve reviewed here.

 

DULL - tired, lacking radiance

Lately I’ve been reaching for Zk'in Brightening and Hydrating Masque when my skin is looking a bit flat. Zk’in is an Australian brand, new to the UK, which marries certified organic ingredients and scientific skincare with realistic deliverables. I find this mask a complete pleasure to use and see a notable brightness in my skin after doing so. It contains antioxidants found in organic Cocoa to smooth skin, improve circulation and temporarily brighten, while organic Aloe Vera increases hydration. I tend to pop a thin layer on cleansed skin while I’m in the bath, then rinse off with a flannel and warm water.

 

MAKEOVER REQUIRED - blah and in need of va-va-voom!

If you want to prep your skin for a special occasion or just shake things up a bit to look your best, REN 1 Minute Flash Rinse Facial is The One. ‘Me time’ is a rarity in my house, so anything that promises fast results gets my attention and this mask really does deliver… while still managing to feel like a treat! I apply the gel to dry skin, massage in gently (it’s a teensy bit gritty, but very gently so), splash with water to activate the Vitamin C and then leave for 1 minute before rinsing off. I guess it’s more like 2-3 minutes in reality, which is fine by me. It leaves my skin feeling extra soft, radiant and perfectly prepped for make-up. Recommended use is every 3 days and I genuinely look forward to using this every time!

Do you ever use face masks?

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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Sparkle

Bobbi-Brown-Long-Wear-Gel-Sparkle

It’s approaching that time of year when my magpie tendencies come to the surface and I start to crave a little sparkle in my life. My favourite way to wear sparkle has always been paired with something a bit bashed up: a sequinned top + ripped jeans, plain grey tee + chunky jewelled necklace… relaxed glamour or blinged-up-scruffy, depending on your perspective (ie me or my mother). So I’m loving that Bobbi Brown has imbued her iconic gel liners with glitter, making it easy to introduce a little sparkle into everyday life. Her newest release, Long-Wear Gel Sparkle is a 2 in 1 liner / shadow hybrid - a new formula that works as both liner and an allover eye colour.

The formula

The formula lies somewhere between a cream and gel - very soft and smooth to apply (non gritty glitter, so no scratching) - and can be blended out with a finger or brush and applied as sheer or intense as you wish. There’s plenty of time to work with this before it sets - and once it does, it stays put; even then, it feels soft and light on the skin, like there’s nothing there.

I don’t experience any fallout with these,  especially important for a glitter product as my eyes are quite sensitive... with this, the glitter is contained within the gel, especially if applied with a finger or flat brush. If you blend out the edges with a fluffy brush you may find a little fall out, but nothing compared to regular glitter shadow.

Bobbi-Brown-Gel-Sparkle

How to wear it

This product offers a versatile new way to bring a twinkle to the eye - and the ways to wear it are endless. Here’s how I’ve been wearing mine:

1. Liner: The most daytime friendly of the bunch, applied with a thin brush (I use a Real Techniques one from this set). In one layer, this gives a similar effect to a pencil liner, flecked with glitter. Let it dry and add another coat for more intense colour and shimmer. 

2. Sheer: A wash of colour flecked with sparkle, all over the lid. A light layer like this gives a hint of the base colour with subtle shimmer.

3. Intense: A double layer of colour (leave to dry between layers) applied with a flat brush or finger, for a really eye catching flash of colour all over the lid.

4. Smoked out: Intense on the lower lid, smoked out into the crease and along lower lash line. I like to go over this with another coat of liner (in same or different colour) for added drama

Swatches

Bobbi-Brown-Long-Wear-Gel-Sparkle-swatches-Smokey-Topaz-Sunlit-Bronze-Midnight-Forest-ThunderstormBobbi-Brown-Long-Wear-Gel-Sparkle-swatches  Bobbi-Brown-Long-Wear-Gel-Sparkle-swatches-Smokey-Topaz-Sunlit-Bronze-Midnight-Forest-Thunderstorm-swatch

I could have swatched these all day trying to show you the different ways they can be worn (kicking myself I didn’t do thin liner swatches - will add if anyone’s interested?). The top swatches are one layer using the product on my finger tips (below left) - so you can see how much colour payoff there is. Bottom right I’ve added an intense dot of colour at the top of each swatch to show how the product can be built up for an almost foil-like effect.

  • Smokey Topaz - between pewter and taupe, this is one of the most intense shades and my most used as an allover eye shade.
  • Sunlit Bronze - a bright coppery bronze when built up, usually a colour I shy away from, but actually love this. Really makes blue eyes pop and kinda matches my hair!
  • Thunderstorm - blue grey, also intense with a lot of shimmer
  • Midnight Forest - a striking blackened green which looks incredible as liner

As you’ve probably gathered, I’m a bit of a Bobbi fan already, but this is her launch of the year in my opinion. If you were to try only one product from the range I’d go for this - I love how it adds a little something to liven up an everyday look.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Sparkle, £20 currently exclusive to House of Fraser in the UK  (available internationally at Sephora

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Thursday, 25 September 2014

The New Nude Nail

ORLY-BB-Nails-Nails-Inc-Kale-Illuminator

If, like me, you scanned LFW catwalks (online obvs, boo), for upcoming beauty trends, you would be forgiven for thinking that many of the models had missed their manicure appointments. Of course none of this apparent nudeness was coincidental - with nails buffed, preened and polished within an inch of their lives - complementing SS 2015 styling with a clean, fresh look.

Meet the New Nude Nail: more than just a polish, these products come with built in benefits, paired with a sophisticated, chic and understated look. Today’s line-up includes three new releases to help recreate this look at home - for an enviable is-she-or-isn’t-she? mani.

ORLY-BB-Creme-Cream-Nails-swatch

ORLY BB Crème | The next best thing to make-up for nails, the humble BB Cream has relocated from faces to fingertips. ORLY BB Crème brightens, smoothes and protects nails from UV rays, leaving them looking natural, but better. It dries to a slightly peach toned smooth finish that’s neither shiny nor matte, concealing any bumps, ridges or dry patches - and can be worn alone or under colour.  While the cynic in me is a bit ‘seriously?’ about this, I am drawn to the idea of a well hydrated, smooth finish. ORLY BB Crème hasn’t usurped my beloved ORLY Bonder Base Coat, but it does prep nails nicely and makes a good base for colour. This would be a great option for anyone not officially supposed to paint their nails due to work or school regulations, for a completely natural but well groomed finish.

Best for: the truly au natural gal or guy | anyone prone to ridges, dryness or flaking

Nails-Inc-Kale-Illuminator-swatchNails-Inc-Kale-Illuminator-swatches

Nails Inc Bright Street NailKale Illuminator | If you’re after a nail-kind option with a little bit more look-at-me, check out NailKale Illuminator, as seen on the Preen SS 2015 catwalk. NailKale is made with strengthening kale extract, comes in a range of colours and described as a ‘superfood nail product’. I must admit I’m completely smitten with the finish of this - shown above with one coat (left) and two (right). Pearlescent particles brighten the nail bed and whiten tips, giving an allover healthy looking, glossy nail. Two coats creates a slightly blue tinge, which I quite like, but may be best reserved for Summer when my skin isn’t of a matching hue. Shout out to the glam packaging and a practical small black lid concealed below the chunky chrome top.

Best for: fans of a glossy-but-groomed finish | anyone with discoloured nails | lovers of understated chic

Micro-Nail-buffer-polisher

MICRO-Nail | For the devoted home manicurist who prefers nails that are literally bare, yet perfectly groomed, this new release by the makers of the award-winning MICRO Pedi (a rather genius foot smoother) enables a salon mani finish at home. Battery operated, it comes with two rollers: one to buff, smooth and reduce staining and one to shine for an impressive instant glassy finish. It takes minutes to use and is very straightforward to operate… designed to be used every two weeks for 2 seconds max on each nail.  I think it will take me a few more goes to achieve an evenly buffed finish (I was scared to overdo it and missed a few patches close to my cuticles), but was still impressed by the results.

Micro-Nail-results-buff-shine     

The above picture was taken one week after using MICRO Nail. I left one hand bare and painted over the other to see if it would reduce the shine; it didn’t (this was the hand that had been painted). While I’m a self confessed polish addict, I always give my nails a break between colours and love how smooth and shiny this makes them look and feel. The finish looks shinier in real life - I struggled to capture it on camera, but literally looks like you’re wearing a clear gloss or have rubbed oil into your nails. You could probably achieve similar results with traditional buffing boards, but gadget girls will love this!

Best for: Non-Nail Polish fans | true nailistas | those after a salon finish at home

(PS please ignore the slight discolouration on my nails - punishment for doing them without base coat ONCE - rage!)

Of these three options, my favourite is the Nails Inc NailKale - I still feel like I’m wearing nail polish and think the finish looks sophisticated and chic. Are you a fan of the New Nudes? 

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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

How to: Deep Clean Make-up Brushes

How-to-clean-makeup-brushes

Hands up if you wash your make-up brushes as often as you think you should? Hands up if you rarely, if ever, clean them? (please don’t say never, though I know some people don’t). If my skin is playing up, the first thing I do is deep clean all of my brushes to get rid of any old make-up, grime and bacteria and avoid redistributing it over my face every day. I *aim* to do this every week but will more often spot clean my most used brushes and do a deep clean every couple of weeks.

I’m often asked how I do this and two finds have made this much easier: a silicone oven mitt (cheaper version of the Sigma brush mitt) and Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap. I use this super gentle, skin friendly soap for lots of things and have since picked up a couple of the bigger pump bottles, which make brush cleaning even easier. My favourite for this is the mint as it leaves them smelling super fresh.

I have a gazillion brushes and it takes me 10 mins to do them all, so there’s no excuse if you have a (much more sensible) few staples. Here’s how it goes…

How-to-clean-makeup-brushes-tutorialTurorial-on-cleaning-makeup-brushes Deep-cleaning-make-up-brushesIMG_1447

It’s important to keep the brush pointing downwards at all times while wet, as excess water will loosen the glue that holds the bristles in place and you’ll lose some. You can also use a mild shampoo or washing up liquid… I like Dr Bronner’s as it’s so gentle yet cleans my brushes super fast, rinses out easily and doesn’t irritate my skin. I pop a tiny drop on the glove, swirl the brush in it and work up a lather, then rinse under warm running water. A few good shakes over the bath (and gentle squeeze with a towel if I need the brush to dry quickly) and that’s it.

How-to-deep-clean-makeup-brushes

Foundation, blush and bronze brushes often need a double shampoo to get them thoroughly clean - I gently squeeze and rotate the bristles in the mitt until they’re clean.

How-to-clean&dry-makeup-brushes

I always leave my brushes to dry flat on a towel, with the bristles at the edge or better still, pointing over the edge. Again, this is to avoid any water running down into the brush and loosening the glue (and bristles). It’s best not to use direct heat, such as a radiator, but I’ll often set mine at the edge of the bath next to the hot press, or on a shelf close to a radiator.

Makeup-brushes

Clean make-up brushes are not only hygienic and bacteria-free, but also function better by helping you apply make-up more smoothly and efficiently. Think about it… if a brush is caked with dirt and grime, it really can’t do its job properly. You’ll be adding another layer of congealed make-up every time you use it - and swiping it all over your beautifully cleansed and prepped skin - it just doesn’t make sense.

I’ve been meaning to write this for so long and actually took these pics over a year ago… I know this because some of the brushes have since been swapped for new favourites!  I may do a post on my most used/ essential brushes if that’s something you’d be interested in?

So go on - how often do you clean yours?

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Studio 10 Longlast Velvet Liquid Lips & Youth Lift Plumping Blush

Studio10-Liquid-Lips-semi-matte-lipstick,Glowplexion-Plumping-Blush

When I try products that instantly add life to my face, I know I’m onto a winner. That’s exactly what happened when I tried Longlast Velvet Liquid Lips and Youth Lift Plumping Blush - two new releases from Studio 10, which could be described as the make-up equivalent of age enhancing skincare. (I’m trying to avoid the term anti-ageing, but yep - that’s what I mean). More than just pretty products, these actually make me look more healthy and awake.

LONGLAST VELVET LIQUID LIPS are demi-matte liquid lipsticks with the lightest texture I’ve tried to date. I’d describe the finish as satin-like; it’s almost matte, but doesn’t set, crack or crease and literally feels as light as a silky balm in both application and wear. You don’t need to be overly careful applying this (I usually am with liquid or matte formulas) - just a single layer with the doe-foot applicator and you’re good to go. Regular readers will know I’m not a fan of uber pastel nude lip shades - and while these lean towards nude, I’d describe them as healthy lip tones. I like - and have been wearing - all three and struggle to choose a favourite, though find the lightest shade, Peach, is the most wearable for everyday colour. Enriched with hydrating vitamin E, this doesn’t emphasise lip creases, bleed or dry out my lips.

Highlights: almost matte, silky finish, non-drying, longwearing, skin-flattering shades

YOUTH LIFT PLUMPING BLUSH is one of the best face perker uppers I’ve tried and takes my cheeks from zombie to zesty in seconds. Although a liquid formula, it’s not drippy or watery - more lotion than liquid - and feels a bit like a silky serum (more dense than Daniel Sandler Watercolour if you’re familiar with that). If you’re afraid of liquid or cream blush, then this is for you - it couldn’t be easier to apply. One teensy dot is all I need for both cheeks - patted on and blended out with fingers or applied with a stippling brush, it doesn’t stain the skin or need to be worked in uber fast… it’s just so easy. It comes in one universal shade created to suit all skin tones - a rosy peach that I’d call ‘Oomph’ - and is slightly pearlised to add light reflective sheen, not shimmer. It doesn’t interfere with foundation or highlight pores, lines etc. The only thing I don’t love is the size of the pump, which is a little chunky for my liking. The hydrating formula contains plumping actives and light reflecting pearls.

Highlights: oomph-giving, easy to apply, radiant finish, suit-all shade

Swatches

Studio10-Liquid-Lips-swatches-semi-matte-lipstick

From left, Liquid Lips in Blossom, Tea Rose and Peach (single swipe of each) and a heavy swatch of Plumping Blush (enough for about 8 cheeks!).

  • Blossom - a soft, warm pink, very flattering on my skin tone and semi-bold without being in your face. Gold sheen in tube, which I don’t notice this on my lips.
  • Tea Rose - beige rose, great everyday shade for a polished, not overly made up look
  • Peach - peachy beige, the most nude and natural looking of the three
  • Plumping Blush - peachy rose coral with a subtle pearlised sheen (zero shimmer or glitter)

Studio10-Peach-Liquid-Lips-applied-

Studio10-Peach-Liquid-Lips-applied 

Apols that these pics aren’t great quality - snapped on my way out at the weekend, but I wanted to give you an idea of how the products look applied. In this I’m wearing Plumping Blush and Liquid Lips in Peach. My sis suggested I add a little lipgloss on the way out the door (she said gloss would make the look more evening-y!), so I did. I’ve included a mini pic taken pre-gloss to let you see the natural finish.

What do you think? I honestly couldn’t love these more.

Youth Lift Plumping Blush £24 and Longlast Velvet Liquid Lips £22 are both available at cultbeauty.co.uk

For more on Studio 10 see my previous posts: Contour, Conceal & Glow and Visible Lift Definer & Lip Definer

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Sunday, 21 September 2014

New: DKNY Be Delicious Sparkling Apple Collection

DKNY-Golden-Delicious,Be-Delicious,Fresh-Blossom-Sparkling-Apple

DKNY has reinvented the apple at her most glamorous with the new Be Delicious Sparkling Apple Ltd Edition Collection, a glitterfest of gold, green and pink apple-shaped goblets filled with fragrance of the same hue. The bottles look stunning on a dressing table and there’s something extremely satisfying about how their lids twist to one side to open and clunk back into place. Once open, the flat top - (as though the apple has been sliced in half) and reassuringly weighty glass - is comfortable and secure to hold.

DKNY Be Delicious Fresh Blossom Sparkling Apple

  • GOLD: Golden Delicious Sparkling Apple - sparkling grapefruit, spicy ginger and plum with sandalwood, amber and musk
  • GREEN: Be Delicious Sparkling Apple - green apple, red currants and watermelon with violet, magnolia wood and amber
  • PINK: Be Delicious Fresh Blossom Sparkling Apple - Apple, tangerine and pear with warm white woods, ambrette seeds and musk.

DKNY-Be-Delicious-Sparkling-Apple-Collection

While fruity florals aren’t my go-to fragrance, I think Delicious fans will adore these new releases and the packaging alone is irresistible. My favourite of the three is Golden Delicious… I’m drawn to the plum notes and underlying softness, which makes it stand out from the others for me.

DKNY Be Delicious Sparkling Apple Limited Edition Collection, £37 is available now exclusively at The Fragrance Shop.

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Friday, 19 September 2014

Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Color - The Nudes: Review & Swatches

Bobbi-Brown-Creamy-Matte-lipsticks

Choosing a nude lipstick is a bit like shopping for jeans: it’s tricky to find the perfect tone to suit your skin - especially if you’re not a fan of mannequin (aka death-warmed-up) lips - and what works on a friend may not work for you. It’s the kind of thing I go on a mission to find, get overwhelmed and leave the shop empty handed… I did precisely this in Space NK recently, hours before Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Colors landed on my desk. I may have audibly gasped: four deeply pigmented lipsticks in great nude tones, which are part of the new Smokey Nudes Collection (full review here).

The finish of these is completely matte, so they work best on well prepped, smooth moisturised lips. They are dense, creamy and don’t feel like a typical matte finish, probably because they don’t set on the lips like many matte formulas do. Most importantly, they feel comfortable on and don’t dry out my lips, yet still have great lasting power. Matte + moisturising = win:win.

Bobbi-Brown-Creamy-Matte-Lip-Color-Lipstick-swatches-001IMG_6033 photo (15)

I’ve included a second set of close up swatches to give you a more accurate look at the texture and because the colours were more true (better light). I used one sweep of colour for each and as you can see the finish is quite opaque, meaning that these are likely to look similar on most people’s lips, whereas a more sheer formula looks different on everyone. I totally love all four shades, but have been wearing Warm Nude and Pink Nude the most. I’ll definitely get a lot of wear out of Nude; Soft Nude may be a touch too warm for me. Official description in quotes below, followed by my interpretation.

  • Pink Nude: ‘light heather pink’ - surprisingly lip-like pink, more natural than I expected
  • Nude: ‘nude rose’ - a deep rose-brown
  • Warm Nude: ‘nude peach’ - peachy rose beige
  • Soft Nude: ‘light nude brown’ - warm brown with reddish undertones

If you like well pigmented lipsticks and dislike your hair sticking to glossy lips on windy days, then this could be the one for you. While a slightly sheer formula will always be my preference, I love these for long wear or an evening out when I don’t want to worry about touching up my lipstick all the time. The finish is versatile and you can achieve different looks by dabbing lightly over balm, wearing a single layer or applying intensely - I like to apply mine over lip balm or add a layer of squeezy balm on top. A little dab of gloss pressed onto the centre of the lower lip with a finger adds a subtle sheen and a sense of dimension.

Of course these four new tones complement the Smokey Nudes eye palette like a match made in heaven… I’m wearing Warm Nude lipstick with the eye shadows in this post. As a general rule, I dislike a totally matte make-up look (unless you’re 21 with porcelain smooth skin), so combine with a glowy base or balance out with a cream blusher or a little cheekbone highlight.

Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Color, £19.50

I’ve just had one of those moments where I look back on a blog post and think ‘how the heck do i have so much to say about a lipstick?’ (usually after I’ve edited out a few paras)… and imagine my friends’ eyes glazing over were I to go into so much detail in person. I guess I try to think what I’d want to know about a product I hadn’t tried before deciding if it was for me - and then write it all down. I hope it helps some of you and if you’ve reached this far, thank you so much for reading!

Happy weekend everyone! x

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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Bobbi Brown Smokey Nudes Collection

Bobbi-Brown-Smokey-Nudes-Collection-AW-2014 

Smokey Nudes pretty much sums up my taste in make-up - leaning towards the more subtle nudes for everyday and smoked up for evening. Actually I’d quite happily wear a smokey eye daily if I had the time, but alas that’s not an option. Bobbi Brown’s Smokey Nudes Collection had me swooning at first glimpse and after indulging in each of the products for a while, I’m happy to report that the products perform as beautifully as they look. The queen of the collection is the Smokey Nudes Eye Palette, paired with a limited edition Sandstone Shimmer Brick, 4 Creamy Matte Lip Colors, Smokey Eye Kajal Liner and Mascara.

Smokey Nudes Eye Palette

 IMG_5923

This two tier palette is cleverly compact as the lower level slides out when in use and tucks away when you’re done, making it similar in size to the Shimmer Brick. The mix of creamy, well pigmented mattes and metallics come in a range of warm and cool tones: Watercolour Pink, Cream, Nude, Naked, Smokey Brown, Woodrose, Smoked and Silver.

SWATCHES

Bobbi-Brown-Smokey-Nudes-Eye-shadow-palette-swatches Bobbi-Brown-Smokey-Nudes-Eye-shadow-swatches Bobbi-Brown-Smokey-Nudes-eyeshadow-palette-swatched-swatches

Both the finger and arm swatches are a single swipe of colour and the pigmentation and payoff are pretty much perfect for me, with minimal fallout. The two sparkle shades (centre swatches on my arm) are the least pigmented as they are designed to be pressed over colour to add sparkle.

Sandstone Shimmer Brick

Bobbi-Brown-Smokey-NudesBobbi-Brown-Sandstone-Shimmer-Brick-swatches

While I’m not the biggest Shimmer Brick fan, Sandstone does have pretty tones with more shimmer than glitter - and works well as a highlight. Avoid fallout when sweeping the colours together by patting the palette with the side or tip of your brush and swirling colour across tops of cheekbones. The copper and bronze Autumnal shades also work well on the eyes, so don’t restrict this to your face! One of my favourite colour combinations for eyes is bronze and grey - and I’ve enjoyed combining both the Shimmer Brick and eyeshadow palette with metallic grey Storm Eye Kajal Liner and lashings of instant-bold-lashes via Smokey Eye Mascara.

Bobbi-Brown-Smokey-Nudes-applied

In the pic above, I’m wearing the eye shadows, liner, mascara and lipstick in Warm Nude. I’m going to save the creamy matte lipsticks for a separate post tomorrow or this will go on forever - and they’re so lovely they deserve an ode of their own. If you want a sneak peek, you can see them on my Instagram

Bobbi Brown Smokey Nudes Collection is available now at John Lewis or Selfridges

Anyone with me in my love of smokey nude tones?

 

 

 

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A Dry Spray to Bouffe up your hair

Bouffe-Dry-Hair-Spray-Volumiser

Bouffe Dry Spray adds volume and texture to hair in need of a little oomph. Spritzed into roots, it gives lift and literally ‘bouffes’ hair up, helping avoid that flat, pancake look that does no-one any favours. I prefer to use it on the underneath sections of my hair as I’m not blessed with the glossiest of manes and like to retain what little shine I have. It’s available in different colours, but none were quite right for my hair, so I opted for the clear ‘all hair colours’ version and am happy that I did. I like that it’s invisible in my hair and can imagine that the amount I use could end up getting a bit messy if it were coloured. Anyone hoping to postpone getting their roots done may prefer the coloured option! The volume this offers lasts reasonably well for everyday use, but for a special occasion, I think it works best in tandem with the matching fixing spray.

Bouffe-Dry-Spray

Sorry that I didn’t get a chance to take before and after pics, but the texture and lift in Nicole’s hair above is (coincidentally) a good illustration of the effect that the dry spray gives - slightly lived in, semi-matte volume. Available from light blonde and silver through to black, it also acts as a dry shampoo, without feeling too chalky or weighing hair down. Have you tried this type of product in your hair?

Bouffe Dry Spray £5.99

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Monday, 15 September 2014

Zoeva Make-up & Brushes

Zoeva-makeup brushes

I’ve been meaning to get it on with Zoeva brushes for months - and now that we’ve met, I know we’ll be seeing a whole lot more of eachother. If you’re not familiar with the brand, Zoeva is a rare breed of quality make-up brushes at affordable prices - and has recently extended its line into make-up. I’ve only tried a few things so far, but it’s always a good sign when something moves straight into your everyday essentials.

Zoeva-103-Defined-Buffer-Brush,231-Luxe-Petite-Crease-Brush,330-Lip-Contour-Brush,Female-Attraction-Eyeliner,Floral-Crown-Luxe-Cream-Lipstick Zoeva-103-Defined-Buffer-Brush,231-Luxe-Petite-Crease-Brush,330-Lip-Contour-BrushZoeva-teal-blue-Female-Attraction-Eyeliner,Floral-Crown-Pink-Luxe-Cream-Lipstick-swatches  

Let’s start with the brushes: think strokably soft, nicely cut, with a luxe look about them.

DEFINED BUFFER 103 is an angled, flat topped foundation brush which fits well into the face’s contours and is great for sweeping on colour quickly and easily. Impossible not to compare this to my much loved Real Techniques Buffing Brush; this one has similar density and is slightly larger with flat rather than curved edges. They have the same function and give equally good results, so you don’t really need both, though I find this one can give a slightly more sheer finish and faster results, while the rounded edges of Real Techniques leave less room for missed bits.

Best for: quick, even foundation application

LUXE PETITE CREASE 231 is designed for applying eye shadow in the crease of the eye, but my favourite way to use it is for blending shadow or liner along the lash line. I’ve been hunting for over a year for the perfect brush to do this with - and think I’ve finally found it. Others I’ve tried have either been too fluffy so that they over blend the product, or too hard so they move it along rather than gently smudging. This one falls somewhere in the middle - and softens liner for a slightly smokey look without wiping it away or spreading it too far - and works well with both powder and cream shadow.

Best for: smoking out eyeliner

LIP CONTOUR 330 is softer and fluffier than any other lip brush I’ve tried. For this reason I couldn’t resist trying it for concealing small areas like the corner of eyes or edges of nose, where it’s perfect both for application and blending out. It does work on the lips too, but best saved for a more natural lip or stain effect rather than a diva red lip, which requires sharp edges for more precision.

Best for: colour correction and concealing dark circles

ZOEVA MAKE-UP These two items are highly pigmented with intense colour payoff - as you can see in the swatches. I tried Luxe Cream Lipstick in Floral Crown and Graphic Eyes+ longwear waterproof eye liner in Female Attraction. The liner - a dramatic deep teal - can be blended out before it sets and gives exceptional wear time. The colours were a little intense for a natural tone lover like me, but I’ve no qualms with the formula and am especially impressed with the liner. Special nod to the lipstick packaging in weighty metallic with that satisfying magnetic clunk as it closes. It’s the little things!

Zoeva is available here.

My stand out from this little group is definitely the Luxe Petite Crease Brush 231, a new daily staple. So which brushes do I need to try next?! (Did someone say Rose Gold?)

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Regenerate Enamel Science Toothpaste & Boosting Serum

Regenerate-toothpaste serum

A new toothpaste and serum system claim to be the first product that can actually regenerate tooth enamel - by 82% in three days - leading to smoother, stronger, whiter teeth.

Regenerate Enamel Science Advanced Toothpaste contains calcium silicate and sodium phosphate to help re-build a new layer of white enamel on teeth. Inspired by bone repair technology and developed after 9 years of research - in collaboration with dental experts from International Oral Health Research Centres - the science behind it all will be published in the Journal of Dentistry.

“…when enamel – the outermost protective layer of our teeth – is lost, our body cannot regenerate it. This product is the world’s first system able to reverse the early, invisible stages of this erosion process and regenerate enamel with exactly the same mineral tooth enamel is made of.”

The Boosting Serum (sold separately) is designed for use in conjunction with the toothpaste and claims to increase effectiveness by 43%.  This involves mixing a gel and activator in custom-fit mouth trays and using for 3 minutes x 3 consecutive days each month to sustain results.

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Regenerate-teeth-mould

I’ve been using the toothpaste on its own twice a day for one month and noticed a slight whitening (it also contains fine glitter sparkle, which I’m not so fussed on and am careful to rinse off). Besides that it’s pleasant to use, tastes minty like regular toothpaste and leaves my teeth looking and feeling clean. After one month I also used the Boosting Serum system and noticed that my teeth appeared to whiten a little more over the 3 days (while some whitening is a bonus effect, this isn’t primarily a whitening product). Not the most pleasant or glamorous product I’ve ever tested, but at least it only has to be left on for 3 minutes and I didn’t experience any discomfort or sensitivity during or after use.

I honestly can’t tell if my tooth enamel has been restored and think this is something only a dental professional could measure accurately, but if enamel loss or damage is a concern for you, this kit might be worth a go.

Regenerate Enamel Science Advanced Toothpaste, £10

Regenerate Enamel Science Boosting Serum, £30

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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Aveda Shampure Composition Oil

Aveda-Shampure-Composition-oil

One of the loveliest things about blogging is discovering a gem of a product that slots into my routine and makes me wonder how I managed without it. Aveda Shampure Composition is one of those finds, so of course I must share it with you. Based on Aveda’s original elixir of 25 pureflower and plant essences, this beautifully fragranced oil is designed to nourish skin while calming the mind - and can be used for bath, body, nails and scalp.

This injects mini spa moments into my working day, usually at my desk during an afternoon slump or after a late night’s work. As a writer, I spend the majority of the day typing, so my neck and shoulders get achey and tense… a few drops of this warmed in my palms and massaged into the back of my neck and shoulders = instant soothing. Once I switch off and am settling down to relax for the evening, I’ll work some into my arms, hands and cuticles… the formula is rich, but not greasy and a little goes a long way. I’d describe the scent as fresh, yet soft - created by a team of aromatherapists, pharmacologists and perfumers - I find it therapeutic and totally moreish.

Aveda-Shampure-Composition-review Aveda-Shampure-CompositionAveda-Shampure-Composition-uses-review

The recycled glass bottle releases one drop at a time in quite quick succession; it’s not the yawny type where you have to wait around for a slow drip-drip. The inner box is wrapped in a super cute open-out guide to how the product can be used. I love that it even doubles up as a meditation and sleep aid - just massage into hands and inhale deeply.

This would make a beautiful gift for someone with a busy, stressful lifestyle - or anyone who could benefit from a little moment of calm in their day.

Aveda Shampure Composition, £22 (free delivery)

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