Monday, 3 April 2017

Switching up my Make Up for Spring

There's nothing like a few days of blue skies and sunshine to put me in the mood for Spring makeup. After a recent spree at Victoria Square, Belfast, I've revamped my everyday stash, adding bold colour, sheer textures and a golden glow to the mix.


Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning for Face is an old staple that's hard to beat. This milky lotion is easy to apply and gives a subtle golden glow that camouflages imperfections, giving me the confidence to wear a lighter base. I've recently switched to YSL Touche Eclat Le Teint foundation in the shade B20... slightly less dewy than the original formula, this gives medium coverage with a natural looking finish that gets better as the day goes on. It has good lasting power even without powder (though Blur Primer does help it go the extra mile) and is perfect on my normal to dry skin at this time of year.

Clarins new Skin Illusion Blush in Luminous Pink is the prettiest soft rose shade in very cute packaging. A built in puff in the lid picks up just the right amount of powder blush to apply directly to cheeks and blend... great for on the go, though I do normally use a brush.


I'm a big fan of one step eye products as I rarely have time to apply a full eye shadow look. Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon in Amber Haze provides subtle definition as liner or added drama when applied all over the lower lid. Just smudge the edges with a ring finger and you're good to go. This gorgeous metallic bronze is recommended for brown eyes, though I think it works well with blue too.

YSL The Shock Mascara has been a bit of a game changer for me. When keeping liner and shadow low key, big lashes are a must for me - and this gives instant length and volume in a single coat. You can of course keep going for an even bolder look (subtle this is not)... I'm absolutely hooked.


I've found the perfect Spring pairing in this lip duo: Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk with Chanel Le Rouge Crayon de Couleur in Rose Violine. Both are a flattering mauve toned mid pink and very wearable for every day. Chanel Rouge Crayon de Couleurs have the most gorgeous creamy texture that goes on glossy, settles to an almost matte finish and stains my lips with surprising staying power. On days when I want a bolder look, I opt for Tom Ford Lip Colour in Wild Ginger (2nd pic from top), the most beautiful vivid orange-coral. I'm loving the new counters for all three of these brands at House of Fraser, Belfast... much as I love online shopping, it makes such a difference being able to try products in person.


Mild weather makes me want to switch to bright nail colours immediately and Nails Inc Gel Effect in Chelsea Grove is a gorgeous glossy fuschia shade that brightens up any outfit.

I was joined on my Spring spree by blogging friend, Avril of A Life to Style ... pop over to see her new season fashion picks here! Local readers might like to check out Victoria Square's Spring Carnival on 8-9 April for fashion shows, beauty demos and loads more.

*Some of the featured products were bought from House of Fraser Belfast with a Victoria Square gift card.


Friday, 31 March 2017

All About Face

Pretty sure I'm the last beauty blogger on the block to get around to trying the original Beauty Blender. I've tried alternatives like those by Real Techniques and Barely There, but only recently had my first play with the iconic hot pink bouncy makeup sponge.

This All About Face set contains the original pink Beauty Blender for foundation, a smaller grey one for blusher and a micro mini for highlighting and concealer. The mini is particularly good for concealing around the eyes, where I find the pink one a little too bulky to really smooth concealer into the corners.

I've been using the Beauty Blenders with my current base products, YSL Touche Eclat Le Teint Eclat foundation and Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Serum concealer (yep, still loving this - full review here). Both of these are liquid formulas with a dewy finish, so lend themselves particularly well to this kind of application. I'm not sure if a thicker cream or compact would work so well?

If you're new to Beauty Blenders, they're firm-ish sponges used to press or bounce foundation onto the skin for a perfected, seamless finish. I dampen mine before use, which makes it almost double in size and apply product more smoothly with a natural finish. I squeeze it with a clean flannel to get rid of excess water before use, so it's not dripping wet. 

I definitely use more product with a sponge compared to a brush - almost double in fact - which is quite significant, though I'm currently sucking it up as these give such a perfect, almost poreless finish. Cleaning them is easier than I expected... little and often seems to be key (and more hygienic). The solid cleanser is great, though I've tried a face wash (the Merumaya Luxury Facial wash from this post), which works well too.  

Once the novelty has worn off, I'll probably return to makeup brushes for every day and save my Beauty Blenders for times when I want to make more of an effort. I'd love to hear your experiences of using one - and welcome any tips. 

You can find the full Beauty Blender range and All About Face collection here


Monday, 20 March 2017

Pixi Hello Rose Glow Kit

If anyone knows how to get the glow, it's Pixi. So many of the Pixi Beauty products help to create a more radiant, glowing complexion and this little Hello Rose kit is no exception. If rosy tones aren't your thing, it's also available in a peach and honey toned version called Hello Glow.

This is how the kit comes, with generous miniatures of cream highlight, blush and plumping lipgloss. 

Glow Booster in Pink Pearl is a sheer pearly pink toned highlighter... mix a dot with foundation, apply under base for an all over glow or add to the high points of your face as a final step (my personal favourite).

Lip Lift Max in Sheer Rose is the ultimate nude lip colour for me... I have the full size version which I've worn a lot in recent months. A rosy brown toned nude with the perfect amount of pigment for a semi-sheer wash of colour, this looks gorgeous paired with a nude lipliner. I'm a big fan of Pixi's Soft Nude Contour Liner though since mine ran out I've been using Barry M lip liner in Blush, an excellent nude shade and total bargain at £2.99.

Pixi Blush Duo in Rose Gold is a cool pink with a slightly iridescent finish and a white gold highlight. I like to use the blush side on its own, though it can be mixed with a little of the highlight for a more shimmery finish or used separately. I prefer the more subtle finish of a cream highlight, so tend to use the Glow Booster on tops of cheekbones.

Swatches from left: Blush Duo in Rose Gold (blush & highlight swatched separately), Glow Booster in Pink Pearl and Lip Lift Max in Sheer Rose.

Pixi Hello Rose Glow kit is available now for £20 here in the UK or in-store at Target in the US. 


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Bathroom Shelfie

Hello from my new bathroom! It's been a while since I've shared a bathroom shelfie and as some of these products have become regulars, it's time to share my thoughts...

I first discovered Alfaparf Milano hair care after a Keratin treatment at Stafford Hair. I've tried quite a few of the products since and have most recently been enjoying Prickly Pear and Orange from the Precious Nature range. The smell of these is as authentic as I'd hoped and really lingers on my hair. I'm prone to dryness and a frizzy halo (lucky me) and these really do leave my hair feeling softer and smoother. The mask is so rich that I can only use it on ends as my hair is prone to that weighed down feeling (coarser hair types could probably use it more often)... I use the shampoo alone and then apply the mask every 2-3 washes. This is the first shampoo that leaves my hair feeling nourished without any conditioner, so although a little more pricey than your average Boots number, it works out fairly economical (available at selected salons or amazon). PS also works wonders on my daughters spirally curls and the gorgeous scent has made hair washing much less of a chore!

Bioderma's Atoderm bodycare range is aimed at dry, sensitive skin, which I'm particularly prone to in Winter. If you're the same, it's really not worth inflicting your skin to highly scented, foaming products with harsh chemicals, which increase irritation and strip skin of natural oils. This Ultra-nourishing Anti-irritation shower oil is a pleasure to use and much more luxurious than it looks. On contact with wet skin, the oil quickly emulsifies into a milky lotion, rinses off easily and leaves my skin feeling soft and comfortable (not remotely greasy). The pump makes it really practical and as an added bonus, it's makes leg shaving a breeze!

I've been using this tube of Merumaya Luxury Facial Wash each morning for longer than I remember and need so little I'm barely half way through. It's super gentle and a little dot the size of my baby finger nail is all I need. The reason I've stuck with this for so long is that it's one of the few facial washes I've tried that cleanses without drying or irritating my skin in any way. Active ingredients include antioxidants to protect and pomegranate enzymes to brighten, treating redness and imperfections without stripping. I'll sometimes use it alone and rinse off, but more recently have been massaging it in with a super gentle Konjac Sponge for an even more thorough cleanse. Konjac Sponges were one of my earliest discoveries through this blog and are perfect for anyone who likes an uncomplicated, natural approach to skincare. Available to suit different skin types, each one contains French clay and minerals; mine is the Chamomile Facial Puff sponge to soothe and calm sensitive skin. 

Mauli Reawaken Hand & Body Wash is an indulgence for my dry hands and I've been eeking out every drop to make it last as long as possible! Made with 80% organic ingredients, including essential oils, its amazing scent includes lime, grapefruit, frankincense and jasmine... an absolute treat for both the skin and senses.


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

3 x Face Masks to Plump, Soothe and Hydrate

I've recently moved house during which any form of pampering went out the window, so once I make my way through unpacking the last few (57) cardboard boxes, some self tlc will most definitely be happening. I find leave-on face masks one of the easiest ways to do this... I slather one on as I fall into or out of bed and let it do its thing, zero effort required. I know we're officially meant to 'tissue off' any excess, but why waste a drop? Here are three of my personal favourites, depending on my skin's needs on any given day.

PLUMPING: Purelogicol Triple Helix Collagen Boosting Mask

This feels incredibly luxurious on the skin and is great to plump and smooth before a special occasion or to help fake a few hours extra sleep the morning after. Made with natural plant extracts, essential oils and vitamins, it repairs and hydrates skin while adding extra glow. If I could only have one face mask, it would most likely be this one.

SOOTHING: Ren Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask

As the name suggests, this is one I reach for when my skin looks or feels a little angry or sensitive, which it's prone to more often than I'd like. Designed to protect skin's protective moisture barrier, I find it both calming and soothing, particularly during rosaceous flare-ups.

HYDRATE: Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Mask

I was hooked on this mask made with calming botanicals and antioxidant vitamins from first use... it does exactly as the name suggests and as a dehydration sufferer (is anyone not?!) it's become an essential for me. I'm not sure how often it should be used, but I apply several times a week as it really does deliver the deep hydration my skin craves.

What's your favourite face mask?


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Clarins (Secret) Face Contour Palette

Clarins Face Contour Palette is the perfect pick for those who like to add colour and dimension to their face without anyone knowing about it... the Secret Contour if you like, exactly how I think contour should be worn. I'm really not a fan of contouring per se, though totally get that it looks great on certain face shapes. On my face, additional angles are not required and on most, it's an unnecessary extra step best left to the pros (in my humble opinion).

So why blog about the newest contour palette on the block? Because for me it's a great multi-tasking face palette with bronze, blush and powder in one, perfect for those of us who appreciate de-faffing on a busy morning. It works well on light to medium skin tones and anyone who enjoys quite a natural makeup look.

All three powders are matte - and while I'd personally prefer the lightest shade to have a satin finish, it works just fine as a setting powder and even better swirled with the bronzer for an extra subtle look, making it versatile all year around. The blusher is a pretty, soft rose pink, similar to the shade my cheeks go when naturally flushed (always a good gauge).

Above are finger swatches of all three shades - the lightest, slightly vanilla in tone, barely visible. The bronze looks slightly orange here, but appears lighter and more neutral on my face - and I'd say the pink is a touch more blue toned in real life.

These are the swatches blended out with a brush to give you more of an idea how they look applied, though I use less of the bronze shade in particular. Speaking of brushes, the palette includes a good quality one, but as ever I prefer to use my regular brushes.

In summary, the powders are finely milled, easy to blend and skin flattering. I use the bronze to add a tiny bit of warmth, the lightest shade on my T-zone and the blush on apples of cheeks. The palette is both glam and sturdy with a good mirror, great for on the go and I think best for light to medium skins. I've been using it most days for the past month or so and it's been the first to distract me from my trusty Givenchy Lune Rose blush in a looong time.

Clarins Face Contour Palette is available now.

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and purchases. See my full disclaimer here.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka Cologne Intense: Review

Myrrh & Tonka is the latest addition to the Jo Malone Cologne Intense line... and a must-try if you enjoy sensual, smoky scents.

There's no two ways about it; this is one sexy fragrance and smells great on both men and women. Without exception, everyone I've asked to try this finds it as swoony as I do... and of all the Cologne Intense scents, this is my No1.

"The rich, potent sap of the Namibian myrrh tree... mingling with whispers of warm almond and lush vanilla... the addictive tonka bean."

I was surprised to read of lavender top notes as I didn't catch these at all, so don't be put off if like me, you're not a fan. There's an oriental herbal freshness on first spritz that quickly turns smoky before the myrrh kicks in, eventually settling to sophisticated vanilla and almond.

I've heard some describe Myrrh & Tonka as sweet; to me the dry down is a musky, woody gourmand - soft and creamy, but not quite sweet. A gentle oriental smokiness remains as this scent wears on my skin and I can't help thinking that it would make a beautiful candle.

Fragrance Director, Céline Roux describes it as "decadent... addictive... warm and opulent" - and I completely agree. To me, it conjures a log cabin with open fires on the edge of a forest... close my eyes and I'm there (I wish).

I think Myrrh & Tonka will be hugely popular and am pleased that the Cologne Intense line is now available in slightly more accessible 50ml bottles (cute, squat and square). These scents have a richness and lasting power beyond that of regular Jo Malone colognes and I find that they work particularly well in Winter.

Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka is available now in 50ml or 100ml  in the UK (find it here in the US).

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and some links are affiliate. See my full disclaimer here.


Monday, 19 December 2016

Fragrance by Occasion

It can be tricky knowing where to begin when choosing a new fragrance, so I thought I'd share some inspo for that last minute gift or self-treat to wear over the party season. A good starting point place is to think when the perfume will be worn... everyday, special occasion or a head turning signature scent. I've divided these four scents up a little to give you a bit of a steer, though personally I mostly choose by mood, for which there are no strict rules. If I'm feeling a little flat I'll go for something invigorating; if stressed, something soft and soothing... again each of these will be personal tastes and your choices may differ from mine.


The YSL Black Opium Collection includes 3 fragrances: the fruity green Eau de Toilette, gourmand floral Eau de Parfum and white floral Nuit Blanche. While I do like all three, I'm most drawn to the Eau de Toilette in its glittering black and rose gold bottle, pictured above. While slightly lighter than the others thanks to a luminous green coffee and jasmine tea, this sits firmly in the evening category for me, perched on a base of patchouli, white woods and musk. While perhaps not for the faint hearted, this is not cloying, but extremely wearable and sophisticated.

SENSUAL: Michael Kors Wonderlust

This is one of those perfumes that has grown on me the more I've worn it and definitely come into its own in colder weather. On me it sits quite close to the skin, is warm, sensual and very feminine, suitable for both day and evening wear. Bergamot, almond milk and cashmere wood are the stand out notes to me... I've previously done a full review here if you'd like to find out more about this one.

EVERYDAY: Clean Reserve Blonde Rose

This is one of the more intriguing scents I've tried and it seems to smell different on everyone. Initially very soft and feminine, the clean notes come through as it settles on the skin. With notes of rose, peony, jasmine, musk and sandalwood, the brand describe this as 'feminine with an edge', which I'd say is spot on. The branding, packaging and presentation box are stunning and together imake this the perfect choice for a gift.

UNISEX: Escentric Molecules Escentric 03

Woody, green and aromatic, the invigorating Escentric 03 is a definite feel-good fragrance. It opens with ginger root, green peppercorn and lime, with orris, jasmine and tea at the heart and a base of vetiver, woods, leather and musk. Much as I enjoy wearing this unisex scent, I think it leans slightly more masculine and hasn't managed to lure me from my old favourite, Escentric 02. A great choice if you fancy sharing!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Christmas Beauty Gift Guide

A round-up of gift ideas for beauty lovers on a mostly modest budget...

Pixi Beauty has released some gorgeous gift sets for Christmas 2016 including the Ultimate Beauty Kit and Fairy Dust Favourites (the most beautiful loose pigments).

Pixi Palette Rosette includes everything you need to enhance cheeks and eyes in one convenient palette of suit-everyone shades.

Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pens are among my favourite go on smooth, blend beautifully and last all day eyeliners and this kit of minis is a great way to try a range of shades, including a couple of new ones.

I've declared my appreciation of Real Techniques Bold Metals brushes on here before and am loving this Bold Metals Spotlight Essential Set in its own cute brush roll, perfect for travel. It includes a tapered blush, triangle concealer and tapered eye shadow brush, all of which ecan be used with cream, powder or liquid products.

I've been using Oral B electric toothbrushes for years and think this new rose gold version has got to be the most glamorous one ever... I'm all for everyday tools being as pretty as they are practical, so if you're gifting a toothbrush, make it a rose gold toothbrush! (currently on offer at Boots)

Soap & Glory Christmas gift sets never disappoint, especially ones that play Christmas tunes! This gorgeous Foam & For-tune set includes six shower favourites and a body polisher in a cute keepsake tin.

Vita Liberata is one of my favourite self tanning brands and this Fabulous Glow Luxury Tan kit works out at half price! It includes HD Body Blur for party presentable limbs and Self Tanning Tinted Lotion, a moisturising formula that I find works really well on dry Winter skin... all in a rose gold pouch.

The Dirty Works Advent Calendar works is beautifully presented and the Get Set Glow Luxury Minis are great for gifting or travel.

Beauty themed stocking fillers are always a hit and this Roger & Gallet hand cream set and Dr Lipp balm are both pretty and practical. I also find the balm brilliant on dry cuticles.

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Soap & Glory The Whole Glam Lot: Boots Star Gift

Soap & Glory's 2016 Boots Star Gift is pretty fabulous and I reckon the packaging is just as gorgeous as the contents!

How adorable is that pink metal suitcase printed with a gazillion teeny selfies of S&G fans?! The Whole Glam Lot goes on sale at half price in Boots this Friday, 9 December - and I'll be amazed if it doesn't sell out.

Inside you'll find 10 of the most popular Soap & Glory products, mostly skincare with two makeup items:

Sugar Crush Body Wash - 500ml
The Scrub Of Your Life body Buffer - 200ml
The Righteous Butter Body Butter - 300ml
Smoothie Star Deep Moisture body Milk - 500ml
Hand food Hydrating Hand Cream - 125ml
Face Soap and Clarity Facial Wash - 350ml
Speed Plump Super Moisturizing Day Cream - 50ml
Thick & Fast High Definition Collagen Coat Mascara - 10ml
Sexy Mother Pucker Lip Gloss in Rose & Shine - 4ml

Hand Maid Antibacterial Hand Gel - 50ml

All products in the Soap & Glory Star Gift are full sized and this set will be on offer for ONE WEEK at half price: £30 instead of £60 - both online and instore at Boots

We're big Soap & Glory fans in this house and I think their products are brilliant value, especially at Boots Star Gift prices!

Will you be snapping up The Whole Glam Lot?

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.
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