20 December 2009

Festive feet - Chanel Le Vernis in Coromandel

I bought Coromandel a few months ago being seduced by the vibrant orangey red. I did a manicure with it but was underwhelmed - it just looked a bit in your face somehow - so thought I'd try it as my festive season pedicure colour.

(last pic with flash)

I do like it, but again just not sure. It somehow seems to overwhelm the nail, making it look larger than it is - I cant really explain the effect, Sunday evening, tired, words failing me!

My beautician was very impressed with the texture and pigmentation. For me, it's pretty but not a repurchase. My Christmas pedicure colour last year was Chanel's Barcelona Red and I do absolutely love that shade. I'm also loving at the moment OPI's A oui bit of red which I've blogged about previously and which is a real grower on me.

Any must have red pedi colours?

18 December 2009

Essential measures #2 Sisley Radiant Glow Express Mask with Red Clay

So this is the second of those rare items in my beauty stash known as 'repurchases'!

This mask never fails to give me glowing, party-ready skin, literally in minutes. The effects seem to last a couple of days too and sometimes my skin looks good enough that I even feel like going without make up after i've used it (well base anyway!).

It comes in a gorgeous pale pink tube which retails at around £50.

From the Sisley website -
In five minutes at the most:

- your skin feels fresh, clean and toned

- your complexion looks matte, luminous and more even

- your face appears rested and regains spectacular radiance
The website also says the mask provides 'gentle cleansing benefits and rids the skins of impurities that can dull and suffocate the complexion'. It is aimed at those with a dull complexion.
I can honestly say that I agree with the three claims above. It really seems to get rid of blotchiness and even out skintone, makes my skin looks and feel really soft and rested, and makes it look glowy and, yes perhaps even radiant for a good couple of days. The mask itself is a pink paste which for some reason I love. It looks very similar in texture and consistency to the Clarins Pure and Radiant mask which also contains red clay (or pink clay), but I've not had great results with the Clarins.
My skin is combination with oily t-zone, but is overall in decent condition. I'd really recommend anyone to give see if they can get a sample of this from their Sisley counter. It's pricey but each application gives me skin almost comparable to having a facial, so I really think the investment is worth it. If I'm heading out for a special occassion, I always apply this mask first - so quick and easy with great results.
I love Sisley products, I really think they work - I had fantastic results from the All Day All Year cream but I simply cannot afford to repurchase it - I got my tube on eBay for about £70 but it costs about £150 upwards in store. I also love the Gentle Facial Buffing Cream which is about £35. When I was using these three products in unison, my skin looked fantastic.
Anyone tried this mask or have any Sisley hero products of their own to share?

1 December 2009

Rimmel (yes Rimmel!) Rich Moisture Lipstick - Amethyst Shimmer (84)

I was at a wedding a couple of weeks ago, and despite having already planned my make up look to go with my brown satin dress (brown sparkly eyes, nude lip), at the last minute I decided I might look a bit too tree-trunky (brown from head to toe) and decided I needed a fuchsia lip! It was about 8pm on a Thursday evening and the only store left open in Chesterfield (don't ask!) was Superdrug - so a drugstore lippy it was. After an aisle sweep Dale Winton would have been proud of, I emerged with Rimmel's Amethyst Shimmer lipstick. I actually thought it was a Maybelline (obviously paying attention!) and have to admit to having a slightly upturned nose when I realised I'd bought Rimmel - I'm not really a fan of drugstore cosmetics in general but I have a particular loathing of Rimmel, due in no small part I think to the vile, deeply unflattering Coffee Shimmer that every 13 year old girl seemed inexplicably to covet back in the day (and which I indeed owned and wore!). Very ironic, as there is actually a Coffee Shimmer in the Moisture Rich line..  I'm guessing the very same one (though hopefully the formula has been updated in the last 20 years!)

Long story short - pleasant surprise! The quality of this seemed really good, and it is indeed quite moisturising - rare to find a product that actually lives up to it's name. Of course I didn't actually wear it for the wedding (and I'm glad) but I did try it on in the safety of my own home and it really lasts. And the colour? Very punchy, very now (eg quite 80s, is that trend EVER going to die?), perhaps a tiny bit frostier than I'd normally wear and also a touch on the cool side (for me) but I may well whip this baby out on New Years Eve - it's a great party colour and I think it also plumped my lips up a bit - bonus! I may even return to Rimmel to investigate more colours... Can't remember how much it was but definitely under £5.

28 November 2009

Eyebrow threading - Glow Beauty Bar

I'd been wanting to try eyebrow threading for a while, and finally got the chance last week when I had a couple of days off up in Newcastle.

The Glow Beauty Bar is situated in the middle of the beauty department of Fenwick Newcastle on the ground floor, next to the food hall. I was apprehensive about having my eyebrows threaded on a chair in front of all and sundry (I've always looked at the women having it done and marvelled at their lack of self-consciousness!), but... well, needs musted and I guess it's just one step up from having your make up done at the beauty counter! Thus I found myself in the chair on a thankfully not-too-busy Monday afternoon.

The lady who did the threading was brilliant - she fully explained the procedure giving me a mirror to explain what she was going to do (I also found myself sitting in the chair before having actually agreed with myself that I was going to have it done - good skills on her part!).

First things first - oww!!! Yes ladies it really does hurt I'm afraid - and I had about three days of painkillers inside me due to painful ribs following a chest infection! But being someone with very dark body hair I have a very high pain threshold for waxing etc, and this wasn't really much worse - I just wasn't used to pain in that particular area - eyewatering to say the least, as you seem to feel each individual hair being ripped out! It only took about 10 minutes though, and I was happy to sit through it for the results....

SPECTACULAR! My eyebrows were very thin to start with due to overplucking, but somehow they managed to shape them, tidy them up and make them look fuller than before! They advised me which bits to grow (I seemed to have some very unsightly vanilla ice-esque gaps in one eyebrow - not deliberate i assure you!)

I think threading is a much better option than waxing for the eyebrows - in my opinion the skin in that area is too delicate for waxing, it often takes a layer off leaving the skin red and irritated. And plucking just doesn't give that great shape.

A week later, it seemed there'd been quite a bit of regrowth - well it's hard to tell if it was regrowth or just new hair, but it seemed spikier and harder to pluck from before. The lady said that a couple of more visits to the threading chair would be all it would take to get them into perfect condition and shape, after which just the occassional tidy up i guess. I have friends who have threading done and always have perfect eyebrows, so I'm going to stick with this one - the shape they've given me is amazing. I've included a picture to show the shape but please note my brows have been filled in with my trusty MAC Charcoal Brown eyeshadow using the 266 brush - unfortunately I didn't get a pic when I'd just had them done, but will try to remember next time. I also went a bit OTT towards my nose - they're not as thick sans powder as I made them.  In this picture I'm also wearing the NARS Tokydo duo on the lids and crease, and eyes are lined with MACs Beauty Marked.

Glow Beauty Bar is available in Fenwicks in Newcastle and London, also in Debenhams Clapham Junction and House of Fraser Victoria Street, plus a few other locations across the UK. Visit www.glowbeautybar.com

Cost £14 for eyebrows.

17 November 2009

10 things about me

Okay no-one has tagged me but I'm going to do this anyway as we all like to talk about ourselves really!

1. I live in London but I was born in Scotland and brought up in Northumberland. For me one of the best sights in the world is the view of Newcastle quayside as the train from London crosses over the Tyne into Central Station. Yes I love the north and think Northumberland is one of the most stunning counties in the UK.

2. I never wanted to live in London but moved there after completing my degree as it was the only place I could find a job (I did find my boyfriend of 9 years here too so it was worth it!)

3. I work for a charity, which I really enjoy though I realise I'm never going to make my fortune this way, so....

4. One day, I would like to write a book (maybe more than one!). I have a few ideas in mind but no time to put pen to paper (excuses, excuses!)

5. If I didn't work in the charity sector, and my back up plan of being a multi-million selling author fails, I'd love to be a make up artist or a beautician. I've also always wanted to work on the tills in a clothes shop. Or just operate a cash register!

6. I love make up and spend horrendous amounts of money on cosmetics and beauty products. I am obssessed. Yet bizarrely I don't wear make up all that often and I don't think I'm that good at applying it. Especially eyeshadow - hopeless!!!

6. My grandfather was from the Yemen, hence my (middle) name.

7. I like to play guitar. I play lots of things to a very mediocre standard. My favourite type of guitar music is flamenco / Spanish guitar, and blues. The flamenco guitar player Paco de Lucia is my idol.

8. I love Spain and have recently got half on A-Level in Spanish. I think the language is beautiful. I got a much better grade than any of my A-Levels at school!

9. I studied science at University, and was a freelance science journalist for a while. After uni, I very nearly ended up working in a lab for Nestle in Newcastle (hence the London move). I hate practical science!

10. I love squash and think it should be made an Olympic sport!

16 November 2009

Beauty icons #1 - Jennifer Lopez

I love J-Lo! There, I've said it. Her look may not be the coolest out there, nor the most adventurous, but this is a woman who knows what suits her, and knows how to make the best of what she's got. Before fame and fortune, Jen was what could have been described as plain - pretty, yes, but quite plain, with unruly dark locks that didn't really flatter her, and questionable dress sense (but hey, didn't we all back in the 90s?!) - though she always had that fab curvy figure.

But check her out here a few years down the line, a bronzed beauty with luxe locks and that fabulously bling dress - not many of us could carry off one-shouldered leopard print but Jen does so with aplomb. I think she looks lovely here, feminine, pretty and sexy, not an easy trio to pull off!

I love the fact that J-Lo embraces her femininity - she's proud of her curves and rightly so and although some of her outfits may be revealing (see third photo below!) she rarely looks tacky. In a sea of small, skinny Hollywood startlets that all seem to look the same, Jen to me stands head and shoulders above - always looking glamorous, elegant, and healthy with her glowing skin and curvy but toned frame.

J-Lo has definitely been a beauty and style inspiration to me over the years - my look definitely veers towards shiny and bling from time to time.  My wardrobe contains a healthy smattering of animal print and shiny stuff, I rarely wear non-gold jewellry and one of my favourite make up and hair looks is golden straightened locks with a softly glowing face, tres J-Lo. I also adore Grecian drapes and have a few tops and long dress that I like to think wouldn't look out of place on La Lopez.

But besides the bling, I also appreciate Jen's beauty aesthetic - she always looks groomed, glowing and above all healthy. She doesn't drink alcohol much, which probably contributes to her amazing skin and sparkling eyes. And another thing I love about J-Lo is that she seems to look better the older she gets, inspiration to us all! But I'm sure she works at it, hard.

I don't like J-Lo when she's being too 'street' - too 'Jenny from the block' - I'm talking the crop tops and billowing pants with heeled trainers. It was fine once upon a time but now I think J-Lo's getting, much as I hate to say it, too old for this look. I'd love to see her do a video which embraces Hollywood glamour, for me this is one of the looks she pulls off best.

Off the top of my head, I can think of at least dozen J-Lo looks that I've loved. Some more of my favourites are below:

This teal Temperley dress on Jen blew me away - it could have been made for her, and I adore her hair and make up too.

J-Lo looks godess-like in this divine Marchesa dress - it suits her figure perfectly and the colour and jewelled detailing are just so elegant. I love J-Lo's hair and make up here - she could have easily gone for long waves and this is different and classy - in fact, she is almost unrecognisable here.

Wowser - this is even more daring than I remembered. J-Lo's Versace dress at the 2000 Grammy Awards was one of her definining moments. And yes, she did pull it off!

Another red-carpet do, another Grecian show stopper, another runaway success! The dress, the hair, the clip, the glowing skin, DIVINE! The dress suits Jen's figure perfectly. I'm going to be chanelling this look at a wedding I'm attending this weekend, perhaps will post a pic so you can judge how well I did!

Okay, J-Lo does wear alot of Grecian dresses, but when she looks this good, who can blame her?? (easy on the fake tan though!)

But it's not just Grecian J-Lo can pull off - check her out in this white gathered dress with fab 40s hair and red lips that would make Gwen Stefani proud!

And this sixties-style shorter colour block dress looks perfect on J-Lo, showing off her super slender pins. I love the tousled hair and natural make up too.

Okay okay, she is only human (despite being J-Lo) and of course there have been a few mishaps along the way, I'm thinking that velvet rouched abomination she wore to a music awards ceremony recently! But I'm not here to dwell on those - there are plenty of magazines out there ripping female celebs to shreds without me adding to it in the blogosphere. The fact is, with J-Lo's face and figure she can carry off just about anything.. and she knows it...

All hail J-Lo, queen of bling-beauty!

Do you love J-Lo?? Who are your beauty icons. I plan on a whole series of these with some pretty eclectic choices in there, so I hope you enjoyed reading.

11 November 2009

In lust - Nars Lust for Life palette!

Loving it! Bought this on eBay for about £25 and it is so worth every penny! I think I'm a bit lazy when it comes to make up and like to stick to tried and tested combinations, whilst at the same time admiring those faces in magazines and on celebrities that look made up yet in a way that's hard to pinpoint - a subtle lip teamed with a defined eye and a glowing cheek but none of them jumping out at you - just a polished, sophisticated look.... FOUND IT! (Woop!)

So there are three lipsticks, an old favourite of mine Dolce Vita, a new favourite of mine Pigalle (where has it been all my life) and the famous red Fire Down Below which I haven't even got round to trying yet so enamoured am I with everything else.

The blushes, Mata Hari and Amour look frankly frightening in the pan but once on they really do transform both themselves and your skin, giving a flush of either peach or pink colour that can be a subtle or unsubtle as you like.

The eyeshadows are the fairly subtle Tokyo duo (a grey white highlight shade and a soft, light heather) and a dark burgundy New York that I have to confess has me puzzled - not sure how to make this one work other than popping a bit in the crease - seems to make me look a bit tired anywhere else... but I'll let that one go as the rest of the palette is so fabulous and the Tokyo duo seems to work really well with my brown eyes.

Shadows top-bottom: Tokyo I, Tokyo II, New York
Blush top-bottom: Amour, Mata Hari
Lips l-r: Pigalle, Fire Down Below, Dolce Vita

So my face of the day which is fast becoming face of the week / month is as follows:

Lips - Pigalle
Eyes - Tokyo duo, New York in crease
Cheeks - Mata Hari
(I'm also wearing Kiehl's Ultra Facial Tinted Moisturiser in Light, MAC Charcoal Brown eyeshadow on the brows and Lancome Hypnose mascara though most of that wore off at work!)

It's frustratingly difficult to get accurate representation of the colours on the face, especially in this abominable light. I hope however the FOTD pics show the fresh look that I think this palette enables, a rosy cheeked, bitten lip bright eyed look that I think is perfect for this colder weather. The strength of the lip and cheek colours plus the burgundy eyeshadow also means this could be ramped up quite a lot for evening / party looks, and I'll certainly be making lots of use of this baby at Christmas and New Year (don't see this getting much use in Spring / Summer).

I'm not sure if this Nars palette can still be purchased at counters but if you like the look it check eBay or it's currently available through HQ Hair at £48 (ouch!). I'm definitely going to be looking out for more palettes in future - I already I have my eye on Skin Deep!

The green 'n' blues - Illamasqua Muse and Barry M Racing Green nail polish

As I mentioned in a previous post, my head has been turned recently by some nail colours, such as greens, greys and, heavens, even yellows, which I would never in a billion years have even looked at BBB (before beauty blogs - I hereby copyright that phrase!). And as my make up enlightenment continues, I have now officially dipped a toe (rather a fingertip!) into the tempting polishes inspired, it seems, by the myriad colours of the oceans.

It began with Illamasqua's Muse, appropriately, from their Sirens Collection.

I didn't know much about Illamasqua other than what I'd read on a few blogs, so last time I was in Selfridges I thought I'd check it out. The staff were certainly very helpful, though I wasn't too impressed with the counter, which seemed a bit scruffy and disorganised.

Being a sucker for teals and turquoises in every day life (well mainly in clothes and in my house!), the dreamy-looking Muse really stood out. I tried it in the store and was very impressed with the creaminess and opacity, and the enthusiasm of the salesperson won me over. I applied it at home to blog about it, and while I like it, I'm not blown away. I just don't think I'm a teal / turquoise nail kinda girl! That said, if I ever get to wear those turquoise tights I bought from Dotty P's a few weeks ago, this could be just the ticket.
Applies well, cost £12.75 I think.

I have to say that overall this line didn't really speak to me - perhaps it's not pretty enough or perhaps I'm just not a 'colour' person - but I'd probably go back for a second look. There was a stunning purply-lilac I also tried - I can't tell from the website swatches whether it was Velocity or Poke - but it seemed a bit similar to OPI's Parlez-vous OPI so I didn't get it. While some seem to love the cardboard Illamasqua packaging with the illustrations on, I can take it or leave it - I think I prefer something plain and classic like Chanel to be honest (perhaps I'm just boring!). The bottle itself is square and cool although I was disappointed to find when I got home I'd been sold one with a dodgy lid! Love the fact that they call them 'nail varnish' though - British and old-school!

I had better luck with Barry M's Racing Green nail paint. Barry M is a brand I've never paid much attention to in the past being more of a high-end lover, but that will be changing. I'm going to blog on my Barry M haul separately, but in amongst it was this gorgeous shimmering shade - more turquoise than it looks in the bottle.

I prefer this to Muse - it's prettier somehow, quite mermaidy, whereas Muse is more edgy (and the Barry M is only £2.75!). But even so, again, I just can't get as excited about this as I can say a beautiful deep brown or a shimmering rose. Ultimately, I think my foray into green 'n' blue polishes may end here... or at least as soon as Essie's Sag Harbor turns up from eBay!!!

Anyone got any favourite green 'n' blues?

1 November 2009

Essie - Sexy Divide nail polish

I popped into Liberty after attending a course in central London last week - and popped out with my first Essie nail polish (and a Shu eyeshadow!)

I was hoping to find Mint Candy Apple, a lovely light aqua colour which I've seen on a few blogs and which I think
will look lovely in winter (preferably on a snowy day!), but I don't think it's out in the UK yet. There were however a few other tempting colours on display, and I plumped for the decadent shimmering purple pictured left - Sexy Divide (odd name!)

I'm not usually drawn to purples, and to be honest, despite this being a very nice purple, I don't think I'd purchase any more. I bought it mainly as I don't have any purple nail polishes in my collection, and wanted something to match my increasing number of purple eyeshadows. Why I like purple eyes but not nails I don't know - I do like lavenders, lilacs and heather colours such as OPI's Parlez vous OPI but for some reason true purples just don't speak to me.

I'm not sure what I make of the Essie formulation - I vaguely recall having tried them a few years ago and finding them a bit watery which probably explains their absence from my make up bag. They definitely seem to be thinner than other polishes and although they don't go on very evenly, you can kind of apply as much as you need in one go if you see what I mean (e.g if it's too thin you can apply more straight away as it's still quite wet on the nail, to get the right coverage). Unfortunately this means it doesn't dry very quickly, but when it does, the lasting power actually seems quite good.

I did a manicure and a pedicure with this colour and think I prefer it as a pedicure. It's a great evening colour but somehow it just looks too much like a party colour for me to wear during the daytime. It will however be a great Christmas colour and I'll probably get a lot of wear out of this over the forthcoming festive season. So in summary, if you like purples, Sexy Divide is definitely worth checking out, but personally, I doubt I'll be repurchasing when it runs out.

I have bought a couple of more Essie shades from eBay though which look promising, Angora cardigan and Sag Harbor . Will report on those shortly!

Pictured with Nails Inc Kensington Caviar top coat.

23 October 2009

OPI Nail polish - A oui bit of red

Okay so I know my blog is a wee bit retro - I'm not blogging about new products, launches or even next season's looks, but I am focusing on things I like - products past and present that may not be completely new but that people mightn't have heard about or paid any attention to before.

I'm getting in to the habit now of photographing just about every time I paint my nails or try a new product, and thus here's a little picture of a red polish from OPI - A oui bit of red. This was from La Collection de France released last autumn so not too old.

This has hints of both orange and pink - you may be able to see a flash of fuchsia on the third finger. On the nails it's actually quite a true red - I think this would suit both warm and cool skintones.

IMO it's a sweet, chic red that's quite easy to wear, albeit not particularly unique. I like.

So what do you think will be the next OPI collection? We've had France, Spain.... maybe Great Britain?? (I think there's great potential there - a gorgeous purple for the Scottish thistle, an English rose red, daffodil yellow for Wales and a fab bright green for Northern Ireland??)

Anyone got any insider info???

By Terry - Touche Veloutee concealer

I must have tried just about every highlighting pen going - I'm a fan of Guerlain Issima Precious Light Smoothing Illuminator, which manages to highlight as well as provide a bit of coverage, and I also thought Dior's Skinflash was pretty impressive. YSL's Touche Eclat I just don't get along with at all - I really don't understand the hype.

But my latest discovery, Touche Veloutee by By Terry (by By??) blows all of the above out of the water - ironic, as By Terry is founded by Terry de Gunzburg, creator of... YSL's Touche Eclat!

I tried this on last time I was in Space NK in Newcastle, turned to look into the mirror and WOW! One half of my face was literally transformed - no undereye circles, just a lovely, bright-looking under eye area which seemed to make my whole face look fresher and younger.

I purchased it on the spot and I like it even more now I've had time to experiment with it for a bit. It's brilliant at concealing the broken capillaries and faded acne scars on my cheeks.

As the consistency is a bit thicker than say Touche Eclat, coverage is better, and I find I can actually dot this on my cheeks and any areas that need a bit of perfecting, blend it out a bit and I don't even need to use foundation. But it provides the same highlighting properties as Touche Eclat, eg I use it to paint a crescent from my eyebrow to cheek, and also dot it on the cheekbones, where it just enhances the facial contours and bone structure. It's a real multi-use product and I think this is going to be a staple in my make up bag for some time to come.

I hope the photos illustrate its effectiveness. Although the effect is noticeably brightening, you don't get that awful white halo effect you often see on those who've OD'd on Touche Eclat, which is particularly noticeable on photos with flash (okay the second one is veering towards that, but I had to apply a lot to get it to show on the photos as the light is fading!)

I'm hoping you can tell which side I've used it on!?!

The only thing I would say is avoid a heavy hand with this product - too much, and it does become noticeable, and if using it under the eyes I'd use an eye cream first. This is a perfect highlighter / concealer for those who have less than perfect skin - it will cover up all your imperfections but also just make your skin look, well, better.

This retails at £25.45 at Space NK - which at first glance seems a bit pricey, however the large silver pen contains a whopping 6.5ml of product - compare this to Touche Eclat which contains only 2.5ml and retails at full price at £24 (though can often be picked up cheaper at Superdrug etc) and Skinflash and Precious Light which contain a measly 1.5ml and also cost around the £25 mark.... suddenly Touche Veloutee seems the bargain of the century!!!

According to some blurb off the web, Touche Veloutee contains "a cocktail of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents and Hyaluronic-acid spheres, along with soft-focus microprisms that conceal and reflect light without being heavy." So this is marketed as a kind of skincare treatment / concealer (incidentally so is Guerlain's Precious Light). I'm less concerned about the skincare credentials as I prefer to use a targeted eye cream, but I'm certainly not complaining. Ultimately though, this is a product that really works for me.

Give it a try if you haven't yet found your HG highlighter / concealer. There are three shades - porcelain, cream (my colour) and beige.

Disclaimer - Please excuse my overall sickly pallor in these photos, just at the end of three days of illness due to unidentified bug which may or may not have been swine flu!

21 October 2009

Christian Dior Vernis Nail Lacquers - Saigon Cinammon (395) and Tonka (717)

Dior Vernis is a recent discovery of mine, and I thought I'd write about a couple of my favourites, as they don't seem to get much coverage on beauty blogs despite in my opinion having some really nice, unusual colours in there, applying very easily and having reasonable lasting power! (I'm starting to think the lasting power of all polishes is much of a muchness and testament more to the skill and technique of the manicurist!)

Saigon Cinammon (above) is a very 'me' colour - I'm really drawn to tans, browns and chocolately colours. I'd actually describe SC is more of a toffee colour - I really haven't seen anything like this in any other collections. It looks extremely classy on the nails - it seems to demand an equally classy outfit - last weekend I teamed this with a pair of khaki-gold velvet trousers and a pretty blouse and felt, like they say in America, a million bucks!

I really love this and it's definitely become one of my staples as it goes well with my skin tone also complements so many make-up looks. I definitely see this as more of an autumn colour, and I'm not sure I'd wear it on toes. I applied it here with Revlon base coat and top coat which gives it a lovely glossy finish. What do you think??

My other favourite and another Dior polish which I feel almost could have been designed for me (ever get that feeling??) is Tonka (717).

It's hard to describe the colour as in some lights the bottle looks like a shimmering purple, in others a kind of

On the nails the colour is just a lovely, subtle glimmering brown - it looks understated but polished. I particularly like Tonka as a pedicure colour.

I just managed to get a couple of photos before the light started to fade today - no top coat on these pics.

These retail at £15 each in Boots.

OPI Nail polish - Can you tapas this?

I have kind of a love hate relationship with OPI. For me I definitely prefer quality as opposed to quantity when it comes to nail polish brands - e.g. I would prefer to invest in a well-considered, luxury polish released every so often, a la Chanel, rather than a few of fifty or so polishes churned out a month, a la Opi (well, so it seems), only one of which might be a 'stand out' shade.

I've purchased many OPI polishes unseen from the US, usually based on MUA reviews, and I've been disappointed in most as the colours just haven't done it for me, and I find the consistency can vary wildly (I guess when you're purchasing off eBay, there's always the risk you could be purchasing an older polish past its best). A prime example would be I'm not really a waitress, which seems almost universally raved about and which on my nails was a totally blah pink.

But OPI does have the ability to surprise and delight. Last time I had a pedicure at the wonderful Renata Brown salon in Crystal Palace, the beautician suggested a lavender colour Parlez Vouz Opi? Sceptical at first, I caved in after she insisted about how pretty it looked on toes, and she was so right. Parlez vous Opi is now one of my staples (I may post separately on this next time I wear it, though perhaps not as I think it's already been blogged about fairly extensively!)

Recently a couple of other OPI shades have caught my eye. Since my discovery of Parlez Vous Opi? I've been slowly getting interested in more 'alternative colours' e.g. not pinks, reds, browns or nudes. I've been hankering for a while after the black/green Here today, Aragon tomorrow - I love green but have never yet worn a green on fingers or toes, and HTAT is the most amazing shade, so I'm going to track that one down soon. But I did manage to pick up one of the other colours in the Spain collection recently - Can you tapas this?

Can you tapas this? although not necessarily crazy or exciting, is my kind of polish - the kind that makes my heart beat a bit faster at its sheer deliciousness. A few years ago, I had my first ever manicure at NYNC on South Molton Street (I still maintain they do excellent manicures, albeit a bit pricey). The shade was called something like 'Mid town brown' and it was a beautiful, classy red brown. I've been hunting for that or a similar shade since, and when I saw Can you tapas this? I knew I'd found a pretty close match.

I just love this shade (it comes up more of a maroon / burgundy in the pics but I do see dark chocolately undertones on my hands). I'd only wear it in autumn / winter, and wear it I will - lots. To me it conjures up images of Scottish castles, crisp autumn walks, and good red wine! Utterly divine, and I think this would look fab on toes too.

A few of my other OPI polishes are pictured below; l-r: Parlez vous OPI?, Crepes Suzi-ette (a really unusual warm brick red which I haven't yet tried but fell in love with after seeing it on someone else's blog), Fiji Weejee Fawn which is a bit of a boring shimmery nude and A oui bit of red, a classic orange-red, though one which I think has lots of dupes (Can you tapas this? on far right).

Would love to hear everyone else's favourite OPI polishes!

19 October 2009

Airport adventures - Smashbox, Estee Lauder and Bobbi Brown

I had a couple of hours to kill in duty free in Dublin airport yesterday after a lovely weekend spent visiting a friend in the city. I was very excited at the opportunity to spend some uninterruped time make up browsing time, especially when I saw they had as well as MAC, Shiseido, Bobbi Brown and Giorgio Armani which I'd normally have to schlep to W1 to get my hands on in London. And I also got to sample Smashbox - a brand I've heard a lot about but never actually seen 'in the flesh' so to speak - more on that later.

Unsurprisingly, after almost two hours swatching and sampling, I had quite a few items on my ever expanding 'must buy' list (and had attracted quite a few odd looks at my multicoloured hands and different coloured cheeks). I didn't actually buy anything as, duty free or no, Dublin has become astoundingly expensive and the pound is worth little more than the euro at the mo.. so I'll be tracking a few things down in London, online and hopefully on eBay.

Some things that caught my eye:

Estee Lauder

I don't usually bother much with EA make-up as it never really 'calls out' to me, but there were a couple of their Pure Colour lipsticks I tried which definitely warrant further investigation. The first, Beige, was actually a lovely pinky MLBB nude with a hint of sparkle. However I have something not disimilar in my Guerlain Kiss Kiss Maxi Shine Lipstick in Beige Shine.

However, Vanilla Truffle, a true, creamy beige nude, I'm definitely going to pick up. I don't have anything like it in my collection and it just looks divine in the tube, and on the lips, really a great nude. Here's a pic which actually makes it look more pink than it is - I'll update if and when it's in my hands!!

Bobbi Brown

Again not a brand I normally pay lots of attention to, I think as I've had a couple of duff recommendations from make up artists which put me off a bit. However there were quite a few things on display that got the old heartrate going, namely the gorgeous black/green metallic eyeshadow in Forest and the sheer gloss in Sailor, a juicy pinky red that makes the lips look quite delicious. However the stand out for me was the shimmer blush Bahama Brown which is a really unique colour on the pan - sort of a light sparkly beige - and which looks gorgeously glowy and natural on, I think there was a hint of pink but it was hard to see in the airport lighting. I'm definitely going to purchase these next time I'm at a counter in the UK.


This was quite a revelation. I'd heard of Smashbox but never had the chance to try any of their products, indeed I didn't know they were available in the UK - I do however have their Face and Body Brush which I purchased off eBay based on the glowing reports on MUA and which I'm pretty impressed with. It was the face and eye products as opposed to the lip stuff that got me excited - the Soft Lights in Tint looked really unique and I can imagine it would give the face a nice glow, and I also loved some of the colour combinations in the eyeshadow trios. The tinted moisturiser which I tried on the back of my hand also seemed to have a really nice consistency - I'm either going to plump for that or the Nars Sheer Glow foundation as I'm not getting on so well with my Chanel Teint Innocence compact. Anyway I've already picked up a couple of Smashbox things on eBay where they seem to be quite cheap and have found a site - justbeautydirect.co.uk that stocks a whole load of their stuff, so I shall certainly be carrying out some further investigations into this brand, will let you know how I get on!

As I didn't know much about Smashbox including how much it normally costs, I wondered whether I should have a little splurge in the airport, and boy am I glad I didn't! The eyeshadow trios were retailing at 23.95 euros (so about £20) - when I looked them up in the UK, most come in at under £10. Although it's hard sometimes when it comes to make up, sometimes it really does pay not to rush in!!

Anyone got any favourite Smashbox products?

13 October 2009

By Terry Rose de Rose - 03 Amber Rose

Ok, the make up assistant in Space NK in Newcastle told me that the Fresh Rose was a better match for my complexion... did I listen - NO! Do I regret it? Yes, I'm afraid so.

I have to admit this blush is nice, but is it worth the £37 price tag? (wow that's actually painful to write never mind say out loud!). My personal opinion is no.

So I picked up shade No 3 - Amber Rose, as I loved how it looked in the rather lovely glass tube - like no other blusher I've seen, basically exactly as the name suggests - a kind of rosy bronze. The make up lady suggested, as my skin is as she kindly put it olive but I would describe more as pale and sallow, the pink colour would look fresher and show up more. But in my infinite wisdom, I insisted on the amber shade, without even trying it on as she had already applied the pink to my face (it did look nice and fresh but when I examined my face in the light by the door I freaked out as the pink and sparkles were very obvious).

This blush has been the choice of just about every beauty editor of late, but I have to admit (like Grace London who's also reviewed this on London Makeup Girl) to being somewhat underwhelmed. For starters I found it difficult to apply - it doesn't go on very evenly and also sinks into and highlights my pores, which aren't normally that noticeable, whilst the sparkle just seems to sit on my skin. Secondly, and perhaps this is down to me choosing the wrong colour, it just doesn't show up that much. I can see that there's something on my skin, but it's not quite a blush, not quite highlighter. I don't think it gives me the glow that many have raved about. Yes, it's pretty, but so are a lot of other blushers and highlighters that don't cost £££ (I'll be posting a review on my favourite highlighter, Shiseido Accentuating Colour Stick in Glistening Flush, shortly).

Ah yes, that brings me on to the subject of Clinique's Up-Lighting. I have a sample of this, which markets itself more as a highlighter than a blush, and I cannot see a whole lot of difference in the formulations of the two products, in fact I actually think Uplighting is slightly better (and half the price, I think it's about £18). It comes in four shades including a lovely rosy brown called 'Blush' which I've got my beady eye on, and although it doesn't smell of roses like Rose de Rose, I think it does a very similar job.

I'm going to play around with the Rose de Rose and see if I can make it work in different ways, perhaps by mixing it with a liquid foundation, but otherwise, this might be for eBay (although I'd be sad to see it go as it looks so pretty in my make up bag!). This was my first foray into By Terry - and although not blown away by this, I did at the same time purchase the Touche Veloute concealer which is AMAZING! Far better than Touche Eclat IMO - review to follow.

Thanks for reading, would love to hear your views on RdR!

PS I tried to get a decent photo of it on my face and had to apply loads for it to show up on the pic, which is either quite telling or perhaps a reflection of the awful light on this dull October morning in London! Either way it's not a great pic sorry.

11 October 2009

Dior Addict High Impact Weightless Lip Colour - Pinstripe Plum (989)

I coveted this lipstick for quite a while, swatching it on my hand every time I was in Boots, until I eventually picked it up in duty free at Glasgow airport - a snip at £15 (not really but better than the full price of £17+).

Actually, I'm a bit disappointed in it, because the texture is very hard to work with. This range is called 'weightless', and unfortunately this translates a bit too literally to the application - it just doesn't 'stick' to the lips - being quite greasy it slides around all over the place whether applied with a brush, from the stick or with finger tips.

I've taken two photos - one with flash and one without - using the most successful application for me which was patting it on with my fingers. Using a lip brush was an exercise in frustration - my lip line isn't very defined anyway and it feathered as soon as I applied it. Using Guerlain Lip Lift underneath gave it slightly more staying power but did lighten the colour. I think it would take a lip base, a lip liner, a lip brush and lots of patience to make this work!

Ah yes, the colour. In the tube, the dark, juicy plum shade seduced me - on the lips it looks more like violet. It's still pretty, and leaves a nice stain when it wears off, but for the price, I'm sure there are much better quality and more delicious plums out there. Very on trend though, and I'm sure I'll get a bit of wear out of it this autumn, winter, probably paring it with a nude cheek and subtly defined eye. Not a repurchase though.

Any suggestions for fantastic plums anyone??

10 October 2009

Dior Addict Plastic Gloss - Capricious Pink (002)

My first proper make-up review! I'm still very new to this beauty blogging business, and am so pleased that I've found an outlet for my make up obsession - for years I've been playing around with my ever expanding collection, colour swatching on pieces of paper and experimenting with different make up looks that no-one but myself would ever see... not any more!

For my first review I decided just to pick something at random out of my collection, and I plumped (very appropriate word!) for Christian Dior Addict lipgloss in Capricious Pink (002). This is something I picked up on eBay based on the great reviews on Makeupalley, and to be honest it had been languishing unused in my make up case as I was a bit scared by quite how pink it was - but after testing it out this morning for the purpose of this review, that will soon be changing - it's gorgeous!

The colour in the tube is a truly delicious shade of candy pink, and the colour stays true on the lips - it's quite opaque so your own lip colour shouldn't show up underneath with a good thick coat (and it is very thick and quite sticky, which gives it good staying power). It makes lips look plumper and is quite sex-kitteny - I think this would look fab with a matt pink blush and a soft, smoky grey eye.

If you don't like the more obvious gloss look, you can just use a much smaller amount onto your lips, which gives a much more subtle, sheer look but still with the gorgeous pink tint.

Even though I'm normally more of a lipstick kind of girl (though incidentally one of my few other glosses is also Dior - A Bite of Taffy - which I'll review separately), I think this gloss is really beautiful - unashamedly feminine, unashamedly pink! I can't wait to try this out in the upcoming party season. Oh, and it smells delicious too!