29 March 2010

More Becca goodies on their way!

Just had to post about my latest 'splurge' (I'm afraid I just can't be doing with the word 'haul', though splurge isn't much better is it?!) as I'm really excited! I blogged recently about my newfound love for Becca, and was about to place a very large (and costly!) order on Beauty Expert when I did a quick search and found a site called Beauty Bay doing some Becca products half price - and as luck would have it, quite a few of the ones I wanted were on there!

I've purchased:

Creme blush in Byzantine
I already have the creme blush in Turkish Rose which is fast becoming the only thing I'll put on my cheeks, but this looks like a gorgeous colour for summer.

Eye Colour Powder Shimmer in Shantung
London Make up Girl recommended this as a colour for warmer skintones on her blog so I thought I'd check it out - I'm a sucker for a browny gold eye and this looks divine.

Glossy Lip Tint in Champagne
I'm not really one for lipgloss but I like it now and again and this gets 100% good reviews on MUA so I thought I'd give it a go.

Pressed Shimmer Powder in Odette
There seems to be a summery theme going on here - again this powder looks divine and gets great reviews - somewhere between a blusher, bronzer and highlighter I think.

Loose Shimmer Powder in Princess
It was between Princess and Mermaid and I opted for Princess as it's a pinky gold that can be used as a blush or highlighter, and I don't have any colours like that. Again I think this will be a v pretty spring / summer colour.. but I might have to go back for Mermaid if I like Princess as it sounds quite intriguing.
I placed my order on a Sunday evening and it was despatched today, plus free delivery, so I'm impressed with Beauty Bay (http://www.beautybay.com/) so far. Will report back when the good(ie)s arrive!
Still on my Becca wishlist:

Sheer lip tint in Vendela, Alina and Milla
Creme blush in Frangipani, Wild Orchid and Hyacinth
I'm also interested in the Beach Tint in Raspberry but I still have my MAC gel stain in Subtropical (now discontinued) which is a very similar colour and I just can't imagine that Beach Tint could better it - it's amazing.
Anyone tried any of these products or recommend any other Becca products?

24 March 2010

Intense pulsed light (IPL) hair removal - eek!!

Just had to share with you all that I've started having IPL treatment on my lower legs! I've had one treatment so far - it takes about 45 minutes to do both half legs - and thankfully the pain is quite bearable. The best way I can think to describe it is like a cross between a mild electric shock and a hot prickle - repeated dozens of times across the area being treated! Like waxing, there are some bits that are more painful than others - I'm thinking of specifically the calf / ankle areas here - ouch! But for me I'm hoping it's going to be worth the time, pain, and (again, ouch) expense!! I've struggled with waxing for years having particularly dark, coarse hair that is visible literally hours after shaving. I finally decided to take the plunge, so I'll update when I've had a couple of sessions. Although I'm starting with the lower legs, if it's successful I plan to move to other areas - finance permitting. I'm attending a clinic in South London and if anyone would like details I'll send them privately.

If you're thinking of having IPL or laser hair removal the following points might be useful:

  • Hair must be kept short (no more than a day or so growth before treatment) and shaved not waxed
  • Treatments can only be adminstered around every five weeks
  • The skin should be treated as sunburned afterwards - so no sun exposure, hot baths etc and no shaving for a day or two
  • Several treatments are usually required for a good result - complete elimination of the hair is not the norm - with hormonal changes such as pregnancy it may grow back. The idea is to drastically reduce hair growth and make it much more manageable - then have top up treatments every so often as and when needed.
Has anyone had laser hair removal themselves? How was it for you?

Boots No 7 - My new must have skincare

It all started innocently enough - I needed a new cleanser, and was feeling uninspired by the selection on offer in Boots. My eye fell upon the No 7 display, where they had an impressive range including a cleansing balm and also a hot cloth cleanser. As they had a free gift worth £22 if you spent over £20, I decided to buy the Age Defence Cleansing Balm (£8.50), Purifying Toner (£7.50) and the Cleanse and Care Eye Make Up Remover (£7). I also picked up the Total Renwal Microdermabrasian Exfoliator (£10.50) as I needed a new scrub.

So far, I've been impressed with all of these products, however it was something that came in the free gift pack - the famous Protect and Perfect Intense serum (the newest version of the cult product) - which has really wowed me.

We've all heard the raves about Protect and Perfect and the scientific research that proved its effectiveness - for some reason I'd never got around to trying it, but now I totally understand the hype. It glides on and absorbs in an instant, and really does leave my skin velvety soft and radiant. I've been using it for two weeks now, under my SPF moisturiser in the daytime and on its own at night, and I think the condition of my skin has improved visibly. It looks smoother and, dare I say it, younger, though it's too soon to assess impact on lines. I far prefer this to my Estee Lauder Night Repair, which is double the price (Protect and Perfect costs £19.75 for 30 ml wherease Night Repair is £36). The No 7 serum seems to work with my skin much more than Night Repair, controlling shine and acting as a perfect base for make up.

Anyway, huge thumbs up from me and I'm going to purchase the full size asap. Has anyone compared the Protect and Perfect Intense with the original version? Would be interested to see how they compare.

The other products I've tried too I rate very highly. The Cleansing Balm feels lovely to apply and cleans well - although it does NOT remove make up adequately - the only way I can get my make up off completely, especially eye, is with cleansing milk and cotton wool pads. The eye make up remover is good - on a par with Clarins, Lancome ete - personally I find them all much of a muchness and again prefer to use cleansing milk or even vaseline, but it works okay. The toner is fantastic, far better than the Clarins one I used previously and definitely seems to be controlling my shine. The Microdermabrasian exfoliator is excellent - my skin looks clear for days afterwards.

After using and liking these products I then went back to purchase the Hot Cloth Cleanser (£8.75).  I adore the Liz Earle cleanser - it really does make skin radiant and squeaky clean - but I find it expensive considering it doesn't last too long - I always find after a few squooshes it's almost empty. With the No 7 you get 200ml for £8.75 - the Liz Earle costs about £23 for the same amount! Admittedly, I don't think the No 7 is as good as the Lize Earle - it doesn't leave my skin quite so fresh looking - and it doesn't have the glorious smell of the LE. However it is a good, effective cleanser - I'm not sure I'll be forking out the extra £15 for the Liz Earle in future. Again though you'll need something separate to take all your make up off - I like the cleansing balm and the hot cloth cleanser in the morning when my skin is quite clean anyway, but always use a cleansing milk and cotton wool in the pm.

If you're thinking of changing your skincare routine it's definitely worth checking out Boots No 7 - especially when Boots have their offers on - at the moment you get a £5 No 7 voucher when you spend £5, so you could pick up a cleanser, toner or even one of their make up brushes which get excellent reviews for just two or three pounds (I have the foundation and concealer brushes and love them both). Overall, very pleasantly surprised indeed.

13 March 2010

Francois Nars - Make up your Mind

I received this book for Christmas and have been meaning to do a review on it for some time. For those who aren't familiar with it, it basically features loads of models wearing various make up looks created by Francois Nars (obviously using Nars products). Each look takes up two pages - one shows the model's face make up free, the opposing page shows the made up face with details of the products used. Between the two pages is a see through sheet with markings showing where to apply the products - genius!

So basically each look comes with a mini tutorial and then at the end of the chapter there is a mini-shot of each look with more detailed application instructions.

There are seven sections each focussing on different types of looks: lips, eyes, neutrals, shimmer-monocrome-suntan, pastels and colour. None of the looks seem overly complicated to achieve -- though from reading some of the reviews on Amazon it seems that some of the make up professionals out there found this aspect a bit of a let down. For an eyeshadow buffoon such as myself, this is a very good thing!

 There are some truly stunning looks, some quite wierd ones, a couple of boys (a couple where the sex is ambiguous!), and the faces include lots of big names such as Naomi Campbell, Karen Elson and Eva Herzigova. Along with the make up looks, there are also make up tips, beauty tips and a bit about Nars' own beauty philosophy.

I've photographed a selection of my favourite looks from the book - these all seemed to be from the neutrals and pastels pages - and it seems I have a thing for a peach eye..!

If I had one critique it would be that the models just look a bit too perfect and airbrushed in the pics. Even in the pre-make up pics there's nary a crows foot or a hint of a dark shadow to be seen.

Also, there could be a wider range of ages featured, all the models look kind of early 20s ish, and it would be nice to see some older faces. Women of colour may also find the usefulness limited, as there are only one or two black faces.

Ultimately though, I find this book unique and inspiring, especially since the looks still look fresh, relevant and modern even though it's coming up to ten years since it was first published. And boy, what a clever marketing idea! I for one now have a Nars lust list that could get me into serious trouble. These are just some of the products I now have my eye on:

The Multiples in Malibu, South Beach and Copacabana (I actually don't own ANY multiples, am I the only person in the beauty blog-o-sphere??)
Lipsticks in Belle de Jour, Galaxy Girl, Viva las Vegas
Lip laquers in Cabiria and Baby Doll
Eyeshadows in All about Eve, Tibet, Key Largo, Night Star and Key Largo

Of course some of the newer products such as the sheer glow foundation and several blushes and eyeshadows aren't featured... but the nice thing about this is, you could probably replicate most of the looks using products from different brands that are already in your collection (with the possible exception of the crazy neon green eye in the colour section!). And who knows, maybe he'll bring out Make up Your Mind 2. I'd certainly buy it.

I haven't yet tried to replicate any of the looks featured, but I think I might try this one in the near future, especially as I already own Zen blush and the Tokyo eyeshadow duo which are featured.

Make up your Mind is currently available on Amazon.co.uk for £18.

Becca crème blush, eye tint and sheer lip tint - rave rave rave!

I purchased a few Becca items from beautyexpert.co.uk recently, tempted by a few reviews I'd seen on other blogs and a 15% discount I received when I made a purchase from figleaves.com

The items I bought were:

1. Eye tint in Vicuna
2. Crème blush in Turkish Rose
3. Sheer lip tint in Estella

These are they:

The packaging is a little schizophrenic - I like the rubber case of the blush but what's with the big silver disc in the middle? (It does however have a good size mirror inside which is a major plus). The eye tint comes in a non-descript but practical tube, and the lipstick in a shiny, silver case which screws open! It took me a while to stop trying to yank the lid off - old habits I guess - but now that I'm used to it I have to say I kind of like it, certainly a bit sturdier than some of the plastic cases that can crack or dislodge themselves at the bottom of your handbag.

The packaging soon became irrelevant however when I had a chance to try these products. I didn't know what to expect having not had a chance to try them in the flesh, so it was a bit of a risk buying online even with the 15% discount. Full price, the lip colour would be £21, the eye tint £17 and the cheek colour £22, so  Becca is certainly not cheap - it's easily on a par with the design house cosmetics - but that said, these products stand head and shoulders above any of my Dior / Chanel etc - yes, I love them that much. This is make up that makes me want to throw out my entire collection and start afresh!

Here's a swatch, from l-r, Estelle, Turkish Rose and Vicuna. I think this is pretty accurate.

First up, the cream blush in Turkish Rose, which seems to have something of a cult status on beauty blogs and MUA. I was dubious, when I opened the blush, as it looked like a kind of dull, milky mauve - not dissimilar to my Bobbi Brown pot rouge which I find a bit sticky and pore cloggy. On the cheeks this stuff is transformed - it gives a gorgeous, healthy, sheeny glow, manages to blend in perfectly with my skin tone and give the perfect natural flush. The ever so slightly greasy texture also belies the lasting power of this product - my cheeks still look rosy and sheeny at the end of the working day. I absolutely adore this - and so far it doesn't seem to be clogging the pores on my cheeks which is a problem I have with almost every blush I own. 

I was surprised, when I swatched this, to see that it appears to have a slight shimmer - this is not noticeable in the pan but that must be what creates the unexpected glow. I'm definitely going to investigate more colours in this line and have my eye on Frangipani which looks like a really pretty colour for the summer, as well as Wild Orchid. 

Second up, the sheer lip tint in Estelle, which I also adore. The Becca website describes this as a beigy pink nude, however I don't see any pink in it. Personally I'd describe it as a caramel nude, but confusingly, the Becca website describes another shade, Gisella, as a caramel nude! Anyway, judge for yourself!

Although my lipstick collection veers towards pinks and reds, Estelle has been a really pleasant surprise and I think I'm going to get a lot of wear out of this in spring and summer. The buttery soft creamy texture means you can apply it without a balm and it feels really moisturising on the lips. The lasting power is decent considering the texture - it does highlight the lines on my lips a little bit, once it wears off, but nothing a quick reapplication can't solve. Also, it smells of vanilla, an unexpected bonus for me as that is one of my favourite scents!

I now have my eye on a couple of other shades in the lip tints - Milla, which is described as a sheer blackcurrant, and Vendela, a sheer rosy nude which some have described as Becca's answer to Nars' Dolce Vita - a shade I love! 

Finally, the eye tint in Vicuna is another winner. On first impressions, I was worried that this wouldn't show up. My eyelids are quite dark and can look as though I'm wearing shadow when I'm not. As such, this being a sheer product, I thought my dark lids would show throw - no sireee! It is admittedly very light and sheeny (I'd describe it as a sheer gold), but it makes my eyes look lighter, fresher and alert  and doesn't settle into lines and make my lids look crepey as some powder shadows can. Again, the lasting power of this is amazing, it kind of sticks to the skin but not in a bad way. Beautiful in the sunlight. I love it and again going to investigate more colours in the somewhat limited range - this could actually usurp my Nars cream shadows which I love for the gorgeous shades and subtle smokey effects but hate for their creasing.

Here's a fotd from a couple of days ago when I had all three on - please excuse the crispy hair my Toni and Guy curl spray malfunctioned! NB In this shot I'm also wearing Kiehl's tinted moisturiser in Light and By Terry concealer, as well as MAC charcoal brown on brows. As you can see, it's simple and natural, but polished (I think!).

And a side on view taken this morning.

Plus a cheek close up - hopefully this shows the 'flush' effect

What's also great about these products is that they're foolproof. You can apply and blend the eye and cheek products with your fingers, be very liberal with the lipstick and not have to worry about it looking wonky or messy - I can literally apply all three in about two minutes flat and then only have to tidy up eyebrows, curl lashes and apply concealer for a polished but natural look.

All in all, the impression I get from this line is that it's geared towards those who like a natural, subtle but fresh look (read young!). As a 30 something woman, I find the formulation and shades of these products extremely flattering. I often feel, with a full face of make up - particularly when this involves foundation and powder   that I look older than my years. Becca has the opposite effect. Already, these three products have usurped most of the products in my extensive collection of other brands. I can't wait to try more, and if anyone has any Becca products they love, would love to hear some recommendations.

You can see some great videos on YouTube showing how to apply Becca products - search for Zuneta, which is another online retailer of this brand.

NB Beauty Expert currently has an offer of a free lip tint if you spend more than £50 on Becca products, so I may just be forced to get another blush and eye tint, and maybe one of the beach tints too!