Friday, 27 February 2015

The Matte Lipstick Smack Down

Best Matte Lipsticks.

There's one stand out thing that happened last year and that was discovering my love for matte lipsticks. If I'm wearing a dark or bold lip I'm definitely not going to risk the chance of it smearing all over my face so the only option is to go matte or go home.

Some matte formula's are better than others. Some are overly drying or break up on the lips leaving a mess behind, and some stand out from the crowd and earn their place in my lipstick collection.

The Revlon Colourburst Matte Balms began my love affair with the finish. These are budget friendly, have a lovely minty taste and last on the lips without overly drying them. On the other end of the spectrum is the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution lipsticks. These make a much deeper dent in your pocket but still deliver a matte finish that is comfortable to wear, and easily the most hydrating out of the bunch.

If you want something that lasts all day Rimmel Provocalips  is your guy. They last and last, and last. The only way to remove it is with a makeup remover which some people have a gripe with but I personally take my hat off to it as one of the most long wearing lipsticks i own.
Another liquid lipstick to leave a lasting impression are the Lime Crime Velvetine lipsticks. These come in an array of colours and hang around like no business on the lips. They dry down to a velvet matte finish within seconds so a speedy application is a must.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvets* are another lipstick in liquid form. The velvet smooth consistency makes them a dream to apply, delivering a gorgeous matte finish that looks and feels great on the lips.

Nars Velvet Matte lip pencils are in crayon form so this makes them easy to apply and you have a little more playing time than the liquid lipsticks before they set. Although i don't find them to last quite as long as the other lipsticks in the line up they're still worthy of their place. The colours section is on point and they're handy to throw in your handbag when out and about.

Whats your favourite matte lipstick?

*PR Sample. All thoughts are of course my own.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Avene Cleanance Mask

Avene Cleanance Mask £9.81 from Farmaline

The Avene Cleanance Mask* has been a welcomed addition to my skin care routine. An addition that combines my love for exfoliation, and my love for deep cleansing masks. This does it both.

The mask houses tiny beads that exfoliate the skin removing dry and dead skin cells, while the Avene Thermal Spring Water and Kaolin (white clay) help to draw out impurities and regulate oil production, still leaving the skin feeling hydrated and nourished. Something that some clay masks fail to do, and can leave the skin feeling tight and stripped.

The mask also contains Glycolic acid which when first applied to the skin does deliver a slight tingling sensation. I personally quite like this as it feels like it's really doing something and tackling my problematic areas.  The mask it easier to apply than some clay masks, and only has to be left on for 5 minutes before being removed in a flash with just some warm water and flannel.

The small beads also act as a gentle manual exfoliate which I found did the job of removing dry patches perfectly. The 'scrub' action isn't abrasive but some with sensitive skin may find the dual exfoliant to cause slight redness and irritation. This isn't something I experienced (I'm quite used to chemical exfoliates and have built up a little resistance), so maybe something to consider before trying.

As a mask goes I found that it worked really well. My skin was left smooth and pores appeared smaller. My forever shiny T-Zone seemed less oily and my skin looked clearer and felt less congested.
If I have a break out this is the mask I've been reaching for. The combination of drawing out impurities and gentle exfoliation really make my skin feel like it's had a deep clean, and a definite must try for anyone with problematic skin I think.

What's your favourite mask to use? Have you tried this?

*PR Sample. All thoughts are of course my own.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Eye of Horus Brow Define Pencils.

Brow Define Pencil £15.00 from BeautyBay 

Today I'm introducing some new products from Eye of Horus - the Brow Define* pencils. I think a good brow product is essential to any make up bag, whether you like the natural look or a more defined dramatic brow, one thing is certain. The tools can make or break a good brow.

The pencils from Eye of Horus are in my opinion are up for the challenge when it comes to brows, by creating the perfect shape whether you need to fill in the gaps slightly or do major brow reconstruction. The design is very similar to the Anastasia Brow wiz where the twist up pencil houses an ultra fine tip, making the task of defining and filling in brows a breeze. The pencils contain Candelilla, Coconut Oil and Castor Oil which helps condition the hairs as well as delivery staying power. They have a slight waxy feel which adheres to the brows, as well as taming unruly hair and keeping them looking their best all day.

As with any good brow product the spooley makes the perfect companion, brushing through the hairs and softening the lines and delivering the perfect natural shape. The spooley on these pencil's is really good, which i know is not a deal breaker, but the close knit bristles really comb through the hair, dispersing the product evenly and eradicating the risk of product build up.

My normal product of choice is a gel or powder but since trying these i have moved my brow game into a different direction. These do everything i ask of them, and they do it quickly . My brows are defined, and i'm able to create any shape i want. I can over fill them for a more bold Cara Delevingne look, or lightly use the pencil to mimic hairs for a natural soft look.
Whatever shape you require this can help you achieve it.

Top Photo - Natural brow with just brow wax on. Bottom - Brows with Eye of Horus Brow Define

The pencils come in three shades and for a blonde haired gal like myself i can safely say 'Husk' is cool toned - so no risk of orange brows with this! I think the colour is so important when talking about brows, you want to make them look as natural as possible and the chances of doing this with a warm, red toned pencil is very hard (unless of course you have lots of red tones in your hair).

As you can see from the pictures above my natural brows are very sparse towards the front and these pencils can allow me to create a gradient effect, or i can draw fine hairs in at the front (middle picture) so it looks fuller and more defined.

I'm really impressed with these pencils and think if you're struggling to find a good brow product these are definitely one to look out for.

Have you tried these before? What's your brow product of choice?

*PR Sample. All thoughts are of course my own.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Spring is in the Air

Spring is definitely in the air, and with that means fresh and uplifting scents to carry us through to the next season. In winter I like to wear deeper, spicy scents to compliment the dark cold nights, and in spring I like to change it up by wearing lighter perfumes to inject that freshness that comes with this time of year.

If this is the same as you Yves Rocher Quelques Notes d'Amour* will do the job perfectly. With notes of Damask Rose, Benzoin, Patchouli and Guaiac Wood. This fresh fragrance contains a soft sweetness to a floral backdrop that would please anyone who loves delicate rose scents. 

I personally like my fragrances to be a little more on the spice or woody spectrum but i can see many people loving this. It's definitely floral with a light sweetness, but has a hint of soft musk coming through that makes it not too girly, but more of a grown up scent. It lingers on the skin, casting a fresh sweet trail behind you, making perfect for both daytime and evening wear.

With Mothers Day just round the corner I think this would make the perfect gift to show your Mum just what you mean her. I know for a fact that this type of scent would be right up my Mums street, and i could definitely see her wearing this!

This retails for £34.00 but is currently on offer for £18.00 here. So if you think this is your kinda scent or the perfect pressie for Mothers Day be quick and grab a bargain!

What scents do you like to wear this time of year?

*PR Sample. All thoughts are of course my own.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Blogging tips | How to get better pictures from your iPhone.

I think there must be an unwritten rule that if you blog you need a fancy dancy camera and state of the art editing soft wear. In an ideal world this would be perfect, but lets face it we don't live in an ideal world and sometimes we just need to make the most of what we've got.

There's only a small percentage of people on the planet without some sort of mobile device and the chances are that most are some sort of smart phone, or more commonly an iPhone. I'm on my phone all day doing various things and most of the time I'm working on my blog with it. I could be taking photo's, editing them, scheduling tweets or uploading Instagram pics, and all with the ease of doing it in one place, which makes using your phone for taking blog pictures handy and incredibly practical.

Taking Photo's
The iPhone camera has come a long way since the first model and even though my pictures aren't the best quality, they're the best I can achieve without an DSLR. If like me you use your phone to take blog pictures it's important to make sure you have enough natural daylight. The darker the picture the more detail you're going to lose. In the winter months you might want to buy a daylight bulb and pop it in a nearby lamp. These give out a cooler light than traditional light bulbs, mimicking natural daylight and can really help your pictures come out sharper, with more detail. If this isn't an option move around your home to find the best lighting possible, even if the area hasn't got a surface near it you an improvise with white card or wrapping paper for the back-drop to your photo.

Once you've got the lighting sorted it's now time to start taking your pictures. Make sure you double tap the screen so a yellow square appears. This will alter the focus and make the object you're capturing sharper and more detailed.
One tool I have found useful for taking photo's is a tripod and macro lens. The tripod makes sure there is no shaking which again makes the picture quality better and the macro lens is great for close up work which can come out blurry when using just the iPhone lens on its own. I reviewed the macro lens here. ( You can also see how different my pictures are now to what they were!)

There are lots of editing apps available to help you make your photos look the best they possibly can.  I use a number of them to achieve different effects and edit the photos just the way I want to. The one i use the most is PS Express, and i use this to change the exposure and contrast, and also use it sharpen the image. There's an in app purchase which allows you to use the 'defog' setting which in all honesty makes the most amount of difference to the picture quality. It removes the fuzz that you can get with the iPhone camera and makes the picture much clearer with added definition. 

L-R Before and After editing.

Since the latest iPhone update you can now do a lot of your editing from the iPhone camera. You can change the size and also the brightness and exposure. When I adjust the exposure i always make sure to change the 'black point' setting as well. This stops all the colours fading, which they will do when you brighten and increase the exposure. When you're adjusting the lighting some colours can be lost, especially black, and his will bring it back and make your photos look more true to life and sharper.

L-R Before and After editing. 

This is a prime example of how using the black point setting in the iPhone camera and the 'defog' setting in PS Express can completely change the photo.

Left - Original photo. Right - Edited photo in PS Express and Facetune.

If I want to create a soft blur I use Facetune on the de-focus setting. This mimics the same results you would get with a more expensive camera by creating the nice soft blurred effect in the background. This app is also good at hiding blemishes and doing simple retouching that you would expect from photo shop.
You can see the difference in the above photos. The picture quality is better, they're brighter, clearer and more visual appealing. Like I said before - editing your pictures in this way is not going to make a DSLR cameras obsolete, but it does mean you can get the most out of your iPhone.

What are your tips and tricks for creating the perfect photo with your iPhone?

Monday, 16 February 2015

I've got a case of the Hermes..

Please excuse the title but I coud'nt help myself. I always want to call Hermes herpes, both very different *obvs* lol.
Anyway.....Hermes Eau Des Merveilles is my all time favourite scent and the first high end perfume that I ever really fell for. The scent is unusual and I can imagine not to every ones taste. But I love it.

It's a very peppery musky fragrance that has an air of softness and freshness to it, that hangs around on the skin for hours. It has top notes of Vetiver, Oak and Cedar, and base notes of Lemon, Orange and Pink Pepper. 
If someone is wearing this near to me I can smell it a mile off, and the scent draws me back to the time when I first started wearing it. It's amazing how scents capture memories and this stirs up some great times for me. Maybe that why I love it so much? 

If you like flowery sweet scents then this isn't for you. But if like something that almost verges on masculine which is fresh but also deep and seductive then i think you'll love this! If I had to put it in a fragrance family I would say its sits nicely in between spicy and woody. 

Normally I have to buy it online at House of Fraser but I purchased my latest bottle in Debenhams making it much easier to get -so I know that I'll no longer be without it. If you spot it on your travels, give it a sniff. And if your tastes are similar to mine, you'll love it!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Armani Eyes to Kill Intense Shadows | Worth the Price Tag?

Armani Eyes to Kill intense shadows

For my first dip into the Armani Beauty line I decided to invest and try out their Eyes to Kill Intense Shadows. At £27.00 a pop they're not cheap by any means, and one of the main reasons I decided to splash the cash was because I had a voucher burning a hole in my pocket. The two shades that stood out the most and unlike anything else in my stash were shades '2' and '27' ( they don't have names, just numbers).

L-R Shades '27' and '2' swatched and then blended out. 

Shade '27' is a pinky rose shade with silver pewter flecks running through it. It's so unusual and a colour I never normally go for - it's edging on the cool tone and I normally go for warms. In different lights it takes on different tones. Sometimes more pinky, sometimes silver, and sometimes even more purple. It's a very interesting colour.
Both shadows are a pressed pigment so I was excepting them to pack a punch when it came to colour pay off. And this one did. It's a beautiful colour, that feels like butter when swatched, and goes on seamlessly blending out well on the lids, and only losing a tiny bit of the colour and sparkle that was initially laid down. As formula's go it's good, just nothing ground-breaking as for colour payoff and effect goes.

My initial worries were confirmed when I tried out Shade '2'. A black with red flecks shimmering through it. Out of both the shades I got this was the one I was most interested in. I imagined it being blacker than black with a deep red undertone, that when caught in the light would look duo chrome. Unfortunately I'm rather disappointed with the outcome. The black isn't black, more of a dark wishy washy grey. And to build up any intensity on the lids to look anything half decent or noticeable means I have to pack the colour on more times than acceptable for such an expensive product. The red flecks that I thought would cast some interest to the lid seem to disappear and fade into oblivion.

As you can see from the photo above, the initial swatch is ok, you can see some interest in there and the red flecks are more noticeable. But once you touch it with a brush all the intensity blows away and you're left with a shade that resembles an old black T-Shirt you've washed 1'000 times - grey!
For me this shade is nothing more than a barely there colour, not back, not a blackened red, hell I don't know what to call it. For a pressed pigment it lacks, well, pigmentation and definitely staying powder!

Of course they're not both horrendous, Shade '2' lets the side down, and not what I was expecting from such a high end brand. I've bought better shadows from the supermarket which have more guts to them then this one.

If you fancy treating yourself to some high end shadows my all means try these, but take my advice and give a Shade '2' a miss!

Have you tried any of these out before? I would love to know what you thought of them.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Nailberry's '50 Shades'

Nailberry 50 Shades nail polish review and swatches

If you've been living under a rock for the last few weeks then you might be unaware of the latest motion picture that's about to grace the silver scene this Valentines Day. The best selling book Fifty Shades of Grey which had every women of all ages reading and transfixed on, is about to be made real. And while we all wonder if Mr Grey is going to live up to our fantasies the beauty industry has joined in on the love affair and launched products to celebrate the release.

NAILBERRY has come up with their own take on the iconic book series and released a nail polish dedicated to it - '50 Shades'*. The colour is everything you imagine it would be to run along side the saucy adaptation of a powerful man with unconvential sexual desires.

"Discipline Unruly Nails With Nailberry's 50 Shades.."

The blackened grey takes on a slate like appearance, and catches the light with the help of the understated reflective glitter that shimmers through it. The colour is strong and dramatic, just like the films leading male character - Christian Grey, but has a air of softness about it. Maybe this comes from the meek and mild Anastasia Steele? Who knows?

If this shade isn't for you there are other colours from the Naughty Berry collection that might take your fancy. How about 'Orgasmic Berry', 'Pop my Cherry' or the very suggestive 'Berry Job'??

*Pr Sample. All thoughts are of course my own.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Making Rituals MY bathtime ritual..

There's nothing better than a bit of me time. Time to pamper ourselves and reflect on the day we've left behind. Rituals as a brand is new to me and thanks to the Debenhams sale I managed to pick up their 'Laughing Budda' gift set and try some of their products out.
The 'Good Luck Scrub' is a sugary texture set in a oil, much like my beloved Elemis Salt Glow scrub, which when applied to damped skin gently buffs away the dead skin like any good scrub will do. The scent is amazing and contains the same essence as the 'Touch of Happiness' body lotion and 'Fortune Oil'. The scent of these three products easily make them my favourite out of the set 'Sweet Orange and Cedar Wood'. The sweetness of the orange is gentle and the backwash to the Cedar Wood, which makes it feel exotic and woody. Just mind kinda scent!
The Touch of Happiness Body Cream has a nice light texture that is easily absorbed into the skin, nourishing it and leaving a gorgeous scent behind that lingers on the skin for ages. If you need a pick me up this will definitely do the trick!
The 'Fortune Oil' is a concept I haven't seen before. The oil transforms itself when it comes into contact with water into a milky foam that feels softening and hydrating on the skin.
The last product, the 'Happy Budda' foaming shower gel is of a different scent. This time it's a refreshing mixture of sweet orange and mint that is great at stimulating the senses in the morning. The foam formula runs along the same lines as the Imperial Leather Foam Burst shower gel where the nozzle disperses a light creamy foam, which if your one to shave your legs in the shower is a great product to have at hand.
After trying these out I can definitely say that I will be repurchasing the full sized body cream and be looking to try other products from their range. Have you tried anything from Rituals? I would love your recommendations.

Friday, 6 February 2015

January Favourites 2015

Monthly favourites time again! Here's what's been floating my boat in the month of January..

Mac Brush Cleaner - Like most people I hate the monotonous task of brush cleaning, and this does a brilliant job at removing makeup - although it doesn't replace a deep clean, but can delay the process a little and leave your brushes clean and soft in a matter of minutes.

Kiko Mystery Smokey Eye Pencil* in shade 9 - is a deep purple which I've been enjoying using as a change up from the standard black kohl liner. The formula is soft and pigmented which means it's easy to work with and stays put on the water line or smoked out on the lash line, and has eased me into adding that pop of colour into my makeup looks.

Revlon Precision Dark Lash Adhesive - I've always been a duo glue kinda gal but since finding this I haven't looked back. The glue dries in seconds which means you can place the lashes straight onto the lash line after application - no waiting around or waving the lashes in the air with this baby!
The glue also fixes them in place and that's where they stay, no lifting or the worry that they're gonna land in your drink on a night out. Perfect.

Tom Ford Sable Smoke Lipstick - I've got back into wearing nude lipsticks and this has been my go-to shade. It moisturising on the lips but still hangs around for a decent amount of time, and the browny nude is perfect for my colourings. Me like it a lot.

Total Mink Lashes - I love lashes and normally you will see me adorning regular strip lashes from Ardell or Eylure, that is until I got these. They're so easy to apply and look so natural on that I find myself wearing them at every opportunity. They're more expensive than regular makes, but they are mink and designed to be worn longer (25 times) so the price is justified, and I can see myself purchasing some more in the long run.

Shu Uemura Eye Lash Curlers - I'm gonna be brief talking about these as they're raved by many, and too rightly so. These curl the lashes with ease and hold the curl like a mofo. They're unlike any I have tried before, and now I have them will never try another make. Are they worth the extra money? Yes!
Lorac Pro Palette - This has been on my wish list for so long and now I have it I'm not disappointed. The colours are fantastic and great for everyday or night time looks. The shadows blend seamlessly and are easily one of the most pigmented shadows I own.
There's not much else to say apart from.. I Love It!
Joan Collins Brow and Eye Definition Kit* - I've had this for sometime and ever actually used it as my Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade was my product of choice when it came to brows.
Since I've gone a bit darker with my hair my Blonde Dipbrow just wasn't working for me, so I needed to get a darker colour but in the mean time tried this.
The two shades are all cool toned which is a must when dealing with brows I think, and the wax sets them in place perfectly. One thing that has stood out is the brow tools that came with it. It comes with a spooley, tweezers and double ended brush - which is one of the best I've ever used! It's narrow angled tip allows me to create my brows with precision and ease - it's just the perfect brow applicator in my opinion, and the kit has been fixed firmly in to my everyday makeup stash.
Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser* - Most of you will know that I love acids, they suit my skin and I see results that I've never seen before using them.
This cleanser combines acid and manual exfoliation that gently cleanses the skin removing dead skin and dirt. I'm not normally one to manually exfoliate with scrubs and what not, but I've had some dry patches on my skin and this just seems to smooth the area, getting rid of the texture and making my skin look renewed and fresh.
Rituals Touch of Happiness Body Cream - Just like the skin of my face my body has been experiencing some dryness ( damn you cold winter weather), and this lotion is the perfect remedy. Not only does to nourish the skin and sink in quickly it leaves the most gorgeous smelling scent behind. It's has an oriental vibe which is musky but fresh, and I absolutely love it. And because I love it so much it makes me use it everyday - a routine I've been slacking on of late.
Bobbi Brown Shimmer Blush in 'Coral' - This has been my blush of choice for the last month. It casts a subtle flush to the cheeks that makes you look healthy, eradicating the grey winter tone we all seem to have this time of year. And the shimmer adds that spring like dew to the cheeks making it a stable makeup item for me.
What have been your favourite products lately?
*Pr Samples. All thoughts are of course my own.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Yankee Candle Valentines

Yankee Candle Valentines - Pink Grapefruit and Metal Hearts illumalid.

The Yankee Candle Valentines collection 'Love is in the Air' is now available on their site and offers some nice treats for any candle lover out there. The collection see the addition of two candles - Red Raspberry and Pink Grapefruit* as well as any array of candle accessories such as this Metal Hearts Illuma-Lid*.
The pink grapefruit candle is ideal for this time of year. If like me you're storing away all the heavy sweet winter and Christmas scents, and opting for something fresher and more spring like, this will be right up your street! It's the perfect blend between bitter and sweet, delivering a crisp clean aroma around your home that refreshes the senses and puts a spring back in your step.
It's the perfect transition scent to bring you out of the dark wintery days and into the fresh glow of early spring.
The Illuma-Lid is the perfect accompaniment to any medium or large sized Yankee Candle. The metal heart cage not only looks decorative but also helps the candle burn more efficiently - buy reducing the effects of draft and dispersing the scent more evenly throughout the room.
Like I said both are part of the Valentines 'Love is in the Air' collection and can make a lovely gift for that someone special. The Medium sized candles are priced at £16.99, and the Illuma-Lid's are £6.99 which come in varied styles and finishes.
Are you a Yankee Candle lover? Will you be relighting that spark with these seasonal scents this Valentines Day?
*Pr Sample. All thoughts are of course my own.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Total Minks Lashes

Total Minks Lashes review and photos

Total Minks Lashes - Prickly Minks

Ever since I can remember (well about 5 years to be exact) I have worn false lashes. For a good proportion of that time I had eyelash extensions which are individual lashes glued onto each natural lash to create thickness and length. I loved having these done, they meant I could be up and out the door in next to no time - a major plus point for a new mum at the time.
Last year I decided to have them taken off to give my lashes a break. This was all well and good but I was left with (what I thought) short stubby lashes! Of course my lashes had always looked this way, but I'd been so used to seeing them full and long that it was a total shock to the system. I immediately went out and bought some false lashes to curb my lash withdrawal and since then have enjoyed playing around with different styles and makes.
I recently ventured down the mink lash route to see if they were worthy of the £24.99 price tag. They are made from cruelty free mink fur which gives them a super soft and fluttery appearance. Of course they are many different styles to choose from ranging from natural to more dramatic. I opted for something in between 'The Prickly Minks'.
What warrants their  hefty price tag (apart from being mink) this that they can be worn up to 25 times. This I think stems from the rather thick lash brand which gives them more structure and durability.
The band looks like it would make application more difficult but I in fact found them much easier to apply as they're not flimsy and sit on the lash line with ease. The thicker band also means they keep their shape for longer - I've worn mine 6 times now and they still look as good as the day I got them. They feel comfortable on the eyes and feel so light that I almost forget I'm wearing them! I found that even these semi dramatic ones I have look natural on, and the individual tapered hairs give a beautiful fluttery appearance.  
If you're an avid lash wearer I can definitely recommend giving Mink lashes a go. The initial pay out is worth it in the long run as I find that with cheaper lashes ( that still coat £5+ each) only last 3-4 uses before they look liked they've been chewed by a dog!
What are your favourite lashes to wear? Have used tried Mink ones before?