Sunday, 14 December 2014

On being vacuous

I've never been one to jump in and post my comment about the latest blogging controversy but I couldn't help but get sucked in on this occasion with the articles posted all over blogs and main stream media in particular about blogger Zoella. I actually don't want to talk about her book but about a word that gets thrown around a lot when referring to her and other beauty and fashion bloggers, vacuous.
I've been told that adding beauty blogger on my CV makes me come across as vacuous. I will put this into context, beauty blogging features near the bottom of my CV, my two degrees, diploma and work experience come first, followed by other achievements. I added beauty blogging in an attempt to show I am not one-dimensional (my CV is very science heavy) and to show that I know a little bit about the internet, social media, HTML, photography and have lots of other skills that I learnt because I am a blogger. I think the fact that someone has managed to read all that and then still decided I am vacuous says more about them than it does me, and so I still keep it on my CV. But I'm still sensitive about it.

 I like beauty, and yes I know skincare and my quest for perfection may not sit comfortably with some people that want to believe that this interest stems from a deep lying insecurity induced by the beauty industry. Non-beauty lovers never want to believe, or admit, that beauty makes me feel good about myself, I do it for me and no one else, that I enjoy that 10 minutes in the morning putting a face on and equally enjoy the time it takes me to remove it at night. I don't expect I am the only one that prefers getting ready for a night out more than the night itself. Beauty is my escape and perusing my stash or strolling round Boots can lift my mood on sadder days. My blog is an extension of that escape where I have been able to find other people that think about it the way I do.

 I thought that with the release of Sali Hughes book -- where she starts off by dismissing the criticism that makeup and beauty are for shallow airheads and that women who enjoy beauty aren't capable of caring about their appearance and anything else -- that I wouldn't have to hear that word association again. But here we are again and I'm not sure that there will ever be a time when I will not have to feel like I should be ashamed to say I am a beauty blogger.


Monday, 3 November 2014

Body Shop Wild Argan Collection

I remember argan oil really getting big in the beauty world after I came back from a trip to Morroco without some. At the time I remember thinking, "I dunno I've never heard of this stuff, it might not be any good".

I was wrong, and I have kicked myself ever since for not picking up a bottle.
Since then products containing argan oil have become very popular and the Body Shop have recently release their own range paying homage to the precious oil.

It is worth noting that the products are not 100% argan oil, if they were they wouldn't be so affordable.

There are eight products in the collection and I selected two to try, the Radiant Oil and the Miracle Solid Oil, which can both be used on the hair and body.

Of the two, The Radiant Oil is the one I have reached for the most. It is a light, dry oil that leaves the skin hydrated but without a greasy residue, and it also leaves a subtle sheen. At £14, it is incredibly good value as I expect it will last many months.

Used on wet hair, it dries leaving it feeling soft and smelling wonderful (it has a light coconut fragrance). I found that my hair looked and felt greasy the next day. I know that I can be a bit over zealous when it comes to applying any kind of hair product so I would suggest applying a minimal amount or only using it on dry hair to tame flyaways and add shine.

The Miracle Solid Oil, £8, is as the name suggests a solid form of the oil that you warm up with your fingers to melt before using. Like the Radiant Oil, I found this made my hair greasy the next day, but it felt lovely on the skin. It took a bit more work to have it absorb so this is my night/weekend bath treat when I have more time to work with it. I would also use this on my feet overnight and it would be ideal to take on weekends away or holidays as it is so nourishing and also compact for travel.

The Body Shop Wild Argan Collection can be purchased online or in stores.

Monday, 13 October 2014

London update

I am currently writing from my old blogging spot, my bed at home in London. It is lovely being somewhere so familiar and I have just been enjoying catching up with family and friends as well as wandering around the city, since I arrived a week ago. I did have good intentions to post while here, but the trip is short and there is lots to be done so I'm going to take mini break and fully appreciate the time I have.


Monday, 29 September 2014

Guest post on Tales of A Pale Face

I would like to direct you to the blog of Kat from Tales of A Pale Face today where I am guest posting while she enjoys a holiday.

I've taken over her blog for the day to share my favourite beauty products. Check out my post and then stick around and enjoy Kat's blog if you are not already a fan.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Smashbox 24 Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer

These days I rarely buy something without checking out a review first, but when I was lured to the Smashbox counter for a makeover and sweet talked by the assistant I ended up walking away with three products.

The first was the Smashbox 24 Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer, which promises to "lock on more vibrant colour for a full 24 hours, with no fading, creasing or smudging". It is also sweat and humidity resistant (which is the feature that had me sold).
The primer comes in a small silver tube and is a thick balm. It takes a little squeezing to get it out of the tube, but because it is so thick you don't end up dispensing too much and there is no wastage. A little is enough to cover both eyelids and the skin below the lower lash line.

The application isn't like any primer I have used before and needs a little more work. The primer is almost waxy and you need to allow it to warm up on the skin to spread it easily, you then, most importantly, need to give it a minute to set before applying your eyeshadow or liner. If you try to apply anything before that minute the primer still feels sticky and can end up dragging. I also use this to prime under my eye to hold liner/shadow in place as well as concealer.
As I mentioned, the feature that had me sold was the sweat and humidity resistant claims. After the setting time I noticed that my usually oily eyelids are mattified, and most days I use the primer for this effect alone, and when you do apply shadow, it does last all day. I haven't tested it for up to 24 hours, but I have worn it for a typical working day and night out and there was no fading or creasing in that time. I typically splash my face with water a few times a day too, and the shadow doesn't budge.

Smashbox's primer has just taken the lead as my favourite eyeshadow primer, which was previous Urban Decay's primer potion. I much prefer the texture of this primer and I like that I can use it alone to improve the look of my eyelids.

The primer costs £18 for 12ml and can be purchased from Smashbox online or from Boots. If you are in the Middle East you can find Smashbox in Sephora and Faces.

This isn't a primer I have seen reviewed much, so it seems to be a bit of a hidden gem. Are you tempted?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Giffgaff #nofilter landscape competition

Taking a detour from my usual beauty talk today to share a beautiful landscape instead. Giffgaff is currently running a photo competition where all you have to do is upload a photo on your blog with the theme "landscape" taken on a phone phone and that hasn't been edited in any way, hence the hashtag #nofilter. If you would like to enter and find out more, see the rules, here, and get out the other entries on twitter by looking up @giffgaff and the hashtag. 
There will be three winners of the competition, with the top prize being a Sony Xperia Z3 phone, which is to be released soon. The competition ends at midnight tonight, so there is still a little time to get an entry in. 

I'm sharing one of my favourite landscapes shots, which I took in Instanbul, Turkey, using my iPhone 4. At the time I was trying to be artistic, we were up on a hill top surrounded by trees, and I wanted to include those in the foreground of the picture. If you know the skyline of Istanbul well, you might recognise a few of the famous mosques right at the back. 

I hope you enjoyed this little sideline, normal beauty talk will resume in my next post. 

Until then I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for a new phone! 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Essie Hide and Go Chic

There is always a sinking feeling that comes straight after you discover a product is worth the hype, because you know that you're going to need more, many more.

I always resisted Essie because of the price, I always decided I would rather get more polishes from a cheaper brand. The square bottles are embossed with the Essie logo and they look very chic and luxury, but they can't be that good, I thought.
I was wrong.

Hide & Go Chic was part of this years' Spring Collection and the shade I received in British Beauty Bloggers Latest in Beauty box. It is a deep azure blue, almost teal, colour. It is highly pigmented and if needed, one coat could do the job but two coats makes sure it's opaque.

The colour is not what has won me over, it is beautiful and unique, but it is the application that makes me want to go back for more. The formula for a start is great, it's silky smooth, and doesn't streak but the brush also makes the application really easy, is thin, round and shorter than other brands, so it fits on the nail bed just right.
I am on day four of wear with no chips yet, but some slight wear at the tips. I was a bit hasty with my application though, and didn't seal the tips but I think if I had done that they would still be perfect.

It is also worth noting that Essie is a 3-Free brand, which means they don't contain chemicals Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde and Toluene, if you are concerned about these.

So I will adding Essie polish to my "to buy" list when I visit home in a few weeks. Essie can be found in Boots stores, and other places online, where they usually cost around £7.99 each.

If you have tried Essie polishes let me know which is your favourite and which I need to try next.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Elemis Pro-Collagen Creams

Today I'm sharing what are two good moisturiser options for normal to dry skin from British skincare brand Elemis, their Pro-Collagen Marine Cream and Pro-Collagen Oxygenating Night Cream.
The Pro-Collagen Marine Cream is a lightweight, lightly scented moisturiser that sits well on top of serums and underneath an SPF. A little goes a long way, and because it is so lightweight it absorbs quickly. After using this my skin immediately feels soft and smooth, and the hydration lasts all day.

I'm not sure I believe the claims that Elemis make about the cream increasing collagen support, but it certainly seems to increase hydration. If this contained SPF it would be ideal, only because I don't like to layer products and because this is the first day cream that I have been happy to use in a long time. 
The Pro-Collagen Oxygenating Night Cream, as the name suggests, is a night cream and, surprisingly, is as lightweight as the marine cream. My skin always looks healthier and clear in the mornings after using this (I use it on my nights off from Alpha H liquid gold).

I have used both now for a few months, and I believe my skin looks more dewy, which I assume is down to the hydrating effects. Like the marine cream, I don't believe that this can oxygenate the skin, and I'm not sure you would want to, which is why I started by saying that these are both good moisturisers options rather than great ones. If you just need hydration and don't necessarily want much more from your skin care (or care that the claims of the creams are probably false) then these are a good option if you want to treat yourself as the creams are very expensive.

In both cases I am not a fan of the jar packaging, for hygiene reasons, and because products are likely to keep better when they have little contact with air.

The Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream costs £80 for 50ml and the Pro-Collagen Oxygenating Night cream costs £95 for 50ml and can be purchased from most department stores. However, I would recommend grabbing a bundle from QVC as they are much better value, and you'll get to try other products too. The anti-ageing collection contains the marine cream as well as the creamy cleanser that I reviewed here

Monday, 15 September 2014

Urban Decay Naked Flushed Palette

Naked Flushed was originally an extension to Urban Decay's Naked line, which has since been extended to include a total of four palettes.

I purchased the original after much back and forth about if it was something I really needed. I have plenty of blushes, bronzer and highlighters, but I didn't have them all in one, compact palette, so of course I decided I needed it. 
The colours are beautiful and pigmented, and the texture of the powders are all smooth and of the standard you expect from Urban Decay. The bronzer, which has a semi-matte finish, adds definition and warmth to the face and isn't at all orangy or muddy, and the rosy pink blush adds colour. As for the highlighter, who can't love a shimmery, champagne pink? It compliments the blush perfectly and completes the palette.
Although there are other colours in the flushed range now, I believe this is the most universally flattering and I like that each of the shades can be used individually or layered. There is no divide between each of the shades and, so far, I haven't had a problem with shimmer sneaking into the bronzer or blush when I have wanted to them alone.

At £22 I think this is a real beauty gem, on my recent holiday this was the only cheek product I carried because not only is it beautiful but it is also compact and fits into my makeup bag easily.

Naked Flushed can be purchased from Debenhams and House of Fraser stores, online from lookfantastic, and if you are in the Middle East get yours in Sephora. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Benefit Gimme Brow

Brows have become my new thing, I'm realising that my face just doesn't look right without at least my brows filled in. That said as much as I like my Beautiful Brows powder when I am doing a full face of makeup, alone it draws more attention than needed to my brows, and not in a good way.
So on a recent trip to Sephora, Dubai, I was quickly convinced that Gimme Brow by Benefit was the product I needed. Named as a ‘brush on fibre-gel’ it has a tiny wand to add a tint to the skin and the hairs, so it fills in gaps and keeps hairs in place at the same time.
Benefit Gimme Brow
Spot the fibre-gel brow
Like all Benefit products the application is designed to be foolproof. The wand is tiny, so all the hairs are caught, without catching forehead or eyelids at the same time. The color is buildable, and the gel doesn't clump or leave your brows feeling "crispy," in fact, once applied, I barely notice it. It lasts all day and, as it claims, it seems to be water resistant but is definitely humidity resistant! That said, it does come off easily with makeup remover, which is always a good thing.

There are only two shades available, light/medium and medium/deep, I use the latter. For me, it's one of those no-makeup makeup products, great for use everyday, but if I need/want more defined brows I would opt for a powder/pencil product only because my brows are sparse and fair to begin with. If that isn't the case for you though, then this could be the perfect product. It just hope the colour selection is expanded to cater for blondes and redheads too!

Gimme Brow costs £17.50 for 3g and can be purchased directly from Benefit, or Boots and many department stores.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Beauty question marks

Once in a while I end up with products that I use to the last drop, all the while not really knowing if I like them. They're not bad, but they haven't really done anything either. Am I the only one this happens to? 
The question marks in my drawer right now are: 

Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Balm
This is a much raved about lip balm, but I just can't understand the hype. Granted, I first started using it at a time when I was suffering with major dryness and a case of sun burn on my lips, and this did nothing to relieve the soreness or add any moisture. Since then my lips are better and I've tried using this as a lipstick base, since I heard it dries matte but I didn't notice that and to me this is just like any other balm that sits on top of the lips and acts like a barrier.

Stila One Step Correct
There aren't many products that I think look as attractive as this. Each colour is responsible for correcting a different skin issue; green to minimise redness, lavender to counteract sallow undertones, and peach to brighten, illuminate and dimish the appearance of sunspots. Unfortunately, as a color corrector haven't noticed a difference no matter how much or little I apply and it just seems like an unnecessary layer. 

Urban Decay Vitamin-Infused Complexion Prep Spray
I was highly recommended this by the sales assistant who claimed it had reduced her breakouts and generally made her skin that much better. It was before the wedding and I was told the vitamin boost would benefit my skin, so I was sold. I used it twice a day as instructed and didn't notice any changes, good or bad. The spray is meant to be soothing, reduce redness and minimise pores as well as absorb oil. It is nice to mist on the skin, very refreshing, but that's not enough to justify the price tag. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Bourjois 123 Perfect CC Cream and Eye Cream

It seems that when it comes to BB and CC creams, the blog world is a bit divided. Personally, I loved the inclusion of BB creams into the beauty market, I've tried a lot and, on the most part, loved them. So when I heard all good things about Bourjois 123 Perfect CC Cream, I knew I wanted to give it a try.

Bourjois CC cream has found its way into my everyday makeup routine and is my favourite new product discovery in a long time. I discovered quite quickly that in this hot climate, thick bases aren't an option for everyday, and even my beloved mineral powder doesn't always seem to sit well on my skin.

bourjois cc creamThe cream is lightweight and has much more coverage than I expected. Since moving, my skin has been more red than I have ever experienced. Disappointing to say the least, and hopefully temporary, but a good opportunity to test out the colour correcting properties of this cream.

The cream contains three color correcting pigments: apricot to counteract the signs of fatigue, green to disguise any traces of redness and white to conceal dark spots, and comes in four shades. For my pre-tan skin the shade Light Beige was perfect, but is a little too light at the moment.

Out of the three skin concerns this caters to, I can say that it successful tackles all. The redness I have noticed in my complexion is covered, my skin looks radiant and for everyday general wear I don't feel the need to use a separate concealer for my acne scars. As someone with slightly dry skin too, I didn't notice any clinging to dry patches and, if anything, this provided some much needed hydration.
Left: CC cream Right: CC Eye cream
In my experience the cream applies just as well using your fingers, a brush or a beauty blender, it mostly comes down to preference. A little also goes a long way, initially I applied quite a thick layer, which not only isn't necessary, but you actually get a nicer finish the less product you apply. To finish I have taken to adding a quick swipe of powder, just because it is so easy to look shiny here, but in more normal climates this is probably unnecessary. I was also pleasantly surprised when looking through holiday photos that not only does this photograph well but it also makes my skin look flawless and I don't think it looks like I am wearing makeup at all.
The 123 Perfect CC Cream collection also has an eye cream that again serves as a great everyday concealer and works nicely with the cream, but for me isn't a must have. The eye cream comes in a twist up pen applicator that has a silicone nib, which isn't great for blending the concealer but is useful for placing it where needed before then blending with a brush/fingers.

As a bonus, both the CC cream and eye cream contain SPF 15 and only cost £9.99 and £7.99, respectively, and since Bourjois products always seem to have some sort of offer going you will no doubt get this for less.

Bourjois 123 Perfect CC Cream and matching eye cream can be purchased from Boots, Superdrug and some supermarkets. At the moment there are only four shades available, excluding those with a darker skin tone but hopefully Bourjois will introduce more.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Pur Minerals - Mineral Glow Powder (Bronzer)

There are four steps in my quick, every day makeup routine. Bronzer is the final one. I never really appreciated how much difference a good bronzer can make, adding color and a little definition.

My bronzer of choice at the moment is the Mineral Glow Powder from Pur Minerals, which is a standard, silky, mica-based pressed powder.
The colour is on the light side for a bronzer, and would probably not work for darker skin tones, but it does a great job of adding a bit of warmth to the skin, and although you can see a bit of sparkle in the pan, it doesn't translate but rather just does what the name says and looks glowing. I would recommend a light hand though, as it is easy to go from bronzed and glowing to muddy. 
One of the things I like about this bronzer in particular is that it is so versatile, I use it not only like a bronzer and blusher, but also as an eyeshadow, to add definition to the crease (on a lazy makeup day) and the Pur Minerals website states it can even be used as a lip colour -- although I am not sure I would go that far.

Pur Minerals Mineral Glow Powder costs £19.50 for 12g and can be found in Marks & Spencer stores. If you are conscious of the ingredients that are in your makeup or just want a bronzer that gives you a natural glow, then this is for you.  

This product was given to me to review, however, all opinions stated are my own.

Friday, 5 September 2014

On a lip trip, Sephora Cream Lip Stain 05

I'm in a lip phase. This happens once in a while, lip products become my thing and I can't get enough.

It's a good thing because of the climate here, makeup tends to melt off my face and as much as I love eyeliner until I find one that can stay put, lipstick will have to be my new thing.
Sephora cream lip stain 05
And the lipstick of choice right now is Sephora's Cream Lip Stain in the shade Infinate Rose.

This is the best lip stain I have ever tried, admittedly I have only ever tried one other lip stain, but this is miles better.

The application is beautiful, the formulation of the cream is such that when you apply it to your lips it has this beautiful creamy texture that slowly transforms into a smooth, soft stain.
Sephora Infinate Rose cream lip stain 05
The colour is intense and long lasting, and while the other colours are true mattes, this is more of a satin finish. It has a matte peach base with a golden shimmer layer running through it, which I love in the sunny weather.

For a stain it isn't that drying either, but I would still recommend a slather of balm before applying.
Infinate Rose 05 Sephora cream lip stain
There are ten colours in the collection, and this to me is the brighter shade that lends itself well to day and night if, like me, you aren't bold enough to wear reds and plums during the day. When I am though, I'll be back for a red!

The stain can be purchased for $13 from Sephora, if you are in the Middle East then in the Dubai Mall or Mall of the Emirates, and for those of you in the UK you can order from the Sephora website, here!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Makeup brushes, the favourites

For a long time I didn't believe that brushes were worth investing in, I didn't see how having a fancy brush was going to make my application any better if I don't really know how to use it. Now, while I still believe that to an extent I do think that a few key brushes can help make application that much easier and result in more flawless looking makeup.
From left to right:

I feel a bit mean including this brush since a lot of UK ladies won't be able to get their hands on it that easily. Honestly, I was never one for using a brush to apply undereye products, but this is a game changer and I truly believe that I wouldn't get the same result with just any brush. In fact, I've been kicking myself that I didn't pick up more brushes from the airbrush range when I had the chance. This lives up to its airbrush name and blends so well that it is barely noticeable that I am wearing concealer at all. 

This was a thoughtless purchase that turned out to be a treasure. I had one of those £5 off No7 vouchers and none of the makeup took my fancy so I grabbed this instead. It is so soft and perfectly fits into the crease to apply colour and add some depth. 

The design was from a limited edition set, but I think that the brush is available in the standard collection. While, for me, it is a bit too big to pack on colour I like to use it clean just to blend everything nicely together and get rid of any harsh lines, typically using the No 7 to apply and start the process and finishing off with this. 

You can't go wrong with any of the Real Techniques brushes, they are great value for money and the quality is very good. The brow brush in particular is one of my favourites as it seems like it was made for my brows, it happens to be the right thickness for me to sweep powder across in one go if needed. This is part of the eye brushes collection, so it can't be purchased separately unfortunately.  

I fell for this brush after I went to get a colour match for the Naked Skin foundation. While I didn't end up buying the foundation I did buy the brush after I saw what I beautiful finish it gave. What also sold me was that it can be used for powder and liquid products, and it works just as well with both, so if you are looking to have a streamlined brush collection this is one to go for. Also, I know I haven't tried it, but I suspect that Sephora's Pro Airbrush for the face will be very similar if you are looking for an alternative.  

Another Real Techniques favourite, and this is purely for applying powder products and works great with my mineral foundation. It is more dense than the Urban Decay brush, and I prefer that when it comes to mineral makeup application, but it doesn't pick up too much product so I don't feel like I am applying too much and the more time you have to buff, the better the finish. This is only available as part of a set, but the other brushes included are also very good. 

It is also worth adding that I am not very careful with my makeup brushes, I am a bit rough with them on a day-to-day basis and even rougher washing them, but all of these have held out with no shedding or falling apart to speak of.

Let me know what your favourite brushes are, are there any that I should add to my collection?

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


I know by now nearly every beauty lover must have seen swatches of ModelsOwn Speckled Eggs collection, but I wanted to share anyway since, even though there have been many collections since, these have held a place as one of my favourite nail effects polishes.

ModelsOwn speckled magpie
I own two of the five shades, Dove, which is a pastel pink, and Magpie, a mint green. Both are beautiful, but Magpie just edges it as a favourite, it really is a striking colour and showcases the effect so well.

Both polishes need at least two, but I usually apply three, coats for full opaqueness. I like the look of the layered spots and the more layers the greater the look. The good thing is that there is no clumpiness or dragging with additional coats.
ModelsOwn Dove speckled collection
The polishes dry to a semi-matte finish, and the drying time was quick, but I'm not sure how much that is down to living in a warm environment as opposed to the formula. You can add a top coat for a glossy finish or a matte top coat for a true Mini Egg look.

Without top coat, the polish lasted about four days before I started to see wear at the tip, a great result if, like me, you don't like changing your polish too often.

Overall, I can't fault these polishes, and at £4.99 a bottle, I think everyone should own at least one!

ModelsOwn can be found in Superdrug stores, as well as individual stands in shopping centres, but I would check them out online, here, as they currently have a six bottles for £20 promotion.
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