My home town has already suffered enough this year – two terrorist attacks, and now the devastating fire which has claimed so many victims.

My thoughts go out to all those affected by these tragedies xx

i paper



Welcome to part one of my Themed Beauty series, where I’ll be delving into my makeup stash and reviewing products according to various topics.

Some of these items are long discontinued, but you may still be able to find them on or on blog sales (prices may vary).

Chanel Winter Nights Eyeshadow Quad

The one I have is the US version with the square pans. Clockwise from top left there’s a medium taupe, peach, black with gold sparkles and a soft, muted pink.


Despite the ‘winter’ name, these colours can be worn all year round IMO; they’re certainly versatile enough. For variation, I combine the darkest shade with the taupe for  a muted effect, or I mix the peach, pink and black for something a little different. I might wear the taupe on the crease, say, and a combination of peach and pink on the lid with the black serving as an eyeliner. Certainly with the two paler shades a primer is a must, or they’ll just gradually fade away. The black doesn’t seem to be quite as pigmented as it appears in the pan (it seems to have a greenish tinge at times). Still, I enjoy wearing this quad and team it with either a nude or bold lip, depending on the occasion as well as my mood.



Essence Hello Autumn Palettes

Oh, how I love the packaging!! Those cute little leaves say it all.

I find Essence products can be hit or miss, but these palettes are surefire winners in my book. There are two in the autumn collection: 01 Walk In  The Park and 02 Keep Calm & Go For A Walk. The colour spectrum covers golds, rich browns and lush forest greens, with six shades in each palette (the first shade in each is identical, btw, as is the third shade in 02 and fourth in 01).



The texture and colour payoff is very good, with absolutely no duds. I can ‘mix and match’ shades from both palettes as they belong to the same colour family, and in my opinion these would suit all skin tones and occasions, whether you’re after a smokey eye or a more natural look. Their compact size makes them ideal for travel or just to pop into your handbag when you’re out and about.



H&M Flower Palette

While this palette doesn’t belong to a particular season per se, the word ‘flower’ does conjure up images of spring and summer, so that’s what I’m going with. There are ten different shimmering colours here, with varying degrees of pigmentation: A deep pink, peach, pale pink, primrose, cool bluish-silver, warm chocolate brown, warm gold, pale taupe, lilac and cool pink, all with a flower imprint embedded.


The last three colours in the top row work best as highlighters worn on the browbone; the warm gold looks quite vibrant in the pan but needs building up in order to reach its full potential (using a flat brush here helps). Ditto the pale taupe when it comes to successfully accumulating colour on the eyelid.


It may be a cheapie, but I do like this palette and use it regularly. Just looking at those shades gives me a feelgood factor – no matter what time of year it is, they always put a smile on my face.

Say it with flowers xx


MAC Snow Season Mineralize Eye Shadow (left in pic)

I love the marbled effect of this one, it’s like a Cornetto 🙂 Cream, brown, gold, silver blue, they all blend together effortlessly. Depending on where you swipe your brush you’ll get a predominantly browny-gold layer, or perhaps a creamy sliver blue (yes, you read that right!). No two of these eyeshadows are the same; yours may have a mostly brown vein and your friend’s will be more champagne streaked.


The shimmering effect brings to mind crisp snow glistening in the winter sun (and that’s the nearest I’ll get as we rarely have the white stuff down here!) Snow Season is perfect for opening up the eye area to create a ‘wide awake’ look. Dark circles, puffiness and discolouration all recede into the background, as though you’ve had your full sleep quota. No surprises, then, that I wear this in winter a lot.


MAC Fresh Ice Mineralize Eye Shadow (right in pic)

My husband bought me this one Christmas, and even inscribed it on the back:


Two words spring to mind when I pull this out of my makeup bag: Ice Princess. Team with a cool toned blush and a touch of lip gloss, don a floaty top and twirl round the  room like Stevie Nicks.

On a serious note, Fresh Ice looks just like the real thing. Mine has the teeniest, tiniest purple veining, with pinkish bits dotted here and there.

Mac mineralised

The shimmer adds a touch of magical radiance. Some white eyeshadows are ‘too white’, if you get my drift, but this one’s perfect. You don’t need to use much, as a little goes a long way (mine looks barely touched and I’ve had it for ages).

Talking of cool toned blushes brings me to Essence Arctic Lights Blush in 01 Snow Queen. This is a lovely pink which gives you a healthy, outdoorsy kind of glow. Open the lid and you’ll see a few different sized snowflakes imbued into the powder – very Frozen like!


The pigmentation and longevity is good, giving an overall subtle effect. I’m not a huge blush fan, but this gets the thumbs up.

Still on the subject of winter/cool tones, the last product I’m reviewing on The Seasons theme is Essence Go Snow Eyeshadow in 04 Alpine Snow. This is a kind of seafoam green endorsed with cute little snowflakes.

essence open

It may be pretty to look at, but the pigmentation is zero. This is more like a shimmery wash, and even using it wet made no difference whatsoever. Trying it with and without primer brought no joy, either. I guess I could use it as a highlighter instead ….

Coming up in Part Two – Astronomy

Thanks for reading x


You’re invited to a party. All your friends are there. You exchange hellos and then they drift off into their little groups, chatting away happily amongst themselves. When you intervene they acknowledge your words, then turn back and you become invisible. You spend the rest of the night alone, sticking out like a sore thumb.

Sounds familiar?

The dreaded cliques seem to be a part of everyday life – at work, the gym, mother and toddlers groups – you name it. People conglomerate like little witches’ covens in tight unity, and woe betide anyone else who tries to muscle in.


Now, I’m no party animal. Neither do I have two heads, nor is my complexion green. So why, throughout my adult life, have I always been excluded from these groups? Even my husband Phil, who’s much more sociable than me, can be found propping up the bar on his own, while his drinking buddies chat away all around him. He doesn’t smell, fart excessively or have bad breath, so why the isolation? You can only be pro-active to a certain extent – starting/joining in a conversation etc, but when you’ve exhausted all possibilities, what then?

At ‘do’s’, myself, Phil and our daughter always end up on our own, a trio of Billy-No-Mates looking wistfully at everybody else socialising and apparently having a whale of a time. Even if we have company to begin with, they all disperse and go off elsewhere in the end. We’re nice, decent folk, yet we might as well have come from another planet.

Research shows that cliques form because the people in them lack individuality. They do the same things, listen to the same kind of music and even dress alike. They feed off one another’s views and ideas, and exclude all non-conformists.

How sad is that?

Thankfully, I’ve always been an individual with my own tastes and opinions. I’ve never belonged to a ‘sheep club’, and neither do I want to. It’s a pity, though, that people like me are viewed as though we’ve just fallen out of a dog’s bum, for ‘daring to be different’. People are strange, sang Jim Morrison. They are also judgmental.

Sod ’em, I say. They can keep their barbecues and parties. I prefer hanging out with my pets anyway. They love me for being myself. And they don’t care whether I fell out of their backsides or not.


I’m a mature rock chick from Cambridge, UK, where I live with my husband Phil, daughter Kat, dog Skye and cats Pandora and Morticia.

I play sax, and also enjoy travel, languages (I speak fluent Polish and am also learning Russian) photography, pets, walking, blogging, the odd bit of sewing, watching old Hammer horror films and, of course, makeup!

I have an IHBC in Cosmetic Make Up, and work at my local pub as a receptionist for their takeaway section.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I like writing them x007

You’ll need: Gel polish remover, lint free wipes, orange stick, sellotape, aluminium foil, someone to help you and plenty of free time.


Saturate ten lint free wipes (one for each nail) with gel polish remover. Carefully wrap around each individual nail and secure with sellotape (lint free wipes are extremely lightweight and won’t stay put otherwise). This can be fiddly so get your helper to assist if needed.


Ask your helper to wrap your hands in aluminium foil (to generate heat and speed up the removal process) as securely as possible, ensuring the fingertips in particular are fully covered. Leave for 30 minutes.


Remove foil and wipes. Using the orange stick, carefully lift up the gel polish at the edges and peel away. You may need to repeat the process for a further 30 minutes if necessary (see what I mean about having loads of free time?).


Wash and dry hands; apply hand cream if desired.

And there you have it 🙂

You’ll need: Clean feet, UV lamp, toe separators, lint free wipes, cuticle stick, cuticle oil, nail clippers, Prep & Wipe, gel base coat, gel nail polish, gel top coat, buffing block.

General pic 1

Wash and dry your feet (don’t apply any foot cream, oil or lotion afterwards). Push back cuticles with cuticle stick. Clip nails with nail clippers. Buff the nails with a buffing block.

Buffing block

Using the lint free wipes, sanitise the nail plate with Prep & Wipe.

Prep and wipe 1

Separate toes and apply base coat to each foot.

Base coat

Cure nails for 2 minutes using UV lamp, repeat for other foot.

Cure 1

Apply a thin, even layer of gel polish. Cure nails for 2 minutes using UV lamp and repeat for the other foot. Apply a second coat and cure nails again for 2 minutes.

Polish pic 1

Apply top coat and cure nails for 2 minutes using UV lamp. Repeat for other foot.

Top coat 1

Sanitise the top coat with the Prep & Wipe and the lint free wipes.

Prep and wipe 2

Apply cuticle oil.

Cuticle oil

The finished result:

End result 1

End result 2

Gel pedicures and manicures last longer (14-21 days) than conventional ones. They grow out with the nail and don’t chip, and the whole process takes around 20 minutes. The only downside is that glitter gel polish is notoriously difficult to remove (I love it anyway!). You’ll need a gel nail polish remover whatever type of finish you use, as normal remover is useless.


Other advantages of gel polish is no mess, no waiting ages for it to dry, and you can put your shoes and socks on immediately afterwards!

What’s not to like? 🙂

Every so often I like to venture into unchartered territory and explore the more obscure brands out there. Can they compete with – or even outdo – the popular and most loved ones?

Read on and judge for yourselves.

Group photo 1

My husband Phil and I are huge Frozen fans, so imagine my excitement when I came across a couple of items dedicated to this awesome film!

Peripera Tap Tap 3 Eyes (£14.91) in Let It Go (Elsa) and I’m Happy Kristoff (Anna) are what I call ‘grown up’ cosmetics. We’ve all seen the gaudy makeup packages aimed at little girls, with those ‘cheap’ cartoon images (not my pic):

Cartoon Frozen images

Peripera have used proper images for their products which appeal universally.

The Elsa eyeshadow trio contains very pale pink, raspberry and purple shades with finely milled glitter. The formula makes them easy to apply and because the glitter particles are tiny, there’s virtually no fallout. Pigmentation is excellent, too, so there’s no need to pile the colours on. You can even get away without primer as the quality is so good.

The packaging is awesome; Elsa peers seductively over her shoulder, with her long platinum braid snaking around her neck. You’ll find the same image on the palette lid, too.

Peripera Elsa

Anna’s eyeshadow trio comprises a shimmery white, orange and brown, in keeping with her colouring. She poses modestly on the box, and the close-up on the palette lid shows her looking a little flushed. As with Elsa, Anna’s colours contain finely milled glitter, although the pigmentation of the orange shade seems more diluted when worn, which is a shame becauseit looks gorgeous in the pan. Again, these are long wearing with or without primer and have little fallout.

Peripera Anna

Peripera is available from

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to Paul & Joe’s sought after cat themed makeup, try these gorgeous Mansly/Manshiu Sweet Cat Lipsticks (£8.72 each). There’s twelve in the entire collection, and I bought Hot Red (No. 20) and Hot Orange (No. 132).

Cat Lipsticks 1

While it’s the packaging itself which is cat themed rather than the actual product (P&J’s lippies are topped with a cat’s head) these are still surprisingly good given the cheap price. Both lipsticks apply evenly, with a fair amount of ‘slip’, and last as long as your average lippie. The colour you see in the tube is the colour you’ll end up with on your lips, and also there’s no discerning taste or scent. They are neither hydrating nor drying.

Sweet Cat Lipstick case

Mansly/Manshiu is available from

A lot of people pooh-pooh Chinese cosmetics because of their alleged poor safety records and staunch views on animal testing, but I came across two brands bearing the cruelty-free bunny symbol:

3 fox eyes cruelty free symbol

The first of these is 3 Fox Eyes in No. 10, a glittery trio of bronze, gold and deep dark brown. While there is some fallout, these eyeshadows are bold, beautiful and buttery soft. I was very impressed with their longevity, too. They were just as vivid last thing at night as they were when I applied them in the morning. Contrary to popular belief about Far Eastern products made with ‘inferior ingredients’, I experienced no irritation, redness or swelling whatsoever. I know this is one brand I can buy with impunity, whatever anyone else may think.

Three Fox Eyes open

Three Fox Eyes packaging

3 Fox Eyes is available from and Prices may vary.

The second brand is Manfei, from whom I bought Dazzle Bright 9 Colour Eye Shadow in No.6 (£5.00). Here, the colours vary from brown through to silver and black. They all look very pretty in the pan, glittering away there, but when you apply them you discover that the glitter is, in fact, just an overlay, and doesn’t run through the entire eye shadow at all. What you’re left with is a soft, shimmery texture which isn’t too bad at all. The quality isn’t quite as good as the 3 Fox Eyes, however, but for the price you really can’t complain.

Manfer eyeshadows open

Manfer eyeshadows packaging

I also bought a single eyeshadow in 06 (prices may vary), a stunning, deep ocean blue with cute little hearts embossed like some Etude House eye shadows have. Unfortunately, the vivid colour all but disappeared when applied – I was left with a pale, nondescript sludge. It faded in less than a couple of hours, too. Enough said 😦

Assorted closed

Manfei is available from

Next up is Focallure Face Baked Blush (£3.51). We all know that computer monitors can misrepresent colour swatches, so what we see on screen doesn’t necessarily represent the item in real life. This makes it hard to gage accuracy, one disadvantage of buying online. I bought shade 04, which turned out to be a much darker brown than I initially thought. However, as long as I used it sparingly, it didn’t look too bad.

Assorted open

Focallure blushes have a zigzag look where paler colours are interwoven with darker ones from the same colour family. They contain ‘ a radiant blend of liquid pigment that is baked for 24 hours to create a soft, creamy powder’.

Focallure is available from and

Aside from Peripera’s Frozen trios, my favourite from this bunch is the diddy little Aritaum eyeshadow in No. 43 Red Flame (£5.00). Although the shade looks quite bold in the pan, it transmutes into a delicate warm rose infused with subtle gold glitter when worn. There’s no fallout, and it lasts from morning until bedtime with no fading or creasing.

Assorted open

Although there’s lots of colours in this range, the shades tend to be limited to nudes, browns and peaches. I’m hoping they’ll expand their colour spectrum soon so I can snap up some more of these little pots of joy 🙂

Aritaum is available from and

Finally, there’s this lovely offering which I picked up from UBUB (£3.00). It’s described as a ‘roast’ eye shadow, which means it’s been baked, and has a metallic finish.

06 is a pale blue flecked with silver, white and grey. It looks stunning on, and really opens up the whole eye area. Long lasting, easy to apply and very blendable, it’s great value for anyone on a budget. Like Aritaum, however, the colours are limited (although they do have eyeshadow palettes with a larger spectrum).

Assorted closed

UBUB is available from

Have you come across any gems  – or duds – from lesser known brands? Do comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

Often hailed as MAC dupes, I bought some Top Shop lipsticks to check out their credibility. The shades I got are Mercurial, Mink and Naturist (£8 each).


Mercurial is the sort of peachy gold which wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi film. Look at it from one angle it’s more peach – try another and it’s gold. It’s a strange kind of hybrid, neither one nor the other (hence the name!). In my view, it would definitely look best worn in the summer with a tan.

I don’t know about MAC dupes, but I swear Naturist is a dead ringer for NARS Catfight. It’s that same deep rosy hue, though not so drying and a damned sight cheaper to boot. If there’s a Top Shop in your vicinity, go and try it out. You’ll see what I mean.

Mink swatches a warm medium brown, although it looks more nude when worn. Nice, but not remarkable. I wouldn’t compare it with, say, MAC Hug Me or Viva Glam V as it’s not quite in the same league.


Overall, these lipsticks aren’t bad for the price. You need to reapply them often as they have zero staying power, especially after eating or drinking. They’re not particularly hydrating nor drying, and don’t have any discernible taste.

Top Shop is available from and

Another budget – and perhaps overlooked brand – is Primark. I bought their Moisture Lipstick in Bardot Beige (£1.50) and was pleasantly surprised by the quality. (Seen here on the left of the pic).


It was certainly moisturising; shade wise it was a warm golden light brown, but like the Top Shop lippies it didn’t stay put for long and had an extremely limited colour range (just Bardot Beige and a red shade). However, I’d recommend Primark as a ‘pocket money pick’ for teens just starting out in the makeup field. It’s cheap, and the range includes eyeshadows and blush as well as makeup tools and accessories.

I love themes, whether they’re animals, places or astronomy, so I was really pleased to receive BH Cosmetics Galaxy Chic palette (£22) as a birthday present from my brother. This houses 18 baked eyeshadows either speckled with, or containing, contrasting swirls of colour reminiscent of the mousse/ice cream desserts you find at the supermarket. Each shade has a cosmic name: Sun is gold flecked with raspberry, Jupiter is a uniform coral, Prometheus is berry flecked with with off-white, Aphrodite is a uniform plum shade, Milky Way is mauve flecked with silver, Cosmic is a standard but pretty lilac, Saturn is pale gold flecked with a medium red, Venus is bright orange, Meteor is turquoise flecked with silver, Comet is a uniform aqua green-blue, Earth has flecks of light to medium blue with silvery white, Neptune is a uniform dark navy, Mercury has swirls of white, dark brown and golden brown, Mars is a standard chocolate brown, Asteroid is dark brown flecked with blue, Electra is a medium electric blue, Moon is a cool silvery brown and Pluto is a plummy charcoal.


The second version of this palette has different names; Electra becomes Uranus although the shade is exactly the same. Ditto Pluto, which morphs into Eclipse.

Each palette is unique because of the way it’s made, so no two speckled or swirled shades will ever look identical.

I had a lot of fun playing around with these colours. The degree of diversity meant I could never be sure whether an application of, say, Saturn, would have more medium red in the first swipe, or be gold dominant instead. Neptune looked dark navy in the pan, but had a slight silvery sheen when swatched. Galaxy Chic is indeed a box of surprises!


Each shade was a joy to experiment with – very pigmented, long lasting and easy to blend. Although Meteor and Comet looked similar when worn, the other colours provided enough scope to create ‘mix-and-match’ looks so you never ended up with the same result.

Sometimes I like to create my own shades by mixing two or maybe three together. I don’t know whether it’s because these eyeshadows are baked, but all I got was a sludgy mess when I tried to combine them.

Galaxy Chic is still a good palette, though.

BH Cosmetics is available from, and

I’d spent ages trying to find a suitable brown lipstick which wouldn’t (a) make me look dead, (b) make me look like a 1980s reject and (c) make my teeth look so yellow they’d be mistaken for amber traffic lights. Roll on MAC Liptensity Lipstick in Toast And Butter (£17.50)! This warm brown with yellow undertones was perfect for my skin tone, and I wore it a lot during the autumn months, usually teaming it with blue eyeshadow for an understated look.


Even the name – Toast And Butter – sounded comforting. I found the formula very hydrating with plenty of ‘slip’, although it wasn’t as long lasting as some of other MAC lippies I have so I had to reapply regularly.


The Liptensity range was created in collaboration with tetrachromat Maureen Seaberg, who can allegedly see 100 times more colours than you or me. In other words, the formula supposedly delivered ‘extreme, undeniable colour intensity’. Hmmm. It’s time to pay SpecSavers a visit ….

MAC is available from, Selfridges, Debenhams and John Lewis.

I was so impressed with Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock Chick eyeshadow quad that I decided to invest in her Nocturnal Cat Eyes To Hypnotise eyeshadow single in Midnight Seduction and Rock n’ Kohl Eye Pencil in Sapphire Sex duo (£29).

Midnight Seduction is tiny (2.5g) and the colour is a beautiful iridescent deep inky blue, with the CT initials embossed in the centre. When I applied it, however, the iridescence vanished, and the colour itself faded throughout the day until I was left with just a matte blue stain.


The Sapphire Sex Liquid Eye Pencil (0.8g), a deep midnight blue, had so much ‘slip’ that it shot across my eyelid in an uncontrollable manner. I had the same problem when I applied it to my lower lid as well. Mistakes were hard to correct as the colour seemed to solidify very quickly. I was left with very hard looking ‘panda eyes’ which I tried to rectify and soften with powder eyeshadow.


Tip: A very steady hand is a must. Otherwise, forget it.

Not the best purchase, especially given the price. I’d advise you to find a cheaper, better quality alternative if you can.

Charlotte Tilbury is available from John Lewis, Selfridges and

It’s very frustrating when you come across a product you like, only to find that it would be easier trapping a butterfly in a jar than locating said item. I wrote to the company in question, only to be told that, for whatever reason, they’d ‘suspended’ trading with the UK. eBay had no shortage of what I was looking for, but the shipping prices were astronomical and of course there was no guarantee of authenticity. However, my determination paid off, and I finally found Cargo’s Chill In The Six palette ($37) on a reputable website.


Inspired by winter nights in Canada, the palette comprises twelve gorgeous eyeshadows in a range of finishes. Although the colours are cool toned, there’s a good overall mix and plenty to play with. Yonge St. is a matte cream, Maple is a shimmery bronze, Blizzard is a shimmery pale silver, Ice is a matte medium blue, Arctic is a shimmery pale champagne, 1996 is a shimmery plum, Dundas St. is a shimmery medium taupe, Goose is a matte chocolate brown, eh! is a shimmery gunmetal grey, Hockey is a matte black, The North is a shimmery cool toned lilac and Ontario is a matte purple.

The packaging is beautiful. Both the box and the palette lid are covered with holographic snowflakes, which my daughter said reminded her of Frozen 🙂


On the reverse of the box you’ll find a step-by-step guide on how to create three separate looks:


The palette also comes with a good quality double-ended brush as well as a full size black eyeliner pencil.

The eyeshadows themselves were very easy to apply and blend, with the exception of Ice which was a little stubborn and dry.  All the colours were well pigmented and lasted all day over a primer. I didn’t notice any creasing or fading throughout this time, and when I unwittingly rubbed the outer corner of my eye there was no smudging either.

You’ll find Chill In The Six on, a US based giant blog sale site which only deals with authentic goods. At the time of purchase it cost $37 (£29) including direct shipping to the UK, so that’s a pretty good price.

Anyone who knows me well will have figured out by now that I love Urban Decay, and I have a few of their products (one of which I’ll feature later in this article). for now, I’ll focus on their Moondust Solstice eyeshadow (£15.50) which I bought for my autumnal ‘red, gold and green’ theme.


Solstice is indeed a red and green hybrid – very pretty and hard to photograph accurately. It looks like it’s been infused with tiny galactic particles, and when applied to the lid it really makes my eyes ‘pop’. I generally wear this shade alone as I don’t feel it needs co-ordinating with any other eyeshadow, and certainly nothing to detract from it. Smudgy green eyeliner gives my otherwise nondescript peepers some definition, and I finish off my look with just a hint of blush and, for daytime, a nude lipstick. At night I swap the nude for a glamorous red.

Urban Decay is available from, John Lewis, Debenhams and Selfridges.

The ‘foodie’ theme is very popular at the moment – think of Dose Of Colour’s ice cream themed palette, or LORAC’s I Love Brunch collection. At the very top of the tree is Too Faced with their assorted Chocolate palettes and jelly and peanut butter assortments – not to mention their Peach theme as well. Being a huge chocolate lover, I was enticed into buying their Chocolate Bon Bons palette (£39).


I fell in love with the cute little heart shaped eyeshadows and couldn’t wait to try them out. The palette contains fourteen of them: Almond Truffle (a praline shade), Sprinkles (pale pink), Molasses Chip (light golden brown), Malted (deep chocolate), Cashew Chew (pale beige), Cotton Candy (pale bright pink), Cafe Au Lait (cool taupe), Bordeaux (warm chocolate brown), Mocha (pale warm brown), Black Currant (purple), Dark Truffle (deep brown with gold shimmer), Pecan Praline (beige), Totally Fetch (hot pink) and Earl Grey (gunmetal). There’s also two rectangular shaped shades – Satin Sheets (pale pinky gold) and Divinity (pale champagne).

The palette has a nice chocolate scent, although in my case it seems confined to just one particular area (?). Enclosed with it is a booklet illustrating how to create three different looks in Bronzed Chocolate, Sugar Smoke and Bon Bon Babe:

too-faced-looks-1 too-faced-looks-2

Alas, Chocolate Bon Bons turned out to be another duff purchase. The paler eyeshadows all swatched the same, with very poor pigmentation. I found them chalky, dry, stiff, and hard to apply and blend. Of the darker colours, Earl Grey was the most disappointing. In order to get any colour payoff at all, I had to almost trowel it on, and even then it seemed to fade almost as soon as I’d applied it.

The only saving grace here was Dark Truffle and Totally Fetch, which were both richly pigmented and swatched/wore well.

What to do with something so useless? Well, perhaps I could take a leaf out of Mr. Bean’s book and paint a picture with CBB and try to sell it in town

At least there won’t be any flies swarming around it.

Too Faced is available from Debenhams, Selfridges, and

Having bought Urban Decay’s Moondust palette (£35), I have to admit that I was initially on the fence about it. Moondust wasn’t quite what I’d expected. For starters, applying the colours with a brush was futile because the eyeshadows disappeared somewhere between the bristles and my eyelids. Although UD recommend finger application, I found this method wasn’t precise enough for those hard-to-reach areas. In the end I resorted to using those cheap, crappy little sponge applicators you get with most eyeshadows, and that seemed to do the trick.

Next, some of the eyeshadows just didn’t work on their own over primer. They just …. vanished. I figured they were best worn over the top of another eyeshadow.


Moondust contains eight iridescent colours: Specter (pale pink), Element (pinky red), Magnetic (purple), Lightyear (green), Granite (dark grey), Lithium (light chocolate), Vega (blue) and Galaxy (bluish-grey).


I began experimenting with different combos, such as layering Granite over Essence For City Kitties Only (a dark grey):



I also layered Element over a random brown shade:



The look below was created by me for my daughter’s 18th  birthday party. I dusted the entire eye area with Blitz from Naked 3. Then I applied Magnetic from the Moondust palette onto the lower lid, before applying MAC’s Wait Till Dark as an eyeliner. Kat’s cheeks were enhanced with Unter Den Linden blush from the Catrice Berlin Collection, and I completed her look using Essence lipgloss in Return To Paradise:


I began discovering new ways of wearing the Moondust palette. For instance, the shadows worked well applied over cream ones as they tended to ‘stick’ and the glitter particles wouldn’t migrate so much. Lightyear was the only colour I could wear on its own, and the staying power was incredible!

Moondust has definitely grown on me, and it’s more versatile than I’d given it credit for. I even mixed a bit of Lithium with a little Vaseline to create my own customised lip gloss 🙂

Urban Decay is available from Debenhams, John Lewis and Selfridges.

Thanks for reading x

Just got this on my FB newsfeed ….


Well done Stila!!

Years ago I LOVED this brand, then it lost its CF status and I stopped buying it.

Hopefully this will pave the way for other big brands to follow suit and pull out of China.

Champagne, anyone?


Hello again!!

Here, I’ll be reviewing my purchases over the past twelve months. Most, fortunately, were good, but there were some surprising duds, too, as you’re about to discover.


Let’s start with Chantecaille. One reason I love this luxury brand is because they donate a percentage of their sales to endangered species. I’m sure most of you are familiar with their Sea Turtles and Glacier palettes; I missed out on those, but was lucky enough to snag their Wolves eyeshadow trio (£65).


This comprises of a black, pale taupe and deep forest green eyeshadow, all embossed with a wolf face. The palette comes with a built-in mirror and single ended brush.


These eyeshadows have a smooth, velvety feel when applied. Long lasting (even without primer) and easy to blend, they’re comfortable to wear, although I did have some fallout issues with the black shade. The colours remained solid, without sheering out, and I didn’t experience any creasing or migrating. With wear, the overlay on the eyeshadows did eventually fade, and I was careful to preserve the wolf faces by using the colour around them.


The packaging is awesome, too. I love the beautiful wolf gazing off into the distance on the palette itself. On the back of the box there’s some info about these spectacular creatures.


So, now for the million dollar question (*cue drum roll*) …. is it worth the price point? I can’t answer this on behalf of anyone else, of course, but I for one am happy to support a good cause, especially when animals are involved.

Do share your thoughts in the comments section below, particularly if you already own this palette.

Chantecaille is available from Space NK,,, and

The first duff item in my collection is OPI Hello Kitty Nail Polish in Never Have Too Mani Friends (£10) a rich, sumptuous black shade.  OPI is supposed to be top notch quality, and indeed I’ve not had any problems with their other items I’ve purchased, but this one is truly horrendous. My manicure ended up a streaky, patchy, uneven mess. It was so bad I had to hide the horror with a coat of glitter nail polish to halfway down the nail bed!



Within a short time I was left with chipped, unsightly edges – despite following all the usual procedures such as avoiding gardening and washing up for at least 24 hours. Had the formula changed, I wondered? Even if it had, there was no excuse for such shoddy results.

Tsk, tsk, OPI!!

Feeling brave? Then OPI is available from

My makeup collection is an eclectic mix of high, mid-end and budget brands. Basically, I wear whatever works for me and I’m not a brand snobby any means.

As I said in a previous post, the US is home to some of the best makeup brands around, and unfortunately for us Brits, they’re not always easily accessible. This includes a new discovery for me – City Color Cosmetics – from whose website I purchased several items and had them shipped here via Being pale skinned, I tend to avoid bronzers as they give me a very artificial ‘you’ve-been-tangoed-orange’ look, but when I saw the CCC ones, with their cute palm trees and whopping 15.00g size for just $5.99 (£4.74) my resistance went out of the window.

I bought three bronzers: Dawn, Sahara Desert and Sunrise.



Dawn is the darkest of the three, and is more ‘bronze’ hued than the other two. It may look rather formidable in the pan, but once applied to the skin it left me with a glowing, healthy look – so much so that I was asked whether I’d been on holiday! It was easy to apply and lasted all day. Despite its depth of colour, I was surprised at how natural it looked on my skin, and by the end of the summer I’d become a bronzer convert.

Sahara Desert is exactly what the name implies – a lovely golden brown which conjures up images of hot, exotic locations and shimmering sand. As with the other bronzers, it was disappointing to see the lovely overlay of the palm trees disappear as the product was used (in both Dawn and Sahara Desert it was a golden shade).I felt this particular shade suited my colouring better as it looked ‘barely there’, and for someone who’s careful about sun exposure it was more in keeping with my overall look, if you see what I mean.

Sunrise is my favourite. A medium rosy pink with a silvery-pink overlay, I found myself reaching for this time and time again. This needed careful application, though, otherwise it tended to look too obvious – and judicious blending was a must. Unlike some colours which look dark in the pan but sheer out to nothing upon application, Sunrise stayed true to form all the way through. A very beautiful, pigmented bronzer indeed.


I also invested in some of City Color Cosmetics new Shimmer Eye Shadows: Beach Cottage, Homecoming Queen, Hint Of Mint and All Eyes On Me ($6.99 (£5.53 each). You get 3.65g of eyeshadow, so that’s a lot of product for your money. Beach Cottage is a medium, almost emerald green with a hint of gold. Homecoming Queen swatches peach with a golden hint, although it looks more rosy in the pan. Hint Of Mint is a pale green with gold hints, and All Eyes On Me is best described as a cool plum with bronze shimmer.


Although these eyeshadows are nice – and I do like them – they’re not remarkable. Yes, they apply well, are easy to blend and stay put for a long time, but they lack that certain something to elevate them above the ‘just another eye shadow’ criteria. You’ll find plenty of dupes if you look around.

A word of caution: If, like me, you’re in the UK, you’ll need to obtain City Color Cosmetics via a forwarding agency such as – and it doesn’t come cheap! By the time I’d paid customs fees, taxes etc. I was well over an additional £50 out of pocket, shaking my head in disbelief that I’d been stung for all those extra charges just for purchasing a few bits  from a budget brand from another country.

Lesson learned 😦

City Color Cosmetics is available from

I absolutely loathe foundation; in my view it looks terrible on everyone because, no matter how well applied, it always looks so obvious and mask-like. Add to that a dusting of powder and your lines and wrinkles are there for all to see.

Thank goodness, then, for tinted moisturiser; it’s the ‘your-skin-but-better’ product. I bought two from NARS; Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser in Finland (Light 1) which I use in winter, and Velvet Matte Skin Tint in Groenland (Light 3) for use in summer (£29 each).

Finland is perfect for my pale complexion. It has a very faint ‘lemony’ scent – or at least that’s how my olfactory senses interpret it. A little goes a long way so it’s economical to use, and it does exactly what it says ‘on the tin’ – providing a nice radiant luminosity to banish the awful January pastiness. No tidemarks, no noticeable settling into cracks and crevices, just a nice, barely there touch with good coverage and an SPF30.


Groenland is great for the summer months when my face has a bit more colour already. It does have a rather chemical smell, but once you overcome that and let the product work its magic then all’s forgiven. Again, the uniform coverage is good and it glides on easily and blends well, and also contains SPF30. The best way to apply these products is with a wedged cosmetic sponge which can get to those nooks and crannies fingers can’t (and who wants mucky fingers anyway?). If you’ve never tried tinted moisturiser before, give it a go.

NARS is available from,,,,  and

Invited to an imminent 40th birthday party and with no time for a complete retouch job due to a busy work schedule, i began scouring around for the perfect compromise. Easy peasy, I thought.

Not so. Most products I came across cost almost as much as a full sized hair colourant, promising to conceal those tell-tale roots ‘in just 20 minutes’.

Hello? That’s almost the same time it takes to do the full monty! Where’s the short cut? I wasn’t prepared to spend big buckson a product I could use only once and then discard as it couldn’t be stored for next time. After all, root regrowth is generally just a small area. Gels, sprays, potions and lotions all promised fantastic results, although some of the reviews I read painted an entirely different picture.

‘It’s crap!’ ranted one reviewer.

‘This product turned my hair green!’lamented another.

Great 😦

And then, just as I’d resigned myself to going to said party looking like a reversed badger (white stripe across a darker background), I discovered my Holy Grail …fyne-grey-cover-up

Fyne Grey Cover Up is a large mascara-style root retoucher (£2.50). I bought the shade Auburn, but when it arrived it looked more like a deep rosy pink and I wasn’t convinced it would do a realistic job. However, I was pleasantly surprised. It took just minutes and blended in beautifully with the rest of my hair, with no obvious demarcation.



The next day it was still there, and washed out with my next shampoo. The colour didn’t rub off onto my clothing or bedding. The only real gripe was in the application, which was messy as the hair got caught up in the mascara wand and I was left with strands looking rather stiff and lacquered. I had to go over several stubborn areas which initially resisted colouring, but all in all I was very pleased with the results and would definitely use this product again.

Fyne Grey Cover Up Hair Mascara is available from

I never travel with my favourite makeup, just in case it gets lost/broken/left behind/stolen, so I look for cheaper dupes for such occasions. That’s how I came across these W7 lipsticks (£3.50 each) in Vanilla, Latte, Cashmere, Suede and Silk, all nude variants.


Vanilla is a creamy peachy-nude, Latte has an orange undertone, Cashmere is a salmon pink shade, Suede is more of a ‘traditional’ nude and Silk is the brownest of the group. All these lipsticks have a light, creamy texture with a bubblegum scent. They feel nice and smooth on the lips although you need to reapply them often as they don’t last long.

These aren’t great, but they’re not bad for the price and if they went AWOL during a trip, I wouldn’t be that bothered.

W7 is available from

I whooped with delight when I saw Anastasia Beverly Hills palette in Modern Renaissance (£41). Here was an exciting collection of bright, daring colours; what a welcome change from the usual dross!


Modern Renaissance contains fourteen shades, from the sublime to the in-your-face. There’s Tempera (a pale cream), Golden Ochre (pale beige), Vermeer ( a creamy shimmer shade), Buos Fresco (cool baby pink), Antique Bronze is, well … bronze! Love Letter ( a loud, shocking pink), Cyprus Umber (dark chocolate brown), Raw Sienna ( a pale brown with warm undertones), Burnt Orange ( a  pale tangerine), Primavera ( a shimmery champagne shade), Red Ochre ( a deep, dark red), Venetian Red ( a bright deep pinky-red), Warm Taupe ( a pale mushroom shade), and Realgar ( a vivid, orange-brick colour). These colour variations mean the novice or colour-shy make up user can experiment and merely dip their toe into the world of bright pinks and reds whilst mixing with subtler hues, before plunging their whole foot into the bolder array with gusto when they’re ready to finally leave their comfort zone. The palette also comes with a double-ended brush and built-in mirror.


Performance-wise, all the colours were buttery soft, easy to apply and blend. Coupled with excellent pigmentation and great staying power, this is definitely a recommended purchase. The price may be rather steep but you certainly get your money’s worth; I know I’d rather pay more for an awesome product than buy cheaper and find it’s utter crap.

The only real flaw is the pale, velvetty palette lid. While it’s gorgeous to the touch it does attract dirt easily, so I keep mine in its box to stave off the muck as much as possible.


Anastasia Beverly Hills is available from,, and

I’m not a huge fan of blush, mainly because it never looks quite ‘me’. Regardless of what lipstick or eyeshadow shades I teamed it with, or where I applied it, I never felt comfortable.

Then I discovered Clinique’s Cheek Pop (£17) and my whole outlook changed.

I bought the Ginger Pop shade which is more pinky-coral than true ginger, but it works so well with my colouring that it simply looks natural. The formula is wonderfully creamy, and I apply it with my fingers. It doesn’t fade, rub off or disappear, and blends in easily.


I love the flower head embossment on the pan, too; it reminds me of springtime, and makes a pretty addition to my dressing table.

And that’s it in a nutshell. I’m converted. Finally I’ve found something I’m happy with. Watch out Berry Pop et al, I’ve got you in my sight!

Clinique is available from John Lewis, Selfridges and Debenhams.

As much as I adore Chanel, I find most of their eyeshadow quads too ‘samey’. Full of pale, unassuming hues season after season, none of these inspired me at all. However, the release of Candeur et Experience (£40) had my eyes on stalks.



Here was a beautiful palette containing rich reds and delicious hues of milk chocolate, taupe and beige good enough to eat, the kind of ensemble I’d always dreamed of from a luxury brand. Moreover it was the right kind of red, not one which made you look like a rabbit on acid. Best of all, it was out in time for my birthday! When I went to collect the palette the SA gave me a mini makeover using the colours:

Back home I experimented with the colours myself.

I tried the red as an eyeliner (used wet), in the crease, on the outer and inner lid, teaming with the other three shades or drafting in other hues from the same ‘family’ from other eye shadows in my collection. I came up with a red-gold-and-green theme which worked well (gold on the inner lid, red on the outer lid and green as an eyeliner). I interjected the browns with a dash of rust here, a little copper there, juggling the shades around to see whether they worked best in the crease or as a highlighting dot in the centre of my eyelid.

As you’d expect with Chanel, Candeur et Experience ticked all the boxes, and I consider this my favourite and best purchase of 2016. The quality is awesome, the shadows buttery soft and the pigmentation superb. With or without primer, the eye shadows stayed put without creasing or fading, and they all complemented one another perfectly. C&E is the ideal ‘launchpad’ palette for a whole plethora of autumnal looks – indeed, it can be worn all year round, adjusted/toned down etc to suit.

Well done, Chanel, for doing away with the norm here! I look forward to many more colourful quads from you.

Chanel is available from Boots, Selfridges, John Lewis and Debenhams.

If I had to recommend one decent UK budget brand which comes out with awesome eye shadow palettes, the accolade would go to Sleek. I own several of theirs – all top notch, great quality and long lasting even minus primer. Famed for their intense, bright colours and jewel tones, I was surprised when they released their limited edition Nordic Skies (£8.99) collection (bottom far left in pic below):


This palette contains twelve mostly ‘quiet’ colours: Eskimo Kiss (pale silver), Moonshine (pale champagne), Polar Night (dark brown), Crystallised (pale shimmery blue), First Light (pale tangerine), Purple Haze (pale lilac), Ocean Mist (pale seafoam green with shimmer), Supernova (coral), Ski Breeze (cool pale brown), Rose Glow (pale shimmery pink), Eclipse (medium warm brown) and Blue Moon (medium silver grey).

Personally I see this as a transitional palette, one to try when winter turns to spring, and spring into summer. Some of the shades are subtle enough to use along the browbone as highlighters (Moonshine and Crystallised work well for me here).

Inspired by the scenic fusion of colours on the box, I used Moonshine on the browbone, Ocean Mist onthr inner lid, Supernova on the outer lid and Blue Moon in the crease to create a natural, barely there look which was perfect for daytime or work.

I haven’t tried any of the colours wet – for extra intensity – so I can’t comment there.

If you split the palette into three groups of four in a clockwise direction (take Eskimo Kiss, Moonshine, Supernova and Ocean Mist, for example) you’ll note that each quartet comprises of a highlighter shade, one for the crease, one for the inner lid and one for the outer lid. Of course, you don’t have to follow this pattern religiously, though as a rule of thumb it’s a good way of distinguishing the purpose of each shade  in correspondence with its neighbour.

Although Nordic Skies is a Limited Edition palette, at the time of writing this you can still buy it from

Sleek is also available from

In Part Two I shall review products from MAC, Urban Decay, Charlotte Tilbury, Top Shop, Primark, Cargo Cosmetics, BH Cosmetics and Too Faced.

Thanks for reading xx