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.

Remover

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.

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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 kollectionk.com

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 luulla.com

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.

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Three Fox Eyes packaging

3 Fox Eyes is available from ebay.co.uk and aliexpress.com. 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.

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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 😦

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Manfei is available from wish.com

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.

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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 shopfocallure.com and lightinthebox.com

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.

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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 aritaum.com and cosmetic-love.com

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).

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UBUB is available from lightinthebox.com

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).

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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.

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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 topshop.com and feelunique.com

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).

topshop-lipsticks

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.

bh-galaxy-chic-palette

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!

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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 beautybay.com, beautystore4u.co.uk and makeupmart.co.uk

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.

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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.

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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 maccosmetics.co.uk, 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.

ct-solo-best

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.

best-ct

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 charlottetilbury.com/uk

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.

cargo-palette-box-open

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 🙂

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

cargo-box-back

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 glambot.com, 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.

urban-decay-solstice

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 urbandecay.co.uk, 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).

chocolate-open

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 https://youtu.be/fsmmDRQseQM

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

Too Faced is available from Debenhams, Selfridges, beautybay.com and lookfantastic.com

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.

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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).

ud-moondust-palette-box

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

ud-granite-layered-over-essence-for-city-kitties-only

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I also layered Element over a random brown shade:

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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:

kat-ud-moondust-eyeshadow

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 ….

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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?

best-palettes-closed

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.

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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).

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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.

chantecaille-4

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.

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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.

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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, harrods.com, libertylondon.com, urbanretreat.co.uk and cosmeticsnow.co.uk

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!

opi-hk-nail-polish

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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 johnlewis.com

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 reship.com. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 reship.com – 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 citycolorcosmetics.com

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.

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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 selfridges.com, narscosmetics.co.uk, feelunique.com, houseoffraser.co.uk, johnlewis.com  and lookfantastic.com

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.

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roots-after

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 cosmetiqsolutions.co.uk

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.

w7-lipsticks

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 w7cosmetics.co.uk

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!

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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.

abh-palette-open

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.

abh-box

Anastasia Beverly Hills is available from cultbeauty.co.uk, beautybay.com, anastasiabeverlyhills.co.uk and blowltd.com

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.

clinique-ginger-pop-blush

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.

eyeshadow-quad

Why?

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:

https://skywise42.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/my-chanel-makeover/

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):

best-palettes-open

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 sleekmakeup.com/uk

Sleek is also available from feelunique.com

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

Happy New Year!!

Despite Sephora declaring they now ‘ship worldwide’, I found that this wasn’t the case when I tried to purchase Urban Decay’s Limited Edition Afterdark palette (a non-restricted item) ! As you can see from the above, they also don’t ship a whole host of other brands to the UK.

I feel cheated 😦

Cargo Cosmetics

I bought the Northern Lights eye shadow palette (£35) to commemorate my trip to Iceland, marking a milestone birthday. This is only the second time ever that I’ve used every single colour in a palette – the first being back in the early 80s as a teenager, when I used up a Rimmel palette similar to the one second down left in the pic below. When I went to repurchase I found it had been discontinued 😦

1970s-uk-rimmel-magazine-advert-fkcamn

Northern Lights is a collection of twelve Nordic-inspired eye shadows, housed in a burgundy faux croc casing. They are all sparkly except for Iceland, which is a matte cream shade. The others are Polar (pale beige), Lapland (dark grey), Aurora (golden pink), Caspian Sea (deep bluish-grey), Arctic (deep golden bronze), Fjord (seafoam green), Glacier (deep blue-black), Finland (orange-gold), Osetra (silver mauve), Reindeer (deep burgundy) and Greenland (deep dark green). A double ended brush and mirror are also included.

cargo-1

Polar and Iceland are my go-to browbone/highlighter shades. I like to wear Fjord on my inner lid and team it with Arctic on my outer lid. I use Finland dotted in the centre of my eyelid for extra ‘pop’. Other colours I wear on my inner lid are Aurora and Osetra, and sometimes Lapland depending upon my mood, although this shade goes on my outer lid, too. Glacier, Caspian Sea, Reindeer and Greenland predominantly go on my outer lid, but again, it depends upon my mood, and nothing is written in stone.

My favourite shades are Fjord and Reindeer as they really bring my brown eyes to life, almost taking them to another dimension. As I wear glasses these strong shades make them a lot more noticeable, otherwise my eyes would simply ‘disappear’.

cargo-2

The texture is awesome – soft and buttery, easy to apply and blend. The pigmentation and staying power is excellent, too. Even without a primer they stay put all day with virtually no fading. Another advantage is they don’t tend to shift, either. There is, however, a little fallout with some of the darker shades, but not enough to spoil the overall look.

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If you can get your hands on this now discontinued palette, I highly recommend it. I got mine from Debenhams. And yes, this time I did get a back up 🙂

Other Cargo outlets include yesstyle.co.uk, beautyspin.co.uk, beautyexpert.com, beautybay.com houseofbeauty.co.uk (currently on sale there for £33) and lookfantastic.com

This concludes my Global Beauty series. I’ll be back in 2017 with more themes and reviews, so until then I hope you all have a wonderful festive season.

Thanks for reading xx

Wishing my gorgeous daughter a very happy 18th birthday xx

flowers

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Vlad wishes everyone a safe and Happy Halloween xx

Don’t let those horrid clowns get you ….

With the usual plethora of autumnal makeup on sale, it’s very easy to fall into the ‘must have’ trap and end up spending a small fortune on the latest products bloggers/vloggers rave about (OK, I’m a blogger, too, but all products are mine, purchased with my own money – I’m not affiliated in any way, nor do I receive free stuff to promote, etc.).

Take Chanel’s eyeshadow quad, 268 Candeur et Experience, for example. I love reds and browns so these colours are right up my street, but if you’re hard pressed financially then you have to come up with cheaper alternatives.

Cue NYX. I love this brand because there’s so many different long lasting colours to choose from, they blend well and are easy to apply – and, above all, they’re affordable.

I decided to experiment with my custom made palette and come up with several different looks for the new season.

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The colours pictured below (pre-depotting) were some of the ones I used for the looks.

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Let’s start with my favourite look, and one which I wear often:

nyx-selfie

Here I used the following combos:

Browbone: NARS Abyssinia

Inner Lid: Copper

Outer Lid: Charcoal Brown

Socket Line: A combination of Rust/Walnut/True Taupe

Eyeliner: Root Beer

Lips: Inglot #866

 

nyx-2-look-1

nyx-2-look-2

For the second look, I used the following:

Browbone: NARS Abyssinia

Inner Lid: Redhead

Outer Lid: Root Beer

Socket Line: Rust/Taupe combo

Eyeliner: Face Stockholm Naster Svart

Lips: Kat von D Wolvesmouth

 

nyx-3-look-1

nyx-3-look-2

Here, I used the following:

Browbone: NARS Abyssinia

Inner Lid: Deep Bronze

Outer Lid: Charcoal Brown

Centre Lid (for a dash of ‘oomph’): Blondie

Socket Line: Rust/Deep Bronze combo

Lips: MAC Milan Mode

 

nyx-autumn-1

nyx-autumn-4

nyx-autumn-5

For this look, I used:

Browbone: NARS Abyssinia

Inner Lid: Luster

Outer Lid: Charcoal Brown

Centre Lid: Blondie

Socket Line: Golden Bronze

 

I haven’t tried any of the newer NYX eye shadows, but if you’re a fan of the old square ones like me, they’re being phased out and only a few places stock them now:

thebeautystore.co.uk £2.50

eastendcosmetics.co.uk from £2.99

shop.nyx-cosmetics.eu 6.95 euros

(The UK NYX website is currently under construction)

 

Thanks for reading xx