Sunday, 24 February 2013

Illamasqua Nail Varnish: Prosperity & Speckle

The other week I went to the Illamasqua flagship store on Beak Street in Soho and picked up a couple of the new nail varnishes that had caught my eye online. I'm loving purple varnishes at the moment, so both  the varnishes I picked up were in this shade.

The first one is Prosperity, from their new limited edition Rubber Brights collection. The varnishes in this collection all have a matt, rubber-like finish, and come in a range of bold colours, including this purple.

I have to say, when I first applied this I wasn't massively enamoured with it. I liked the matt finish but it didn't really have as much of a rubber-like texture as I had expected. Due to the fact that I hurriedly applied it quite late on a school night, I instantly noticed how important it is to apply a polish like this with care - which I definitely hadn't. A shiny finish conceals a multitude of sins, but this matt finish is quite unforgiving, so you need to apply it as expertly as you can! Next time I'll definitely be more careful. I think I'll also apply 3 coats rather than 2 as suggested on the box, as I'd like it to be that little bit more opaque. I started to enjoy Prosperity more the longer I wore it though, so I think this one is a going to grow on me.

Speckle on the other hand was pretty much love at first sight! Part of Illamsqua's new I'mperfection collection, it is inspired by the colour and speckles of a bird's egg. It definitely lives up to the brief, even if this pastel purple hue reminds me of mini eggs a little bit more than real birds' eggs.

I love the way that the varnish almost seems to become three-dimensional as you build up the layers: you can faintly see speckles in the bottom layers in stark contrast to the ones right on top. It's a very cool effect - but as you can see it's nothing overly crazy, unlike some nail effects that are doing the rounds at the moment, so it's very wearable. I like it a lot! The picture below is three layers of application.

Lastly, I think I'll write a few words about this new I'mperfection collection. The concept behind it is that the products celebrate the imperfections that make us all unique. Although coming from a make up company you have to take this with a massive pinch of salt, I think I still quite like the sentiment behind it. And really, there are two ways you can use make up: to make yourself blend in, to 'normalise' yourself in the way that society expects - or you can use it to enhance and celebrate your individuality. And generally I think Illamasqua caters to the latter of those two categories really well.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Anatomicals: You Need A Blooming Shower! Body Cleanser

This is another product received in February's Glossybox. My first impressions were good: I was impressed by the bold colour and typeface on the packaging, and rose is one of my favourite scents.

The gel is a pretty translucent pink colour, and is of a medium consistency. It has a pretty straight-up scent of sweet rose. Apparently there's some jasmine in there too but my nose couldn't detect it.

In the shower unfortunately it felt pretty unluxurious - the gel-like consistency made it feel like quite a cheap shower gel, despite the 'body cleanser' name giving the impression that it might be something more interesting. I actually found it quite drying -  after one quick shower with this my hands were turning prune-like as if I'd been in a hot bath for too long. I also found the scent quite overpowering. I'm very used to strong scents so I'm not sure why I got a slight headache using this! Luckily the scent fades to a gentle rose on the skin once out of the shower.

When using this shower gel I just ended up wishing that I was using Weleda's Wild Rose Body Wash instead which is a million times better, in a complete different league. In a way I don't really 'get' mid-range shower gels like this Anatomicals one - which retails at £2.99 for 300ml. In terms of value for money I think you're better off either getting a super cheap shower gel (like Original Source which you can often pick up for around £1), or a high-end one like Weleda. A £2.99 shower gel is rarely 3 times better than a 99p one, so not really worth a purchase in my opinion!

I'm somewhat disappointed that glossybox included this product. It's hardly high end. The rose shower gel by Weleda, or say Korres would have been more appropriate. 

I won't be buying this product again, and it's more likely to end up cleaning my sink than my body!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Archie's Girls - MAC

So on Friday, after visiting the Rain Room and having a little lunch at KERB, I ended up going into town. I went with two distinct aims: to buy a water resistant running jacket in advance of my doing the Berlin half marathon in April (I failed on this mission) and to buy a baby present for my friend who's just had a baby boy (I succeeded in this). Somewhere between these two events I ended up being 'distracted' and buying some things I didn't really need for myself. Oops!

As I wandered down Oxford Street I approached Selfridges, and of course I had to go in to have a look at MAC's Archie's Girls collection, which is exclusive to Selfridges until 19th February.

The MAC counter was abuzz with people, seriously busy. Luckily they had all the Archie's Girls products on a display at the front so I didn't have to enter the throng completely. I spent a few minutes there until my hand looked like some sort of chameleon zebra due to all the swatches. I naturally gravitated towards the dark, seductive tones of the Veronica items over the cute girl-next-door Betty ones.

I picked up Daddy's Little Girl Lipstick and the Strawberry Malt Lipglass (I got the very last one - my lucky day!)

The packaging is really cute, inspired by the comic-book style, and very different to MAC's usual look. But I like it a lot!

The lipglass is a pretty classic red, which I think will be very wearable and hard to go wrong with. I really love the colour of the lipstick - it actually swatches a lot pinker than it's rather purple appearance would suggest.

I tried the lipglass this afternoon: I used quite a restrained amount as I was only going to the cinema and didn't want to look too done up. It applies really easily and the colour is lovely - and it will work both as a touch of colour as I did this afternoon or as a more bold look with greater application, so it's pretty versatile. It has good lasting power and isn't so sticky that your hair is constantly getting stuck to it! I'm a real fan of it. I'd only tried the Lustreglass from MAC before but this is more wearable on an everyday basis.

When the Archie's Girls collection is finally released I imagine it'll be popular - so get in there quick! I have the 'misfortune' of walking past a department store with a MAC counter twice a day on my commute to and from work and I can see myself being seduced by another lipglass or two.

During my shopping trip I was also 'distracted' by some Illamasqua nail polishes. Review to come soon!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

purity made simple by philosophy

Ok, so I said that one of the things I hoped that writing this blog would encourage me to do, is try products that I own but for whatever reason haven't gotten around to trying yet.

First up in this category is a sample of purity 3-in-1 cleanser for face and eyes by philosophy. I think I received this when I ordered some of the seasonal shower gels in last year's January sales. This week I finally tore it open, and have been using it as my evening cleanser every day. It's quite a generous sample (ie. you get more than one or two uses out of it), which I think is important when it comes to skincare (and haircare for that matter) because you can't really make a fair judgement if you've only used a product once.

Philosophy describe the cleanser as such:

Our award-winning daily facial skin cleanser is formulated to gently cleanse, tone and melt away all face and eye makeup in one simple step, while lightly hydrating the skin. 

  • deep cleans pores and eliminated makeup build-up
  • natural oil extracts help condition the skin
  • fragrance-free formula

I really like the consistency: it's not too thick , neither too runny (I know I sound like Goldilocks here), so it's easy to get the right amount you want and distribute it evenly around your face as you're cleansing. As suggested on the packet I have been massaging it in for a little while rather than just quickly slapping it on and taking it off. The texture is quite creamy and it feels moisturising. It's very easy to remove with a few splashes of warm water, which isn't always the case with oil-based cleansers. It also removes make up quite effectively and doesn't sting the eyes when you're trying to get your mascara off.

However, it wasn't quite moisturising enough for me. The first time I used it, almost as soon as I had towel-dried my face I was running to the bedroom to find my Steamcream as my skin felt really tight. It's strange, because when you're massaging it in it does feel moisturising, but that feeling doesn't linger once you've washed it off. Now that I've used it a few times, my skin feels slightly less tight every time, but it just doesn't compare to my regular cleanser, Ultrabland, which is so moisturising I could probably get away with not even using a cream afterwards. The only area where purity comes out on top is the ease with which you can remove all traces of the cleanser really easily with water.

Looking at the ingredients in the cleanser I'm not too surprised that it's not ideal for my dry, sensitive skin, as there are some quite 'powerful' ingredients in there, like cinnamon leaf oil and black pepper oil.

For now, philosphy will remain all about the shower gels for me. Although I think I would be interested to try another product in the purity line - the mineral oil-free cleansing oil for face and eyes, which sounds like it could be more up my street. So maybe the next time I place an order I'll try and get a sample of that!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Helen É Long Lasting Lip Colour

I'd never heard of Helen É before, although the brand has been around since 1999, and are apparently the official make up of Miss England. Clearly I don't watch enough beauty pageants.

Things I  really liked:

  • It's fragrance free. I never really understand why lipsticks are fragranced - it's pointless and it's just another thing that's going to dry your skin out
  • It is pretty moisturising
  • The brand have a strict no animal testing policy

Things I quite liked:
  • The texture is nice and glides on easily

Things I thought were a bit 'meh':
  • The colour: brownish-red. Not something I would normally chose but as a brunette I think it just about works
  • The packaging is not the most inspired or exciting

Things I didn't like:
  • The colour coverage started to look uneven really quickly (within a couple of hours) despite the fact that I wasn't eating/drinking/smoking (the picture below was taken as soon as I applied it). I think to get the best results you would probably have to use a lip primer and/or lip liner on your lips before application. For me that is just way too much hassle - when it comes to make up it has to be easy or I just won't bother!

You can probably tell by the slightly bemused expression dancing across my lips that I'm not particularly enthusiastic about this lipstick, despite the fact that there were a few things I did like about it. But I think if a different colour had appeared in my Glossybox I would have enjoyed using it a lot more.

Helen É Long Lasting Lip Colour in Sienna RRP £8.00

Monday, 11 February 2013

Glossybox: February 2013

I recently treated myself to a subscription to Glossybox. I just love the idea of getting a surprise box of goodies every month; and thought it would be a great way to try new products. I think £10 plus P&P per month is pretty reasonable. I mean, I used to regularly have Graze boxes delivered to work, and they cost nearly £4 each - and all you get is a selection of snacks that probably last five minutes! From that point of view, I think Glossybox is definitely value for money.

The box was lying on my desk waiting for me when I got into work this morning. What a great way to start a cold, grey Monday! Even the exterior packaging is very nicely designed - and once you open that you get to the pink Valentine's themed box inside, which is lovely: definitely one I'll keep and store things in. The box comes with a leaflet (pictured below), which tells you a little bit about the products and what their full size equivalents cost.

The products inside the box are:

You Need A Blooming Shower! by Anatomicals (150ml)
Moisturising Lipstick in Sienna by Helen É 
Eyeshadow Duo: Eyeshadow Palette in Bronzed Goddess by Modelco
A heart-shaped lollipop - CUTE!
Mineral Blush Powder in Terra Cotta by Micabella Cosmetics
Raspberry Soft Cream by Docteur Renaud (30ml)

I'm particularly looking forward to trying the Anatomicals body cleanser - it smells of rose and jasmine apparently, which are two of my favorite floral scents. 

I'm also excited to try the Docteur Renaud cream. It sounds quite unusual, and I'm not entirely sure what to expect. It's supposed to be good for dry skin, and for sensitive skin as it 'steers clear of harsh chemicals and additives'. My skin is both dry and sensitive, so I'm glad that Glossybox sent me a product that actually fits the 'beauty profile' they ask you to fill out on the website. The cream is a generous 30ml size - a full size of 50ml retails at £25.

I'm also intrigued by the Helen É lipstick - although not a shade I would usually be attracted to I'm interested to see whether it really is as moisturising as it claims.

I think that the product selection this month is a good mix. In terms of the makeup, if I'd had a choice I would have gone for different colours - but the products themselves are pretty high quality so I don't mind too much. Also, one of the joys of getting a box like this is that you get to experiment with things that are outside your regular routine.

I'll post mini-reviews of some of the products once I've tried them.


I've decided to start this blog because I have more cosmetics than any girl could possibly need. 

My main vice is anything that smells good - so a lot of Lush and Enchanted. I've also developed a passion for nail polishes. Pretty colours! I'm basically a bit of a magpie - slightly madly and erratically collecting and accumulating these items. In my case, desire eclipsed need a long, long time ago.

I'm not entirely sure what the content of this blog is going to be. I'm going to try not to fill it with a load of photos of my collection, tempting as that might be. Instead, perhaps some reviews of new products and old favourites, and quite possibly some updates on the never-ending battle that is trying to bring my 'stash' under control. In a way, I hope writing this blog may encourage me to rediscover (or discover for the first time!) some of those products currently lying at the back of a drawer somewhere, forgotten about or neglected.

I recently subscribed to Glossybox, the first of which arrived today, so I will write my first proper post on that soon.