Thursday, 28 February 2013

NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser

NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser - £28.00

I've been really impressed with NARS products as of late, so much so that when I went online to order some more Sheer Glow foundation I noticed their tinted moisturiser and instantly added it to my basket. 

NARS Pure Radiant tinted moisturiser does exactly what it says on the tin, so to speak. It is infused with lush naturally derived ingredients which immediately helps thirsty skin feel hydrated when applied. The product also contains natural polysaccharides which aid the hydration, condition and help encourage natural cell renewal. It has been proven to help reduce the appearance of discolouration and dark spots caused by hyperpigmentation for a clearer and brighter complexion in four weeks. Oil-free and luxurious, it also obscures the appearance of lines, wrinkles, pores and other imperfections. Not only this but the SPF 30 adds a translucent veil of protection from UVA/UVB rays.

There are 9 shades to choose from, depending on your skin tone:
  • Finland - Lightest, with a neutral balance of pink and yellow.
  • Alaska - Light, with a neutral balance of pink and yellow undertones.
  • St. Moritz - Medium, with a neutral yellow undertone.
  • Annapurma - Medium, with a neutral peachy undertone.
  • Cuba - Medium, with a neutral balance of pink and yellow undertones.
  • Malaga - Medium dark, with warm caramel undertones.
  • Seychelle - Medium dark, with golden olive.
  • Martinique - Medium dark, with warm red undertones.
  • Polynesie - Dark, with warm chocolate undertones.

In the Sheer Glow foundation my colour is Mont Blanc which, along with Sibera, is categorised as "light 2"; there are not as many shades for the tinted moisturiser so I decided to get another similar shade which was under the second-lightest category - Alaska. 

Alaska is slightly darker than Mont Blanc but, because it is a moisturiser as well as a light coverage foundation, it blends into the skin really easily and evens out the colour in my face whilst still giving me a freshly-tanned yet dewy look. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how it made my skin feel for such a light coverage. I'm glad that my blemishes seem to be minimal at the moment so I can afford to use a product such as this! I have quite dry skin myself so I love this product on top of my regular morning skin routine. It just gives a really lovely healthy colour and applies beautifully with my Real Techniques buffing brush. I also feel like there's no need for powder, unless of course your natural skin type is quite oily, because the idea of a tinted moisturiser is to hydrate the skin and let it breathe whilst having light coverage.

Now onto the price. At £28.00 I would say it is pricey for a tinted moisturiser, however NARS is a high-end cosmetics brand so I'm not really surprised at this. I would definitely purchase this product again - I can see myself wearing this all through the summer months, you know, if we ever get the sun back!

Have you tried NARS tinted moisturiser before? What's your favourite tinted moisturiser on the market?

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

MAC Pro Palette and Refills

MAC Pro Palette - £6.50 | MAC Eyeshadow Refills - £10.00 each

As you may already know, I'm a big fan of the Urban Decay Naked palettes (my post on the Naked Basics palette here) and I tend to gravitate towards neutral eyeshadow shades. I hesitate to say that my choice in eyeshadows was no different on this occasion, but I decided to pick matte shades which I could use on both my eyes and eyebrows, so really I could justify spending the money on four colours at £10 a pop. After watching a load of Pixiwoo makeup tutorials on YouTube I noticed that they used MAC eyeshadows in a lot of their videos in order to fill in their brows, and it made them look lovely and natural without any harsh lines. So I thought once I'd saved up a few pennies I'd do a bit of a makeup haul!

First off: the empty palette itself. I think this is great value for a MAC tool, and obviously when your chosen shadows are empty they're replaceable so the palette is for life unless you smash it somehow! I bought the palette with space for four eyeshadows, but they also sell a single, x2, blush x6 and x15. Each of them are ultra-slim, stackable and easy to use. The lids close like they're magnetic (not sure that they actually are though). It seems like I got in just in time as well, because this particular x4 Pro Palette seems to be sold out on the MAC website. But make sure to check back again because they're sure to get more in stock very soon.

Now onto the eyeshadows. The shade refills I bought were:
  • Brun - A matte rich dark brown shade. I use this to darken my eyebrows, adding in texture and making the brush strokes appear like real hairs. For my eyes, this colour is great for blending into the socket crease and lining the lower lash line with a fine brush. The high pigmentation means you don't need much. I can fast see this becoming one of my favourite eyeshadow shades!
  • Era - A warm natural taupe-brown shade. It actually reminds me of Urban Decay's half-baked just without the blatant shimmer. I find this colour is great for building onto, and I mainly use it on my eyelids and blend upwards. It has a very understated shimmer too, which looks great just under the brow bone.
  • Omega - A matte medium taupe-brown shade. It's quite similar to Era but I think it makes a fantastic base shade for drawing on brows, because it's light and would suit both blondes and brunettes. It also applies lovely over the eyelids or can be used in the crease as a transitional colour.
  • Vanilla - A cream shade with a hint of shimmer. I love how versatile this shadow is! I mainly use it in the inner corners of my eyes and as a highlighter for my brow bone. It looks pretty shimmery  in the pan but it actually applies quite matte. This shade would definitely work as a base on the eyelid for really pale skin. It's such a lovely colour though, with medium pigmentation for my skin colour.

I know the price of the eyeshadow refills are quite off-putting to begin with, and I suggest if you're tight for money then you slowly build up your collection, but I think that the quality of the products make up for it. I've not been disappointed at all with any of these eyeshadows. Next time I buy refills I think I'll be a bit more daring and go for some brighter shades!

Have you purchased any kind of Pro Palette? Which shades can't you live without in your makeup routine?

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Mother's Day Gift Guide

1. I discovered a few months back, and I think it's a great crafty website for buying gifts for the home, weddings, new babies etc. And that's where I found the cute ceramic letters. I figured you could buy letters to spell out "mum" or a loved one's name - doesn't have to be just for Mother's Day! 

2. The Harmonise home candle from Neom has actually been on my personal wishlist for a while now, but I figured it would be a great gift idea as well. It's actually huge, with three separate wicks, so it can burn evenly (for up to 50 hours!) and release a gorgeous fragrance. It is recommended that you light it for 2-4 hours at a time because the candle works as a powerful holistic treatment as you breathe in the scented air. The Harmonise candle's fragrance is described as "layers of green hibiscus combined with deeper woody undertones to create a balsamic unisex blend that is as uniquely warming as it is reviving".

3. If you've read my blog before, you know I am a huge fan of Liz Earle skincare. The heavenly hands and skincare collection is a limited edition Mother's Day gift, available until Saturday 9th March. For an incredible £29.00, you get a full-size Cleanse and Polish hot cloth cleanser, 50ml bottle of Instant Boost skin tonic, 15ml tube of Skin Repair moisturiser, 2ml spritz of Superskin concentrate, 50ml tube of Hand Repair, 5g of Superbalm, and 2 pure muslin cloths. I think it's a fabulous offer, in which you save £18.00! What mum doesn't love a bit of pampering?

4. L.I.L.Y by Stella McCartney is a fragrance described as "masculine and earthy, but still seductive and sensual". I think it's also a very fresh scent which is perfect for Spring! It contains subtle hints of lily of the valley, moss, truffle and amber. Stella also said herself that this fragrance was designed in mind for her mother.

5. My mum is constantly nicking my nail polishes so I thought of a colour that I know she would love to wear all the time. Red 753 from Dior is a gorgeous bright colour which would add sophistication to any look. The formula makes for a mix of lacquered shine and impeccable hold so it's not going to chip at the first sign of movement. It's a bit extravagant for a nail polish but I think it's a sweet gift to give as I know it will get used. 

6. For me, Hotel Chocolat beats the likes of Thorntons and Montezumas any day. Their chocolates are rich and delicious with a glossy finish, and incredibly moreish! The All About Mum sleekster selection is packed full of different chocolates, each decorated in jazzy colours. The £22.00 pack contains 24 treats, including creamy truffles, mellow pralines, silky soft caramels, chocolate mousse, champagne-filled morsels, and zingy lemon and blueberry flavours. You can also get a smaller version (H-Box) for just £12.00 if you don't have a lot to spend but still want to give some yummy chocolates.

7. If I'm ever in doubt as to what to get my mum for any occasion (be it birthday, Mother's Day, Christmas, anniversary etc) I always think about what my mum wants for her kitchen. I'm blessed that she's such an incredible cook - she loves to bake most of all! I owe my expanding waistline to her, I think! I've bought Cath Kidston products for her before - she already has a couple of the mugs because she loves the floral patterns; she also has a matching apron and cupcake stand. We're a family who love a nice big mug of tea so Cath Kidston's selection of mugs are brilliant. I also threw in some floral and dotty tea towels there, because I'm a sucker for cute patterns. I recommend taking a look at the website for more ideas.

So these are all gifts that I know my own mum would love to receive - of course every mum is different, but most of these ideas are pretty foolproof! I always buy my mum a card and massive bouquet of flowers as well as a little something special!

What will you be getting your mama this Mother's Day? Don't forget it's Sunday 10th March in the UK!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Benefit They're Real! Mascara

Benefit They're Real! Mascara - £18.50 

For a few years now I've worn fake eyelashes pretty much every time I have applied my makeup. I just love the fullness and drama it gives to my eyes that no mascara alone could achieve before. 

Benefit's They're Real! mascara is pretty much as good a mascara as you can get as far as length, curl and dramatic lashes without the use of false lashes. This product has been on my wishlist since it came out, and when I finally took the plunge (jumping on the bandwagon a bit late, I know) I have to say that I wasn't disappointed with it. The wand is great because it has comb-like bristles at the very tip which is brilliant for getting your corner lashes and the lashes under your eyes. I love the finish it gives my eyes as well - it really lifts and volumises the lashes, and fans them out so they don't appear clumpy at all. I actually wore this mascara yesterday and my driving instructor asked if I had fake lashes on! Definitely had to use the name-sake - "Nope, they're real!"

The only problem I had with the product is that when it's applied, it really grabs the lashes and stays on, making it difficult to remove before I go to bed. Ideally, using an oil-based cleanser would get it off quicker than a simple makeup remover. However I feel this is justifiable because it's such a wonderful product overall.

Have you used Benefit's They're Real! mascara? What's your favourite mascara?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Tool Kit: MAC Brush Cleanser

MAC Brush Cleanser - £9.50

It's really important to clean your makeup brushes regularly, simply because a lot of product and bacteria can settle in the fibres and that generally makes it difficult to get a good finish on the skin, not to mention can bring on an unwanted breakout. The MAC brush cleanser literally arrived on my doorstep this morning and I couldn't wait to get going with it! I use mainly Real Techniques brushes (which are brilliant and I'd recommend them until the cows come home) and also a couple of Bobbi Brown brushes, and I spent a quick 10 minutes giving them all a much-needed clean.

The product itself doesn't smell unpleasant, which is especially good considering it is basically a disinfectant. A couple of drops on kitchen paper towel or an old Muslin cloth is all you really need for each brush, then you simply move the brush in a circular motion to get rid of all the product - you'll be surprised how much makeup is left on the paper towel! Afterwards you let the brush air-dry, and you're ready to use them again within 5 minutes because the cleanser dries so quickly. This particular cleanser is designed to clean, disinfect and condition the brush fibres so your brushes end up lasting longer. £9.50 for 235ml is pretty good, I think. I know that with regular cleaning, the bottle will still keep for a long time - so worth the money in the long run.

Have you used MAC brush cleanser before? What do you use to clean your makeup brushes?

Thursday, 14 February 2013

NYFW Fall/Winter 2013: Favourite Collections

3.1 Phillip Lim | Alice + Olivia | Cushnie et Ochs

3.1 Phillip Lim's Fall collection has been described as "scorched-earth attitude". The inspiration for this season was bikers, and more specifically, the girlfriends of said bikers. There were some truly gorgeous pieces within this collection. I particularly liked the patched denim skinnies, statement sunglasses, moto jackets, and wool coats.

I've been a long-time fan of Alice + Olivia, and frequently lusted after previous collections on Net-a-Porter and Bergdorf Goodman. What I really loved about the Fall collection was how buildable the looks were - wearable too. There were so many different textures to play about with and layer onto an outfit. My favourite pieces were the bonded-knit motorcycle jacket, the patchwork faux fur, and the abundance of lace and brocade (the gorgeous lace dresses above, particularly). I also absolutely adored the comeback of the classic milkmaid braid on all the models!

Cushnie et Ochs are known for their bodycon dresses but this Fall they showed that they are so much more than that. Their season inspiration was pilgrims and witches, which was reflected in the models' vamped up makeup and slicked back hair. Again, there were some lovely pieces which comprised of unusual and unique textures - a dress made entirely from rubberised wool, for example - and the cuts made the designs nothing short of sleek and sexy. 

Diane von Fürstenberg | DKNY | ICB

I loved Diane von Fürstenberg's collection, mainly due to the amount of leopard print she incorporated into so many looks. There were also a few variants on her famous suede-wrapped dress which has been popular since the 1970s. Her theme and inspiration was glam rock, and there were some beautiful pieces which included bright metallic leather jeans, patterned jumpsuits and patterned midi dresses.

Urban outfitting was the focus for DKNY this season and represented more of street style, whilst still incorporating some iconic pieces like the oversize quilted bomber jacket. I liked that she mixed up the show with blacks and beiges, and then bringing out the striking bright pinks and reds. There was also an abundance of leopard print in the collection, which seems to be a patterning alternative to camouflage this upcoming season.

I think I may have been a bit biased towards the ICB collection because I love the chief designer, Prabal Gurung, who joined the brand a year ago. He said backstage that he was thinking about NYC and real women who are looking for a solution to look good in the Winter elements. The collection was pretty casual and focused a lot more on outerwear rather than long floaty dresses. Having said that, my favourite pieces were a few of the dresses, not to mention the multi-zipped belt which was featured in several looks.

Jason Wu | Jenny Packham | Karen Walker

A current favourite of First Lady Michelle Obama, Jason Wu wowed spectators with his Fall collection.  He described it as his "most womanly, most grown-up" collection to date. Shoulder-padded power suits nipped in at the waist, buttoned up shirts, and lots of fur. The colour scheme seemed to be a preferred black and white, with a couple of red pieces thrown in for good measure. I also loved the hair and makeup he decided on for his models: a beautiful striking blue eye - which contrasted with the clothing colours - and woven roses bunched at the nape of the neck.

Jenny Packham may be one of my favourite new designers. An Englishwoman holding her own in the fashion world, her formalwear is much sought after by the likes of Kate Middleton and Angelina Jolie. There was so much to admire on the runway: beaded dresses in washed pastels and muted jewel tones, dainty jewelry, and woolen outerwear because "everyone seems so cold on the red carpet". There were a lot of peach and coral tones, mainly in the form of beautiful floor length gowns, plus a few high necked pieces in much darker colours. And I cannot forget the mention of the gorgeous shoes - Christian Louboutin, of course!

I really enjoyed the emphasis on clean-cut silhouettes and solid block colours in Karen Walker's collection. The belted tunic dress (above) was my particular favourite, simply because it is so wearable and not too in-your-face for a designer garment. Her Fall collection seems accessible and designed specifically for all kinds of wardrobes (I got a very 70s vibe colour and cut-wise), with many of the pieces available as a start to any look. I also adored the booties and statement sunglasses.

Mara Hoffman | Misha Nonoo | Monique Lhuillier

I have got to admit, for me, the kooky prints in Mara Hoffman's collection were the garments which first attracted me. It was pretty hard not to take a peek when she uses sheer vibrance to enhance a look. My favourites were the hot pink elephant and peacock print dress (above), and the same fabric applied to a buttoned jumpsuit with a vivid quilted bomber jacket embroidered with a tribal Suzani pattern.

Misha Nonoo said that her Fall collection was inspired by both Russian and British influences. I can certainly see that, especially one red and black outfit which made the model look like a sexy Grenadier guard (that trusty racoon shapka hat!) There seemed to be an emphasis on regimental coats, knitwear and flared-hem skirts too. 

Originally a bridal designer - and a brilliant one at that - Monique Lhuillier has branched out to RTW in recent years, and has become a brand name for her signature red carpet looks. I love how she showcased a little bit of everything in her Fall collection: emerald gowns, fur, intricate black lace, abstract prints and lots of sparkle; as you'd expect for potential Oscar gowns!

Prabal Gurung | Rachel Zoe | Tibi

Just look at that photograph from Prabal Gurung's collection; it has everything a woman could want in her seasonal wardrobe! The metallic killer heels are pretty statement, as you'd expect, but that seems to be an ongoing trend for Fall. His collection was full of gorgeous tailored pieces, very rich in navy blues and military khakis. Then there were the dresses. Stunning garments with daring cut-outs accessorised with leather braided belts and harnesses. I think the vast array of military jackets had to be my favourite; I'm a sucker for all that!

Expanding on the tailored theme, Rachel Zoe's Fall collection surprised me somewhat. I think because it was more of an equestrian look I didn't think I'd go for it, but there was a lot to appreciate in the end. Her attention to the outerwear in her collection really interested me, and I saw a lot of camel-beige and fur-lapel trench coats. I also loved the simplicity of her designs, especially when it came to her midi dresses.

Finally, to one of my favourite designers ever, Tibi. Much like Alice + Olivia, I have dreamed of owning the beautiful dresses that seem to get conjured up by these guys. However, there was more of an emphasis on darker colours in their Fall collection, and the focus was on layering for the colder months. Detachable hoods and turtlenecks were styled in varied ways to create different layered looks which I really enjoyed. I also loved the shearling-lined quilted jackets and the stunning cobalt coat which, amongst the muted shades, really stood out on the runway!

Oh, and I now have a Pinterest account (feel free to follow!) where you can see these stills in a bigger size, plus photographs of more of the collections and couple of designers I haven't mentioned here. It really was tough to narrow it down to this many as there were so many different styles which I really liked for Fall/Winter 2013. Next stop: London!

Did any of you guys keep tabs on NYFW? Which were your favourite collections?

Friday, 8 February 2013

NARS Orgasm Blush

NARS Blush in Orgasm - £21.50

I've only recently jumped on the NARS cosmetics bandwagon. I previously bought one of my current favourite foundations from there (Sheer Glow) and a highlighting blush as well. But I have to say after reading about this cult classic of a blush it seemed like a great colour for me. As you can see from the photographs above, the colour is a peachy pink with flecks of gold mixed in there to create a lovely shimmer and a healthy flush of colour to your cheeks. With the lightest amount on the brush you can really see the difference it makes to your complexion, and it lasts all day! The powder itself is silky and totally blendable, even if you may overdo it by mistake. This has to be one of my favourite shades to wear on my cheeks because it's so natural and doesn't make me look too "done-up" if I'm only popping out.

The blush case tends to get a bit grubby as it's that signature soft casing, but that's nothing a little sweep with a makeup wipe won't take care of! I would say that for a blush it is slightly expensive - I had been umming and ahhing for a while about whether I should take the plunge - but I'm definitely glad that splashed out in the end. 

What do you think of NARS blushes? Which one is your favourite?

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Urban Decay: Naked Basics Palette

Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette - £20.00

I have to admit, I'm a huge fan of Urban Decay eyeshadows. I love their Naked series, and purchased Naked and Naked 2 palettes as soon as they were released after rave reviews. I also recently bought the Vice palette, but that's for another day! Urban Decay palettes are honestly the best I've used in terms of both pigmentation and prolonged wear, and twinned with their award-winning Primer Potion you really can't go wrong.

The Naked Basics palette is a small essential for any makeup lover's collection. Previous Naked palettes contained mainly shimmer eyeshadows so when this all-matte palette came along I couldn't resist buying! It contains six gorgeous matte colours, all neutral shades, which can either begin a dramatic look or complete an effortless natural finish for your eyes. The colours range from an off-white to an almost black.

The six colours are:
  • Venus - A shade of off-white with a semi-matte finish. I think this is great for doubling up as a highlighter. I use this on the inner corner of my eye and on my brow bone to catch the light in all the right places.
  • Foxy - This shade isn't an exclusive as it also features in the Naked 2 palette, yet I'm happy that it's also featured in the Basics because it may be my most-used shadow. The colour is more of a yellow-toned ivory, and is the perfect shade to begin any look. It works well as a base for the eyelid and it also counteracts any redness.
  • Walk of Shame - A slightly darker cream colour with pink undertones. I sweep this shade over my eyelid and blend it with Foxy to create a neutral look. This shade was also previously included in the Build Your Own palette.
  • Naked 2 - A pink nude with grey undertones. Almost a fawn-type colour when applied, I use this to define the outer corner of my eye and blend it into the outer half of my eyelid.
  • Faint - A light brown matte shade with red and charcoal undertones, perfect for defining the eyelid crease. Because this colour is so pigmented it transfers easily onto your makeup brush with just a light sweep. This means the shadow is much longer-lasting!
  • Crave - A deep, dark brown shadow, almost black, pigmented to the max! To complete the natural look, I use this final shade to line my lash line. In order to keep it looking neat, I use the smallest brush I own to create a very thin line, just so it blends without looking too heavy. That, and I like to use liquid eyeliner over the top anyway!

Overall, I love this palette. It's easy to apply and lasts all day! The packaging is cute and concise so it won't fill up your handbag if you're on the move. Unlike the other Naked palettes, however, it does not come with an applicator which would have been nice. But for £20 I think it's a pretty good deal anyway!

*Apologies for the quality of some of the photographs - dreary Sundays do absolutely nothing for natural light. My swatches came out terrible in the end so I decided not to include them in this post!

What do you think of the Naked Basics palette? Do you prefer mattes or shimmers?

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Soap & Glory: The Breakfast Scrub™

Soap & Glory: The Breakfast Scrub™ - £9.50  

I love Soap & Glory products, and have a fair few of them stocked in my bathroom cabinet. Bloggers have raved about this particular product, and after taking the plunge and purchasing it I can certainly see why. Not only does this body scrub smell divine, but it also leaves your skin feeling smooth and silky. So many delicious ingredients have been put into this scrub in order to truly make it good enough to eat (although I don't recommend consumption!). The ingredients include maple, banana, almond and honey extracts; and also oats, shea butter and sugar - it's sweet but not sickly which is pretty much the perfect balance. 

Unlike some exfoliators I have used in the past, the beads are rough enough to remove dead skin but not enough to leave my skin feeling sore from scrubbing. Directions for use are pretty simple: just scoop out the desired amount and rub it between your palms, then scrub in circular motions onto damp skin until you feel it has done its work. The texture is thick yet completely workable, and it comes in 300ml tubs so it's going to last you ages! Plus, it's great for tackling that nasty chicken skin we all get on our elbows!

What do you think of Soap & Glory products? Which ones are your must-haves?
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