Sunday, 31 March 2013

Laura Mercier Créme Eyeliner in Noir

I've heard a lot about Laura Mercier products, and when my skin clears up a bit I want to try out her infamous silk créme foundation, but for now I decided to purchase a product I've been in need of for a while now.

Laura Mercier's créme eyeliner is an ultra-smooth waterproof creamy eyeliner that applies with ease, and has the smooth silky finish of a gel as well as the precision of a liquid liner. It contains a waterproof formula which provides extended long wear of up to 8 hours. The product claims to be smudge, transfer, and crease-proof, but I found that it took a while to dry on the lids thus making it prone to transfer onto my crease which was a bit annoying. Despite this minor detail, I have to say that it didn't move at all once it dried. It glided on smoothly, evenly, and did not drag on my skin. It provides a beautiful semi-matte, non-oily finish with full colour coverage.

I bought this eyeliner in the classic noir, but it's also available in canard, cobalt, espresso, indigo and violet. I've read a few reviews on the indigo and violet eyeliners, and it seemed there was difficulty in getting the colour to show up properly after one sweep on the upper lash line, so if you were to purchase any of the coloured ones be aware that it may take a couple of coats to get the colour you want.

Overall, I think I would repurchase this product again, but probably only in the black as I'm not very adventurous with my eyeliners. However, I'm not sure if it stands up to the likes of gel liners, for example Bobbi Brown's and MAC's Fluidline. 

Have you tried any Laura Mercier products before? Which ones are your favourites?

Friday, 29 March 2013

Easter Cupcakes: Creme Egg and Kinder Chunks

Hi guys! I know this blog is usually all about beauty and the like, but it's Good Friday so I decided to showcase some delicious cupcakes that I made this morning. I was inspired by the lovely Becky over at Milk Bubble Tea, who had the ingenious idea of sticking a Creme Egg in a cupcake! As soon as I saw her post I knew that I would have to make them, along with some yummy Kinder bar chunk cupcakes too.

Before you even think about baking these you need to stick your Creme Eggs in the freezer overnight. This ensures that they don't melt completely when baking the cupcakes in the oven. When you're ready to make these masterpieces, pre-heat your oven to gas mark 4.

I started off with a foolproof standard cupcake recipe:
4 ounces of caster sugar
4 ounces of Stork margarine
3 ounces of self raising flour
1 ounce of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 eggs

Now, I'm one of those people who doesn't like to faff around too much when I'm baking in the kitchen so I tend to not sieve the flour and just chuck it all in and mix everything together. Don't worry about not getting the air into your cupcakes; the small amount of baking powder will help to lift it, as well as the fact that the flour is self raising. The only ingredient I do sieve is the cocoa powder, just because you don't want those powder pockets in your mixture. 

This particular recipe will make 12 decent sized cupcakes.
Once you have mixed your ingredients together and the mixture is smooth and silky, take an ice cream scoop and half-fill it with some of the mixture to get a foundation in the muffin tin for your Creme Egg. Then place your (rather cold) Creme Eggs in the centre of each cupcake case and top it with another half-scoop of the mixture. Make sure that you completely cover the Creme Egg, otherwise it will fall apart after baking.
You should be left with half the mixture in the bowl. With this I took the best chocolate ever, Kinder bars, and broke them up into pieces. There's usually 8 bars in a packet but my greedy brother stole a couple on his lunch break! Simply mix together and put a full scoop into each of the remaining 6 cupcake cases.

Place them in the middle tray of the oven and leave to bake for 20-25 minutes. Once they're done, set them down on a cooling rack before icing and decorating.
For the buttercream icing I used:
4 ounces of butter
4 ounces of icing sugar
1 ounce of cocoa powder
A splash of milk to get it to the right piping consistency

I used a piping bag and nozzle for the first time, and did pretty well if I do say so myself! Starting from the outside and working inwards, squeeze the top of the piping bag to push out a steady amount of icing. I then topped each cupcake with 3 Mini Eggs, the perfect decoration for Easter. I also found some really cute reusable cupcake boarders, which had little birds and hearts on, and I thought they were quite Easter-esque!

Et voilá! Yummy, gooey Creme Egg cupcakes...
... And equally yummy Kinder chunk cupcakes!

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed making and eating them! There goes my good diet, but hey ho, it's Easter! It's a pretty simple recipe to do, you just have to remember to pop your Creme Eggs in the freezer the night before you make them. I actually think I prefer these to Easter eggs now I'm a bit older, at least I know that once they're gone, they're gone. 

What do you think of these cupcakes? Will you be attempting them over Easter? I would love to know!

Oh, and have lovely long Easter weekend, whatever you're doing!


Saturday, 23 March 2013

Urban Decay Vice Palette

I received this palette some time before Christmas but there are so many shades to try out that I think I needed to give them all a trial run before I could properly review the product as a whole.

The Urban Decay Vice palette is a sophisticated product loaded with 20 never-before-seen shades, created exclusively for this collection. The set contains a mix of mattes, satins, shimmers, neutrals, and brights, offering tons of choice and a bit of everything for everyone. From metallic to shimmery green to jet-black satin, every shade contains Urban Decay's Pigment Infusion System™, the proprietary blend of ingredients that gives every shade its velvety texture, rich colour, serious staying power, and infamous blendability.

The packaging is a rich dark purple, sleek and classic. It's very minimal for such a large palette, which I think makes the shades stand out even more! Simply press to open, and the dampened hinge slowly treats you to a glimpse of the booty inside. The outside casing is soft to touch, adding to the luxury, but can get a bit grubby with the smallest amount of makeup residue so baby wipes or makeup wipes are handy for keeping it clean. It also comes with a huge mirror and small double-ended applicator (shadow and crease brush) - which for the price is pretty essential.

First row - Metallics: 
Desperation, Muse, Jagged, Blitz, and Penny Lane

  • Desperation - Greyish taupe-brown matte-satin. Very much like a blend of Creep and Gunmetal in the first Naked palette, this shade has good colour payoff with a smooth application. Just remember to not get too much on the brush because you don't want any to fall down onto the tops of your cheeks.
  • Muse - Dark brown with a lovely golden multi-coloured shimmer. The colour payoff for this shade was pretty good, and it has noticeable sparkle. However, this sparkle does have a tendency to fall out on application.
  • Jagged - Sheer olive-tinted medium-brown with chunky gold and bronze glitter. I found this shade a bit trickier to apply, due to the gritty glitter, and ended up having tons of fall out which is a little disappointing. In my opinion this is my least favourite shade to apply, just because it doesn't have that amazing pigmentation with all the huge chunks of glitter, and really needs to be packed on to have a big effect. It was a bit of pain to work with overall to be honest!
  • Blitz - Yellow gold with a bright metallic finish. I like this shade - very classic for a gold colour which adds a bit of sophistication to any desired look. I was also pleasantly surprised with how this shade applied so smoothly for a metallic.
  • Penny Lane - Warm, light bronze with a golden metallic sheen. Like Blitz, this shade applied smoothly and looked more opaque when swatched, despite looking rather orange in the pan.

Second row - Blues:
Junkie, Chaos, Occupy, Unhinged, and Black Market

  • Junkie - Blue teal with a soft, frosted finish. It's described as having a gold shimmer but I would say it is very understated, and doesn't really show up in the swatch. I'm kind of confused with this shade; it looks so different in the pan (more green with gold flecks) but when applied it changes quite a lot to a more teal tone. Pretty nonetheless!
  • Chaos - Vibrant royal blue with hints of violet and blue micro-shimmer over a matte base. I'd say this is the most stand-out shade in the palette, and the one that every one recognises the most. It has great colour payoff, incredibly pigmented but I would say the texture is quite powdery - reminded me of the powder paint I used in high school art, actually.
  • Occupy - Dark grey-blue with silver and blue sparkle. To me, the glitter really showed up in this one, but thankfully, there wasn't much fall out on application which was a relief. It applied quite smoothly for a shade with similar shimmer to Blitz and Penny Lane. 
  • Unhinged - Electric turquoise blue metallic. I loved this colour. It was so pigmented yet still held its lovely shimmer on application, and there was minimal fall out too. It almost like a peacock or mermaid colour, adding a bit of playfulness to any look. I would probably use this under my eye or very close to the lash line.
  • Black Market - Dark charcoal-black matte-satin. This shade is unique and provided a good pigmentation and colour payoff. It applied evenly and held a slight shimmer which was nice. I think it would be a lovely shade to accentuate a smokey eye.

Third row - Purples:
Provocateur, Rapture, Vice, Noise, and Armor

  • Provocateur - Pale pink with hints of greyish mauve and chunks of pink and silver glitter. As you can see (or not see, to be more accurate) from the swatch, I didn't get on with this shade. The colour payoff wasn't that great and the glitter went everywhere because it was so chunky and gritty. You can see how glittery it is in the pan before you apply it, and I would say you really have to use it sparingly.
  • Rapture - Medium-dark purple with subtle burgundy undertones and a frosted finish. I thought the pigmentation of this shade was pretty good but I found the texture to be quite dry. There are hints of sparkle but it's not completely noticeable in the swatch.
  • Vice - Dark aubergine with a subtle red shimmer. The namesake for the palette, this shade has good pigmentation and colour payoff, and was smooth upon application. The shimmer was rather understated, much like most of the other purples in this set.
  • Noise - Bright pop of medium reddish-pink with subtle blue undertones and gold glitter. I think this shade had pretty good pigmentation and applied smoothly, but oddly the shimmer didn't seem to show as much as I thought it would. It looks really bright in the pan but it's much more muted when applied.
  • Armor - Greyish-brown metallic with silver micro-glitter. As you can see from the swatch, this shade had excellent pigmentation and was fairly smooth to apply. I definitely prefer the micro-glitter to the big chunks, simply because the fall out was surprisingly minimal and ran all the way through the swatch.

Fourth row - Neutrals:
Nevermind, Echo Beach, Anonymous, Freebird, and Laced

  • Nevermind - Light taupe-brown with shimmer. It had very good colour payoff and was one of the softest textures for a shimmery shade. I prefer neutrals for a daytime look and this particular is very warm but still dark enough to blend into the crease.
  • Echo Beach - Pale muted gold with subtle warm undertones and a frosted finish. Much like Nevermind, I think this shade had good colour payoff and applied well to the skin. It seems like a slightly lighter tone to its neighbour shade, but I think they could easily be used together to create a neutral lid.
  • Anonymous - Pale peach-ivory with a matte finish. Very much living up to its name in the swatch photo, the shade is incredibly understated but great for blending. It was soft but not powdery like Chaos, and it has good pigmentation for such a light matte shade. It doesn't have a big impact on my skin tone, however.
  • Freebird - Light peachy-pink with silver micro-glitter. This shade is very sheer on application compared to what it looks like in the pan. It also had a lot of fall out and took a lot to build up the colour, which is disappointing when you compare it to the other shades containing micro-glitter.
  • Laced - Pinky-taupe with a matte finish. Finally, we end on a matte shade. It had good colour payoff, and was soft without being powdery. I think this would be a great base shade for the start to any look.

I think the Vice palette is a real mixed bag overall. It has some really great shades, but others I don't think live up to the hype, especially on application. However, I do believe that there is definitely a shade for everyone in this palette, simply because there is a vase array of choice between mattes, shimmers, brights and neutrals. It's a good collection for the price if you like variety, but it's certainly dominated by frosts and metallics over matte-satins.

What do you think of the Urban Decay Vice palette? Which shades are your favourites?


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Boots 3-for-2 Haul

I always have time to kill on Wednesdays and Thursdays after university, and am constantly tempted to pop into Boots (and Topshop) on the way to the bus stop. Yesterday I pretty much gave in, seeing as I was in desperate need of some heat styling spray as it was, and I must say I came away with some goodies!

I've not tried any kind of dry shampoo before, but now that I work out every day I feel that my hair will need a quick solution to get it less icky if I have to leave the house in a rush. Boots had shedloads of Batiste Dry Shampoo on sale - such cute cans, especially the leopard print one - but I settled on Cherry, simply because it smelt so good! I think I may do a separate post in the future of how well it worked for me, so stay tuned for that one!

Secondly, I couldn't resist buying some more Real Techniques brushes. They are simply brilliant and super affordable in my honest opinion - just look at the price of MAC brushes, yeesh. Today I bought the powder brush (for applying powders and mineral foundations), and the expert face brush (for applying and blending cream blushes and liquid foundations). I must have almost purchased them all now, everything but the setting brush, I think!

Now this is what I went into Boots for - L'Oréal Elnett Satin heat styling spray. I've heard great things about this collection of styling sprays and I hope it lives up to the hype. I bought the volume version, because my hair needs a bit of a lift, but they also sold straightening and wave versions too. I'll probably do a separate post on this product too, just because I want to give it a bit of a try out period before I come to a full conclusion!

I've not heard of Nip + Fab before, I don't know if I'm just completely oblivious to things around me or whatever, but I couldn't resist picking up their Pistachio Sundae body butter. Oh man, this stuff smells amazing! It's a dry skin fix, which I would use on my joints (knees, ankles and elbows) to moisturise that gross chicken skin we all get. I bought the 50ml pot but you can also get a bigger version which is 200ml. I have to say I will definitely be purchasing this again, just for the smell alone!

Finally, I bought an Essie nail polish in the colour Licorice. I'm loving the matte nail trend at the moment and I've run out of my OPI black nail polish to use as a base so this, I'm sure, will be a fine replacement.

I'm chuffed that I managed to save £10.94 from my total balance. A good day for killing time!

Have you tried any of these products before? I'd love to know what you think about the idea of dry shampoo especially!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Tool Kit: Enrapture Totem Styler

I have had the same pair of GHDs for about 8 years (I know, long life span - amazed, touch wood), and I used to use them for curling my hair as well as straightening; I've also had a Babyliss curling wand, which was okay but didn't give me the loose bohemian-esque waves I desired. About a month ago, I purchased this gem for half price and, let me tell you, it's the best styler I have ever tried!

The Enrapture Totem Styler is a tool perfect for creating ringlets, bohemian curls or soft waves by encoding your look and adding style to short, medium or long hair. It features a unique totem barrel that allows you to set three zones to different temperatures using the encoder dial, resulting in an array of different curls. I set mine to 123 - this means that the heat is higher at the bottom of the hair, making a tighter curl, while the top of the head is more loose and wavy - just the way I like it! The result is shiny loose waves which last longer than if I had styled it with another tool.

Included with the styler itself is a lovely stylish box, removable stand, a style guide booklet, and a heat resistant pouch so you don't ruin any surfaces. The tool heats up really quickly, and there is a sensor which ensures a high constant heat. I was a bit skeptical about using the mini flipper, because I was afraid it would make the bottom of my hair have that horrible kink after locking it in, but if you continue to curl and lock in the ends it's actually very useful to have. The mini flipper helps to maintain a tight curl, but also because it's titanium plated, it maintains a high heat too so you can use it closed to create looser curls.

This product also comes with a 3 year guarantee, and money back guarantee if you're not satisfied with your purchase. I don't think you will be, however. I've loved using the styler and I've only had it a month! Once you're used to it you can create your desired style in minutes. And the fact that it's now only £29.99 on Amazon is an absolute bargain! I totally recommend it.

You can now purchase the entire Enrapture range at high street stores such as John Lewis, Selfridges, Next and Boots.

Have you used any Enrapture hair tools before? Will you be trying out the Totem Styler?

Friday, 15 March 2013

Embryolisse Lait-Créme Concentré

Hailed as every makeup artist's secret weapon, Embryolisse's Lait-Créme Concentré does the work of three products in one creamy lotion. Brilliant as a primer, moisturiser and makeup remover, this multi-tasker makes a great travel companion, and has earned cult status in every beauty hall of fame worldwide. Suitable for all skin types - even sensitive skin - this one-size-fits-all lotion will leave your complexion soft, dewy and perfectly prepped for makeup.

Its formulation contains recognised natural ingredients including: shea butter (rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E, known for its action on the tone and feel of the skin), protective softening beeswax, aloe vera (containing vitamins A, E and B, and essential fatty acids which stimulates cell regeneration and retains water in large quantities), and soy proteins (which help to stimulate collagen fibres, and contain essential amino acids). What's so great about the formula is that it sinks into your skin really quickly once it's applied, making it easier for you to prep for your makeup. It's also very moisturising and nourishing; it accelerates cell renewal, and reconstitutes the hydrolipidic film. The silky texture with "the perfume of childhood" leaves skin satin-smooth, with a soothing feeling of comfort, even for dry, sensitive skin like mine.

I think I've found my new favourite moisturiser and primer, all in one product! 

Have you used Embryolisse products before? If not, what is your favourite moisturiser?

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Sweet Snacking: The Graze Box

Admittedly, I am one of the worst snackers in the world. This year I've been on a bit of a health kick - and lost 22lbs to date - so I decided to get motivated and tackle my snacking issues head on.

Graze are a UK-based company who prepare low calorie, highly nutritional snack foods that can be delivered to your home or workplace. I have a box delivered to my house every Thursday, and I'm always pleasantly surprised with what they give me to nibble on. Each box contains four portions of food, and you can choose from either the Light box (more nutritional, less chocolate) or the Nibble box (maximum variety, nothing is excluded unless you do it yourself).

On the website you browse through their ever-expanding collection of snacks, which come individually packaged in cute little punnets, and you select whether you would like to try them. Things you don't want to try, which for me is anything with onions or olives, you have the option to 'bin' so they never send them your way. You can also 'like' the product so they send them occasionally, 'love' the product so they send them often, and select the 'send soon' option which is pretty self-explanatory! Some products aren't available for send soons because Graze select the freshest ingredients on that day of packaging; this means snacks like fresh breads and some cakes are not available, for example.

Their range includes:
  • Healthy Popping Corn - Microwavable packets of yummy popcorn, which are a perfect portion. You can get Twist of Black Pepper, Slightly Sweet, or Lightly Salted. I prefer sweet popcorn, personally.
  • Dips and Dippers - These can be either sweet or savoury. My favourites are Summer Berry Compote with wholemeal shortbread, Crunchini Basilico (basil infused oil with crunchini), Tomato Dipinetti (slow cooked cherry tomato relish with rosemary grissinetti), and Toffee Apple.
  • Guilt-Free High Tea - Now, I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of the herbal tea. But the cakes? Oh my goodness. They are amazing! The options are Plum and Ginger Crumble, Apple and Blackcurrant Crumble, Banana Bread, Pumpkin and Ginger cake, Lemon and Poppy Slice and their 'Super' Carrot Cake.
  • Flapjacks - These may be my favourite of the Graze products. You get three mini flapjacks per punnet so you don't feel so guilty chowing down. The options here are Summer Berry, Apple and Cinnamon, Orange and Ginger, Honeycomb, and Fruit and Seed.
  • Marinated Olives - Personally, I cannot stand olives, but that doesn't mean that you don't! There are three types of olives to choose from: Moroccan Harissa, Lemon and Rosemary, and Basil and Garlic.
  • Savoury Selection - For people with a less of a sweet tooth, there are so many snacks to choose from to satisfy a savoury craving! From rice cakes, curry crackers and wasabi peas to bruchetta, herby bread baskets and savoury nuts - there's bound to be something which catches your eye. 
  • A Touch of Chocolate - Any punnet containing chocolate. Whether that's giant dark chocolate buttons or white chocolate covered raisins, these little gems are mixed with dried fruits, nuts and sponge pieces to create familiar and classic culinary pairings. My favourites are Marvellous Macaroon (amaretti drops, almond slices, coconut flakes and white chocolate buttons), Honeycomb Crunch (milk chocolate coated honeycomb, raisins and almonds), and Florentine (pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate buttons and cranberries).
  • Natural Treats - Mainly dried fruits and yoghurt covered raisins. Hot Cross Yum (sponge pieces, cinnamon and honey almonds and orange infused raisins) and Banoffee Pie (fudge pieces, almond slices, pecan nuts and banana coins) are my favourites!
  • Pure Fruit - For the fruit lovers! I like Apple Cosmo (lime infused raisins, cranberries and apple) and Tropical Daiquiri (pineapple, lime infused raisins and green mango).
  • Whole Nuts - Introducing unique nuts to add to your diet. They range from Salt and Vinegar nut selection and BBQ Pistachios to Heart Healthy Nuts (redskin peanuts, pecan nuts, brazil nuts and almonds) and Ancient Forest Nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds).
  • Pure Fruit, Nuts and Seeds - A real mix of delicious antioxidants. I like Pure Vitality (pumpkin seeds, inca berries and apricots) and Born in the USA (pecan nuts, cranberries and almonds).
  • Super Seeds - Just a punnet of boosting seeds! Ranging from granolas to omega boosters.

They've also very recently created a low calorie chocolate brownie, made without butter or flour and instead with grounds almonds. It looks delicious, and I can't wait to try that soon!

The team specifies the nutritional value of each punnet, whether it is suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and coeliacs, and outline the products containing dairy. Your boxes get delivered for free by Royal Mail on a specified day of the week - you can order one every day if you want - and you can push back weeks or cancel them altogether without any fuss. You can also order one-off boxes. None of the orders require a signature, and the box is small enough to fit through your letter box. Once you receive you box you are encouraged to rate or slate it - just so Graze knows what not to send again. And don't forget to recycle your boxes when you're done with them!

I absolutely love that I've discovered this brilliant company. They've introduced me to new ways of snacking, they've allowed me to look at food differently, and curb my snacking habits which were becoming a huge problem! I've recommended them to friends and family, and if you do too (with the help of special codes) you can get more free boxes headed your way. The free code I received with this box is DR1J7P9D. That means if you go to this link and enter this code, you get a free box and I get £1 off my next box!

What do you think of Graze? Have you ever tried a Graze box before, or will you try one in the future? I'd love to know!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Jeffrey Campbell: Blue Shadow Studs

He seems to be quite a controversial designer with insanely high and innovative shoe designs, and for many bloggers all over the world, Jeffrey Campbell is a fashion favourite.

I love all of his spiky shoes (I already have a pair of black leather spiked Litas) so when one of my favourite fashion bloggers, the lovely Courtney (thestyleplaylist), put her barely-worn Shadow Studs up for sale online I just had to snap them up. I actually bought them at the end of November, as a super early Christmas present for myself, but I've only really got round to taking some photographs recently. That, and it takes a little bit of practice to walk in these bad boys!

The Shadow Stud is described as a killer shoe by every definition. I really love the studs on these booties - my Lita studs are so sharp that I struggle to cross one leg over the other without drawing blood - but the studs are flatter and rounder on this particular style. The non-heel is 6 and a half inches, and the platform is 2 and a quarter inches. It also has a padded insole to add more comfort.

Courtney was only selling her UK size 5's, and I've found that they're a bit of a squeeze. Most websites recommend you go half a size down in order to get the perfect fit and I would agree with that, seeing as I'm usually an awkward 5.5 or even a 6 in some shoes. However, mine are still very wearable and make an incredible statement. They can either complete an evening look with a cute mini dress, or be worn during the day with jeans, trousers, denim shorts - anything really!

What do you think of these beauties? Do you own any JC shoes?
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