Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Guest post: Makeup for Dolls - What's coming in May

Today I'm very happy to announce that I've been working with Siobhán from Make Up For Dolls  on a blog swap. Make Up For Dolls is a wonderful blog about all things beauty related that I'm following, and today Siobhán has done a piece for me on some new tempting beauty goodies that we can look forward to seeing in May, and I've done a post on April favorites over on Make Up For Dolls that you check out here. It was so much fun to collaborate like this and I really recommend that you visit Siobhán's blog, if you're not already familiar with it and without further ado I hand over to Siobhán:

I have been following Charlotte’s blog for a while now – it’s brilliant. I was delighted when she agreed to be April’s Blog Swap Gal for the last Wednesday of the month!  Charlotte told me that she was planning on doing a retrospective talking about the favorites products of the month. With that in mind, I decided to do the flipside of that, and do a “What’s Coming” bit.
MAC Cosmetics now offering Pro products online
Previously, only the bastion of those with Pro cards, and only via the Pro site or Pro stores, MAC have decided to extend their website sales to Pro products. Hurrah, about bloody time! On the other hand, you still can persuade to ship to Ireland *sighs* - however you can order from them over the phone – avoid the stupidly exhorbitant shipping costs by co-ordering (and splitting) with a friend, or using a Norn Iron Parcel Motel address. Simples. 
So if you need to get your mitts on the elusive Face & Body in White, or any of the Acrylic Paints (the best liquid liner you could use, and lasting oh, forever), or any of the Mixing Medium (yes, am aware the plural is “media”), or the Chromagraphic Pencils, or the pro-only shades of Cream Color Base, or… oh I could go on… then git your ass over to the MAC site (or go order via the MAC customer service number on their site). Presumably you can only avail of the Pro prices if you’ve got a Pro card, but if they’re selling via their standard site, it would suggest you can avail of “consumer” prices for Pro products – at least you can get your hands on ‘em (if anyone wants any suggestions, I can think of at least a dozen off the top of my head!)

Charlotte Tilbury Launching in Ireland
More serious yays! MontyC posted about her purchases from Ms Tilbury’s line (look here, if you’re interested). The ever great Brown Thomas on Grafton Street will be hosting the launch, which I’ve been reliably informed, will be in August of this year. Watch this space. I think there will be a line.

Space NK on Grafton Street
I really couldn’t scream loudly enough about this one. Every time I visit London or Belfast, I never fail to spend far too long (and far too much) in Space NK. Known for their Cult Products you just can’t get elsewhere, although there’s a small concession in Harvey Nichols in Dundrum, I can’t wait for the real deal – the whole shebang – the full monty – to open in the city centre. My paycheck is seriously at risk. Roll on those By Terry and Chantecaille product purchases (and look out for some gorgeous (if expensive) foundation reviews from both brands soon). Nothing definite yet in terms of dates, but I believe they’re going into the old Body Shop store on Grafton Street.

Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Summer Collection
 (The one summer launch I always wait for…)

Estée Lauder’s usual Summer collection (it has been called Bronze Goddess for some years now) is showing up for 2014 on-counter any day now. The collection comprises new limited edition cosmetics in soft corals, deep blackberries and the usual metallics. There’s a new Nudes Eyeshadow Palette which will contain eight shades of shadows (in both matts and metallic), a cream blush called Cheek Glow and two new Color LipShine crayon pencils in Mandarin & Luscious Plum, and five Pure Color Nail Lacquers in nude shades (Bare, Buffed, Burnished Nude, Lust and Scorpion). It also sees the re-launch of the Bronze Goddess Luminous Liquid Bronzer as part of the collection. There will be two new summer fragrances; Bronze Goddess Eau Fraiche SkinScent and Bronze Goddess Body Splash, and a Bronze Goddess Shimmer Body Oil and Whipped Body Crème complement the fragrances. 

Brown Thomas Online Beauty Purchases
No longer news, but good to know – in case you’ve been living under a rock for some time, Brown Thomas now has an online store presence (look here) from which you can purchase makeup and skincare goodies (along with shoes, watches, handbags, shoulder bags, messenger bags, clutch bags, shopper bags, totes… ok I think you get the idea). And why should we care about this, I hear you ask? Well, some of the BT stores carry brands that other BT stores do, in fact, not. So if you wanted to get your mitts on Shiseido, for example, and you didn’t live near BT Cork, well tough luck in the past. If you’re weren’t around Dublin and you needed some NARS, you’ve been stuck so far. Stila… Check. Tom Ford? Check. Shu Uemura – super check (worth it for the brushes alone!)… Brands and ranges are being added all the time. The only downside is that the interweb shop seems to have different stocks than the bricks-and-mortar stores – so you can find sometimes that they’re out of stock online (but can still have stuff in-store). And vice versa mind, which can be handy to bear in mind too.

Cover FX BB Gel
American brand Cover FX (I’ll be featuring a review of their finishing powder shortly on the blog.  Keep your eyes peeled) has announced the launch of their BB GEL, a hybrid matifying, anti-blemish, lightwear treatment foundation. The product, featuring a nice lightweight gel-based formula is designed to treat blemishes, reduce inflammation and improve skin elasticity, hydrate and protect the skin. It’s launching in May from Harvey Nichols, and the range sees ten shades, and a few undertones. This one is definitely one I’d like to try for the summer months – a gel-based buildable coverage BB? Nice! Price-wise I believe it’ll be “around” the €40-ish mark. Emphasis on the ish, mind.

That’s it – enough for now. There’s a bunch of summer launches from Dior, Chanel, Guerlain that I’m looking forward to seeing too – but these are the things of note that I wanted to mention. If you’re not already reading/following, come on over and follow my musings on makeup, skincare, nailstuff, hairstuff, some DIYs, how-to’s, storage chats, obsessions about brushes, occasional random nonsense. And not just mine – the blog features two fellow nutters (Emer aka TheArtyMama and Catherine aka MontyC). Thanks to Charlotte for the swap (her post is on my site – please go take a look see!) and I’ll see you back on the other side tomorrow with a review of probably the nicest foundation I’ve ever, used… if only it weren’t so crazily expensive!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Manic.Monday: Purple magnetism with Barry M

You may remember that just before Easter I did a post on the color purple (you can read my Purple edition here), and when I was selecting the products that I wanted to include I rediscovered an old favorite that has been pushed further and further back in my very over-crowded drawer of nail polishes and I quickly decided that I would show it some well deserved love. When Barry M launched their range of magnetic nail polishes a few years ago, I became more than a little obsessed with them. The idea behind them is that since the formula contains a very fine powder that reacts to a magnet, you can create a specific pattern. They come in a variety of colors (black, red, blue, green, purple and different metallics) and magnetic patterns (chevron, straight line, diagonal line, waves, Union Jack/star pattern) and since I couldn't decide which one I liked the most, I ended up buying all of them - after all, why compromise? I must admit though that I have used some much more than others and the Barry M Magnetic Nail Polish (£4.99) in Violet is definitely at the top of the list. Despite containing a microscopic powder, the formula has just the right consistency - not too thick and not too thin, and is as far as I can tell exactly the same as with the ordinary Barry M nail polishes, and the same can be said about the brush which is of average width but still easily gives an even and full coverage.
To create the magnetic look you definitely need at least two coats, and you need to shake the bottle properly before you apply each coat, to make sure that you get a good distribution of powder to react with the magnet, which you don't use until the second coat. After you've applied one coat on each hand, the result is best if you work on one finger at a time and as soon as you've applied the second coat on a nail hold the magnetic top over the nail for a few seconds. You can see a pattern appear almost immediately, so you don't actually need to hold the magnet over the polish long at all, although I usually count to 10 before I remove it. In my experience most of these magnetic effects turn out really beautiful and the only one that I can't quite get to turn out very well is the star effect - since my nails are quite narrow, there simply isn't enough surface for the pattern. The Violet shade is a beautiful deep aubergine color with a touch of silver sparkle and although the contrast created by the magnet is gorgeous, the shade is lovely enough to wear without using the magnet. I think the magnetic effects should be shown off with a high shine top coat for a brilliant and almost glass like look which is really stunning so I always finish with a top coat, although it might be interesting to experiment with a matte finish too. On me the nail polish will last about 3 days before it starts to chip, and unlike a lot of other glitters and effects, it's just as easy to remove as an ordinary polish. I know this isn't the latest among nail effects, however I still love the look and I always get compliments for them, regardless of which color or pattern I go for and the great thing is that you can of course use any magnetic pattern with any of the colors, so you can be as creative as you want - mixing colors and perhaps even patterns.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Sun, sea and seals in Suffolk

I don't know about you but it seems to me as if this year has flown by at the speed of light and although we've just celebrated Easter, it feels as if Christmas was just last week. Even though I don't really celebrate Easter very much; I might send a few cards and of course prepare a traditional Swedish Easter buffet with smoked salmon, grav lax, pickled herring, boiled eggs and different salads, for me it's still a time of reflection and also of new beginnings. So Easter is a great time to go and explore new beautiful places and to catch up with friends which is exactly what we did, when we headed to Suffolk for a few days. I'd never been to Suffolk before and I went with a fully charged camera battery and an empty memory card with lots of GB space in case the Happy Snapper in me decided to come out to play. The weather was fantastic and sunny and since we were lucky enough to be close to the sea, forest and countryside - all at the same time, we got to explore picturesque fishing villages, go for long forest walks, have sunset drinks with a seal and visit a medieval festival at Framlingham Castle - I felt like I had wandered straight into the movie set of Ivanhoe... where's my armor?! We had an amazing relaxing time, almost like a mini holiday and I really hope you'll enjoy the photos I took of our lazy days. 
Speaking of new beginnings, I'm about to start something new and exciting which I can't tell you much about at the moment, but it means that I unfortunately have to temporarily change my blog schedule, so as of today I will be posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the next little while. I ask you to please be patient with me until I can get back up and post on a daily basis again, and I really hope you'll continue to visit and thank you in advance for your amazing support! Have a nice day everyone! Xx

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Dolce & Gabbana nail polish

Last month I picked up a few, or actually more accurately an abundance of beauty goodies in the duty free when I went to see my parents. I'm slowly but surely testing my way through the magnificent loot and today we'll look at one of the nail polishes that I got. As you know I'm always keen on trying a new nail polish, but it's even more fun to try a completely new brand and today I have not just any newbie, it's Dolce & Gabbana's The Intense Nail Lacquer (£18.50) in the color Ibisco. I must admit that even before I had tried any of the Dolce & Gabbana products from my duty free haul, I had already been seduced by the packaging which is all sleekness and sophistication with its gold top with the brand name embossed on top of a glass bottle - I just love everything about it.
The formula is a little bit strange - it's very runny but at the same time it's not thin as such and the consistency is creamy enough that you only need less than a tiny drop to get a full and opaque coverage of your nail. The brush is of average width although of great quality so it's flexible and nice to work with, and it gives an even streak free finish without leaving any pesky hairs behind. Despite being such a wet formula it's still highly pigmented and already with only coat you get a lovely and polished high shine finish and at least with the darker shades you could wear only one coat if you're in a rush, although personally I think that the finish looks a little "thin" - not from a pigmentation point of view, but as a finish and if you have any ridges or unevenness on your nails, they will show through. Since the polish dries extremely quickly I would recommend that you apply two coats, using a tiny micro drop of product for each, and you'll get a beautiful smooth patent shine look. The nail polish comes in 30 different colors ranging from pale nudes and neutrals to intense, dramatic, rich and sophisticated shades. Ibisco is allegedly one of the best selling shades from the range and no wonder - it's a gorgeous warm rose pink with a noticeable coral undertone that would work beautifully with any skin tone and I'm speaking from experience since I first tried this shade when I still had my pale blue winter skin and it looked as chic then as it does now when I have a touch of a tan after the Easter holidays. How long a nail polish lasts is of course always an individual thing based on life style, job etc but on me this nail polish lasts about 3-4 days before it starts to chip a little bit which I think is fairly average and good enough for me. I really like the Dolce & Gabbana nail polish and to get a better feel for the entire range, I'm planning on getting at least two more shades from opposite ends of the range, so one sheer nude and another one more vibrant and vampy - and if there's a particular color that you would like me to try, please let me know and I'll follow your recommendation.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Purple edition

Since it's Easter this weekend I thought it would be appropriate for the color edition this month to focus on purple. As a color it's a mix of mostly red with a portion of blue and it's one of the colors that was first used in art, but making purple pigments was a complicated and costly business which is probably why purple is traditionally often associated with luxury, royalty and dignity. Purple also symbolizes magic and spirituality and to me it's an elegant and harmonious statement color which I love to wear; from the darker more sophisticated shades in winter time to the lighter, more floral and romantic shades in the summer time. Interestingly enough all of my favorite flowers (except jasmine) are purple - lilac, sweet peas and hyacinth, and my birthstone is tourmaline so it seems as if I have a strong connection with this particular color and today I want to show you some of my favorite purple products.
Having fair complexion that still tans quite easily I guess you could say that I have a golden undertone to my skin, so I generally avoid purple or blue toned lip products since they tend to make my skin look very pale, and not pale and interesting but pale and sickly. But over winter I did experiment with deeper berry shades and I came across a product that positively surprised me in many ways - Rimmel's Stay Glossy Lip Gloss (£6.29). First of all I had been very skeptical to lip glosses up until fairly recently since I used to think of them as sticky sparkly and cheap lip goo, however this formula of cotton and silk is lovely, moisturising and completely non sticky. Even though the lip gloss feels very light on the lips the pigmentation is intense and long lasting - the claim is that it should hold up to six hours and on me it lasts at least four hrs, which is still pretty good. It's available in eleven shades and Captivate Me may look very dark and purple in the tube, but it's more of a dark raspberry pink on the lips and it creates a lovely sheer glistening look. So not only did this product prove to be nothing like the image I had of lip glosses but it turns out that I can actually do blue-toned lippies too.

I've mentioned before that I love to use a colorful eye pencil on my lower water line, to add a little something to a neutral make up look, especially during the warmer months of the year and when I've got a little bit of color. Since I now have a little bit of a tan, albeit fake - courtesy of the amazing Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning for face and decolleté (£19) that I reviewed yesterday, it's time to sharpen those eye pencils. One of my favorites eye pencil's is the L'Oréal Color Riche Le Khol (£4.39) in 114 Breezy Lavander, a beautiful intense metallic light lavender. The formula is a combination of oil and wax, making it very soft and creamy to work with and the pencil applies very smoothly without any need for pressing or tugging. Although it's not specifically water resistant it does have a long lasting wear making it great to use on the upper or lower waterline. Sticking with pencils but in a much thicker version, I've really taken to chubby sticks both for lips and for eyes - they are just so handy and practical. One of the most interesting and affordable formulas on the high street is Rimmel's Scandaleyes Eye Shadow Stick (£4.49). The consistency is very soft and buildable and you barely need to touch your eyelid with the tip to get an intense color payoff with a very subtle lustrous finish. The shade 006 Paranoid Purple is a gorgeous high shine Byzantium purple and although one light sweep with the stick is enough to get a nice color, personally I think this shade looks its best when you've built it up and you have a dramatic and daring look. The pigmentation may be intense but unfortunately it's not very long lasting, and on me the color fades after only a few hrs despite using an eye shadow primer - but that is the only down side with this product, and as such I think it's a great budget friendly option to the original Clinique chubby.
From top to bottom:
Rimmel's Stay Glossy Lip Gloss in Captivate Me
L'Oréal Color Riche Le Khol in 114 Breezy Lavander
Rimmel's Scandaleyes Eye Shadow Stick in 006 Paranoid Purple
A nail polish brand that I have raved about a few times before is the amazing Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Formula (£6.99) that combines base coat, strengthener, growth treatment and top coat with each color. It's taken me a while to completely trust this product, but having tried so many different shades of it now I have managed to wean myself off wearing a separate base- and top coat and so far it's never caused any problems with discoloration to the nails or the finish. It has a wonderful wide brush for easy streak-free application and strong pigmentation that will last for about 5-6 days before you might want to touch it up, with an excellent high shine finish. There are over 60 colors to choose from and this shade - Good to Grape is a lovely creamy and rich Wisteria purple that looks so graceful and pretty. If you haven't already tried this gem from Sally Hansen I would highly recommend it, after all you get 5 products in 1 for a very reasonable price and with a quality that puts a lot of premium brands to shame.

A nail polish from a premium brand that never disappoints is Estée Lauder's Pure Color Nail Lacquer (£14). The formula is excellent with high pigmentation for a beautiful opaque look and exceptional high shine finish and this one also comes with a nice wide brush for even coverage. With a lot of the darker shades you could probably get away with only applying one coat, but the shade Bete Noire is a magnificent dark royal purple with a slight shimmer that definitely should be applied in at least two coats so that the effect comes into its own. Since I'm a polishaholic and change my nail color more times than I can count every week, it's not necessarily a deal breaker for me if the wear isn't brilliant, however it is VERY important to me when it comes to premium brands since they usually come at a premium price and they therefore also should have premium quality, but I've always been very happy with the longevity of Estée Lauder polishes and I would say it takes about five days before the finish needs to be retouched. You can see swatches of both nail polishes here on my Instagram.
Last in this purple line up is a fragrance, and it's a celebrity one which can be controversial. I know that a lot of people have very strong views about celebrity scents, however I am an equal perfume opportunist and only look at the actual scent qualities, which I think should be assessed on their own and not whether you're a fan of the celebrity or not. I'm curious to know what your thought are on this, so please let me know in the comments below. Regardless - this is Britney Spears Midnight Fantasy EdP (£24) which comes in a pretty deep purple bottle with little pale blue crystals. It's a delightful, fruity, young and uncomplicated scent that makes me think of a warm summer night garden after the rain. When you first spray it on you can easily detect the piquant and fresh fruitiness of raspberry and cherries, which eventually give way to a more sophisticated note of colorful delicious and sweet freesia and orchids. The scent is grounded in warm and sensual notes of musk, and vanilla which gives it substance and keeps it from being too light and candy like. Even though Midnight Fantasy is an EdP and therefore it should be fairly concentrated and linger quite a long time on the skin, I do find that it's less intense than most of my EdPs and I would say that it lasts about 2 hrs on me before I feel that I need to apply some more. It doesn't matter though, I still adore this fruity, sunny and joyful scent and every time I wear it I get loads of compliments for it, so would I buy it again? - definitely! Would I recommend that you try it regardless of what you think of celebrity fragrances? - definitely!

I hope you've enjoyed this selection of a few favorite purple products. I'll be taking a few days break over Easter since we'll be going away, but I'll be back again as usual on Tuesday. Have a great Easter everyone! Xx

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Golden skin days

It's that lovely time of year when many of us stow away our winter clothes and take out the spring and summer items that have been hybernating over winter. As nice as that is, it means that I can no longer hide away my very winter pale, in fact almost blue toned skin under layers of clothes and cosy jumpers, but since it's not quite warm enough yet to don a bikini and catch some sun rays there's only one thing for it - self tanning, something I never do and just thinking about it makes me pale even more with dread. I am a complete dummy when it comes to self tanning and the few times I've dabbled with it I've more often than not ended up looking like an orange zebra. For me to get a streak free, golden glowing natural looking color I need fool proof products and I think I have at long last finally found them.

When it comes to self tanning for the face Clarins has a great selection of products and it was with high expectations that I decided to try the Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning for face and decolleté (£19) since the tag line reads "A dream come true for novices or those with fair skin". It's an ultra light, almost water like colorless lotion that comes in a plastic bottle and you apply it by applying a little bit onto a cotton pad and then quickly wipe the cotton pad all over your face. The lotion feels cool and refreshing on the skin, and with ingredients like Aloe Vera and Vitamin E you also add moisture and nourishment for a lovely soft skin and unlike most self tanning products it has a lovely fresh and delicate feminine scent that reminds me of Sarah Jessica Parker's Lovely. The lotion dries immediately without making the skin feel oily or sticky and there's no transfer onto clothes or bedding, so if you apply this in the morning you can go straight ahead and do your makeup on top of it and over the next few hours you'll see the color appearing. I prefer to apply the lotion in the evening, having exfoliated and moisturised and when I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror I have a nice natural and radiant glow. You can apply as many coats as you like for a deeper color, but personally I think that one coat is more than enough for a subtle but noticeable tan. On me the color lasts about 4 days before it's time to it up again which is pretty long lasting, although of course that will depend on how often you wash your face etc. This is a wonderful, easy to use product that gives a nice glow and I can see myself becoming a bit of a tanorexic - it's THAT good.
Especially in the summer I like to enhance whatever little color I have by using a bronzer, and one of my favorites is the cheap as chips MUA Bronzer (£1) in shade 1. It's a nice and light powder bronzer with a very subtle gold shimmer which looks beautiful when the sun catches it. What I like about this shade is that it's a muted natural color without any orange that makes it perfect for sculpting of the cheekbones and to add glow to the areas of your face that the sun would naturally hit, using the Real Techniques Retractable Bronzer Brush (£13.99). What first attracted me to this brush was the fact that it's retractable and as such I thought it would be perfect to have in the hand bag, but what I didn't realise was how big it would be. The packaging is quite chunky and for some reason I thought it would come with a twist up function, but it doesn't - instead there is a retractable metallic sleeve to help gather the hairs before putting the cap back on. Not quite what I would call retractable brush, but aside from that it's a generous, wide and soft brush which is still firm enough for a smooth and even product application. This works amazing if you want to add bronzer all over your face for a nice glow but if it's precision sculpting or just the hollows of your cheek that you are working on, for me this brush is almost too big and it could even double up as a powder brush.

A self tanning gem that I discovered last year when Him Indoors unexpectedly brought it home (probably His subtle way of telling me that I'm ridiculously pale...) is Caudalie's Divine Legs (£26). It's a wonderful nourishing moisturising lotion with a luxurious, silky texture that gives an instant tan that you can easily wash off with water. The formula is tinted and it comes in a generous glass bottle with a practical pump. Because the lotion is tinted, you can see where you've already applied it, making it very easy to get a streak free finish and it dries instantly. I think Divine Legs gives the best results if you've done a body scrub and used another oil free moisturiser before applying it, for a lovely even golden tan that has a lovely glow to it. I used to be a self tan skeptic but with lovely, sweet smelling and easy to use products like these at hand, I am ready to swap the era of pale winter complexion for golden skin days.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Manic.Monday: Nails in Bloom by Nails Inc

As you know I am a massive lover of nail polish always keeping my finger very much on the polish pulse and even though there's a steady flow of new products being launched all the time, after a while they tend to be a bit same same; colors and effects reappear in different bottles by different brands, but if you want to be really harsh - they're not that new. But the polishes I show you today are different, and I can honestly say that I don't think I have been this excited about a nail polish since I discovered Zoya's Pixi Dust and the product that's managed to get me this enthusiastic is the FABULOUS Floral collection from Nails Inc (£12). This is a limited edition collection celebrating spring with 5 different versions of a clear polish mixed with different colored particles, matte glitter and little flowers for a playful and romantic take on the floral trend and here you see the shades Floral Street Mews and Daisy Lane. Floral Street Mews is a mix of white, peach and blue particles and Daisy Lane is a red, pink and white color combination - both of them very pretty with a capital P!
Unlike a lot of effect polishes that you can layer up, this shouldn't be worn on its own so it's definitely a top coat to be applied over a base shade of your choice. As you can see in the photos the formula is fairly dense with particles but the texture of it is still light, smooth and as easy to work with as any other top coat and even though the brush isn't the widest it picks up a good amount of shapes for an even distribution across the nail. Before you apply the top coat, give the bottle a really good shake since the floral shapes tend to sit at the bottom of the bottle and then apply as many coats as needed for the effect you're going for (in the photos I've applied 1.5 coats since I wanted a fairly sheer look). You may need to dig around a little in the bottle to get the right amount of floral shapes since after all they are what makes this look, and then place them on the nail. To make sure that you don't mess up what you've already applied I would recommend that you let each layer dry properly before you amend or place the shapes.
Nail polishes used to create the looks (from left to right):
Barry Gelly Shine Nail Paint in Lychee + Floral Street Mews
Ciaté Nail Polish in Cutie Pie + Daisy Lane
NYC Nail Polish in Raindrop + Floral Street Mews
Ciaté Nail Polish in Sugar Plum + Daisy Lane
Rimmel Lasting Finish Nail Polish in Lemon Drop + Floral Street Mews 

This is not a textured finish as such, but the edges of the daisy shapes might stick up a little here and there so to avoid them getting stuck or tearing through every day wear, you might want to use something fine and pointy e.g. a toothpick to push them down onto the nails and then sealing them with another clear top coat. It might sound as if it's a bit fiddly to apply this top coat - it's really not, but taking a few seconds to place the florals is well worth the effort for a stunning and long lasting look and on me it lasted for about 4 days. The question that always comes up is: Can you remove it without using industrial strength noxious acetone? Yes you can, but it is going to take a little bit of effort around the daisy shapes, although I would say that it's not nearly as difficult as glitter polishes.

Nails Inc always does wonderful nail polishes but this time they have really outdone themselves. I blooming love everything about these effect polishes, from the cute floral printed cap to the pastel colored mixes and of course the beautiful finish. I'll definitely be picking up the other shades for a colorful bouquet of nails - how about you, will you be nailing the floral look?

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Need and want are different things... my latest H&M haul

A few weeks ago I took out my spring and summer clothes that had been packed away over winter to first of all remind myself what I've got already, and then I guess see if I possibly "needed" to get a few complimentary things this season. In truth I quickly established that I didn't NEED to get anything - I have enough clothes to be able to follow most of the trends this season a few times over, but as we all know that need and WANT are two completely different things. So while I was on the shopping ban wagon while I was in Sweden and managed very well to only try things on and then put them back again, which isn't nearly as much fun as actually buying - not to mention slightly masochistic, I spectacularly fell off the wagon in H&M a few weeks ago.

You might think that this was a bit of a lapse in self discipline, but if you think about it there are some clothes that are staple items in a wardrobe and therefore they really are "must have's", e.g. blazers. I don't think there's anything more timeless and classic than a tuxedo style jacket, which you can wear both for work and for play, and since I didn't have one in a nice neutral shade I had a gap in my jacket section that needed to be filled, which I happily did with this lined figure hugging Tuxedo Jacket in cognac brown  (£29.99). I think it'll be really useful not only as a transition jacket into summer, but it'll be chic in the autumn and winter too - in short we have a jacket for all seasons, and who can say no to that!

I have a few events coming up this spring and summer and since you can't really risk wearing the same dress in the same group of people (nooo, don't say this is just me...?!) I just HAD to get something new and the knee length Sleeveless Dress (£29.99) in dark turquoise is just perfect with it's slim top and pretty flaring skirt. I like the simplicity of it and with different statement necklaces and shoes, you can reinvent it over and over again - so it's definitely an investment, not a reckless spend! Breton stripes are all the rave this spring and summer season and although I did have one from last year it was looking a bit tired, depressed and lonely and since I'm a caring person I thought I would try and cheer it up by giving it some company in the shape of this white and red long sleeved Striped Top (£12.99). It's a fresh and casual top with little gold buttons on the shoulder, and it'll be nice for a nautical look says she who gets seasick in a rocking chair...

If you follow me on Instagram you may recognise these Sneakers (£29.99) that I picked up before I went to Sweden actually, and this purchase was entirely because of the weather. Here in the UK we've had the most amazing lovely spring days, but since they are about a month and a half behind us in terms of weather and temperature over there, I didn't quite know what to bring in terms of shoes - and these were a happy medium that would work in all weathers. These aren't really my style at all, but having worn them quite a lot now I have to say that not only are the very comfortable - not a word I can normally use about the shoes I tend to wear, but they're also quite chic and trendy with the quilted material and the metal chain at the back, they're a poor possums option to Chanel sneakers. I have a vivid imagination and can spin a yarn, but not even I can come up with a good reason why I had to get the studded snake imitation Bracelet (£5.99), try as I might. Fact is I just plain wanted it, guilty as charged! There you have it and as you can now tell I had some very good reasons why in the end I really needed to pick up most of these things that I initially first thought that I just wanted... for once wants turned into needs - isn't that fortunate!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

April empties

Have you noticed how you seem to go through some products quicker than others? I'm guaranteed to always have hair and skin care products amongst my empties, but this month I don't have a single makeup item. Unfortunately I don't think it's because I don't use it, it's probably more a reflection of how much of it I have in my drawers! I'll try and include more makeup products next month but for now, this is what I've got lined up for April.

Come to think of it, I haven't had a Batiste Dry Shampoo (£2.99) among my empties for a while. It's not that I'm using dry shampoos any less (as if that will EVER happen), it's just that I've had a few other brands to use up lately - have to spread the love... But I'm back with another great product from the Queen of the Dry Shampoo Realm - Monochrome. This black and white mod inspired dry shampoo adds wonderful body and texture to your hair and is a great and quick way to freshen up your hair for those in between days. One of the reasons I really like to use Batiste is the great range of scents that they offer and this one is a bit different from the others with its slightly heavier spicy and sweet scent, a nice addition to any Batiste hoarder's collection. When it comes to facial sprays, you'll know by now that I swear by Caudalie's Beauty Elixir (£10.95) for a mid day moisture boost and added radiance, but if for whatever reason that product isn't for you, you might want to try Avène Eau Thermal Water Spray (£3.15) in stead (I've done a full review of it previously available here). It's a wonderful light facial spray that not only adds moisture to the skin, you can also use it for sun or razor burns - it's a very handy little product. Unlike most facial sprays it's in an aerosol format, so you get a very fine mist when you spray it and so it doesn't end up blotchy on the skin and it distributes perfectly evenly, making your skin look and feel dewy and hydrated. You may not be a fan of facial sprays at all, but I would still highly recommend this, and chances are you might become one.

Even though I like to do different things with my hair - messy bun, waves, straightened, plaits etc I use very few styling products and the only one that has a firm spot on my dressing table is the John Frieda Frizz Ease 3 Day Straight Spray (£6.99). It's an amazing lightweight spray with keratin and a subtle fresh scent that you spritz through damp hair after you've washed it, then blow dry and/or straighten as usual and the spray will protect the hair from frizz as well as keep your hair poker straight, smooth, shiny and sleek for 3 days. I know it sounds too good to be true but this really works and I've already repurchased it more times than I can count!
One of my favorite spring flowers is hyacinths and when I saw a tin of Blue Hyacinth among the range of Lily-Flame Scented Candles (£8.50) I naturally had to try it. I've raved about Lily-Flame candles before - they burn exceptionally well in the tin from side to side for about 35 hrs, so you get plenty of sweet or spicy smelling scent for your money. Blue Hyacinth is a delicate, soft and airy floral with a subtle powdery note and it filled the house with a spring like smell - simply lovely!

In December I treated myself to a lovely little gift set from Caudalie, a trio of hand creams which I have been pampering my paws with and now I've finished one of them - the Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream (£5.70) in Blackcurrant leaf. The Caudalie hand creams contain shea butter and vine extract that help the skin retain moisture, making the texture very lush and silky texture, and it absorbs quickly into the skin, making your hands feel soft and protected. The scent of Blackcurrant leaf is warm, earthy and slightly sweet - it's very summery and comforting, and I would highly recommend that you treat your hard working hands to this little wonder. The next product I've finished recently is the Gatineau Defi Lift 3D Perfect Design Revolumising Lip Care (£28) that I've also done a separate review of previously (you read it here). It's a lovely light and silky balm that nourishes and hydrates the lips making them lovely and smooth but it's so much more than just a lip balm. It's a complete lip care product which you can also use as a lip contour mask since it contains anti-ageing properties that stimulates collagen to add firmness to the lips and its contours, and the best thing about it is that it has an immediate plumping effect without any tingling, that lasts for a few hrs making it great to use as a lip primer. It does come with a hefty price tag, so I prefer to use this overnight as a treatment or in the morning as a primer, but for topping up during the day I use other balms. I love this luxurious product and the effect it has on my lips, and I have actually repurchased this already.

The last few months I've finished my empties post with a fragrance and that's exactly what I'll do today as well with a very empty bottle of Lady Gaga's Fame EdP (£20.50). Just like with its "creator" there's so much to say about this fragrance - starting with the alienesque spaceship looking bottle, which looks great on a dressing table but if like me you like to spray your perfume into the cap and then smell it - be careful you don't poke your eyes out with the long, sharp legs! You may have seen pictures of this in a black bottle but it's not the bottle that's colored it's actually the liquid itself that's black and when you apply it, it turns clear on the skin. It's an extravagant and dramatic scent and when you first spray it, it's actually quite fresh but that quickly gives way to very distinct florals like sambac jasmine and tiger orchid, and the flowery sweetness is emphasized even more by the use of honey and apricot nectar and the last layer is of saffron and incense. The unusual blend makes it a fairly heavy floral scent with oriental touches and it definitely makes a statement. I did enjoy wearing it, especially during winter time but as we're heading towards warmer days for me this will be far too heavy and as fun as it was to try this scent, it won't get a regular spot in my fragrance collection. Well, that's it for April - which of these products would you repurchase?

Friday, 11 April 2014

Sleek cheeks with a touch of Rose Gold

For one who loves makeup I have surprisingly few blushers in my collection and I seem to always use the same shade regardless of which look I'm going for. When I'm browsing the shops I never really get drawn in by blushers, or inspired by them in the way that other makeup products speak to me and there is rarely a color that screams: BUY ME! But since using different colors obviously creates different looks I know I should get some more blushers and more importantly, some more colors. I've mentioned before that I'm perfectly happy and probably won't think twice about splurging on some types of products - e.g. skin care, but blushers is definitely not one of those and my previous limited experience with premium brand blushers hasn't been fantastically positive. So having brushed lots of brands to the side I very quickly thought of Sleek since I've heard so many positive things about their blushers, and with 11 different shades and a few blusher palettes in their range I was confident I would find a couple of new colors for my cheeks. I picked up two new shades from the "classic" range of Sleek Blushers (£4.49) and the one that I'm showing today is the much talked about Rose Gold, which is considered a dupe for NARS Orgasm, but since I haven't actually tried the NARS blusher this isn't a comparison review, and I'll only focus on the qualities of Rose Gold today. 
The blush comes in fuss free and sturdy plastic packaging, and although it's not very glamorous or exciting it's functional and it does have a good sized mirror in the lid, which is always a bonus. Being such a reasonably priced product you shouldn't expect too much from the packaging, but a modest exterior shouldn't make you doubt the quality of the product, and to cut a long story short - the quality is excellent! The formula is very soft, smooth and creamy and you only need to dab your brush or the tip of your finger very lightly in it to pick up a good amount of product for a rosy cheeked look. If you use your fingers to apply the blush, you can really feel how silky and light and buildable the consistency is but it's also rich in pigmentation so you don't need an awful lot to create a lovely radiant glow. It's a fairly long lasting product and I would say that you get approximately 5 hrs wear from it - on me I've noticed that it's faded and doesn't have the same even coverage as when I applied it around mid to late afternoon, but to be honest it's about the same for most blushers that I've tried regardless of price point. The shade Rose Gold is a perfect muted coral color with a subtle golden shimmer, and on the cheeks it has a dewy bronzed peachy look which I think would suit fair to medium skin tones. It's a beautiful naturally radiant look and don't be put off by the shimmer, it's very faint and only adds a pretty highlighting touch and for me I think it'll be a perfect cheek color with a tan (just bring on the sun). I'm very impressed this budget beauty and it may have been my first Sleek blusher but it certainly won't be my last!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Don't be distressed, be a Damsel in Dress with Fanny Crown

A couple of weeks ago I was very happy to receive an invitation to a blogger contest arranged by Fanny Crown, a Paris based company that sells an amazing range of dresses, to create a look based on something from their collection. And what a collection they offer - there are dresses for every occasion from wedding and proms to evening events and cocktails in every color of the rainbow, and you can even have some of the dresses tailor made for you. It's been a while since I did one of these moodboards and this was a great opportunity to create another one, and after having browsed and lusted after a long list of beautiful dresses I found THE Fanny Crown Cocktail Dress for me - a gorgeous dream in silk with a romantic floral pattern and a flowing hi-lo train on the side. For me it captures the spirit and mood of an early Summer evening in Italy, going out for some pre-dinner cocktails to enjoy the last of the evening sun before having dinner in a trattoria by the piazza. This dress also really makes me think of Dolce & Gabbana, the biggest source of fashion inspiration for me so I decided to style the dress using luxurious and playful accessories I can only dream of, for a full on magnificent Dolce & Gabbana Sicilian widow look.
Emphasizing the floral romantic theme of the dress, I've added a Floral Head Band with swarowski crystals, fresh water pearls and white flowers which looks beautiful on both long and short hair, and although the head band is a gorgeous piece of statement jewellery in itself, the look wouldn't be complete without some door knocker earrings and these Dolce & Gabbana Earrings with more pearls and enameled flowers are just perfect. The dress is long and flowing and although you can barely see the shoes, they are nevertheless a very important accessory and a pair of understated and classic Pointy Sling Back Kitten Heels from Lanvin adds a subtle touch of luxury with the python detailing at the tip, the strap and the heel of the shoe. There's nothing that says Summer and casual elegance like a woven raffia bag, and I love the contrasts of this Dolce & Gabbana Shoulder Bag between the very plain natural material and it's over the top and lavish embellishments of gold tone crystals and hardware. On to the finishing touches, and an outfit like this of course demands a dramatic statement lip, and the Tom Ford Lip Color in Cherry Lush is a lovely summer option with it's luscious raspberry red tone. Last but definitely not least we need a scent to frame the picture, and Dolce & Gabbanas latest creation - Dolce EdP really captures the mood. It's a delicate and feminine blend of white flowers and the typically Mediterranean scent of Neroli that adds an interesting edge to this very subtle and soft scent. 

I had so much fun creating this look and if you fancy taking part in the Fanny Crown Blogger Contest here's a link to the rules and a few examples of winning entries to get you inspired. If you've got a special occasion coming up I highly recommend that you keep the Fanny Crown Collection (ships worldwide) in mind for a gorgeous and memorable statement dress.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The latest release from Dior - Dior Addict Fluid Stick

In a very short amount of time I've gone from having almost a dislike towards lip glosses and owning only one or two, to become a complete afficionado with a decent little collection. A new addition to this growing collection is the latest product launch from Dior - the Dior Addict Fluid Stick (£26). This is another one of these "difficult to define" lip products; is it a lipstick, is it a lipgloss, is it a stain? that have become so popular and we've seen L'Oréal, Sleek, Hourglass and lots of other brands do versions of these. For me the original really is the YSL Glossy Stain, which is a product I absolutely love, so the Fluid Stick certainly had a lot to live up to. The packaging is just what you would expect from Dior - it's shiny, sleek and modern and really shows off each of the beautiful 16 colors in the range. I was immediately drawn to shade 551 Aventure which is a lovely bright and zesty coral, that looks almost orange in the tube, but it's a very wearable and summery color. that I think would work really well with many skin tones. 

Unlike a lot of lip products the Fluid Stick doesn't contain any wax, and instead the formula uses water, making the texture very smooth, slick, completely non sticky and it's so light and pleasant that it feels as if you're not wearing anything at all on your lips - it's quite a strange and refreshing sensation. The Fluid Stick comes with a doe foot applicator which is nice and firm for defining the lip contours but it's also flexible and bendy for a soft and easy one sweep application.
Dior Addict Fluid Stick - 551 Aventure

When you first apply the product it's a very high shine glossy look, and I would actually almost call it a wet look, but that sets after just a few minutes and turns into a much more sophisticated and muted highly pigmented look with a stylish glossy finish. After another few mins the color has set fully and developed into a stain and the formula then starts to feel a little bit thicker on the lips, but still with a nice and hydrating feeling which should be very soothing if you've got dry lips. The Fluid Stick turns into a stain very quickly but it also loses the glossiness, and personally I would have preferred it if the gloss lasted longer. It also transfers quite a lot as soon as you have a drink, which also chips away at the pigmentation so I wouldn't call this a long lasting formula. On me this only lasts with intense pigmentation for about an hr or so, and you can see pictures here on my Instagram of how it wears (photos from straight after application, after 1 hr and after 2 hrs).

I really like the smoothness and of the formula and how lovely and lightweight it feels on the lips - so from a consistency point of view it's even lovelier than the YSL Glossy Stain and I also like the initial strong pigmentation, however for me the wear unfortunately let's it down and the Fluid Stick comes nowhere close to the long wear I get from the YSL Glossy Stain. Maybe I have unrealistic expectations, but from a wear point of view it doesn't quite do it for me, especially not considering the price. I really love the shade 551 Aventure but that's as far as the adventure with Fluid Stick goes for me and I don't think I'll pick up any of the other shades. If you've tried this, please let me know what you think - perhaps it's just this shade that's not working out...?

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The InstaWeek that was #2 and You Decide!

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope you've all had a wonderful weekend and that you've recovered from the inevitably blue start to the week. It's time for a quick recap of what's on my Instagram this week and if you follow me you'll know that I show photos of products and other things that aren't published here on the blog, and if you're not already a follower - why not check it out! I also want to let you know that I'm introducing a new regular monthly feature, and I'll be reviewing a product that you have decided for me. It can be anything you want - skin care, makeup, perfume or even a very specific product e.g. Barry M Gelly Shine Polish in shade Dragonfruit (example only of course) that you have in mind as long as I can get hold of it here in the UK. Please let me know either in the comments section, on twitter, on Instagram or via e-mail what you would like me to review and your wish is my command - You Decide!
The InstaWeek that was:
Blueberry frangipani, you don't need any other excuse than that! // So excited to get my very first Cloud Nine straightener, and a review will be coming up soon // Looking for inspiration on a Sunday afternoon // OOTN - Dress from ASOS, and Necklace from New Look // Sun worshipping Cat // Friday night, return of Him Indoors from another trip to Italy, celebrated with some Italian goodies and a goodie bag // Content of goodie bag // Most loved this week: Soap & Glory Breakfast Scrub, Caudalie Divine Oil, Roberto Cavalli Exotica EdT, YSL Gloss Volupte and Lush Bunch of Carrots bubble bars // Soap & Glory A Great Kisser lip balm in Juicy Peach 

Highlights this week:
- Him Indoors coming back from his travel and spending a lovely weekend before jetting off again.
- A brilliant Saturday with some shopping, stuffing ourselves silly on the best burgers ever (even for veggies like myself) at Gourmet Burger Kitchen and watching Captain America The Winter Soldier
- Dior launch event of Dior Fluid Stick - review coming up tomorow!

I wish you all a wonderful day! Xx

Monday, 7 April 2014

Manic.Monday: Ciaté's Tweed is anything but twee...

I know I've been raving about how much I've embraced the pastel trend this year, and it's true I've loved wearing pastels both in my makeup and my clothes. But it isn't the only trend this season and I thought I would break up the pastel bonanza with a simple but chic homage to the monochrome. It may be a paradox but as much as I love color, my favorite color is actually black which I guess is really an absence of color. To me black embodies the timeless, stylish and elegant and a monochrome look is all of those things. But there are many ways of doing monochrome and today's look also has an element of the whimsical to it. As a nail polish fiend I closely follow the latest launches from the Big Brands and Ciaté is undeniably one of them, and their fabulous Tweed Collection inspired by iconic fashions houses in Paris was very difficult to resist - so difficult that I just decided not to even try. The collection has six polishes with different effects and colors ranging from textured confetti looks to glitter. Ciaté's Brocade Parade (£9) is a glitter polish with an irresistible mix of matte silver, black, grey and white speckles to imitate a classic tweed look.
When you see the glitter polish in the bottle it look so rich with particles that you can wear it on it's own - and that's how I tried it the first time I wore it, but after four coats (!) it still didn't look right and although it may not be intended as a top coat, but for me that's really how it  comes into its own and in the photos I wear two coats of Brocade Parade on top of Maybelline Color Show Nail Polish (£2.99) in Blackout. The texture is nice and easy to work with, and not in any way gloopy as many glitter polishes can be and you get a good amount of product on the brush to get an interesting distribution of the particles over the nail. You should experiment to see how many coats you prefer for your look, but two or three coats for me is just right to show of the contrasting particles but if you prefer to wear even more you'll be pleased to know that the polish dries very quickly. I can't actually say how long this wears when you wear it on its own, however as a top coat it'll easily last about four days and should you get chipping, you can quickly correct that and the whimsical pattern will hide any touch ups you've made.

Many of us love glitter polishes, but the big question which sometimes decides whether we'll buy a polish or not is - how difficult is it to remove? Well, when I used Brocade Parade on its own it was definitely difficult to take off, BUT as a top coat over whichever base shade you choose, it's much much easier which is another reason why I'll continue to use this as a top coat. I really like this look and I find it sleek and sophisticated but also fun, showing personality without being too outlandish and one thing's for certain this tweed is anything but twee...

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Micellar water à la Caudalie

Micellar waters were all the rave last year, and I even did a Face Off between products from four different brands that I had tried, but since then the hype has died down a little bit. The concept of micellar waters is excellent and it's a quick and easy way to get rid of make up, although for me they have never actually replaced a more heavy duty cleanser, and I tend to only use micellar solutions in the morning for a quick and gentle cleanse or as a full face cleanser when I'm traveling. Although every self respecting brand now has their version of micellar water, I just don't get as excited about them anymore as I did in the beginning - at least that was until I tried the Caudalie Make-up Remover Cleansing Water (£14.25 for 200 ml). It comes in a practical plastic bottle with a handy dispenser to make sure you only get the amount you need and it has wonderful, clean, fresh and "green" scent that is really refreshing. As with all Caudalie products the cleansing water uses ingredients from grapes and vines which are well known for being rich in anti-ageing properties, but it also contains camomile - another ingredient that you often see used in skin care because of its cleansing, moisturising, soothing and healing properties.
So it's a sweet smelling product with wonderful skin care ingredients, but does it actually do anything? YES!!!! Despite being such a gentle cleanser, it's very effective and removing both eye makeup and face makeup. If you soak a cotton pad with the solution, leave it on your eyelids for a few seconds, it dissolves every trace of makeup and even the smokiest of looks will be wiped away gently without any need for tugging or rubbing of the eyelids. Don't worry if you should get a bit of cleansing water in your eyes, it doesn't sting or irritate in any way and since it's so gentle this product is great even for very sensitive skin. When you've wiped away all the makeup your skin will feel very clean, soothed and refreshed without any dry sensation. It's a lovely cleansing water and it feels so relaxing that sometimes I even leave two cotton pads soaked with it on my eyes while I'm enjoying a nice pampering bath to treat the delicate eye area. If like me you're a bit blasé over micellar solutions, try the Caudalie Make-up Remover Cleansing Water and be prepared to get wowed and excited over micellar waters all over again.