Friday, 24 February 2012

January Glossybox Tried and Tested

Like every month I've had a bit of a play around with my Glossybox products so that I can review not just what I think about the box, but also how the actual products themselves are faring. I'm currently unsubscribed from Glossybox and as I've been a bit underwhelmed by its offerings lately I'm still on the fence about whether or not I should resubscribe.
Last month's reviews are also fairly late this time and I know that the new boxes have already arrived, but that's due to the fact that the Valentine's box came extremely late in the month. Anyway, enough babbling and let's see if the products were any good!

1) Eyeko Skinny Eyeliner in Midnight Blue

I wasn't one to rush to try out their new products after Eyeko rebranded and decided it was going to be a high end brand now. The packaging put me off a little, as I was not initially a fan of the pointy handle and that hasn't changed since. Here's what happened the first time I sharpened it:

The pointy bit fell off and dropped into the bin. I didn't particularly feel like fishing it out, so the problem was solved.
Packaging aside, the pencil was buttery soft and very pigmented. There was no tugging or pulling around the eye area to achieve a great sharp line and it didn't need to be warmed up beforehand either.

The shade is fairly pretty and though I would have loved to receive the pale pink version, it's nice to be pushed out of your comfort zone occasionally.
In terms of wear you have to be very careful where you apply this. I found that on the waterline this lasted a good 6-7 hours before sliding off into my lashes. I tried wearing it on my lashline (both top and bottom) and when set with powder it lasted around 3 hours before smudging. That didn't bother me too much, as it was a "pretty" kind of smudging, if you know what I mean. The kind where it slides off into your lashes and into your water line a little, making it look lived in and a bit rock chick.
However, worn around the eye without setting it with eye shadow it was a complete disaster. One hour later I had eye liner everywhere - all over my crease, my nose and in large blobs under my eyes which certainly did miracles to highlight my dark circles. Would I buy another one of these? No, they're good, but not for almost a tenner.

2) Clarins Extra Firming Day and Night Cream

I've put these two samples together, as they were meant to be used in conjunction, so that's what I did! It's just my luck that my favourite product also has to be the most expensive and one of the two that came without discount code. At first I was a little bit apprehensive, as anti-ageing creams tend to be a little too heavy for my skin and generally speaking my face prefers things that are as simple and fuss-free as possible.
I needn't have worried, as the texture of both of these creams was light and silky, but still creamy and nourishing.

Top: Clarins Extra Firming Day Cream
Bottom: Clarins Extra Firming Night Cream
As you'd expect the night cream is richer than the day cream, though the difference is actually barely noticable when applied on the skin.
Usually I pin all of my hair out of my face before my skincare routine and then run around with a little fauxhawk while my moisturiser sinks in, but with these I didn't have to do that at all, as my skin drank them up immediately. Both moisturisers fared equally well on my dry winter cheeks and on my oily forehead, though if you have very dry skin I don't think these would be nourishing enough. For me however, they felt absolutely amazing and my skin almost literally sighed a bit sigh of relief everytime I put these on.
One thing I did notice, however: Though these creams didn't break me out I had a few blemishes from before I started using them and they took forever and ever to disappear. I'm not sure if it's the cream or the change of climate, but it's worth noting for those who suffer from regular break-outs.
As for the anti-ageing properties I cannot comment or judge at this moment in time.

3) FAB Body Moisturizer

One of my pet hates is thin, runny body lotion - I really hate that stuff with a passion, so I was glad when I saw that this body moisturizer is in fact of the thicker variety. I wasn't so glad when I realised that the sample packaging was designed with a thin runny lotion in mind, so it was almost impossible to squeeze anything out of this tube. Once I was about halfway through nothing would come out anymore, so I tried cutting the plastic bottle open and broke my scissors and cut my hand. So much for that. From what I can see on the Boots website the full size of this comes in identical packaging. Unhygienic as they might be, there's a reason thick body creams and butters always come in pots rather than bottles.
To add insult to injury (quite literally) the actual product is fantastic. I didn't think I'd like it, but I loved it. It was thick and creamy, but once it warmed up on contact with the skin it became runnier which made it very easy to spread. It then sunk in almost instantly.

This body cream is unscented which is great news for those who suffer from sensitive skin or just don't like the scent of body products lingering on their skin. Personally, I prefer to use scented products, but that's just a matter of taste and I did find it was perfect to use after my Lush baths, as they had already left my skin scented enough.
Overall: Amazing product, awful packaging.

4) Murad Skin Perfecting Primer - Dewy Finish

Oh my. After my initial disgust I still had to give this a test run in order to give an honest and objective review.
We shall start with the texture, as this is definitely one of this product's strengths. It feels very light, almost like water and though it initially applies incredibly patchy this can be remedied with a bit of blending and rubbing.

Now let's move on to the obvious point: Why, just WHY did Murad have to tint this product? They claim that it adapts to any skin tone, but it simply doesn't. Now I know that I'm pale being a Mac NC15 and all, but surely I am not alone in this. Just look at the picture, look at it:

Ok, I realise I'm kind of going on about it. Maybe if you're medium or dark skinned your natural skin tone may be strong enough to overpower the obvious orange-ness of this product.
There are two versions of this primer and this is the dewy finish which is absolutely spot on, as it didn't mattify at all. That didn't bother me, as it just meant I had to powder my forehead where I get oily and the rest of my skin was fine. You can wear this either as a tinted moisturiser on its own or underneath foundation.
On its own it looked horrid on me. After about an hour it only seemed to be getting more orange and only stayed put for about four hours in total. Again with the colour you might get away with it if you have medium or dark skin.
When I put foundation over the top the shade problem was less obvious, but as I don't really wear any full coverage foundation it still seemed a bit off. The good news is that it really did prolong the wear of my foundation! It went from around 8 hours to just over 10, which meant that at the end of a normal day my foundation was still firmly in place. However, instead of just kind of melting off my face like it usually does when it can't last any longer, my foundation creased and gathered in all my expression lines at the end of the day when I used this underneath. Then again, maybe I was just frowning a lot because my face was still slightly orange. Ok, enough of that, I'll stop now. Promise.

Would I purchase any of the products that were in the Valentine's Glossybox? No. Definitely no. Though I loved the Clarins skincare samples the full sized products would come to a combined price of almost £100 and I know that I can get something equally good for less money. The FAB moisturiser was great, but the packaging is highly disfunctional and I just prefer my body creams to smell of something nice and fruity. As for the other products they were lacking in either one or several departments and I would consider both a huge waste of money for me.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

ELF Studio Brush Review

A while ago I needed to expand my brush collection (actually, I still do), but as I didn't particularly feel like spending a fortune in MAC I decided to buy some brushes from ELF instead. The four brushes I will be reviewing here are the Retractable Lip Brush, the Stipple Brush, the Small Angled Brush and the Kabuki Brush, which all form part of the studio line. It's taken me a while to write up this review, as I wanted to really put them through their paces before commenting on the quality and I've actually had them since before Christmas.

First up is the Retractable Lip Brush, which costs £3.50. I wanted a lip brush that I could chuck into my handbag for on-the-go touch ups of lipstick without having to worry about lipstick smudges getting everywhere and that's exactly where this brush comes in.

This has a clever little mechanism where you pull off the lid and slide it onto the back of the pencil in order to push the bristles out. This way you can control how far you want the brush to push out, which will determine the bristle length and firmness. It's a great idea, but unfortunately something in the mechanism broke after a few washes and now the lid won't go on properly. It's not so bad that I can't use it properly, but I do need to be careful when I carry it in my handbag.
As for the brush quality it's pretty good, unbeatable for the price. I love the fact that you can control the firmness of the brush, though even at full length (as pictured above) the bristles are still quite firm which makes precise application of lipstick a breeze.

Next up is the Small Angled Brush at £3.50 as well.

I'll be honest with you: When I first got this brush I thought I'd have to throw it away. I bought it with the intention to use it with brow powder, but the bristles were incredibly sharp and scratchy, which made for a painful application and tremendous amounts of fallout in the powder pan. In theory this could be used to apply eye liner as well, but with the amount of scratchiness I wouldn't dream of putting it anywhere near my eyes.
Then something magical happened. After a few washes the sharpness of the bristles seemed to disappear. They softened just enough to make application a pleasure, but not so much to lose their firmness which is much needed for precise application.
The tip of the brush is fairly wide, so if you want to use it for eye liner or for tightlining it's only good if you're after a wide line - not so great if thin application is what you're after.

Moving on to the Stipple Brush, which -surprise, surprise- also cost £3.50

I bought this to apply my foundation with and I have to say I'm not a massive fan of the result this brush gives me. I'm not sure if it's something all stippling brushes share, but I found that I really have to work my foundation in, otherwise I get lots and lots of little uneven patches. Once worked in, however, my foundation made me look almost airbrushed, a fantastic result. Ultimately, I think that this brush could do with being a bit denser. Once the hairs get in contact with anything liquid they tend to clump together and it doesn't feel like there's that many of them there at all!
However, I've found a perfect alternative for this, which is to apply creme blusher. This brush is now BFFs with my Topshop blush and together they give a gorgeous, dewy finish, which unlike the foundation isn't patchy at all.

I admit I saved the best till last. I present you proudly the Kabuki Face Brush, which is the most expensive of the lot at £5.00.

Now, this brush is a dream. As soon as I opened the packaging I discovered it was incredibly soft, which makes running it over my face a pleasure every single time. I use this to powder my face and it picks up the perfect amount of product and dispenses it evenly for exactly the kind of finish that I'm trying to achieve. I really can't say anything bad about this brush, other than that it takes a long time to dry after washing, which is due to the fact it is so dense and fluffy!

As for longevity I have to say that none of these brushes shed a single bristle. Not once. And that's more than I can say for my MAC brushes which always shed a fair bit until they've been through the wash a couple of times. The only thing I would criticise would be the handles. As mentioned above, the mechanism on the lip brush broke after a while and the handle has loosened from the ferrule a little on the stipple brush. This makes me think that these brushes certainly won't last a lifetime, as some higher end ones would, but for the price they are absolutely unbeatable.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Illamasqua Nail Polish in Elope

I mentioned this last month when Illamasqua were running an offer where you got a free nail polish with any two purchased products at the counter. The freebie shades that were available were quite limited and it was between this and a gorgeous pastel lilac, but eventually I decided to go for the one out-there shade, which was Elope!

This is a bright green shade which I would describe as grass green, which translates very well from the bottle to the actual nail.

Unfortunately, I seem to have had nothing but trouble with this nail polish. First of all, let's talk about consistency. It already seemed strangely runny in the bottle, which was more than disastrous on the nails. The brush is your bog-standard thin brush and whereas I tend to favour the wide ones it's not usually a problem. With this formula, however, it meant that the polish slipped and slid all around my nail and I had to get the coats extremely thin.
Coat number one was incredibly streaky - in fact, the messiest finish I've ever had on my nails. Coat number two somewhat remedied the streakiness, but I could still see the white nail tip shine through the colour. After coat three nothing much had changed, so I decided to call it a day.

The polish dries to a semi-matte jelly formula and I'm not entirely sure if that finish works so well with this particular shade. I normally discard anything that takes more than two coats, but I really wanted to like this nail polish, which is why I applied three. At least the layers seemed to dry very quickly, so after three and a half hours (!!) of sitting around I assumed it would be safe to go to bed.


This is what I woke up with:

Boo! You can still see the white nail tips and the polish is covered in scratches and smudges. Not pretty.

As I said before, I really, really wanted to like this product. I've been nothing but impressed with all my Illamasqua purchases so far and after a bit of googling I couldn't find anyone else with a similar problem. In fact, the polish seems to look completely different on other people, so I'm thinking that maybe I got a dodgy bottle? In fact, the Illamasqua website claims this is a glossy finish, which I did not achieve at all! I can't complain that much, seeing as it was a freebie after all, but I don't think I'll ever be using this again, as there's no way I can spare upwards of four hours to wait for my nail polish to dry.

These normally retail at £13.50 each for which you get a 15ml bottle - one of those big enough to probably never be used up.

Have you tried any Illamasqua nail polishes and how did you like them?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

LUSH time! Blackberry Bath Bomb and Yuzu & Cocoa Bubbleroon

I confessed a while ago that I hadn't been in a Lush store for years and years, but after reading so many good things about some Lush products I decided that it was time to treat myself and try out some lovely bath products.
The two things I decided to go for were the Blackberry Bath Bomb and the Yuzu & Cocoa Bubbleroon

Stupid me forgot to take a picture before chucking it in the bath
The Blackberry Bath Bomb set me back by £2.90. I know most people break these in half, but I didn't feel like making a mess in my bathroom and just chucked the whole lot in. It smelled absolutely gorgeous, like raspberry and blackberry and I just adore fruity fresh scents, so this was fantastic.

The bath bomb instantly fizzed away and turned my water a bright purple colour. Even if I'd changed my mind then to rescue some of it before disappearing I would have had no chance as it was gone within seconds.

As you can see, when I said bright purple bath water, I meant bright purple bath water! It foamed a little bit at the start, but that soon disappeared and there were no bubbles. That's not an issue, however, as these don't claim to product bubbles in the bath.

Fortunately the bright colouring did not stain my skin at all and I didn't emerge as a little purple alien. The smell lingered as long as I was in the bath, but didn't stay on once I got out.
One thing I do have to mention is that the girl in the shop told me this worked like a fortune cookie and would pop out a little message once thrown in the bath, which as you can see didn't happen. This wasn't the only reason I bought it, but I still wish that people in shops would know their products.
I enjoyed using this in the bath, but for almost three pounds a pop I'm not sure I'll be indulging in this very often.

The other little bath goodie I treated myself to was the Yuzu and Cocoa Bubbleroon.

This is a macaroon shaped bath product which consists of two halves with a moisturising cream in between. It was a tiny bit more expensive than the bath bomb at £2.95.

I'm not entirely sure why this is called Yuzu and Cocoa when the one thing it smells of more than anything is coconut. Having said that the scent is absolutely gorgeous, like a tropical cocktail. With this in the bath and my eyes closed I instantly felt transorted to a remote sunny island - heaven!

I was told I'd get two uses out of this by twisting it at the middle, so at first I used only half. However, the above picture shows how the water looked after only running for two minutes or so and the bubbles were quickly disappearing, so I threw in the other half to get myself some proper bubbling action!

It still wasn't mad on bubbles, but I do have to mention that I use a huge bathtub, so it would probably be a bit different in a normal sized one. The water turned a light orange and the little bits you can see floating about in the above picture dissolved quickly.

The bubbles made this a much softer and creamier experience and my skin felt a little bit softer when I got out of the bath. The scent also lingered for a few hours, though it was in no way overpowering or unpleasant.
Again, it was a lovely treat but not something I'd repeat regularly considering the price.

So now the question of all questions: Am I hooked on Lush?
Possibly. I'm not going to rush out to try any of their skin care products as I didn't overly love a sample they gave me with my purchase and I just like my cosmetics to feel a bit more luxurious rather than DIY. The bath products, however, are a different story. I'd be happy to try out a few more from time to time, though I think that next time I feel like treating myself I will order online to avoid a lot of hassle.

If you're a LUSH fanatic and have any recommendations, please share them in the comments section!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Bourjois Bio Detox Foundation Review

I cannot say that I've always been particularly open to experiments when it comes to foundation. I found my perfect match in MAC and wouldn't buy any other brand for years due to traumatic mis-matching at other brands' counters. However, about a year or so ago, I decided it was time to branch out a little. I tried some Chanel which I've rambled on about enough already, but I'd also heard some good things about Bourjois foundations. As they're drugstore they're a lot easier on the wallet and there was nobody there to argue with me about the right shade for my skin.

I eventually went for the Bio Detox foundation - not out of choice, but because this was the only one that came in a shade light enough for my NC15 complexion.

I have to state from the very beginning, that the shade match was the only reason I bought this foundation. The fact that it is organic was a bonus, but it is not something I actively seek out when purchasing cosmetics (as opposed to when I buy food). Having said that, it is pretty impressive that such a mainstream brand has brought out a product that deserves the Ecocert badge. Ecocert carries very strict criteria and at least 95% of all ingredients must be natural or of natural origin, so you're guaranteed a fitting product if this is something that's important to you.

The product is housed inside a plastic bottle that is made to look like glass with a milky white cap. The packaging looks fairly elegant apart from the lid which is a bit flimsy and tacky looking. Nevertheless this is certainly not a product I would be too embarrassed to have on display!
It houses 30ml of product which is a very good amount - more than I was able to use, but more on that later. The foundation also comes with a pump dispenser which gets a big thumbs up from me for hygiene and also making it easy to get the right dose of product. The tip of the pump does tend to get clogged a little from time to time, but this wasn't a major issue for me, as it just needed a pump to squeeze out the blockage.

The actual foundation itself is quite a thick liquid, though it is by no means greasy. Unfortunately I found this product extremely difficult to blend. I could practically forget using any kind of brush with this foundation, as it would just leave a horrible streaky mess. It fared a little better when blended in with my hands, but still took a lot of attention. I just could not rush application or otherwise I'd be looking in the mirror at a later point only to find streaks of foundation all over my face.
Since buying this product I have found out that this problem occurs due to the fact that this foundation contains no silicone. I won't pretend that I know an awful lot about this (Lisa Eldridge made a fantastic video about organic and natural make-up in which she explains all about silicones here), but basically silicone is responsible for that lovely smooth feel that makes some foundations just glide over your skin.
Here are some swatches to show you just how difficult it is to blend:

Bourjois Bio Detox straight out of the pump

Blended out a little

Blended out more....

Blended out "fully" though you can still see some lines
Due to this problem I had to be extremely careful, as improper blending would only highlight pores, dry patches or expression lines.

Now, I don't really want to give this product a bad review because of this. After all it prides itself on the fact that it contains mainly natural ingredients, so this is the result you're going to get (and I'm sure you could do a lot worse!). It's a bit like ordering a vegetarian meal at a restaurant and then sending it back because it doesn't contain any meat.

However, I would like to note that this also impaired the product's longevity. After about six months it became so thick that I struggled to get it out of the tube, by which point I knew it was gone off and had to chuck it in the bin, despite the fact that there was still a healthy amount of foundation left in the packaging.

Finally, I would recommend this foundation only to those who are serious about their natural beauty and skincare products. If you're a fan of melt-on make-up like I am and just want to try out something different, then by all means do, but chances are you're not going to get on with this. But if you are one of the former, then this will be great as it's so easily accessible and the price is very reasonable as well.

This is available for £10.99 at drugstores, supermarkets and some pharmacies.

Have you tried any natural/organic foundations? What are your experiences?