Saturday, 29 June 2013

Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette Review

I've owned this palette for quite some time now, but somehow haven't got round to reviewing it yet. There are literally tons upon tons of reviews and swatch posts on the web, but surely it can't hurt to add my own two cents, eh?

This palette is my first Urban Decay product ever and it took some massive hyping up for me to part with £36 for what is effectively a box full of brown eye shadows.

The Naked 2 palette comes in a sturdy metal tin with a large mirror in the lid and a double sided brush. Also enclosed is a small lipgloss sample, which I find a little random and have barely touched to be completely honest with you.

The shades range from a pale skin tone beige up to a matte black, with a variety of neutral shimmers in between. The one thing this palette offers that sets it above the rest is an awful lot of room to play with simple daytime or dramatic evening looks. It's amazing for holidays or even short weekends away. Chuck it into your luggage and that's your eye make up sorted.

The shadows are all very soft to the touch but haven't crumbled or cracked once ever since I've had the palette. The shimmery shades offer far more pigmentation than the mattes, though there is also quite a significant amount of fallout with those shades.

As for lasting power I'd say these perform about average - about 4 hours without a primer on my oily lids and pretty much all day with a good primer.

To be completely homest with you these are a little bit too much on the golden shimmery side for me and I could have done with a little less shimmer on some of the shadows. However, there are just so many looks you can play with and so many combinations to try out that you'd never get bored of this. Every single colour will go well with any other colour in the palette.

I'm a little unsure on whether or not this is worth the hype surrounding it after all or not. For me, it was a £36 well spent, but I think that was mainly due to the fact that I didn't own a lot of neutrals before that. For someone who already has an extensive collection of neutral eye shadows I believe you could quite happily give it a miss.

Top l-r: Foxy, Half Baked, Bootycall, Chopper / Bottom l-r: Tease, Snakebite, Suspect, Pistol
L-r: Verve, YDK, Busted, Blackout
Do you own any of the Urban Decay Naked Palettes? What do you think about yours?

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Review: Chanel Rouge Coco in 21 Rivoli

Say what you want about Chanel - in the past I have been left very unimpressed by certain things that have been said and done in connection to this brand - but there's just something about those two interlocked C's that screams luxury and elegance any way you look at it.

While I'm a massive fan of Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua foundation, I've not yet taken the plunge to purchase anything else from their make-up collection (maybe due to the fairly luxurious price tag) - up until now. As a bit of a treat to myself, I trekked to the Chanel counter in Selfridges and asked the MUA for a lipstick that would make a change from the dusky pinks and rosy nudes I always go for.

I ended up with a Rouge Coco lipstick in shade 21, Rivoli. As far as packaging goes, Chanel are pretty hard to beat. As a brand they seem to know exactly where they want to be positioned and every minute detail will reflect that. The case is sleek, elegant and classy. No frills, no girly swirls, no futuristic novelty, no avant-garde. Just classic, timeless design that speaks for itself.

You certainly don't have to be embarrassed pulling one of these out in public to touch up your make-up. As far as functionality goes, the case is solid and secure, so no need to worry about the lid sliding off in your handbag or the twisty element breaking. This one's going to last.

Now, onto the shade. Rivoli is a deep wine red, shot through with flattering blue undertones that perk up the complexion and make teeth appear whiter. I've always shied away from bright lipsticks a little bit, as they can sometimes wash out my pale complexion, but there's something about this shade that makes me believe that it would look good on pretty much any skin tone.

Chanel Rouge Coco in 21 Rivoli hand swatch
On the lips it gives a velvety, semi-matte finish that lasts about 4 hours and will survive small bouts of eating, drinking or smoking. It does not seem to stain the lips very much, so after a while reapplication is definitely needed. I'll be completely honest and say that it's not the softest and most comfortable lipstick formula I've ever worn - it doesn't dry lips out but at the same time it doesn't provide any form of moisturisation either.

Chanel Rouge Coco in 21 Rivoli in natural light
Chanel Rouge Coco in 21 Rivoli with flash
However, the colour distributes evenly and smoothly without streaking or settling into lip lines, which is often a problem with more pigmented lip shades.

So, what's the final verdict? There is nothing about this lipstick that you wouldn't technically be able to get for a much lower price. The high street is full of budget and mid-market brands that would easily provide a dupe for this colour. Wearability, longevity and pigmentation were all excellent, but again nothing that other brands haven't done, either. What you pay for, is the luxury aspect of this lipstick and I, for one, made a conscious decision to do just that, which is why I love it to pieces.
But unlike my deeply beloved Chanel foundation, I wouldn't say that this lipstick is a must-have I couldn't live without.

Sunday Catch-Up #12

One of the things I love about London: Sushi delivery services! // Quiet Saturday night with Grazia and a bar of Dairy Milk // New jewellery from Camden Market // Drinking pina coladas out of pineapples - on a Thursday morning // Tried out my new Headline Colors polish // My blog hit 100k visits! // Beauteco box arrived and got me very excited // Found a toy horse, took him home // Japanese Zen garden at Kew Botanical gardens

Shhhh, so I may be doing a Sunday catch-up on a Monday - I'm a rebel like that.
Has it been 2 months since I last did a catch-up post anyway?? I've moved and settled into the new flat share and am thoroughly enjoying the freedom of not living with either mine or my boyfriend's relatives.
We went to Kew for their summer IncrEdibles display, which was alright as we'd not yet seen the rest of the gardens, but I'm not sure I'd go there just for the exhibition alone.
I then spent Thursday in Camden browsing the stalls and eating lots of delicious market food (-and, erm, getting slightly drunk on pina coladas). I then proceeded not knowing what to do with myself on Saturday night, so opted for a magazine and chocolate combo - never a bad idea!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Bourjois Cream Blush Review - Shade 03, Rose Tender

There's been a bit of a hype around this launch, so I feel like I'm a little late with my actual review of the Bourjois Cream Blush - apologies if you're fed up of them popping up all over your dashboard, haha!

One of my very first blushes was actually from Bourjois, which at the time was a brand that was difficult to get hold of for me. Unfortunately I no longer own it and I don't even remember what happened to it in the end. Anyway, I now have a new one to play with, so I'm not too sad about it.

The packaging of these is very similar to the "little round pot" packaging that is so inherent to Bourjois as a brand. However, the cream blushes are a little wider, thinner, lighter and just overall sleeker. They also house a magnifying mirror in the lid, which is a bit small to do your make-up in, but will do the job in a pinch.
Out of the four shades that have launched I got 03, Rose Tender to review.

Bourjois Cream Blush 03 Rose Tender Swatch
Rose Tender is a dark, dusky pink shot through with little flecks of shimmer in the pan. It applies a little sheerer and therefore lighter than it looks in the packaging, though I have no doubt that you could easily build it up to its true pan colour if you ever wished to do that.
Personally, I prefer to have a lighter flush on the cheeks and that's easily done applying it just with my fingers. The pigmentation is pretty much spot on in my opinion and while it's not ultra-bright and pigmented, that means that it's much easier to apply even for someone who might be a tad heavy-handed.

The blush applies as a cream and then dries down to a powder finish, just as advertised. Thankfully, the bits of shimmer translate into a healthy, flushed glow, rather than into glitter face.
There's just one negative with this blush and that is its staying power. It lasts about 4 hours on my face and then simply melts off and as it's a cream product it's not very convenient to reapply it on the go.

Is it worth the hype then? Yeeee...almost. It ticks pretty much every box apart from longevity, which I feel could be vastly improved. At £7.99 per pot though, I feel like it's a very welcome addition to the high street cream blusher department.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

June Wish List

June Wish List
White Diamond Print Jacket, Romwe, £40.28 // Ivory Tassel Bracelet, Urban Outfitters, £8 // Fluro Lace Plastic Mac, Topshop, £45 // Cutout Geo Necklace, Forever21, £3.15 // Jordan Wolf Crewneck, Drop Dead Clothing, £50 // Eagle Necklace, Asos, £15 // Photo Dove Tee, Topshop, £16

Admittedly, this month's wish list is a tad top heavy, but I've come to realise that I'm simply not a summery flutter dress kind of gal - and the recent weather has had me craving something warm and snuggly to throw over.
The star of this month's list has got to be that Topshop coat. Neon, lace and pvc all in one? It shouldn't work, but it so does and I would undoubtedly get a lot of use out of it in these grey and rainy conditions.
When I first heard that Olli Sykes, lead singer of Bring Me The Horizon, had his own clothing brand I was a tad skeptical - but after having a bit of a rummage through Drop Dead Clothing's site I found myself liking most of the items on there, particularly the wolf jumper.
I'm also a major fan of the diamond baseball jacket by Romwe - this type of diamond is exactly the style I want as part of my tattoo sleeve!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Beauteco Box June 13 - A new kid on the beauty box block

After last month's incredibly disappointing Birchbox I thought that was it - I was done with beauty boxes and the slew of same old samples, mixed with the bitter disappointment that personal beauty profiles seemed not to be taken into account at all. I was done wasting my money.
Then Beauteco popped up on the market, with a whole new concept. Rather than make you fill out lengthy profiles, only to ignore your input completely when the boxes were packed, they let you choose one of three variations for yourself, before it gets delivered.

At first, I was unsure. Getting to pick a box completely destroys the element of surprise, which was the main thing I loved about beauty boxes when they first launched. But when I took a peak on their website to see what was on offer, I couldn't help but feel a little excited, so I selected box 2 out of 3 and handed over my hard earned cash.

I cannot help but say a few words on the packaging of this box. At first Glossybox seemed to get it spot on with their luxurious packaging with plenty attention to detail. After a while, however, I just didn't know what to do with all those hard cardboard boxes - they were too pretty to throw away, but a girl only needs so many pink boxes in her life. Birchbox packaging on the other hand didn't appeal to me at all. A tiny brown box with this random drawstring bag that nobody needs in their life - it went straight in the bin as soon as it arrived.
Beauteco Box seem to have hit the nail on the head. There's no "box within a box" inception going on here, just one outer packaging which is filled with some pretty tissue paper and the products. No clutter, no unnecessary random bits, but still enough prettiness to make this feel like a treat. I'm impressed.

Now, while I knew pretty much exactly what would be in my box, I still couldn't help but feel rather excited about unwrapping it and inspecting each and every item. Here's the selection I went for.

1) Organic Surge | Gentle Cleansing Lotion
Full size: £5.99 for 200ml

I opted for the lotion over the cleansing wipes or the moisturiser, as I felt that this is what my skin will get on with the best (that and I just bought a really disappointing cleanser, so was in dire need of a new one). This is a full sized product, so I'm sure I'll get plenty of use out of it. It has a very refreshing herbal scent - you can really, really smell the rosemary, but it's not unpleasant. Two things I'm not a great fan of is that it's quite hard to get out of the tube and I can see myself struggling to get the bottom bits out. The instructions also say to wipe this off with a tissue or cotton pad and I much prefer to wash my face with something I can just rinse off with water rather than littering my bathroom with bits of cotton.

2) Headline Colors | Glamour Nail Polish
Full size: £9 for 10ml

Two items in and I've already made my money back on this box with another full sized product. Granted, the bright blue colour from box one would have been much more "me", but I'm sure I'll still enjoy this one as well. While I have plenty of blues in my nail polish collection, there's not a single gold colour, so it's going on my nails pretty much straight away!

3) Amie | New Leaf Skin Exfoliating Polish
Full size: £4.95 for 75ml

Woah, there - it's another full sized product in my box! This product was available in all three boxes, but I'm still very happy I got it. I love a good grainy exfoliator and this one looks like it fits the ticket perfectly. And the smell - oh my god, the smell. It smells like an even more delicious version of a Solero ice cream and makes my mouth water every time I get a little whiff. Cannot wait to try this out.

4) Balance Me | Wonder Eye Cream
Full size: £20 for 15ml / Sample value: £13.33

Though this is the first item that's "only" a sample size, it's still an incredibly generous sample which I'm sure will last me a long time. This is exactly what I have in mind when beauty boxes promise "luxury samples" and I would have still been happy if there were no full sized products, but all samples were this size.
Balance Me are a brand that has been popping up in beauty boxes before, but never in one I've had. I've never read a bad review of any of their products and they appear in loads of "Favourites" type posts, so I was dying to give them a go. This is another product that appeared in all 3 versions of this month's box.

5) Eve of St Agnes | Body Balm
Full size: £6

Here's me complaining about multi-purpose balms and then I go and pick a box with a body balm over a moisturiser or a nutritional supplement. Truth be told, I'm not quite sure yet how and when I'm going to use this. I imagine it will be of much more use to me in winter, when my skin can get quite dry, but at the moment a normal body moisturiser does the job just fine. This does have an amazing rose scent to it, so I'm thinking I might just use it in small amounts after showering and see what it does to my skin. Did I mention it's another full sized product?

Total value: £45.94

Overall, I have to say, Beauteco Box have simply blown me away. With four full sized products and one very generous sample - all of which I'm going to get some sort of use from, the box feels like a real treat to me. I didn't miss the element of surprise at all, but instead got rather excited about getting a box full of goodies that I know are tailored to my needs. 
Though none of the brands featured were luxury brands, I still made my money back both in mathematical, as well as perceived value. The fact that the focus is on natural and organic beauty means I get to try out loads of brands I've never used before.
Most importantly, however, Beauteco Box have managed to do something other subscription services have failed to do for the past couple of months: To really get me excited about beauty boxes once again.

Atrixo Enriched Moisturising Cream Review

When I was contacted by Atrixo a few months back I couldn't quite place the brand name. The logo and the name rang a bell somehow, somewhere, but I couldn't quite figure out where I'd seen them.
Atrixo make a variety of hand creams catering to different skin type needs at very reasonable drugstore prices. One of the products I got to test out by them was the Enriched Moisturising Cream.

If you've read any of my other hand cream reviews you'll know that I'm quite awkward with hand creams. I hate the greasy, sticky feeling they leave on my hands and will pretty much never use a hand cream during the day, preferring to lather up over night, when getting cream on everything I touch doesn't bother me.

The Enriched Moisturising Cream comes in either a squeezy tube or a pot. The cream is pretty much identical, though I find that it's a little bit thicker in the tub and also seems to sink in a little bit faster.

As soon as I had a little whiff of the cream, it hit me straight away where I'd heard of Atrixo before. It turns out my mum used to use this cream religiously a few years back. So you might be able to imagine that the soft camomile scent instantly transported me back to my childhood, wrapping me in a warm blanket of comfort.

As for the formula, I have to admit I'm quite impressed considering the budget price tag. I've even found myself using the potted version during the daytime and carrying a little handbag friendly pot in my handbag for slathering on on the go, which is something that doesn't usually happen. I won't lie and say it sinks in straight away, as I do find myself waving my hands about for a few minutes after application, but it doesn't take anywhere near as long as most other hand creams I've tried.

I like to use the squeezy tube over night and it does enough to make my hands soft over night - not to mention the camomile scent actually helps me relax and unwind a little, making for better sleep (at least that's what I tell myself). For winter, when my hands get extremely dry to the point of skin cracking, I think it wouldn't quite be strong enough, but for the rest of the year it does an excellent job.

I also have the "intensive" and "regenerating" versions of this to try which I imagine will give my hands a stronger hit of moisture, so maybe more suitable for when the temperatures turn back to freezing. I'll keep you posted on how I get along with them, but for now let's enjoy this "summer", shall we?

The Enriched Moisturising Cream is available in a 200ml tub for £2.80, a 100ml squeezy tube for £2.50, or you could opt for the mini size at £2.05 for 50ml.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Soap & Glory Peaches And Clean Review

This is another item I received in one of those massive bumper packs of Soap & Glory items you could buy in Boots just before Christmas. Apologies for the rubbish pictures, I took them when I was extremely tired and didn't even notice how badly they turned out up until I'd already used this up completely.

Peaches and Clean is a mild cleansing lotion with an absolutely amazing sweet but not sickly peach smell. It comes in a pump which makes for hygienic and easy use. I used two pumps in the mornings and three in the evenings when my skin needs more of a thorough cleanse.

While I found that it was very gentle on the skin, the product didn't quite give me that feeling of thoroughly cleansed and soft skin that I get from other cleansers. It performed alright and did get rid of all of my daily make-up residue and dirt and grime. However, I just felt that there was something missing - this sort of glow that I've been getting off other cleansers I loved.

I've seen this raved about on plenty of beauty blogs, so I guess it just goes to show that different products work for different products and while I don't want to give this a bad review, I just cannot help but feel a bit "meh" about its performance.
At £7 for a 200ml bottle, it's reasonably enough priced to find out for yourself, should you wish to try it out. And it's worth giving it a whiff for the amazing scent alone.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Primark Haul!

Thanks to our recent move into a new flat and the costs of moving/decorating/van hiring, plus deposits and bills mean that I've had to seriously tighten the belt when it comes to beauty and fashion spending. But when my friend/new flatmate just kept coming back with new Primark goodies every time she left the house, I simply couldn't resist popping in myself.
Primark's printed t-shirts and brightly coloured jeggings have pretty much turned into my work uniform and I just cannot believe how good their things have become in the recent months. So, naturally, I didn't quite leave empty-handed.

First up were these amazing sunglasses for a bargain £3. Granted, you'd get some funny looks walking down the street in these, but for festivals or for going out these will be amazing. Absolutely adorable!

I love phone clutches, they are just such a practical invention for when you want to go out without taking a big bag. They also allow you to hit the dance floor without having to have a designated bag watcher person or making that awkward pile of bags and jackets on the floor while sorta dancing around it in clubs. This was £6.

I still remember those times during my early teens when my mum kept buying me "happy socks" with colourful patterns and prints and I thought it was the most embarrassing thing in the world. All I wanted was some plain black socks... how things have changed. I went a little wild for the neons here and at £2 for three pairs or £1.50 for three pairs of the ankle socks I just got all the brightest ones.

Onto more formerly embarrassing things: Onesies! I am a firm believer that everyone should own at least one onesie (I now have three) and wear it out in public at least once in their lives. Me and aforementioned friend/new flatmate simply couldn't resist buying matching strawberry ones, so that we can hang out in our lounge and be strawberries together. As you do. This was £12.

Onto some home-y items. I'd describe my style as loud and bright with a dash of rock'n'roll, but when it comes to home decoration I'm a massive fan of countryside interiors and anything vintage. I just couldn't say no to this comfy floral print and polka-dot owl cushion which again was a snap at £4. I've not yet decided on a name for my pet cushion though, any suggestions?

Carrying on with the owl theme here is this bath mat, as pictured on our incredibly glamorous bathroom floor. You know that horrible moment when you're all warm and cozy in a steamed up shower and then you have to get back out again into the cold real world? I just made that moment just a little bit more bearable with this cute little mat, which cost £6.

Last but not least I couldn't resist a little bit of jewellery. The above picture actually shows two sets of bracelets, but I got so excited about them I put them all on straight away and then I couldn't remember which came in which set. Awesome for summer, they're hippie, grunge and rave all in one go. Unfortunately the poor manufacturing showed in these straight away, as most of them broke just a few days after I bought them.

Have you been to Primark lately?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Crystal Clear No Shine Serum Review

Following my review of the Crystal Clear Deep Cleanse Gel, I now have another goodie from the same brand to tell you about. The No Shine Serum is a light serum aimed at oily and spot prone skin. My skin is more normal to combination, but I've been using this in the mornings on my T-Zone only, as this is the area of my face where I get quite a bit of shine from time to time.

The serum is light, but creamy and sinks into the skin immediately, leaving it feeling beautifully refreshed. It also has a zingy citrus smell, which I just adore in any beauty product and is particularly great as a pick-me-up in the mornings.
While I struggled to come to grips with the Deep Cleanse Gel at first, this is a whole different story. My skin loves this stuff. I've used it on my cheeks a few times and while I didn't get any obvious skin benefits from using it, it didn't dry them out either, like some products aimed at oily skin can.
On my T-Zone, however, it's doing an amazing job. Just like it promises on the packet, it keeps oil and shine at bay, which means that my make-up lasts much longer during the day. And instead of just sliding off my face in the afternoon, I just get this sort of dewy look whenever I use this serum - shiny, but in a very, very good way. As for impurities, I don't really get that many, but I have noticed a bit of an improvement where I sometimes get hormonal breakouts at "that time of the month".

The price may be a bit of an issue for some. At £42 for 50ml it doesn't come in cheap, but then most serums wouldn't. 50ml will last for quite a while, as you only really need to use this in the mornings.
I would wholeheartedly recommend this serum to any skin type that gets shiny in places, but particularly for oily skin and those suffering from acne, this is a god send.
Pretty impressive!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Avene Very High Protection Emulsion SPF 50+ Review

Sorry about the recent absence! I've indulged in a little holiday towards the end of May and moved into a new flat straight after coming back and our internet still isn't switched on. By now I've had enough, so snuck into the pub around the corner with my laptop to indulge in some free wifi, blogging and a glass of Pimm's in the sunshine.

Speaking of sunshine we all know how important it is to protect ourselves from the sun's harmful rays, no matter how much we fancy a tan. For my very pale skin in particular, a high SPF is a must as soon as the sun decides to show its face. I found this out the hard way about a month ago when I burnt to a crisp thinking that factor 15 would be enough on the beach "cause it's just England". Yeah... no. No, it's not.

I received this offering by Avene a while ago and didn't get on with it straight away, so decided to give it another shot. This is my first Avene product and considering how much beauty bloggers all over love their facial spritz, surely they must be doing something right.

First up the packaging: A light plastic tube with a pump applicator shielded by a harder plastic cap. In my personal opinion, the packaging is absolutely genius. It's light and saves on space but still makes for easy application on the go. Two thumbs up from me!

The emulsion is aimed at sensitive skins - I got the one for normal to combination skin - and offers an impressive SPF of 50+, protecting from both UVA and UVB rays. For some reason it's still fairly tricky to get sun protection over 30, especially for the facial area. When it comes to sun lotion for the face I always have two main concerns:
1) Will it cast an ashy tone over my complexion?
2) Will it make my skin greasy and sweaty?

The first issue was not a problem: The emulsion slid around my skin without the slightest of colour casts. No whiteness, no ashy glaze, no odd shimmery bits.
As for the second issue, this is where me and the Avene Very High Protection Emulsion must part ways. No matter how little I used or how much I rubbed, I could never get it to fully sink into the skin. Throughout the day it felt heavy and I could always sense that there was this "layer" on my face. My skin constantly felt and looked oily and soon began sweating resulting in my make-up melting away - in 20 degrees.

I wouldn't mind if it was aimed at dry to very dry skin, but for normal to combination skin (which I have), this is just way too rich and gloopy and I cannot imagine anywhere I'd want to wear it.

Maybe if your skin is on the drier side you can make it work for you, but for me it was a disappointing first encounter with Avene.

The Avene Very High Protection Emulsion SPF 50+ retails at £15 for 50ml.