Tuesday 31 December 2013

end of year favourites

That's right, I'm ditching my usual monthly beauty favourites post in favour of displaying my stand-out makeup products from the past whole year. Honestly I thought it would take forever and a day to select the best of the best from 2013, but it was surprisingly easy to narrow down what I'd consistently loved throughout most of the year.

Let's start off with my favourite lipstick of all time (so far!), MAC's Brick-O-La. I'm aware that is quite a bold claim for a lipstick obsessive, but there's something about this muted red that makes it oh so wearable whether worn opaque or just dabbed on lightly. It's a few shades darker than my natural lip colour and helps waken my face up as soon as I've applied it. I have a full review with lip swatches here if you're interested.
2013 was also when I discovered my two favourite mascaras - the Essence Multi-Action mascara (review here) and the Covergirl LashBlast 24HR mascara (review here). They both make my lashes look long and full, and I couldn't choose between the two as I wear each just as often as the other. I prefer the Essence mascara when I want to make my lashes look amazing, as it delivers marginally better results in the volume stakes, however as the Covergirl mascara's name suggests, it stays put all day and doesn't flake at all.
My most-worn blush has to be theBalm's FratBoy, although I have been reaching for the Sleek Blush in Flushed in the past month or two, I have to hand it to theBalm as I don't think I strayed from their blush at all at the start of the year. As for contour, I really only have one option and it's the NYX Blush in Taupe. Despite being a (fairly) new addition, I've quickly fallen in love with it - more specifically, its ability to mimic a natural shadow under the cheekbones and double up as an eyebrow powder as well. Holy grail product right there.
Another somewhat new addition, but one I couldn't help but slip in is the L'Oreal Super Liner Perfect Slim* (which I still haven't given you a full review of - sorry!) as I'm sure you've heard me mention it in at least two favourites posts this year. I've now gotten to the stage with this where I can do winged eyeliner in a flash, and I love how versatile the thin nib allows you to be. Mine's drying up a little now, but you betcha I'll repurchase instantly.
Last but not least, of course I have to mention my favourite lip balm as that really is the one beauty product that I need - and the prize goes to a tube of nappy care ointment. Yes, I use Bepanthen as a lip balm, and I highly recommend that you do too as it is brilliant. Despite not being the most glamorous product on the market, this stuff will heal your lips up for good. I apply it every night before I go to sleep and use my NUXE Reve De Miel (which I've found is intensely moisturising, but only in the short term) in the day and after a week of having sore, chapped to the point of bleeding lips they're healed. Completely.

So that's about it from me this year, have a safe and happy new year and I'll see you in 2014!
*PR Sample.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

notd | festive season

 OPI The Thrill Of Brazil | Saffron Gold 08

What's Christmas without a little glitter? I've dug out the most festive polishes I could find to whip up something sparkly on my nails, and I have to say I like to end result a lot more than I thought I would. The Saffron glitter nail polish cost me no more than £2 (as soon as you open the bottle you can smell the chemicals), but as far as actual application goes, it didn't fair too badly. I used two coats to cover my whole nail in glitter, although I did have to wait for quite a while in between applications. The OPI polish was also two coats, and is the same shade of bog-standard cherry red that everyone owns about twenty of.

Also, I don't think I'll be doing a magazine freebies post this month as the only magazine that I could find that comes with anything is Elle, which has a choice of a few different Benefit goodies.

Have a great Christmas!

Saturday 21 December 2013

december birchbox

Number 4 Non-Aerosol Hairspray | Nail Rock Nail Velvet in Burgundy | Delarom Acquaconfort Mask | Korres Citrus Shower Gel
Alima Pure Luminous Shimmer Eyeshadow in Chai | Twistband

The theme for December's Birchbox is of course Christmas, and inside the box there's products to help you get glammed up for the party season as well as a few pampering products. 

I've wanted to get my hands on a few Twistbands ever since I heard about the concept (a hairband that doesn't leave any kinks? Count me in.) but I've always thought they were overpriced for what they are, so I'm happy to see one included in this month's box as it means that I can give it a trial run before handing over a tenner.
Nail polishes are always appreciated, and although I won't be using up the nail velvet any time soon as I don't think I could stand the texture, the dark purple nail polish that it comes with is gorgeous. I'm sure it'll find its way onto my nails soon.
The Delarom face mask is also a welcome addition as it seems I can never have enough face masks - there's something about the instant results that other skincare products don't provide that sucks me in. I'm not 100% certain, but I think it's a hydrating mask similar to the Origins Drink Up Intensive.

I also received a $20 off voucher for BaubleBar to celebrate their UK launch, which is all well and good and all until you see that delivery to the UK is $20 (insane!), plus since they ship from the US you have to pay import taxes on top of that. I think I'll be giving that a miss.

Sorry for the slightly grainy images - I took these photos at midday and apparently there still isn't enough light! Bring on spring already, I'm done with winter.

Monday 16 December 2013

life in colour #7

long exposure | moon | illuminated
carousel | hot chocolate | take-away
christmas lights | so cray | grey horizons
leicester square | well if you insist | stilts
 neon | trafalgar square | baubles
covent garden | afternoon tea | number 210
unedited: branches | winter nights | pink sky

From this photoset you'd think that I've spent the last month in Brighton, but in reality I've recently only been there twice (it's just so photogenic). While I was there I witnessed the most beautiful, vivid sunset I have ever seen and managed to get seats to see new installment of The Hobbit on the 14th. Other than a few day trips, I've not left the comfort of my sofa at all and I don't even feel bad about it. I'm doing all my Christmas shopping online this year, it's so much less hassle.

Friday 13 December 2013

all i want for christmas...

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
Apologies for another wishlist (two in one month is a bit of an overkill, I know), but after posting up my pick of the best beauty gift sets, I thought it would be appropriate to have another post up that's more specific to me... yanno, just in case my mum reads this.

The Dr Lewinn's Renunail Nail Strengthener has been on my radar for some time, and now that the OPI Nail Envy seems to be doing nothing for my nails - they're so weak and brittle at the moment it's unreal - I could do with a new nail treatment. The reviews are extremely positive as well, and I foresee this ending up in my possession within a month one way or another. 
I've been reaching for my curling wand more often than my straighteners as of late, and the curling wand that I'm using at the moment is really past its best and could do with being replaced. As far as I can see, the Babyliss Waving Wand looks perfect with its claims to give "effortless, natural waves" and isn't ridiculously expensive either.
Although I would be happy receiving pretty much anything from the Mr. GUGU & Miss GO website (for instance THIS), the cloud sweater caught my eye as it's a little more... "subtle", shall we say, than anything else on that goddamn marvelous website. The same goes for the Snow White t-shirt (their faces have been replaced with cat's faces guys, who on earth would not want that), except that the only place that sells it seems to be eBay, and it ships from South Korea so it probably wouldn't make it here in time for Christmas.
I'm a big fan of military-style combat boots, and I find that it's best to buy boots that were actually built for the outdoors instead of going to a high street store as they last a lot longer and are more comfortable too. The ones that I've featured are more expensive than your average Primark pair, but I bet the quality is far superior.
I mentioned Vivabox in a gift guide last year, but I thought I'd share it again as I love the concept of giving perfume samples with a voucher to pick up one full-size and I've found a voucher code that makes the Perfume Gift Box For Her (in the pink packaging) only £25 with free postage! The code is WIMH13 and it's valid until June 2014.

What's on your Christmas wishlist?
*PR Collaboration. Stock images are not my own.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

betrousse glitz & glamour box

I've spoken about Betrousse once or twice in the past, and was impressed with the concept of the brand; basically, they offer one-off beauty boxes much in the same way that Latest In Beauty do, but with mostly French brands and for a fraction of the price of what the products inside would cost if you bought them all separately.

This particular kit comes with four full-sized products, including a body lotion, lipgloss, shampoo and cleanser - the last of which I'm a little hesitant to try out, as the moisturiser I tried from the same brand didn't do my skin any favours. Perhaps I'll be pleasantly surprised with the Benta Berry G1 Exfoliating Facial Cleanser - in any case, I'll be sure to inform you when it ends up in an empties post!
As far as I'm concerned, the star of the show here is the JASON Normalising Shampoo - it doesn't contain SLS (or parabens!), which is brilliant as I try to avoid the ingredient in my body wash and shampoo, but SLS free products are hard to come by and I always stick with the Naked brand as they're the cheapest. The shampoo cleanses my hair just as thoroughly as my favourite Naked one, and smells lovely to boot. And while we're on the subject of scents, I was expecting the Fair Naturally Mango & Safflower Body Moisturiser to smell as divine as its name would suggest, but I was a little let down when my nostrils weren't bombarded with full-on mango fruitiness. The body lotion still has a nice, inoffensive scent and it does its job well, which is the main thing.
I'm not usually drawn to lipglosses, and instead favour pigmented lipsticks but there's something about the shimmery pink girly-ness of the Make Believe Shimmer Lipgloss that makes me want to hold on to it rather than pass it on to a friend. I'm thinking it would look good in the summer, with a tan and minimal makeup, non?

Overall a well-rounded box, and the whole box is only £3 more that the RRP of the shampoo itself. There's a bargain to be had here!

*PR Sample.

Saturday 7 December 2013

stila in the light

Stila In The Light Eyeshadow Palette

Having made the jump from almost never wearing eyeshadow to wearing it almost daily, I realised that I owned next to no neutral eyeshadow palettes. Every palette that I owned had at least one colour that I would never wear, so of course I just had to buy a new one to fulfil my eyeshadow needs - I use that word very lightly. Stila's In The Light caught my eye as it comes with ten eyeshadows in colours that I would actually wear, and an eyeliner to boot. SInce then, it's quickly become my most reached for in the way of eyeshadow shades.
Packaging-wise, Stila have hit the nail on the head. The palette is sturdy enough to survive a bump or two, and comes with a large mirror along with a sweet little quote by Stila's Global Artistic Director (what a job title that is). It's kept shut by a magnetic closure that is fairly strong, although I would take the precaution to wrap a hairband or two around the palette when travelling, just to be on the safe side.
The palette has four matte shades, which was one of the main selling point for me as I much prefer using matte instead of shimmery shades in the crease of the eye, since I find that they mimic an actual shadow far better. All the eyeshadows are well pigmented and the selection of colours are easy-to-wear, safe neutrals, but there's still all the shades you need for a smokey eye, including Night Sky, which is a gorgeous purple/gunmetal shade and Ebony, a decent matte black that doubles up as an eyeliner as well. My favourite combination for an everyday look is Kitten all over the lid, with Bliss in the crease and Sandstone in the outer corner, although I'm also fond of using Bubbly on the lid with Luster in the crease.

The only letdown is the Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner in Damsel. I have no qualms with the pigmentation or staying power as they both are brilliant, but the packaging renders the whole thing useless. The automatic pencil is non-retractable so after curiously twisting the eyeliner all the way up to see how much product there was, I had to disassemble the tube and manually feed the eyeliner back in (doable, but an extremely messy job). Also, the eyeliner is so creamy that it is impossible to sharpen even with a sharpener specifically made for automatic eyeliners, so you're left with a blunt edge that makes applying the liner a pretty difficult job. I hate to say it as the pigmentation is nothing short of perfect, but it's just not worth the trouble.

Saying that, even with the omission of the eyeliner the palette is well worth the money and if you're in the market for a couple of new nude eyeshadow shades (or just are looking for something to put on your Christmas list) I'd highly recommend it.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

the best of christmas beauty gift sets

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
I do love a good gift set, and at Christmas they're released in their droves which, as you can imagine, makes me very happy. And seeing as I do enjoy a good excuse (*ahem* this post) to spend hours trawling through various websites picking out and sharing the best of the best, let's get cracking!

The bareMinerals Shine On Palette is a FeelUnique exclusive, and despite the gorgeous packaging is pretty inexpensive and has a fair few good things in it. The two eyeshadows look like such gorgeous colours, as does the blush - this would be a brilliant travel palette as well.
The GlamGlow SuperMud face mask has to be one of the most hyped up masks out there, and from reviews it sounds amazing. Well, guess what - they do a gift set. It contains a 30ml pot of the Supermud and a 15ml pot of Youthmud, and I for one am hoping to find this under my Christmas tree - that's only to be expected though, face masks are easily my favourite skincare item, if a new one comes up on my radar of course I'm desperate to try it.
Out of all the many gift set that Benefit do, the Groovy Kind-A Love seems the best - you get three face products, a mascara and four eyeshadows for £30, and there aren't any of those dodgy powders or concealers (one shade certainly doesn't suit all) included. Also isn't that the quaintest packaging you've ever laid your eyes on?
Origins also do a plethora of gift sets at Christmas, and they prove to be very popular as almost all of them have sold out on their website. Luckily, the vast majority can be sourced elsewhere, and my pick is the Moisturise And Be Merry set. It consists of products from the Make A Difference line, aimed at dry and dehydrated skin and having tried a sample of the Make A Difference Plus+ moisturiser, I can vouch for the line and say that it is rather brilliant.
Soap and Glory always do lovely little gift sets alongside their huge £60 hampers, and you can be assured that everything is good quality (and more importantly, smells divine!). This particular set is only £10 and has four little minis of their products as well as a shower puff, you could even split the set up for some little stocking stuffers.
I just had to include the Clinique set since the berry colours pretty much had me at hello. The set contains a lipstick and nail polish in the shade Black Honey (so you can be super cool and match your nails to your lips), not forgetting the mascara and lip gloss.
Slightly more pricey than Soap and Glory, L'Occitane also do some lovely gifts. The Delicate Cherry Blossom Collection has a good selection of hand and body products, including a 50ml EDT spray. There's also a Verbena Collection here.
I thought I'd include a nail polish gift, as they make great stocking stuffers -  the Orly Secret Society collection actually comes in a set with a little bag. All three nail polishes are glittery and perfect for the festive season, and they aren't those tiny bottles either - these are the real 18ml deal.

What's on your Christmas wishlist?
*Stock images are not my own.

Saturday 30 November 2013

november favourites

Now that November is drawing to a close and it's got to that point where there's around four hours of daylight per day, I'm finding it more and more difficult to keep up with everything. Between mountains of studying, revising for a piano exam - it's on the 4th of December, wish me luck - and my new-found love for Sherlock (I now track #sheetlock on Tumblr), not to mention I haven't even started buying Christmas presents, I've really got enough to be getting on with and yet all I want to do is curl into a ball and hibernate. It doesn't help that I've started buying Yankee Candles (they instantly put me to sleep); the one I'm currently burning is Cinnamon Stick and I've also got stocks of Christmas Memories and Vanilla Chai waiting to be put to use.

Moving on from candles to face cream (smooth transition there), and I've finally got myself a full size pot of moisturiser after spending about three months using up all the samples I had lying around. I went for the Elemental Herbology Cell Plumping Facial Hydrator since I had used up a few little tubes of it before and adored it, plus I had a load of Birchbox points saved up that softened the blow of the price tag somewhat. But it's worth it - I would have believed it if I was told that this moisturiser had been custom made for my skin, as it works so well at preventing excess oil and dry patches as well as creating a good base for makeup.

I'm not going to go too into depth about the Sleek Blush in Flushed or the Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Black Cherry as I've posted full reviews of both the products this month. Simply put, they satisfy my need to wear BERRY EVERYTHING on my face and make me feel all wintery and festive. And seeing my lipstick mark on a mug of tea is one of the nicest things, don't try to argue with me on this because it is fact.

Coincidentally, I featured the Rimmel Wake Me Up foundation in last year's November Favourites post (you can view it here if you want to have a chuckle at my photography skills... check out that lip swatch) and here it is again, and for good reason. Wake Me Up is such a brilliant foundation for the price, and provides just enough coverage to disguise any redness whilst giving my skin a natural glow. I have the lightest shade, 100 Ivory, which is still half a shade too dark for me but works if I blend it in, so I wouldn't advise blind buying the foundation online if you've got very fair skin.

Another previous favourite of mine has been the L'Oreal Super Liner Perfect Slim*, but it deserves another mention seeing as I've fallen even more in love with it. The swatch of doesn't portray it in the best light, as I'd left it standing upright for too long and there was barely any ink near the nib - rest assured, the line it gives is rather more precise than it looks and I end up with flawless winged eyeliner every time. Also from the same Super Liner line is the Gelmatic*, a black eyeliner that doesn't end up halfway down your face at the end of the day. The automatic mechanism works well (I've tried a fair few automatic eyeliners where this isn't the case) and there's a sharpener on the other end of the pencil so that keeps me happy, plus it's one hell of an upgrade from my smudgy, grey-black Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero.
And yeah I should have put a review up of these eyeliners like five months ago but since they've not budged from their spot in my daily makeup routine I keep forgetting to take photos of them. I'll get round to it soon. Promise.
*PR Sample.

Thursday 28 November 2013

revlon black cherry

I'm not one to shy away from a bold lip colour and come winter, dark lips and I stick together like glue. There's something about the dramatic look that a deep lip colour gives which I just adore, and paired with some winged eyeliner I'm all set for the colder months. I may have overcompensated for my lack of shades to choose from last year, and ended up with more vampy lipsticks than I can handle but one that hasn't escaped my rigorous testing is Revlon's Black Cherry.
The packaging is beautiful, worthy of high-end status in every way were it not for the price tag. The lipstick glides on easily, but will need to be applied with a lip brush if you're going for an opaque coverage as the colour is so deep that any slight mistakes will show - I go around the edge of my lips with a concealer to make sure that I haven't "coloured outside the lines" as it were, and doing this helps the shade stand out even more. 
Black Cherry can fluctuate between a dark berry shade and a more warm-toned deep red depending on the lighting. The creme formula is moisturising enough for me to wear it without my lips cracking (definitely a good thing), although I make sure to prep my lips well beforehand even though the formula may not necessarily cling to any dry patches, it does accentuate them. My favourite way to wear the colour when I'm not going for the full-on gothic vibe is to apply the lipstick lightly to give a sheer tint, which has the effect of making me look like I've just been stuffing my face full of cherries (something I always strive for).