Wednesday 30 November 2011

November Favourites

This month’s favourites is a bit of a mish-mash due to being on holiday for a large proportion of November. I realise that sun cream won’t be in many other’s November favourites!

Armani Eyes to Kill, 15 - I’ve only had this just over a week but I have worn it most days. I reviewed it recently here (Review - Armani Eyes to Kill, 15) and it is just so easy to use and lasts all day. I’m definitely going to buy more of these.

Peppermint Foot Spray, The Body Shop - A necessity in hot weather, this leaves my feet feeling cooled, refreshed and smelling much better! I used this constantly on holiday, and it was really refreshing after jungle treks in hot, stifling shoes, and also on my flip-flop-wearing toes by the pool. I get through several bottles of this every summer.

Carmex Moisture Plus Ultra Hydrating Balm in Peach - As I didn’t tend to wear much makeup on holiday, it was easy to just slick on some of the Carmex lip balm to give my lips a little colour, and to protect them as it contains SPF15. I reviewed both this and the pink tint here (Review – Carmex Moisture Plus Balm) and although these are sheer, they are not just for summer. I have been wearing them in the wind and rain recently as they keep my lips super moisturised.

No 7, 3-in-1 Wipes - I’m sure you have tried these when thinking of things to spend your No7 vouchers on! I always have a surplus of them as I think you cannot have too many and they were a godsend when the outside shower at the Elephant Sanctuary we stayed at in Thailand proved to be too ‘character building’, even for me! Some dry shampoo and copious wipes managed to save the day until I could get access to a hot shower!

They are also fab for long flights and leave you feeling a little more refreshed after attempting to sleep upright for several hours. I would never travel without them and they are a bargain when the No 7 vouchers are around, at only £2 for a pack of 30.

Liz Earle Shampoo - A great cleansing shampoo that I have been using several times a week. I have coloured hair and this has kept it in good condition, despite subjecting it to chlorine on many occasions over the past couple of weeks. It is also SLS-free.

Riemann P20 suncream -A friend suggested this suncream to me earlier in the year after I complained that I always burn in the sun easily and that I forget to re-apply protection every couple of hours. It is not cheap (although I managed to find mine in the end of summer sale at CheapSmells for £10 off!) but it really does last the entire day, assuming you apply it liberally in the morning about 20 minutes before you get dressed. I didn’t get burnt once when using this and we were in direct sunlight at 32 degrees on many occasions whilst out and about. Highly recommended, I just wish I had known about this earlier!

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Review: The Body Shop Coconut Body Scrub

Using a body scrub is part of my daily routine and I am constantly looking to try new scents and formulations to jazz up my shower. I picked up this Coconut Body Scrub form the Body Shop a couple of months ago as I love the smell of coconuts -it reminds me of holidays in dreary, winter weather. I went through a phase of not buying anything from the Body Shop for quite some time as I used to own practically everything from them in my teenage years (does anyone else remember the small balls filled with bath oil you could get for 20p?) but I am now rediscovering some of their range and have been pleasantly surprised.

What strikes me immediately when I open this scrub is the overpowering scent of coconut. The consistency of the scrub is fairly gritty but not so gritty it will take half your skin off with it! It is also not too runny either, with more of a creamy consistency, as I have found that some scrubs can be too thin and just end up sliding down the plughole before I have had a chance to work them in.

Whilst using this, the scent of coconuts fills the bathroom and it can still be detected an hour later. The overpowering scent of the product is the main reason I wouldn’t repurchase this. Yes, I like a strong scent in many products, and it is nice for it to linger but I could still smell it at lunchtime, and it was overpowering my perfume! All I could smell all day was coconuts and not my Lime, Basil and Mandarin Jo Malone!

As a scrub it is pretty average, and it performs its duties in a perfunctory manner. I wouldn’t repurchase this as although I liked the scent, it was overpowering and was all I could smell throughout the day. However, if you like strong coconut fragrances, you will probably enjoy using this. I may be tempted to try some of the other scrubs from the range as there wasn’t anything particularly bad about the product, it was just too strongly scented for my sensitive little nose!

Price –£12.50, 200ml
Where to BuyThe Body Shop

Monday 28 November 2011

What is your bath style?

I love a bath! In the mornings for practicality, I always have a shower, but I look forward to a Friday evening bath as a time to relax and de-stress whilst reading a glossy mag and perhaps having a cheeky glass of wine! This is making me sound as though I am an OAP wearing my nana shoes, but honestly, although I enjoy going out with hubby and friends and family, at the end of the week, I am usually too knackered to do much and a bath is just what I need!

There are 3 different types of products you can use in your bath, depending on your personal preference and the overall effect you would like. 

Bath Foams
These are the traditional type which provide lots of suds! Very useful for making impromptu Santa’s beards out of if you so desire (or am I the only person who does this??!).

These can often be quite drying for the skin, especially in combination with a scalding hot bath, mainly due to the use of sodium laureth sulfate.

Some tried and tested foaming products that I have enjoyed using are:

Radox Bath Soaks, around £2 – an affordable treat which comes in a variety of scents. The Sleep Easy and Eastern Spirit varieties are my favourites.

Sanctuary Bath Soak, £5.10 – this has the usual Sanctuary scent and I find it to be more moisturising than most bath foams.

Green and Spring Relaxing Shower and Bath Foam, £18 – this has a gorgeous lavender scent although it is quite pricey for a bath foam. It can also be used as a shower gel too which is how I tend to use it as I feel the scent tends to linger for longer

Lush bubble bars £2-£4 These are solid products which are crumbled under running water to produce a foam. As with all Lush products, they are heavily scented which is no bad thing for me. They are however not the most economical method of enjoying a foaming bath as you tend to only get a maximum of 2-3 baths out of one bar.

Bath Oils
These are my favourite type of bath product as I find the scent tends to be strongest in oil form and a little goes a long way. They are also very moisturising, although you have to be careful to rinse the bath out properly afterwards as I once forgot and hubby almost knocked himself out when he slipped on the super oily residue! 

Cowshed, £20- these are my favourite bath oils and you can pick up travel packs of their various products for less which allows you to try a wider variety of the range . They are not cheap, but I have yet to come across a scent I do not like, and I am particularly fond of their ‘Lazy Cow’ scent which is a mixture of essentials oils of Jasmine, Chamomile and Sandalwood. The oils can also be used for massage if you wish.

Aromatherapy Associates, £37 is another good producer of bath oils and they do a selection pack so you can try out your favourites.  This year, for Christmas, they are also doing little star shaped tree decorations, £10, with bath oils contained within them, which are cute stocking fillers.

E45 Emollient Bath Oil, £5.49, is a cheaper but equally moisturising bath oil for sensitive skins, and is a veritable bargain.  There is no fancy scent, but it is super moisturising and great if you suffer from eczema or dermatitis.

Bath bombs / Bath melts
These are almost a theatrical spectacle in some cases, as you watch them fizz and dash about in your bath. The bath bombs tend to be the fizzy ones and often provide a stronger scent but they can be less moisturising. Bath melts are a creamy consistency which dissolve gradually and tend to leave your skin softer and more moisturised. One thing you do have to watch for with bath bombs is that they can have a lot of ‘bits’ in them which mean the bath will need a good clean once you have finished. I find cleaning the opposite of relaxing so I usually give it a quick rinse and hope hubby cleans it the following day….!

Lush is perhaps most famous for its bath bombs and they constantly have new products coming out. The Christmas products in particular are worth investigating, with the Abombinaball and Cinders being two of my favourites.

Bomb Cosmetics – I have mentioned Bomb Cosmetics previously here as they are a great alternative to Lush, if you fancy a change. Their bath bombs and melts are smaller than Lush’s but no less pungent and are well worth a try.

These are my favourite bath products. What are your favourite methods of bathtime pampering?

Sunday 27 November 2011

My Nars Multiple Collection

Luxor, Malibu, Orgasm

I was browsing through my makeup collection the other day when I realised that I hadn't posted anything about Nars yet, despite owning quite a few items from the brand, so I thought it was a good opportunity to let you see my small, but perfectly formed, Nars Multiple Collection.

I bought all of these about a year ago, in a Christmas Gift pack.  I love seasonal gift packs that allow you to try smaller versions of permanent products as its a great way of discovering more items from a brand, and as it takes me forever to finish a product, it doesn't really matter that they are smaller than the full size.  If you do want to purchase a full sized product, Multiples are available in a large 14g size, which is quite a difference from the 4g ones I purchased, and to be honest, I don't think you would ever manage to get through a full-sized product unless you used it every day.

Multiples are intended to be worn on your eyes, lips and cheeks, however I only use these on my cheeks as I find them too drying for my lips and they tend to crease easily when worn on the lids.  They are cream products and can be used in a similar manner to cream blushes.

The pack included what I think are three of the mainstays of the Nars Multiple collection: - 
Luxor - a light, shimmery pink / white highlighter
Malibu - a dark brown / pink which I have found needs to be used sparingly to avoid looking like I have been windburned!
Orgasm - the winner of the trio for me, the famous peach with gold shimmer running through it

L to R: Luxor, Malibu, Orgasm
The swatches above are heavy so that you can see the colours more clearly.  I tend to apply a quick swipe on my cheeks directly from the tube, and then blend quickly with my fingertips for a subtle glow.

I have found Luxor to be a little pale for my warm colouring and have had some difficulty in using it as I don't feel it suits me.  Malibu is useful in winter although a little goes a long way and only a tiny dab is needed to avoid overdoing it.  Orgasm is my most frequently-used multiple as I often use it in conjunction with the Orgasm powder blush over the top to set it and increase its lasting ability.

Although not terribly long-lasting on my combination skin (I get a maximum of 4-5 hours wear), I love Nars Multiples for their ease of use and their foolproof application.  I apply these with my fingers, although you could easily use a stippling brush for more control.  Nars often brings out special limited edition gift sets which are a perfect way to try some of their best known products so it is well worth keeping an eye on their website.

Price - sets are usually around £25-30, I'm not sure how much I paid for this one.  Full-sized multiples are £29
Where to buy - Nars, Space NK, ASOS

Saturday 26 November 2011

Review follow up: Nails Inc 3 Week Manicure

Prior to going on holiday, I booked myself in for a Nails Inc 3 week manicure, which I reviewed before I went away.  Last week, I went to have it removed and I thought I would show you a couple of picture of the growth over the 3 weeks and how my nails looked after it.

Nails Inc claim that their manicure lasts for 3 weeks, however as you can see from the photo above, there was a substantial amount of growth, although my nails do grow very quickly.  There was no chipping or discolouration present and aside from the growth, they seemed fine and it was much easier than having to paint them every few days when I was away.

Removal was fairly straightforward, with the tin foil method used whilst I had a glass of champagne or two (hic!).  A nail stick and file was used to remove the particularly stubborn sections of gel polish and the whole process took just under half an hour. 
I know my nails don't look their best here but I was pleasantly surprised at how strong and healthy they felt after having the gel on them for 3 weeks.  There were some marks left where the polish was difficult to remove but in general the nails themselves felt fairly healthy and I have not experienced any peeling or brittleness which I often suffer with. 

The removal itself is fairly basic and something you could do yourself easily.  I opted to have it done in store mainly as I get intensely frustrated at removing glitter polishes, and removing this myself would fill me with rage!  I was also a little wary of damaging my nails and felt that paying for removal on the odd occasion was worth it.  The price for removal however is way too high and I would suggest that this is mainly for the 'free' champagne.  As a one off for a special occasion I would recommend the manicure, although for regular manicures, you could easily find a local salon who offer similar products, such as Shellac, for much cheaper, albeit with less champagne!

Price - £20
Where to buy - Harvey Nichols, Some Debenhams stores

Thursday 24 November 2011

Review: Armani Eyes to Kill, 15

I was very good on my holidays and hardly did any shopping at all, mainly as I had plans to spend some leftover money in Bangkok airport but as our connecting flight was delayed, we had a mad dash through the airport and as a result I had no time for shopping! Still, it was probably a good thing given the fact that Christmas is fast approaching and I still have rather a lot of presents to buy. 

I did however have time for a quick mooch around Terminal 5 which is truly a fab place to shop for a beauty lover, and I sent hubby off to Dixons Tax Free to play with the technology so I could browse in peace. I headed straight for the Armani stand once I saw it as I had heard great things about the Eyes to Kill shadows and was itching to swatch a few.

I finally decided on 15, which is a gorgeous bronze / blackened gold depending on the light and how you view it. The pot is not dissimilar to the Chanel Illusions d’Ombre, which I also love, however the texture of the Eyes to Kill shadow is completely different as it is not a cream shadow, but it is not a pressed pigment either, it is something of a hybrid of the two. 

The colour looks so vibrant in the jar and the amazing thing is that it looks just as pigmented when used on the eyes. I have been applying it with my finger and then blending it out at the edges for a wash of colour and I have found that even without a primer it lasts a good 8-9 hours, and with a primer 10 hours plus. This is a rarity for me as I have very oily lids and even the Chanel Illusions d’ Ombre crease on me after several hours, although many people have reported that they have found them budge-proof. I’ve also tried applying with a small dense brush but I’ve found it seems to work better applied with the warmth of the finger tips.

I am really impressed with this and will certainly be seeking out more. I only wish they were easier to get hold of in stores as although I purchase a lot online, I do sometimes like to try before I buy. If you like cream shadows but find they can crease easily, this will be a good option for you. They are not cheap but a little goes a long way and if you remember to screw the lid on tightly to stop them from drying out, I can see these lasting ages. A big thumbs up from me!
Price - £24.50
Where to buySelfridges

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Review: Liz Earle Deep Cleansing Mask

As a newcomer to masks, previously being one of those people who just didn’t have the patience to sit around and wait whilst they worked their magic, I thought if there was anywhere good to start it would be with Liz Earle. I am a fan of many of her other products and I find them very reasonably priced with no false promises or hopes, just very good skincare, so I purchased this a few months ago in the hope that it would go someway to taming my often hormonal, troublesome skin.

Liz Earle says that this mask is targeted at those with oily, combination or problem-prone skin which pretty much describes me.  I get a very oily t-zone with dry cheeks, and by lunchtime I usually have to blot or apply some powder on my nose and forehead to keep the oilies at bay!

I bought the 75ml starter kit which comes in a cute bag like many other Liz Earle products and with 2 small sponges. One thing I love with Liz Earle is that they allow you to buy small travel-sized or sample sets of their products to see if they work for you rather than shell out on the larger product.This is also available in a 15ml tube which is great if you are anything like me and have tonnes of unused products that you have bought only to be quickly disappointed by when you find they do not provide a miracle cure for your skin issues. 

The directions for use say to cleanse first and then apply a generous layer of the product over your face and neck for 5-10 minutes.  I usually applied this just before I stepped into the bath, leaving it on for 15 minutes in some cases.  It did dry but not in a hardening way that so many face masks do where if you smile when it is dry, the mask cracks!  Whilst waiting for the mask to dry, I fill the sink with hot water and leave the 2 sponges provided in the water to warm up.  You then use the sponges to gently swipe away all the product and although the sponges look rough, they feel just right, providing a gentle exfoliation at the same time as effectively removing the mask. 

After using this, my skin feels clear, refreshed and much softer, although I do occasionally have the odd spot pop up after using this but it tends to be just if my skin has been congested and I have been neglecting it.  I feel that this is just the clay doing its work and removing all the impurities as it cleanses the skin and draws out all the oiliness. 

I have to mention the smell of this product, as some people may find it rather off-putting – I can detect honey and geranium but it does still have a significant ‘Liz Earle’ smell which is on the more botanical end of the spectrum.  I do like this though and find it soothing but I thought I should mention it for those of you with more sensitive noses.

Although I haven’t had much experience with masks, I do like this as it does seem to control some of my t-zone oiliness for a day or so after use and it definitely leaves my skin feeling softer.  There is no tingling when using it which is good, as some previous masks I have used have left my occasionally sensitive skin feeling rather sore when using them, but this is very comfortable to use.  I’ve had this since July and have been using it once or twice a week fairly liberally and I am only just getting to the end of the tube.  If you are a Liz Earle fan with problematic skin and haven’t yet tried this it is certainly worth a shot, especially if you try the sample pack for £5.
Price – £13.25 for the starter kit or £5 for the 15ml tube, both which include 2 sponges.
Where to buyLiz Earle, John Lewis  (if you buy directly from the Liz Earle Website you can request some samples of other products you would like to try free of charge when you make your order which is a good way of trying other products that you may be interested in).

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Review: Benefit, Ticket to Glossytown

After 2 weeks holiday enjoying sunshine, elephants and too much tasty Thai food to mention, it is back to reality and work this week.  It seems like I have been away for ages and it was strange coming back to Heathrow to see Christmas decorations everywhere as they weren’t really any up before we went away.  My beauty routine went out of the window a little on holiday with the bulk of my time spent spraying Deet mosquito spray carefully over every inch of exposed flesh every morning to avoid getting bitten, as I have learnt from previous experiences that I am super tasty to mosquitoes!  Thankfully I only got a few small bites which have now more or less disappeared but the Deet has played havoc with my skin.  I have a couple of new items to test, including some Liz Earle products, so I am hoping they can get my skin back on track.

So just before I went on holiday, I had a mini spree in which I picked up these gorgeous looking mini glosses from Benefit – the ‘Ticket to Glossytown’ set.  In the past, I haven’t really purchased much from Benefit but I saw these whilst stocking up on essentials in Boots and thought they were so cute I just had to have them.  I took 3 of them on holiday with me too as they are so portable and they are easy to just pop in the smallest bag.

The Glosses

Kiss You – a mauve tinted purple which is certainly discernable on the lips.  This is the one gloss from the set which doesn’t have any visible sparkles.

Foxy Lady – A coral / pink hybrid with silver sparkle, one of my favourites but I do love corals.

Frisk Me  - this looks brown in the tube and the swatch but is actually very close to a my lips but better shade on me.

Nudie-tude – a pale nude with quite a lot of sparkles.  I didn’t think I would like this colour that much but it is quite a warm nude and goes well with a smoky eye.  

Life on the A List – a cute nude pink which goes well with a natural look.

Spiked Punch – a bright coral, with very subtle shimmer.  This will be gorgeous for summer too and was one of the staples of my holiday makeup.

Swatches of each gloss taken in natural (Scottish!) sunlight
L to R: Kiss You, Foxy Lady, Frisk Me, Nudie-tude, Life on the A List, Spiked Punch
As a newcomer to Benefit glosses I was quite impressed with these, they give about 1.5-2 hours wear on me which is fairly average for a gloss and I was pleased to find that they don’t all look identical once applied to the lips – Spiked Punch and Kiss You in particular were more pigmented than expected.  At 3ml, they are not huge but there is a decent amount of product and if you are anything like me, it will take you forever to finish regular sized glosses so these ones are perfect for trying out some of the range.  If you like a particular colour, they are all available in a larger 5ml size for £14.  There is a fruity scent to these but it fades away quite quickly and is not too overpowering.  One aspect of the glosses I was pleasantly surprised by was the shimmer and gltter as after the gloss wears off, there is not an unattractive layer of glitter left sitting on your lips which is common with other shimmer glosses.  In short, if you are a newcomer to Benefit glosses these are a great way to explore more of the brand.

Price - £19.50

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Review: Carmex Moisture Plus Ultra Hydrating Lip Balm in Pink and Peach

With the weather getting progressively colder, I have been on a hunt for a new super moisturising lip balm and when I spotted the Carmex Moisture Plus Ultra Hydrating Lip Balm and noticed that it was tinted, I knew I had to have it!

I can't actually remember the last time I purchased a Carmex balm as I've been faithful to Palmers Cocoa Butter balm and Burts Bees for longer than I can remember.  Recently, Carmex have brought out their balm in tinted tubes of peach, pink and clear.  I purchased the peach last weekend and loved it so much, I had to pick up the pink one this week too!

The tints are in long tubes, made to look more like a lipstick than a lip balm and the balm within them looks very vibrant.  The tubes themselves are plastic, with the colour of the tint on the side of the tube.  They don't feel particularly luxurious but for an affordable tinted lip balm, I can live with functional packaging.

As you can see from the swatches, with the peach on the left and the pink on the right, the colour is fairly sheer but it is certainly visible on the lips and makes you feel a little more polished on the days you can't be bothered with much make-up.  They also both have a gorgeous fruit scent that smells good enough to eat!  

For an affordable treat and a very wearable one at that, these are a great purchase.  I'd love to see Carmex come out with some additional colours and expand the line  - a soft red would be amazing.   

Price - 4.49
Where to buyBoots, ASOS

Sunday 6 November 2011

What is your Make-up Age?

An article in Grazia last week questioning what is your real make up age, got me thinking about how we judge makeup on others and how differences in the application of make up and beauty products affect our perceptions of others.

As bloggers, we are more aware than most of new products and new techniques available in make up and therefore we tend to keep abreast of current trends.  One forgets that sometimes the average woman in the street isn’t aware of such trends such as magnetic nail polish, BB creams and the differences between trends for matte or shiny lip finishes.  Many women find something that they are comfortable with and which suits them and decide to play it safe, not deviating from tried and trusted products and finishes. 

In the article, Grazia chose to highlight Kate Middleton’s constant application of dark kohl eyeliner, implying that this was a quite dated way of wearing liner and that a dark brown pencil liner is much more modern and youthful for someone of her age.  Now I don’t wear black liner all the time but I do like to wear it on occasion and it has its place with an evening smoky eye look when effortlessly smudged out.  For day to day wear however, I tend to prefer a liquid liner, usually one of my Bourjois Liner Pinceau, or my Mac, ‘I Get No Kick’, pencil liner which is a gorgeous light golden shade with a sparkle which subtly lightens the eye.

When I was younger and not as interested in makeup and beauty as I am now, I used to associate red lips with older, more mature women, but these days, I enjoy wearing red lipstick or gloss – it is all about how you wear something rather than what you wear. If you pair a red lip with dark eyes, heavy liner and a matte finish foundation, this appears to me to be a little dated.  However the wearing of red lips with dewy skin and minimal eye makeup is more modern and is a fresher take on the look. 

Our thoughts on makeup are also traditionally strongly tied with how members of the opposite sex view us as if you ask many men what makeup they prefer on a woman, they will say minimal and fresh-faced, without the presence of heavy blusher or lipstick. In reality though, we know that this ‘natural’ look is actually  more difficult to achieve as one can spend ages constructing the perfect base that is dewy and transparent, whilst still covering all perfections.  A fresh, makeup-free face is associated with youthfulness, and it is this which I would suggest the makeup and beauty industry is constantly making us desire. You only have to look at recent launches from Nip & Fab and Nanoblur to see that consumers are constantly searching for the next best product to maintain a youthful appearance.   

So how do you ensure that your makeup techniques and products are not making you look old before your time?  Well Grazia suggest that warm colours, such as bronzes and golds are more current, rather than grey, black and brown eyeshadow, however I would suggest that these are classic colours that will never date and it is all down to your application and the formula you choose as to what is a more youthful take on a look. Formulas such as Chanel’s Illusion d’ombre in Epatant, which is a gorgeous sparkly black cream, is perfect for either lining the eyes or creating a modern, sophisticated smoky eye.  Staying away from one-dimensional matte products seems to be the key message, and allowing a little dewiness to come through.  Grazia recommends ditching the powder, however there is no way I could do this as I would just turn into an oil slick by the end of the day, but the secret is to powder only on the areas that require it and not over the whole face.  Modern textures are key with cream products rather than matte being a particularly good option.

Ultimately though, the key is to feel comfortable in what you are wearing and to be happy in how you look.  Make up is often used as a tool to help boost our self confidence, and one can only be confident if you are comfortable in the makeup you wear.  Fashions and trends may change but if you decide a sparkly pink lipgloss isn’t for you, you shouldn’t feel you have to conform.  As long as the pale blue sparkly eyeshadow remains in the 80s!

What are your thoughts on ‘age appropriate’ makeup?
Do you agree with Grazia’ statement that we should ditch the powder?  Or do you think people should be free to ignore trends and wear what they want?

Friday 4 November 2011

Review: Nails Inc 3 week manicure

I don’t often get my nails done professionally as I tend to prefer to do them myself, despite being not that great at it.  However for special occasions such as weddings and holidays, I do like to pamper myself and now that Long Lasting Gel Manicures are widely available, these are my manicure of choice.

I first tried the Nail’s Inc Champagne Nail Bar at Harvey Nichols when I was given a gift voucher for it and consequently, had no idea how much it cost!  I also chose to have a 3 Week Manicure for my wedding as I knew I would chip or smudge my polish if I had a regular manicure.  As I am going on holiday for a couple of weeks, I wanted to have my nails done properly so that I didn’t have to worry about touching up the polish or changing it whilst I was away.  I always wear nail polish and I very rarely have no polish on my fingernails, so  the sound of having perfect nails for a few weeks sounded fantastic!

The Nails Inc Bar at Harvey Nichols is situated slap bang in the middle of the Beauty Hall and it isn’t really the most relaxing place for a spot of pampering.  However it is a champagne bar and therefore champagne is part of the experience so a glass or two does help to relax you a little.  If you prefer, they also have water or orange juice but really, when Champagne is on offer, what are you going to choose?!!

The manicure begins as usual with any residue polish being removed and your cuticles and nails being tidied and shaped.  I have quite short nails through choice as otherwise the click of them on the keyboard drives me mad  - I have no idea how anyone manages to do anything when they have long nails!  A base coat is then applied and then the gel is applied.  3 coats are required and after each hand and coat is completed it is put under a UV lamp to set.  A topcoat is applied and set and then you are ready to go with no worries about sitting around for hours waiting for your nails to dry.  It was a revelation the first time I tried it!

I went for this gorgeous metalic purple colour, The Mall, which is also available to buy as a regular polish.  They have a good range of colours in the Nails Inc range which is why I tend to prefer them to simlar products such as Gellish and Shellac whose ranges I find are rather limited in colour, but fine if you just want a normal red or pink.  Nails Inc do, the whole spectrum from green, blue, nude to a lovely ‘Rouge Noir’ type colour which I have had before and which looks very polished and professional. 

The manicure lasts about an hour, which is a good amount of time to manage a couple of glasses of champagne.  I went with my bridesmaids the day before my wedding and as they were having regular, non-gel manicures, they had to sit in the ‘drying area’ drinking champagne for quite some time and between us we managed to finish off 2 bottles!  Well it was my wedding weekend!

Although not a particularly relaxing experience, it is much better than a regular manicure and did I mention the price includes champagne?!  It is, however, not cheap and not something I cold afford on a regular basis, although I think they do a loyalty card  which gives you a manicure free if you go regularly and you also get free soak offs which are usually £20.  For a one off every so often, or a special occasion it is worth shelling out for and it would make a good gift, as you can buy vouchers on the Nail’s Inc website.   

Price - £65 - ouch!
Where to purchase – Harvey Nichols, Some Debenhams stores

Thursday 3 November 2011

Pre-Holiday Haul!

As it was my last day at work today for three whole weeks, I thought I would celebrate by having a little lunchtime spree in Boots!  A lipgloss purchase always cheers me up a stressful, busy day!

I bought:
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Gel in a small tube.  I use this regularly as it works well with my oily / combination skin and I wanted a smaller, travel-friendly version to take on my holidays.

Carmex MoisturePlus Ultra Hydrating Lip Balm in Pink and Peach – I will do a brief review of these shortly as I love them!  I bought the peach earlier in the week and liked it so much I had to pick up the pink when I saw it today - and it was free as I bought it with my points!

Benefit,Ticket to Glossytown – I saw these on another blog a few days ago and thought it was a great price, especially as I haven’t tried any of Benefit’s glosses before.  As I have said previously, I am not the biggest fan of Benefit’s packaging but these mini glosses are very cute.  A review and swatches are coming up soon.

This week I also bought the Bobbi Brown Sparkle Eye Shadow in Denim from an eBay seller.  I had been after this for a while and it had popped up on eBay occasionally but not at a price I was prepared to pay.  It came out with the Denim and Rose collection last year I think.  I’m not going to do a full review of it as it has been discontinued now and isn’t that easy to get hold of but I am a little disappointed with it as Bobbi Brown’s quality is normally very good. 
As you can see from the swatches below, it is VERY sparkly and isn’t that pigmented. Due to the bad light in my flat, the it looks as though it is a sparkly grey, however in real life it is a true denim blue. The swatch on the left is one swipe and the swatch on the right is 3 swipes and I had to swipe across the shadow quite forcefully as it is very dry.  I have worn it today though by patting it onto my lids rather than brushing it on and not blending it too much, and this seems to work better as you can actually see the colour and not just lots of silver sparkle!  It does last well throughout the day without creasing, when worn over a primer and I didn’t have any fall out which I was very surprised by as I usually expect to have glitter everywhere by the end of the day when wearing a sparkly eyeshadow!

All in all, I am pleased I purchased it as it is an interesting colour and unique to my collection, it just could have been executed better.

I’m starting my 3 weeks off work in the best possible way tomorrow with a Nail’s Inc 3 Week manicure at the Champagne Nail Bar.  I’m so excited for my holidays!

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Review: Benefit, They’re Real Mascara

When Benefit launched their new Mascara, They’re Real, there was a lot of publicity surrounding it.  Now I don’t mind Benefit and have a few of their products but its not one of my favourite brands, and to be honest, the packaging is just not my style.  I tend to prefer, clean, minimalist or luxury packaging, and cardboard containers, such as those used for the blushers, are not the easiest thing to transport.  However BuyaPowa was having a Benefit week, and I couldn’t resist when They’re Real was available for £11, a remarkable £7.50 off the usual retail price of £18.50.

As with my previous experience with BuyaPowa, delivery was fast and the item was well packaged.  The mascara comes encased in cardboard packaging, and when opened, is revealed to be a sleek, silver tube, very different from Benefits normal kitsch, pink branding.  I much preferred this and felt it looked more expensive and much more like a luxury product. 

Benefit claims this mascara will  ‘lengthen, curl, volumise, lift and separate lashes, giving a false lash effect that won’t smudge or dry out’.  That is a bold claim for a brand to be able to essentially do everything and I’m not sure how realistic this claim is.  The wand looks similar to the usual wand you would expect from a mascara, however it also has bristles on the tip which are very useful for grabbing the small lashes on the inner corner of your eye and mean that you are less likely to poke yourself in the eye with the wand!

When I initially applied this I was very impressed.  It did indeed lengthen my lashes and also seemed to curl them as I have very straight eyelashes that require manual curling.  I encountered no clumping, although I only use 1-2 coats of mascara.  

I did find a couple of drawbacks with this product though in that there was quite excessive smudging underneath my eyes and I am not a habitual eye rubber!  This occurred sometimes after about 6-7 hours and was even worse if I actually did need to itch or rub my eyes.  It seems to smudge VERY easily, as though it is constantly wet.  It was also a nightmare to remove in the evening before bed!  I underwent my usual routine of removing my eye makeup with Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish and followed up with Garnier’s Fresh Essentials Gentle Eye Make up Remover.  However, the following morning, after my shower, I still had panda eyes!  I have no idea how it manages to stick around so long and this difficulty in removal is one of my main issues with it.

Having never tried Benefit’s Mascara before, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this.  I enjoy the effects it gives me and although I wouldn’t say my eyelashes look like I am wearing false lashes, they do look nicely separated, longer and with a defined curl.  The downfall for me is the smudging and difficulty in removal, and therefore I will be saving this product for occasional night time events rather than all day wear.  It is worth a go though and if you are prepared to deal with these issues, you may find it is the mascara for you.
Price –  £18.50