Monday 30 April 2012

China Glaze Flip Flop Fantasy

As part of my mini haul of China Glaze products from US eBay, I picked up Flip Flop Fantasy, initially released as part of the Poolside Collection in 2010.  

Neon accents are very on trend at the moment and although I have yet to embrace the trend fully in my clothing, I can totally get on board with neon nails!

The colour in the bottle is seeringly bright and I am happy to announce that it remains suitably dazling when swatched and used on the nails.

The finish is semi-matte, as is common with many neons andI tend to use a top coat with it as I prefer the shiny, glossy look.   I did however find that it applied very streakily to the nails and it required three coats before it started to even out.  It was also quite liquid and difficult to control on the nail, although I have found this is common with other China Glaze polishes.
With Flash
In terms of wear time, it was only a couple of days before it began to chip, and when it chipped it flaked off in large chunks - there was no trying to cover it up with crackle polish like I normally do when I encounter short wear times!
Without Flash
The colour is gorgous, both in the bottle and on the nail.  However the issues with application and the short wear time meant it was just too much hard work for me.  I will be saving it for specific nights out and for when I am craving statement nails! 

Price - £6.59
Where to buy - Sally's, US eBay

Saturday 28 April 2012

Carmex Moisture Plus in Sheer Berry

While we are waiting for the warm weather to reappear and for it FINALLY to stop raining (!), I’ve been looking for lip products which will care for my lips whilst giving a hint of colour and I've recently gone back to and old favourite.
Last year, I fell in love with the easy-to-wear formulation of the Carmex Moisture Plus Sheer Lip Shines, as they provided the perfect mix of a hint of colour combined with an excellent moisture-quenching formula. They were a staple of my holiday makeup last year, being easy to just slick on and go, so when I discovered a couple of additional shades were available in the US, I was determined to make them mine!
Sheer Berry is exactly as it sounds, a sheer, moisturising colour with a hint of red.  Like the other Lip Shines available in the UK which I reviewed here, this doesn’t impart an awful lot of colour on the lips, so if you are after an opaque look, this would not be for you.  What it is useful for is providing a hint of colour, making for a more informal look, perfect for lazy days or casual weekends.  

The swatch looks very shiny, and on the lips, it maintains the same glossy formula.  Due to this formula, it doesn’t stick around for long – one and a half hours tops – meaning you do need to reapply often.  For me, this isn’t a big issue though, as it is so easy to apply by just whipping out the tube and slicking it on. 
Not sure why my watermark came out so large here!
I have to mention a couple of things about packaging and availability of this product in the UK.  I contacted Carmex when I found out  these shades had been released, and enquired as to when they would be launched in the UK.  They responded by saying that they currently had no plans to release them in Europe (although I’m sure I have seen them on some Irish blogs).   A search on eBay should be able to locate them, and even with postage, they are still very reasonably priced.

As the Moisture Plus range contained some of my staple products last year, I was always going to love this new shade and it didn’t disappoint.  Although there are so many balm / lipstick hybrids being launched at the moment, this is the only one I have tried to date which genuinely has moisturising properties and also includes a SPF.  I feel this product would suit those who are shy about wearing brighter lip colours and want to dip their toe (or lips!) in the water.  It would also suit those who tend to have a signature style of bright or red lips, but who want to try something lighter and fresher for Summer.  I would certainly recommend this product, or indeed any of the other Moisture Plus Sheer Lip Shines, and I would urge you to put this on your shopping list if you are heading over to the US this Summer. 

Price – around £4-6 with shipping from US
Where to Buy – US eBay 
I am also having a giveaway shortly at 100 followers, where you will have the  chance to win one of these, as I picked up an extra one with my eBay order!

Thursday 26 April 2012

A Guide to Buying Beauty Products on eBay

Now before I start, I want to say that you purchase products from eBay at your own risk and that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. That Mac blush you are getting for half price brand new many not be authentic....
But how do you make the most of eBay when purchasing beauty products? Well, I primarily use it for purchasing products that are not available  in the UK or are much cheaper in other countries.  
Nail products are the obvious hot purchases with brands such as OPI and China Glaze less than half the UK retail price on US eBay, and they are still a very good deal even when postage is factored in. Two sellers I have has particularly good service from are beautyzone2007 and enchantedbeautyspot who, between then, sell all the major US polish brands. Delivery usually takes just over a week.
In addition to nail polish, I've also bought some products that are not available at all in the UK, such as two versions of the Carmex Moisture Plus Sheer Lip Tints in Berry and Plum. I adore the peach and pink ones we have here in the UK, but after contacting Carmex and discovering they currently have no plans to sell the Berry and Plum ones here, I knew I had to track them down, and eBay was my friend!
Other useful sellers are French Pharmacy UK - for difficult to find French pharmacy skincare and the Liz Earle Factory Outlet store, which has Liz Earle products cheaper than retail - just be aware that the packaging may be damaged or printed incorrectly.
I have occasionally bought high-end cosmetics from eBay and you can find some good deals if you check carefully. Make sure the seller isn't selling hundreds of the same eyeshadow and check they are using their own photos not stock photos.  

I've managed to find US exclusives and limited edition products that have been out of stock everywhere, but you do have to be careful.  Go with your gut instinct.  These kinds of products are usually available for retail price, so you don't tend to  find many bargains, but you may be able to track down difficult to source items.  I know some people sometimes also manage to uncover new testers of lipsticks such as Guerlain's Rouge Gs for sale.  These are obviously cheaper than the ones you find on counters but they are without the gorgeous heavy packaging, which I know I personally couldn't do without!

I hope this has gone some way to giving you a few pointers for purchasing beauty products on eBay.  

Have you ever got a great deal on beauty products on eBay?
Can you recommend any good sellers?


Wednesday 25 April 2012

Alpha-H Gentle Daily Exfoliant

I've been fascinated for some time by all the praise surrounding Alpha-H and their products, and when I was in need of a new facial exfoliator and noticed their products were on 3 for 2 at Beauty Bay, I thought it was time to take the plunge.

The Alpha-H Gentle Daily Exfoliant is  a fairly unique experience as far as facial exfoliators go, smoothing and brightening without the use of harsh scrubbing particles.

The packaging is standard for Alpha-H - clean and minimal, with an almost clinical look to it.  

To use, you flip open the top to reveal a large hole from which a small amount of white powder is dispensed. The directions for use indicate that you should use  two  of the amounts of powder for application. The great thing about this dispensing system is that it dispenses the correct amount of product each time, so it is impossible to pour too much out which is great for minimising wastage!

You pour two applications into very wet hands and it transforms into a smooth paste which is then massaged into your skin for up to a minute.

What struck me with this exfoliator is that it doesn't seem to be gritty at all! It almost feels like some kind of mask, and at first I didn't believe that it was actually doing anything!

Over the past month using this on a daily basis, my skin has become noticeably smoother and I have suffered hardly any breakouts, so I have to conclude it works!  The only disadvantage is the high price, which at £32 may make me reconsider repurchasing.  If you are someone who invests a lot in your skin care regime though, this would be an excellent choice.

A surprising twist on traditional exfoliation, this exfoliant leaves skin both  smooth and soft, and it is great to find something that isn't harsh and abrasive to the skin, but still packs a hefty punch. If you can overlook the higher price point, this could be a great addition to a skincare regime.
Price- £32
Where to buy - Beauty Bay, Salon Skincare  Cult Beauty

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Carmine Delivery!

I had an interesting delivery yesterday - a box of goodies from Carmine!  As you know, Carmine is now no more and has been merged with Glossybox.  I won a 3 month subscription for Carmine just before they announced it was to be closed and, shortly afterwards, they said they would send me a box of goodies to make up for it!  I hadn't previously been a subscriber to Carmine, but from reading other blogs, it was certainly the box I preferred, so I was sad to see it go. 

So what did I get:
Diego Dalla Palma Mini Lipstick - quite like the look of this and from a  quick swatch, it seems quite creamy and moisturising.
I-Pout New CID Lipstick  - this looks like a versatile my-lips-but-better shade.  Not too sure about the packaging or the gimmicky 'torch' feature though!
Soft Paris Strawberry Balm - two of these arrived!   First impressions are that it smells very nice but I haven't tried it yet.
Eyeco Fat Eye Stick in Charcoal - I like this shade but I fear it will crease very easily on my oily lids!
Vera Valenti Pencil Liner in Black - this feels quite scratchy and not all that pigmented. Will give it a go though.

Weleda Pomegranate Creamy Body Wash - I'm excited to try this as I love Weleda products!
Blingtone Myface Cosmetics Eyeshadow Silver Screen - this looks quite glittery, I think it will need to be used with a good primer as otherwise it looks prone to fallout!
KMS Quick Blow Dry Spray - I've heard about this from other blogs and wanted to try it for a while, anything that speeds up my morning routine would be good!
Time Technology Cream - I don't know much about this or what type of skin it is aimed at but I'm sure it will find a home!
Vera Valenti Polish - A bright pink shade which I already have several dupes for.  
Andrea Fullerton Polish in Joanna - I haven't tried any Andrea Fullerton polishes before and I like the shimmer in this.
Memo EDP samples in Sundance and Inle - I've never heard of this perfume so I will add it to my ever growing box of perfume samples!
Japonesque Smudger Brush  - another brush in my collection is always useful and I haven't tried any Japonesque brushes before.

I'm looking forward to trying the KMS spray and Weleda Body Wash in particular.
Have you tried any of these products?

Monday 23 April 2012

Review: China Glaze Hunger Games - Riveting and Agro

I read The Hunger Games trilogy a couple of years ago, and was engrossed in them from the outset. In keeping with the current trend for theming nail polish colours and sets around films, China Glaze have released a collection loosely based around the movie.
I picked two polishes from the range: Riveting a bright shimmering red orange, and Agro, an olive green / gold hybrid with an almost frosty finish.
Riveting is unusual for a Summer collection release- it is a colour I would more traditionally associate with Halloween!
The polish on the nail looks almost identical to the colour in the bottle and the shimmer is very evident. It is almost a golden shimmer, and I found this to make it unique in my polish collection. Application was three coats although you could easily manage with two. I did find that the formula was very liquid and runny though, and rather difficult to control. It was easy to load the brush with too much product and this made for a tricky application for someone as clumsy as me! I'm not sure if this is always the case with China Glaze polishes, but it was certainly true of both of these.
Agro is another unique colour and one I think will be gorgeous come autumn. Again I used three coats, not so much to achieve opacity but more to even out the polish as it did have a tendency to show brush strokes. 

I was a little disappointed with the swatch colour of Agro as I would have like more of the golden shimmer / duochrome finish to show through. It looked a little flat on the nail, especially when compared with all the promise of the bottle but it is still very pretty.
L to R: Riveting and Agro (with flash)
These polishes are both unique to my collection and whilst they don't scream Spring, I'm especially looking forward to wearing them both come Autumn. The only fail for me was the formula as I prefer a slightly thicker product, finding it much easier to apply. If you are prepared to work with it though, these colours are lovely, and they provide an interesting change from all the corals and pastels currently doing the rounds.
Price - £6.59
Where to buy - Sally's, US eBay

Friday 20 April 2012

Review: Mac Viva Glam VI

You know how I moaned about Mac's lipglasses previously, complaining that they were all sparkle and no pigment? Well I'm willing to take that back now I've tried Viva Glam VI!

Viva Glam VI is one of a series of Viva Glam shades which Mac launches annually, the proceeds of which go towards HIV/AIDS programs worldwide.

The colour in the tube is of a vibrant, pink- red, with the signature lipglass sparkles shimmering throughout. This certainly isn't a gloss for glitterphobes!

When swatched, it maintains it's deep pink-red look, and on the lips it is semi opaque, and much more pigmented than any of the other lipglasses I have tried previously.

In common with prior lipglass experience however, it is very sticky so not the gloss to choose on a windy day!  Wear time is impressive for a gloss- at least three hours, mostly due to the stickiness. I did find though that, as the pigment wore off, I was left with a coating of glitter on my lips which was not awfully attractive!

A pleasant surprise after my previous lipglass experience, Viva Glam VI offers a combination of decent pigmentation and shimmer with  good lasting power. My only negative would be the fact that as it wears off, you are left with glittery lips!

Price - £13
Where to buy - Mac, Debenhams, Selfridges, House of Frase

Thursday 19 April 2012

Beauty Blogger Fails!

I've been thinking recently about things I just can't get to grips with as a beauty blogger,  so here I present  five reasons why I am a bad beauty blogger!

1) I cannot apply false eyelashes to save my life! I love the look of them once they are on but I just cannot manage it myself. At a recent friend's wedding I had to have my mum do them for me and it was particularly scary when she was  veering towards my eyes with her Tweezermans, knowing she didn't have her glasses on! I really need to put some time aside and practice my application.

2)  I don't do fake tan. I've naturally got a skintone that borders on olive anyway so I've never really seen the need for it.   And I feel like my beauty regime takes long enough without having to fake tan my legs every time I want to get them out!

3) I never wear a top coat on my nails. Mostly because I change my nail colour every couple of days, so it doesn't have the chance to chip or wear. But also because I am extremely lazy.

4) I've never been threaded! This is something I will need to rectify soon as almost everyone I know has now jumped on the threading bandwagon. I'm not sure what I don't fancy about it- is it the fact that you sit in the middle of the shop getting it done for all and sundry to watch, or is it that I'm a bit icked out by the fact the thread goes through their teeth when they do it? I'm just not sure! Either way, I will be taking the plunge soon!

5)  I just can't get to grips with cloth cleansers. I've tried Liz Earle and a couple of others and found that it seemed a bit of a palaver really. I much prefer gentle foaming cleansers or oil cleansers but it seems I am pretty much alone in the beauty blogging world :-(

Are there any things you don't do or thing you just can't get along with that everyone else seems to rave about?
I'd love to know I'm not the only one! 

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Maybelline The Smoother Instant Anti-Age Primer

I never paid much attention to primers until a couple of years ago, when I discovered they could magically stop my makeup from disappearing,  and could help to keep  the oilies at bay!

Today I am looking at Maybelline's Anti-Age Primer 'The Smoother'. The first thing I have to say about this product is that it contains silicones, so if you find they break you out, or if you dislike the obviously silky, siliconey feel, then this primer will not be for you. I personally really like these kinds of primers though as I feel they go some way towards smoothing out all the lumps and bumps on my skin.
The product comes in a pot which looks to be fairly minute in size, however you only need a minuscule amount to cover your entire face so I can see it lasting a while. As a personal preference, I do tend to prefer products that come in tubes rather than pots but again, that is just one of my little quirks!

The primer appears as a translucent, thick gel which is invisible when applied. It smoothes on easily, (thanks to those silicones!) and feels very light on the skin. I could hardly tell I was wearing it! It claims to reduce the appearance of pores and fine lines, and whilst I couldn't really say it fulfills either of these promises, it did make my skin feel velvety smooth.
My foundation applied smoothly too, and I did find it applied a little easier than if I had not used a primer. In terms of extending my foundation's wear, it performed adequately lasting around seven hours before I saw any evidence of wear or movement. Without primer, foundation usually only lasts a few hours on me so this definitely extended the wear time.

For a drugstore primer, this is a good product at a great price. Is it any better than other similar drugstore products such as L'Oreal's Studio Secrets primer? I'm not sure, but it is very affordable and  certainly  performs well for it's very reasonable price.  If you are happy using silicone primers, I would suggest giving it a go!

Price - £7
Where to buy - Boots, Superdrug 

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Etsy Pick of the Month - Lucie Ellen

I’ve recently become addicted to scouring Etsy for unique items and I have found lots of lovely small businesses and designers. 

One I recently discovered is Lucie Ellen, a jewellery designer who creates unique and quirky designs from wood.

There were many items that I was enticed by, but in the end I managed to narrow it down to two designs – and I adore them both!

This sweet bunting necklace (£16) is in of the moment pastel colours and looks really cute for Spring.  There are several different varieties of bunting necklace available and she can also make a bespoke necklace in a bunting style with your name on it! 

I also purchased this cute book necklace (£9), as I adore books and thought it was very me.  I love my Kindle, but there is nothing like a good book and a Kindle necklace wouldn’t really do it for me!

Both necklaces are very good quality and I have already had several compliments on them both.  Lucie ships her items very fast – I bought them on Friday afternoon and they were with me by Saturday morning, although if you are after bespoke items, I guess they make take a little longer.  They also came packaged lovingly in tissue paper and you can see that a lot of care has gone into hand-making them.

Have you got any good recommendations for Etsy sellers?
Have you been bitten by the Etsy bug?

Monday 16 April 2012

Chanel Illusion d' Ombre in Mirifique

When they were initially launched, I purchased three of Chanel’s Illusion d’Ombres in quick succession (review here). I was also very tempted by the black shimmer shade, Mirifique, but due to funds, I decided to hold off for a while.

Recently I caved in and bought it and here it is!

The packaging for the Illusion d’Ombres is standard Chanel – luxurious, heavy glass pots which look very ascetically pleasing. The eyeshadow comes with a small brush for application, but I tend to use my fingers to apply and only use the brush for lining.

As you can see from the swatch, the shadow initially looks very pigmented, however it can easily be sheered out to provide a less bold look. The shimmer is what I would term a ‘grown-up shimmer’, not so sparkly that it leaves you looking like you have dived into a bucket of glitter, but subtle enough to provide extra interest and dimension to your look.
I’ve covered the consistency of the product in my previous review – its very soft and is essentially a cream shadow, which blends quickly and easily to help you achieve your desired look. You do have to work quite fast when blending as it sets very quickly and once set, it is budge-proof for the remainder of the day!

I find lasting time with the Illusion d’Ombres is generally very good. When used with primer, Mirifique easily lasts through an eight-hour day, although without primer, I only get around half this time, but I have exceptionally oily lids. When used as a liner, the shadows last all day without migrating or fading. My favourite way to wear Mirifique is probably as a liner, smudged along my bottom lash line, although I have been experimenting recently with pairing it with dark grey shadows and using it to smoke out at the outer corner.

Like the other shades amongst the Illusions d’Ombres, this doesn’t really have any particular faults. It is pigmented and easy to apply, staying put throughout a whole day without migrating, fading or creasing. The only downsides to Mirifique would be the price, which is pretty high, although in line with other products from Chanel’s range, and the fact that you need to ensure you screw the lid on VERY tightly to ensure the shadow does not dry up. This is common with all cream shadows but it especially seems to be the case with Chanel’s Illusion d’Ombres. All in all, a recommended buy if you enjoy perfecting a smoky eye look or if you fancy adding a sophisticated edge to your everyday liner.

Price – £22.50

Sunday 15 April 2012

Sunday Samples - Liz Earle, Jane Iredale and Vaseline Body Lotion

Its been a while since I've explored some of my samples stash, so I thought it was about time I had a quick delve into it. 

Jane Iredale Lip and Cheek Stain in Forever Pink

This came with a recent Jolie Box and having never heard of Jane Iredale before, I was excited to try it out.  Jane Iredale products are all mineral products and aside form the odd Bare Minerals flirtation, I haven't tried many mineral cosmetics products previously.  

I tried this on both the lips and cheeks and far preferred it on my lips.  On my cheeks, it looked a little greasy and disappeared within a few hours.  It was also very lightly pigmented and I prefer my cream blushes to be more pigmented.  On the lips, it gave a slight sheen, and lasted around an hour and a half before I needed to reapply.  It felt more like a balm though and was perhaps too subtle for my pigmented lips.  For those who like natural makeup, with a  barely-there lip, this may be a good buy, but I have lots of lippies already like this and I didn't feel it added anything to my collection.

Vaseline Essential Moisture Clean Feeling Lotion

I usually prefer body butters to body lotions as they tend to feel richer and more luxurious.  This body lotion from Vaseline was pretty much as expected - fairly lightweight and non-greasy, although it did take some time to sink in.  I tend to moisturise my body in the evening though so it didn't affect my morning routine. 

Scent wise, it was fairly innocuous and from the swatch above, you can see it was slightly runny  and a little difficult to control consistency-wise.  All in all, a decent budget body lotion but nothing earth-shattering, and I think I prefer Nivea's version.
Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate

I kind of blow hot and cold with Liz Earle - some of her products I love but some I feel rather lukewarm about as they aren't the miracle products I was expecting.  The Superskin Concentrate was on of these products but in fairness, I'm not sure if I am the target audience for this with my oily skin. 

Ths Superskin Concentrate is an oil that you warm in your hands and apply after cleansing in the evening.  The scent is a delightful mixture of lavender and chamomile which aids relaxation before bed, and the oil absorbs quickly without leaving an oily or greasy feeling.  My skin did feel a little softer but that was about it.  I didn't feel more radiant or feel that my skin was in a particularly better condition than previously.  

As this was only a 2ml sample, I am curious to see if I would experience any significant benefits in the long term with regular use.  Skincare is such an individual thing and I usually prefer to test something for at least a month before judging its performance.

Have you tried any of these products?  


Friday 13 April 2012

Revlon Lip Butters in Creme Brulee, Lollipop, and Tutti Fruitti

Revlon’s Lip Butters – I know you’ve probably read a million and one posts about these already so I’ll try to keep this brief.

L to R with flash: Creme Brulee, Tutti Frutti, Lollipop
Attracted by Boots’ current 3 for 2 offer on cosmetics, I decided to pick a few of the Lip Butters.  Stock however were not great, and there wasn’t much choice to be had, with many of the popular colours sold out. In the end, I decided to go for two brights and a nude. 

L to R without flash: Creme Brulee, Tutti Frutti, Lollipop
Starting with the nude, Crème Brulee.   This is an almost invisible shade on my pigmented lips which gives them a very slight shimmer. I am not normally a big fan of nude lippies, however I found this one very easy to wear and I didn’t feel it washed me out, rather it gave me a natural, polished look. All the Lip Butters give a noticeable sheen to the lips, however I found this to be the most subtle with regards to the shiny lips look and it was certainly more of a balm. If you are fond of a my-lips-but-better look or if you prefer a really simple, neutral look, this would be a good choice for you. Wear time was around an hour and a half, which, considering this is a balm / lipstick hybrid is to be expected. 

Next is Tutti Fruitti, a vibrant coal / orange which is a fabulous shade for summer. I adore coral shades and although this leans more orange, it is certainly very wearable, especially with a summer tan. I think I will be getting a lot of use out of this one! Lasting time with this one was around two and a half hours, with the shine disappearing first after an hour, leaving a stain which was still very pigmented. 

Finally, I purchased Lollipop, a blue tinged fuchsia with subtle sparkly shimmer. The shimmer isn’t overly noticeable, but it gives a gorgeous iridescent look on the lips. I believe this is certainly one of the bolder shades in the range as it is very pigmented.  It had a  wear time similar to Tutti Fruitti of two and a half hours before I needed to reapply. 

Predictably, I am going to give these top marks as although I initially was skeptical about their ability to deliver after all the hype surrounding them, I was wrong. All three deliver excellent pigmentation, are super comfortable to wear and although lasting time isn’t overly long, it is as expected for a balm / lipstick hybrid. I would stress, however, that despite being non-drying, these lippies are not a substitute for balm, and you will still need to apply this separately if you want smooth, soft, kissable lips! As for my favourite, I would have to say it is Tutti Fruitti, a gorgeous wearable orange which looks super juicy on the lips. I’m certainly going to be looking at more of the range when my local Boots restocks!

Price – £7.99
Where to Buy - Boots, Superdrug