Monday, 26 January 2015

Wishlist: January 2015

I'm trying to keep my spending to a minimum over the next few months as my boyfriend & I just booked a trip to Malta in May, & while making wishlists might seem counter intuitive, I actually find them really useful for weeding out impulsive purchases, so without further ado, here are the items I'm lusting over this month.

January 2015 Wishlist

1 // Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (Pressed) in Moonstone
It's no secret that I love glowing skin & while the Balm's Mary Lou Manizer is great for that (plus it's currently on sale at it's just a little too dark for my skin tone meaning that if I don't take time to blend it out it just looks like two yellow streaks on my face - not cool. Nikkie from NikkieTutorials swears by the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfectors for her pale skin, so I'd love to try them out but at £30 it could be a while before I get the chance.

I've been loving the Anastasia Beverly Hills DripBrow Pomade ever since I picked it up in my last Sephora haul & it's perfect for filling in brows, but I've been finding that because my brows are quite bushy, they just don't have the crisp edge that the DipBrow needs to really work its magic. I'm hoping that the Brow Wiz could be the solution to my problems, giving me a natural yet still defined shape.

I've recently been getting into lining my waterline, especially when I'm doing more complex eye looks & I think a touch of nude liner can really add the finishing touch. I've also heard that this Smashbox liner is genuinely long-lasting (unlike other pencils, which claim to last 24 hours & then wear off in a matter of minutes) which is why its still on my radar despite the $20 price tag.

Maybelline has always been my go-to brand for mascaras, but I feel like every one of their formulas I've tried has fallen just a little bit short of perfection: too dry, too smudgy, too clumpy... However, recently I've heard multiple people describe the Pumped Up formula as their holy grail so I'm dying to give it a go.

5 // Longline Blazer in Racing Green
This is less of a product & more of an idea, but lately I've been obsessed by the thought of a longline blazer in a deep, rich, racing green. Obviously if I were straight size then this wouldn't be a problem - there are a million & one options on Polyvore alone - but finding the jacket I want in my size is proving a bit of a headache, so I'm still hunting.

If you've followed my blog for a while, you'll know that before Christmas I was obsessing over the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette & while I still wouldn't say no if someone offered to buy it for me, I have managed to narrow myself down to one shade: Mood Exposure. I just think it looks stunning, both in the pan & on the face, & it's exactly the kind of shade that I find myself reaching for on a regular basis, so I know I'd get the use out of it.

As if the cost of one Hourglass product wasn't enough, I've also been eyeing up the Ambient Lighting Powder in Moodlight, which appears in the pan to be a light lavender shade, but is translucent when applied. The Ambient Lighting Powders claim to mimic some of the most flattering lighting scenarios around, & Mood Light is designed to give you the appearance of sitting in soft, evening light. In my head, this conjures up images of evenings spent drinking strawberry daiquiris by Lake Garda last summer, & honestly you could sell pretty much anything to me with that scene.

8 // False Eyelashes
I've always considered false eyelashes to be an irritating extra step in a beauty regime & firmly avoided them, but after wearing a pair I received in a beauty box to a pre-Burns Night dinner on Saturday night I'm a convert. I love the flutter & extra glamour they add, & I basically want to wear them 24/7 which means investing some new pairs & some eyelash glue.

9 // Light Tan Boots
I basically haven't stepped out of my black chelsea boots this Winter, but now it's January & I'm dreaming of Spring (in between flurries of snow, obviously) black just feels a bit austere. So, to go with my newly purchased light wash denim I'm on the look out for some light tan boots, maybe even in suede to really up the levels of impracticability. 

So, that's my wishlist for this month - what treasures have you got your eye on? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Review: Makeup Geek's Foiled Eyeshadows

The second I saw Nikkie review Makeup Geek's new foiled eyeshadows I knew I needed them in my life. I'm a sucker for metallic shine & these are the shiniest, most metallic eyeshadows out there.

The shadows retail for $9.99, slightly higher than the standard price for Makeup Geek's shadows, but personally I feel like it's worth paying extra for the new formula, plus the exchange rate means you make a bit of a saving (although beware the exorbitant customs charges). 

There are ten shades in total, ranging from neutrals (like the shadows I picked out) to bright purples & olive greens. You can buy all ten for $89, saving you $10, but personally I knew I just wouldn't get the use out of enough of the shades to make it worthwhile. 

It's also worth noting that as these are single eyeshadow pans, you will need to have a magnetic palette for them to sit in, in order to keep them safe, especially if you plan on taking them with you when travelling.

The packaging is absolutely beautiful - I love how the gold looks - & the shadows fit nice & snug inside the cardboard slip, meaning that - at a push - you could store them in there, especially if they're just going to be sitting in your dressing table.

I picked out three shades & there are swatches at the end of this post, but I wanted to talk about each shadow individually as they are all slightly different.

First up is Grandstand, which is a rose gold, with flashes of copper. I would say this has a medium amount of the foiled effect & is probably slightly less pigmented than the other two shadows, although saying that, they're all incredibly pigmented so it's definitely not something to worry about particularly.

Unfortunately, this shadow broke in transit. Honestly, this was always going to be a risk shipping shadows from the US to the UK, & to their credit Makeup Geek arranged for me to get a refund within in an hour of emailing them. I also don't think they could do much more in terms of packaging - the shadows arrived inside three layers of bubble wrap, contained in a sturdy box filled with polystyrene pellets. I did toy with the idea of asking for a replacement, but the risk of it arriving broken again, combined with the £11 customs charge (that's a £3 charge, £8 "handling fee" - Royal Mail is a fucking joke) put me off. On the bright side, with a little vodka I did manage to repair the shadow & it looks like I only lost around a third of the pigment which is nice.

Next up is In The Spotlight, & this was probably the hardest one to capture on camera because it flashes two completely different colours. From one angle it's a super light champagne colour, & from the other it's an orangey-coral shade. Either way it's beautiful & it's by far the most foiled of the three I picked up. I think I'm going to be getting a lot of use out of this as a highlight on the inner corner of my eye.

The final shadow I picked is Mesmerised, which is a deep medium taupe (taupe is like my kryptonite at the moment). In terms of finish, this one is the most matte but it still has a definite chrome effect, & shows flashes of purple from certain angles. Honestly, this shade is my surprise favourite - it's an incredible smoky eye shadow as well as being perfect for adding a little something extra to your crease.

All three shadows apply like a dream - the texture is so soft it's almost like a cream shadow - & they look beautiful on the skin. I'm also super happy with the colours I picked, although I would say that they don't necessarily look like the images on the website, so if you're considering buying them it's probably worth checking out some videos so you can get a sense of what the true colours are.

I'm so happy with my purchase & although the broken shadow is a bummer, Makeup Geek's great customer service definitely softened the blow. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the shadows, if you've tried them, & which shades you want to try if you haven't.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

January 2015 Birchbox Unboxing & Review

I'm going to be honest here & say I'd been kind of dreading this month's box. As someone who has struggled with disordered eating & low self-esteem in the past, the idea of a Birchbox collaboration with Women's Health had me rolling my eyes & even contemplating cancelling my subscription.

I get it. In January, some people are filled with a sudden motivation to "get fit", "shed pounds" & "tone up". But they key word there is "some" (I'd also question how much of that motivation comes from the shame & stigma, but that's a whole other post). I feel like there's this weird assumption that on January first everyone suddenly becomes obsessed with their physical health, but it's just not the case. Personally my goals this year revolve around things like eating breakfast more often (in order to stop my mid-morning grumps); doing more activities at the weekends rather than just curling up in my PJs; & saving up for a holiday. 

& so, for Birchbox to have themed their January box around health & fitness just feels a bit lazy & it also means that a lot of this month's products just don't interest me.

On the bright side, the branding is cute this month & I thought the little booklet of "bite-sized challenges" was a nice touch, although a little wishy-washy. 

Anyway, on to the products.

First up is this lip glaze from Stila, which retails for £15 (I received the shade Glimmer). I'm not really a lipgloss person & I wasn't particularly impressed with the pigmentation of this - as you can see, it's essentially clear once applied. The packaging is nice, with a clickable top which pushes the product onto a brush applicator, however I had to click mine around 20 times for it to appear on the tip meaning it was much less full than it first appeared. I haven't been that impressed with the Stila products I've tried in the past & this certainly hasn't changed my mind.

Next up is the Protect & Detangle Spray from Beauty Protector, which retails for £14. This is essentially a leave in conditioner which is supposed to leave your hair smooth, shiny & protected from both UVA rays & heat damage. The scent is really nice & weirdly similar to the L'Oreal Kids Sweet Pear Detangle Spray (which I'm still a huge fan of), but the packaging isn't great. Rather than coming out in a mist, the spray is ejected in a single stream - kind of like one of those mini waterpistols - so I can see it being tricky to get this evenly distributed through your hair.

The third product is the Glycolactic Renewal Mask from REN, which retails for £30. I haven't used this yet & honestly, it might take me a while as I'm not really a fan of chemical exfoliants, especially in masks. I'd also be a little nervous about removing the mask properly as it suggests using a damp cloth, but on my skin at least, the product sank into my skin, making it hard to see where exactly it had been applied. On the plus side, this does have a really nice spiced orange scent & it is free from parabens & sulphates, which is always a bonus.

Product number four is one I'm still a little confused by, & it's the HealGel body lotion, which retails for an eyewatering £39.50. On the info card it says this is "packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients" but then goes on to advise using it daily, so I'm not really clear if this is a topical treatment for injuries & muscle tension, or just a glorified moisturiser. Either way, I definitely won't be spending £40 in a full-size version, especially as its main quality when applied seemed to be feeling damp.

The final "beauty" product this month is the activbod Feel Great Shower Concentrate, which retails for £5. Essentially this is a concentrated shower gel targeted at gym users, as it supposedly has extra deodorising properties. I quite like the fact that it's essentially scentless & it could be great for quick post-workout showers during your lunch break, but it's just not really for me.

This month we received two "lifestyle" products - although this one had been sneakily filed under "beauty" as if that might trick us. The Embrace Matcha Green Tea, which retails for £24.99 claims to have ten times the anti-oxidants of regular green tea & can be used with hot or cold water, & in smoothies. As someone who is not a fan of green tea & is eternally skeptical of "superfoods" I doubt I'll be giving this a go any time soon.

Finally, what the fuck is this. It's a Birchbox & Women's Health branded pilates band, of course. Personally, I knew this would be headed to the bin the second I saw it, but if you fancy one, they're only £7.99 in the Birchbox store.

I know this review is super snarky but this was just such a disappointing way to kick off the new year with Birchbox. Nothing really stands out & although it's nice to receive a product from a well-known brand like Stila, even that was a bit of a let down. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, particularly in terms of the idea of themeing a beauty box around health & fitness.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

My Top Products of 2014

What better way to celebrate the transition into 2015 than by looking back at my favourite products of 2014? 

I've separated the products into categories in an attempt to keep this list vaguely under control but there's still a lot to get through, so settle in! Some of these products I used all year long, others were fairly new additions to my life, but they're all ace & I wholly recommend them. 


1. Best Eye Cream - Benefit's It's Potent

Starting work after graduating meant my sleep was cut dramatically & Benefit's It's Potent Eye Cream worked wonders for keeping dark circles away.

2. Best Cleanser - Liz Earle's Cleanse & Polish

Despite the fact I only used this for the first time in December I'm already hooked & will be picking up a full size version in my next beauty haul.

3. Best Face Mask - Murad's Clarifying Mask

I swear by this face mask & would recommend it to anyone struggling with acne-prone skin. Not only is it great as an all-over mask, but you can also use it as a topical treatment for those super painful under-skin spots that just won't quit, & it'll sort them right out.

4. Best Serum - Bioeffect's EGF Serum

The price of this serum is a joke, but if you've got the cash to splash, this serum has genuinely done wonders for my skin even after just a week of using it.

5. Best Makeup Remover - Witch's Naturally Clear Cleansing & Toning Wipes

These are the most effective face wipes I've found - they remove even waterproof mascara without leaving behind any oily residue. I'm trying to get more consistent with doing a full cleanse routine at the end of the night, but sometimes a quick face wipe is all you can handle, y'know?


6. Best Dry Shampoo - TRESemmé Instant Refresh Dry Shampoo

This stuff is not for the faint hearted - it's basically industrial strength dry shampoo. Not for everyone but it has saved me from greasy haired embarrassment too many times this year for me not to include it.

7. Best Hair Tool - The Wet Brush Paddle Brush

You can see from the state of my brush that it's been well used this year & honestly it was a life changer before I cut my hair during the summer. I'd absolutely recommend picking one up if you're struggling with thick, knotty hair.


8. Best Face Primer - Benefit's The Porefessional

I just love the smooth, matte base this provides for my makeup. I strayed a couple of times this year but none of the other primers I tried gave me the results I was looking for. Plus, thanks to Birchbox & my YOU Beauty Advent Calendar, I went all year without having to buy a full size version.

9. Best Foundation - No. 7's Beautifully Matte Foundation

You can read my in-depth review of this foundation here, but suffice to say that it gives incredible matte coverage that has yet to be beaten. I may have to switch to something a bit lighter in the Summer but for now it's my go-to foundation.

10. Best Concealer - Rimmel's Wake Me Up Concealer

I toyed with a few different concealers this year but Rimmel's Wake Me Up came out on top, both in terms of formulation & coverage. My only issue is that the shade I currently have is a little too warm for my skin tone but hopefully I can find one that suits me & then I'll be set.

11. Best Powder - Rimmel's Stay Matte

I finally tried out this cult classic & it's just as great as everyone says - a must have for oily skin.

12. Best Contour - NYX Blush in Taupe

I added this to my Christmas wishlist having spent all year watching Nikkie use it & my boyfriend picked it up for me - win. I've been using it ever since & it's the perfect contour shade for pale & cool-toned skin.

13. Best Highlight - The Balm's Mary-Lou Manizer

2014 was the year I fell in love with a strong highlight & you can't beat the luminous glow of Mary-Lou Manizer. Some people might feel like it's a bit much for everyday use but not me.

14. Best Blush - Sleek's Blush in Pomegranate

2014 was also the year that I finally conquered Sleek's Blush in Pomegranate. Don't get me wrong, I've loved it since I first bought it but it's so pigmented that I ended up looking like I had serious sun burn every time I applied it. However, I've found that with the right brush, a light hand, & the correct placement, it gives a beautiful flushed glow.

15. Best Brow Product - Laura Geller Beauty's Brown Sculpting Marker in Charcoal

I got a lot braver with my brows in 2014 & a big part of that was discovering cool-toned products that actually matched my natural brow colour. This year I really want to explore some more precise products - like the Anastasia Beverley Hills line - but for now I love this marker for filling out my brows in a way that's natural & foolproof.

16. Best Mascara - Maybelline's The Volum' Express Colossal Smokey Mascara

It may have a ridiculous name but this way my go to mascara all year - not very precise but adds instant volume. 

17. Best Eyeshadow - No. 7's Stay Perfect Eyeshadow in Matte Maroon

For the past year I have defined my crease with this shade on an almost daily basis. It has great buildable colour, blends out beautifully, & barely shows a dent despite all the use it gets. Definitely pick this one up.

18. Best Eyeliner - Soap & Glory's Supercat Liner

I started off the year thinking the grass was greener - I tried every eyeliner I could get my hands on: gel, liquid, felt tip - but nothing compared to Soap & Glory's Supercat Liner. This is definitely a holy grail product - if you struggle with eyeliner, buy this & you can thank me later.  

19. Best Lipstick - Urban Decay's Naked & The Body's Shop's Berry Me

I went for two shades here - one neutral: Urban Decay & one more distinctive: The Body Shop. Naked is just the perfect nude shade on me, so much so that it makes me a little uncomfortable - I've clearly got too used to wearing darker shades. Berry Me on the other hand is a measure of how far I've come in my self love travels: it's a cool, grey-ish purple - unflattering as hell, but #fuckflattering, I love it & it makes me feel like a super cool character in a futuristic cyber-punk thriller.

20. Best Tool - Urban Decay's De-Slick Makeup Setting Spray

This has been an absolute lifesaver for me on the long work days when the last thing I need is my face slipping off my face. It's not a miracle cure but it does keep my oil under control & for that I am eternally thankful.


21. Best Nail Colour - Barry M's Nail Paint in Black

Since starting work, I now paint my nails every Sunday night meaning that whatever product I pick needs to be long-lasting & compatible with a range of different outfits. Black polish may seem a bit goth but if applied neatly & maintained well I think it looks really sheek & polished.

22. Best Nail Care Product - Sally Hansen's Nail Repair

I was seriously skeptical about this but since I started applying it as a base coat before painting my nails, they've become noticeably more healthy, more shiny & less prone to breaking.

23. Best Top Coat - The Body Shop's Colour Crush Polish in Clear

Now my nails need to last a week in reasonable condition, top coat is a must & the Body Shop's offering makes a noticeable difference adding shine & longevity. It's particularly good on top of glitter polishes to stop them from catching on fabrics.

So there are my top products of 2014. I'd love to hear yours & if there are any products here that you'd like more details on, please don't hesitate to ask. 

I hope 2015 treats you & the people you love well.
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