Saturday, 28 February 2015

Review: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder & Blush

I've been lusting over Hourglass' products ever since they first became popular with the beauty blogger & vlogger crowd, but being a student at the time meant they were miles out of my price range. Now though, I'm working full-time, & have a little bit of disposable income, so I decided to treat myself - & boy, was it worth it!

Hourglass launched in 2004 & are firmly placed at the luxury end of the market. Their Ambient Lighting Powders & Blushes are probably their best known products, although their Mineral Veil Primer has something of a cult following too.

For a while I was convinced that the Ambient Lighting Blush Palette was the one for me, but when it came to buying it, I discovered it was limited addition, & with such an expensive product, there was no way I was running the gambit of eBay re-sellers. So, I decided to spend a bit more & buy one of the single Ambient Lighting Blushes & one of the Powders, since I'd heard rave reviews of those too.

I purchased both products off the SpaceNK website & despite it being my first time using the site I'd absolutely recommend it if you're looking to buy high end beauty products online in the UK. The service was flawless & the delivery was super quick - plus the packing was top notch, something that's so important when you're receiving more expensive products.

The first thing that struck me when I opened my parcel was the Hourglass packaging - it looks & feels incredibly luxurious. Both the blush & the powder come in square compacts with curved corners which make them comfortable to hold, & the chrome effect is beautiful (although it does hold finger prints like a fucker). 

The compacts are pretty chunky, but that's because you get a generous amount of product: 4.2g of blush & 10g of powder. The size also means you get a good sized mirror inside the compact, & they feel robust - if it weren't for the cost I'd be perfectly happy carrying these round in my bag without worrying about them getting broken.

Another thing I love about this packaging is the fastening. One of my pet peeves is when compacts have little slots you have to squeeze a nail into in order to prise them open - I can chip my nails perfectly easily on my own, thanks - but these compacts simply have a little lip on the right-hand side which you can easily pop open using your thumb. Perfect.

All the information on the products is listed on a sticker on the bottom of the compact, meaning the top is left looking clean & sleek. I also appreciate the fact that the shade is written in a large type, meaning it's easy to see at a glance what the product is called.

When it came to picking a blush shade, I simply went for the one I was most excited by from the palette & that was Mood Exposure (RRP £28). In the pan it's a cool-toned - almost lavender - plum, marbled with the Ambient Powder in Mood Light for that signature luminous glow. 

I honestly can't get over how beautiful these blushes look in the compact - there's just something about that marbled effect that pulls you in, & as you can see in the second photo, although the effect is softened through use, it's still clearly visible.

When swatched, the pigment & powder combine to create a stunning - almost metallic - finish. On the cheeks Mood Exposure gives a lovely natural pop of colour, with a hint of highlight that's really flattering, particularly if you're a fan of more matte foundations. 

Since purchasing this it's been my go-to blush - nothing else I own has this combination of buildable colour, silky soft texture, & radiant glow. I know these blushes are pricey but if you can afford it, I'd definitely recommend checking them out.

The packaging on the Ambient Lighting Powder is almost identical to the blush, except larger & with a slightly darker chrome finish.

The concept of the Ambient Lighting Powders is that they're intended to mimic some of the most flattering lighting around, from moon light to candle light, warm summer sun to the first rays of morning. It's pretty gimmicky but a sweet idea, & I'd be interested see if there's any visible difference between them when applied. 

I struggled a little to pick which shade to purchase - it was hard to be logical & not get drawn into the romantic descriptions Hourglass has written up for each powder. In the end I went with Mood Light (RRP £38), partly because it's the same shade featured in the Mood Exposure blush & partly because the word "forgiving" was too much to resist.

On the website, Mood Light is a pale but definite lavender, but once it arrived it became clear the the colour variance between the powders online is exaggerated. In person, it's a neutral-toned opalescent powder with just a hint of pink. I haven't included a swatch because honestly, on my skin all you can see is a very slight glow, but then again that's exactly what I wanted from this powder.

Just like with the blush, the powder is silky smooth & completely weightless on the skin - it applies like a dream, especially when combined with a duo-fibre brush.

In the photo above I'm wearing both the powder & the blush. I find the powder gives a beautiful glow when applied all over (without being shimmery or sparkling, meaning you can still rock it during the day) but those of you with darker skin tones might find it works better as a subtle highlight. As I said before, the blush gives a lovely natural luminosity, & combining it with the powder just kicks it up another notch.

In conclusion, these are two fantastic products which genuinely feel like they're worth their luxury price tag. The Ambient Lighting Blush has definitely become a holy grail product for me, & if I had the money I would absolutely buy more of the shades. The Ambient Lighting Powder hasn't been such an instant hit, but I still think it's stunning, & perfect for adding that little extra something to your look.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on these products, whether you own them or not, so please do leave a comment below.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

February 2015 Birchbox Unboxing & Review

I know, I know, this month's unboxing & review post is super late. I don't know what to say. Yes, I've been pretty busy lately but the truth is that every time I sat down to write this post, I just ended up getting distracted. 

My interest in these boxes has been waning for a while now & this feels like the pinnacle of my ambivalence - if it wasn't for the promise of a sample of Benefit's new Roller Lash mascara in next month's box, I would have cancelled already.

Anyway, all moaning aside (lol jk, there's definitely going to be more moaning), let's take a look at February's box. 

This month's box was, predictably, Valentine's Day themed - at least in theory. As is often the case, I feel like the theme just didn't translate through to the products, unless you considering washing your hair to be a particularly romantic activity.

First up in my box was this Cynthia Rowley Beauty eyeliner in Black (which retails for £11). It's a reasonable liner - pigmented and creamy - although when smudged out it does reveal some greenish undertones which aren't particularly flattering on my skin tone. The thing is, having been subscribed to Glossybox & then Birchbox for over two years, I have so many black kohl liners, I'm pretty sure I'll never need to buy one again, especially since I barely ever use them, so this just feels like a completely wasted spot in my box.

Next up is the Liz Earle Botanical Shine Shampoo (RRP £10). I haven't had a chance to use this yet but the fragrance is lovely, super similar to the Cleanse and Polish scent which I love. That being said, I'm the sort of person that refuses to buy Herbal Essences when it's not on offer, so the chances of me spending £10 on shampoo are pretty slim.

The third product in my box was another beauty box staple, this time from Caudalie. The Vinoperfect Radiance Serum retails for £45, and is designed to be applied between cleansing and moisturising, to boost the effectiveness of the products that follow it. I know I've tried at least one of the products from the Vinoperfect line in the past (it may even have been this serum, I can't quite remember) & actually had an allergic reaction to it, so I don't have high hopes for this (thankfully, considering the price tag).

Product number four is the T London Darjeeling Hand Wash (RRP £18). Seriously, a hand wash? Since when was washing your hands considered a beauty activity? This fragrance of this is ok, I guess, kind of like slightly fancy hotel toiletries, but this feels like such a cop-out. Plus, I'm the sort of person who bulk-buys Carex when it's on offer, so I have like a year's supply of hand wash in my cupboards at all time. 

One of the big selling points of this month's box was supposed to be that we were getting two makeup items - & since the overwhelming amount of skincare items in these boxes is one of my biggest complaints, I was pretty excited. Then, when I found out one of the items was from theBalm, even better (I love their highlighters), but this Stainiac lip & cheek stain (RRP £10) is such a let down. In the bottle it looks super bright, but it's really muted on the skin & barely showed up at all on my lips. I'm also just not a fan of these combo lip & cheek stains, so this is a total miss for me.

This month's "lifestyle" product is a Mixed Berry Oats & Chia from The Chia Co. (RRP £4.95 for pack of five). I feel like it's kind of a given at this point that my lifestyle products go straight in the bin, & even my new-found love of porridge in the morning can't save this.

I feel like I say this every month now, but sorry for all the snark! I promise I don't want to be so negative - after all, I'm spending my hard-earned money on these boxes! - but right now it feels like disappointment after disappointment. 

I'm pretty certain at this point that I'm going to be cancelling after next month's box, but I'd still love to hear your thoughts on this month's box & Birchbox in general. Has the quality really gone downhill or does the novelty just wear off after a while? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Fatshion February Day Four

Blazer - Dorothy Perkins // Top - ASOS // Necklace - New Look // Trousers - ASOS // Shoes - New Look

I was dithering a bit on posting this outfit; after all, even with the best will in the world, mirror photos just feel a bit amateur. I really love this look though, so I'm just going to ditch my ego & share.

I bought these trousers last Autumn & for a while they hung untouched in my wardrobe. I knew I loved the shape - ASOS' tube trousers are unbelievably comfy & perfect for my figure - but the pattern had me stumped. Patterned tops seemed out of the question, bright colours made the whole look feel a bit childish, but equally neutrals felt too plain.

It wasn't until I bought this blazer from Dorothy Perkins recently that the trousers found their match. The forest green lifts & adds some character to the black & white pattern of the trousers, but still feels classic & put together. Honestly, this blazer is one of my favourite items of clothing at the moment so no doubt it'll appear again later in Fatshion February.

I also think this necklace helps to keep the whole look feeling youthful. I bought it at the end of the summer for a big job interview which I aced, so it now feels like a lucky charm.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this look & if you're participating in Fatshion February remember to leave your links in the comments below.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Fatshion February Day One

I've been so torn on whether or not to take part in Fatshion February. On the one hand, I love the sense of community, especially on Tumblr, & I love that it pushes me to be more adventurous with my style. On the other, I just wasn't convinced that I'd have time to take photos, especially with working full time, & the skeevy guys that come along with posting on Tumblr are a massive downer.

I finally decided to take the plunge, although I will be playing things a little differently this year. I'll be taking outfit photos every day, but they won't all be posted on my blog. When I have the time to take high quality photos they'll appear here, but on the days when all I have time for is a quick snap on my phone, they'll go up on my Instagram & Tumblr. I'll also be talking a little bit about my makeup, since most of the time I spend far more time on my face than I do on my outfit.

Necklace: ASOS // Cardigan: Boohoo // Top: Boohoo // Skirt: ASOS // Shoes: New Look
Today's outfit is something a bit different for me. I've had this skirt for probably close to a year but I've never worn it; I just couldn't figure out how to style it. I think my main issue was the length: on the model it was a midi skirt, falling just below the knee, but on my 5ft frame it's almost at my ankles, even when worn high on my waist & I always ended up feeling drowned.

I honestly really like this outfit though, & I think I may have converted myself to this skirt. The key was finding something to counterbalance the matronly length of the skirt: in this case a swing top converted to a crop top & grungy makeup.

This is basically my go-to makeup look at the moment: Kat von D's Tattoo Liner in a wing, Illamasqua's Powder Eye Shadow in Dizzy as blush, & Kat von D's Studded Lipstick in Vampira. Today I added some of Stila's Smudge Stick Eyeliner in Sepia around my eyes - it's a beautiful subtle colour & super easy to blend.

I'm really excited for the rest of the month, & if you're also taking part please leave your blog in the comments so I can check out your outfits - I love seeing what other people are wearing & how they're styling pieces.
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