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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Mac Lipstick in 'Paramount' | A 90's Twist on the Classic Vampy Lip

A while back, I shared my Mac Lipstick Collection (you can read it here if you haven't already) and it occurred to me that I hadn't yet written a full post on my newest addition - 'Paramount'.  To be honest, I bought on a bit of a whim - It's by no means one of the most raved about shades and prior to having a good ol' flick through google one dull, autumn evening (dangerous times for online shopping amirite?)  I had no idea it existed.  I was after a new vampy shade to add to my collection but I wanted something a little different from the norm.  As 'Velvet Teddy' has been one of my favourites for a while now, I decided to look for something a little more brown-toned instead of your typical purple-y red hues.  After a little swatching session in store, I decided i'd be a bit of a dare-devil and take a chance on the colour.  Described on the Mac website as a 'reddish brown', 'Paramount' is a satin finish lipstick with a slight gothic vibe - and it packs a lot of pigmentation!  It certainly isn't for the faint hearted...

The colour is really quite unique - in the bullet, it looks like a standard dark brown/deep burgundy but on the lips, it really is quite vampy and dark - it's certainly quite a bold shade to wear.   I did think it would become one of my 'go to' winter staples but at the moment, I'm still sitting on the fence.  I think it's one of those colours that you have to wear with the right makeup, the right outfit and for the right occasion to get it to truly work. However,  when I have worn it, I've really loved how much definition it gives to my lips and the brown, brick-like hue taps in to the 90s trend that seems to be all the rage at the moment.  It's a good way of wearing the 'vampy lip' look in the daytime without it being too over the top as the brown tones in it somehow make it look a little more understated and neutral.  If you didn't want to apply this colour straight from the bullet, it also works well if you just 'dab' some of the colour into the lips slightly after applying a dash of neutral liner - it gives that 'just bitten' look whilst still maintaining the definition.

It looks lovely with subtle brown eye makeup and a simple base - think neutral blush, flawless foundation and a little bit of highlighter to add a touch of a glow to the skin.  It's the perfect autumn/winter statement shade. I have to say it does work incredibly well with my fair skin - i've noticed I really have gotten a little paler the past few weeks (thanks, winter!) and this shade really is quite complimentary against my skin tone. However,  I find I have to combat any dullness with my blush in order to prevent my skin looking too flat or lifeless when I wear it - because it's a dark brown, it can make you look a little dead in the face if you're not careful. Despite this, i'm so glad I have it in my collection - it's such a unique shade. I do love the 90s vibe it has going on - it's perfect for the current season.  I can imagine this would really suit those with darker, more olive skin tones and it's well worth a swatch if you're after something a little bit different.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend having a look in store - like i said, it's not going to be everybody's cup of tea and I have to say it's not one of my ultimate favourites as yet - but one that I still enjoy wearing nonetheless.  If this is a little too dark for you I'm aware that there's a shade called 'Verve' which is ever so slightly lighter (it was between the two for me!).  You can find Mac's 'Paramount' lipstick on the Mac website here, priced at £15.50.

Have you tried a shade like this? 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

My Current Hair Product Favourites

Oh hello there! Long time no see... (well, it's been a week but for me - in blogging time - that's an absolute eternity) It's not that I haven't wanted to blog - more that I haven't been able to access the interwebs properly since my laptop finally croaked it. It's been a long time coming but stupid me had only backed up my uni work - I have all the important 'work-related' stuff on external hard-drives but I never really thought about the sentimental things that I'd miss if they were gone.  Every cloud has a silver lining though as I've now used this mishap as an excuse to upgrade to a Macbook Pro... I've also learnt my lesson and promised myself I'll be much more organised (and less lazy when it comes to backing up my files) from now on.  It just so happens that I now have a tonne of blog photographs that I need to re-take (for once, i had them all sorted for the month of November and cleared out my memory card just before my laptop died - typical) - amongst the ones that I lost, I had a batch that I'd taken for my October favourites, but since I seem to have missed that boat now, I've decided to type up a few generic ones instead. The majority of the products featured were all hair-related anyway so it seemed silly not to group them all together and create some sort of hair-themed post! Without any further rambling, here's my newest additions to the hair product cupboard and why I think they're the bees knees...

The Mousse // Percy & Reed | Abundantly Bouncy Volumising Mousse | £12.00* | Link
I received this in one of my Love Me Beauty boxes (post here) and it's fast become my favourite mousse. So much so, it's blown any others I've previously used out of the water.  It's much more creamy in consistency than your average mousse and comes out a little more runny as opposed to foamy. However, it doesn't compromise on volume and adds so much body to my hair - after I've dried it, it feels so weightless and bouncy. I love that it seems much more moisturising too - I'm never left with crispy hair even if I do go a little bit overboard and my hair looks glossy and polished despite having product in it. I also love the packaging and design - always a nice little bonus!

The Heat Protection Spray // Neal & Wolf | Heat Guard | £7.61 | Link
I love the scent of Neal & Wolf products so I always spend a little more on their heat protection spray. For me, it's such a necessity and although they all essentially do the same thing, nothing compares to the lovely, musky scent that Neal & Wolf's version leaves my hair with.  It just smells so expensive and luxurious. It leaves my hair feeling silky smooth and I've noticed that the ends feel much softer to the touch since I've been using this - definitely worth the extra bit of money for me and I love that the salon-like scent lingers for a while afterwards.

The Shine Spray // Neal & Wolf | Glow Super Shine Spray | £8.08 | Link
I've never really used shine sprays before but due to my love affair with Neal & Wolf, I decided to give their version a go. Just a few spritzes after styling and my hair looks glossy, smoothed and polished without looking greasy.  It's a nice addition to my collection, especially through winter when my hair can have a tendency become a little dull.  I wouldn't say it makes masses of difference but for me, it has the added bonus of the signature Neal & Wolf scent! It kind of doubles up as a subtle hair perfume for me - I'm left with glossy hair that smells salon-fresh and doesn't feel weighed down. It's a nice little treat if you're a fan of the brand like me...

The Shampoo // Lush | 'BIG' Seal Salt Shampoo | £12.25 | Link
I've recently done a full review of this shampoo here.  I mentioned that it didn't lather too well on me, but since I've used it again I have too eat my words - I'm not sure whether I just didn't use enough water but I bloomin' love it! It smells so fresh and delicious, and the sea salt really does seem to help lift the hair.  For me, it's more of a cleansing shampoo with volumising benefits as opposed to an 'every day' product, as it really does leave the hair squeaky clean and removes build-up. I love the unique texture too - it's actually quite relaxing to massage this in to the scalp and once dry, my hair is left feeling (and smelling) super fresh.

The Deep Conditioner // Lush | 'American Cream' | £4.50 (100g)  | Link
Ok - so Lush don't market this as a deep conditioner as such but that's what I've been using it as.  It's incredibly moisturising and even though it doesn't have an overly thick consistency, it really does work itself in to the hair and you only need a small amount. My hair always feels incredibly soft after using this and always appears much more healthy. It completely revives my hair if it's feeling a bit worse for wear and injects some much needed moisture into the mid-lengths and ends.  It also smells incredible. Honestly, if you love 'creamy' scents you'll absolutely adore this because it's good enough to eat - it lingers on the hair for ages afterwards too. I have a full review here.

The Hair Oil // Shu Uemura | Essence Absolue Oil | Travel Size - £12.00 (Full - £29.60) | Link
This is not a recent discovery for me but I have to include it - it's been my holy grail favourite since I first discovered it over a year ago now and I kid you not, no other hair oil compares. Not even close.  I recently had to use my Moroccan Oil instead when I went away recently and I really did realise just how good the Shu Uemura version is. I missed it so much.  I'm surprised that it's not more well known on blogs because seriously - once you've used one drop of this you'll never want to use anything else. It's so moisturising and my hair never feels weighed down or greasy when I've used it - it's perfect for using on dry hair too and I often run a drop through to kill frizz or add some more moisture to the ends (it also revives hair extensions extremely well). It instantly polishes off your style.  I owe so much to this oil - i truly believe that it's made my hair grow considerably and it's looked and felt so healthy since I switched to using this. I recently picked up the travel size (shown in the photographs) which is sadly a limited edition.  If you've been wanting to try it for a while but didn't want to pay the full whack I urge you to pick one up. I'm so tempted to stock-up on some more to keep by me for when I go on holiday next year because I really can't live without it. It's completely transformed my hair.  I really hope they make the smaller size a permanent thing - it's fab to pop in your handbag for on the go! I have a full review here. 

The Daily Conditioner // Dove | Pure Care Dry Oil Conditioner |  £5.99 £2.97 | Link
I picked up a few bottles of this on a whim for just over £2 each. It's become my new go-to daily conditioner and I love it.  It's so moisturising and smells beautiful. I get through conditioner extremely quickly and a bottle of this lasts me quite a while because the consistency is rather thick.  I love the fact that it's tailored towards dry hair and contains oil - the moisturising benefits are instant.  My hair is left feeling silky smooth and easy to manage - I've found it styles really well after use too as it doesn't leave it feeling 'fluffy'.  Really recommend! 

What are your current hair favourites? Have you tried any of the products featured?

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Expectations of Being 'A Twenty-Something'

Expectations.  To a certain extent it's good to have them but more often than not, they can be the cause for all matter of disappointments.  When you're younger, you begin to conjure up this image of your life and how it will be when you're 'all grown up'.  You dream of the day when you finally have your shit together (pardon my mild french...) - a nice little place to live,  that 'grown up' career you always dreamed of, a potential somebody to settle down with and, if you're lucky, your own pet cat as the cherry on the top of the cake (or any other pet for that matter - but for the record I've always been a cat lover...) Before you know it, you really are a twenty-something and you realise that you totally haven't got your shit together. At all. Not even close.  At 24, I can't say I'm exactly running out of time can I? But I'd be telling porkies if I told you that I haven't got some sort of idea in my mind of the 'ideals' - the ideal age I'd like to settle down, the ideal age I'd like to have my career sorted - you get the jist - I can't help but notice that a handful of these 'ideals' I've set for myself have either already passed, or are edging closer. I haven't got my career sorted (I've only just left university). I haven't got my own place. I'm still fishing in the singles pond and, you guessed it, I haven't got that pet cat either.

It's only now that I'm beginning to realise that having expectations like these can be the cause of so much uncertainty and unhappiness.  Of course, you've got to have dreams and goals and ambitions but I think, sometimes, we get carried away thinking about what it is we're supposed to be doing rather than just letting things happen naturally - we resist going with the flow, put a time-limit on everything and feel pressurised into being 'perfect'. As I'm currently job-hunting, I've toyed with the possibility of moving away from my home town. Although that excites me, I must admit it's something that doesn't exactly match up with those expectations I once had. Whether I end up doing it or not is another question - it depends on what job I decide to take - but I always thought that if I was going to move away, I'd be doing it with somebody and that I'd have someone to share the excitement with.  I had this image in my head of moving somewhere with a long-term boyfriend, just like so many of my friends have done - but it just hasn't panned out that way for me and sometimes I can't help but feel a bit disheartened about the fact that it won't be how I'd always imagined it to be.  I definitely think that this is where social media can filter into things. My news feed is full of people buying their first house, getting engaged, having babies, gaining promotions and generally just sharing their successes and happiness.  I'm not saying I haven't had my own and of course I'm always chuffed to bits for my friends, but it can be overwhelming when you realise you've almost hit your mid-twenties and aren't even remotely close to having any of these things. Whether you mean to or not, it's very easy to fall in to the trap of comparing your 20-something life to the array of other 20-somethings out there and life can sometimes feel like a competition of who's doing it best and who got there first.

Which begs the question, what is the rush?  Why do I actually feel rushed in to having all of these things at the age of 24 and why on earth do I feel like I'm running out of time?! When you step back and take a look at things, you realise that there really isn't a set of rules and your twenties (as corny as it sounds) are all about finding yourself, discovering what you want from life, taking steps towards your future and making a few mistakes along the way (and I've made my fair share...) There's no right or wrong way to do things. I have friends my age who still go out and knock back cheap shots every single weekend - good for them - I also have friends my age who are buying houses, planning weddings and having children - that's jolly good too. I'm just floating around somewhere in the middle of all of that - but it just goes to show how having these expectations when we're in our twenties is completely and utterly pointless - there's no unwritten rule that we absolutely have to have everything sorted before we hit 25 - there's no tick-list - so why do I, and so many other people I know, feel so much pressure to have everything in place when in reality, we should just be enjoying things for what they are? 

There's no doubt that being in your twenties can be a little daunting at times. I'm currently job-hunting after finishing my degree (I chose to go to university ever so slightly later than the usual) and can't help but feel I'm a few years behind some of my friends who are all settled in jobs/relationships and are well away climbing up the career ladder - but you know what? That's ok. I have no doubt that it was the right way to go about things for me, and I like to think I've spent time exploring my options, deciding what's best and piecing things together slowly instead of jumping head-first in to something that isn't going to make me happy in the long-term. I've been reminding myself that this little awkward stage in my life isn't going to last forever and that sometimes, it does you good to have some time to re-evaluate and fathom out the next steps you need to take in order to get where you want to be.

Despite all the pressure, you have to remind yourself that it's okay to feel lost now and again.  It's normal to question whether or not you're going in the right direction and it's ok to have absolutely no idea what it is you want to do next. That's the beauty of being in your twenties - there's no better time to make mistakes or change your mind, to feel completely at a loss or feel as if you're back at 'square one'...  Instead of allowing these silly expectations of what you should have achieved/should be doing at a certain age get under your skin, I think it's important to focus on what's right for you. Maybe you've just finished your degree, maybe you've just quit your job and decided on a whim you want to go down a completely new path, maybe you've just come out of a long-term relationship and feel completely daunted at the prospect of learning to be completely by yourself again - just because you're a little bit 'up in the air' doesn't mean that you haven't already accomplished something or made a positive step in the right direction. I think what I'm trying to say is that sometimes it's important to just step back, realise things for what they are and relax a little. Just because things aren't going the way you planned or hoped doesn't mean that things aren't falling in to place, and just because some people appear to be a little further ahead in this supposed twenty-something-race compared to you, doesn't mean they actually are. If you've been feeling this way lately, i think it's a good thing to remember that you're not alone.  Rest assured that there's other 20-somethings out there who feel exactly the same way as you. Remind yourself that there's no rush, no 'race' and no time-limit when it comes to achieving your goals and ambitions and focus on staying happy and true to yourself - and above all have faith that eventually, things will turn out exactly the way you'd hoped.

'Don't compare your chapter on to somebody else's chapter 20...'

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Autumn/Winter Lip | My Berry Lipstick Collection

It was only last winter-time that I really found myself throwing caution to the wind and working the 'vampy' lip look.  I think it's one of those trends that takes a while to master but once you find that one shade that works for you, you're well away. As I've had a bit of a 're-jig' of my make-up drawers recently, swapping things around for the new season, I thought I'd share my collection of berry toned lip products.  If you're a lip-product-aholic like me and have been thinking of picking up some new winter shades, hopefully this post might give you some inspiration or give you an idea as to where to begin. I have a mix of tones, ranging from subtle berry hues perfect for daytime wear to deeper statement shades - I definitely have a select few favourites of the bunch too. So if you're at a bit of a loss as to where to begin when it comes to the A/W berry/vampy lip - hopefully this will be a jolly good starting point! I've divided them in to 2 sections (us bloggers and our categories eh?) just to make it a little easier depending on what sort of product you're after... I thought I'd kick off with the 4 that I'd class as being a little more on the 'tame' side...

// The 'Every Day' Berry Tones // L-R //

Collection Deluxe // 'Prohibition' 
Probably my most used berry shade ever - this little beauty has to be my winter favourite.. I wore it to uni, I wore it on nights out, I wore it on shopping trips, I even wore it for an quick evening mooch around the aisles of Tesco - yep, I kid you not, I literally wore this everywhere. I actually bought a back-up in case they didn't stock it this year (fear not, they do). It's just the perfect berry hue - it's super creamy, pigmented, lasts me all day with minimal touch-ups and instantly finishes off my make-up. I don't know what it is, but the undertones in this lipstick really work with my skin tone - even if I'm having the dullest skin-day, I instantly look fresh, dewy and awake as soon as I apply this. It's perfection. Want to see it on? I have a full review and lip swatches here.

Rimmel Kate Moss // '107'
Ohhh the infamous '107' - how I hunted the shelves for this! Slightly cooler in tone than 'Prohibition' and slightly more matte, this shade really is one of the most raved about berry lipsticks in the bloggosphere. With good reason too I might add! It looks darker in the bullet than it does on the lips, but if you're after a statement shade that isn't too dark - I'd really recommend this one.  I have an ancient review and swatches here.

Topshop // Beguiled
And so I introduce you to the first 'vampy' lipstick I ever purchased... Topshop's 'Beguiled' is a gorgeous deep maroon/wine sort of colour with a satin finish. I sometimes struggle to get it to work for me - but it's a great one to have in my collection nonetheless. I find it quite similar to Kate Moss '107' - just a slightly more glossy version. I doubt they still stock this exact shade but I've seen so many variations from Topshop since this one was released - they probably have an almost identical shade under the same name. I featured it in my 2012 'Top 5 Autumn Lip Shades' post here.

MUA // 'Shade 1'
Probably the most pigmented of the four, this gorgeous maroon shade has to be another one of my favourites - it has to share the top spot with 'Prohibion'.  Shade 1 is a beautiful deep red which is super rich and creamy in finish, as well as being completely opaque.  Despite it being quite a dark shade, the red tones in it make it so wearable for daytime and makes for a nice, wintery twist on the classic red lip! I adore this one - everything from the shade to the formula is just bang on - and it's only £1! 

// The 'Vampy' Tones // L-R //

Mac // 'Paramount' 
A slightly different shade and one that's going to be very 'love it or hate it', but my most recent Mac purchase has to be my Autumn staple.  It's a gorgeous deep brown shade with a brick-like tone to it, described as a 'reddish brown' by Mac.  With the right make-up, this looks truly stunning but it really is quite 'out there' - it definitely has a 90's feel to it due to the brown undertone.  A statement shade to opt for it you're after something a little bit different from the norm. It's featured in my Mac lipstick collection post here.

Mac // 'Dark Side'
Another one of my winter faves! Dark Side is described as a 'deep burgundy' and has an amplified, pigmented finish.  It swatches exactly how it looks in the bullet. I love the slightly purple/red undertone to this colour - it works really well with my skin tone and makes my lips look incredibly defined and polished.  It really is the perfect statement shade if you're looking for something with a slightly 'gothic' vibe... It featured in my Mac lipstick collection post here, and I also have a full review post with photographs and swatches here.

Collection Gothic Glam // 'Revenge'
As you can see from the swatches, this is a similar match for Mac's 'Dark Side' (and I reckon its quite close to Mac 'Diva' too). Although it's much more maroon toned, it definitely gives the same look and feel to the lips - it's amazingly pigmented, glides on to the lips with ease and is very creamy and opaque. It's like a slightly amped up, more vampy version of MUA 'Shade 1' and I absolutely love it. It looks lovely if you're wearing white - it creates a fabulous bold contrast (it also works really well if you're wearing a neutral, slightly shimmery eye make-up look)

I'm Wearing | Collection 'Prohibion' lipstick & Revlon 'Embellished' lip gloss (post here)

And so there we have it - my current winter 'vampy' lipstick collection. I'm sure I'll end up expanding it at some stage - I already have my eyes on Mac's 'Diva' and really want to invest in some lip-crayon versions (I'll be sure to post about any additions over the next few months).  If I had to pick my top 3 I'd have to go with Collection's 'Prohibition', MUA's 'Shade 1' and Mac's 'Dark Side' - I reckon these 3 are my top 'staple' shades from my selection!

What's your favourite 'vampy' lip shade?

Sunday, 2 November 2014

My Autumn/Winter Blush Wardrobe

I must confess that I'm a bit of a blush hoarder.  If there's anything I tend to experiment with aside from my lip shade - it's the colour I dust on my cheeks of a morning!  I love that something so simple and quick can completely bring together a make-up look in an instant and brighten up your entire complexion.  I've had a bit of a make-up overhaul recently and thought I'd introduce you to my Autumn/Winter 'blush wardrobe' - because for a beauty blogger, it doesn't stop at swapping your cami tops for polo-necks does it?! Ohh no - I've swapped around my entire cosmetic collection and placed some of my more wintery shades within grabbing distance.  It's time to put the bright corals to bed! Without further ado, here's 7 of my 'go to' shades for the autumn/winter season and why I'll be reaching for them over the next few months...

Illamasqua | 'Tremble' // The Winter Bright //
I must admit, I'm really not a big fan of pinks - I find that I need a bit of warmth in my blush colour due to my skin-tone but Illamasqua's 'Tremble' is probably one of the only bright pink shades I can get away with. It's showing up a little more cool toned on camera but this is seriously bright - it's not for the faint hearted but when applied lightly it gives such a lovely flush of colour to the cheeks. If you're a fan of Illamasqua's 'Lover' blush (it's one of my all time summer favourites) this is like its pink, wintery cousin... it still has the same brightness to it but looks a little more natural and flattering on dull, winter skin.  I love Illamasqua's blushes - they always look so immaculate and flawless on the skin and are incredibly long lasting. If you're looking for pigmentation - look no further.  I have an ancient review of Tremble here.

Deborah Milano | 'Spicy' // The 'Any Season' Coral //
I know I said I've put my corals to bed but this is the only one I find myself reaching for all year round.  Trust me when I say that this little compact is well loved! If you're looking for a versatile, year-round colour then this shade will be right up your street.  It looks just as flattering on my winter skin as it does when I have a tan - it looks so natural. It's the perfect coral because it isn't too orange or bright - it works whatever the weather, whatever your skin tone and whatever make-up you've applied.  I love the texture of the powder too - it applies so smoothly and effortlessy and it's really nicely pigmented - I've used this to death for around a year and I've barely worn down the surface - well worth the money! I have a full review of it here.

Nars | 'Orgasm' // The Perfect Healthy Glow //
Ooo Beauty blogger classic alert (just look how battered mine is - the poor thing!) Although I can't say this blush is one of my all-time favourites, it's one that I find myself reaching for through the winter months.  It's got a bit of shimmer running through it so it's perfect for those days when you just can't be bothered to highlight as it brings a healthy, natural glow to the face - killing 2 birds with one stone, as they say! I like to use this colour when I'm feeling a little bit under the weather - rosy pink blushes are actually proven to help counteract dull tones and dark shadows under your eyes, and 'Orgasm' does a fabulous job of making me look bright eyed and bushy tailed even when I'm far from it. Its rosy appearance does a fabulous job of brightening the skin and gives a naturally 'blushed' appearance. It's definitely one of my more understated blushes (despite the shimmer) - it's the type of blush I'd pop on for a quick flush of colour if I'm off for a winter walk somewhere.

Nars | 'Deep Throat' // The 'Everyday' Winter Staple //
Oh crikey me - Nars and their naughty names make me blush even before I've swept them on to my cheeks! Despite it's 'out there' name, this blush really is such a great everyday staple. It's like a slightly lighter, less shimmery version of 'Orgasm' with a hint of peachy pink.  I must admit I was never sold on this until I had it applied on me by an MUA in Space NK - it looks completely different once you have it on your cheeks and gives such a healthy flush of peachy-pink to the cheeks. If, like me, you lean towards corals and oranges and want something suitable for the season, I really recommend you check this one out.  It's a lovely 'in-between' sort of shade - I can wear this all year round because it has a good bit of warmth running through it.  It's a good option for paler skin too as it's not overly pigmented - it's very buildable.  I have a full review and photographs here.

Benefit | 'Rockateur' // The Subtle Touch //
I really didn't expect this to become one of my autumn staples, but it has! I actually find this to be quite similar to Nars' 'Deep Throat' blush - just a slightly lighter version.  Again, it's peachy-pink hints work really well on winter skin and the satin finish is really flattering.  It has a subtle hint of shimmer which gives such a healthy glow - another fabulous option if dull skin is your main concern. I find this blush works well for layering becuase it's quite subtle. It's formula is very buildable and if you wish to achieve the colour in the pan, you can, but I actually really enjoy using this alongside Benefit's 'Majorette' - layering this on top of a bright coral works really well. I have a full review here.

Mac | 'Blushbaby' // The 'Depths of Winter' Flush //
Again, this isn't one of my all-time favourites but I really enjoy using this shade in the winter months.  It's a gorgeous, natural shade with a slight hint of mauve - a little more cool-toned than what I usually reach for but with the right make-up it looks so beautiful. I always pop this on if I'm wearing a darker lip colour or if I've opted for a mauve/purple toned lip. It swatches a little warmer than it looks in the pan - it's definitely got a hint of 'brick' running through it (have a nosey at the swatches, you'll see what I mean!) Think bobble hats, cosy knits and hot chocolates - this shade really is my 'depths of winter' blush - perfect for snowy days. I love the matte finish - it works really well with a flawless base and a teeny fleck of highlighter on the tops of the cheekbones.

Mac | 'Harmony' // The Sculpting Shade //
I adore this shade.  It's so multi-functional as it works as a contour shade as well as a blush. It's a cool toned 'brick' sort of colour - very difficult to explain but one that works incredibly well at softly sculpting the cheeks. If you're new to contouring, I really recommend this - all you need to do is sweep some of this onto your cheeks and et voila - instant cheekbones. If I'm in a rush, I'll quickly dust some of this on using a blush brush, but i find that it works really nicely if you use a slightly smaller tapered or 'domed' brush and place the colour on your natural contour line.With 'Harmony', it's so easy to achieve that sculpted appearance without the fuss.  As with most Mac blushes, it's really soft and easy to blend - but isn't so overly pigmented it's difficult to work with. Definitely a staple shade in my collection. I have a full review here.

Swatches L-R | Illamasqua 'Tremble' / Deborah Milano 'Spicy' / Nars 'Orgasm' / Nars 'Deep Throat' / Benefit 'Rockateur' / Mac 'Blushbaby' / Mac 'Harmony'

So there we have it - my Autumn/Winter blush wardrobe. I also love Benefit's 'Majorette' and Illamasqua's 'Lover' blush - but the shades I've featured are definitely the ones I'll be reaching for when the weather really does take a turn for the worst!  My ultimate favourites have to be Deborah Milano's 'Spicy' and Nars' 'Deep Throat' - and Mac's 'Harmony' really is a winter contouring must-have if you're a fan of a sculpted cheek like me.

What's in your autumn/winter blush wardrobe this season?

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Birchbox October 2014 | Contents & Thoughts

I really have developed a bit of a soft spot for beauty boxes.  They often receive mixed reviews but there's no denying that they're a great way to uncover new products - I've discovered a fair few of my favourites through the concept and I've been made aware of so many brands I wouldn't have even heard of had I not been introduced to them via a beauty box. As October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, Birchbox teamed up with Coppafeel. Helping to raise awareness regarding the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, this month's box definitely has a bit of a pink theme! Packaged in a lovely pink pouch, the products inside are all perfect for use 'on the go' - there's even a quirky little lipstick shaped pen in there (ohh Birchbox. You do know the way to a beauty blogger's heart...) Along with some informative leaflets and motivation charts, October's offering made for a fabulous girly treat. Here's what I thought of the contents...

Shaveworks | The Cool Fix | £11
I was soo chuffed to receive this product.  It's not something I would have gone out and bought myself but now that I have it, I can really see the benefits of having something like this in your bathroom cupboard and it's something I'd take away with me on holiday in the future.  It's a cooling gel which helps to soothe the skin after hair removal - preventing in-grown hairs and irritation. I've used this a couple of times now and it definitely helps to reduce any redness and prevents my skin from becoming itchy or irritated whilst providing a relaxing cooling sensation.

Balance Me | Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm | £20
A natural nourishing cleanser with exfoliating oatmeal powder, this face balm is suitable for most skin types and helps to balance out the complexion.  I'm very set in my ways when it comes to skincare but I love receiving miniature sizes like this as I really enjoy trying new things whenever I go away or stay away from home for a few nights. I've used and enjoyed Balance Me before so I'm quite happy to have this in my bathroom cupboard - I'm sure it's just as good as it sounds and will be a lovely option for the winter months.

KMS | Free Shape Hot Flex Creme | £15.50
I love KMS. They do some fabulous products (I'm a big fan of their quick blow-dry spray) and I'm always happy to see a hair product in a beauty box. I have to admit, I've never been the biggest fan of styling cremes as I find they weigh down my hair, but I'll definitely be giving this a go soon. I've never been disappointed with KMS products and I'm sure it's going to come in handy once the weather gets worse... I'm always looking for things I can pop into my handbag to help keep bad hair days at bay!

Meaningful Beauty | Glowing Serum | £30.95
Radiance-enhancing and anti-ageing, this serum is perfect for use at any time of day for a swift 'pick-me-up'. I'll probably end up giving this to my mum as I really don't like adding extra products to my skincare routine - but it does sound very lovely. I'm tempted to keep it by me until we're in to the depths of winter - my skin really does get very dull in the colder seasons so I'm tempted to try it nonetheless... 

Pixi | Shea Butter Lip Balm | £8
Eek. I was so excited for this product! I love a good lip balm - and I'm also a fan of Pixi products. This full-sized balm is a gorgeous raspberry pink shade which adds a delicate flush of colour to the lips. It also smells delicious - the vanilla hint really is lovely and makes it even more of a joy to apply. The texture is quite thick - so it's perfect for those days when you need to protect your lips from the cold. As someone who does prefer a splash of colour, it's sure to become a winter staple! It's already found a new home in my handbag...

Overall, a lovely little selection - I loved that the box was tailored towards such a good cause.I think my favourites have to be the Pixi Lip Balm and The Shaveworks Cool Fix - they're definitely products I'd purchase again and get lots of use out of.  For £12.95*, it's a fabulous treat! You can find out more about Birchbox on their website here.

Have you tried Birchbox before? 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Old Favourite, New Packaging | Mac's MSF Natural Powder

It's always a sad, sad day when I hit pan on my beloved Mac MSF powder. Although it's one of my most loved 'holy grail' products, I can't say I relish re-purchasing it.  Powder is one of those products that I just don't get overly excited about - yes, it's probably one of the most important steps in my makeup regime but it's more of a necessity as opposed to a treat. Try as I might to find a cheaper alternative - I can't.  So when I got towards the final dregs of my last compact (and believe me I really did scrape every single last little fleck of powder out of that pan) I tottled straight off to Mac to grab myself a new one. I never normally blog about my random re-purchases, especially if I already have a full review somewhere already, but I was really impressed with the new packaging and thought I'd share it.  I'd heard mixed opinions but I have to say I really do prefer the new, sleek design. At first, I was a little unsure - after all, when companies 'repackage' products, it's normally just a sneaky way of charging more whilst down-sizing the actual product weight...but Mac have kept everything exactly the same - they've just made their compact a little more sturdy and in my opinion, much better looking. Oh, and they've thrown in a mirror for good measure. Always a winner in my books! The magnetic closure also makes me rather happy...

The powder itself is just divine.  I've never been able to find another alternative that works for me the way Mineralise Skinfinish Natural does. I love the fact that it looks so undetectable on the skin - it doesn't dull the complexion, helps to 'airbrush' out any imperfections that my foundation hasn't covered whilst keeping any oil at bay.  It never looks like I'm wearing powder - it doesn't cling to dry patches, still allows the natural glow of my skin to show through and it also does a tip-top job at keeping my foundation in place all day.  It really does tick off all the boxes for me and I haven't gone a day without it since I first discovered it. Mac's MSF retails for £23.00 - definitely on the higher-end of the scale when it comes to powders but it lasts ages  - I've been using this for around 3 years now and I reckon I've only had to buy 3 or 4 compacts.  It also featured in my 'Best of 2013' post here. You can find Mac's Mineralise Skinfinish Natural powder on the Mac website and also in store.

What do you think to the new packaging? What's your 'go-to' powder?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Drugstore Gems | Recent Finds...

As a blogger, it's very easy to get sucked in to the luxury product hype - swishy packaging and the lure of a glitzy high-end counter certainly have the power to sway a purchase.  Whilst I'm not denying that you do sometimes get what you pay for (some of my high-end favourites simply cannot be beaten in my opinion) - I do think there's plenty of 'drugstore' products out there that perform just as well as - if not better than some of the high-end brands. I've become such a bargain hunter just recently (just call me David Dickinson) and I seem to have uncovered a small selection of fabulous 'drugstore' products that I absolutely love - I've been on a roll!  Of course, I often find cheaper products I enjoy and use on a regular basis, but these 6 most recent finds have seriously impressed me -  they're much more than fleeting favourites.  We're a fickle bunch, us bloggers, so to say that this little collection of my latest 'drugstore gems' top the mark as some of my most recommended is saying something! Here's why I think they're jolly good contenders to rival their higher-end versions...

Seventeen | Falsifeye HD Mascara | £6.99 | Link
I'll kick off with my most favourite shall I?!  If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know I'm rarely impressed with mascaras - I'm ridiculously fussy.  I've been using Maybelline's 'The Falsies' for a good 5 years or so now and I never really vary from this (Benefit's 'They're Real' is my only other 'go to' but I use this as more a 'treat' because it's quite expensive). It's fair to say I'm very stuck in my ways when it comes to mascara.  However - I think I may have discovered my new obsession in the form of Seventeen's Falsifeye HD Mascara.  It's seriously amazing. First impressions were good before I even left the store as it actually comes in a box - and we all know how much bloggers love their boxed products... It didn't stop there though.  I was blown away as soon as I applied it - it coats every.single.lash. The wand doesn't look anything special but trust me, it works a charm at coating even the smallest eyelashes and it's so easy to use. Usually, with volumising 'false lash effect' mascaras, the wands can be quite cumbersome but this one is just perfection.   It reminds me of a simplfied version of Benefit's 'They're Real' whilst being easier to use. 

The formula doesn't clump at all - I can easily apply 3 coats without my lashes clumping together and it also holds a curl really nicely. My lashes look fuller than ever and incredibly defined, and even though it's not waterproof, it doesn't smudge, flake or crumble.  I must admit I don't use it on my bottom lashes as the only mascara that doesn't smudge on me is Clinique's 'Bottom Lash Mascara' - but I can't sing this product's praises enough. I definitely think it's a good rival for Benefit's 'They're Real'. I think I'll be buying this from now on instead of the Maybelline one I've been using for 5 years... that's how much I adore it.

Seventeen | Instant Glow Bronzer in Medium Bronze | £4.49 | Link
Seventeen really have upped their game the past year or so! I'm loving the brand at the moment and their new image is definitely a winner in my books. This is another one of my recent purchases but as it's already featured twice on my blog so I shan't get in to it too much - you're probably sick of the sights of it! I picked this up on a whim at the airport before a holiday and my goodness, am I glad I did! It's such a good 'all rounder' bronzer and works so well for all over bronzing and subtle contouring. It's the perfect shade to add warmth to the complexion and even though it's pigmented, it's virtually impossible to over-apply as it blends like a dream.  I've been applying it even though my skin is paler now and it just gives the most incredible healthy glow without looking like I've piled on a shed load of bronzer.  I really loved Guerlain's 'Terracotta' bronzer earlier this year but I have to admit this one has had much more use.  It's matte so it provides a really lovely, natural finish and gives a nice bit of definition to the facial features.  I posted about it in a summer beauty haul here, and also in a recent favourites post here.  My love for it is still going strong...

MUA | Power Pout Lip Crayon in 'Rendezvous' | £3.00 | Link
I had to re-use a photograph I've taken of this product for a past post because my camera ran out of battery just before I'd finished this one - but trust me - this lip crayon is very well loved.  It's lived in my hand-bag since the day I bought it and it's not making a move out of there any time soon! I really love MUA's lip crayon offering - this colour is just the perfect every day shade and I've been using it over some of my Mac favourites just recently.  It's super moisturising, yet long-lasting and easy to apply on-the-go. I really don't think you have to spend the earth if you want a good quality lip crayon - I can't see why this one isn't just as good as some of the more expensive versions I've seen on the high-street.  I have a full post about the product here.

Collection | Illuminating Touch Brightening Concealer | £4.99 £3.99  | Link
Currently on offer for just £3.99, this concealer is my most recent discovery.  Now, I have to admit that my ultimate holy-grail favourite is Estee Lauder's Double Wear Concealer and I don't think I'll ever find anything else to rival it - but since it's so expensive (£21.00 a pop!) I wanted something to use under my eyes on those days when I'm not wearing a great deal of makeup.  I wanted something a little more brightening than Collection's 'Lasting Perfection' (another drugstore gem) as I mainly use concealer underneath my eyes to conceal dark circles. I've been blown away by this one! I was so amazed at how well it hid my dark circles - it's literally like a brightening version of their Lasting Perfection. The formula is quite thick (similar to L.P), so it's a little more hard-wearing than other brightening concealers I've tried before.  I've also used YSL's Touche Eclat in the past and prefer this cheaper version by a mile!

Bourjois | 123 Perfect CC Cream in '32 - Light Beige' | £9.99* | Link
I was actually sent this product a while back but as soon as this tube runs out (and it's getting rather low) I'll be purchasing another straight away.  As much as I love my Nars Sheer Glow foundation, it can be a little heavy for everyday wear and I sometimes crave a slightly lighter coverage. My high-end 'go to' for a dewy base is YSL's Touche Eclat foundation but for a cheaper alternative, this Bourjois offering is fantastic. It does everything it promises - the colour correction really does seem to work and I instantly look more awake when I've applied this.  The coverage is so impressive and comparable to a light-medium foundation - so don't let the fact it's a CC Cream as opposed to an actual foundation base put you off.  If i'm ever having a 'dry skin day'  I use this because its a little more hydrating than an average foundation.  It evens out the complexion in an instant and looks virtually undetectable, especially when I've applied it with my RT Buffing Brush. I have a review of it here, and it also featured in a favourites post here.

Look Beauty Eyeshadow | Shade 13 - 'Luxe' | £4.00 | Link
Ok. So this isn't exactly a recent find - I've had this shade in my collection for quite some time now but it's definitely a re-discovery! If you're looking for pigmentation, 'Look' Statement Eyes Eye shadows really are amazing - they put some high-end brands to shame. This eyeshadow has to be one of the most pigmented shades I own and it gives that statement metallic lid look - perfect for the upcoming festive season. It's so creamy and buttery-soft to the touch and the gorgeous antique-gold colour is so flattering. Admittedly, due to the fact it's so pigmented you do get a little bit of fallout but it's easy to overlook- I just protect my under-eyes with a tissue and 'dab' the shadow on with an eyeshadow brush. 

Swatches L-R // Collection Concealer | Bourjois CC Cream | Seventeen Bronzer | Look Eyeshadow | MUA Crayon

So there we have it, some recent drugstore finds that I've been seriously impressed with.  Of course, I have plenty of other favourites but these are products I've discovered in the past few weeks/months.  Do let me know if you'd like me to do a post on some of my other drugstore gems - I have a fair few that definitely rival their higher end versions.

Have you found any drugstore gems recently? Let me know!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Make-Up Mistakes We All Made In Our Early Teenage Years

Ok. So firsly I'll offer my apologies for the cruddy quality of the header image, but come on - how could I not use a reference from '13 going on 30' for this post?! No other photography was going to cut the mustard here - Jenna Rink was the ultimate way forward to sum it all up.  I have no idea why I've decided to type this post - call it a spur of the moment ramble - but I was reminiscing about my early teenage years after stumbling upon a rather battered Barry M Dazzle Dust - (more on those in a moment...) and simply had to share some of my makeup mishaps with you from back in the day. Why? Because I know for a FACT you've made them too. I'm an early 90's child so please bare in mind that my experience is taken from those good old days before beauty blogs and YouTube even existed - I'm sure some of my younger readers haven't made these blunders! So sit back and feel free have a good chuckle at my past makeup misfortunes - I do hope it manages to conjure up some fond memories of your own school years... It certainly did for me! Now,  I'd better wrap up this introduction before I get caught up in the moment and swiftly go and grab myself some Dream Matte Mousse for old times sake ;)....

Choosing your foundation shade purely by name. There was no swatching, no 'natural daylight test' and no pre-purchase review reading. Ohhh no - your badass younger-self chose foundation based on whatever shade-name sounded remotely like your skin colour. OR, if you were really throwing caution to the wind, your shade of choice was probably settled with 'sand...hmm...I like beaches...I like sand! Therefore, '04 sand' is perfect...' Wrong. So wrong. In truth, you were more of a '01 True Ivory' kinda gal but the name just wasn't as appealing, ya know?

Using foundation as a form of fake tan.  Ok. So maybe you weren't exactly aware of your foundation shade mishap and maybe this wasn't your intention, but at some stage in your life, I bet you've used a foundation waaaay too dark for your skin and tried to make it work.  This was probably in your first year of secondary school when, in a bid to look like the school 'it girl', you dash off to Boots and buy the first bottle of foundation you see.  It's far too dark and far too orange but you roll with it anyway and wonder why you look like a streaky mess after a rather taxing hour of PE.  Similarly, at some stage in our lives, I bet we've all had that bright idea of buying a shade darker than our usual foundation shade because, in theory, it should make us look a little more 'sunkissed'.  It's a mistake everyone needs to make. Once you've made it, you'll never deliberately make it again.

The inevitable over-plucking of the eyebrows. Ohhhh eyebrows. I apologise for the way I mis-treated you during my teenage years but when you're 13 and armed with an eyebrow plucker, all manner of eyebrow crimes are committed.  Crimes that, although you have no idea at the time, you will still be paying for in your mid-twenties. It's thanks to my 13 year old 'YOLO' moment with my mother's tweezers that I now have to spend that extra 5 minutes of a morning filling in my sparse, barely there arches - attempting to craft a decent eyebrow shape from powder and wax instead of actual, physical eyebrow hairs.

The inevitable ignoring of said eyebrows. There comes a time in one's life when you realise that eyebrows are actually pretty important, who would have thought?! All of a sudden you have this life-changing epiphany moment when you realise that your eyebrows have the power to make or break your entire face.  Of course, throughout your teens you think it's all about the kohl eyeliner and fail to even do so much as lightly groom your poor brows with a pencil. 10 years later, you'll look back, cringe at photographs and realise you looked more like Mr Potato Head than that 'J-Lo' sultry look you were going for. With or without the kohl eyeliner. Lesson learnt. Never. Neglect. The Eyebrows.

GLITTER OVERLOAD. Again, this was probably in your early secondary school years. The good old days when you spent months and months planning your show-stopping outfit for the annual school disco, swapping notes under the table with your friends whilst you discussed, in great detail complete with tick-boxes, which denim skirt/gypsy top combo would be most likely to help you succeed at catching the attention of that Year 5 boy you're completely head over heels in love with (for realzzz). The night you've been waiting for arrives and you completely drown yourself in glitter of all kinds - glitter hair mascara and Barry M Dazzle Dusts aplently! And who remembers those body glitter roll ons?! Who even invented those?! GENIUS! Now there was maximum glitter potential and even more hope of luring in all the boiizzz with your dazzling, mesmerising sparkle.  Now, I'm all for a bit of glitter but in reality, you just looked like a unicorn threw up on you.

Treating 'Sugar' Magazine's beauty tips as GOSPEL. Ohhh yes. Who remembers this little gem?! Long before your mother allowed you to read Cosmo (heaven forbid, the sex tips section) your monthly treat was Sugar magazine - with its fail-safe flirting tips and flow-chart quizzes galore! Whatever Sugar magazine told you, you did it. To be fair, it's probably where you got the idea for that body glitter roll-on...

Thinking that translucent powder was the miracle of life! There's also a moment when you discover powder in all it's glory.  Probably sometime around Year 9 when you begin to spot all the popular girls powdering their face mid-biology sesh with a sponge and mirror compact.  Of course, you simply must do this too. Even if you have a seriously dry skin-type and could probably do with a dose of moisturiser instead. You fail to understand the t-zone rule and the fact that, in general, powder needs to be applied sparingly to set your makeup but instead you use yours as a form of foundation.  You pile it on in the understanding that it's supposed to cover blemishes and feel slight confusion when you end up looking a little bit dusty...  Quick! Someone get the Pledge!
Blend? Who needs to blend?! Sometimes, you forget there was life before your professional blending brushes... But ohhh there was! You simply used your fingers or those free plastic sponge thingymajiggys and hoped for the best. Your hadn't got the foggiest what an 'eye crease brush' was or how on earth to properly apply an eyeshadow - you just piled it on. It also took you a good year or so to realise the importance of blending foundation into your neck...

This fake tan wipe is a really good idea... There comes a time, probably before that much anticipated school disco, when you discover that miraculous invention - the fake tan wipe. In fact, you probably threw it in your basket along with that body glitter roll on 2 days prior to the event of the century. There's no doubt that a fake-tan wipe is a great idea in theory, but for a 14 year old without a pair of protective gloves and zero fake-tan experience it's a recipe for a bronzing disaster. Not only do you end up smelling like a digestive, but you have to face going to school the next day with streaky arms, a patchy face and rather toxic looking fingernails. 

The black kohl-liner/white eyeshadow combo. Surely it couldn't have just been my school where the whole white shadow/kohl liner thing was in vogue? You lined your inner-eyelids with cheap kohl pencil (the blackest of blacks you could find) until they watered, topped it up after every lesson (because heaven forbid, your natural eyelid began to show through) and at the end of the day it congealed in the corners of your eyes and you resembled some sort of Avril Lavigne/panda/pirate/eye casualty mash-up - but that's ok, because it's all about definition, right? You coupled this fetching look with stark white eyeshadow (sometimes with a dash of glitter if you were feeling rather experimental) which contrasted really nicely with your black kohl overload...

Buying products purely because everyone else did. Ok. Who remembers the 'Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse' era? *sheepishly raises hand* I do. Surely it wasn't just my school? It graced the inside of every school bag in the area - mine included.  I'm not by any means knocking Dream Matte Mousse - but back in the day, you didn't quite grasp the concept of skin types did you?  It was a nightmare for dry skins and probably wasn't the best option for teenage skin - but we all bought it anyway simply because it was the product of the moment. The same went for Miss Sporty lipgloss, black glitter nail polish and that bloomin' kohl liner - the blacker and smudgier the better.

So there we have it, a small selection of the makeup mishaps I made in my early teenage years. When you actually sit and think about how much trial and error you went through in your younger years, it just goes to show much there is to learn about cosmetics and beauty industry - we all have to start somewhere!  I guess you could say (in the words of Drake), 'we started from the bottom, now we're here' (oooosh) - with a beauty blog, a rather sizable collection of makeup brushes and not a single sponge eyeshadow applicator in sight...

Have you made any of these Make-Up mistakes when you were younger?