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Sunday 30 November 2014

8 High End Products I Can't Live Without...

Why is it that all of your more expensive make-up must-haves always run out at the same time? Seriously - it happens to me every single bloomin' time and this month has been particularly cruel to me to say the least.  As I'm currently on a bit of a budget and am trying to curb my beauty product-spend-age, it's been difficult to justify splurging on high-end replacements. For some, I've managed to find good cheaper alternatives (see my recent 'drugstore gems' post here), but I've come to realise that there's a few high-end products in my collection I simply cannot live without.  Of course, as a blogger, I often end up treating myself to the odd luxury or two but there's only a small handful of them that I'd say hold the 'cannot live without' status.  I thought it was about time that I dedicate a post to my high-end 'holy grail' must-haves...

Nars / Sheer Glow Foundation / Link
Ever since I first purchased this foundation, it's never been out of my makeup collection.   It's a medium to full coverage foundation (in my opinion, more on the 'full' side) and always provides me with such flawless results.  It stays put all day and the formula is so easy to apply and blend out with a buffing brush. It's not dewy but provides a gorgeous subtle glow to the skin.  I particularly like this for nights out and events because it contains no SPF (no ghost face!) and I've also taken this away on holiday for use in the evenings and it's never let me down - it's so long-lasting. I have a full review here.

Mac / Mineralise Skinfinish Natural / Link
This powder has featured so many times on my blog - but for good reason! I'm still yet to find another powder that quite matches up.  It looks so natural and gives the skin such a smoothed out, 'soft focus' sort of finish. It controls oil and shine without looking cakey (even if you over-apply of a morning...) and doesn't cling to dry patches - it also doesn't darken or adjust the colour of your foundation underneath.  As well as controlling shine, it also sets your makeup and keeps your base locked in place for much longer - I notice such a difference when I don't use this (which isn't very often as it's a daily must-have for me!)  I can be out all day and after a few hours my makeup looks pretty much freshly applied - If i ever need to 'touch-up' it's very minimal.  I have a review here.

Estee Lauder / Double Wear Concealer / Link
I doubt I will ever find a concealer as good as this one!  It's expensive but lasts such a long time so it's price tag is perfectly justified to me considering I'd probably go through about 4 or 5 drugstore versions for just one tube of this.  It instantly covers dark circles, pigmentation and blemishes with a tiny dab - the full coverage is amazing yet it never looks caked or over-applied. It has a beautiful creamy consistency which is a dream to blend and it never sticks to dry patches.  This really is an unsung hero of the beauty world...

Nars / Matte Multiple in 'Altai' / Link
My contouring dreams came true when Nars released their Matte Multiples.  I much prefer contouring with cream products (and then add a dash of powder product to strengthen the effect afterwards once it's set) - i just find it gives a much more natural, sculpted finish as it's blended into your foundation as opposed to sitting on top of it. 'Altai' is a lovely colour for contouring as it adds a touch of warmth to the face without looking too bronzed.  My cheeks always look so defined after I've used this and the fact it's so long lasting means I can have perfectly contoured cheekbones all day long. I have a full review here.

Benefit / 'Hoola' Bronzer / Link
This is such an all-rounder which is why I love it so much.  It works as an all over bronzer if applied with a fluffy brush but also works perfectly as a contour shade.  As mentioned previously, I apply some of my Nars Multiple and then, once I've set with Mac's MSF, I'll dust a small amount of this along the contour line with the brush that comes in the compact. It intensifies the effect but still looks super natural.  I love the fact that it's matte too. I have a full review here.

Clinique / Bottom Lash Mascara / Link
Ever since I first started wearing makeup I've struggled with my mascara smudging below my bottom lash line. However, that all changed when I began purchasing Clinique's Bottom Lash Mascara and I haven't used anything else since. I swear by it.  I never get panda eyes anymore and my bottom lashes always look so defined and separated thanks to the tiny little wand. It coats every single lash with ease, doesn't flake or smudge (even if there's a few tears - tried and tested ;)) I talk a little more about it in this favourites post.

Shu Uemura / Art of Hair Essence Absolue Oil / Link
If you've been reading my blog for a while, I bet you're sick of hearing about this product by now - but seriously, I adore everything about it and I definitely think it's helped towards hair growth.  My hair has never felt in such good condition since I started using this and I use it every time I wash my hair.  It doesn't weigh the hair down at all yet provides such intense moisture. I sometimes apply it to dry hair to revive my style if it's gone a little bit frizzy (perfect for rainy days) and I've also used it on extensions to help them stay soft and shiny for longer.  SUCH a wonder product. I have a full review here.

Harley Street Skincare / Spot Buster Solution / Link
As far as spot treatments go - this is by far the best I've ever used.  Again, i've spoken about it quite a bit on my blog but I really do think it's the bees knees and it's worth every single penny. If I ever have a breakout, it clears it within a couple of days and helps to prevent scarring/marking after the blemish has gone.  Unlike other spot treatments, this one doesn't leave a residue so it's perfect if you're applying makeup afterwards - you can't tell it's been applied at all.  Because it's a spray, you can apply it easily over larger areas too. Without a doubt the best anti-blemish solution I've ever tried. It featured in my skincare routine post here.

What are your 'can't live without' products?

Sunday 23 November 2014

Bare Minerals 'BareSkin' Foundation & Perfecting Face Brush

Bare Minerals is a brand I've always wanted to try.  Renowned for its natural looking coverage and kind-to-skin ingredients, I've often heard amazing things about their products and their original mineral foundation has been on my 'to try' list for yonks.  Just recently, I've had the chance to try out their newest release - the BareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation (£22.88*) alongside their Perfecting Face Brush (£21.12*).  Said to help brighten the skin, the BareSkin foundation helps to even out skin tone whilst offering an ultra-thin, silky texture - a 'weightless' fluid which helps to blur imperfections and soften the appearance of the skin.  Sounds dreamy right? It seemed like my perfect lightweight foundation but I have to admit - I haven't fallen head over heels for it just yet...

The packaging definitely ticks all the boxes for me - simple, lightweight, not too fussy, and the 'dropper' styled tip on the bottle helps to prevent mess and product waste.  It recommends just a few drops (5 for a fuller coverage) - so that's exactly what I used - but I have to say, I was left feeling a little bit disheartened.  I'm by no means a full coverage lover. Don't get me wrong, I do like a good medium-full, flawless appearance but I often sway towards a lighter, more dewy base which is why I thought I'd love this.  It's by far one of the lightest foundations I've used and I'd liken the coverage to that of a tinted moisturiser. It's very watery and not entirely buildable. There's something about the formula I just don't seem to 'click' with - the serum does feel lightweight but I'm not sure I enjoy the feeling of it on my skin. It's just a little too slippery and oily for my liking.  Although it perks up the appearance of my skin - it doesn't seem to smooth it out as much as I'd like. It's because of this that I've only been using this on good skin days (and VERY good skin days for that matter), or days where I'm not really going anywhere but want to apply a little bit of a base 'just incase'.   It definitely has some brightening, smoothing qualities to it but I just don't love it as much as I imagined I would. For reference, I have the shade 'Bare Ivory' which seems to match my winter skin well (very yellow based - which is what i always seem to lean towards).

The Skin Perfecting Face Brush is a handy addition to my collection.  It's rather unique - with a 'fluid reservoir' in the middle which allows you to really control the amount of coverage.  It's quite dense and doesn't really have a lot of 'movement' in it so it feels very different to a standard buffing brush. It does give a nice effect to the skin and works well with my lighter, fluid bases and serums - it also offers a bit more control than other similar brushes I've used.  I find it takes a little more work than usual but I really like the effect it gives.  Although it does work with the BareSkin foundation, I found I had to apply quite a few drops because the watery formula seems to instantly absorb into the bristles.  I took to applying a few drops to the back of my hand, dabbing some on to my skin and then buffing in with the brush - this seemed to work much better and provided me with a better coverage.  Although it's a nice brush, I think it's more of a novelty in my opinion - I don't notice a massive difference between when I use this and when I've used my standard buffing brush - but it's a good'un to have in my brush pot nonetheless as it does provide that perfected, polished finish.

Overall - I'd say do your research with this product.  If you're after something very lightweight and dewy - this could be for you.  It does seem to knock out dull tones in the skin so it's a good one to keep in mind for the winter months.  The watery consistency is nice to work with but it's just not as buildable as I'd like and I'm not keen on the way it feels on my skin personally. It's extremely light - and I've used BB Creams with a thicker coverage so that's worth baring in mind. I can see why Bare Minerals have bought this into their range - it offers a nice alternative for those who maybe don't like the powder foundations so much but it's yet to win me over. The Perfecting Face Brush, on the other hand, is a good purchase if you're a fan of lighter bases and serum foundations - it makes a nice change from a standard buffing brush or flat foundation brush but I still wouldn't say that it's a necessity. Despite my mixed opinion on the serum foundation, I'm still really wanting to try the Original powder foundation - its such a raved about product! I'd love to know your opinions if you've tried both... You can find the BareSkin Serum Foundation on the FeelUnique website here for £22.88*, and the Perfecting Face Brush is available here for £21.12*.

Have you tried this foundation? What were your thoughts? 

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?