Review: Makeup Revolution Hot Smoked Eyeshadow Palette

19 February 2015

makeup revolution hot smoked palettemakeup revolution hot smoked palette 2makeup revolution hot smoked palette 5makeup revolution hot smoked palette 4
With my wedding 9 days away and still no flowers ordered and music still not chosen, I did what any self-respecting bride-to-be would do and rummaged through my drawers (saucy) to see if there was anything new I could waste even more time playing with. The Makeup Revolution Hot Smoked palette is by no means new, and I don’t remember buying it but it was calling out to be used.

For £4, you get a very generous 12 shades in a mixture of matte and shimmer finishes – perfect for the thrifty among us or if you’re experiencing a personal credit crunch and happen to be desperate for new eyeshadows. I’m absolutely pants at determining whether something is cool toned or warm toned, but despite its ‘hot smoked’ moniker I’d say it leans more towards the cooler end of the spectrum. There’s no mirror in this one which is inconvenient but for £4 you can’t afford to be a fusspot.

You can see from the photos that these eyeshadows swatch quite nicely. My expectations of the matte shades were low but I was pleasantly surprised. The darker shades were especially good. The texture is smooth and pretty much what we have come to expect from ol’ Makey Rev. I wouldn’t go as far as saying these are the most buttery I’ve ever tried but for the price I don’t think you can find much better.

I did a quick look using a few of the shades to get a better idea of how they’re like to work with and that’s when things went a bit wrong for me.

Here’s the thing, I have very dry skin and all the oil that’s in my face is annoyingly confined to my eyelids. As you can imagine, this conundrum makes eyeshadow tricky at the best of times and eyeball-poppingly frustrating at the worst of times. I didn’t use any primer as I wanted to get a true picture of the Hot Smoked’s performance. Also, I couldn’t be bothered. I found the eyeshadows applied a little patchily on my lids and it was difficult to get an even colour. I wouldn’t say pigmentation is an issue with these, I just couldn’t get an even wash of colour. Blending out the edges with a fluffy brush was relatively drama free which is a bonus.

I tried very hard not to get mascara on my eyelid but alas, my rubbish hand-eye co-ordination failed me. The finished look isn’t too bad but you can certainly see where the shadows didn’t apply properly in the centre of the lid (maybe I should’ve gone for the primer first). Colour wise, I don’t think it massively suits me, it all looks a bit cool and grey, so I think this is would suit blue or green-eyed ladies a lot better. On the plus side, I didn’t get much creasing and it stayed pretty decent for most of the work day. All in all, decent quality for the insane price but it’s not really for me so I’m out.

Has anyone else tried this? I want to try another one that suits me better – any recommendations?

Review: Anastasia Brow Wiz

12 February 2015

Anastasia brow wiz review ebonyanastasia brow wiz review ebonyanastasia brow wiz review ebony anastasia brow wiz review ebony
If you’re anything like me, you’d rather go naked than without your eyebrows. Unfortunately letting my jumbalayas loose comes with all sorts of legal issues so eyebrows it is. My main issue with my natural brows is the weird shortness of them in relation to my eyes. Also, my eyebrows are completely different to each other. I know they say that eyebrows are sisters and not twins but mine are more like second cousins twice-removed-in-law. I use eyebrow products to elongate the shape and fill in the sparse areas, be it pencil, shadow or wax.

Unless you’ve been living the life of a hermit you’ll probably have heard about the Anastasia Brow Wiz. It’s got a waxy tiny-nibbed pencil on one side (sorry about the shoddy shadowy photo!) and a spoolie brush on the other. Mine is in the shade ‘Ebony’ which you can see is an ashy dark brown rather than black (I believe Ebony is the darkest shade available which is just as well – I learned the hard way NEVER to use black products on your eyebrows even if they are black!). You can see that the colour match is pretty perfect, which is something that the Topshop Brow Pencil (review here) missed for me.

I’m going to be honest and say that the first time I used this, I was a bit disappointed. My eyebrows needed threading and were a bit messy, and I found that using the Brow Wiz made things even messier looking. Also, my foundation hadn’t set yet and my skin was a little slippery so the pigmentation didn’t come off all that well. I was genuinely baffled by the hype.

But then I got my eyebrows freshly threaded and tried Brow Wiz again on a dry face and everything changed. Because it’s not super pigmented, it means you can really go to town with shaping your brows without ending up looking like Helga from Hey Arnold. The teeny tiny nib makes drawing on hairs much easier and the colour match is the best I’ve ever come across.

Being a pencil, obviously it won’t last as long as Anastasia DipBrow but it still gives it a ruddy good go. I’ve worn this during my gym sessions and it’s held up well and hasn’t needed touching up. It’s also a lot quicker to get a decent result, and getting my eyebrows to look acceptable doesn’t take half as long as it does with other products.

I was going to repurchase my Topshop pencil but having got the hang of Brow Wiz, this is definitely taking its place. It’s just a shame it’s more than double the price!

All in all, I’m recommending Anastasia Brow Wiz with gusto, especially if you’re after a natural look (if you want a more sculpted look and have more time on your hands I’d go for the DipBrow). Just remember to make sure your base has completely dried before attempting to use it, and pluck any stray hairs that might be bringing your polished look down.

Brow products are notoriously hard to colour match online so if you happen to be in London, Blow Ltd in Covent Garden stocks a range of Anastasia products if you want to test them out in the flesh.

Has anyone else tried this? Did you need to give it a second chance too?

Anastasia Brow Wiz is available at Cult Beauty and Blow Ltd for £15.50

Mini US Beauty Haul

11 February 2015

sephora haul

sephora lip cream always red
It’s always useful having a friend who regularly visits the US of A, mainly because of the stuff that we can’t get our greedy little hands on in the UK. So when my good friend went home to San Diego for Christmas I armed her with a small list and told her under no circumstances was she to come back without my products ;) I exercised a decent amount of self restraint and chose only three products – I hope you’re as excited as I am (actually I did want the Lorac palette too but it seemed to be impossible to get hold of – even her local Nordstrom stores have stopped stocking it. One day it will be mine).

Elizabeth & James Eau de Parfum Nirvana Black
I read the reviews and decided I needed this. My friend and I were live texting while she was at the Sephora in her local mall and sadly the rollerball twin pack that comes with both the white and black versions was sold out so I took the plunge with the black. And golly am I pleased with myself. It’s dark, sexy, mysterious, spicy and would pass as unisex – right up my street. This doesn’t even ship from Sephora to the UK so if you’re unable to get your hands on it, apparently Tom Ford Black Orchid is exactly the same. My fiancé did actually comment on how it reminded him of Tom Ford so it seems that for once, he was onto something.

Makeup Forever Full Cover Concealer Ivory (6)
I’ve heard talk of MUFE arriving to the UK in the next couple of months but I couldn’t be bothered waiting. I’m having a bit of a concealer moment and am forever on the lookout for something that will shield the unsuspecting public from my relentless dark circles. I’ve had a quick go with this on my hand, and my god is the coverage is intense.

Sephora Matte Lip Cream Always Red
Another hyped up product that I just had to try. I tried it for the first time for the purposes of this post (photo above) and it’s actually better than I expected. If you thought the Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Lipsticks were good, this trumps it hard. It’s super matte, absolutely not drying and actually makes my lips look less ‘line-y’. It also smells EXACTLY like the Stila Stay All Day liquid lipsticks (I reviewed the shade Patina here) A beautiful, true red that will look stunning on the very pale to the very darkest of skintones. I’m heading to Paris in a few weeks and the other colours of these are on the top of my list.

Has anyone else got any of these? I’ll be raiding Sephora in Paris so if anyone has any recommendations please give me a shout!

Review: L’Oreal Skin Perfection Anti-Fatigue Perk Up Cream

9 February 2015

loreal skin perfection anti fatigue perk up cream review
loreal skin perfection anti fatigue perk up cream reviewloreal skin perfection anti fatigue perk up cream review
More often than not, I don’t have time to faff around with trowelling on foundation in the mornings so I’m always on the lookout for a quick-fix option. If you ever read my review on the Garnier Miracle Skin Cream, you’ll know how much I love it, so I thought I’d try the L’Oreal version of a very similar product.

I’ll cut to the chase – it is extremely similar to the Garnier one but with one main difference. Whereas the Garnier cream has a yellow tone to it (which I like), the L’Oreal one is a lot more neutral/beige in colour. This will get a big ‘huzzah’ from a lot of women because the yellow thing just didn’t go down well with a lot of people. They both come out as thick-ish cream with tiny balls of pigment which burst when rubbed into the skin (this sentence makes me feel ill).

L’Oreal Skin Perfection Anti-Fatigue Perk Up Cream looks and feels great on my skin. It give a little bit of coverage, makes my dark circles a bit less intense, evens out my skintone (making it less yellow) and gives my skin a healthy glow. I usually finish off my base with some under-eye concealer and the effects hang around for the whole day. I will say that I end up with a few rogue balls that get caught in my eyebrows so I sometimes have to comb those out but apart from that, it is a doddle to slap on. In my ‘full face’ photo, I have just this cream on and concealer under my eyes as my base – there is absolutely no foundation.

Again, like Garnier’s Miracle Skin Cream, L’Oreal Perk Up Cream comes with SPF 20 which I feel is enough for me, especially in the winter. I had a workout in the strangely hot sun yesterday after using Alpha-H Liquid Gold the night before for the first time – I did have fears that my face, that was in direct sunlight for an hour, would be burnt off, but I had the Perk Up Cream on which seems to have provided enough protection.

If you like the effects of the Garnier Miracle Skin Cream but find the colour a bit off, I’d really recommend L’Oreal Skin Perfection Anti-Fatigue Perk Up Cream. It does indeed perk up the skin and if you have decent skin already, you’ll probably be happy to leave the house with this as your base.

L’Oreal Skin Perfection Anti-Fatigue Perk Up Cream is on offer at the moment in Boots, available for the bargainous price of £7.99.

FOTD: Matte Neutral Eyes & Glowing Skin

2 February 2015

fotd-matte-eyes cropfotd matte eyesExcuse the fact that my big ass forehead looks obnoxiously gigantic in these photos. Anyways, this is my go-to daytime look if I feel like making an effort, which when you work in an office that has more than one weak-bladdered dog wandering around, isn’t very often. I don’t always use the exact same products to create the same look, so I’m certain everyone will have stuff in their makeup collection to at least attempt it.

COMPLEXION
Revlon Photo Ready Perfecting Primer
L’Oreal True Match Foundation Golden Cappucino
Maybelline Fit Me Concealer 25
Too Faced Snow Bunny Luminous Bronzer

EYES
Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette Foxy, WOS, Naked 2 & Faint
Laura Mercier Kohl Eye Pencil Brown Copper
Maybelline Eye Studio Gel Liner Black (review here)
Maybelline Big Eyes Liner Black & Nude
Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde Mascara Black

EYEBROWS
Topshop Brow Pencil Spike Brown (review here)
2 True Mascara Clear

LIPS
Maybelline Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencil Nude Perfection (review here)

Review: The Body Shop Lip Scuff

26 January 2015

body shop lip scuff body shop lip scuff

Plump, pillowy and smooth are not words that anyone would use to describe my lips (that would be my post-Christmas stomach). Rather, I’d use the the more unsavoury adjectives of shrivelled, dry and rough, which isn’t helped by my love of Sahara-desert-inducing matte lipsticks. I’ve been trying everything to inject some life into them, but nothing seems to work long term. My lips will form a scaly, peeling texture (do you feel sick yet?) most days which does not translate well under bold or matte lipsticks. I usually use the Lush sugar lip scrub beforehand but my pot has got to the point were I have to dig in with my finger and it gets stuck under my nails, which makes me feel a bit horrible.

I stumbled across the Body Shop Lip Scuff when I was buying yet more lipsticks I’ll probably never wear. Being in a lipstick-like form, it’s perfect for anyone else who’s averse to sticking fingers into messy pots, you just twist it up and rub it over your lips.

From what I gather, it’s made mainly from coconut oil – it’s solid at room temperature and gently melts into your lips on contact with heat. The little exfoliants within the stick aren’t too rough but do a decent enough job of smoothing away dead skin, helped along with lanolin and marula oil, which help condition dry lips. It’s also minty, so leaves a pleasant cooling sensation on the lips.

Long term, this hasn’t really improved the condition of my relentlessly dry and scaly lips but it’s definitely something I reach for when I’m doing my makeup and decide to go for a matte lip. I still use the Lush sugar scrub in my evening cleansing routine every few days for a more industrial effect but I really like the Body Shop lip scuff as a quick fix at the dressing table. I just pop it on, leave it for a few minutes and wipe off with a bit of micellar water on a cotton pad. Like I say, it won’t work miracles but it’s perfect for prepping your lips before lipstick with minimum effort.

The Body Shop Lip Scuff is available in Body Shop stores and online for £8.00.

3 Rules for a 5 Minute Face

15 January 2015

makeup time saversWhen I’m pushed for time or just can’t be bothered with a full face, there are a few rules that I follow to make sure I don’t look like I’ve just rolled out of bed and straight onto the bus.

Don’t underestimate eyebrows
Neat, filled-in eyebrows make a surprisingly big impact on your face, making you look instantly more groomed. Have you ever done a full face of makeup and not put your eyebrows on? See?! Getting brows perfect can be time consuming, so after sorting out any kind of all-over base (if I’m wearing any), I always do eyebrows next to get them out of the way. There’s nothing worse than trying to get them done when you literally have 30 seconds left to hurl yourself out the front door. Don’t bother with a brush or wax or shadow – a brow pencil is your friend here. Lately I’ve been using the Topshop Brow Pencil in Spike (review here) to fill in my weirdly short eyebrows which has an extremely useful spooly on one side and a dark brown pencil on the other.

Forget the foundation
Obviously some people will recoil in horror at the thought but if your skin allows it, ditch the foundation. Trying to get a flawless base in less time it takes Usain Bolt to run 200m is, unsurprisngly, impossible and will only end in rage-inducing cakey disappointment. Instead, use a perfecting cream (I love Garnier Miracle Skin Cream – review here) which you can slap on in 20 seconds, instantly perking up your complexion.

It’s in the eyes
Hide all evidence of your hectic schedule by focusing on brightening your eyes. For me, my biggest issue is dark circles. Making sure my under eye area is well moisturised, I take a brightening concealer (usually something like Maybelline Eraser Eye Concealer (see it in action here) or Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer) and pat it into my skin in a triangle shape. When you’re in a massive rush it’s absolute clown shoes to think about eyeshadow – arm yourself with a pair of eyelash curlers and a lengthening mascara instead for a wide-awake fresh look. Keep away from anything too volumising – thick lashes and no liner or shadow will just look weird.

Remember to keep a tinted lip balm or a sheer lipstick in your handbag that you can deploy once you’re on the bus – and there you go! An acceptable face in no time at all. I hope you’ve found these tips useful – I’d love to know what you do when you only have 5 minutes to put your face on!

Review: Topshop Brow Pencil Spike Brown

14 January 2015

topshop brow pencil reviewtopshop brow pencil reviewAnother day, another eyebrow product to try out. I’ve been using the Topshop Brow Pencil in Spike pretty solidly for the past few months. On the days when I can’t be bothered with my Anastasia DipBrow, this is all I’ve been using and it could well become a staple.

As far as finding the perfect eyebrow pencil goes, I don’t think there is one, however the Topshop offering comes pretty close. I love any eyebrow pencil that comes with a spoolie anyway but this pencil is legitimately great. You can see from the photos that the colour isn’t 100% right but it’s not enough of a big deal to keep me up at night. It’s almost there, which for a cheap-ish pencil is quite impressive.

A lot of people like much harder, waxier textures (perhaps like the Soap & Glory Archery pencil) – the Topshop one is much more pigmented and doesn’t require as much exertion to get the colour translate onto the skin. However, it certainly isn’t so soft that it will end up all over your face. Because it’s a little softer and more pigmented than a lot of other eyebrow pencil, it blends out nicely with the spooly, I especially like the effect it gives at the front of the brows which can easily go horribly wrong otherwise. And because it needs sharpening, you can always make sure you have a sharp point for more precise work – something that a lot of wind-up pencils struggle with.topshop brow pencilI will say that this isn’t the one for the gym or any strenuous activity as the tails will slip off – you’d better stick to a waterproof wax for that. I do MUCH prefer this to the Soap & Glory Archery and the Sleek Eyebrow Stylist (review here) – it’s one of the best budget options I’ve found.

On a side note – MAC do a brown eyebrow pencil also called Spike which I had a few years ago. I’m guessing it didn’t make enough of an impact for me to repurchase – you might be better sticking to Topshop’s Spike.

Topshop Brow Pencil in Spike is available at Topshop, John Lewis and Selfridges for £6.00

Review: Maybelline Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencils

4 January 2015

maybelline velvet lip pencil reviewmaybelline velvet lip pencil review
2014 seemed to be the year of the lip crayon and with good reason. If like me, you’re rubbish with lip liner and lipstick but still want to look like you’ve at least made a bit of an effort, lip crayons and pencils are your friend.

When Maybelline released the Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencils, I was so excited to see a drugstore matte pencil that I bought five of them completely blind. We’ve got In with Coral (a neon coral pink), Red Essential (a blue toned, deep red), Fab Orange (an orange-red), Nude Perfection (a brown toned nude) and Berry Much (a deep reddish purple). I think there are 10 shades in the collection so you are guaranteed to find something that tickles your fancy.

These pencils are easy to apply and extremely pigmented. I’d say that In with Coral is almost too pigmented – to the point that it’s a bit too intense and creamy. It covers absolutely every trace of your natural lip line so you’ll need a steady hand otherwise you’ll end up with clown-face. I get a few hours of wear with these but I would recommend you moisturise well before putting these on otherwise they do drag a bit and look a little dry. But with a little lip balm on underneath, these pencils are creamy, comfortable and a joy to wear. The finish isn’t completely matte – there’s a little bit of sheen which stops your lips feeling like the Sahara but it’s by no means glossy.

A lot of people moan about these needing sharpening rather than being twist-up but personally I like that as it means you always have a sharp end – and with such intense pigmentation, you need it. Yes, you do end up wasting a bit of product but at less than a fiver each can we really grumble?maybelline velvet lip pencil reviewmaybelline velvet lip pencil reviewMy most worn shade is, unsurprisingly Nude Perfection. It makes me look ‘done’ but isn’t over the top. If you’re after a nude that isn’t pink – try this one. My favourite one however is Berry Much which I whip out on the weekends – it’s striking and sexy but I don’t feel too self-conscious wearing it. As for the other three, I tried them for the first time taking these photographs and I was flabbergasted at the loveliness of Red Essential. To me, it’s basically a much easier to wear version of Ruby Woo. A darker, blue toned red that will look good on literally anyone. The only one I don’t like is In with Coral – I’m sure it would look absolutely hot on other people but for me it just looks wrong. It’s far too bright on my skintone and the texture like I mentioned above is far too intense. Weirdly, I quite like it in the photo but in real life it’s a no from me.

I’d recommend these in a heartbeat, especially if matte lips are your thing. It’s nice to see the high street taking matte lips more seriously – well done Maybelline.

Has anyone tried any of the other colours? I’d love to see what they look like on.

Maybelline Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencils are available from Boots and Superdrug at £4.99.

The Best of 2014

3 January 2015

best of 2014You might have noticed a lack of festive posts on TBL so I thought I’d bid farewell to 2014 by revisiting my most popular posts according to Google Analytics. This idea is totally ripped off from Jen, aka British Beauty Junkie so go check hers out if you haven’t already.

Interestingly (actually not that interestingly), the top posts were all reviews and month after month there wasn’t much change in the most popular ones. Reviews are my favourite to type of posts to write and read so hopefully they’re yours too – otherwise you might want to skip this one. Looking at this type of stuff is useful too for knowing what people are searching for and gives me an idea of what sort of products or brands to review. It also gives me a chance to revisit products that I loved at the time and have forgotten about since – much more sensible than buying yet another neon pink lipstick that I’m never going to wear.

Review | YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat
My most popular page by far was my review of the YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat foundation. I loved this over the summer and wore it pretty solidly for a couple of months. I’m sad to say I’ve barely used it since August as it’s a little dark for my winter skin but come spring, I’m definitely going to whip this one out again.

Review | Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick Patina
This lipstick breaks my heart every time I see it in my drawer. I LOVE the colour and the smell of this – it’s the perfect nude for my skintone. However, I was never able to get on with the texture of it once it dried. Dry, peeling flakes are not my thing but I’m keen to persevere with it – everyone else seems to love these lipsticks.

Review | Soap & Glory Make Yourself Youthful CC Superfluid
Another one that I used constantly earlier in the year but recently has been relegated to the back of the drawer. Looking back at my review, I can see why I loved it so much and it’s something I’ll give more attention to on days when I want less coverage.

Review | Laura Mercier Under Eye Perfector Orange/Yellow
Ah, this was one of my first ever reviews and one that still gets a lot of page views. Although not a popular product in the beauty world, it really is a gem. I use it on days when I want my complexion to be flawless and is one of the few truly orange correctors that counteracts darkness that I’ve come across.

Review | Rimmel 3D Plumping Topcoat
I don’t know what possessed me to turn up the exposure on these photos in such a garish manner – I can only assume I was pretending to be P Diddy at the club and wearing sunglasses indoors. Anyway I have no idea why so many people Google this topcoat but there you are. I can’t say I’ve used this since as nothing has topped my beloved Seche Vite – soz Rimmel.

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