Thursday, 31 January 2013

MAC Strenght launches in the UK

Okay, people! The moment we've all been waiting for is finally here: MAC's greatly anticipated Strenght collection has launched online! It is still unclear as to when it is hitting the stores, so if you have been dreaming of owning either or both Party Parrot and Pink Pigeon as much as me (I have been a slave to the avian alliteration lipsticks since I missed them with the Iris Apfel collection), then head over to, and do it quickly as well!

Illamasqua Beauty School Drop-in

Hey, guys! This Sunday, 3rd Feb, Illamasqua are hosting a nation-wide event, which will excite any makeup addict.

Almost 4 hours of professional live tutorials scheduled on the day. We all love a good show and tell, and I expect nothing less than eccentric and unconventional from the Illamasqua team.
Did I mention it's completely free?

Check out the timetable for your local store below, or check out the events page here. Do let me know if you're thinking of coming to the Beak Street London store, we can all have a jolly makeup time together.

Sunday 3rd Feb 2013
Beak Street, Selfridges Birmingham, Selfridges Exchange Square, Selfridges Trafford Centre, Debenhams Glasgow, Debenhams Cardiff, Debenhams Meadowhall, Debenhams Belfast
Timeless Beauty

13:00 - 13:15 - Enhancing skin with cream based products
13:15 - 13:30 - Illumination and highlight

14:00 - 14:15 - Lifting and elavating features
14:15 - 14:30 - Colour correction

15:00 - 15:15 - Soft and flattering definition - Brows and Liner
15:15 - 15:30 - Timeless Palettes

16:00 - 16:15 - Expressive Eyes
16:15 - 16:30 - Dare to shimmer with blusher
16:30 - 16:45 - Shimmering Pout Perfection
Sunday 3rd Feb 2013
Liverpool & Leeds
Timeless Beauty

12:00 - 12:15 - Enhancing skin with cream based products
12:15 - 12:30 - Illumination and highlight

13:00 - 13:15 - Lifting and elavating features
13:15 - 13:30 - Colour correction

14:00 - 14:15 - Soft and flattering definition - Brows and Liner
14:15 - 14:30 - Timeless Palettes

15:00 - 15:15 - Expressive Eyes
15:15 - 15:30 - Dare to shimmer with blusher
15:30 - 15:45 - Shimmering Pout Perfection

Sunday, 27 January 2013

NOTD Essie + Butter London

I must admit, I am reluctant to try expensive and popular nails polish brands for the fear of liking them too much. I thus shied away from the rectangularness of Butter London bottles for a very long time. 

This Christmas, however, one came into my possession, and as I dreaded, it is freakin' awesome.
So as I slowly clamber onto the Butter London bandwagon, I thought I'd share my fresh discovery with you. 

It's called Rosie Lee, and it's straight-up small particle glitter in a clear base. 'Rose' is a good description for the colour in the bottle, or if worn on its own. It leans somewhat copper. You can get opaque coverage in three coats. I found through trial and error that the cuticle line looks tidier with a base colour underneath.

Here I painter one coat of Essie's Your Hut or Mine with two layers of Rosie Lee to follow. This Essie pulls the whole combo away from copper and more into the realm of pink.

Your Hut or Mine deserves an honorary story of its own, as it's one of the few polishes I have ever met that looks good in one single coat - an outstanding member of the Essie family. It's a medium rosie-pink with fine pearlescent pink shimmer.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Illamasqua Spring Collection Teaser

Illamasqua has just released some mysterious-lookin' artwork to spread the word about their upcoming spring collection, so I thought it would lighten my burden of anticipation by sharing it:

May I just add.. 
The collection's called I'mperfection (see what they did there? Excellent!).

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Astalift Gift With Purchase Alert

Just a quick shout-out to everyone who has been putting off trying out the mysterious and wonderful Astalift product range - Debenhams is currently running a Free Gift with Purchase deal on any Astalift product. Here's what they say:

Free with any Astalift purchase
Worth up to £24. Choice of 15g Replenishing Day Cream or 15g Regenerating Night Cream. For Day Cream enter code X640 in your basket. For Night Cream enter code X680 in your basket. 

Astalift is an anti-ageing skincare brand developed by Fujifilm. That's right, the photography people. They have worked hard to establish their own line of scientific research focusing on collagen, anti-oxidation technology and micro technology. Quite the twist, but the line has been acclaimed by many.

Winter hand care

Although my compatriots will probably disagree, It has been astonishingly cold around here lately. Hell, we even saw some snow, which everyone respectfully honoured by driving at 15 mph. The extremities are always first to feel the cold bite, but with feet securely coated in Ugg (whatever, fashion police, I plead innocent), hand skincare moves rapidly to the forefront in my list of cosmetic concerns. Having said that, hands rarely come off my care radar, as I work in lab gloves a lot, hence wash my hands a lot, and I also often hear that hands are one of the first age giveaways.

My hand care routine is by no means complicated: it features of a standard hand moisturiser and an interesting product, which I have discovered by accident and ended up loving. I shall start with the latter: Crabtree and Evelyn Gardeners Hand Recovery.

I got this tube as a gift-with purchase sample, and assumed it was a hand cream. When the need arose, I  routinely squeezed a little of this in my palms and started spreading. My first reaction was "omg, this is wrong! It must have gone off or something..." It was very gritty and would not sink in as I expected. After recruiting help from a tap, I noticed my hands were left with a light oily residue, smelled of lavender and were soft as a pony's nose. 

I red afterwards, that the product was indeed an exfoliating-moisturising-conditioning treatment designed to "aid and relief of very dry and work-roughened hands". It looks and feels very much like a rough scrub infused with oil. The smell is of "green clover (??), lavender, sage rosemary and thyme" - sophisticated and subtle. I apply this to dry hands and massage it around in my palms. The sensation is DIVINE! It's slippery enough to not drag the skin; the hard particles just hit the spot. I then rinse with water, and leave be. The light oiliness is soaked up as the hands dry.

Have you just peeled a muddy potato, fiddled with bike chain or shined some black shoes? Sometimes conventional hand washing doesn't quite cut it, but this awesome goo will rid you of the plumber's hands look instantly. It's the kind of treatment that you won't be using every day - I've had my sample tube over a year, so the generous 100 ml (£16) will last you an eternity. It comes in several different scent variations, and is quite a unique little thing on the market. 

And as far as daily hand cream application goes, my heart belongs to the one and only Laura Mercier hand cream (or should I say Hand Crèèèèèème?) in Crème de Pistache. And my love for this is rooted entirely in he scent. I can tell you that this is without a shadow of a doubt the best-smelling product I have ever used. It smells like a bakery, but not just any old "ooOh, cake" kind of deal. It smells like that forbidden bakery that you walk past on your way to work at 8 in the morning, having made some ambitious carbohydrate-related promise to yourself just the night before. It is sweet and strong, and lingers on your hands for hours.  

The first time I wore this (having helped myself to a serving from the LM counter), an ignorant shop assistant at an IT shop said "something smells SO nice!". I barely held back my automatic response to present my hand to him in an excited "it's this, isn't it?!" gesture.

I have tried the whole range of Laura Mercier hand creams, including everybody's ultimate favourite Crème Brûlée, but Pistachio is still the best in my opinion. It comes in a 50 ml tube (£13) with a practical twist-and-squeeze dispenser. 

And last but not least, for my cuticles I use Cuticle Oil + by Orly. I picked this one mainly for it's size - it's a 30 ml bottle that I've had for over a year now and hardly made a dent in it. Nonetheless, it's a professional product with thoughtful ingredients like orange blossom and wild cherry extracts to moisturise, heal and refresh problem cuticles. You can find this guy online for around £10.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Tarte - Natural Beauty

If the spring fashion runways are anything to go by, we are all to embrace our natural beauty in the upcoming season. For the lucky few this may mean washing their face in the morning and heading out the door with no more than lip balm, but for us peasants it means that the "no-makeup-but-really-at-least-twenty-minutes'-worth-of-makeup" makeup look is back on the cards. Either way, I can almost hear faces giving out sighs of relief - after the dark lips of autumn and the griller-rich holiday season, it is nice to practice the enhancing function of cosmetics, not just decorative.

And although I can't say that I am entirely committed to this recent trend, there is a particular product that I have been using almost exclusively since the day I got it, and it is the ideal cheat to a healthy looking face - Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blush in the appropriately named Natural Beauty.

For this blush, it is all in the name. Firstly, the longevity claim, 12h. According to Tarte, the product owes its magical properties to the clay from the banks of the Amazon river, of which the blush is made and then dried in the sun ( o.O? ). And although it has been talked about high and low, I am here to tell you - it wears until you take it off. And this is coming from someone that can quite often assess makeup after 14+ h of wear.

It makes sense. Apart from the obvious mechanical wear factor, one of the main causes of makeup disappearing off the face is the oils in the skin. So thinking of all the clay-based skincare designed to tighten pores and regulate oil production, it sounds reasonable to believe the blusher's tale.

And secondly - the shade. Natural beauty is described simply as red. In the pan there is somewhat of a pinkish tone to it, but on the skin it mimics precisely the colour of a flush of the cheeks. The kind of attractive colour you get (cliché alert!) when you've just walked in from the cold. Which is why I love incorporating it in my bare-face imitations.

The finish of the blush is almost matte (there is certainly no glitter or shimmer in it), but in some lights, it appears just slightly radiant, which adds to the whole 'oh, look at me, I am so healthy, I eat berries for dinner and glow from within' kind of skin.

Another great use for this shade is to combine it with red lipstick. Traditional pink or peach cheeks and red lips can sometimes clash, but with this one, you can be sure to look organic.

Tarte is one of the few brands that still hasn't made it over to the UK. Someone should really sort that out. They seem like an interesting company, and most of their products generate some sort of positive hype. But if you happen to be within a swatching distance of a Tarte counter, I recommend you go and check out their range.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Product rave - Alterna Caviar 3-Minute Shine Boost

I have battled with my unrully frizzy hair all my life (or since I was 13 and started caring about such things), and for the most part, I was under the impression that my hair was suffering from some kind of hair health impairment. I have drenched it in everything under the sun in attempts to rid it of the everlasting frizz, wave and kink. With the ammount of effort that went into it over the years, I believe my hair is "cured", but it still looks the same as it always has done. It has thus dawned on me recently, that my hair is not unhealthy, but just plain-ol' , excue me, sh*t.  And by that I mean the texture, the pattern and the behaviour (and don't tell me hair doesn't have behaviour). I have since decided to focus on products that deliver cosmetic results, not remedies.

 My most recent discovery is a wash-out conditioning product by Alterna - the Caviar Anti-Aging 3-Minute Shine Boost.

"Anti-aging" is a term I have never seen used in a hair care context before, and I wouldn't dwell on it too much either as far as this product is concerned. At the end of the day, hair is created and nourished at the rout, which I am sure can be affected by age, but unless the product targets the scalp itself, I doubt there is much difference in old vs. young hair. Except for childrens' hair. Most children seem to have enviably shiny, forever-clean, and naturally beautifus hair up untill the magic age of *-teen; when we welcome the sad buggers into the row of frizzy-haired women equipped with hair straighteners and styling goos of different varieties.

I digress. It is not the anti-aging claims of this product that captured my attention. Alterna's Caviar line is geered towards providing moisture for dry, brittle hair. The 3-Minute Shine product description, however, does not explicitly promise any magical medicinal effects. Insead, it calls itself "lip-gloss for your hair", and vows to deliver instant shine. "Hi-Def" shine, in fact. You have to be HD if you want to appeal to the modern day man, even if it makes no bloody sense. Very trendy.

And deliver shine it did! I applied this after my regular shampoo and conditioner and waited an imaginary estimated 3-5 minutes, then rinced. I noticed a difference the second I started brushing the hair - the bristles of the brush ran through effortlessly, the hair strands fell uniform and smooth. Once dry, the hair had that good slippery feel it gets after you've taken it to the hairdressers'. What's even more pleasing is that the hair remained straight for three days, and that icluded gyms, showers and bicycles.

I would absolutely recommend this product to anyone who wants to achieve salon-blow-dry-esque hair at home, make brushing and styling easier and avoid needing to re-style repeatedly. For those concerned about ingredients, this potion is free of parabens, mineral oil and phthalates, and rather surprisinly for its purpose - silicones. Its nice to know you can acheive such successfull shine without silicones.
Alterna is a professional hair-care brand, so may be difficult to find in the physical world, but one can acquire its Shine-Boosting offering through the internet for an eye-watering £20-25.