Monday, 30 June 2014

Review: Make Up Revolution Ultra Blush and Contour Palette - Sugar and Spice

Budget make-up is getting better all the time, and one brand has certainly been making a big impression in the blogosphere lately. Everyone's talking about Make Up Revolution, and the word is good! The Iconic Eyeshadow Palettes have been particularly praised, but today I'm turning my attention to blush. 

The Ultra Blush and Contour palette in Sugar and Spice* shows a sleeker look for Make Up Revolution than their first few palettes had demonstrated, and I love the replacement of the clear lid, with a classier-looking black containing a nice big mirror. It's so handy for travel, and with such a good selection of shades, you'd be likely to pack this in your suitcase or weekend bag. I've never had a palette quite like it, with eight blushes in one place, and opening it for the first time I was really struck by how pretty the pink shades looked all in rows together. 

The palette boasts an impressive array of colours, including contouring, matte blush, and highlighting shades. I love that there are matte and shimmery powders, and the merged baked powders at the end are instantly impressive, as they look so beautiful in the pan. Luckily, all of the shades are as lovely once applied. I had tried a Make Up Revolution blush before, and been impressed by the pigmentation and found it to be very blendable. I think they may have improved their formula slightly, as these are better still, and are not so powdery as the first one I tried was, applying beautifully to the skin. The pigmentation of these is incredible, and you do need to be careful with some of the brighter shades as it can be easy to overdo it - if you've ever used a blush by Sleek, you'll get the idea. If you do though, it's easily fixed with a bit of blending. They have a similar wear time to Sleek blushes too, the shades I tried this week lasting between 4-6 hours before fading away. 

I do of course have a few personal favourite shades. One is the top left, which reminds me of a pinker version of Bobbi Brown Brown Berry, one of my all time favourite blushes. The two middle shades of the bottom row are also gorgeous, and really flattering. The second from last in particular, is a gorgeous coral, perfect for Summer. The shimmery baked powders are a big improvement on their Vivid Baked Highlighter, which I had tried and found pretty but too glittery. These powders are more finely milled, catching the light with more subtlety, and although both are pretty the pink is stunning. I can see myself using it all Summer. The shimmery finish eliminates the need for a highlighter, making it perfect for those days when you want to pop on something pretty and go. 

Six Matte Shades
Two baked merged powders
Overall, this is a seriously pretty palette and considering it costs just £6, it's a bit miraculous! I think the Make Up Revolution isn't going to be squashed any time soon...

Sunday, 29 June 2014

YSL Rouge Volupte in 29, Opera Rose

There's something about make-up with beautiful packaging. Everything about it suddenly seems more covetable somehow, the colours, the formula, the very idea of it, become even more appealing if the packaging has already drawn me in. The YSL Rouge Volupte lipsticks definitely had this effect on me, encased as they are in divine gold cases, that logo covering a stripe of colour giving a clue to what lies within. For the longest time I was almost scared to buy one, knowing that my Pokemon-ish tendencies (gotta catch 'em all!) might mean one would lead to a whole collection, and these aren't cheap. But a few months ago, I finally caved, and love feeling glam every time I whip this beauty out of my bag. MAC's black bullets just don't compare.

The colour itself is gorgeous, a really pretty, rosy mid-pink, that I can imagine suiting most skin tones. It's a great option if you want a true pink lipstick, that isn't too bright. But what of the formula? It's admittedly, not as perfect as its packaging. It feels absolutely lovely, hydrating and creamy (plus it has SPF 15), and glides on perfectly. This lipstick is so comfortable to wear! The creamy texture does mean you'll only get a couple of hours of wear before needing to reapply, but you will be looking for any excuse to get such a beautiful lipstick out of your bag! The only reason I mind having to reapply this, is that application isn't quite as straightforward as I'd like. The thick, creamy formula can slide around on my lips easily, becoming uneven. Because of this, I like to take my time, applying a couple of dabbed-on thin coats, rather than one easy swipe. This requires a mirror and a couple of minutes, which isn't a big deal, but at work I tend to like a lipstick I can swipe on, barely looking, knowing it'll look fine (hello, MAC Peach Blossom). That said, it fades beautifully evenly, leaving a pink stain. 

This lipstick might be a little high-maintenance, but with looks like that, it can afford to be a bit of a diva. My only problem is deciding which shade to get next. Corail Incandescent and Pink In Paris are good contenders, but then there's the Volupte Shine range...Let me know if you have any recommendations!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette (aka The One With The Dreamy Skin)

Don't blame me, okay? Blame the blogging world in general by making me think I need these things. Blame it on Ella from Every Little Thing 07 for reviewing the Dim Lighting powder and making me obsess over it. Blame it on the lady in Space NK who referred to me by name, and said this would look amazing on me. Just know that really, when you think about it,  I had no choice. This was meant to be mine, and I had to buy it. 

But just look at it! The sleek packaging, that shiny case. Look how those three little wonders actually glow from within the palette. Are you telling me I should have resisted that? If it glows like that in the palette, you can imagine what this does to your skin...

I have no regrets. These three little beauties are the most charming addition to my stash, and I am so glad I went for the trio. I couldn't choose between Dim Light (left) and Radiant Light (right), and although it costs more per gram to buy them this way, it's worth it, I feel for the convenience of having them in one palette. Plus, you get the not-sold-separately Incandescent Light (centre), which is a real stunner.

Honestly, I think some sort of sorcery went into the making of these powders. They are like nothing I have ever used, in that they don't look shimmery or sparkly in the slightest, but still manage to make my skin luminous and glowing. It is genuinely like being under some soft-focus lighting. Hourglass say this is like having your own personal lighting technician, and amazingly, they are telling the truth. Witchcraft. 

Dim Light is a natural, beige-peach-y shade. It's so finely milled and satiny, perhaps the perfect highlighting powder for people who are afraid of shimmer! I use this as an all-over finishing powder, and as soon as I put it on my skin looks instantly radiant, plus it seems to magically blur away imperfections. I don't have very noticeable pores, but I know many people have said it makes theirs less visible, which is incredible. It doesn't look powdery at all, and instead, once blended out, makes it look like I'm wearing less make-up, giving my skin a more natural-looking glow after I've used foundation etc. 

Incandescent Light is the most traditional highlight shade, and contains the most shimmer. Pale and pearly, this gives the skin a luminous sheen, without looking like you are wearing a highlighter. I often prefer liquid highlighters, as I find powder ones can look too glittery, but this is so finely-milled, it is almost undetectable on my cheekbones. 

Radiant Light is a golden-bronze shade, and contains golden particles, though is less shimmery than Incandescent Light. This can be used as a highlighter, or you could use it to contour. I have tried both, and I also like it over a matte contour bronzer to add a bit more dimension and glow. I love how warm this shade is, and although I am not usually a big fan of shimmer in bronzers, again this is so subtle and finely-milled, it really is more like being under a soft-focus light. This is so perfect for Summer, and I imagine I'll end up using it even more as an all-over bronzer when I've got a bit of a tan. 

I am truly mesmerised by the Ambient Lighting Palette, and I am now dying to try out the blushes from Hourglass' range. I can't believe how soft, subtle and yet effective these powders are, and if you fancy a bit of a treat, I couldn't recommend this trio highly enough. Can you tell I'm in love?

Monday, 23 June 2014

Nars Duo Eyeshadow in Kuala Lumpur

nars duo eyeshadow kuala lumpur
 A couple of weeks ago, I was the seriously lucky winner of the lovely Roshni's 100 follower giveaway over at Roshni's Journey. As you can imagine, I was beyond delighted to realise that the prize was a treat from one of my favourite brands, NARS, and that I could choose any eyeshadow duo I liked. I must say, I had a hard time choosing, tempted as I was by Isolde, Kalahari and Sugarland. However, I finally settled on the stunning Kuala Lumpur and I'm pretty thrilled with my choice. 

The two shades are described by NARS as rose gold and boysenberry infused with gold, which are fairly accurate descriptions (though I can't be the only one whose only frame of reference for boysenberries is Pretty Little Liars' Ezra Fitz!). Both shades look slightly different depending on the light and angle you are viewing them from, hence the two swatch photos. 

nars kuala lumpur eyeshadow duo swatch

The rose gold shade can look almost entirely golden, but in certain lights looks more purple than pink. It is very shimmery, although not glittery in the slightest, instead having a pearly and kind of iridescent look. It's very pretty indeed, and perfectly suits its boysenberry partner shade. I love this berry colour, it looks amazing blended into the outer corners of the eye, and those golden flecks that NARS do so well (just like in Orgasm) stay on the right side of the line between sexy sparkle and gaudy glitter. As with all NARS powder products I have tried, these shades are buttery, blendable, highly pigmented and a dream to work with. I'm in love!

nars kuala lumpur eyeshadow duo swatch

Do you own any NARS eyeshadow duos? Do let me know your recommendations and link me to any reviews!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

New Love Alert: L'Oreal 3 for 2 on Base Products

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a girl in possession of a beauty blog cannot simply leave Boots with one item. All I wanted was the Lumi Magique primer, having heard many raves about its glow-giving properties, but the sign was up, bearing those magic words '3 for 2 on L'Oreal Base Products', and I don't need to tell you what happened next. 

The Lumi Magique Primer was a good choice, a seriously luminising base for your base. It is quite runny, so a pump is usually enough for me to either cover my face or mix into my foundation. It comes out very white, but sinks in beautifully, leaving the skin looking almost pearly. I can't say it makes foundation application any nicer, or that it makes it last any longer that I've noticed, but it does look very pretty so gets a thumbs up from me. 

My second item was an easy pick, as I've been a bit concealer obsessed lately as I've been trying to deal with dark circles for the first time in my life. The Lumi Magique Highlighter Concealer is very clearly trying to be YSL Touche Eclat, it's even copied it's outfit. Unlike the YSL, it is marketed as a concealer (though that's what everyone uses Touche Eclat for, right?), and that's the only use I have for it, except the odd bit of nose-bridge highlighting. The twist-bottom and brush applicator work well, and although I still find myself patting it in a little with my finger, I don't mind and it saves me faffing around with another brush. The coverage is a little heavier than it's higher-end friend, and it doesn't crease or settle into fine lines, thankfully. I love the finish this gives, through a combination of coverage and illuminating properties, it brightens up the area and disguises tired looking eyes without being heavy on them. Basically, I'm in love. My only criticism? This comes in two shades, Light and Medium, which says it all really. What about darker-skinned people L'Oreal?

I actually struggled to make three, as although I was happy enough to try out the Lumi Magique Concealer, I didn't much fancy anything else. In the end, I opted for the Nude Magique Eau De Teint foundation, mainly because everyone says it's an Armani dupe. I had my usual drugstore rigmarole of trying to find something close to my skintone, and came away with a half-decent (if a little pink-toned) match. Again, come on L'Oreal (and drugstore brands in general), five shades is not enough! Shade match aside, I was pleasantly surprised by this product, not expecting to like something so light. 

The first thing that impressed me was the bottle, which is admittedly minute, but really cute and I like the frosted glass, although annoyingly it has no pump. The formula within is the runniest foundation I've ever encountered, and I was very sceptical indeed about this offering any coverage at all. However, although the coverage is light, it is certainly there which makes this quite a nice daytime base if your skin is in a good condition. If you aren't a fan of a very made-up look, this could be for you, as it does look pretty much invisible once on, and when applying it feels unbelievably light, almost like water. It's like micellar foundation! I expected to use half the bottle to cover my face, but actually only needed a very small amount. The texture means it won't be for everyone, and I seem to be loving it some days and really not on others, but I do think it's worth a try if you fancy an undetectable base for the no-make-up look this Summer. 

Considering I'd never tried any base products from L'Oreal before, I'd consider this little splurge a success, and I am definitely keen to try out a few more bits from the range. Let me know if you have any more recommendations!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Recent Reads

During half term last month, I really took the opportunity to get into a few reads that had been hanging around my bookshelf for a while. I find that during any times of stress or strangeness, I can rely on books for an escape and some comfort. Here's what I've been reading in the last few weeks:

Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn
I was one of those people who devoured Gone Girl in a day, so was excited to read something by the same author. It's another gripping tale of murder, mystery and seriously messed-up people in a suburban town, although these characters actually make Nick and Amy seem pretty balanced. As with Gone Girl, I'd suspected the main twist long before reaching it, and as with Gone Girl, I didn't care. And the ending? I didn't see it coming.

Rachel Joyce - Perfect
I liked The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, so I don't know why I let this one loiter on my shelf, untouched, for weeks before picking it up. This is by no means a page-turner, rather a slow burner that creeps up on you, and takes you by surprise; it took me a while to realise how much I had grown to care about the characters, who seemed so real. I liked the way the chapters skipped between a young boy who dealing with the aftermath of an accident he felt sure he had caused, and an older man in the present day, dealing with OCD and the after-effects of electric shock therapy, and the link between the two characters wasn't the one I had expected. 

Mort - Terry Pratchett 
I'm surprised it took me so long to read something by Terry Pratchett, as I do enjoy reading fantasy books and love getting lost in other worlds. Discworld (a flat world, held on the back of elephants riding a turtle) is one I'm looking forward to exploring more thoroughly, as I fell in love with Mort, the story of Death's aptly-named new Apprentice who finds himself stepping into his eccentric boss' shoes. I loved the characters, I loved the absurd logic of the universe they inhabit, and I love the idea that Death speaks in all caps and has a horse named Binky. 

The Borrower - Rebecca Makkai
This book came highly recommended from a friend, and although I liked it, it didn't quite live up to the high expectations she set. I loved the initial premise - a little boy escapes his religious parents, who send him to anti-gay classes, and runs away to the library - and totally related to the ongoing metaphor of books, libraries and stories as a means of escape. However, I didn't feel it had quite enough story to properly grip me once the characters began their roadtrip. That said, it was an enjoyable read that I'd happily recommend. Just not too highly.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters - Laini Taylor
The third and final book in the series that started with Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a bit of a doorstop. I'm all for a massive book to get stuck into, but at this point (boyfriend and I are reading this together before bed, and are halfway through), it feels unnecessary. I can very easily pinpoint big sections that could have been cut, as it feels so slow compared to the previous two books. It still has plenty of time to redeem itself, but after being seriously in love with the first and second instalments, I feel disappointed by my lack of enthusiasm for the final one. It feels like the author forgot the fascinating details of the world she created, and instead tried to make everything epic. I miss the little things. 

The Historian - Elizabeth Costova
I always have two books on the go, one that I read alone and one with my boyfriend. This is my current alone-book, and I dread to think how long ago I bought (and forgot about) it. It's a little slow to get going, but structurally feels like an old-fashioned Gothic novel, which I like. I also like that this is vampire novel in the traditional sense - my tastes are more Stoker than Meyer- paying homage to the classic Dracula, whilst giving him a new and unexpected hobby. I am looking forward to seeing where this goes, though I fear it may take a while to find out!

Do you enjoy reading these kinds of post? I'd love to talk about books more on here, they feel like a very big part of my life. Let me know your thoughts if you've read any of these, and I always want recommendations! 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush in Fearless

I could not resist the hype surrounding tarte cosmetics any longer! Once those famous blushes were on QVC it was only a matter of time, and this is one purchase I do not regret. I love so much about this blush, starting with the cute packaging. I love how the colour of the case matches the shade inside, it means that if you went a bit cray and ordered lots of them you'd easily find the one that you were looking for. Not that I intend to do that...ahem. I also love the large mirror inside, and the pretty pattern carved into the blush. I thought a few uses would destroy it, but that hasn't been the case so far, but more on that later. I also need to mention how impressed I was that a brush was included with the price of the blush. I didn't realise that until it arrived, and thinking I had paid NARS prices for a blush, I was pleased to feel that I had received a 'freebie'. The brush, by the way, seems to be great quality and I'm pretty thrilled with it. 

The texture of the blush is a lot harder than I am used to, and I wouldn't have expected to like that, usually preferring buttery textures. However, this is really blendable and it is a good job that the formula is so hard, as brushes can only pick up a small amount of it. It's very pigmented indeed, and the tiniest amount is needed for a perfect flush that lasts all day. I've actually been using the blush in the picture for a few weeks, and the pattern is still intact, showing how little the brush actually picks up. Maybe it's something to do with the baked Amazonian clay, but even a small amount of this blush has serious staying powder. It does last longer on my cheeks than my NARS blushes, and although it does fade a little, I would say the look I like is on my face for upwards of ten hours. Ten busy hours, at work - impressive. 

The shade I picked up, Fearless, is a beauty. It's a bright pink, which leans slightly coral once applied, though it is certainly not orange-y. It's a flattering shade, that I can imagine suiting a lot of skin tones. As you can see from the swatches, it is far more wearable than it looks in the pan once blended out. 


I just wish QVC stocked a few more shades from the line. Let me know if you have any shade recommendations - I love the look of Tipsy!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Unboxing: June Birchbox


I haven't done an unboxing post in ages, not because I haven't been loving my beauty boxes, but because unless I photograph/post immediately, it feels out of date very quickly. This arrived on Friday though, so hopefully you won't have seen a hundred posts on the same box yet. 

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me declaring that this box was the first World Cup themed thing I could muster up any excitement for! The box includes products from around the world, including France, America, England and (sort of) Brazil. I love the colours of the drawstring bag, and the Brazil-themed flip-flop keyring was a cute touch. It's not something I'd really use, but it's a freebie, and a nice gesture, so I have no problems with popping into my class prize box. One of the children will love it! 

June Birchbox cards
June Birchbox drawstring pouch Brazil

There were some real gems in this month's box, including stuff I'd been actually planning to buy, which was handy! The Beauty Blender was an exciting inclusion, and something I've heard so many raves about, but been apprehensive to buy as I don't usually like make-up sponges. I'm looking forward to giving this a go though. The solid blendercleanser is included too, which looks interesting. I was genuinely thrilled to see the Caudalie Divine Oil in my box, as I have been meaning to try this out forever. I am a big Caudalie fan, even loving the Marmite of products that is the Beauty Elixir, but this oil seems universally loved. I have given this a quick try, and it sinks into my skin beautifully and smells floral and, well, divine. As OPI's biggest fan I was pleased to see a shade from their Brazil collection in my box this month, in a lovely duochrome shade. The shade has no name, but seems to be The Bikini Zone. It's nice to get a mix of familiar and new-to-me brands in a beauty box, and this has hit the nail on the head. The first new brand is Silk + Honey, and I received their Shea Butter Hair Mask. I am never unhappy to see a hair mask, and this generous sample smells delicious. Interestingly it has a use-by date, which makes me think it must be super-fresh, like Lush masks. Lastly, I received Coola Classic Face SPF30 Cucumber, which is perfect timing, as the weather seems to be finally picking up!

contents of june birchbox caudalie beautyblender

Overall, I am delighted with this month's box. The last couple of months, whilst being great, have been a little disappointing as I have seen other people receive far nicer products than me. This however, was the perfect mix of well-known and new brands, nail, skin and hair products, and even included an exciting tool. Nice one Birchbox, you may have actually got me to show an interest in the World Cup...

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Review: Benefit Cha Cha Tint

Benefit Cha Cha Tint

With the launch of Benefit's Tinted Balms, I thought I'd revisit one of my favourite of their famous tints. Don't make me choose between this and Posie, I love them equally! No one ever seems to talk about Cha Cha though, and in my opinion, you're missing a treat if you write this off as a gaudy orange. 

Described as a juicy mango shade, Cha Cha Tint is a gorgeous coral. It's far more flattering than the idea of orange blush sounds, and gives a healthy, dewy finish. It blends perfectly into the skin, and looks so natural, which is a nicer look for Summer than anything too powdery, I think. I think the reason I love this and Posie so much more than the original Benetint is their creamier formula. It's far easier to work with than the runnier original, and I like to apply this with the little brush provided, dotting it on the apples of my cheeks, before blending out with either my finger or a brush, such as the Real Techniques buffing brush. Be warned though, you must blend quickly. Leave it to sit there for too long and you are faced with some very obvious dots where it was originally placed. 

Benefit Cha Cha tint swatch

The whole point of these tints is of course, that you can also use them on lips. I must admit, I find they can be a little drying, but I do think they make a nice base as once they are on, they're going nowhere. I just find that I need to top up with lip balm every few hours, which I don't mind. The coral shade of Cha Cha is just beautiful on lips, and very on-trend right now. I am pretty keen to try it out in balm form, as it seems Benefit have taken the tint+balm combo I've been using for years, and put it together into one convenient product! 

Which Benefit Tint is your favourite? 

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Review: Sleek Blush in Rose Gold

I'm shopping my stash to show you a much-loved, blogger-hyped favourite of mine today. Their Rose Gold blush was the first purchase I ever made from Sleek, and was the beginning of a real love for the high-quality budget brand. 

Having long given up on high street blushes (hello, rubbish Bourjois blush pots), I didn't know what to expect, but was quickly impressed. The packaging is a cut above its drugstore rivals, from the simple black exterior (often compared to NARS), to the handy, large mirror inside. It's really compact, so excellent for popping in your handbag or for travel.  

The product itself is even better. Like all Sleek blushes, it's highly pigmented and incredibly fine for easy blending. I do use a very light hand to apply this, as it is not hard to go overboard with such a pigmented product.  It has decent staying power too, lasting well on my cheeks for 7+ hours. That may be a step behind the likes of NARS, but this cost £4.99, so I'm not complaining. The shade is the most coveted and discussed of their entire line, and it is easy to see why. Rose Gold is a beautifully bright, coral-toned pink, with lots of light-reflecting gold. In the pan, it looks very pink indeed, but when swatched the gold becomes far more apparent, always remaining illuminating rather than glittery. There is no powdery fall-out, as can be the case with shimmery products, and the effect is never sparkly. Rose Gold won't make you look like a discoball, instead just eliminates the need for highlighter, as it is practically built-in. I often get compliments when wearing this blush; just the other week my mum was asking how I had such a golden glow! 

Probably because of the golden shimmer, Rose Gold is compared endlessly to NARS Orgasm. I personally own and use both, which means in my eyes, it isn't a dupe (or I would only need to have one). I find that Orgasm looks a lot pinker on my cheeks, and although it does have a golden sheen, it is far more subtle and translates to a healthy glow on the cheeks. I don't have to be careful with my application, as it deposits just the right amount for a rosy flush, day or night. Rose Gold however, as you can see from the swatches, gives a more dramatic effect and may need blending out for a subtle daytime look. It leans far more gold, which means it looks fabulous for catching the last of the sunlight on summer evenings. Both have a place in my stash, and although I love Orgasm more, when my Rose Gold runs out I will most certainly be happy to pay under £5 to replace it. 

Monday, 9 June 2014

Crabtree and Evelyn Handy Tips Event inc. Goodie Bag contents!

On Friday evening, I was lucky enough to attend a little event at the Crabtree and Evelyn store in Nottingham, having been invited by Gemma from Beautiful Things. It was a bit of a mad dash from work, and I arrived a bit flustered and camera-less, but it was totally worth it. Crabtree and Evelyn had gone to great lengths to make our evening relaxing and lovely, and within moments of arriving I had a glass of pink cava in my hand, plus Crabtree's fabulous team were on hand to take polaroids, answer questions and give mini hand massages. 

Having only used a few items from the brand before, and never having been in the shop, I found out that there is a lot more to Crabtree and Evelyn than floral scented hand creams. They offer a wide selection of fragrances, and although the more traditional ones such as Rosewater, Lily and Lavender are nice, I found myself preferring the ones I hadn't heard of before, such as Caribbean Island Wildflowers, which is a little more modern. I also didn't realise they offered such a wide selection of food gifts, and their boxes of teas and biscuits looked so pretty. I'll definitely keep them in mind for presents in the future. The biggest surprise for me was the nail polish, something I had no idea Crabtree and Evelyn even produced. They had a great range of really affordable nail colours, and most of us there agreed the shades Sky Nail and Clementine were clear winners.

As they really are a brand with something to offer the whole family, Crabtree and Evelyn are encouraging customers to share the beauty tips the ladies in their family have passed down to them. By writing your tip in a leaf, and sticking it to the beautiful tree that takes pride of place in the shop, you earn yourself a £5 voucher too, so there's really no reason not to share your secrets! 

 As well as Gemma, I had a chance to chat with Sally, Becki, Emma and Hannah, who were all really friendly and lovely. I was of course very nervous when arriving alone, but there was no need to be, as everyone was so welcoming. I'd definitely recommend checking out their blogs! All of us were very kindly given a goodie bag at the end of the evening. I received their famous Hand Therapy cream in the scent Citron, which isn't my favourite fragrance admittedly, as it reminds me of Locket cough sweets! I love the cream though, the quality is excellent, so I'd be tempted to pick it up again in the Caribbean scent, or as part of one of the 60 Second Fix kits which also contain a hand scrub. We tried those out in the store, and they really do a great job of getting your hands feeling smooth and soft in no time at all. The other item I received was a nail polish, which I was of course very excited about, particularly when I realised that the shade was Sky Nail (£6), the light blue creme I had been eyeing up moments before. 

The formula is a great consistency and it applies really evenly - one coat is very nearly there and two coat is perfect - giving a glossy finish. I'm very impressed by this one! The colour is a perfect baby blue, which I wish I'd had in the Spring. I'll definitely be wearing this pretty shade lots in the next few weeks though, as I can never get enough of blue polish! 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Sleek MakeUP Del Mar iDivine Eye Shadow Palette

I've been meaning to try a Sleek palette for some time, and had my eye on a few of the more neutral, shimmery palettes such as Storm and Eden. However, when a limited edition Ibiza-inspired palette invited me to step out of my comfort zone, I had to go for it. The last time I bought something purely on the basis that it was named after Ibiza, I discovered my favourite glitter polish ever, so I considered that a good omen. 

For under £8, I was impressed with this palette from the start. The box's Ibiza-at-sunset vibe really caught my attention, and  on the back of the box are tips about how to use the colours, which is a nice touch. I also really like the simple black packaging of the palette itself. Sleek use a very NARS-esque material for their packaging, which does look grubby quite quickly, but when it's clean it does look great.  Inside are twelve eye shadows, alongside a nice big mirror and a frankly useless applicator (I wish budget brands would either start including a brush or just not bother, but never mind, it's not like I don't have plenty of brushes I can use). 

The shadows themselves are all of a good quality. Like all Sleek make-up they have excellent pigmentation, and I find them to be soft and really blendable. There's a real mix here of neutrals and brights, mattes and shimmers. It's nice to have a palette with such a broad selection of shades, as I am used to palettes such as the Nakeds, which whilst being fantastic, don't exactly offer a huge amount of variety. 

All of these shades say Summer to me - from the corals and oranges of an Ibizan sunset, to the teals and deep blues of the Mediterranean sea - and I feel like this would be a great palette to take on holiday as it offers more subtle daytime shades, as well as the kind of colours that could be used to create some bold night-time looks. The shimmery gold-neutral Lounge Lovers is a shade I can see myself using loads, both across the lid with the matte Talamanca adding definition to my crease, and as an inner-corner highlight. Sunset Strip is a beautifully vibrant orange shade, that is a lot more wearable than I expected; I have been experimenting wearing it with a little On the Rocks on the outer corner. Blue Marlin is also far more wearable than your average blue. The only shade that disappointed me was Chilled Out, which is a little chalky and doesn't apply as nicely as the others. However, I am too impressed with the other shades to mind too much. 

If you fancy experimenting with a few brighter colours, this is a great step in. Affordable enough that you won't feel racked with guilt if you don't use it every day, and wearable enough that you just might be able to, it's a lovely little set of shades to have in your stash, or indeed your hand-luggage. Now I just want to book a flight! 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Copenhagen: Eurofever, Mermaids and Smushi.

This year I made a decision deemed funny, brilliant or just plain odd, depending on who you were asking. I decided to travel to Copenhagen to meet up with friends, and watch the Eurovision Song Contest (or more accurately, the dress rehearsal during the afternoon - lots cheaper). I know we don't really get into Eurovision here, and until last year I had never really even watched it, but my Belgian friends and their intense passion for all things Eurosongs changed my mind last Summer when we watched it together. They were so wholeheartedly and sincerely into it, I got totally swept along, and it turns out that Eurovision is a great laugh if you just embrace it - whether 'it' be men in boxes, ABBA, Polish milkmaids or people in scary masks, just screaming - for the fun, silly entertainment that it is. The fact that Denmark was hosting definitely nudged me into saying yes too. I've always wanted to visit Copenhagen, and have dreamed of seeing the statue of the Little Mermaid ever since I was a little girl, who just wanted to be where the mermaids were. A tiny suitcase and a Union Jack (filled mostly with make-up) in hand, I was off!

Copenhagen is a really pretty city, and was fully decked out in its Euro-finery for the weekend I was there. The lyrics to Denmark's entry decorated the streets, and there was a whole pedestrianised 'Fan Mile' dedicated to Eurovision-themed fun, with stages set up and performances, events and music throughout the day. There were people from all over Europe there, and everyone wanted to have fun and make friends; the atmosphere was incredible. People were signing old Eurovision favourites in the streets, wrapped in flags, which may sound less than classy, but this didn't have a football hooligan vibe at all. It was more like the happy, celebratory vibe we had when the Olympics were on. 

The non-Euro stuff was the opposite of cheesy however; the interior shops' window displays had me drooling, the locals were seriously gorgeous and stylish, and there were some amazingly cool cocktail bars and restaurants. I'd definitely recommend Copenhagen for a stylish city break. We spent rather a lot of our beautiful Danish kroner on the first day we were there on food and drinks alone. Lunch was at the beautiful Royal Smushi Cafe, an elegantly eclectic little haven filled with pretty oddities, and amazing, miniature Scandi-sandwiches. Think a wallpapered, high ceiling, chandeliers, pastel-coloured ornaments and food almost too pretty to eat. That night, cocktails were followed by dinner at Geist, a contemporary tapas-style restaurant that feels a bit like eating the experiments of a mad-chef/scientist in a branch of All Saints. The decor was what I'd describe as industrial-glam, and we had an amazingly huge round table, that made me feel like a knight. The idea was to order three or four painfully expensive dishes (I split with a friend, and ate more than enough) which come one at a time. It was hit-and-miss to be honest, but my brown crab with mash and salted butter was pretty delicious, and my beef topped with egg-yolk was the most perfect shade of pink. 

The next day was Eurovision day, and we caught a boat to Eurovision Island (kind of a let-down, totally didn't live up to the camp and glittery images conjured by the name!) from Nyhavn. Nyhavn was the prettiest part of Copenhagen that I saw, a pretty canal, complete with wooden ships bobbing on the water, lined with colourful cafes and shops. I imagine this area looks glorious in the sunshine, but unluckily for us it was raining that day. Eurovision Island may have been a let-down, but the arena wasn't; it looked incredible, with a huge stage, amazing lighting creating a sort of laser-cage, and pools surrounding the stage for last-year's winner's pool party of a performance. I had a great time, and was totally mesmerised by it all - enough so that I was genuinely excited to watch it all over again that night on the big screens in Rainbow Square. A danish hotdog later (nearly as good as their pastries) and we were painting rainbows on our faces in the gay hotspot. Beers in hand, we danced in the rain and went crazy every time Conchita was awarded douze points!

On the next, and last, day my main priority was getting near that mermaid. Luckily, one of the group was a Copenhagen resident, and so had a car, which meant no messing around with buses or long walks. Everyone I know who has been to see her say they are surprised by how small she is, but not me. I'd genuinely wanted to see that hundred-year-old statue my whole life, and have never quite outgrown wanting to be a mermaid, and luckily she was just as beautiful as I had hoped. I felt a little moved just looking at her, and thought she was a perfect tribute to my favourite fairytale. 

Before heading back to the airport, we decided to go for lunch at the food court. Now, the term 'food court' has always meant McDonald's, Pizza Hut etc. to me, but Copenhagen's is of course, far more stylish than that. Two modern, glass buildings house the most amazing food market I have ever been to, including over 60 stands of everything from butchers, pasta restaurants, cheese stalls, delis, fancy coffee shops, pizza stalls, florists, fish cooked to order and greengrocers. I didn't know where to start, and tried a few samples before settling on a bowl of pasta with a glass of wine, followed by a final Danish pastry. 

The station was right next to the food court, so we were checking in to the airport in no time at all, and the whole trip was over too soon. I'd have loved to stay a little longer and visited the amusement park and botanical gardens, and maybe even travelled out of the city to see more of Denmark. It's a beautiful place, and one I'd definitely return to. I love seeing European cities, and feel like I'll never get around all the ones I want to see, but I'm so glad I did this one. Have you ever been to Copenhagen? Which are your favourite European cities?
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