Saturday, 31 August 2013

Belfast Haul- feat. Sleek, Essie, Rituals, Beauty UK, It's a 10

I took a little trip up to Belfast last week when I was on my holliers from work and I took the liberty of purchasing a few items that are not all that easily available south of the border. Like it would be rude not to! I know Belfast quite well by now so I made a beeline to the nearest Superdrug to raid the Sleek Makeup stand- only to be quite disappointed by it's shoddy state. Not one to give up too easily, I then hotfooted it to the next nearest Superdrug which had a much better display altogether and I picked up a few bits and bobs there also.

Sleek Makeup is one of those brands that have just seem to have taken off, and one thing that really bugs me about purchasing Sleek Makeup in the Republic of Ireland is that our Superdrugs do not stock Sleek display stands, which means we cannot swatch our hearts out or see products in the flesh before purchasing. Why oh why don't Superdrug stock the stuff!? Anyways, rant aside, here are the Sleek goodies I picked up on the day.

Sleek palettes in Au Naturel, Storm, Oh So Special. I did have the Ultra Matte Darks palette on my list also but I hated it when I swatched it and think I made a lucky break. If I had bought that online, I would have been miffed.
Sleek Blush by 3 palettes in Pink Spirit and Pumpkin. I love my Lace trio and I was happy to pick up two more. Getting brave enough to wear them was another thing altogether!
Sleek Lip4 palette in Ballet- I don't really like lipsticks not in stick format but I thought this looked so darn appealing in its packaging that it made it's way into my basket.
Sleek Blush in Suede- I wanted it for ages, so I bought it!

I didn't intentionally mean to pass the Beauty UK stand but I did and I picked up two of their new 'Posh Palettes' in Eden and Masquerade. I hadn't tried any Beauty UK eye products before so I very gladly decided to take lawful custody of these. Beauty UK is stocked at Irish Superdrugs, though the displays are alot smaller than what I witnessed in Belfast, but I hadn't seen these palettes before.

I also stopped by the Rituals store in Victoria Square for a sniff or two of their wares and came out of said shop armed with the Zensation Foaming Shower Gel Sensation, Fortune Oil Caring Shower Oil and Ginkgo's Secret Hand Cream. I love that shop and I could do serious damage to the bank balance there given half the chance so I had to really steel myself to be sensible. I love the Victoria Square store, the layout, the numerous testers, and surprisingly it is never really busy, so it's a nice tranquil little spot if the hustle and bustle of shopping gets to you!

Finally, I perused the beauty section of TK Maxx (a shop I usually avoid like the plague because I only ever come across tatt and junk in there) and I picked up an Essie trio of nail polishes (Bordeaux, Watermelon and Tart Deco) for £9.99. I couldn't believe I would find a nail trio with colours that all appealed to me quite so much! I also bit the bullet and bought some It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In plus Keratin spray - at £14.99, it's not cheap, I am a bit skeptical, but if it does what it promises to do, I will be very happy. I've heard good things so I have higher hopes than Kodaline. Then on the way home, I picked up Elle Magazine for a read on the train and I got a freebie Bumble and Bumble Thickening Spray to try out. I've wanted to try this for ages because I have been embracing my thick hair of late and even though my hair is very voluminous, I wanted to see how big it can go!

And there you have my little Belfast haul. I will try to get reviews up as soon as possible once I have given everything a whirl- lord knows I have been whirling enough the last few days sampling everything! 

What brands do you wish were more easily available in Ireland?

Monday, 26 August 2013

Dupe Alert- "Stars" v Thierry Mugler "Aliens" + Milton Lloyd Dupe List!

I love a nice fragrance and there is nothing I love more than discovering new fragrances. I am extremely picky about perfumes and fragrance- it cannot be too sweet, too floral, too woody, too musky. I am so intolerant of bad, overly strong or sickly smells that I would never risk using a bad perfume because I would literally be at my wits end until it weared off. I believe that perfume is an extremely personal thing, as personal as a favourite colour or favourite day of the week, and the vast array of perfumes on the market are aimed to cover every single niche.

I have spoken a bit about perfume and fragrance on this blog, sharing my favourite fragrances and what I look for. It might surprise you to learn that my most read blog post on my blog was my exposé on Milton Lloyd perfumes, and I expressed delight with a dupe for Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. I am completely unsupportive of counterfeit goods and the black market, and I believe that infringing on another's trademark and copyright is as unethical as it is illegal, but god knows I love a dupe, and Milton Lloyds perfumery is perhaps the most celebrated and well known fragrance-dupe house.

I was in a small pharmacy in Cork recently and I spied this "Stars" perfume on the counter near the checkouts. I couldn't resist a smell and when I did smell it, it was love at first smell, and it smelled uncannily familiar to me. I purchased it for a mere €5.99, and after a little google research, I found out that it smells like Thierry Mugler's "Aliens", and suddenly the purple packaging and the scent all clicked. I was gifted "Aliens" years ago and I used it all, I really liked it but not enough to repurchase, certainly not for high street prices! I only repurchase things that I absolutely love, and to be honest, I completely forgot about that perfume until I realised I had just bought the dupe of it. 

I am terrible at describing smells so I will leave that up to the crew chez Milton Lloyd:
"A rich and commercial floral woody fragrance with fresh citrus and orange flower top notes on a diffusive jasmin, rose and violet heart. The floral spicy dry down in enhanced with elegant sandalwoods, patchouli and warm white amber notes."

For the price, you get a 50 ml bottle which is quite decent, and I usually use three spritzes of this in the morning before I leave for work and the bottle is small and neat enough to pop into my handbag for a sneaky top up after lunch. It smells nice and light and fresh, I certainly do not get any residual alcoholic smell from this, as is the case with alot of inexpensive perfumes, and it doesn't take half the bottle to achieve any sort of smell payoff, like I said, a spritz on each wrist, spritz on my neck and job oxo. The packaging might not be as glamorous as 'Aliens' but bear in mind, if you walked into Boots, you would be shelling out €68.50 for 30mls of a fragrance pretty darn similar to Milton Lloyd's 'Stars' (which, FYI, costs €5.99 for 50mls).

If you are interested in picking up one of these smell-a-like perfumes, keep an eye out in local independent pharmacies, on Amazon/Ebay or via any one of the UK websites that sell Milton Lloyd perfumes (though you may have to avail of Parcel Motel services!). The list below might be a useful guide:

Dupe Name/Branded Perfume name

331 = 212

Bondage = JPG
Bondage Extreme = Deep Red
Bondage Out = Fuel For Life
Bondage Temptation = Armani Code
Boutique Girl = Armani She
Buddy = Boss Woman
Calibre Senses = Burberry touch
Calibre UK = Burberry Brit
Chacal = Poison
Cuba = Narciso Rodriguez
DNA = Armani Code
Exodus = Escape
Fame Day = Anais Anais
Fame Night = Oscar
French Look = Rive Gauche
Futurity = Eternity
Grasse Experience = Aromatics Elixir
Great Lakes = Cool Water
Hawaii = Chloe
To Go = Gucci Rush
Joe Girl = Tommy Girl
JoJo = Loulou
Kantali = Opium
Kudos = Clinique Happy
Love = Eden
Love You = J'Adore
Me Too = Joop Femme
Miss America Sport = Polo Sport
Miss Tutu = Coco Mademoiselle
Monaco = Paris
New York Dolls = Boss Femme
Now My Generation = J-Lo Live
Papagayo = Youth Dew
Ping Pong = 1881
Poker = Chance
Popcorn Girls = Touch Of Pink
Spirit Of Heaven = Angel
Spirit Of Shadow = Ghost
Success = L'Eau D'Issey
Summer Flowers = Kenzo Flower
Summer Sky = Light Blue
Superstar = Euphoria
Tactique = Amarige
Tutu Woman = Coco
Vogue = Chanel No.5
Young Love = Romance
Zozo = Giorgio Beverley Hills
The Look = CK One
The Look For Me = CK Be
Pure Gold Lady = Lady Million
Weekend = Pleasures
Arome di Femme = Acqua di Gio 

So if you are a fragrance freak like moi (and there is nothing wrong with that!), try Milton Lloyds smell-a-likes. If you have tried any other dupes besides Miss Tutu or Stars, please let me know and I might try that one next!!


Saturday, 24 August 2013

I finally got my hands on an Illamasqua Alter Ego Mystery Box!!! - what was included in my box

I have been wanting to get my hands on an Illamasqua Alter Ego Mystery Box for the longest time now. A few months ago, a flurry of my fellow bloggers went mystery box mad and I was very eager to jump on the bandwagon, however the boxes seemed to dry up and were no longer available to buy online so I almost resigned myself to believing it just wasn't meant to be for me. I was blissfully unaware that they were back in stock in Debenhams on Henry Street and as I browsed about the store during the week, I was delighted to spy a rogue mystery box for the grand old price of €23. For anybody who may possibly not be in the know, you are guaranteed six full size Illamasqua products in the box. 

I was a little nervous getting this because I am really rather unadventurous with makeup and I have seen grey lipglosses, purple lipsticks, pea green eyeshadows and tomato red blushes coming out of these boxes. Rather remarkably, my box was very subdued and suited me perfectly. In my box, I got:

Nail Polish in 'Collide'- a highlighter bright pink, might as well have had my name written all over it
Intense Lipgloss in 'Femme'- a packed with pigment red lipgloss
Lipstick in 'Tramp'- another beautiful red and lord knows I love a red lip
Powder Blush in 'Unrequited'- this was THE find in this box and I would happily have paid €23 for this alone! It's a gorgeous light dusky pink shade
Powder Eyeshadow in 'Lestat'- this will do nicely when I am vamping up an eye look and want to smoke it up without resorting to black
Liquid Metal in 'Electrum'- a gorgeous metallic gold cream eyeshadow, this will make a great eyeshadow base.

So all in all, I am delighted with my box because absolutely everything is usable to me. I was willing to write off one or two dodgy products but it was a really nice combination and I am delighted that my wait was worth it!


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

NEW: Maybelline Fit Me Anti Shine Stick- Review

When I first spied this stick at the Maybelline display in Boots, I was not overwhelmed by any strong longing to try this product. In fact, I was shocked to see that a powerhouse like Maybelline would actually release a foundation in stick format (the indignity!). I had such low hopes but I was incredibly curious to try it out so I picked one up on my adventures. It looked like Pan Stik to me (anybody else remember that stuff? I'm making all kinds of 'eugh' faces now as I think about it!). I picked the shade 120 in Classic Ivory, but there is a paler shade also available. My foundation has been shiny as hell this summer and even though I like  dewy look from time to time, there are also times when I yearn for a matte finish and I was eager to test the anti-shine properties enshrined in the name. I really liked the Maybelline Fit Me foundations, powders and concealer that I had already tried, and this Anti-Shine stick is the latest addition to the Fit Me range.

The kind folks at Maybelline allege that this Anti-Shine stick is a moisturiser, primer and foundation all in one little tube. Quite the feat for one little product, and alot of hype to live up to. The actual structure of the product itself is quite bizarre- the foundation itself surrounds an inner core of lightweight, oil absorbing powder. The texture of the product is remarkably light- it does not feel heavy at all, and it blends and applies like a dream. The texture is quite light and fluffy, and for that reason, I would not recommend this to anyone with dry skin because I reckon it might skin to any dryness or lines or wrinkles. I would say the coverage is medium to full but I have found that it needs to be reapplied after 4-5 hours because it kind of just disappears. Given the format of the foundation in stick form, I don't think this is the most onerous task, and it certainly would not put me off this product because I really like the finish and effect. 

I was so so highly skeptical of this, but this is actually a great product- much as it pains me to admit it almost because of how low my expectations were. Maybe I was snobby because of the stick format, but I would definitely recommend this to anyone with oily skin who is looking for a matte finish foundation. This will set you back €13.49, so if you can banish all memories of Pan Stik and embrace this, I think you might also be pleasantly surprised.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Blank Canvas Cosmetics Neutral Eyeshadow Palette- some great MAC dupes!

I am obsessed with neutral eyeshadows- there is simply no denying it. Any shade of cream or brown is guaranteed to get me excited. I find it quite hard to find decent matte eyeshadows that are nicely pigmented and have good lasting power, and I am always on the lookout for more. When I was placing an order with Blank Canvas Cosmetics recently, I picked up this 28 shade Neutral Eyeshadow Palette for little more than a mere tenner. I didn't have hugely high expectations to be honest given that I have purchased a few BH Cosmetics palettes and not loved them, but I really had great experiences with everything else that I ordered from Blank Canvas Cosmetics so I thought it was a relatively safe bet. The palette only took about two days to arrive and the palette was really well packaged.

The first thing I noted about this palette was the huge variety of colours included, particularly alot of creams, skin toned colours and various shades of brown. I was hugely impressed with the colour selection because there was alot of base, midtone, highlight, crease and outer corner colours. The variety of looks that you could create with this palette is vast.

The shadows themselves are amazingly pigmented and soft, and arm swatches do not really do them justice. They are incredibly easy to apply, blend and work with, and when I pair them over a good base like the Urban Decay primer potion or the MAC Paint Pots, these last my whole working day, which could be anywhere between 10-14 hours. There are a variety of different finishes- matte, shimmer and satin.

If you are into neutral eyeshadows, I would have absolutely no qualms in recommending this palette to you. The options are so plentiful and if you find it hard to get decently pigmented lighter matte eyeshadows, I think you would really like this. Also, if you are a professional and would like this for your kit, the palette itself looks really professional with its matte black casing and sturdy cover. I actually have noticed a few dupes for MAC eyeshadows too- particularly Cork, Malt, Vanilla, Gesso, Mulch and Twinks. If you are interested in purchasing this palette, check out Blank Canvas Cosmetics by clicking here.


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Contouring 101- the basics

Contouring is something that I have been trying out and embracing over the last few months. I never had much time for it, somehow in the mad rush to get my makeup done, contouring was something that never really crossed my mind. Over the last few months, I have been picking up products to use for contouring- the Sleek Contour Kit, Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel, Yves St Laurent Touche Eclat, and I have had varying degree of success with both. During a recent Blank Canvas Cosmetics shopping spree, I finally got my hands on the Contour Palette which seemed to be out of stock all the time (fuelling my desire to own it all the more!) and some contouring brushes.

New Contouring brushes

The brushes I bought on this occasion were the F15 and it's larger first cousin, the F16. 

The F15 Small Contour/Highlight brush is a bargain at €13.29 and I use this to apply colour in the hollows of my cheeks or to dust some highlighter over my face to complete a makeup look. 

The F16 Large Powder/Contour brush sells for €17.09 on the website (link here) and it was the shape of this one in particular that really appealed to me because I do not have anything else quite so big and tapered in my collection. I use this for powders generally, like when I am setting my foundation with powder, and also for contouring using the tapered end. 

The bristles are silky soft, made from natural goat hair and they pick up and distribute powder very smoothly and effortlessly on your face.They also wash quite well with Johnsons baby shampoo. I have only experienced very minor shedding with this brush- maybe a hair or two- and it washes and dries quite well.

Sleek matte black packaging

This contour palette seems to be one of the best sellers on the website and I can see why. I really wanted a powder contour palette because the powder just gives it a more natural look which is more suitable for daytime, more so than the cream contours that I have tried. This palette also appealed to me because the shades were quite light in colour- I was worried that the bronzers would be too dark and look muddy on my face, so I was delighted when I finally swatched them myself and saw that they were a nice fit. In this palette, you get six really decent pans of powder, and the powder is nicely soft and pigmented without alot of unnecessary fallout.

I have inserted pictures and swatches below-

Swatches from my BCC Contour Palette

I have used all six colours in this palette and I must say, it has really taken my interest in contouring to a whole new level. It looks incredibly natural.

This palette is always flying out the minute it arrives in stock, but BCC give an estimate of when they expect the product to be back in stock, so if you see one of these estimates and you want this palette, set a reminder in your phone so you can get your order in before they disappear again.

So there you have it- if you are a newbie to contouring and would like some quality products that don't break the bank, I recommend you get onto the Blank Canvas Cosmetics website and pick up this palette and these brushes and get practising! I really think you will not be disappointed!

Thanks for reading x


Saturday, 17 August 2013

NEW! Bourjois Shine Edition Lipsticks in 22 'Famous Fuchsia' and 23 'Grenade In'

I just couldn't help myself. I loved my first two so much that I caved in and bought two more of the new Bourjois Shine Edition lipsticks. Though in my defence, I did warn that this might happen in this earlier post where I swatched and reviewed 20 '1,2,3 Soleil' and 24 'Rose xoxo'. You beauty fanatics amongst me will know the way it goes- you buy one or two, you fall in lipstick lurrve, you go back for the rest. It's a familiar pattern.

I spied these colours at the same time as I made my first Bourjois Shine Edition purchase, but they didn't make the final cut because I thought they were more wintry colours because they were slightly darker. I was still unsure about the pigmentation and staying power and it wasn't until I actually tried the other lipsticks myself, and realised that they left a nice stain on your lips over the course of the hours of application, I said I would chance picking up a few of the darker colours.

Shade no. 22 in 'Famous Fuchsia' in a (rather unsurprising) fuchsia shade. It is a beautiful, bright but not in-yo-face hot pink. The lasting power of this is quite marvellous, maybe not the 10 hours that Bourjois claim, but when the shine wears off, your lips are left with a lovely stain so you get great colour payoff for hours. When it first applies, it is gorgeously glossy and creamy and comfortable on the lips.

Shade no. 23 'Grenade in' is a more berry toned pink, which is screaming Autumn at me. It's not dark enough to be vampy but it is considerably darker my usual daytime pink. I have a feeling that this is going to be one of my key lip looks this winter, even though it is very shiny, VERY.

So I was proud to introduce the two newest members of my Bourjois family to the fold! I think I may give the other two colours that I saw a miss- even on my second day out, the didn't quite do enough to catch my eye. 

Let me know what you think of these new shades, thanks for reading! x

Friday, 16 August 2013

Blank Canvas Cosmetics- Double Ended Eyebrush Set- Review and Pictures (picture heavy!)

You might recall my recent review on the individual eye brushes that I picked up from Blank Canvas Cosmetics recently, and I waxed lyrical about how impressed I was by them. Today I have another brush review for you, the very clever Double Ended Eyebrush Set.* 

This set packs 10 full size quality eye brushes in one neat little leather-look pouch, and it has pretty much every single brush you would need to apply your eye makeup, and then some- from patting on eyeshadow, blending, detailing, eyeliner and taming your brows. 

When I first spied this on the website, I thought it just screamed "travel friendly". I fly alot with Ryanair on weekend and shorter trips and it kills me to check in a bag I try to just bring hand luggage and this little kit is a makeup lovers gift because it contains every brush you would need for your eyes and they are all stored securely and safely in the little pouch. I have already put this to the test and brought this and just this on a midweek break to Galway and it covered all bases. It really took the stress out of packing makeup brushes for holidays. It is a real space saver but you do not have to compromise on quality.

So now for a more detailed look at the brushes!

E23/E24- Double Ended Pencil/Flat Shader Brush
I like to use the E23 pencil brush to apply highlight colours to the very inner corners of my eye, or conversely to smudge my eyeliner out a smidge if I am going for a smoky eye look. It has just the right level of density to allow you enough control without dragging across your eye. The E24 flat shader rather remarkably reminds me of the E26 which I reviewed here, moreso than the E26 in this set pictured below. All confusion aside, it is a great brush for packing on colour onto your eyelids, and this is what I mostly use this brush for.

E25/E26 Blending Duo
This is my favourite of the bunch, mostly because they are two amazing blending brushes.I love the individual E25 that I have so I was only too happy to see that there was an E25 included in this set. The E26 in the set again is actually more similar to my E24 (pictures here) but I actually prefer the version in this set. It is softer and longer than the MAC 217 but it is a great blending brush, and again causes absolutely no irritation to my eyes.

E27/E28- Double Ended Mini Detailer/Eyeliner
The mini detailer brush on this brush is so adorably small and soft, and allows for such precise application of colour and detailing. The E28 eyeliner brush is really fine and allows for easy foolproof application of gel and shadow liners because it is soft enough to trace the upper lashline.

E30- Double Ended Brow/Spoolie
Now a little disclaimer here- I don't actually use any products to fill my brows, and I use the angled brush part of this to apply gel eyeliner. It is fine enough and does the job perfectly adequately. I sometimes run the spoolie through my eyebrows just to make sure that they are all sitting the right place!

E32/E33- Double Ended Tapered Crease Blender/Smudger
This is definitely my second favourite in the pack. Soft, perfect in terms of length and density. The E32 tapered blending brush just sweeps over your eyelids so gracefully and easily, and the E33 Smudger achieves that (should be) impossible task of gently but effectively smudging your eyeshadow/liner both on the upper and lower lashline.

I do not store these brushes the way I normally store my makeup brushes in pots because one side of the brush would inevitably get damaged, so I just leave them in their little case for safe keeping in between uses. The fact that they are double sided means that extra care and attention must be given to them when washing and cleaning. My method was to spray some of my MAC Brush Cleanser on the bristles and rub the loose dirt off on a clean cloth or strong tissue and then deep cleanse them one side at a time, washing them with Johnsons baby shampoo and drying them with the ferrules slightly elevated so as to avoid the glue in the ferrule getting damaged and to stop the bristles from falling out.

I am very impressed by this brush set, and if you are too, you can click this link and buy your own. It normally retails for €61.74 but Blank Canvas Cosmetics are currently running a 40% off deal (until 19th August so be quick!) so the ten brushes and case could be yours for a not too shabby €37.04. Blank Canvas Cosmetics are an Irish homegrown company and from my dealings with them so far, they have been extremely quick to dispatch orders and very helpful in terms of customer service. They also offer international shipping so my international readers can also share a slice of the fun!

If you have tried and loved any BCC brushes yet, please let me know in the comments below. 

Thanks for reading x


NEW! Bourjois Color Boost Glossy Finish Lipsticks in 'Red Sunrise' and 'Peach on the Beach'

If there is one lip product that has stood out above all the rest over the past year, it is the innovation of the Clinique Glossy Stick dupes- aka the lipstick pencil craze that all the major drugstore/high street brands seem to be honing in on. Revlon paved the way with their amazing Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains (I blogged about the entire collection here) and many other brands followed suit- No7, 17, Catrice, Soap & Glory to name a few. Bourjois seem to be knocking the new quality products out of the park this weather and are quickly becoming one of my favourite drugstore brands, after a bit of a hit and miss relationship for a few years. 

I first saw the new Color Boost Glossy Finish Lipsticks in Brussels about a month ago, but they did not have the two particular colours that I wanted (well they HAD them, but they had been swatched and damaged by over eager and very rude shoppers- tut tut) so I kept an eye out for them to arrive here in Ireland. I chose the colours 'Red Sunrise' and 'Peach on the Beach'.

Red Sunrise is a bold, deep pinkish raspberry red. This actually looks like fruit on your lips when you put it on. It's a perfect colour for day or night also I reckon, and even when the glossiness starts to fade a bit, it leaves a lovely pink/red stain on the lips. 

Peach on the Beach just screams summer to me. I usually veer away from oranges because they do not suit my colouring at all, but this colour is a lovely peachy coral that doesn't look garish on paler ladies. Again, I would wear this by day on it's own or by night with a smoky eye. Even though the colour is very bright, I do not find the lipstick to crack, separate or fade on my lips.

The packaging for these is nice and sturdy and the colour of the pencil on the outside is indicative of the colour of the product on the inside. It's the little things like this that make life so much easier for us as we scramble to get ready in the mornings! The lids go on nice and securely and you get about 3cm of product in each, which you can unwind by twisting the silver part on the top of the pencil (gone are the days of having to sharpen your glossy lipstick pencils!).

The Color Boost range promise a glossy finish with 10 hours of comfort and hydration and waterproof colour. They are definitely glossy but I am not convinced that these last 10 hours- I mean unless you literally tattoo your lips, that must be the impossible task! I reckon these last about four hours before needing to be reapplied to top up the glossiness. The nice thing about these though is that you just do not feel these on your lips- they are so hydrating and lightweight that you can happily go about your business without feeling that your lips are slowly getting parched or that the colour is going to bleed all over your face. Whatever about waterproof, these are certainly foolproof.

Will you try the Bourjois Color Boost Glossy Finish lipsticks?

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Blank Canvas Cosmetics- Recent Eye Brush Haul and Reviews (pic heavy)

I got my first set of Blank Canvas Cosmetics brushes about 18 months ago, and they have been a firm staple in my collection since. Then last September, I picked up their HD Face Brush Collection and I was completely smitten, so much so that I purchased another F20 (in hot pink this time!) at the Irish Beauty Show in the RDS in March. These brushes have become absolute staples in my everyday makeup application, so when I spied that Blank Canvas were offering another amazing deal on their website, I couldn't not take advantage, and they arrived just two days after I placed my order. 

When I made my order, I purchased some eye brushes, contour brushes and two palettes, but I am just going to give my low down on the individual eye brushes today.

I find with eye makeup that a good set of brushes is almost as essential as eyelids. I know that a bad workman blames his tools but in all honestly, unless you are the Picasso of eye makeup, I doubt you are going to find applying eye make up with crappy, substandard brushes to be an easy or worthwhile task. The one thing I have noticed about all Blank Canvas brushes is that they are so incredibly soft, and as a contact lenses wearer especially with extremely sensitive eyes, I cannot convey how difficult it is to find brushes that do not irritate my eyes. I have never experienced any irritation with Blank Canvas brushes despite very regular usage.

I ordered four eye brushes which normally retail for €6.64 each- absolutely bargainous in itself, nevermind the meagre €3.98 price tag during the promotion. The quality of the brushes for the price is mindblowing IMO- natural fibres, sturdy shiny brush handles and secure ferrules.

E24- Blending Brush: I genuinely prefer this to my MAC 217 and it was a fraction of the price. It is slightly bigger than the 217. This is a multi-functional brush- great for applying shadow and blending. It also retains its shape well after washing.

E25 - Round Top Blending Brush: To say that this is like blending your eyeshadow with a cloud would be an understand. Super soft, nice length and density in the goat hair bristles. I'll definitely pick up a few more of these for my collection, seriously great brush, sturdy handle, a must have.

E26- Flat Shader/Lay Down Brush: perfect for patting colour onto the lids- holds alot of product and distributes it really nicely across the lid. Great with powder and cream products.

 E32- Tapered Crease Blender: I believe this is one of the newest additions to the line and what a brush this is- it is literally one of the softest specimens to ever grace my eyelids thanks to the natural goat hair bristles, it is the perfect size and density for neat and effortless blending.This brush looks a little like the E25 but is not as dense and the handle is slightly shorter, and is a smidge more expensive (but still bargainous at €7.59).

No.010- Small Socket Blender: This was a free gift with purchase and I was delighted- I already own this brush and used it quite a bit for detailing around the crease and inner corners. Great multi-tasker!

I have used and washed these about three times since I got them, and they are all still perfectly intact, without any loss of hairs or any other brush erosion. I like to use Johnson's Baby Shampoo on these brushes because it is quite gentle on the natural bristles and it is very effective at cleaning them. 

If you are looking for some high quality, low prices brushes, I strongly recommend hitting up because they are currently running a 40% off offer until 19th August, and these brushes are a complete steal, plus you would have the added bonus of supporting homegrown Irish business! Blank Canvas Cosmetics also offer international shipping and excellent customer service. I cannot recommend them highly enough. 

I will also review the other brushes and palettes that I picked up in the coming days (I have so much to say about these products that it would have turned into one crazy long post!). 

Ciao for now and thanks for reading! 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Loyalty and Rewards

I have a different type of a post today, and it's about being rewarded for loyalty through different incentives from various retailers. I'm not talking about freebies or half price special offers that any old sod can avail of, I am talking about retailers going above and beyond to thank and reward continuing customers for their loyalty. 

Today, I visited Lush and Brown Thomas and in return for some empty containers which were no good to me anyway, I got a lovely new fresh face mask and a new MAC lippie. I am a big fan of MAC and Lush and I call into their store very regularly because I like their products, and have been a longtime fan of both. I don't particularly need any incentive to shop there, and I return to these stores all the time because I associate them with quality products that have already earned my seal of approval.

I think it is a great concept, and it actually fills my heart to think that customer loyalty is rewarded, and this concept of rewarding customers for their loyalty seems to be catching on. I appreciate loyalty in every strain of life, personally and professionally, and the fact that there are companies that also appreciate loyalty is very encouraging.

A few loyalty initiatives that I have availed of in the past few months include:

MAC- Back to Mac- return six empty plastic containers to the store and pick out a lipstick of your choice for free. No purchase necessary. Value €18.
Lush- Bring back 5 clean full-size Lush pots or tubes and get one fresh mask free. Value €8.95.
Boots Advantage Card- 4 points per €1 spent instore or online, plus an abundance of opportunities to earn extra points with regular vouchers both mailed out and printed out with your receipt instore. It's really easy to watch these points build up- I tend to save them for a few months and then splurge on a high end item (this is how my Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel came into my life.)
The Body Shop- Love Your Body- Ok so technically you have to pay to get the card, but it's just a nominal amount, and the benefits far outweigh any outlay. First off, you get a 10% discount on presentation of your card at the till. You get a stamp instore if you spend €15+, and once you have collected four stamps, you get a free gift up to €10, and once you collect all 8 stamps, you get a free gift worth €15. AND if that's not kind enough of The Body Shop, you also get a free birthday gift to the value of €10 if you call into The Body Shop the month of your birthday! If you visit The Body Shop regularly, this is a great reward of your loyalty. 

These are the main ones that sprung to mind today, but other beauty related ones include the Debenhams and Brown Thomas reward cards. 

If there are any incentives that you think are worthy of a mention, please drop a comment and let us know. Sharing is caring after all! 

Thanks for reading x

Sunday, 11 August 2013

NEW! Bourjois Shine Edition Lipstick in 20 '1,2,3 Soleil' and 24 'Rose xoxo'

So if you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I enjoy a nice sheer lip tint from time to time. I talked about it when I reviewed my L'Oreal Paris Rouge Caresse lipsticks or my Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains- there is something about  nice, glossy sheer lip that makes me so incredibly happen. I also love an opaque lip but sometimes they are a little too high maintenance for my liking. 

When I heard Bourjois were bringing out six new Shine Edition Lipsticks, I was all over it, and I trotted off to Boots to get my mitts on some. I picked out the colours 1, 2, 3, Soleil and Rose xoxo. I know I will probably eventually succumb and pick up the other ones, lord knows I swatched them all and deliberated for long enough, but I am delighted with my selection and I know I will get so much use out of these. 

1, 2, 3 Soleil is a beautiful red coral shade and it just screams summer to me. I feel like this looks more red in the stick than it does on the lips, and I love the coral shade that it turns to on my lips because it's not too orange for my cool toned complexion. 

Rose xoxo is a lovely, fresh rosebud pink colour, the kind of pink that reminds me of baby lips. I have been wearing this pretty much every day since I got it. and I cannot convey how much I love it. I love this with smokey eyes, neutral eyes, even on it's on. This colour is a warrior, there is literally nothing it cannot do. I love it because it's a MLBB colour but it has an ever-so-slight silver shimmer which makes it just a little more special than your boring pink lippie.

General points about the two- I have noticed that over the course of wearing these, they first apply quite glossy, and over the space of a couple of hours, the gloss tends to wear off if not reapplied but they still leave a nice stain, which is very handy if you are too busy to be checking the state of your lippie over the course of the day. They have a slight scent but it is not offensive, and I do not notice anything on my lips when I put this on. These cost €10.99 each and I think they are well worth it, and with six shades available, there is bound to be one that suits you!

I think that these are gorge and I am delirah that Bourjois are upping their game and joining the likes of Revlon and L'Oreal in churning out quality goods at a remarkably fast pace. If drugstore brands keep upping the ante like this, I will not be able to justify forking out on high end lippies, don't you think?

Thanks for reading x


Embracing your inner creative- DIY Nail Varnish Storage Idea

I have been searching for a way to not only safely store my nail polishes but to display them in all their glory for the longest time ever. I always pictured that my nail varnish storage would be like a little colourful art display to be admired. I googled, watched Youtube videos, considered nailing spice racks to my walls, I had almost lost hope. Last February, I picked up a baby bookcase from Argos (like this one) for €17.99, and I stored my nail polishes on this for a while, and it seemed to serve a purpose, but it was not really what I had envisioned, and I vowed that even if I had to construct it myself, I would. A few weeks ago, I blogged about my novel lipstick storage idea (if you have forgotten, look here), and I was so thrilled with that, I decided that I would finally put my nail polish storage dreams into fruition.

So construct it myself is what I did, and this is what I came up with. Nestled in nicely between my Ikea Helmer and my Alex is my little modest nail varnish display, with every single member of my nail polish army on display.

Basically, my idea was to create a tiered system so that I could display all of my nail polishes in single file, making it easier to select a colour and rotate my polishes around so I get a chance to use different polishes over the course of time, instead of relying on 10% of my collection because they are the only ones I can see easily. It was quite a simple solution and it was easy enough to put together. If you would like to create something similar, this is what you will need:

1 large sheet of plywood- I got this one in B&Q for about €7 and I only used half. I also bought some quadrants from B&Q (they are v shaped pieces of wood that come in different sizes that i placed on the junctions of all the wood to make the structure more sturdy.

No More Nails- try to get this one with the pump- it is perfect for applying the glue to the wood and will save you having to purchase a glue gun and glue cartridges. 

A measuring tape and 12 inch ruler for getting your measurements in order. 

A hacksaw, Stanley knife, and the use of a jigsaw, or alternatively ask your significant others or male friends or lady friends who are gifted in the operation of tools to do the wood cutting for you. 

Nails to reinforce the structure (those nail varnish bottles can be heavy and you don't want your wood to warp!)

Paint and brushes- because my baby bookcase was white, and all of my makeup storage furniture is white, I bought a white gloss paint. You can use whatever colour you wish.

It's really not that much all in all. You want to measure the width of the bookcase- luckily for me, the baby bookcase from Argos was 61 cm in width, as was the precut wood that I purchased from B&Q, so that saved me one batch of cutting. You need need to measure the height and depth in between the shelves so you know what dimensions you have to work with and can decide from there how you will organise your tiers. I used a simple divide by 3 rule- and decided that I would go for a three tiered structure which meant I need two 5x61cm and two 7x61cm per shelf. I made my measurements on the wood and cut 6 of the 5cm pieces and 6 of the 7cm pieces. I asked my friend to cut the wood for me using a jigsaw so there was a nice clean finish, and then cut some chunk of the quadrant and put them behind the tiers to make them stronger. Then I glued then together using the marvellous No More Nails. I let to dry out completely for about 24 hours, and then I applied the first coat of paint the following day, followed by one more the day after. When they were ready to be used, I cut 14cm legs for the back tier to support from leftover pieces of wood, and I put one on each case of each shelf of the bookcase.

Then all I had to do was arrange my nail polishes! I chose to arrange them by colour family instead of by brand family, I thought they looked better that way.


Purples, Blues, Greens

So there you have it. It took me a while but IMO it was completely worth it, and I now have the nail varnish storage/display that I always dreamed about. If this post inspires one more person to undertake the same task, I would be delighted.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

MAC Lipsticks- My Collection to date w/ Review and Swatches (pic heavy)

I have been asked the same questions a million times already- what are my favourite MAC lipsticks, which MAC lipsticks do I have, what MAC lipsticks do you recommend for me and what formula do you prefer? I thought it was time to finally give a little exposé on my collection, what I have picked, and my experience of different formulas and finishes. I will attempt to answer the above questions so this post is going to be a long  one but I hope you will find that it is a helpful one.

Firstly, whilst most people probably pick lipstick shades because they are attracted to a colour, I find myself selecting MAC lipsticks because of their formula. I definitely have formula preferences. The finish, texture, lasting power and colour opacity of MAC lipsticks can vary quite considerably between different formulas.

Amplified/Amplified Creme- one of my favourite MAC formulas. The Amplified line comprises of mostly bright, popping colours (as the name would suggest) and some of the colours are particularly vivid (think Impassioned). These have the pigmentation of a matte lipstick and dry to a semi- matte finish, and are completely opaque on their first swipe. They are quite creamy and hydrating, last me about 3/4 hours without reapplying. More importantly, they do not parch your lips like some other MAC lipsticks do.

Cremesheen- My other favourite MAC formula. These lipsticks are super soft and creamy (danger- warm sunny days will cause said lipsticks to melt!) and have a finish on the lips somewhat reminiscent of a really creamy gloss. These are not as pigmented as the Amplified lipsticks and I also find that they only last about two hours before they need to be touched up. However, these are definitely amongst the most comfortable lipsticks to wear because they feel quite moisturising on the lips and do not slip into little tiny cracks on your lips.

Matte- as it says on the tin, you can be guaranteed that the Matte lipsticks are matte- they are flat matte, completely opaque with amazingly high pigmentation, lasting power and coverage. You will pay for the pigmentation with these however because they are so unbelievably drying- both whilst on the lips and afterwards- so you need to have a very trusty lip balm on hand if you are thinking about delving into MAC mattes. These last about 4-5 hours on me without reapplying and even then, they tend to fade out rather than disappear off the lips. Alot of the matte shades are varying shades of red also (Russian Red, Ruby Woo).

Frost- probably my least favourite out of the bunch- these can appear metallic/shimmery/iridescent on the lips which I am not particularly fond of. These can also be quite drying, I find them a little uncomfortable over extended periods of time. I also think the pigmentation can be quite hit or miss also- some are crazy frosty, some just have a shimmery sheen.

Satin- like the Matte shades, these can be a bit drying on the lips also. These kind of have a matte finish with a slight hint of shine/shimmer- but only very slightly. I do like these and I have quite a few Satin colours in my collection but I have to make sure my lips are well moisturised in advance because again, these can be quite unforgiving on drier lips. The pigmentation of these is good, and they last me about 3/4 hours without reapplying. They are a little bit creamier than the Matte line but nowhere in the league of the Cremesheen colours.

Glaze- these are not very pigmented, and probably the most sheer of all MAC lipsticks. They are also not that long lasting- I would get about two hours maximum wear out of this. These are more natural looking than most of the other formulas- they look more like a lip gloss than a lipstick on the lips in my opinion. I only have one Glaze lipstick in my collection and I can't see myself rushing out to purchase another in the near future.

Lustre- these are quite similar to the Glaze formula, in that they are very sheer, and only last about two hours before they need to be reapplied. They are very comfortable to wear on the lips, and are slightly more buildable than the Glaze lipsticks IMO.

I do not have any of the non standard lipsticks (e.g. Pro Longwear) so I cannot truthfully comment on them. I just think it is worth bearing in mind if you're perusing the MAC Lipstick collection in your nearest store.

Now, onto the colours that I have selected for my collection (which is by no means finished FYI!). All of them bar one are Limited Edition so you can still get your hands on them relatively easily I am sure (I don't know about you guys but I have oft fallen for a shade online following a swatch only to realise said shade was limited edition and it is unlikely I would get my hands on it!)

(L-R: Russian Red, MAC Red, Ramblas Red, Ronnie Red (LE), Viva Glam IV)

Russian Red- Matte. Probably one of my favourite reds. Intense blue red, this is absolutely a statement lip. Classic red- love it, but very rarely get to use it!
MAC Red- Satin. Bright true red, cool and blue based. Sometimes leans a little pink. I don't think this gets as much hype as Russian Red or Ruby Woo but it is definitely sufficiently different on the lips to justify having both.
Ramblas Red- Amplified. I love this red for many reasons, not least because the Amplified formula doesn't parch my lips, but because it is a beautiful cool red berry pink, a blue-ish red with deeper undertones than Russian Red but is not too overpowering at the same time. Definitely looks darker in the tube than on the lips.
Ronnie Red- Matte. Bright pink red with blue undertones and a matte finish. This is so longwearing, perfect for nights out. I think this lasted about 5 hours straight on one occasion, and just faded slightly but still left my lips stained. Con- stains your lips like nobodys business. 
Viva Glam IV- Frost. Mid tone rosy red with a gold pearl. I usually hate frosty colours, nevermind frosty reds on my lips, but I saw this and loved it and just had to have it. Already I am imagining this being my Christmas red lip!

(L-R: Blankety, Cherish, Hue, Angel, Creme Cup)

Blankety- Amplified Creme. Soft pink beige, for me it is a perfect nude for a paleskinned lassie like me because it has the requisite amount of pink. LOVE.
Cherish- Satin. Soft muted peachy beige. Another nude that I love, but the Satin formula can be quite drying.
Hue- Glaze. Soft pale pink/peach colour. So sheer that it looks quite natural on the lips, almost like a pale lipgloss. One of my first MAC lipsticks so has sentimental value. It is probably one of the most popular MAC lipsticks.
Angel- Frost. Pale blue based pink, very soft in the pan but quite pale on the lips. I love the colour, but not so mad about the finish on my lips. For whatever reason, this just doesn't get on with my lips. I even bought Nars Turkish Delight to encourage myself to use it and whilst I love the lip gloss, I can't get excited about Angel. I probably wouldn't repurchase.
Creme Cup- Cremesheen. Light blue pink, amazing formula, one of my favourites. I'm on my second tube of this- absolutely love this colour. It's perfect for work, comfortable on the lips, and a really fantastic, natural dewy pink. 

(L-R: Viva Glam Nicki II, Impassioned, Chatterbox, Girl About Town, Rebel)

Viva Glam Nicki II- Amplified. Now this was a big mistake- I let my love for all things Nicki Minaj impact my judgment on this one, and I knew from the minute I brought this home that I would probably never ever wear it. I tried it on once, and I looked ridiculous and dead. Still though, it's so pretty in the tube! Considering I believed Nicki's first incarnation to be too daring for me (it was an uber bright coral), this pastel lavender pink is too much for me to carry off. I can't hold it against the colour, I should have known better! I am the female wheezy.
Impassioned- Amplified. This is a crazy vibrant fuchsia- an orange/pink/coral hybrid. It's very bright and very in your face but I love it and I don't have anything else like it. Hard to describe how vibrant this colour actually is until you see it in person. 
Chatterbox- Amplified. Bright blue based red pink. I love wearing this- it is my exact favourite shade of pink and it comes in lipstick format. I have had this for ages and I love it. This is actually my second one because I lost my first one and I couldn't bear to not have it in my life.
Girl About Town- Amplified. Bright blue based fuchsia. I love blue based fuchsias and this is amongst my favourites- makes your teeth look uber white and your smile look uber broad. It's such a fun, vibrant, girly colour.
Rebel- Satin. Mid tone cream plum. This was such a wild card for me, I definitely do not own anything else every remotely plummy. I just saw so many swatches of this online on pale girls and it looked so striking so I am looking forward to embracing this during the winter months especially when I bust out the black and grey wardrobe again.

(L-R: Please Me, See Sheer, Speed Dial, Snob, Craving)

Please Me- Matte. Muted dusty rosy pink. This is a great colour, especially for work, but I find that the formula is extremely drying on this one especially. My lips need a good conditioning both before and after using this.
See Sheer- Lustre. One of my most recent acquisitions to my MAC Lipstick family. I just really wanted a not too opaque coral to get my through the summer months, and when I swatched See Sheer on my hand, I just loved it and could see myself wearing it. It is quite comfortable to wear, not the longest staying power in the world, but I don't really have anything else like it. A really love orange-coral sheer but buildable colour.
Speed Dial- Cremesheen. Light blue pink. I love this again because of the Cremesheen formula, it is very comfortable on the lips. I think this is kind of a MLBB colour and is so versatile.
Snob- Satin. The MAC website says that this is a light neutral pink. This is another MLBB colour, and I find it very flattering on my paler skin.
Craving- Amplified. Mid tone plummy pink. Again this is one of my newer ones but I think this will be my winter pink this winter. It's a really beautiful, sophisticated pink, and the Amplified formula does the colour the ultimate justice.

So there you have it. I hope you have found this little insight to be somewhat helpful, I know when I started picking out lipsticks to suit my colouring and what I envisioned using them for, I felt a bit lost because of the sheer volume of colours, finishes, etc. I know that we all have different tastes, and that you might not select the colours that I did, but I would love to know what your favourite MAC lippie is!

Thanks for reading

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