Friday, 17 April 2015

Gerard Cosmetics Lipsticks- Buttercup, 1995, Rodeo Drive and Fire Engine Red - Review and Swatches

It seems like every second US beauty youtuber raves about Gerard Cosmetics (and plenty more non-US beauty youtubers too) and I finally bit the bullet (see what I did there?) and ordered some lipsticks from the Gerard Cosmetics site during one of their recent promotions. I am aware that Gerard Cosmetics pay some bloggers and Youtubers to heavily promote their products so I didn't really know what to expect, but needless to say, I bought these with my own money, and like every other post on this little blog of mine, I will give you my honest opinion.

Gerard Cosmetics (formerly known as Whitening Lightening) is an online cosmetics store, particularly renowned for enticing Youtube beauty heavyweights like Jaclyn Hill to collaborate with their brand to release new lipsticks and lip glosses. They sell other products also- liquid illuminators, brow kits, etc. but are definitely most notorious for their lip offerings. As far as I can tell, they have quite a limited selection and don't carry different finishes (i.e. matte, satin, sheer etc.). These lipsticks retail for $19 a piece. The packaging of all the lipsticks is the same. None of the lipsticks particularly taste of anything and none of the lipsticks have a distinctive smell. I picked up four shades to try out- there are 13 shades available in the range altogether.
I didn't realise at the time but I actually ended up picking up 2 of the Jaclyn Hill collection shades in my order- the first is Buttercup, a pale pink nude colour. In terms of pigmentation, this lipstick was the poorest and it took a couple of swipes of this to build up colour and even then it applied patchily. It was a pity, because the colour really appealed in the bullet. This colour is hard work and is not very creamy on the lips. Beautiful colour but too much like hard work.
This is also another pick from the Jaclyn Hill collection and- as you can guess from the name, this is a 90s nude. I really like this shade as it is not too brown to look like melted chocolate on your lips but has a distinct, wearable 90s feel to it. I like this more than I thought I would and the formula, though waxy, sits nicely on the lips and lasts for quite a decent amount of time.  

Rodeo Drive
 This is my favourite out of the bunch and one of the newest shades available on the Gerard Cosmetics website- a beautiful, cool mauvey pink. You know how I am with my mauvey pinks, I cannot resist, I am weak! This colour didn't disappoint. Again, not as creamy as a MAC lippies but this one had decent staying power and didn't leave my lips in shreds.
Fire Engine Red
Again, have to admit I was not that struck on the formula of this lipstick, even though the shade itself is a beaut. If blue toned reds are your thing, this will appeal to you greatly, however, if long wearing reds are your thing, this isn't the longest wearing and faded off my lips in patches within hours of applying. 

The lipsticks have been compared to MAC lipsticks but I don't agree with this- the bullets are the same shape but that's where it ends- particularly in terms of texture. Where a MAC lipstick is creamy, these Gerard Cosmetics lipsticks are a little on the waxy, plastic side. Bottom line- they are not awful, but they certainly are not great. I don't think they deserve all the hype they get on Youtube, they just weren't that wow to me, but that's my experience. I won't pick up any more of these personally as I just have much better lipsticks in my collection that cost alot less than these did. If you are so inclined to try out Gerard Cosmetics for yourself, head on over to their website, They ALWAYS have some deal going- either combo deals or discount codes affiliated with their Youtuber collab partners and most of these will give you free shipping too. For any of you living in Ireland- I didn't have to pay any customs duties or charges on these.

Have you heard of Gerard Cosmetics? Do any of these lippies catch your eye? 


Monday, 6 April 2015

Makeup Gallery (Dealz / Poundland) - CHEAP in every sense of the word

I can't deny that, as my love for makeup and cosmetics developed over the years, the more expensive my tastes have gotten, and now, I find myself more enticed by higher end spends. That's not to say that I don't love a high street find. I've heard rumblings of the new Makeup Gallery range in Dealz (or Poundland to those of you based in the UK) and I picked up a few bits last week to try out. Every single makeup item in the range- from nail polishes to lipsticks to bronzers, will set you back €1.49 in the Republic of Ireland or £1 in the UK. Because of the price point, I would compare these to the MUA £1 makeup range. I picked up 10 items to complete a full face of makeup for review purposes, and tested these over the course of a day to scrutinise the wear time of each of the items. In all honesty, some of these were abysmal, and some were not so bad, but I have to say, out of the items I picked up, not one really wowed me at all. 

I'll go through them one by one in order of application:

The Makeup Gallery Long Lasting Foundation was probably amongst the most disappointing of the products that I tried, I picked up the lightest shade, which was fine shade wise on the back of my hand, but by the time I had finished applying this on my face, there was no colour left and instead just a greasy thin layer on my face. It didn't smell too strong or funny like some other cheaper foundations do, but this just did not perform well at all. It has absolutely zero coverage, and whereas I am the kinda gal that likes to apply my foundation to even out my base and conceal any redness, this foundation failed on both counts. I know it was only €1.49 but this was a miss for me. 

Next up, I tried the Makeup Gallery Smoothly Does It Pressed Powder, and I picked up the second lightest shade because the first lightest almost looked stark in comparison. This powder was ok, you get quite a decent amount for your pound or €1.49, it's quite talcy and powdery so the powder brush would need a firm tap to knock off the excess but it did a better job at providing some sort of coverage than the Long Lasting Foundation did. I wouldn't repurchase and I wouldn't be in any rush to either recommend or warn against this powder- it's just ok.

I also picked up the Makeup Gallery Good to Glow Bronze Shimmer with the intention of using this to warm up my face slightly. The shimmer is not too strong- none of the matte shades even remotely appealed to me, not even in the name of research for the blog- so I passed on those. I would probably prefer the MUA £1 bronzers over this one, it was fine, but have to say it didn't apply too smoothly and took a little bit more work to blend than I would have liked. Still enough, I was happy with the end result. 

One of the better Makeup Gallery products that I tried out was the Feeling Blush Blusher in Spice which is a lovely neutral shade. This applied well enough but didn't last that long on my skin unfortunately - I would say the colour had almost faded into oblivion about four hours after application- but the colour is really nice. I know I shouldn't expect more for £1/€1.49 but if I spend one euro or a million euro, I still expect to get the bang for buck. 

The best of the bunch in terms of what I tried were the Makeup Gallery Colour Story Eyeshadows in Vintage Rose and Deep Plum. I applied Vintage Rose all over the lid and Deep Plum in the crease and these both applied and blended nicely in fairness. They lasted longer on my lids without creasing than I thought they would- in fact, at the end of the day, these eyeshadows were practically the only thing left standing on my face. I also applied these without any primer because I wanted to test them as is and I have to say, these lasted well. I'm probably not going to go out and buy any more of these even though there was a decent colour selection available, but Deep Plum in particular was a gorgeous colour in the crease. 

I somehow forgot to take a close up shot of the Makeup Gallery Pro Liquid Eyeliner but I can summarise my thoughts of this pretty quickly and efficiently- this was awful in every sense of the word. From the watery, grey liquid to the gammiest of applicators, it felt wet and present on my eyelids when I put it on and it just kind of crumbled and faded away to nothingness in no time at all. Furthermore- and I'm not sure whether to attribute this to this eyeliner or the mascara but my lash line (as opposed to my eyelid) was red and itchy at the end of the day when I removed all the makeup from my eyes. Needless to say, not a fan, do not recommend, use at your own peril!

Another bitter disappointment was the Makeup Gallery Plump Up The Volume Mascara. The brush was fine but the actual formula of the mascara was so thin that it struggled to catch any of my lashes when I applied this and no matter how many coats I tried, I was not able to, despite the obvious, "plump up the volume". The formula was not very black, it didn't lengthen, volumise, curl my lashes. Just awful, I would have rather spent my €1.49 on an ice cream. 

The Makeup Gallery Shine On Intense Colour and Shine Lip Gloss was another disappointing find- I tried this on but it felt so sticky and so grainy on my lips that I couldn't bear to keep it on for any longer than was necessary. Honestly, if you applied this, smacked your lips together and then tried to open your mouth, this lip gloss would form little stringy icky lines. Plus it tasted absolutely disgusting.

Lastly, I picked up one of the Makeup Gallery All About the Pout lipsticks. This was fine, felt ok on the lips, tasted a bit manky though, and was alot smaller than the equivalent £1 lipsticks from the MUA line. 

Now I know I look very grumpy in this picture but bear in mind I am essentially hating everything that it is on my face, but this just gives you an idea of the end result. Overall, the Makeup Gallery line was a miss from me and I won't be visiting the stand again any time soon in all honestly. These products just felt cheap, looked cheap, and for the most part, acted cheap. And no, I don't mean inexpensive, I mean plain C-H-E-A-P. 

Have you tried out this makeup range yet? Did you find any gems? 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara - Review, Pics and a Benefit Dupe!

I love mascaras- who doesn't!- but it's hard to find that mascara that ticks all your boxes, and the trying sometimes takes a toll. There are a few brands that consistently do mascaras well, and Maybelline is right up there with them. So when I heard Maybelline were bringing out a new mascara, I was ALL over it, because generally Maybelline mascaras are pretty dang good (we won't talk about that dreadful Rocket mascara). The Lash Sensational is their latest lash innovation.

Now, with mascara, I look for two things. The first is a nice thick glossy black mascara formula that applies nicely, evenly, good and dark, and sets pretty quickly. The second essential is that mascara wand- enough to grab all your lashes to coat them with the said product and fan them out whilst delivering optimum volume or lengthening or curling powers. This mascara performs exceptionally well on both of these counts. Whilst I'm not sure that the mascara formula of Maybelline mascaras changes from one mascara to the next, that's ok, because the formula is always good. Why change a good thing?

This wand definitely is unique due to the curved shape, the fact that the comb has two different sets of teeth on either side to provide a lash multiplying effect. The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that this wand appears to be completely similar to the much hyped Benefit Roller Lash wand (check out this post for pics) - and as I have tried both- I also can confirm that they perform similarly but I prefer the Maybelline version. 

This wand has THE powers to catch every single one of your lashes, deposit enough product on them to make them look thicker and the teeth on the comb part do just enough to fan out your lashes and provide a lengthening, curling effect. You can apply as many coats as your heart desires- for normal day to day use, I get away with the two coats- and this mascara performs well over the course of wear. No flaking, no smudging, no transfer to the brow bone, and it holds my lashes upright and doesn't cause them to droop, fall or lose their curl completely. 

This mascara is also a doddle to remove at the end of the day (I typically use an oil or balm cleanser, warm water and a soft facecloth) and furthermore, this mascara caused no irritation whatsoever to my sensitive eyes. 

I love using this mascara and I even think this might be my favourite Maybelline offering yet. Have you a favourite Maybelline mascara? Have you tried or are inclined to try the Lash Sensational?

Saturday, 4 April 2015

NEW! Barry M Flawless Chisel Cheeks Contour Kit - Review

It seems like the whole world and his mama has gone stir crazy for contouring these days. Every second brand is bringing out a new contouring palette- Anastasia Beverly Hills, Laura Mercier, Too Faced, Kat von D, NYX Cosmetics- all the brands are jumping on the contouring gravy train. So I cannot really say that I was all that surprised when Barry M released their new Flawless Chisel Cheeks Contour Kit- it's not the only contour kit you can get in the drugstore, and I'd be willing to bet it's not the last incarnation either. This one comes in cardboard packaging and contains three pans of colour- as you can see in the pics below- and retails for €9.49. From what I could tell, there is only one version of this palette, so no matter what your skintone is, this will have to work for you. 

The packaging also contains little pictures and instructions on where to place each powder which I think was a nice touch, even though I personally would not choose to place these powders exactly as indicated. When it comes to contouring, you really have to do what suits your face shape- be it whether you want to cut out killer cheekbones or just add a little more subtle definition to your face. The palette itself contains one lighter shade which is quite yellow in tone and two darker powders- a  medium brown shade which is a warm reddish brown and a dark brown shade which is alot cooler in tone, definitely too dark to be a bronzer on my skin, and is more suitable for the contouring and, er, chiseling. 

The powders themselves are nice, if not a tad too powdery, but nothing that a decent tab of your contour brush before application can't fix. The powders are smooth, apply smoothly and blend nicely and softly without leaving any harsh lines or muddy patches. The light colour is a nice undereye setting powder because the yellow tone does well to banish the blueish purpleness of the bags under eyes, the bronzer is perfect along the hairline especially for warming the face and the cool, dark brown shade is perfect for casting those all important shadows when you are trying to achieve your take on Kim K's contouring method.

Overall, I do like this palette, especially for the price, and I think it performs the job that it promises to perfectly adequately. The powders are nice- just remember to tab that brush- and everything blends together very naturally and seamlessly. If you're in the market for a budget contouring kit, definitely bear this one in mind.

Have you caught the contouring bug in recent times too? What are your favourite contouring products?

Friday, 3 April 2015

Max Factor Creme Puff Blushes- Entire Collection, Review and Swatches

A few months back, when I first heard that Max Factor were bracing themselves to launch a new blush range as part of their standard offering, I do admit I fistpumped. Max Factor is one brand that has been consistently delivering the goods over the last few years, and a brand that is continuously getting younger, fresher and more and more on my radar as the years roll on. My earliest Max Factor memory is my Nana touching her face up with the Creme Puff powder on special occasions, every so often she would pop some on my nose, and I loved the smell of that powder and the fact that it made my Nana look so glamorous. I thought back then that I would use that powder too when I am a Nana. I digress- but with good reason- because these new Creme Puff blushes are so christened because they are a fusion of pigment and Creme Puff powders to create buildable, wearable blushes. This is probably sounding a little familiar to you now right, and you are probably thinking of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting blushes- well, you're on the right track!

So, 60 years after Mr. Max Factor brought his Creme Puff powder to the people, the people are being treated to a new innovation in blush. The new Max Factor blushes are lightweight, baked powders containing finely milled, multi-tonal pigments that promise to blend evenly, enhance individual skin tones and leave a truly natural, polished skin finish. Switswoo. I certainly can testify to the fact that these blushes leave a lovely warm glow and radiance, are perfectly buildable to your own tests and pass the test of time but staying in place and on form for hours on end. For a mere €11.49 each which is less than a third of the price of the Ambient Lighting Blushes from Hourglass, these blushes perform remarkably well, and since I got these a few months back, I've honestly worn little else. These add so much life and not just colour to the face, they are fresh and illuminating and absolutely guilt free to use. 

I have all six shades in the range and I love every single one of them, particularly the two mauve shades (Nude Mauve and Lavish Mauve) which are gorgeous blush/highlighter hybrids. To give you an idea of the different colours in the range, I have a line up and individual shots of me wearing each of the blushes. I hope these give you a decent idea of how these blushes perform in the pigment stakes! 

L-R: Lavish Mauve, Nude Mauve, Lovely Pink, Seductive Pink, Alluring Rose, Gorgeous Berries

The great thing about these blushes is that because of the multi-toned, multi-dimensional finish to them, I feel like I can get away without separately contouring and highlighting the rest of my face, which is really quite unusual, and something I very much appreciate. If I had to describe these in one word- I would say fresh- from the concept to the finish, these are new, innovative and exciting finds in the drugstore, and definitely my favourite high street blushes of the minute. I can't really pick a favourite because I love all of them in different way, and the only criticism I have is that there is no coral shade in the bunch, which I think would be very much appreciated- then again, that's not really a criticism of the product is it! 

I have to be honest and tell you you 100000% need to have at least one of these in your spring/summer makeup bags- they are just exquisite! Have you experienced these blushes yet or are they on your radar? Which one of the lineup stands out to you the most?

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Make Up For Ever Haul (and rant!)

Make Up For Ever is a brand that I'm honestly not crackers about- I've tried many of their products over the years but nothing really impressed me that much and, much and all as I can so very easily justify my high end spends, I cannot justify the prices of MUFE products across the board. I would much rather splash the cash in the likes of the Beauty Hall in Brown Thomas or Space NK than in the Make Up For Ever store. What does make MUFE more enticing though is the 50% off vouchers that GrabOne sell every couple of weeks. I've wanted to try a few bits so I picked up a couple of vouchers in earnest and headed into Clarendon Street to pick up some bits and bobs. Of course, NOTHING I wanted was in stock- which is honestly the story of my life when dealing with that place, and it made me realise why I have avoided picking up these vouchers for years. I literally have this problem every single time I have gone into the store, which must be at least a dozen times over the last 2 years. Zero foundations and a dismal collection of odds and ends of other products. Now even though the MUFE staff were very nice and very apologetic for the quite frankly embarrassing lack of stock in store, and of course they did the usual of taking my name and phone number and promised to call me when the stock came in (more about that later). I asked them why there never seems to be any stock in the store. The long and short of it is that the Dublin store handles the orders and supply for MUAs in both Ireland and the UK and they get preference when the stock arrives from France- so basically, whatever is left over after the MUAs have their pick is put into the store on Clarendon Street for the general public like you and I! Which is fine, it's their prerogative, but it's so annoying that they never have HD Foundation or Liquid Lift Foundation in my shade! Also, they do offer to take your name and number and call you when the stock comes in (and they can organise postage) - however. since I called in and left my details both 6 weeks ago and 4 weeks ago, I have not yet heard back - apart from a call that I could bring in my Liquid Lift foundation bottle to be refilled if I wanted (which, incidentally, I didn't, and never asked for!). So the moral of the story is, whilst these GrabOne vouchers do seem like a very enticing deal, they will be moolah wasted if you get to the store and there is no stock there to pick from. You have been warned, do with it what you will! 

Anyways- rant aside, I will show the bits that I did manage to pick up over the last few weeks:

Mat Bronze in '20 Honey'- I've not tried any MUFE bronzers before and this was the only shade out of the four that appealed to me. I plan to use this to warm up my face a bit more over the summer months. RRP €35.

I also picked up a Sculpting Blush in '12 Matte Rosewood' because I was intrigued by the cool, plummy shade- I definitely think a light hand will be the way to go with this but I am pretty happy that I have nothing else quite like this in my collection. RRP €28.

Now this was in the eyeshadow section- I'm sure of it- and it was only €10 because MUFE were selling off all of their eyeshadows before the new formula ones arrive- but the box states that this is a blush, and so does the label on the other side. I thought this would be interesting for the crease- it's not so much a burgundy as it is a deep reddy brown- I think it will be quite flattering on my blue eyes. This is no. 161,- blush, eyeshadow, whatever it is, it feels nicely pigmented and I look forward to using it.

The Full Cover Concealer has been on my wishlist for a long time, and I'm looking forward to seeing how this compares to my beloved MAC Pro Longwear Concealer. I picked this up in the shade '4 Flesh' and RRP is €28.

I have never tried the MUFE Smoky Lash Mascara before but bearing in mind that it is one of their best sellers and most raved about product, I thought the time was nigh, and I picked up the normal black and waterproof versions to test out over the coming weeks. RRP €23 each.

Lastly, but not leastly, I picked up the Aqua Cream in shade '2 Steel'. I like the dark grey base with little silver, purple and green flecks through it. I'm hoping this will be a nice base under a grey smokey eye and will aim to use this quicker than my last few Aqua Creams which spoiled within weeks of my first using them. RRP €22.50.

So that's my little MUFE haul and warning about that GrabOne vouchers that look too good to be true! Have any of you availed of these vouchers recently and been disappointed when you got into the store? Have you ever experience poor stock issues with the MUFE store below? And lastly- do you have any must-have MUFE products that you think we need in our lives? Let me know in the comments below! 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Nip + Fab Skin Dragon's Blood Fix - Serum, Pads and Mask - Review

Nip + Fab is a skincare brand that had been on my radar for a while but one that I only got around to trying out for myself last December when I stocked up in Belfast on a Christmas shopping trip. This Dragon's Blood Fix range promised to help me achieve plumper, smoother and more youthful looking skin and is celebrated as being inspired by the Rodial Dragon's Blood range. Once you get over the fact that "Dragon's Blood" actually sounds rank, you can satisfy yourself that no dragons were harmed in the making of this product- with the product deriving from the red resin of the "dragon" tree (or Croton Lechleri tree) which has antiseptic and medicinal properties. Now, I am willing to try just about anything to tackle my beleaguered dry skin and I picked up all three products in the range to try out. My biggest skin concerns at the moment are hydration and minimising the appearance of fine lines and this range sounded like it was made for me. I'll go through each of the three products individually:

Nip + Fab Skin Dragon's Blood Fix Plumping Serum

This is described on the Nip + Fab website as a "lightweight serum that delivers an instant shot of moisture to dehydrated skin". This serum contains hyaluronic acid (for hydration), velvet flower (moisture and illumination), gransil EP-9 (absorb excess oil and smoothes) and, of course, the star of the show, Dragon's blood (forms a protective film on the skin to protect against environmental aggressors)- all of which combine to leave skin feeling comforted and looking plumper, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Nip + Fab may have gained more notoriety in recent weeks after signing the new Princess of Cool (Kylie Jenner obvs

I have tried lots of different serums over the last few months- but this one is right up there at the top with the best of them. I can't say it fills out all my fine lines and makes me look 10 years younger, but it does feel nourishing, leaves my skin feeling softer and more hydrated and improves the texture of my skin which I have noticed in how foundation sits on my skin now. It feels quite lightweight, sinks into the skin relatively quickly and doesn't really feel present when I'm wearing it, and I like to use this as a night time treatment. I particularly like the effect that this has had on my forehead which used to be the most dry area of my face. This serum will set you back €19.95 for 50ml of product. 

Nip + Fab Skin Dragon's Blood Fix Cleansing Pads

One of the cult Nip + Fab products is the Glycolic Fix Cleansing Pads (which I will report back on another day) and these pads here are the equivalent from the Dragon's Blood Fix line. These pads are enriched with Dragon's blood (protection against environmental aggressors), salicylic acid (cleanses and aids exfoliation), hyaluronic acid (hydration and refine skin texture) and witch hazel (reduce redness and tighten pores)- when powers are combined, these pads promise to refresh and smooth your skin.

I use these every other day- take a pad and sweep it across my entire face before applying the Dragon's Blood Fix Serum- and these are not offensive at all- not even the scent (which is quite strong in comparison to other similar pads I have used from First Aid Beauty etc. - I quite like the clean, medicinal smell of these pads in all honesty!) These feel quite damp and leave a little residue on the skin which sinks away quite quickly without feeling greasy or oily. One side of the pad is textured and the other is flat and I generally use both sides of the pad just to make sure I extract as much Dragon's blood goodness as I can from each pad. I find these are particularly good for tackling blemishes and I notice than when I use these, the appearance any little red bumps or blemishes I have along my chin diminish. You get 60 pads in the pot for €12.95.

Nip + Fab Skin Dragon's Blood Fix Plumping Mask

Nip + Fab promise that this mask is an "intensely hydrating gel mask combining multiple skin perfecting complexes to plump the look of wrinkles and refine the skin's appearance for a brighter, more youthful looking complexion". This mask contains Dragon's blood (you know the drill by now, protection against environmental aggressors), salicylic acid (cleansing and exfoliating), hyaluronic acid (hydration and refining skin texture), glycerin (draw water to outer layer of the skin to keep it moisturised and restore skin suppleness) and TEGO Cosmo C 250 (brighten skin and fade age spots).

I love a decent face mask and this face mask is definitely a departure from the usual creamy or clay face masks that I try. This is a gel like texture which actually feels quite soothing and fresh on the skin. I've used this two ways, throwing on a good thick layer and rinsing after about 15 mins, or applying a less thick layer and leaving it on overnight before rinsing this morning when my skin is in need of a rescue remedy. Even though the mask is very gel like and feels very wet on the skin, it skins away almost completely, so by the time you get around to rinsing it off, be it 15 minutes or 8 hours later, it has done its job. I do feel like my skin looks more radiant when I use this- and unlike some other masks I have, the results were pretty much visible from the first use. 

Overall, I am very impressed with the Nip + Fab Dragon's Blood Fix range, particularly for the little price, and I have no qualms in recommending it. If you are interested in purchasing it yourself, check out the Nip + Fab EU website, Cloud 10 Beauty, Superdrug, some larger Boots stores or Boots website

If you've tried any Nip + Fab products or have any suggestions, I would love to hear from you. If you're interested in reviews of the Deep Cleansing Fix or the Glycolic Fix range, stay tuned and they will be coming up in the next few weeks! 
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