Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Revlon Ultra HD Lipstick in Rose and Orchid - Review and Swatches

I've been hearing about these Revlon Ultra HD Lipsticks for months now as they have been available Stateside for quite a long time already, and despite the fact that I thought Revlon's previous lip launch, the Colorstay Moisture Stains, was absolute rubbish. I am the forgiving kind so I picked up two of the new line to put through the usual paces and today I am reporting back. Along with BB, I feel like HD is the next completely over-rated buzz acronym amongst the beauty world. These lipsticks promise to deliver revolutionary, high definition colour in a special gel formula to provide maximum colour payoff without the heavy feel. That's quite the promise for one little lipstick, eh? There were about a dozen shades available at the display I was at but I believe there are 20 in the line altogether, from a nude to a plum, many pinks and reds and even a few corals in the midst. I picked the shades 830 Rose and 810 HD Orchid. All shades names are named after various flowers. 
The packaging of these is not a thing of beauty IMO. The clear plastic packaging is simplistic, but I preferred the colour coded lids of the Revlon lip butters. The actual tubes feel sturdy enough but the product does not roll all the way down into the tube and, as you can see from the picture above, their little heads pop out and, knowing my clumsiness, are just waiting to be clipped and damaged whilst putting the lid back on. Sorry Revlon, I just think this is sloppy.
 You can see when the lipsticks are fully wound up that they do not contain as much product as you may think from the size of the packaging. These lipsticks have a very balmy texture, they feel really moisturising on the lips but I don't find them to be very moisturising but I do have VERY dry lips. I am probably nitpicking now- as these did not emphasise any lip dryness- they just didn't leave my lips as soft and moisturised as I thought they would. The texture is quite unique, and it does feel very comfortable and lightweight on the lips. There is a very strong sweet scent off these which I find a little nauseating when I first apply but it fades to nothing over time. 
Now, along with the unique formula of these, the absolute no.1 attraction to these lipsticks is the amazing pigmentation. One swipe delivers perfect colour payoff, and because you only have to apply one coat, I find this lasts well on the lips, but really needs to be topped up every 2 hours or so. They are smoothy and cooling on the lips and neither of the shades that I have contain any shimmer or glitter particles to take away from the balminess and smoothness.They apply like a really opaque balm- and they are so light on the lips that you can almost forget you are even wearing them, apart from that sickly sweet smell at the beginning. I didn't find any of the two shades I have to stain my lips in any way. HD Rose is a beautiful rosebud pink, which is almost like a MLBB shade on me, and HD Orchid is a (wearable) vivid blue pink.
I have to say, I quite like these despite the fact I don't like the packaging or the scent, just because they are quite comfortable to wear and they are so sheeny and balmy looking that I feel like they make my lips look plump and juicy all by themselves. I would definitely consider picking up another few shades. 

Are these on your radar or do you think you will give them a miss?

Monday, 18 May 2015

Blonde Ambition- a trip to the Style Club @ The Square

The real struggle that I have had since coming to Dublin is finding a hairdresser that understands me, my hair, what I want and what I need. I was spoiled for over four years when I was in university in Limerick by my regular hairdresser who just understood my vibe, and I haven't really gotten that same experience since. I have had lovely hairdressers since I came up to Dublin- but three hairdressers in a row either left the salon I visited or left the country(!) and I always felt like I was starting back at square one again. I've been searching and searching for one person to just get on my wavelength, to understand the results I am trying to achieve and what would work best with my hair type, and I think I found that person today.

Now, here's the thing. I'm very fussy with my hair. I spend a considerable sum of money on treatments and hair products and the like, it's my thing. I'm not into fashion or clothes but I love to have my face and my hair in good order. If I am just getting a blowdry, I'll go to any salon, but when I am getting my colour tended to, I like salons that use L'Oreal and Kerastase products, I always feel like my hair looks better after these, so I do prefer to go to salons that stock these products as I just prefer them to Redken, Wella, Joico etc. 

I don't have an aversion to Peter Mark just because it is a chain but I have to say, Peter Mark's sly price increases (actually advertised as price reductions yet the cost of a full head of highlights hiked up by about €30 in the space of a few months), coupled with the fact that on my last visit no less than FIVE different people (four of whom were junior stylists despite me specifically requesting a senior stylist when I made my appointment) handled my hair for one simple set of bog standard meche highlights. It just infuriates me too much now to go to Peter Mark where I genuinely feel like nobody has any ownership over your hair and you are just treated like a commodity from start to finish. I vowed that that last trip was my last trip aboard the Peter Mark conveyer belt. 

The last time I was really 100% happy with my hair colour was when I went to the Style Club- which for those of you not in the know, is a branch of Peter Mark with younger, funner, fresher decor and mastery of colouring techniques. I have visited both the South William Street and the North Earl Street salons but I made my appointment last minute on Saturday and couldn't be bothered trekking into town so I booked in to the salon in The Square Shopping Centre, which very conveniently opens on a Sunday. I was so disappointed with my last colouring experience in a different salon that I didn't post a single picture or mention it on the blog but I really want to let y'all know of my wonderful experience in the hands of the wonderfully capable Leanne. 

To begin with, we had a very detailed consultation and I explained how unhappy I was with the brassiness of my last set of highlights despite the fact that I had made it clear that I didn't want golden tones. I hate golden tones in my hair, I think they look yellowy and cheap and I much prefer a cleaner blonde on myself. I used truckloads of purple shampoos to try to get the colour to lift but it did not budge. Leanne was really knowledgable, really listened and within minutes I felt like she knew exactly what I wanted, what would work for me and explained what she was going to do to lift my hair colour. I actually relaxed at this point because I just felt like I was in safe hands and Leanne had a vision which was the same as my vision. The whole way through the application of the easi-meche, we chatted about haircare, blogging, current trends, boho blowdrys (which I had never heard of)- you name it- and whilst the colour was developing, Leanne checked on it regularly to make sure it was lifting to her spec. I felt like she was invested in it from the beginning which was very reassuring and I was very grateful. Leanne then took me to the basin, rinsed the colour and applied the toner as we had discussed- again, she brought out the colour charts and discussed everything with me and I just felt like she got my vibe.When it came to the cut, I felt like Leanne listened carefully to me, discussed it with me, showed me how much she was taking off and encouraged me several times to run my fingers through my hair to see if I was happy with it. When it came to drying it, because of our earlier conversation about boho blowdries, she asked me if I would like to try one out, and I very gladly took her up on it. 

Overall, I was just chuffed with my hair- I had full head easi meche highlights applied, 3 blonde to 1 lowlight which was slightly lighter than my natural base colour, a cool toner after the colour had been rinsed and a decent chop all over to remove any dead ends. As you can see from the before and after shots, my colour lifted considerably which I was quite happy with, and the colour was consistent from the root to the tip, something that really irked me about my hair for the last six weeks was that I felt it looked patchy. This is how it turned out, and like I said, I am chuffed with it (and may now also be hooked on boho blowdries!)

I haven't been able to say this for the longest time but I am genuinely chuffed with how my hair turned out, and I will definitely be popping back to Leanne in the Style Club at the Square again. I honestly could not recommend her enough, I felt like she knew her stuff, she was on the ball, she was interested and not just going through the motions and saw me through from start to finish. If you are looking for a really excellent hairdresser, look no further, particularly when it comes to easi meche which I contend are the most difficult thing to get right in terms of technicality.

What do you think of my new 'do? I hope at the very least you think it's an improvement on the before shots (I can't even believe I released them on the interwebs!)


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Morphe Brushes - $2 Single Eyeshadow Pans - Collection #1

If you are a fan of Jaclyn Hill on Youtube, you will have heard of Morphe Brushes before. Morphe Brushes are a makeup and brush supply store based in California. I have watched loads of IMATS hauls over the last few months and the feedback surrounding this store and their eyeshadow pans in particular was enough to whet my appetite and have me place an order online for some shadows. These shadows are a measly $2 a piece which is really rather silly because the quality of these is really rather special. These have been compared to Makeup Geek eyeshadows (and you know I am a huge fan of Makeup Geek eyeshadows) but they are one third of the price. I chose 15 different eyeshadows pans for my first order (yes, there has been a second order since and there may well be a third order also!) as I wanted to get a feel for the different finishes of eyeshadow available from Morphe Brushes. 

So when I was placing my order on the Morphe Brushes website, I didn't really do much prep on the different eyeshadow finishes, I just picked a selection of colours and finishes and popped them into my basket. Each of the eyeshadows is numbered and has been given a name also, and on the website you are given a description of the colour and the finish. As I mentioned, each eyeshadow, unlike the Makeup Geek eyeshadows, are the same price irrespective of the finish- which means each individual eyeshadow is just $2. I didn't really have the highest expectation for these- after all, I wasn't very impressed with the Gerard Cosmetics lipsticks despite all the hype these have gotten on Youtube, so I was naturally a little skeptical. These took 2 weeks to arrive to me after I have placed the order. The shipping was quite reasonable- around the $12 dollar mark if my memory serves me correctly, and I was not hit with any customs fees on these. The eyeshadow pans are the exact same size as MAC and Makeup Geek eyeshadows and I popped them into a large Z palette. 

The shades that I picked out are:
Top Row L-R: New Moon, Mysterious, Sassy, Gravity, Midnight Kiss
Middle Row L-R: Radiance, Blackberry, Barbie Girl, Sapphire, I'm So Fancy
Bottom Row L-R: Bronzed Ivy, Glisten, Marbelized, Nuts For You, Golden Glory
And this is how they collectively swatch:
Top Row L-R: New Moon, Mysterious, Sassy, Gravity, Midnight Kiss
 L-R: Radiance, Blackberry, Barbie Girl, Sapphire, I'm So Fancy
L-R: Bronzed Ivy, Glisten, Marbelized, Nuts For You, Golden Glory
Pretty impressive on the pigmentation front, eh? In a nutshell, I've been playing with these for the last week and I don't think I could be any more impressed with these eyeshadows for the most part. I debated over how best to describe these eyeshadows and I decided I would break them out by finish so you could hear my thoughts on the various formulas. I adored some formulas more than others, so keep reading if you want my honest opinion.

The Shimmer formula was probably one of my favourites. The eyeshadows were insanely soft, buttery and pigmented, you can see the pay-off above with a single swipe. These are extremely high quality and are so pigmented and soft that they leave almost a metallic, creamy finish on the lids. I picked out New Moon (a shiny pewter), Golden Glory (a shiny gold-rust) and Midnight Kiss (a smoky, greyed out dark purple) and these are just phenomenal. There were plenty of Shimmers in my second Morphe order than I made- I don't really have any higher commendation than that. I found that these were extremely comparable to Makeup Geek eyeshadows. 

I also really rated the Pearl finish eyeshadows- these too were soft and pigmented, albeit a little less creamy than the Shimmer eyeshadow pans. The two Pearl eyeshadows that I picked out- Bronzed Ivy  (a gold with a touch of green) and Radiance (a purple with a touch of blue)- also happen to be slightly duochrome- so I would be interested to see if this applies across the board also. And, in terms of dupes, Bronzed Ivy reminds me alot of one of my favourite MAC eyeshadows in Woodwinked- I'm not saying they are identical but they are pretty damn similar and Bronzed Ivy is a great single wash of colour over the lid.

Well, you know all makeup brands, expensive or inexpensive, ride and fall on their matte eyeshadows as these can be so hit and miss globally. I'm very pleased with the formula and payoff of Morphe's matte eyeshadows. They are soft but not too talcy, pigmented but easy to blend and work with. The shades I picked out - Barbie Girl (a raspberry pink) and Nuts for You (cool mid brown) are equal in terms of blendability and colour payoff and I would definitely would (and have!) pick up more matte shades from Morphe. 

I was almost tempted not to pick up a Lustre as the only MAC eyeshadow finish that I despise are Lustres- so where the MAC equivalents are poorly pigmented and hard, the Morphe Brushes Lustres are soft, creamy and pack a colour a colour punch. Sassy is a gorgeous purple shade with a pink pearl running through (does this remind anyone else of MAC Stars and Rockets eyeshadow?!) and Glisten is pastel gold (is that EVEN a colour?) with some shimmer running through it. I definitely much, much prefer these to MAC Lustres so don't be fooled by the name if you are making an order.

Again, the Frost finish eyeshadows are absolute winners in my eyes also, I don't have a single complaint about these. I would say they are frosted without being too metallic but definitely deliver on the colour front. Sapphire is a vibrant royal blue, I'm So Fancy is a smoked silver and Marbelized is a mid tone warm gold brown. that reminds me somewhat of MAC Sable. These apply beautifully with first touch of a brush and they blend seamlessly on the lid and retain their colour over wear. I honestly still find it hard to believe that they only cost $2.

Veluxe Pearl
As far as I am aware, I believe there is only one Veluxe Pearl shadow available on the Morphe Brushes website, but my oh my isn't she lovely? I used to absoltely despise red tones on my lids but over the last few months, I've been particularly embracing the burgundies and reds and coppers and Mysterious is a gorgeous shiny orangey-red-copper colour that is just soft as a cream eyeshadow and applies beautifully to the lid. This really is a standout in my eyes in terms of a unique shade and a great formula so I really hope Morphe will be adding to their Veluxe Pearl collection in the near future.

I've left my least favourite formula until last, and even though it was my least favourite, the shadows were not awful, they just took little bit more work than the others to build up colour intensity. Blackberry is a purple/burgundy hybrid with little red shimmers running through and Gravity is a purple/plum colour. Both very nice and can be blended out nicely in the crease but just that little bit harder to work with than the other finishes available. Blackberry in particular looks absolutely stunning on so I would say the work justifies the end result, and I have included a few more Velvets in my second Morphe order.

So there you have it- my Morphe brushes eyeshadow collection to date- and as I said, I was so impressed with these so early on that I ordered another 11 shades to fill up my Z palette and I will report back on those when they arrive and I have had a chance to play with them. Now- in terms of packaging etc, these arrive in little cardboard sleeves like the MakeupGeek or MAC single eyeshadow pans too, and they are extremely secure and protected in their packaging, and also bubbled wrapped and sent in a bubbly envelope for good measure. The fear with ordering eyeshadows from the other side of the world is that they will get broken in transit but I would be as confident as I can be ordering from Morphe Brushes that the products would be in good condition on arrival. I already mentioned that, unlike my MakeupGeek orders, I did not get stung for customs charges for these eyeshadows. These took ten working days to arrive which is not bad at all. I had to call Morphe Brushes customer service because my Paypal account seemed to lose half of my address as soon as I paid for my order and they could not have been any nicer- for my second order, I used the online customer service chat method and again it was very efficient and helpful.

I have to reiterate again, particularly for any of my newer readers, that I under no circumstances automatically buy into Youtube hype easily, I take things as I find them and I judge them on my own experience, and I really like these eyeshadows a heck of a lot. As I keep mentioning, they were only $2 a piece- in FACT, they were less than that because I used the coupon code 'JACATTACK' to get 10% off my order at the checkout. I can't really hammer home how impressed I was with these but I did make a second order in quick succession so that's a pretty good indication of how I feel about them. 

Are you tempted to try these eyeshadows out? What colour stands out to you?

Monday, 11 May 2015

Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic Swish & Pop Blusher in 'Love Glow'- Review and Swatches

This may be unpopular to admit out loud, but I have been largely underwhelmed by the vast majority of Charlotte Tilbury products that I have tried since the brand landed in Ireland last year. That's not to say that I don't have my favourite products, and one of my most favourite Charlotte Tilbury products has to be the Cheek to Chic Swish and Pop Blusher in Love Glow. At €39, it was not cheap, and I had high expectations, but I am glad to report that, for the most part, my high expectations were met. My only criticism of that blush was it BROKE on me and I've no idea how that happened or how to fix it. I've squashed it back down into the pan and it seems to be working so apologies for the rather defective looking specimen on my blog today. I can confirm that it still works equally as effectively and I am still swishing and popping. 

There are six shades in the line and each of them are based on this Swish and Pop theory. The easiest way to explain this is that the product is contained in two rings, the inner ring being a matte pigmented colour and the outer ring being a shimmery highlight shade. You're mean to first swish the outer ring along your cheekbone and then apply the darker, more pigmented colour onto the apples of your cheeks for a pop. To be honest, I just run my brush along both colours combined and apply. 

Sigh- doesn't it make you feel sad looking at this poor little blush. I still haven't got a clue what happened to this. The outer ring is more of a coral shade, not sheer enough to be just a highlighter. This is a gorgeous finely milled powder that applies beautifully and leaves a gorgeous candlelit sheen on the cheeks, almost like it just melted into your skin. The pop colour is pink and this is one pigmented little circle of pink- a little of this really goes a long way. 

Pop (inner circle) and Swish (outer circle) swatched

In conclusion, this has been one of my most reached for blushers over the last few months. It is pricey, there is no doubt, but it's a nice treat and I think this is worth the pricetag. Again, I have no idea how it broke because I am SO careful with my makeup so I'm not sure if I will pick up another one, but I will very much relish in using this one.

What Charlotte Tilbury products have been setting your worlds on fire or, on the contrary, have disappointed you? 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

FOTD feat. IsaDora Spring 2015 'Nude Essentials' Collection

IsaDora is a Swedish cosmetics brands that has been on my radar for over a decade (gulp). Growing up as a teenager back in Cork, one of the few makeup displays in the pharmacies in my town was IsaDora, and it was this brand that fuelled my early makeup obsession. In fact, my oldest and most sentimental piece of makeup (that I no longer wear but can't bear to part with) is a frosty ivory IsaDora eyeshadow that I wore to my debs. So, it's safe to say that IsaDora and myself have form, we get on famously together. Over the years, I've been coming across displays less and less but that is certainly not to say that this brand has waned in my estimation. IsaDora are undergoing a relaunch in Ireland and they very sent me a pack of products to try a few weeks back and I've been putting them through their paces. I'm going to quickly flit through some of the products they sent and give you my (as always) honest opinion on how I believe they performed. At the end of this post, you will find my typical IsaDora FOTD.

IsaDora Protect Face Primer (€21.25) This primer contains a whopping SPF 30 which is miles ahead may of the other primers on the radar at the moment. It's got quite a creamy texture, not silicone- like a la Benefit Porefessional. I just do not like the feeling of silicone primers on my skin. hen you apply this to the face,  it feels so lightweight, it just melts into your skin without feeling greasy or sticky. I'm not typically a primer person but I have been enjoying using this and I do believe it helps with the longevity of my foundation. The sun protection in this makes me very happy indeed and this protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It also contains a unique collagen peptide which promises to reduce wrinkles, plumps and firms the skin. This is said to be suitable for all skin types.

IsaDora Nude Sensation Fluid Foundation (€23.25). This foundation has been a revelation to me! Even though it is more expensive than your typical pharmacy foundation, it's still half the price of a high end foundation, and this, to me, performs like a high end foundation, so that makes it bargainous. The foundation itself is very liquidy, it comes with a little pipette instead of a pump. This applies like a dream, provides medium coverage on the first application and is incredibly easily to build. It feels light on the skin, almost weightless, it lasts beautifully over the course of a day, it provides great coverage but still retains some luminosity. I have the shade 10 which I believe is the lightest shade and it is a perfect match, I could not be any happier with this and I would most definitely repurchase! 

IsaDora Colour Corrector Concealer Palette (€21.25) Isa Dora sent me two of these- shade 32 Neutral and shade 34 Anti-Dullness. These cream concealers are to neutralise the discoloration in the skin- the Neutral one contains a peach shade to cover dark circles, a light and medium concealer and a highlighter to lighten and illuminate the skin. The Anti-Dullness palette contains a lilac shade to banish any yellow or grey tones, a peach to cover dark circles, a concealer and a highlighter. The texture of these is nice, not too creamy, and I use my ring finger to pick up some product and blend wherever I need some extra coverage. I've been using the peach and light concealer shades under my eyes and it's quite effective when topped with a powder. There is quite a bit of product in each pan so I imagine this is going to last me ages,

IsaDora Face Sculptor (€25.50) This, along with the Nude Sensation foundation, is an absolute standout to me. It comes it two different shades- Warm Peach and Cool Pink (I have Warm Peach). This piece of kit is genius- contains a decent bronzer, highlighter and a peachy blush- or everything you need to sculpt your face. The bronzer is a nice tone, not too orange, and the highlighter has a gorgeous gold sheen. The blush is matte. All 3 colours are incredibly pigmented the way all Isa Dora powder products are and all of them apply beautifully. Since I'm on a contouring buzz at the moment, this palette has been a godsend and I carry this in my handbag to top up on the go. I've been using the IsaDora Face Sculptor brush to apply the powders and it is SO soft to run along your face. 

IsaDora Nude Essentials Eye Colour Bar (€17.50) Ah, Isa Dora eyeshadows, one of my first guilty pleasures. I have a few Isa Dora eyeshadows and I've never had a complaint- soft, pigmented, buttery, easy to apply and blend. The good news is that this palette is equally as impressive- packing 6 neutral shades, mixture of matte and pearl finishes, from a light cream colour up to a dark brown. The options with this are in the multiples- you can use it to create a light, fresh daytime look or smoke it up for something more intense for an evening look. These feel like silk and can also be built up from a sheer wash of colour to a deep, more opaque look.

IsaDora Twist-up Gloss Lipstick (€13.25) has made me reconsider my typically strong reluctance to embrace the glossy lip. I'm wearing this is my FOTD pick below so you can see how shiny it actually is. The texture of this is beautiful- creamy, hydrating- it's almost feels like a balm on the lips. I have this in the colour 29 Clear Nude. IsaDora Twist-up Matt lips (€13.25) are matt lipsticks with a difference- gone are the days of hard formulas that drag your lips hither thither when you are trying to apply your lip colour, and matt lipsticks that leave your kissers looking crispy and dry. These are quite unusual in that they are lipstick shaped in the twist up formula, and they certainly perform like lipsticks also. I have the shades Posh Peach and Candy Store. Even though these are matte and pigmented and deliver great opacity with just one swipe, they are not a powdery or dry matte but more of a creamy, lightweight and intensely pigmented velvet matt finish. 

All in all, I feel like Spring line has stirred up all those old IsaDora feels and this brand is firmly back on my radar. I was very impressed with all the products I tried in all honestly, particularly the Nude Sensation Foundation and the Face Sculptor palette- these are essentials in my mind. I look forward to seeing what is up and coming on the IsaDora horizon. The brand is more expensive than your traditional pharmacy brands, and trust me, if they were not delivering with the goods, I would be the first to call this out, but I genuinely believe these products perform like high end products. I have ALOT of foundations, the vast majority of them high end like Chanel, Dior, Bobbi Brown, Estee Lauder, Lancome etc., and this IsaDora Nude Sensation Foundation outperformed many of them in my mind. The powder products are exquisite- I'm a long time fan of the eyeshadows like I said, but the Face Sculptor palette has been in constant rotation since I got it. Where else can you find a primer with SPF 30 and protection against UVA and UVB in the pharmacy? These products are quality- the line is quality. I've yet to try any mascaras or eyeliners from the brand but these are at the top of my list to try because I have built up such a positive experience with IsaDora. For more information on stockists and products, head over to their Twitter (@IsaDoraIreland), Facebook (IrelandIsaDora) or Instagram (@isadora_ireland) pages 

As for my typical IsaDora FOTD, I didn't go for anything too dramatic! I'm wearing the Protect Face Primer, one layer of the Nude Sensation, the light and peach shades from the Colour Corrector Concealer Palette in 32 Neutral, all three shades from the Face Sculptor Palette, various shades from the Nude Essentials Eye Colour Bar and the Twist-up Gloss Lipstick in Clear Nude. 

Have you tried anything by IsaDora in recent times that you would like to recommend? What IsaDora products from this line appeal to you? 
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