Saturday, 27 June 2015

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer - Luminous Bronze Light - Review & Swatches

It was the lovely Karen from Lovely Girlie Bits (see what I did there?) that first alerted me a couple of months back to the fact that Hourglass were releasing bronzers. Now, feeling how I do about all things Hourglass, I absolutely knew I had to have it, and I had the highest hopes for it. To be honest, my Hourglass experiences to date have been so overwhelmingly positive that I was cocky, absolutely certain that I would just adore this newest Hourglass inclination as I do all the others. I have to admit, it’s nice, it’s lovely even, but I’m not that blown away by this bronzer. It just hasn’t melted the cockles of my old stone heart the way the Ambient Lighting powders or blushes have. I will explain!
The bronzer comes in two shades, and of the two, I picked up the lighter one in Luminous Bronze Light. The other is a darker shade called Radiant Bronze Light. I was stalking Space NK website like a mad woman, I put my name down for it in store, and yet no news was forthcoming, so when the genius that is Lauren from Makeup by Lauren Marie suggested trying John Lewis instead, I actually sprung on it like a cat with a long tail in a room full of rocking chairs. It duly arrived in one piece and it was definitely love at first sight – in the pan, it was a thing of beauty. The milk chocolatey brown bronzer pigment is marbled with one of my favourite Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders, Luminous Light, and the distribution to my eye was about 50/50.
However, when I swatched this on my hand and on my face, I was surprised to find that this was a LOT darker than I thought it would be and not as luminous as I hoped it would be either. I’m not 100% on the colour to be honest as it is a very warm brown- I feel like I really have to buff it out to make the colour look somewhat natural of my fair skin, more so than I have to do with other bronzers. I thought that this bronzer, like the blushes, would be a bit more buildable instead of packing such a powerful pigmentation punch but alas this was not the case- this is damn pigmented even with a good tap of the brush to knock off the excess, and a bit too pigmented in my mind. I apply this with a large duo fibre brush and buff it out and down my neck with a large powder brush.
Size comparison against the Ambient Lighting Powder and the Ambient Lighting Blushes
Ambient Lighting Powder in Luminous Light -v- Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Bronze Light
However, leaving Debbie Downer at the door, once this is worked and buffed considerably, it looks gorgeous and if I have a fake tan on, I feel like this bronzer gives me face a natural gentle sunkissed glow. I know I probably sound like I am being very harsh altogether on this bronzer because it’s not a bad product by any means, but it hasn’t blown me away in comparison with the blushes and the Ambient Lighting powders. I just can’t help but feel underwhelmed by this. I’m not sure that the shade is entirely flattering on me either as it’s very warm and very unlike all the other bronzers in my collection. 
Swatch of Luminous Light -v- Luminous Bronze Light
So I know you probably all think that I have been way harsh but just gotta admit, this bronzer didn't fill my heart with the same joy that the other Hourglass powders did. I have both of the palettes, 3 Ambient Lighting Powders, three Ambient Lighting Blushes and I love them all dearly and this doesn't have the same cult status for me. That's not to say that I won't use this, because I definitely will, and who knows, another few weeks of using this might earn this HG status, but for now, it's just a nice bronzer. I do feel guilty for even thinking that but it's how I'm feeling.

Have you tried this Hourglass bronzer and if you have, what did you think? Do you think I am being unnecessarily harsh?


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Sleek Face Form Contouring and Blush Palette in 'Light' - Review and Swatches

I have been a fan of Sleek Makeup for years now and the brand hasn’t done me wrong yet. Back in the day, I remember going up to Belfast with the clear intention of raiding the Sleek Makeup displays in both of the Superdrugs in the city centre- I even printed out the maps with directions from the hotel we were staying in just to ensure that I’d get my fix. A few years later, and many subsequent Sleek orders from the Beauty Emporium and Cloud 10 Beauty, a Sleek stand magically appeared in Boots Liffey Valley, and a few more started appearing in various Boots stores over the following year. A few months back, I was invited to the very swish Sleek Makeup Ireland launch party, and it reignited that old love affair with Sleek Makeup again. I have been playing with loads of products over the last month but the product I am writing about first is my absolute and long time favourite- the Face Form Contouring and Blush Palette in Light. 

Cheekbones to me are what bass is to Meghan Trainor. I don’t go in for the harsh highlighting and contouring routine, but there is nothing I love more than hiking up my cheekbones with a lovely cool brown and applying some highlighter to the high points of my face with a pop of blush on the apples of my cheeks. For a mere €12.99, this palette does ALL that. As you can see from the picture above- the palette comes in three shade varieties- Light, Medium and Dark. I’ve had a Fair version before also, and there was not that much difference between the Fair and Light, but I haven’t seen the Fair versions at any of the stands that I have come across so I’m not sure how easy this will be to find. What I will say about the colours though is that they are easily buildable, apply evenly and last well. 

One of the things that I love the most about this Sleek palette is that when you open up the matte black case, it’s all product and absolutely no space is wasted with those stupid little crappy plastic indicators or some intricate pan designs. I love the simplicity, I think it just feels and looks more expensive, plus you get way more bang for your buck. Each of the palettes are the same size. In the kit you get a bronzer/contour shade, a highlighting powder and a blush in Rose Gold. The mirror in the palette is also fantastic and brilliant for travel. 

The bronzer/contour shades is a lovely cool mid brown shade that can be applied as a bronzer or just as a sculpting powder. It applies beautifully, blends easily, can be built up to your colour depth of preference and lasts well over the course of wear. I typically apply this with a duo fibre for a sunkissed glow or with a small, denser brush for when I am specifically looking to really carve out my cheekbones or define anything. There is no shimmer at all to this but it’s not a chalky matte either- I would say once it’s applied and buffed out, it has a certain sheen to it, not shiny but not flat.

The highlighter included in the palette is quite pink toned and whilst I wouldn’t normally veer towards pinkish highlighters (I usually prefer a cream, ivory or champagne highlight, I love a bit of this applied over the high points of my face and it applies beautifully with a duo fibre brush and a light hand. It looks radiant and glowy, definitely not glittery, even though in the pan it does look a little glittery. 

The blush included in the palette is the much revered Rose Gold blush. This blush is also available individually and is a dead ringer for the NARS Orgasm blush. This is a little shiny, and applied heavily, you do run the risk of looking like you have been sprayed with glitter glue, but a light touch on the apples of your cheeks is incredibly flattering and the rosy colour leaves your cheeks looking flushed. To be honest, whilst I don’t mind the blush at all, I very rarely find myself using it, as I have other blushes in rotation that I prefer and are slightly less glittery- that’s just my personal preference though!

Overall, this is one fabulous little palette for the price and I am without a doubt going to repurchase this when I hit pan on the bronzer or highlight shades. Tell me- have you tried this palette and what did you think of it? Also, what Sleek products do you recommend?

Sunday, 21 June 2015

St Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower - worth the hype?

I think the most hyped body product of the summer has to be the St Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower - when I first heard about this way back when, my interest was piqued, and I was lucky enough to pick some up late last month, and I've been using it consistently since. I've spoken to a few people about this tan and I really feel like it's one of those Marmite products- you either love what it does or you'll hate it. I have much to say on this tan so keep reading!

The USP of this tan is that you apply it in the shower after washing your body, wait three minutes and rinse off, and the colour will gradually develop. For those of us who suffer with sensitive nose syndrome and are allergic to fake tan stains on sheets, this sounds like manna from heaven. It is quite easy to be skeptical, and the reviews were divided- either hailing this the best thing since that proverbial sliced pan, or the biggest con on the tanning market. I was extremely extremely dubious when I first heard of this to be honest.

I have been wearing this tan for over two weeks now so I am going to speak to my findings. I purposefully took the time to review this thoroughly over a few weeks, so this may be a lengthy post as I have a lot of thoughts on it. I've been applying it almost daily and I stopped a few days back just to be able to inform you as to how it fades and wears off. 

The instructions tell you to wash your body as normal with whatever showering product that tickles your pickle and then rinse, turn off the water and apply this over your body, rinse your hands straight away, wait three minutes and rinse your whole body. Sounds foolproof. I followed the instructions to the tee. The actual product is not tinted but does lather so it's easy to see where you're applying it, it's easy to work with and it smells quite pleasant. Let me tell you, the first time I used the tan in the shower, I was absolutely frought with nerves. It seemed too easy to cock up and I was such a skeptical Sally. I have to say, I am baffled at how easy this is to apply on my upper body and arms especially. I read a lot of bad reviews about streaking but I only experienced streaks on my legs the first day I applied it- they were very faint- and washed off in the next shower. I think I splashed my legs when I was rinsing the product so carefully off my hands so I have to take some of the blame- also, my legs never ever take a tan, certainly not the way my arms do. I can't criticise the St Tropez In Shower Tan for this either because every other tan I have ever applied to my legs has never developed either- my legs are destined to be milky white forever. In at least 10 applications, I never once experienced any streaking on my upper body at all- no patches or dark spots around my hands, no bits that I forgot to tan, it was a flawless application. 

This does not smell bad at all. In the shower, it smells quite sweet, not heavily fragranced or perfumed, and not too sickening. It's meant to have the scent of Sweet Almond Oil but I don't really get an almondy smell from it. I did feel like it felt a bit 'fake tanny' the first day after I applied it the first time, but I think I was just hypersensitive as I didn't smell it anymore afterwards. My sheets or clothes did not smell of tan at all and neither did my ensuite bathroom.
Buildup of colour depth (against my ghastly white legs!)
Firstly, don't expect amazing colour payoff after the first use- the clue is in the name- gradual tan. It takes a while to build it up. The colour was most definitely a golden glow and not a faux bronze. It was incredibly hard to capture the colour on camera. It took about three attempts to build up the colour to where it was definitely noticeable. I'd say the colour did not develop or darken any more after about 5/6 uses, and applying the product thereafter was just colour maintenance. Some of my friends and work colleagues commented on how natural the colour was, and I have to admit, I loved the shade but as the weather got finer, I wish it would have gone a bit darker.  I think the colour is going to be the most polarising aspect to this tan- I'm ghastly pale and I appreciated having a glow to my skin to knock out the purple tone, but even with consistent applying over the course of 2 weeks, the colour did not get any darker than what is pictured above. For me, this was both good and bad- I wanted a darker colour for a night out and I couldn't build up the colour of the St Tropez tan enough, but at no stage was I ever afraid that I was going to look tangoed- it is impossible to look tangoed in my opinion.

First signs of colour fading was the strip directly under my watch.
Fading after four days around the usual offenders- wrists, side of hands etc.
Even though I have been loving this tan and the colour, I decided to forego applications for the latter part of this week so I can see how it faded - this to me is one of the most important features of any tan I try. There are so many tans that I found a dream to apply, developed a beautiful colour but then completely disappointed me in the fading stakes. I have to say, I'm 50/50. It has not faded badly, but has faded patchily, particularly around my hands. The patch under my watch was the first to fade away completely- this is a common feature in my tan endeavours, followed by more colour around my hands and then in my inner arm opposite my elbow. I began to feel paler after the second shower without applying the product, and it's now four days since my last application and I am gagging to apply it again and look healthy once more. It definitely is not the worst fader and it hasn't been so awful that I've had to take to the shower with an industrial scrub to scrub away a layer of tan/skin. 

Anything else?
The price is not bad at all at €19.99 but I did use up a whole bottle over the two weeks. I believe it's currently on special in Boots for €13.33- if I see it, I'll defo pick up another few bottles!

I was nervous that this would stain or leave a residue on my shower tray but it didn't- it washed away completely and left no mess whatsoever in my shower. 

Three minutes sounds like an eternity but it's not really, I apply a hairmask to my hair and clip it up on top of my head so it's not dripping down my back causing streakage, and I literally apply the product all over in circular motions, rinse my hands and count out 180 seconds. I haven't found this to be a hardship at all, I've counted in Irish, French, German and Japanese to keep the brain muscles ticking over. I wouldn't recommend leaving it on for any longer because it doesn't develop in the shower, it develops once you get out of the shower. 

You don't have to be terribly gentle about patting yourself dry- I was a bit reckless drying myself on a few occasions after my shower and experienced no streaking or patchiness as a result. 

The product leaves your skin feeling quite moisturised and soft- I got a sunburn scalding a few years back and my arms are very dry and I was worried that this product might exacerbate that but it did not at all. 

I didn't apply body moisturisers over this but I have applied SPF on a few occasions and it did not disturb the tan at all.

I did apply this to my face a few times and I got a breakout on my cheek (which I never normally get). I don't know if this is related or not but I didn't apply to my face anymore and I didn't really miss it tbh. 

There was absolutely no staining of my nightwear or bedclothes from using this product.

This product looked completely natural and amazing on my hands- no knuckle patches, no hideous lines or white patches between the fingers, no dirty looking palms. This is hands down (geddit) the best tanning product I have ever applied to my hands. 

The Bottom Line
I know for a fact that people will either love or loathe this product. I have to admit, based on a thorough two weeks of trying and making a point to examine it, I really like this and I will continue to use it for sure as I feel like it has given me a bit of life. I may try another tan now- I'm absolutely obsessed with Australian tans at the moment and have a new Bondi Sands Gradual Tanner crying out to me to be used- but I will definitely come back to this one. The criticism that this has got for streaking is not deserved in my opinion - I followed the instructions to the tee and got no streaking where I paid attention- when I didn't pay attention and accidentally splashed my legs whilst rinsing my hands, they did streak a bit, but this was easily removed the next day in the shower with a loofah and ordinary shower gel. I took my time trialling and reviewing this because I wanted to give the honest, most balanced review possible. I found this foolproof and this product has made me feel healthy and glowy for the last two weeks with minimal effort to be fair. I think huge props have to be given to St Tropez also for thinking outside the box and creating an innovative product- hopefully more brands will follow suit soon and revolutionise our tanning ways.

So- I'm dying to know what you all think of this tan! If you have tried it, let me know below what you think of it? If you are curious, let me know below why you have not tried it yet. If you are afraid of this, let us know below what your concerns are.


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

MAC Lipstick Collection and a MAC Lipstick Tag

I have loved MAC lipsticks for years and years now, and I've been slowly and steadily building up my collection over time. From the Back-to-MAC scheme (which has contributed at least a dozen lippies to the collection), airport duty free haulin' (cannot actually resist not picking up a few everytime I pass through an airport), random Brown Thomas splurges and, of course, gifts from my nearest and dearest who know me so well, my little collection has grown consistently over the years. I just love them- the various finishes, the colour selection and the performance- not all of them are A+ but enough of them are in my mind to justify expanding my stash. My favourite finish on a MAC lipstick is Lustre, followed by Amplified, Matte, Satin, Frost and then Glaze (in fact, I think I only have one Glaze). Some of them are unbearably drying (Ruby Woo I'm looking at you!!) and some of them are balmy and comfortable on the lips (aka my beloved Syrup) but all of them have a special place in my heart.

The shades I have are (from front row l-r)

Lickable - Lustre
Creme in Your Coffee - Cremesheen
Speed Dial - Cremesheen
Please Me - Matte
Syrup - Lustre
Ruby Woo - Retro Matte
Creme Cup - Cremesheen
Hang Up - Cremesheen 
Unlimited - Pro Longwear
Ronnie Red - Amplified - Limited Edition
Riri Woo - Retro Matte - Limited Edition
Russian Red - Matte
Shy Girl - Cremesheen
Hue - Glaze
Angel - Frost
Viva Glam V - Frost
New York Apple - Frost
Going Dutch - Frost
Captive - Satin
Cherish - Satin
Rebel - Satin
M.A.C. Red - Satin
Brave - Satin
Snob - Satin
Cut a Caper - Lustre - Limited Edition from Heavenly Creatures collection
Lovelorn - Lustre
Most Popular - Limited Edition
Soft Savour - Lustre - Limited Edition
Patisserie - Lustre
Cockney - Lustre
See Sheer - Lustre
Lustering - Lustre
Dish it Up - Limited Edition
Mehr - Matte
Sweetie - Lustre
Up the Amp - Amplified
Venus - Lustre - Limited Edition from Heavenly Creatures collection
Craving - Amplified
Chatterbox - Amplified
Ramblas Red - Amplified
Plumful - Lustre 
Blankety - Amplified
Twig - Satin
Girl About Town - Amplified
Viva Glam II - Satin
Impassioned - Amplified
Violetta - Amplified
Dubonnet - Amplified
Faux - Satin

Because I always get asked the same questions about MAC lipsticks time and time again, I thought I would do a little Q&A to address the 10 most-asked questions, If you're a MAC lipstick fanatic like myself, feel free to answer the questions below also and link your answers in the comments below, and I will also tag a few of my blogging chums to answer:

Q1: What was your first MAC lipstick?
The first lipstick I purchased was the shade Ramblas Red which is a gorgeous red that leans slightly pink toned. I will always remember this lipstick shopping experience as I handed the MAC sales assistant the lipstick so she could find it and when she was putting it back on the display, she stabbed my brand new cream coat with it (and didn't even apologise or acknowledge the fact that she did it!!) Thankfully, it washed out completely and didn't leave a stain but to this day, I am always guarding my personal space around the MAC lipstick display!

Q2: What was your most recent MAC lipstick acquisition?
I picked up the shade Twig about 2 weeks ago- it was one of those shades I had been swatching on my hand for months but finally bit the bullet and bought. It is a stunning colour and I can see it becoming a new fave!

Q3: What is your favourite MAC lipstick?
This is the hardest question ever to answer because it's hard to pick just one shade out of 49 lipsticks- so I'm going to cheat and pick my top 5 - Syrup, Patisserie, See Sheer, Faux and Chatterbox (and I feel so guilty thinking of all the other shades I love...tormented!)

Q4: What MAC lipstick do you think does it all?
Again, this is a really tough question! Patisserie is amazing in terms of shade depth- I find that this can look pink or nude on any given day and just looks perfect with pretty much any makeup.

Q5: Do you always wear lipliners with MAC lipsticks?
Definitely not always! I do sometimes if I want the colour to last extra long or if I want a specific colour that's only achievable by blending products. I'm currently obsessed with MAC Edge to Edge liner and love to pair it with Faux.

Q6: What's your favourite finish in a MAC lipstick and why?
I by no means hold myself out as an expert in all things MAC but I do consider myself to be a huge fan of the brand so the following observations are all from my own experience. I adore Lustres, they are my absolute fave. They don't pack the same pigmentation that the Mattes or Amplifieds do but they are alot creamier and glossier than any other finish and are so comfortable on the lips. I love Amplifieds for creamy pigmentation and of course, the Matte lipsticks are incredibly pigmented as well as being incredibly drying. I also find Satin lipsticks to be a little drying, and certainly the Cremesheen lipsticks are a lot less drying but a little too creamy for me. I also have a Glaze in Hue which is nice but I feel like it settles into every line and crack in my lips and is not very flattering.

Q7: Have you ever repurchased a MAC lipstick?
Yes- I've never used a MAC lipstick up fully but I have had to replace 2 MAC lipsticks over my lipstick wearing lifetime- the first was Ruby Woo which disappeared from my handbag on a night out  and was never found again, and the second was Chatterbox - don't ask me how I lost this but I still haven't found it three odd years later. 

Q8: Do you regret buying any MAC lipsticks?
I don't really regret any of them as I don't dislike any of them, but I do wonder what was I thinking when I bought Violetta in Belfast last year. I love a purple lip but Violetta is a crazy vibrant shade, I'll never be able to wear it to work, I'm too much of  wimp to wear it out, and it seems like a waste to only ever wear it when I'm playing dress up at home!

Q9: What is your favourite nude/pink/red MAC lipstick?
My favourite nudes are Patisserie, Viva Glam II and Brave.
My favourite pinks are Syrup, Sweetie and Faux.
My favourite reds are Ruby Woo, Russian Red and See Sheer.

Q10: What MAC lipstick is on your shopping list?
This is the impossible question. My next lipstick will be number 50 so I feel like it has to be a pretty special lipstick! I've toyed with the idea of getting Velvet Teddy but not sure if it's a bit too brown for my colouring. Some of my blogging chums have suggested going for a fancy limited edition colour as my 50th so I'll have to see what tickles my pickle.

So that's my two cents of all things MAC lipstick- if you would be interested in seeing lip swatches of all the lipsticks, let me know and I will try to organise- couldn't swatch all 49 of them in one sitting as my lips would surely fall off so I will have to space it out over a few weeks. If you are a MAC lipstick aficionado like myself, let me know what your fave is in the comments below, or even better, why not answer my questions above in a post of your own. In the meantime, I am going to tag my blogging chummies to answer these questions next :

Sharon from Behind Green Eyes
Karen from Lovely Girlie Bits
Sinead from the Beautiful Truth
Orla from MakeupOverMind
Lauren from Makeup by Lauren Marie 



Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Mad for Morphe and even more eyeshadow swatches !

So a few weeks back, I raved about my latest eyeshadow brand find, Morphe Eyeshadows, and I showed and told (that doesn't really work does it?) my first haul. So impressed was I with the eyeshadows that I ordered another batch to add to my collection and fill up my Z palette, and they arrived two weeks ago. I'll refer you to my previous post (click here) for the details on the company, the website and the various shade finishes, but for today, I just wanted to show you some clear swatches of the latest (and by no means last) batch of eyeshadows that I picked up. Again, I didn't incur any customs charges and the package arrived perfectly packed in 2 weeks

My entire Morphe eyeshadow collection 
Top L-R: Crystal, Caffé Macchiato, Birthday Suit, Deep Cocoa
Middle L-R: Starlight, Velveteen, Gun Powder, Granite
Bottom L-R: Rosewood, New Year's Love, Grape Day
L-R: Crystal, Caffé Macchiato, Birthday Suit, Deep Cocoa
L-R: Starlight, Velveteen, Gun Powder, Granite
L-R: Rosewood, New Year's Love, Grape Day
Granite - Coffee brown with bronze pearl
Caffé Macchiato -  Peachy brown with shimmer
Rosewood - Vibrant cran-purple
Velveteen - True gray
Birthday Suit - Soft muted beige taupe
Deep Cocoa - Intense Reddish Brown
Grape Day - Violet Blue
Starlight - Intense Gold
Gun Powder - Deep purple/ gray
Crystal - Soft creamy beige
New Year's Love - Grey with silver sheen

Hopefully these swatches and the swatches in my last post on Morphe Brushes were useful to you if you're considering placing an order anytime soon. If you are ordering, don't forget to use the 10% discount code 'JACATTACK'- the eyeshadows are cheap as chips anyways so it's just the cherry on the cake! If you've any questions on my Morphe experience, feel free to pop me a comment/tweet :)

Have you succumbed to Morphe Brushes yet? Any shades in particular catching your eye?
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