Thursday, 30 July 2015

Urban Decay Naked Smoky Palette - swatches, first impressions and release deets

Unless you have in a coma or living under a rock, I'm pretty sure I can guess that you know that the arrival of the newest member of the Urban Decay Naked family- the Naked Smoky palette- is imminent. FINALLY some of you may say as our friends stateside have been tormenting us with the fact that they've been able to purchase this for the last few weeks but nonetheless, the time is nigh for us here on this side of the Atlantic. I've lusted after this since I spied the first pic months back but it was only seeing it yesterday in the flesh during the press preview that really made me oooh over it. You know the drill with Naked palettes now - 12 neutral shades etc etc- but this palette contains nine brand new shades and three exclusive shades in a variety of matte, satin and sparkly shades. The brush provided is impressive- a tapered crease brush on one side and a smoky smudger brush on the other- absolutely perfect for travel. Apart from the colour selection in the palette, which invites you to first get naked and then smoke it out, my absolute favourite feature is the external packaging which pleases me muchly- its robust, sturdy, smoky chic with a cloudy smoke effect and a transparent base. Considering the retro flimsical packaging of the original Urban Decay Naked palette, they have come a long way. This includes a huge mirror in the lid and magnetic closure also to ensure the shadows stay safe. 

Now whilst I have not yet tried these on my eyeballs so I cannot attest as to wearability, blendability, longevity etc., I can give you my first impressions. I was not expecting to be as impressed with the colour lineup in the flesh as I was- I'm not really a dark smokey eye kinda gal and prefer something lighter but blendable and this palette delivers on that front. As you'll see from the swatches above, none of the shades are super dark- even the darkest shade Black Market could easily be blended out to a softer smoke- and this ticks my boxes. The layout of the colours in the packaging does disturb my delicate organisational sensitivities as I would prefer the colours to go from lightest to darkest in left to right instead of wedging the 6 darker colours smack bang in the middle of the lighter colours- but this is really a very pedantic complaint innit and I am probably alone in my views! It has the mattes (texture similar to the original Naked palette which I always preferred to the Naked Basics palettes) - shade Thirteen on the far right is particularly standout in terms of pigmentation- the usual soft satin shades, the shimmers and a few colours with a chunkier glitter which seemed to be a smidge grainy when swatched on my arm. Until I try applying this to my face, I will reserve judgement, but I imagine there would be a bit of fallout applying this to the lids as the sparkle is a bit chunky and gritty, similar to YDK from the Naked 2. Overall- and you can see from the swatches above, the colour range is impressive, and if neutrals are your thang, I'm sure you're probably panting at the screen. 

So if you like what you see and feel like you could do with a slice of the latest Naked installment in your life, waiting lists have been set up in all the Urban Decay counters in Debenhams nationwide and the Urban Decay counter in House of Fraser Dundrum to give you a chance to pick it up early on before it inevitably goes out of stock for a few weeks at least waiting for next shipment to come in. The palettes are landing next Thursday, 6th August, and Debenhams are accommodating workerbees by opening their doors early at 8am to give people a chance to pick one up on the daily commute. There are over 8,000 names on waiting lists nationwide already and Urban Decay HQ predict that the first batch of these will be sold out completely by the weekend. Forewarned is forearmed so if you are in the market for a new Naked palette, get your name on a waiting list and keep an eye on and it will be €46.

I will of course report back on my overall opinion of the Naked Smoky palette once I have the choice to put it to the test but I can safely say that my interest has been sufficiently piqued and I've got those good vibrations! I loved the original Naked palette and if I lost all my makeup in the morning, it would be the first eyeshadow palette that I would repurchase because it is probably my overall fave (woah there- that's a BIG statement). I really liked Naked 2 and both of the Naked Basics and wasn't so fussed on the colours in Naked 3- but the colour selection in this one has caught my eye since the first time e'er I saw it! 

So tell me - are you enticed by the Naked Smoky palette or do you have Naked fatigue at this stage?

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Pippa for Blank Canvas Cosmetics- the Pippa Palette - Swatches, first impressions, mini-review

I don't often publish posts within hours of receiving products so the very fact that I am sitting down at 11pm on a schoolnight to write this post together is probably already indicative that I have been *blown away* by the hot off the press #PippaforBlankCanvas palette, a collaboration between top Irish blogger Pippa O'Connor and one of my favourite Irish companies, Blank Canvas Cosmetics. We have been tempted/taunted with releases and spoilers for the last week, and there was no doubt but that my interest was piqued from the get-go, but I did not actually appreciate this palette until I put the products on my face and since I have, I literally have not been able to stop admiring my makeup all day. I actually feel compelled to tell you how this has filled my heart in the last 12 hours. 

When I saw the packaging first, I adored the pink flowery detail, but I was a little worried that it would be the flimsy cardboard packaging from brands like Barry M and Collection- however, this packaging is sturdier than I thought and has a good strong magnet that should keep the shadows safe. It is made of cardboard but it feels quite weighty and sturdy. It comes with a huge decent quality mirror and no space is wasted with a rubbish sponge applicator (readers of my blog will know how this bugs me). On the back of the palette, you get a list of ingredients and a little bio of powerhouse Pippa herself. 

I am a huge fangirl of Pippa O'Connor for years- I always thought she was so put together and sensible compared to many of the other models from that generation, an understated elegance, a strong work ethic and obviously beauty to burn. I think Pippa is savvy enough that if she was going to put her name and face to something, that it better be a damn good product. She just always lets off an air of integrity and professionalism and I had high hopes that this palette would be something special.

I'm sure you have all had your timelines bombarded with pics of the Pippa palette but to remind you, this palette contains 6 matte eyeshadows, a highlighter, a blush and a bronzer laid out in the order you can see above. None of the shades are particularly dramatic but together the palette gives you everything you need to create a natural, neutral, fresh makeup look. Lord knows I love me some matte eyeshadows and I wear neutral colours like 99.999% of the time, and I also loved the idea of a do-it-all palette as I travel quite a bit. 

Collectively, the eyeshadows are matte and velvety with minimum fallout and maximum pigment. These are so smooth and so easy to blend and the colour payoff for a matte eyeshadow is incredible. These are more buttery and blendable than the matte eyeshadow shades in the Urban Decay Naked Palettes in my opinion and I do not throw that statement out onto the blogosphere lightly. All of the shade names have a significant meaning to Pippa and she took us through each one in her blog post- have to say she is a girl after my own heart naming shadows after her pets, grandparents and beloveds. Taking each of the six eyeshadows individually:

Lily is a gorgeous, extremely pigmented ivory vanilla shade that reminds me an awful lot of my favourite Urban Decay eyeshadow in 'Virgin'. Like Virgin, this is not a flat matte but has a hint of sheen to it. This shadow is named after Pippa's beloved pooch Lily, a white Bichon Frise from Kildare (hence Lily!). I applied this all over my lid from my lashline to my browbone and it applied beautifully, evenly, easily, and had an instant brightening effect. 

Ollie is a stunning nude/beige colour that reminds me of both WOS from the original Naked Basics palette and Stark from the Naked Basics 2. This is great for a crease/transition colour and again applied beautifully on my lids over Lily. This shadow is named after Pippa's little man Ollie, who she describes as her pride and joy. 

Tobi is a gorgeous warm brown that leans almost peachy when blended out. This is the colour that I always wished was included in the Urban Decay palettes. The closest I have to this in my collection would be a mix of Makeup Geek's Creme Brulee (but not as dark) and Makeup Geek's Peach Smoothie (but not as peachy)- if these two had a lovechild, it would be called Tobi! This could very well be my next favourite crease colour- against blue eyes, this was something else. If warm toned mid tone eyeshadows are your thing, look no further. Thank me laters! Also, this shade was named after the first pooch Pippa ever owned as a kid. I adore this shade.

 Susu is a matte mid tone cool brown shade, perfect for adding into the crease for depth, applying along the lash line for extra lash volume or a subtle liner, under the eye or even in your brows if the colour suits. This shade is named after Pippa's only sis and best bud Susanna. This is similar enough to Cover from the Urban Decay Naked Basics 2 palette, Again, this applied like a dream and blended easily and beautifully over the lighter shades underneath.

Dodo is a rich, dark chocolate brown that has warm red undertone to it. Again, this is quite an unusual colour but if I had to pick a comparison shade, it would probably be a warmer version of the shade Espresso from the original Lorac Pro Palette. This is just divine applied in the outer V of the lid and blended out, particularly with Tobi in the crease. This is named after Pippa's beloved gran, Doreen. All I'm saying is that if I created an eyeshadow palette of my own in the morning, the first shade name I would pick would be sth that would represent my nana who passed away earlier this year. I think I have a soft spot for Dodo just because I relate so much to the sentiment (and it's a freakin' amaaazing colour).

Finally, the last eyeshadow is a matte black that goes by the name of K.D. The original K.D. was Pippa's grandpa and she named the strongest eyeshadow in the palette after him AND put Dodo (the grandma) next to K.D. (the grandpa)- too sweet. This black is incredibly highly pigmented and in my opinion, applies better than the shade Crave in the original Urban Decay Naked Basics palette. I used this with the Blank Canvas Cosmetics E44 brush to line my eyelids and it worked a charm- I often use a black shadow instead of a gel or pen eyeliner when I am looking for a more subtle, natural enhanced lashline, I think it adds a nice bit of volume to the lashes. 

Pippa Palette eyeshadow swatches- from L-R: K.D., Dodo, Susu, Tobi, Ollie, Lily
Along with the six eyeshadows, there are three facepowders included in this palette also. I'm going to start with the absolute star of the show in my eyes, the Lulu highlighter. 

I'm not in the habit of making grand sweeping statements but HOLY MOTHER OF GOD this is an INCREDIBLE highlighter. All day long my cheeks have been sheening and shimmering any time I catch the light and I swear I have never looked in the mirror as much as I have done today because it just made me feel alive and lit from within like a Christmas tree. I actually would not have believed the sheen off this had I not seen this for myself, and I have never ever known an eyeshadow palette to produce such an amazing highlighter. I know it's early days but I think I am preferring this to MAC's Soft and Gentle, Becca's Moonstone and even good old Mary Loumanizer by the Balm- there is something so elegant about this champagne highlighter that it just makes me want to ditch every contour powder I own and join the strobing cult. This is named after Pippa's mum Louise who passed away unexpectedly last year and Pippa said that this is her favourite shade in the palette as it is named after her mother. When I read Pippa's post last week and she explained how her mother had quizzed her about highlighters before she passed away, I honestly felt a lump in my throat beginning to form, it was so touching. This was the absolute find of this palette and I actually dare you to try this and not fall for it. 

Next up is the blush offering in the palette, Pipsy. Pippa informed us that Pipsy is her nickname amongst her galpals and that she thought Pipsy was the perfect name for the peachy pink blush she chose to include in the palette. This is like a three in one blush- I can't make up my mind whether it is pink, peach or coral. Maybe it's a 3in1 but I feel more drawn towards a different colour everytime I look at it. Pipsy is matte and, like the eyeshadows, is buttery smooth, incredibly pigmented and easy to blend. It is such a beautiful shade that I would absolutely go for even if it wasn't included in this palette. 

Lastly, the final colour in the pan is the shade Amour which represents the love between Pippa and her husband, Brian Ormond. This is a matte warm bronzer/ contouring shade that, to be honest, didn't look like much in the pan to me but absolutely knocked my socks off when I applied it to where I imagine the hollows of my cheeks would be and blended it. This blends amazingly well- so velvety, so smooth, it's like second skin and not just powder on your skin. This is incredibly pigmented also so I would be careful not to load your brush up with too much product or else to give it a good tap and knock off the excess before applying to your face. I can imagine this shade would suit a lot of different skin tones and also, because it blends so beautifully, I imagine it could easily be built up for greater colour depth. 

From L-R: Lulu, Pipsy, Amour

On my face in the pics above I am wearing pretty much every shade in the palette. I started with Lily all over the lid, applied Ollie to the crease as a transition colour for my transition colour, applied Tobi as my actual transition colour, Susu to darken up my crease, Dodo on the outer corner well blended out and K.D. as eyeliner just along my lash line. On my cheeks I have the Pipsy blush, I used Amour to carve out my cheekbones a little and then applied Lulu on cheekbones for highlight. I actually applied Lulu with my Blank Canvas Cosmetics F29 brush which is a duo fibre brush and check out that sheen. 

And also- for the sake of completeness, these eyeshadows not only held up beautifully over the course of wear but also lasted amazingly well also. I applied a little of my new Catrice Eyeshadow Primer on my lids before applying the shades, and they did not crease at all over the course of wear, about 13 hours after first applying. I did not have to top up my eyeshadow, blush or highlighter once over the course of the day, and they lasted well over my Estee Lauder Double Wear Light foundation. 

I am saying this- not because I have a huge fangirl crush on Pippa or because I have been an advocate of Blank Canvas Cosmetics for the last three years- this is a great palette. I know there was a bit of huffing and puffing over the price of this on Facebook but let me tell you now, and you know I only ever tell my readers the truth on this blog, I would happily pay the full €34.99 for the Lulu highlighter alone because it is actually phenomenal. The fact you get 6 decent matte eyeshadows, a gorgeous neutral health faking blush and a deliciously smooth bronzer is kind of just a bonus in my mind. 

I did get this palette for consideration of review, and I was under no obligation to review it or use it, and if I didn't like this or felt meh about it, I would probably not feature this at all, but I cannot actually convey in words how genuinely impressed I am by this palette. It ticked every single one of my boxes, and I am picky. I'm absolutely thrilled for Pippa and the Blank Canvas team that they have created something so special, and not just put their names to another mediocre product sponsored by an influential Irish blogger. The Pippa Palette is a winner in my eyes, it exceeded any expectations I had. I'm not going to add to the hype around this palette but I am going to tell you to believe the hype.

If you are interested in picking up the Pippa Palette for yourself, it is available from the Blank Canvas Cosmetics website, the Cloud 10 Beauty website or Pippa's website  for a special pre-launch price of €34.99. Next Monday, 20th July, the palette will be on sale at regular price of €39.99. So do yourselves a favour and pre-order it now and save that fiver! I know €40 sounds like a lot but for what you get, I honestly think it's worth it and I would have no qualms in forking over my hard earned wages for a slice of this Pippa Palette pie. #PippaforBlankCanvas all the way! If you are into neutral, fresh faced, glowing, healthy makeup, this palette will do it all for you. I predict the Lulu highlighter is going to be the star of the show.

Have you been tempted by this palette and pre-ordered yet or are you holding out for a while longer to make up your mind? 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Maybelline The Nudes Eyeshadow Palette- Review, Swatches

It seems like Maybelline’s ‘The Nudes’ palette has been released Stateside for years but us makeup lovers at this side of the Atlantic were only made privy to this release recently whereas our friends across the pond are on the second generation already (Blushed Nudes). This palette retails for €15ish in Ireland. I've waited a long time to get my hands on this baby! The packaging is ok- nothing too luxe to write home about, it doesn’t contain a mirror in the lid and there was a bit of palette space wastage by the inclusion of a crap eyeshadow applicator.

The Nudes palette contains 12 shades of various neutral eyeshadows and the literature on the back of the palette informs you that you can create 13 looks and that instead of a mere 12 eyeshadow palette, the palette actually comprises three eyeshadow quads- neutral, warm and cool. So this palette sounds like it should do everything for you. There is also a list of instructions on the back of the palette to enlighten you as to how to use and pair the shadows. Taking each of the “quads” individually- the neutral quad is quite bland and the matte shadows are quite chalky and poorly pigmented, the warm quad is the most impressive of the bunch in my eyes as the shades are the most attractive and pigmented, and the cool one is just a bit meh

In my opinion, the pigmentation of this palette is nothing to write home about- certainly the matte shades are chalky and lacking in pigment. A few of the shades are a bit too similar on the lid for my liking also. You absolutely need to use a primer with this palette as these are not long lasting by themselves on my eyes, and I don’t have oily eyelids. Even the shimmer shades, which are typically the better performing eyeshadows in drugstore/highstreet palettes like this one, are not buttery and not the easiest to blend- some of them feel a little gritty as if they are made of sand. All of the shadows are quite dry and difficult enough to work with on the lids. This palette is not awful but when you compare it to it’s competitors on the highstreet- particularly Sleek Makeup and IsaDora, this palette is nowhere near the same league at all even though it’s the same price point or more expensive. 

For all of those reasons above, I wouldn’t really recommend this palette. It’s just all a bit meh to me- I don’t feel like I dislike it strongly enough to warn you not to get it but I certainly wouldn’t recommend you forking out your hard earned eurobucks on it to be frank. I think you could definitely do better in terms of highstreet eyeshadow palettes.

Am I the only one who was completely underwhelmed by this palette?

Friday, 10 July 2015

Charlotte Tilbury - Eyes to Mesmerise - Veruschka, Marie Antoinette, Mona Lisa - Review and Swatches of all 6 shades!

Myself and Charlotte have a big of a love/meh relationship. Not love/hate, because I most definitely have never hated any Charlotte Tilbury product that I have ever tried, but a love/meh relationship, because I either love some of her products, or feel really dispassionate about others. In terms of eyeshadows, I feel like they are overhyped to be frank. I have two of her palettes- The Dolce Vita and Golden Goddess, and whilst there is no doubting that these are nice, they are just not that amazing in my eyes, they are pretty average and extortionately priced for what they are. One of the most disappointing Charlotte Tilbury products that I have tried was the Colour Chameleon Eyeshadow Pencil in Champagne Diamonds- I never ever reach for this, I'm not struck on the formula at all. However, about 2 months ago now, I found myself perusing the Charlotte Tilbury counter in Brown Thomas, and I ended up picking up not one, not two, but three of the new Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise Cream Eyeshadows in the shades Veruschka, Marie Antoinette and Mona Lisa. 

These little pots retail for €26 each- which is almost bargainous in Tilburyland- and I had no hesitation in handing over the cash for the three shades I picked out after swatching them (swatches of all 6 shades below). There are 6 shades altogether- 5 warm toned neutrals in various shades of golds and browns, and a bright teal (which is kinda like the black sheep of the Eyes to Mesmerise family except it's actually a teal cream eyeshadow instead of a neutral- you get my gist). ALL of the colours are absolutely stunning when swatched, and I'm surprised I restrained myself to the three I did pick out. Each shadow has a moussey formula- a little thicker than the Max Factor Excess Shimmer cream eyeshadows- but definitely a lot more creamy and whipped than the MAC paint pots or Chanel Illusion d'Ombres.
Veruschka - a greenish, antique gold  with olive undertone and subtle bronze shimmer
Marie Antoinette - a coppery/bronzey/gold hybrid shade with warm caramel undertones
Mona Lisa - deep chocolately reddish brown with plum undertones.
I found that all the colours I have applied and performed in the same way so my comments on them are all universal. Holy smokes, these eyeshadows are pig-MENTed! 
They are easy to apply as long as you (a) apply a thin coat to the lid (b) wait for it to set before applying next coat if you are seeking to build up the colour. If you try building these up too quick without giving them a chance to set and dry, you will get creasing, and no amount of eyeshadow primer will help you redeem yourself. 2 coats of this stuff is plenty for high impact, almost foil effect colour. It takes a minute or two for the formula to set on the lid- probably the longest time out of any of the cream eyeshadows I own from other brands, but I strongly believe that that time investment is worth it. If you apply these in a hurry and don't give it the chance to set properly, your lids will be more creased than a concertina. 
I have used these with and without eyeshadow primer and it had no impact on the colour or longevity. You could of course apply a powder eyeshadow over the top to stop the creasing but I think that it would be a pity to make the potential jewel like finish of these eyeshadows with a mere powder.
I use a fluffy brush like the MAC 217 to sweep this over the lid as a wash of colour- you could apply with your fingers if you preferred but I try to avoid using my hands to apply makeup and also you may end up with too much product on your hands. 
These are perfect for giving a wash of colour to the lids and leave a lovely metallic finish with a gorgeous sheen. These colours are 5 dimensional- between the colour base, the depth of colour, any undertones, any sheen and any tiny glitter of shimmer particles- they all combine to make a unique eyeshadow experience.  

As you can see from the swatches above, these are an absolutely stunning line of colours and the finish is beautiful. As I said, I cannot quite believe I haven't been in to pick up the other shades yet! These have been a huge hit in my eyes- and probably one of the standout Charlotte Tilbury products that I have tried. 

Have you tried these eyeshadows yet? Which of the colours appeals to you?


Thursday, 9 July 2015

Bourjois Nude Sensation Foundation - review and swatches

Bourjois is one of the drugstore/highstreet heavyweights when it comes to foundations as they constantly churn out amazing formulations, like the absolutely best of the best. The Healthy Mix and Happy Light foundations, as well as the CC Cream, are absolute standouts in my eyes and I've gone through many a bottle. So when Bourjois released a new foundation, Nude Sensation, I did not hesitate for a second in firing it into my basket in Boots and had no qualms in forking out the €12.99 price tag because I thought I was onto a great thing. Thought being the operative word because this Nude Sensation foundation disappointed me muchly.

The foundation comes in 4 shades and I picked up the lightest shade which was 41- Fair Nude. As you can see from the packaging above, this looks very orange in the pot, but this orangeness did not translate onto the face at all. If you are still interested in trying this foundation at the end of this review and you are pale, this is the one to go for. It is the only Bourjois foundation to come in a pot- which I am not hugely mad about- and it promises a light texture. It delivers a light texture with it's moussey, whipped air formula, and when it dries on skin, it feels (and looks) powdery (check out the pic below). Now this is my issue- this is meant to feel like bare skin  but actually it just looks like bare skin. As in skin so bare that it doesn't look like you applied anything at all to your face. Nada. I often frequent a lighter coverage foundation but I still expect lighter foundations to deliver some sort of evening out of my complexion, maybe a subtle glow, something, anything that make you feel justified in forking out your dolla. Again, Bourjois allege that this foundation will leave your skin soft subtle and moisturised but I cannot attest to this. 

This foundation provided absolutely zero coverage- it is without a doubt, the most sheer base I have ever applied to my face, and that includes every BB cream and tinted moisturiser I have tried along the way. I tried applying this is a number of ways- with a stippling brush, kabuki brush etc- but I have found the best way to spread this across your face is to use your fingertips (and I hate using my hands for applying foundation), This sat horribly on my skin and sunk into the fine lines around my eyes like a mofo. As you can see from the pics, it offered absolutely zero coverage on my skin. When this is applied, it feels like a primer, a thin siliconey layer over which you apply foundation- so I did use this as a primer with some Healthy Mix over the top of it, and it did absolutely nothing to add to the longevity or appearance of that foundation experience.

Overall, and it pains me to say, I feel like this is such a pointless product. For the life of me, I cannot see why anyone would want to use this. If I wanted a zero coverage day, I would opt for a moisturiser, a tinted moisturiser or even something like my Clarins Beauty Flash Balm- not this moussey zero coverage velvety feeling foundation. It promised a flawless complexion, reduced pores and smoothing fine lines and it failed on all three counts in my eyes. This will be rehomed quickly as I honestly have no time for this and would prefer to give it to someone who will use it than have it gather dust in my drawers. I still absolutely love and adore all the other Bourjois foundations I own and I will most definitely keep repurchasing them, but Nude Sensation is not for me.

Have you tried this foundation out yet or are you planning to? 
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