Sunday, 28 March 2010

Friday Night's Alright for Dancing

Friday night is in the air…the weather has finally thawed out and feels sunny and spring-like, which puts me in a great mood for going out with my favourite girls for a few cocktails to celebrate love, life and payday.

For tonight, I wanted to create a sort of ‘natural glamour’ look, so I watched a lot of tutorials on that, gathering particular inspiration from Jodienas on YouTube, who does some great informative videos. Of course I adapted her tips for the make-up I have and shades that suit me. I’m normally pretty much addicted to smoky eyes when I go out, and always wear dark eyeshadow in the evenings, so not to dig out the greys and blacks, and to focus a bit more on lip colour, was a big departure for me!

It’s strange the little comfort zones we get into regarding style but it’s probably a good thing to challenge these and try out different stuff that might suit us better. I was also inspired by Katy Perry, who seems to wear this look well with a balanced, but still defined evening eye and brighter colours on the lips.

Anyway, here’s a breakdown of how I got this look:


Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse foundation ‘008 Light Beige’ – I mentioned this product in my recent ‘drugstore haul’ post. It’s not new to the market by any means, but its new to me, and I’ve never used a mousse formulation for my face before. For the price point, this product performs very well, delivering a hyper-real finish. I’m hoping its mattifying properties will mean I don’t need to squeeze a separate powder compact into my evening clutch!

Sleek Face Contour Kit – another recent buy I mentioned. There’s a very matt bronzing powder, which I used to sculpt under my cheekbones, on my temples and around my jaw line to visually disguise my face shape flaws a little. Also a golden-toned highlight powder, which I used in an elongated ‘C’ shape, joining the tops of my cheekbones out to the temples, and my brow bones. I dislike products that look too heavy and obvious on this area, so this powder suits me, doing just enough to enhance my bone structure.

Mac Blushcreme ‘Posey’ - This is my new make-up addiction. I have a serious problem finding blushes that suit my skin tone. I wanted something pink, but not too fake and ‘dolly’. This colour really makes a mark. I’ve been using an Eyeko Fat Balm to add cheek colour during the winter, and I must say I’ve gotten to really like cream blushers as their so blendable and easy to build up. But the Blushcreme is a very superior formulation. I’ve you just contour with bronzer and skip the blush, your skin can look really flat, so this just gives a nice lift to the overall look, plus if you’re in a rush, you could use this as a lip colour too.

Eyeko Touch Up and Glow Highlighter pen- I used this under the highlighting powder from the Sleek kit, it’s a very natural pinky toned highlight cream in a pen format that goes on really sheer and natural, and I just used it to build up a bit more dimension on my face.


Mac Eyeshadows in Phloof!, Shale and Showstopper (limited-edition from the Royal Assets Warm Eyes palette) – Like I mentioned, I wanted a more natural eye than I usually have, but still with enough impact for evening wear and to balance my brighter lips. ‘Phloof!’ is like a paler, shimmery champagne colour that I normally wear as my everyday eyeshadow. I washed it across my lids, blending up into the brow area with a brush, then dipped the point of my little finger in the shadow and pressed it into the inner corners, so there was more impact on this area. I used ‘Shale’ - sort of a purple-grey (Mac describe it as a ‘muted mauve with subtle shimmer’) in the crease, extending it to the outer corners and creating a ‘wing’ shape to the outer edge. I finished with ‘Showstopper’ a matte, bitter-chocolate brown, along my lashline at top and bottom, flicking it at the outer corners and blending it into the wing shape I’d made.

Bourjois Liner Feutre black – Pretty much my go-to liquid liner as its fool-proof felt-tip application allows real control and the black is dark and long-lasting. Normally, I might not have used this product for the look I was aiming for, but as I was wearing false lashes, it was essential for disguising the join. I kept the line thin, thickening it slightly at the edges while making an upwards motion to ‘lift’ the eye.

Eyeko Magic Eyes Mascara ‘Magic Black’ – I’ve pretty much raved about this before, so I won’t go into detail here. Suffice to say its really good at thickening and darkening my lashes, without becoming too clumpy.

Eyelure Girls Aloud strip lashes ‘Nadine’ – I bought a couple of pairs of these lashes when they were on offer, and I’ve been really impressed. They go on nicely and are really durable. I wore the ‘Cheryl’ ones a couple of times already and they’re still in good enough shape to use again, plus the glue it comes with is in a proper re-sealable tube with applicator, not one of those pathetic toothpaste-tube type efforts that dries up halfway through the first night, so you don’t have to buy additional glue. The ‘Nadine’ lashes are a little more natural-look than ‘Cheryl’, and alternate short and long strands. I cut a little off the inner corners for them to fit my eyes – this is always where they should be trimmed if you need to shorten them.

Max Factor Colour Perfection automatic eyeliner ‘Brown 30’ – I skimmed the softer dark-brown crayon along the bottom lashline, inside outer corner of my waterlines, and also used it to gently fill in the sparse areas of my brows. Talk about a multi-tasker!


Miss Sporty Mini-Me Lipliner ‘Toffee’ – I used this fleshy coloured pencil to just give my lips a bit of definition as I was wearing a proper lipstick over a gloss.

Vaseline Lip Therapy with Rose and Almond Oil – I adore this pink-tinted lip balm and have been wearing it non-stop through the long, harsh winter we’ve suffered through! I used it to prep my lips, as lipsticks can look dry and a little harsh without something underneath, especially when wearing a brighter shade like…

Mac Frost Lipstick ‘Costa Chic’ – I picked this up the other day, wanting to try something new and a bit out of my usual comfort zone in terms of colour. It’s a really bright coral colour, which kind of reminds me of ‘Saved by The Bell’ (is that really bad?!) just that sort of early-90’s flouro! It could be a bit of a tricky colour for some, but I have a light olive skin which hopefully means I can be a shade braver! My friend who was with me when I bought it claimed it made me look ‘a bit like a dizzy secretary’, but I took that as a complement! It’s a lot sheerer with the Vaseline underneath to dilute it. A bit of a departure for me, but I’m actually liking it!

With my hair, I wanted straight with some root volume. I washed last night with just a regular Charles Worthington shampoo (I switch shampoos each time I buy a new bottle) and then I tried some James Brown Scandalous Intensely Glossy Treatment in place of a conditioner. This made my hair fairly shiny, but nothing can disguise the bleach damage from my blonde days, unfortunately. I also finished-rinsed with cold water to encourage flat cuticules. Styled with some Charles Worthington Gloss Polish, which is a shimmery gel you add to damp hair to encourage a shiny finish. I straightened in small sections with my GHD Pure stylers, using some Front Row Stay Cool Heat Defence Spray as I went. I backcombed and sprayed a little at the roots, then finished with a blast of Gliss Hair Repair Colour Protect Shine Tonic. This is a shine spay I loved when I was a teenager, and its pretty good for a budget product – I’ve recently returned to it.

I also used some Sally Hansen Firming Leg Shine lotion as I was braving bare legs for the first time this year! I’ve been using Johnson’s Holiday Skin Light Glow body lotion this week to build a little bit of colour up as well.


Navy bandage dress with grey hem – Topshop

Studded bronze and black gladiator sandals – Office

Black patent mock-croc clutch – Primark

Grey stiped fitted blazer – All Saints

Bracelets – various from ASOS and Therapy at House of Fraser

Have a fun and fabulous weekend!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Stealing Beauty: Primark Cosmetics Review

Despite staying away from the place for six months, I seem to have accumulated a fair amount of make-up from my love/hate shopping destination, Primark. It's very eye-catching stuff, and people always comment and ask about it. A lot are suprised to learn that Primark even do make-up and that some of it is fairly decent (considering the price point, it's actually pretty good!).

I wondered about doing a review post on it for some time, but I've decided I'll go ahead and post some comments about it.

In general, the range is packaged quite innovatively, with bright pop-art style prints and cheeky names that really catch your eye. The packaging is fairly sturdy. The shade range is quite limited, only running to three or four shades at the most, and some items, such as blush, only appear in one shade, which can be restrictive.

In terms of innovation, I feel they've 'borrowed' quite heavily from brands such as Benefit and Soap and Glory - that kind of retro, tongue-in-cheek feel. Items are from around one-pound-fifty to three or four pounds, so nothing's going to break the bank. I seem to have gotten quite a few pieces because of this, throwing an item or two into my basket while I'm standing in line. At these prices, you can really afford to try everything out and see if there isn't something you end up loving.

The products I have tried are:

Eye Shine Brightly Eye Gloss in 'Gold Glitz' - I really, really hated this product - but I think that might be because I just don't like eye glosses at all. It's the first time I've tried a gloss formulation on the eyes, and it just didn't suit me at all. I found it sticky, gloopy and hateful to apply, let alone get any kind of shape with. It creased like hell (can eye glosses ever not crease like hell?) and forget wearing any kind of eyeliner with it, because that just ends up as a blurry mess. I think perhaps it might work if you wore it on its own, with just a touch of mascara, but it wasn't for me.

Happy Couple Duo Blusher and Bronzer
- This product I really did like! It comes in a stiffened cardboard tub, like the Benefit powders, with a little brush. Half the pan is a very pink blush with warm undertones and a slight shimmer, and a lighter, orangey bronzer which is very shimmery again! Because it is quite shimmery, I've preferred it either for night-time, or for on holiday, when I have a bit of a tan anyway. I don't think it would suit paler skin tones, because the colours are very warm. The colours look fresh on the skin and last well. I used the bronzer just under my cheekbones and pink on the apples - you couldn't really contour with it as its too golden and would be really noticeable!

Little Glow Cheek Block Bronzer in 'Sunkissed'
- Another product that's been thrown to the back of my drawer for dire emergencies only or when I find some other way to make it work.It's based on a Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick, but then a lot of the newer bronzers are. It's intended to have different strips of colour that mix when you sweep a brush over the whole to get a multi-tonal effect.It was only available in this one shade and its just waaayy too dark. The browns they've used are really muddy too, and the different strips of colour do not mix up well.

Tinted Love Highlighter and Cheek Gel -
this is a double-ended wand with a red cheek gel at one end and a peachy, golden-toned highlighter on the other. Basically, a complete 're-imagining' of Benefit's BeneTint and MoonBeam products. I had a mixed reaction to this product. I wasn't keen on the cheek stain gel - the colour was okay, but it was messy to apply, not pigmented enough and not very long lasting. I felt like I had to apply half the tube to get it to show up! The gel was too sheer and needed to be thicker and more syrupy. Perhaps I just expected too much from it after years of BeneTint. The highlighter, however, was really good. I loved the colour of it, and it gave a smooth, creamy, flattering uplight to my skin. The colour is a happy medium because it doesn't look too obvious, so could be used for day or night.

Souffleye Mousse Eyeshadow in 'Mint Cream'
- again, its probably just me not really getting on with non-powder eyeshadows. But if I use mousse or cream formulations, an absolute no-no for me is if they crease, which this one did, in spades. It slid around on my lids and most of a colour had creased or evaporated before I'd finished the rest of my make-up! I did love the colour, which was roughly the colour of mint ice-cream and really made my orangey-toned brown eyes pop, but there's no way I could use this again for work. I haven't tried it with a eye base first, which might make a difference, but I doubt if it would completely save this product.

Whiplash Volume and Curl Mascara in 'Black Lash'
- this mascara comes in a squeezy plastic tube, a bit like Eyeko Big Eyes, which is a product I love, so I subconsciously thought it might be like that. The truth is, its nowhere near as good.The wand is shorter than most, which I really like as I think it gives you more maneuverability and control. However, the product formulation is very gloopy and too liquid, meaning that it smudges and smears all over the place which is intensely annoying as it ruins your eye make-up. Once on the lashes, the product does a good job of darkening the lashes, appearing very black. Volume is decent, but nowhere near the super-league of volume mascaras like YSL Faux Cils or Lancome Fatale, although seeing as it only costs a couple of pounds, perhaps that's a rather unfair comparison! It also promises to curl lashes, but I found exactly the opposite, it actually curled my lashes LESS than my usual mascara. I also felt that if you got remotely hot, it would melt right off and give you serious panda eyes. It's going to be my Sunday morning or emergency mascara! It occurs to me that if I left the top off for half an hour and let it dry out a little, it might actually be easier to use!

Ta Ta For Now Concealer in 'Light'
- Unlike when it comes to foundation, I'm actually pretty concealer loyal. I've been using L'Oreal's Touche Magique for a while now, and have never found a good reason to change as it suits me. TTFN certainly won't be changing that. It comes in a hot pink wand with a built in brush. Clicking a button at the bottom brings the product out on the brush. I liked that it has additonal skin goodies - vitamin E and aloe vera - which for a product at this price range is very good. The formula is fairly easy to blend, but it doesn't last a whole day, and needs a definite re-touch at midday. That doesn't bother me so much, my main issue is that its not yellow-toned enough. If a concealer is specifically intended to cover dark circles, it needs a stronger yellow colour to counteract the purple and blue shadows. This one doesn't have it, so if you have an issue with shadows, like I do, its not ideal - but its not bad enough to jettison. I'll use it until it runs out, then return to my usual!

Fatal Retraction Eyeliner Pencil in Black
- This was the first thing I tried from Primark's make-up range. It's an automatic pencil with a blending brush at the other end. It was a really dark black, so brilliant for night-time and smoky eyes. The formula was pretty creamy, but at night I usually 'set' my eyeliner with eyeshadow over the top, so it suited me. The blending wand is a really nice touch. My only qualm was that after I'd used it a couple of times, the pencil shattered (the product itself, not the casing) and it all fell out. I don't have this problem often and I'm not rough with it, so I think the product was just a little too fragile.

So, Primark make-up is a bit mixed - but at those prices, definitely worth a try!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Stealing Beauty: Drugstore Makeup Haul

Drugstore haul! (L to R): Sleek Face Contour Palette, Taxi Pure Powder Blush in 'Tower Hill', Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse, Max Factor Silk Gloss, Miss Sporty Fabulous Eyes Eyeshadow Pencil in 'Peach Punk'.

It's that awful week right before payday where I have no more spare pennies to play with and the shops decide to put out their prettiest things, just to annoy me.

I'll be honest, at the moment i'm trying to pay off my credit card in six months. I don't owe a huge amount, but it just doesn't seem to be going away, so I decided at the beginning of the year that I'd try and blitz it in six months and pay it all off. I'm managing okay, but with a hefty mortgage on top, the last few days before payday aren't exactly retail heaven. *sigh*. I'm sure it'll all be worth it in the end, but I still need my beauty boost, even on a budget! So, I went drugstore make up shopping and did a mini-haul there. Here's what I got:

Sleek Face Contour Kit
- I really like the Sleek brand so far, although I've stuck to their fabulous eye palettes up until now. They make really brilliant, densely-pigmented eyeshadows in far-out colours that are long-lasting, and just as good in quality as Mac or Urban Decay. A palette of 12 shadows costs about five pounds, so they are an amazing option. The beauty blogs were abuzz with Sleek-lovin' a while back, so I thought I'd give this kit a try. It comes in a black compact, with a big, clear mirror just like the eyeshadows - top-quality packaging for the price. There's a matt bronzing powder, which I've been wanting for a while now, as all my bronzers seem to be shimmery. Obviously, matt is far better for doing a little contouring and hiding my double chin etc! Then there's a highlight powder with a light shimmer, which has pink and golden tones. The kit comes in three shade options - 'light', 'medium' and 'dark', but some of bronzers looked a bit scary and dark, so I stuck to 'light'. I tried the kit with my Mac contour brush, and was pleasantly surprised by the results - subtle, even-toned, and making me look as if I actually have cheekbones! A full review and demo has been carried out at the Liparazzi blog, here.

Taxi Pure Powder Blush 'Tower Hill'
- Taxi is a brand I haven't tried before, but I really wanted a pink blusher to get that 'instant spring' pink cheeks look. The blush comes in that innovative container, with a little mirror on the lid. It's got an inbuilt powder puff, and when you shake the pot, it comes through that and you can easily blend it into your cheek. They had some brighter shades, which I wavered over, before finally selecting 'Tower Hill', which is more of a dusty-rose pink tone. I like the product, although it goes on very lightly, and is impossible to apply with a heavy hand either due to the dispensing mechanism, which may be a good thing! I've been looking into the brand on their website, and a lot of it seems to be aimed at men trying to work a Brandon Flowers type glam-rock look! Perhaps its all aimed at men, I'm not sure, but nothing like a unisex bit of kit! Not sure if I'd buy again from the brand as they don't have a very big product range, but maybe they'll develop and grow.

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse
- okay, I caved and tried it after discovering one of my favourite beauty gurus, Imogen at Foxy Locks, wears it - and her skin always looks pretty good to me! Like I mentioned, I haven't tried a mousse formulation before, but recently tried a sample of L'Oreal's Matte Morphose. However, the Maybelline version is about half the price! I know some people really like this foundation, but I'm sorry, I still don't think it's 'The One' for me, because it doesn't have an SPF, and I consider that pretty much vital in face products. I do use a moisturiser with an SPF, but I like my bases to have one too. My skin is pretty normal - a little drier in winter, a little oilier on the T-zone in summer - and this formulation made it look really hyper smooth! I think I'm going to like it for nights out, because its mattifying, so hopefully I won't need to carry a separate powder compact. It seemed to last pretty well, although my nose got a little shiny and needed touching up. For the price, I think it's a pretty decent foundation, although it doesn't give any kind of a glow, so may be a little dense for summer (if we ever get one!) but no doubt I will have moved on to something else by then! It is apparently, the best-selling foundation in the UK, but as numerous X Factor votes prove, that many people can be wrong! I think I may have bought slightly the wrong shade, although it looked fine in the store, because its a little ashy on me. But I do like it, and I'm planning to use it as my 'night out' base, although I'm carrying on with the Bourjois Teint Pinceau for day.

Max Factor Silk Gloss Tube
- This is supposed to be a mix between a balm and a gloss. It usually comes in a solid plastic form with an application wand, but the one I got was in a soft tube, like a Juicy Tube. It really reminds me of my Molton Brown Vitamin Lip Sheer, which is a great product for a hint of colour and a natural look. I'm not sure what shade I got - it doesn't say on the packaging, but it was like a nude beige. It goes on clear actually, which is a little disappointing, I would have liked slightly more colour. There are gold flecks in it, which helps a little. I do like the silky feel and it has left my lips very soft. But its more the sort of product I leave in my desk drawer to grab quickly during the day - not a hero product by any means.

Miss Sporty Fabulous Eyes eyeshadow pencil in 050 Peach Punk
This is pretty much the cheapest make-up brand going (no item is over three pounds), and its aimed squarely at tweens and teens, so I'm not really the target audience here. But they were having a three for two offer, which I'm a sucker for. Also, I was looking for a fat, shimmery crayon in a nude colour, which I couldn't seem to find elsewhere. Something like Benefit's Mr Frosty, but not so white. I wanted to use it on the inner corners and water lines of my eyes to have that brightening effect, and also around the cupid's bow of my lips, to give my pout a bit more fullness. It's not incredibly long-lasting, but it does the job and there's not much alternative in the shade I'm after - if you have any, let me know! I also grabbed their Mini-Me eye and lip liners to make up my three products, can't go wrong to have some emergency liners around! I'm not a huge fan of the brand, I think its okay for fun products (like lipgloss) that you don't expect to last a very long time.

So, that was my little drugstore adventure, with mixed results!

Hot Mess: Rave Beauty Look

Hadouken! in action

Any show featuring a guy in a giant mouse costume who comes on stage to dance, must be good!

Almost a lash extension effect, thanks to Eyeko!

Gigantic, messed up rave hair
Hair products used (L to R): nu:u nu:shine shiny wax, Tigi Bedhead Superstar Thick Massive Hair, James Brown London hairspray, Lee Stafford Messed Up Spray Wax

Eye make-up used (L to R): Revlon ColorStay 12-Hour Eyeshado 'Sultry Smoke', Chit Chat Cream Concealer, Eyeko Glitter Liner, Eyeko Magic Mascara 'Magic Black', Pop Beauty Eye Glam 'Sexy'.

I wanted to show you the make-up look I tried out for the Hadouken! gig. I'm not claiming to be some kind of cosmetics guru, just a girl who enjoys playing around with make-up and trying new things. I've worked on a few department store cosmetics counters part-time while I was studying for my degree, and I really enjoyed showing people new products during that time. I also watch a lot of tutorials and reviews about make-up on YouTube, trying to learn more and find inspiration.

For the Hadouken! gig, I wanted a young, glittery fun look with a hint of bad attitude and serious hair. I'm loath to say the word 'Ke$ha', partly because anyone that talks about using JD as some kind of mouthwash for their 'teefs' should not be anyone's style icon, and partly because she just looks like something dug up from the waiting room at an inner-city VD clinic.

But I have to admit, I was sort of aiming for that 'hot mess', scruffy-but-casually-sexy vibe. A little Effy from Skins, who is exactly what I wanted to be all through my teen years (without realising, of course, as Skins wasn't around when I was that age.)

Eye products:
Chit Chat cream concealer-as an eye base
Pop Beauty Eye Glam in 'Sexy'- a dull silver cream shadow
Revlon 12 Hour Colorstay eye shadow palette in '11- Sultry Smoke'- my go-to smoky eyes palette. I blended the darkest grey shade across my lids lightly, pushing the colour into the silver cream shadow to create a washed out, shiny take on smoky.
Eyeko Glitter Liner in silver- this is a new product I was trying out. The glitter particles aren't too dense, so I was able to wash it over my lids in several coats for impact.
Eyeko Magic Mascara in 'Magic Black'- my current favourite. My lashes looked so long in the picture it was like having extensions!
Estee Lauder Artist's Eye Pencil in '06 Ink Writer'- a glorious deepest navy blue, which I used on my lower water line and in the corners to smoke the eye out a little bit.

I kept my lips really simple and spontaneous- no lip liner or anything as I was trying to avoid looking too 'done'. I just slicked on some L'Oreal Glam Shine Juice in '224 Candy Juice'- a really vibrant, coral-toned hot pink-as I was running out of the door. I usually line and define my brows too, as they can be a bit sparse and unruly. But I left these undone to fit with my 'ungroomed' look.

In terms of hair, I wanted biiiig. And lots of texture. I roughly blow-dried upside down, scrunching as I went to encourage texture and movement. Using Tigi BedHead Superstar Thick Massive Hair lotion to really give my style some guts. When dry, I sprayed liberally with Lee Stafford Messed Up Light Spray Wax and twisted random strands around my fingers for extra dimension. I used a tail comb to get a deep side part to my hair, creating a large, flipped-over front section to fall over one eye.

To finish, I used nu:u nu:shine shiny wax just on the ends to get some definition. As the final touch, I sprayed some hairspray into the palms of my hands and used them to ruffle up my hair, get rid of any smoothness, and massage additional volume into the roots. Et voila! My messed-up, sweaty rave princess look was complete!

The gig was amazing, the band seemed as into it as the crowd. It left me really impressed with Hadouken! and their CD hasn't been off my car stereo since. I'm definitely not rock n roll these days though- I was actually pleased the band finished relatively early at 10pm, as I had work the next day. Sure sign of getting old!
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