Monday, 30 April 2012

Five Favourites for May

Hello my lovelies! It’s another month, and after some pretty solid torrential rain, the weather here has finally broken out into something a bit more spring-like. I’ve gotten a couple of new items recently and it’s inspired me to put together a post on my current beauty faves

1.       Real Techniques Stippling Brush

I came across this line of brushes after watching a video tutorial on Youtube by one of my favourite posters, swalkermakeup. I don’t know why, but I sort of assumed they would only be available from some obscure website and probably be quite expensive, so imagine my surprise when I walked into my local Boots-which is not even a very big one- and found them staring me in the face! Curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to randomly treat myself to the Stippling brush, as this is not a type of brush I already own. And that gamble paid off because I’m over the moon with this. It promises ‘ultra-soft Taklon bristles’ that give an ‘airbrushed, high-definition finish’- but don’t most products claim this? Well, the RealTechniques line actually delivers. I’m staggered what a difference it is from the standard Benefit foundation brush I normally use. It really did make my skin look flawless, just using my usual foundation. You can use it with cream, liquid and powder formulations and it works equally as well. The brushes are from Samatha Chapman, whose tutorials you may have seen as ‘pixiwoo’ on YouTube, and I cannot recommend this brush enough. It’s done for my face what my Tangle Teezer did for my hair, and I am just as obsessed with it now. I really want to go and get some more of the brushes now!

2.       Sorceress Products Babycakes Scented Oil

This is another hero product I’m really enjoying at the moment, that’s shot to the top of my ‘can’t live without’ category. Sourced from a little independent shop ‘Sorceress Products’ via their website (they also sell on eBay), I was intrigued by the prospect of smelling like freshly baked goodies! This actually smells a lot like cherry bakewell tart to be honest, but in a really nice way. It comes as an oil in a little rollerball and the scent lasts so much longer than regular perfume, I’m impressed. Plus the little applicator is so handy to carry around, even in the smallest of clutch bags. BUT WAIT!! There is another, hidden benefit to this perfume. It’s supposed to contain pheromones and make you like catnip to men. I can’t really comment on that aspect of it- my husband seems to like it, but I like to think he generally likes me anyway! But that really would be an added bonus if so. I do know I’ve had a lot of compliments since I started wearing this and its also nice that its different from everything else out there.

3.       L’Oreal The One SweepSculpting

I found this product on eBay after having a quick look for duo blush/bronzers. I’m not sure it’s actually available through stores in the UK, as I’ve never seen it over here before. And the only reviews of it seem to be on American websites. But I might just be starting a petition to get it stocked over here! The duo concept is nothing new but the shades are long lasting and well balanced. The bronzer part is matt enough to be a great contour shade, and the blush part is pretty and delicate. I’m impressed with the staying power of this blush as well, it does slightly have the edge over the Sleek Contour Kit that is usually my go-to shader. There is quite a neat little waved brush included in the compact so you can apply ‘in one sweep’- however, I’m guessing most people, like me, would want to contour first and then apply the blush and also use their own brushes. The included brush isn’t great quality (when are they ever), but it is very useful for on-the-go touch-ups, as I’m never going to carry a full-size brush around with me. I like the clear packaging as well, it’s neat. If I can track this down again, I’d definitely repurchase.

4.       Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette

I umm-ed and ahhh-ed over the original naked palette for aaaaages. I really wanted it, knew I would use all the shades and yet I kept putting it off as it was always either sold out or it just seemed a smidge too expensive. I kept telling myself I would get it ‘next month’ and then that would roll around and there’d be other things to buy and I’d forget about it.
So when I saw a Naked 2 palette up for sale on ebay for £20, I snapped it up and I’m so glad I’ve finally gotten hold of it. I won’t wax lyrical about this because its a much talked-about product, and there are so many reviews and tutorials much better than I could do all over the web.  But suffice to say I think this product is one of those classic items that every make-up addict really needs in their life. The shades are all wonderful and oh-so-wearable and the range of looks you can create with it makes it a winner for it’s sheer versatility. Absolute love at long last!

5.       L’Oreal Rouge Caresse in ‘Cheeky Magenta’

This lipstick had to make my top five -  I know I’ve mentioned it before and used it in a look- but really it’s hardly been off my lips since I bought it. I’m in love with this lipstick for so many reasons. It’s the perfect, bright hot pink fluoro shade but still somehow manages to be flattering on. It has a gorgeous, sheer consistency that builds to a strong pigment but with a softly glossy finish that’s very flattering. The colour lasts well and fades away gently rather than going off in uneven patches and its hugely moisturising. I also love the funky clear packaging and angled bullet application. I honestly would give this product ten out of ten and am looking forward to trying some other shades from the Rouge Caresse range. It feels like a real premium product that would be out of place on the YSL counter. Go get one!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Four Ways To Wear It: Black Vest

I'm going on one of my increasingly rare nights out next week, and it got me thinking about outfit options and different ways I could style up a plain black vest I have that I wanted to wear. So I came up with the following four options, and am now deciding which one will make the cut!

Black vest throughout -  Zen Designs

Outfit One

Cream lace layered skirt -  Rare
Black studded biker jacker- FastFashion
Gold studded clutch bag - Primark
Black suede wedges -  Aldo

Outfit Two

Grey tailored shorts  -  Primark
Navy cropped blazer - H&M
Hard case butterfly bag - Ted Baker
Cream snakeskin ankle strap sandals -  Topshop

Outfit Three

Coral bodycon bandage skirt - Boohoo
Spiked zip sandals -  Primark
Oversized coral mock croc clutch - Cheeky Buddha

Outfit Four

Candy pink jeans- Missguided
Black sequin and pearl collar - Vivi
Black patent peep-toe shoeboots - Florence + Fred
Cream and black patent quilted bag - H&M

Hmmm, decisions decisions!


How To: 60s Vamp Hair

To match in with my 'Modern Marilyn' make up for my next night out, I wanted to come up with a hairstyle that referenced that whole Barbarella, 60's vamp look that I absolutely love, but in a modern way. I took inspiration also from Angelina Jolie's half-up, half-down softly toused look she frequently wears to great effect on various red carpets- but I put my own spin for my hairstyle and shape into it. I was really pleased with the finished result- it's loose and sexy but still a bit more dressed up than plain old hair down.

Tools of the Trade:

  •  A good hairbrush (I can't get enough of my Tangle Teezer, which is so gentle and caring on real hair and extensions, and is great for backcombing without damaging the hair)
  • A tailcomb for sectioning
  • The largest barrelled curling tongs you can find- this is very important, as we need to create soft, flowing waves, not tight curls. Large velcro rollers would also work.)
  • Sectioning clips
  • Kirby grips in a colour that blends with your hair
  • A heat protection spray- I'm using L'Oreal Studio Line Hot Straight
  • A good hairspray- Fructis Crystal Resist is anti-frizz & humidity, holds well without making the hair crisp!
  • Optional:
  • A few clip-in hair extensions
  • A 'Bump-it' or plastic hair volumising insert
  • A hair volumiser- I'm using Schwarzkopf Got2B Powderful, but lots of brands have a similar product

Get the Look:

  1. Gently brush through your hair with the Tangle Teezer to get rid of any snags and smooth out the hair.
  2. Tip your head upside down and massage in some of your volumising hair powder to the roots of the hair. You may also want to give it a quick blast of the dryer to ensure lasting volume.
  3. Using your tail comb, make a deep side part to the hair. For the most flattering parting, trace a line up for the highest point of your eyebrow arch.
  4. Use a clip to secure the front piece of your hair, any fringe or shorter layers out of the way for later
  5. If you're planning to use any clip-in extensions, now is the time to add them in. Carefully use the tail comb to horizontally part hair in sections and add in the pieces- I just used three sections, enough to ensure the pieces left down didn't look straggly.
  6. Once those are in, again use the tail comb to section off your hair at the crown. Gently backcomb the hair using blasts of hairspray to fix it. You may also want to fix in the Bumpit if you're using one and grip in place to create gentle volume at the crown.
  7. Divide the rest of your hair into about 8 sections (four either side). Comb each piece through, then clamp breifly with your large-barrelled curling tong. The aim is to create a slight bend to the hair and a really soft wave, rather than a defined curl, so only spend ten seconds or so on each piece. When it's all curled, comb through with your fingers and spray.
  8. Section off a small strand, about a couple of inches wide, on either side just in front of your ear. Pull these strands back so that they border your mini-beehive and fix with kirby grips. This creates the 'half-up', dressier look.
  9. Take your fringe section or the front part of hair that you'd clipped out of the way and brush back, then flip over and push slightly forward to create a small quiff at the front. The tail of this strand can be smoothed back into the beehive.Fix with kirby grips and a final blast of spray.
And there you have it, fuss-free, sexy party hair. Enjoy!

Review: Skin 79 BB Creams from Korea

I thought I would write a quick review of a major new addition to my skincare routine.

A while ago,I pledged that I would stop using foundation every day and try instead to use a BB cream. I find that the creams available over here sometimes tend to miss the point of what the creams are supposed to be- multi-tasking skin wonders- and end up being just tinted moisturisers with no added benefits. A real BB cream should contain multiple skin benefits such as anti-ageing ingredients, sunscreen, anti-oxidants etc.

I do think the Garnier BB cream is great, and probably the closest to a 'real' version of what is sold over in Korea and South East Asia, but I was very keen to try the real thing.

Skin 79 is a massive brand over there, and can be ordered in the UK via eBay and Amazon. Just be aware that if you do order from a Korean seller, they can take quite a while to be delivered! However, these prices are generally much better than Amazon, who are currently retailing the hot pink cream for £16.49 (I paid about £6.00 on eBay).

I ordered two variants of the 'Super+' BB cream- the regular one, in the hot pink packaging, and one called 'VIP Gold' in the gold tube. As far as I could make out from information on the internet, the pink version is more suitable for oily skin and the gold version is better for dryer skin.

The packaging of both is really nice - the bottles contain a integral vacuum pump that's really neat and hygienic. The formula is tinted and richly creamy. The cream only comes in one shade (unlike most of the UK BB's).When you first apply it, the colour looks a little ashy, but don't worry, it soon settles down and harmonises a bit more with your skintone, although darker skins will find it too pale. It does give a slightly whitened effect.

The coverage is probably about the same as a lightweight to medium coverage foundation- like a Revlon Beyond Natural- and I found it easily enough for a day at work when topped with a light dusting of mineral powder. In terms of staying powder, it lasts as long as a regular foundation. It leaves the skin feeling very silky and moisturising, and I'm really enjoying using it.

As for the benefits to the skin, this is what the Gold cream promises:

  • Contains adenosine and Arbutin ingredients which are effective in luminising skin, improving fine lines and maintaining elasticity 
  • Gold and Caviar extracts for skin conditioning
  • Protects skin from UVA and UVB rays with factor 25 sunscreen
  • Contains OSMOPUR- a complex using sunflower extract, Rice Bran and Ivy to soothe skind and keep hydrated all day while protecting from free radical damage 
I really think it gives the skin a lovely appearance and is comfortable to wear. The Garnier one can be a bit oily on my skin, but the Super+ creams both give a great semi-matte finish.

All in all, I highly recommend trying out this product. There's still a place for foundation with me but as an everyday fast fix, this cream is  a brilliant solution. Above in the picture you can see I'm just wearing the cream and no other make-up (apologies for that, it was Sunday morning!).

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Mini Hair Disaster!!

Yesterday I had a mini hair crisis, but I'm pleased to say I didn't freak out!

For a while now,I've been getting fairly subtle golden highlights to lift my very dark brown base colour. I just feel so much better with a few highlights, it's odd. It really makes an impact on my mood and peps me up. Strange but true. Anyway, I've never done anything too drastic.

Last time my roots needed doing, I found a deal on Groupon for a local salon who were offering a full head of highlights, a cut, and a conditioning treatment for just £30. Perfect, as I'm a big fan of getting a bargain and hair colour can be an expensive business.

Anyway, I did my research before I went, and all the customer reviews seemed to be favourable. I went and they did a good job despite the salon seeming weirdly quiet (and the hairdresser being the most un-talkative stylist EVER!). And they told me off for being five minutes late because I couldn't find the freaking place, even though they didn't have any other clients in. So, not the friendliest place but hey, sometimes you have to compromise to get a good deal. The important part was the hair looked good.

So when they offered me to book again and secure the same price, of course I did. Same stylist, but this time she really mucked up the colour.

My hair lifted so much, it was bright blonde after she took off the foils- quite a way from the J-Lo tone of caramel I'd requested. I think even she was surprised as I'd only been in the foils for 15 minutes.

I didn't quite realise in the salon, I think because of a combination of the artificial lighting and the fact that I really hate sitting looking at myself in the mirror in the hairdressers chair. I knew it was a bit lighter than I wanted.

But when I drive home I realised it was bright yellow! Panic stations! The shade was just really sickly and artificial looking, like a toddler had coloured my hair in with a bright yellow crayon!

I made an emergency dash to Boots and secured a packet of cool toned dark blonde dye to try to neutralist the brassy colour.

I picked L'Oreal Casting Sublime Mousse in shade 70 Pure Dark Blonde (which was actually more like a light brown to my eyes) and whacked it on, hoping for the best.

Actually, I was very impressed by how easy the dye was to use! When I've used home hair colour in the past, it's been extremely messy and off-putting, but this new wave of mousse dyes couldn't be easier to use. I'd be tempted to change my hair colour more often if I knew it would be that easy.

So I'm left with a strange, coppery light brown shade. But do you know what? I actually quite like it! You can still see highlights and different tones, but it's a lot more subtle. It's turned out a really unique colour that I'm still getting used to but I think I like!

Pictures: (clockwise) my previous hair colour-dark brown with golden highlights, my new strange coppery beige shade, and the bright yellow blonde from the hairdresser!

Monday, 2 April 2012

April Lust List

Sorry it's been a little quiet on the 'pieces' front lately. I've been struggling a bit with the whole blogging thing. I have to blog- albeit about cars- for my day job, which takes some of the fun out of it.

And while my work posts are widely read and re-tweeted, I can't seem to get much interest in my personal blog! But finally I decided I do it for me and my own pleasure so I should continue!

Feeling a bit restless with life lately. I'm not very challenged. My job is busy, but it's not difficult. I'm not doing any night classes for the first time in years. Everything is pretty steady and I am grateful for that, but I'm also feeling the need for a shake up, like moving jobs or houses- something big!

Must be the spring breeze in the air!

Anyway, there are a few styling items I'm craving all of a sudden! And I've been shopping like a demon lately as well...oops... So here's my lust list for April..

1- Pink Jeans!
I can't say exactly why but lately I have a real jones on for pink jeans. There's just something so vibrant and lovely about them! I'm struggling with myself because although part of me loves them, another part of me is well aware that in all likelihood, I'll look back in a few years and cringe about wearing them! But you know what? There's only so many years before I'm somebody's mother and have to behave accordingly. Until then, I want to be a brat in colour pop jeans. And I don't just want a whisper of pink. I want obnoxious, eye-watering bubblegum pink. Duchess Kate would not be impressed, but the spring air is making me throw sartorial caution to the wind!

2- Detachable Collars
Now, historically, I haven't been a fan of that Alexa Chung school of dressing that favours Peter pan collars and- heaven forbid- dungarees. But again, lately I've been loving these glittery, sometimes pearl- adorned collars that you can wear with anything. They just feel fresh and witty. Me like!

3- Models Own Nail Polish in Lilac Dream
I'm a big fan of Models Own nail polishes- they have some fab colours that look great in one coat, and they last well to boot. I've owned this lilac colour for a while but I've never worn it much before now. It just didn't feel right. But all of a sudden it seems like the perfect colour for Easter and reminds me of sugared almonds and Easter bonnets! Super cute!

4- High Buns
I'm pretty much a hair down girl- my long hair is sort of like my safely blanket. Lately though, I'm really favouring a high, ballerina style bun. There's something really elegant about them. I've found a foolproof, easy way to create a lovely, voluminous bun and I always, always get compliments and comments when I wear my hair like this. In fact, I think I may do my first ever hair tutorial on how to achieve this style the easy way. Good idea?

What are your April style crushes?
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