Sunday, 18 November 2012

Five Favourites for November

It's been a while since I've done a 'Five Favourites...' post (see my June favourites, here), so I thought I would combine it with a few products I've amassed lately in sort-of mini hauls that didn't merit separate postings. All these things I would definitely repurchase, which has to be a good sign!

 1. Maybelline SuperStay 24h Foundation (£7.99)

This is not a new product, by any means, but it's new to me. I quite like Maybelline for foundations -  they seem to suit my skin- and have tried a few of them, but somehow this one passed me by. I went in actually wanting to try their new launch, FitMe, but I decided I didn't like it. It's gel-based, which is appealing to some people, but I don't get on very well with gel formulas (I sometimes use Mac Studio Sculpt, which is also gel-based but it makes me look very greasy and I'm not a fan). When I discovered it's only selling point is matching your skin tone, I wasn't impressed. That's not supposed to be a special feature- all foundations should match my skin tone, or I shouldn't be wearing it!

Instead, I found myself picking this up, intrigued by the promise of long-lasting, flexible coverage. I recently fell in love with Chanel's Lift Lumiere, but it's pricey so I'm saving it for special occasions. Most days I wear a BB Cream and some powder, but there are days when I need some extra coverage. I've been using Maybelline's Dream Nude Airfoam, but the foam format is messy and I'm nearing the end of my can, so this is my replacement.

It's comfortable to wear on the skin and long lasting- a perfectly decent, mid-range foundation that may well become my new weekday staple!

 2. Bourjois Volume Glamour Max Definition (£9.49)

I've wanted to try this mascara since it first came out, but it's always been sold out when I tried to find it, which made me want it even more. Like all my favourite mascaras, it features a plastic brush- I find they give a much better result than traditional fibre brushes. The result is volumised, thickened but still defined lashes. The brush has a special tip to catch all your tiny lashes, and the formula itself boasts volumising agents and black pearl extracts, which can't be bad! This product is really nice to use and easily buildable for mega-lashes. It doesn't flake out either, so it gets my vote. And, as ever, the super-cute Bourjois packaging make it really fun to use.

3. Bourjois Little Round Pot Light 01

Another hit from the French drugstore cosmetics brand, this eyeshadow is a new concept, designed to be highly concentrated and two times as luminous as a normal eyeshadow (how you measure that is beyond me, but still...) Using super-reflective mother-of-pearl pigments, the shadow feels silky and light on the lids, although I do find that the baked shadows require a firmer brush than I normally use to gather enough pigment.You can either apply it alone over the whole eyelid to brighten up the eyes, put it on with a dampened brush to ramp up the shimmery effect, or you can layer it over a normal eyeshadow to add a shot of pearly light to the colour. This makes it quite interesting- they also had an 'intense' darkening eyeshadow to act like a transformer too, but that just looked like a normal dark grey shadow to me!

This is really pretty and I've been relying on it for days when my eyes look tired and need an extra boost!

4. Umberto Giannini Glam Hair Rock N Roll Extreme Hairspray (normally £5.61) and Old School Setting Lotion for Big Hair(normally £5.49)

Ok, this is sort of a two for one situation, I'm putting both these products as one. I really like Umberto Giannini hair products, and have long been a fan of their Overnight Beauty Balm to sort out my parched, processed locks, so when I ran out of hairspray, I thought the time was right to try their Rock N Roll Extreme Hairspray. I was looking for something with a strong hold, and I am a fan of the gorgeous, fashion-girl illustrations they use on their packaging. Its a light spray that really holds, but most importantly, doesn't give that awful crispy effect bad hairsprays do, which means that although its strong, it's also lightweight and untraceable. It also smells gorgeous!

The second product was an impulse buy (at two for £7.00, it would have been rude not to really!), but is actually something I've been searching for. Despite not being poker-straight, my hair resolutely will not hold a curl. Despite investing in a quality curling iron, I've spend many an hour painstakingly labouring over my curls, only for them to promptly drop out within half an hour. Boo! I happened to mention this to my best friend's housemate, an American from the deep south where big, bouffant curls are a religion (her words, not mine!). I asked her what the secret to keeping curls in place was. She asked what product I used, which I replied was nothing but hairspray. Apparently, this is equivalent to building a house without the proper foundations! That kind of makes sense. She advised me to use gel, but I thought something must have got lost in translation because I couldn't imagine that working. However, I had read in the 'olden-days' of setting lotions and thought I needed something of the sort to make my curls stay. This product describes itself as 'bringing back the classic ‘set’ of the 50s but with a quick drying formulation. Gives volume, bounce and shine plus a long lasting hold'. I haven't actually tried it out yet, but I'm really excited to!

5. Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Exfoliation Treatment Pads (£12.99)

I read about these in the weekly bible (aka Grazia magazine),was sufficently intrigued to track them down, and after a couple of uses, I can safely say these will be a staple part of my new skincare regime. The little disposable pads aim to provide regenerated, smoother, brighter skin. They contain those key anti-agers, glycolic and hyluronic acid to stimulate cell turnover, plus blue daisy extract to calm the skin. They tingle a bit when you first use them- and the packaging states that you must always use a moisturiser with sunscreen as use can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

I loved how bright, glowing and renewed my skin looked after using these. I think combining regular use with the paper collagen masks I love will hopefully really give my winter skin a boost and help to tackle the fine lines I've started to notice. They're such a quick and easy thing to do that really improves the look of your skin, I'm instantly a fan. If you don't like standing their using a scrub as well, they really do the trick!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Is This The Perfect Party Bag?

As you might have spied from my other posts, whether its cosmetics or pieces of clothing, I love it when things work overtime. Any product, or object, which promises multiple benefits or different uses gets my interest. Why? Well, just the convenience and the feeling of having bought something that's working hard and smart for me. I'm just fascinated by anything that multi-tasks.

Which is why I might well have found the perfect bag for me. Its from an online fashion boutique called POPKORS (which roughly stands for 'Popular Korean Accessories') and they sell a wide range of bags in loads of great designs for highly reasonable prices (with free UK shipping, to seal the deal). Some of the designs are blatant 'homages' to Hermes and Balenciaga, but they have some great own designs, too.

There were quite a few bags I would gladly have ordered on there, but it is the month before Christmas, so I can't really justify spending huge amounts on myself! So with massive self-restraint, I limited myself to this one:

I picked the beige (because I thought it would go with more), but I could have quite gladly had the black and the red as well! I love the chunky, oversized gold postman's lock, it's so chic. The slouchy, fold-over top is also brilliant. It works as a clutch bag, and I really think the design details on it are very elegant and designer-looking. But the best bit? The straps! Behold:

 Not only does this beauty have an elegant little chain strap, for when you want to hook it over the crook of your arm or sling it casually over your shoulder.....but it also has a really long, cross-body strap so you can wear it like a satchel (I like to be hands-free when I'm hitting the dancefloor!)

Honestly? I think I'm in love. This seems like my perfect bag. It could even work as a smaller day bag (I do haul a loooot of stuff around with me in my well-loved Alexa, but I could see me using this out on a shopping trip or nipping for coffee with friends).

If it's as nice as it looks when it arrives- damn international shipping, it's so slow!- I will re-order the black one in a heartbeat. It just looks so well designed and versatile, I can see me loving this bag for a looong time (perhaps even as much as my beloved Mulberry, and at a fraction of the cost to boot! This bag was priced at $30 AUS dollars, which was about £24 sterling).

POPKOR trade on eBay, so you can access their fabulous selection of bags online. I am definitely a fan, and will be purchasing again if all goes smoothly.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Review: Freshlook Colorblends Contact Lenses

Trying out Freshlook Colorblends in 'Sterling Grey'
Coloured contacts. I learned this week that for an innocuous little piece of plastic, they can really divide opinions. In this day and age of Botox, boob jobs and body modification, you wouldn't think they'd be so controversial. But you'd be wrong, as I found out when I made my second foray into the world of lenses.

Let me start by saying I have absolutely nothing against brown eyes, they can be stunning. And I've never had a problem with my eye colour. It's quite a light orangey amber colour-exactly like my mother. But my dad and all his side of the family have a very distinctive family look- honey-coloured skin, dark hair and light blue eyes- and part of me has always wondered what I would look like with my dad's combination. And I find dark hair and blue eyes a particularly special combination (my Mr has this, and his DNA is great!).

So, I've always been slightly intrigued by the possibility of using coloured contacts to switch up my look. Now to me, this is no more offensive than dying your hair or using fake tan. We're so used to those kinds of appearance changes that it doesn't really phase anyone. And yet changing the colour of your eyes is seen as really wrong by some people, it seems.

My Mr was horrified when the nice package from dropped through the letterbox. He finds something horribly low-rent and tacky about using coloured contacts, and his disgusted and bemused reaction actually threw me pretty badly. "But why would you want to change your eye colour?" he asked. When I explained that to me, it was just a bit of fun to switch up my appearance, he didn't seem to agree. He made me feel pretty worried that I was doing something that would look awful.

But actually, I'm pretty pleased with the final result!

As mentioned, it was my second time trialling coloured lenses. The first try went disastrously wrong. I didn't know anything about lenses, or eyes in general (having 20/20 vision, I've never even been inside an opticians yet) and I didn't do any research before I ordered. I simply picked an unfeasibly bright blue and clicked to purchase.

When they arrived, I didn't have a clue what I'd ordered, how to insert them, how to care for them....and in short it was a disaster. I only managed to get one in and then promptly freaked out because I didn't know how to get it back out. In any case, I didn't really like the effect as it looked really bright blue, fake and weird. The second one I couldn't even get in because I kept blinking too violently and I was stressed out and panicked about getting them out. I didn't have any of the right storage equipment, so when I did get them out I did the wrong thing and tried to store them in a little tupperware pot with some tap water, where they promptly dried up and died before I could try them again.

This time, I was a little smarter. I did plenty of research beforehand, about different colours and brands, how to insert and remove the lenses, and proper storage and care of them as well.

Here is my first time guide to it for coloured contact lens virgins:

1. Spend time thinking about what colour you really want

It's all too easy to go crazy and opt for the shocking blue, vivid violet or bright green shades. And, if you are after a certain, larger than life look, then that's the result you'll get. However, if you're after a more passably natural eye and you're not keen on the idea of random strangers knowing you're wearing lenses, then consider a shade such as grey. This is a soft colour that subtly lightens dark eyes, without screaming 'obviously fake'. It's not the first shade I'd think of, but it's really pretty and subtle, especially on Oriental eyes. Of course, if you already have blue eyes and you just want to make them standout more, a vivid turquoise could really work. It all depends, so know what you're looking for and what you hope to achieve before you buy.

2. Research the brands available

With the thousands of review posts of pretty much everything invented, ever out there on the web, there's not much excuse for not doing your homework to choose the right lenses for you and getting a good deal on them. About 2 seconds of web research will probably show you that Freshlook Colorblends are generally considered to be the best currently available. There are lots of other brands too. Google Image Search will allow you to see the lenses in action on different types of people, and how it looks. Try to find an image of someone with a similar colouring to you to get an idea of how the colour might look on you. Now you need to find where to buy. Of course, your best bet may well be to visit an opticians, especially since they will probably show you how to put them in. But if you're impatient or price-consious, then you may want to order online. Once I'd decided I wanted to try the Freshlook Colorblends in 'Sterling Grey', I found a reputable, good value site- retails them at £7.00 per lens with free UK delivery (yes, right and left are sold and priced as different items, which I never suspected! Of course, this is because some people who actually need lenses for vision correction need different strengths and prescriptions in each eye. Duh!) If you don't need a prescription, just select 0.00 in the menu and make sure you order one left and one right eye!

With one lens in, so you can see the difference!

3. All the gear and no idea

Another thing I never understood before is that you don't just need the lenses, you need a few items with them! The lenses come in little, individually-sealed pods that don't re-seal. You will need somewhere to store them after use, and it must be airtight. Luckily, eBay can help you source these items real cheap. I bought a cute little white compact (search something like 'travel contact lens case' for similar) with a mirror, tweezers for picking up the lens, airtight lens case, and a couple of little bottles for holding a small supply of contact lens solution, and it was only £3! Then I also bought a big bottle of contact lens solution for a couple of pounds, again this can be sourced very cheaply. You really do need this stuff, so don't be tempted to leave it out.

4. Learn how to put them in and out properly

At first, I underestimated how difficult this can be. I figured that because I'm not especially squeamish about touching my eyes, it would be fairly straightforward. It was not. It was totally difficult, frustrating, and I hated the feeling of having a foreign object in my eye to begin with. So leave plenty of time before whatever event you want them for. I would suggest trialling taking them in and out several times before the day of whenever you want them for. The last thing you want is to be rushed and frustrated. Accept it's difficult and it takes practice to get right, and allow yourself enough time. It took me the best part of 40 minutes and countless attempts before I could get them into my eyes. Put them in before doing any make-up, as it can really make your eyes run and will probably ruin anything else you've put on your face!

Youtube is your friend. It has some excellent video tutorials that I'd highly recommend running while you try and put them in. Methods of insertion are varied, so take time to find what works for you.

Very straightforward tutorial on how to insert them here

This one is also great for newbies (mute to avoid the cheesy Japanese lounge-singer music)

And, how to take them out (although I found removing them very easy)

5. Shake Up Your Make Up

Of course, the beauty of changing up your eye colour, is that different eye make-up will now suit you! It's fun to play and experiment with your new eyes! I recommend trying out bronze shades or a classic smoky eye to make baby blues really pop, and if you're trying out brown eyes, purple and green shades will look beautiful and will really make your new colour stand out. Have fun trying new shades to contrast with and compliment your new eye colour.

6. Carry eyedrops!

If you've never worn lenses before, then you don't realise how much your eyes can dry out with lenses. To keep this comfortable, stash some eye drops in your clutch bag and carry them with you so you can freshen up with the lenses in.

So, what do you think? I think the grey shade is really beautiful and I've enjoyed playing about with my eye colour. I don't think there's anything 'wrong' with coloured lenses, but my husband's reaction has made me realise some people think its a bit weird or somehow insecure (I say: no more than any other hair dye, fake tan or cosmetic!). So, if you do want to try them, be prepared!

© Sarah Deluxe. All rights reserved.