Beauty Haul | Nars | Soap & Glory | Kiko | & More

Thursday 26 May 2016

I'm back with another beauty haul, because of course I am! Its not like me to say out of the beauty aisle for long. This month I picked up a few brand new products to try, plus a couple of items that have been on my wish list for a while. 

From a purse-friendly  instant line eraser to fresh nude lips and 3d lashes, it's all inside this post...

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum 

First up, something new in skincare. I've been a big fan of the No7 Protect & Perfect serum for about a year now. I first bought some on my 30th birthday last year as part of an effort to get super serious about my skincare now I’m officially ‘old’.

I preferred it to pricier serums I had been using off and on, and bought a few tubes in succession. I never saw a complete erasure of my fine lines (only Botox is capable of that I think!), but my skin certainly looked fresher and better-rested, and I felt like I was doing my bit in the anti-aging war.

Now, No7 have launched this new serum that promises even more benefits in one.

Not only does it zap wrinkles, but there are also firming ingredients and brightening goodies to even out your skintone. As my skin is currently suffering from a bad case of ‘new mother syndrome’ - lack of sleep, hormone-induced post-pregnancy pigmentation and an over-reliance on skin-damaging white carbs - it needs literally all the help it can get. 

The serum is supposed to contain three times the concentration of active ingredients found in one of their moisturisers, so its an amped-up, speedy way to target your skin issues as well. What are the wonder ingredients? 

Well, we start off with Matrixyl 3000 Plus, which sounds like a typical made-up, faux-science beauty marketing word, but refers to a combination of peptides, which skincare experts universally hail as the key to anti-aging skincare. There’s a firming complex based around hyaluronic acid, which we know as a buzz ingredient for its abilities to help the skin retain vital moisture. 

There’s also Hibiscus extract, which I believe is a natural source of Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), or mild exfoliants that encourage cell renewal. And finally, there’s what they’re secretively dubbing an ‘unique pigmentation complex’ to encourage a bright, even skintone, although they do reveal its main ingredient is Vitamin C, which is a potent anti-oxidant.

All in all, this seems like a very good deal, and I have high hopes for it being proven to be highly effective. I love the idea of ‘democratic skincare’ that doesn’t bust the bank balance. Plus, this smells glorious and is a silky dream to apply.

Kiko Limited Edition Trend Collection Mirage Lip Stylo |01 Canyon Rose

We’re lucky enough to have a Kiko store where I live, which I adore because a) it reminds me of holidays in Italy and b) they have some amazing products.

Their 2016 summer collection is inspired by ‘beauty with a free-spirited soul’ and features this stunning, architectural textured gold packaging designed by Ross Lovegrove, an award-winning futurist designer. 

And I have to say, it was totally the packaging that sold this to me - I mean...just look at it! It looks ridiculously high-end and special, and restraining myself to a lipstick rather than buying the entire collection was a force of will.

The lipstick casing also features a sleek magnetic closure, so the lid pulls back into place with a satisfyingly luxurious, low-key click.

It comes in eight shades, mostly summery brights, although I went for a neutral, ‘Canyon Rose’, a nude dusty pink that is beautifully flattering.

Texture wise, this is gorgeously buttery, and provides a subtle shine finish, which is so much more flattering that the dominant mattes around at the moment.

Soap and Glory Kick-Ass Super Blur Stick

The display of new S&G makeup in Boots drew me in before I knew it. Although I find their cosmetics a bit hit-and-miss, there have been enough hits for me that I like to try things out. They were on a ‘Buy One Get One Half Price’ deal so of course I was drawn in. 

I hadn’t seen this little white stick of wonder before. There was a new set of colour correctors in the usual yellow (for dark circles), lavender (for brightening) and green (for redness), but then there was this, which promised the benefits of a blurring primer in a super-convenient stick format. I bit. 

I’m always looking for products to help disguise my fine lines (I even tried the medical anti-chafing gel Lanacane as a primer) and this promises soft-focus micro-spheres that reduce the look of lines and pores -  sort of like my beloved Benefit The Porefessional, but a lot more purse-friendly, and in this handy stick.

The crayon format is ingenious because there’s no mess and no waste - you just swipe it on and go.

When I go back to work in a couple of months, I will probably be applying my make-up in the ladies after a bike ride to the office, so I’m all about finding products in quick and easy formats right now.

I didn’t have massively high hopes for this, but when I took these before and after pictures I was pleasantly surprised by how softened my hateful forehead wrinkles look. So, this could be a new make-up bag staple for me.

Soap and Glory Sexy Motherpucker Lipstick | 5th Ave-nude

Meanwhile, S&G also keeps expanding its Sexy Motherpucker line, which was originally one lip-plumping gloss and now covers a spectrum of formats, shades and finishes.  The new lipstick line is split into three colour-based collections - Red, Nudes and Pinks - and each collection contains a mix of matte, gloss and satin finishes.

I picked up this coral-pink toned shade, called ‘5th Ave-nude’ (ho ho), that is a ‘Powder-coat matte’. I can sometimes struggle with matte formulas, but this one is really nice to wear and feels comfortable on the lips thanks to its hydra-boosting formula.

The shade is a really good nude for warm neutral gals like me as it has the right balance between orange and brown, whereas a lot of nudes can look ashy. 

The packaging is also lovely -  a bold metallic tube in a golden shade for the nudes, while the red and pink shades follow their colouring. Its a sturdy casing that will stand up to a little rough treatment.

The only thing that disappoints me slightly here is that I associate the brand with some lip-plumping wizardry and I had hoped that would be in its lipstick line too, but confusingly enough, these formulas dont have any of that, even though they are part of a line known for its lip maximisers.

Still, this is a good little range with something for everyone, whatever the finish or shade they prefer.

NARS Larger Than Life Lipgloss | Annees Folles

These must be the shiniest glosses in the business! Combining pigment with a vinyl shine, there was so much reflection going on when I shot this, it was hard to get a decent picture of the colour!

This promises lasting power, which I always find a good selling point in lipglosses that can evaporate pretty quickly, coupled with a high-impact, luminous finish and I would have to say it delivers.

There are also ingredients that fight free radicals, nourish lips, and enhance their volume, so its a pretty great formula. The packaging is also the last word in understated luxury with its squared off tube with the matte rubberised top and a great short-bristle brush on the wand that gives really precise application.

‘Annees Folles’ looks challengingly lilac in the tube, but sheers out to a very flattering cool pink shade on the lips. I would actually prefer the pigment to be a bit more strong, but layering it over a purple toned lipstick produces more of a lilac vibe.  

It has a unique, almost holographic iridescence to it as well which is quite unique, although applying it evenly on bare lips is hard as the colour tends to go a little patchy.

Thanks to its cooler tones, this also have a lovely whitening effect on the teeth and in all, its a really striking but wearable lip for summer. 

NARS Eye Paint | Ubangi

Eye Paint is a cream product intended for use as a shadow or as a liner, with the satisfying colour depth you’d expect, and a long lasting formula into the bargain - Nars reckon up to 18 hours, although I doubt I’ll have this on long enough to find out!

 ‘Ubangi’ is a black shade shot through with a navy shimmer, and those are the sort of colours I love to get my amber eyes popping. The shimmer is beautiful but when worn as a liner its subtle enough that you don’t feel overdone, and when you use it as a cream shadow it comes into play a little more.

You can also use this as a darkening base colour to layer under powder shadows to give them depth and durability. It could be the base to a really showstopping smokey eye look for example, or you could layer it with a cranberry or a green shimmer shade to give a sort of duochrome effect.

So this can pretty much be as subtle or shouty as you want, depending on how you work it. With so much complexity to the colour this offers endless opportunities and I can’t wait to have a real play around with it.

NARS Laced With Edge Nail Polish | Sherwood

Its probably just me as a resident of Nottingham, but I think ‘Sherwood’ should be green. It just should, okay?  But that’s my only reservation about this truly beautiful colour. 

I’m not a massive nail polish girl to be honest. I tend to stick to a few very limited shades (either a nude, a greige or a dark red generally), and I don’t mess around with my nails a lot. I tend to go to the salon for a gel colour once a month and then forget about them. 

But this shade is so show stopping that I had to grab it. A mysterious blend of purple and bronze, it sort of reminds me of a more metallic version of OPI’s My Private Jet, which is one of my all-time favourite colours.

Its a classic dark bronze, but with enough dimension to give your mani added bite. Its a real shade chameleon though, and can look more mauve or more bronze depending on the light, which I love.

Khroma Beauty Palette | Kourtney’s Kardazzle

This one was a bit of a random impulse purchase as I was browsing the aisles at TK Maxx. So Khroma Beauty was an ill - fated venture from the Kardashian sisters that is don't think is running anymore  (I think I remember them getting sued over it or something?). 

Initially it was the packaging of the neat little compact that drew me in, then I took a peek and fell for the shades inside.

As I mentioned, I'm looking for small, portable products to use when I go back to work and I liked the idea of having some shades for eyes and face in one little package. This double layered compact is about the size of a credit card, so it packs a lot into a small box.

On closer investigation, this isn't as good as it first seemed. The bottom slider drawer houses pans of blush, bronzer and highlight, only the bronze is way too pale and coral for me and the highlight is extremely gold and shimmery.

I doubt these shades would work on my cheeks and I'd also expect more from the champions of contouring themselves!

The eye shades fare not much better. The matte shades are all quite useless - chalky, not very pigmented and generally lacklustre - but then, most mattes are like that!

The metallics are lovely though- super shimmery and some very nice shades. I really love the rose gold shade and its almost a foiled effect. They are the saving grace of a below - par offering that's mostly style over substance, but I do like the little compact a lot.

KISS Blooming Lovely Lashes | Lily

This beautiful new style of lashes really caught my eye. I have used and really liked Kiss lashes before but I never seem to pick them up when I'm shopping for some reason- but these lashes might change all that!

They are a ‘3D’ style, so basically the strands of the lashes are set at different levels on the band. This gives a gorgeous fanned out effect that's so pretty. It gives real dimension and definition to the eye and a very dense, plush look without seeming overdone so I think these will be very popular. 

I sometimes struggle to find the right balance between lashes looking natural and having enough impact and I think these might work well. They also have tapered ends which is such a small thing but really makes them look a lot less fake. 

There are several different styles in the line and these ones are a medium dense wispy style. I can't wait to try them out properly! 

L’Oreal Lumi Magique Primer

This is something I've wanted to try for quite a while, but somehow I never got around to it until now. It must be something spring-like in the air but I'm mad for shimmer and good highlighters at the moment. 

This primer is fab because you can either use it as a base under foundation for a subtle glow, dab it on top for a stronger highlight or mix a pump in with your normal foundation to make it more luminous. A sheen to your skin definitely helps to take away the tired looks when you've been up all night with the baby.

My favourite way to apply it is to stipple some on with a foundation brush or a beauty blending on the centre area of my face underneath my foundation- so a bit on my forehead, nose, chin and cheekbones. Then I use a matte dark powder in the other areas and together they give a beautiful but subtle contoured effect.

A little goes a really long way with this so half a pump is all that's needed. I'm really liking this product and the neat pump dispenser so I can see this becoming a regular purchase for me.

Too Faced Melted Metal Liquified Lipstick |Debutante

After giving me my holy grail foundation and mascara, plus some pretty great eyeshadow, Too Faced cannot go wrong in my book.

I love them and I trust their products to make me look and feel good. But although I'd admired them from afar, I hadn't actually bought one of the Melted liquid lipsticks. It was another thing that's been on my wish list for quite some time that always seemed to get bumped down!

And the catalyst for this was actually the Kylie Lip Kits. I've never tried to get hold of one because it irritates me that they are constantly out of stock, overpriced and inferior quality to cheaper brands. I just see them as massively over hyped and a case of them selling on a name rather than a great product. 

However, when the metallic editions launched recently I must admit I kind of fell in love with ‘Heir’, a peachy golden shade. I wanted it bad, but of course it sold out in seconds and eBay wanted stupid money for one. So just no. 

Anyway, I started looking for dupes and came across this. I didn't realise Too Faced had also done some metallic matte shades and this one, ‘Debutante’, is a peach with golden shimmer.  

I love the too-cute packaging and the soft felt applicator that makes putting it on a dream. 

The product feels good on the lips and looks really pretty but the ‘metallic’ element is a bit underwhelming. 

It's more like an old-school frosted effect than a true metallic, although having said that I would probably be quite scared to wear this out if it was full on Robo Cop!

You can play up the metallic finish by patting some gold eye shadow on top, but really who needs the extra hassle? 

All in all, this is very wearable and quite pretty, but I don't think it quite has the head turning effect that the Kylie Lip Kit shades do. But as I refuse to get one of those just on principal this will have to do for now! 

Tarte Lights Camera Lashes Mascara

Another one I've been waiting to try for literally years. Like, I remember emailing Tarte to ask about international shipping after hearing about them before you could even get their products in the UK (and receiving a very snotty reply that they had ‘no plans to ship to the UK’ but oh, how times have changed!). 

My head is easily turned with mascara though and every new launch becomes my next ‘must buy’, so I never bought this. I have actually found my holy grail mascara (Too Faced Better Than Sex, since you're asking…) but I still like to try out others and I picked this up on a whim.

First up, I'm a big fan of the marvellous purple snakeskin leather-type packaging. It just makes me feel like a total rockstar having it in my makeup bag and the wand feels great to grip. It sets this mascara apart from any other.

This is supposed to be ‘lengthening, volumising, curling and conditioning’ and ‘proven to increase lash volume by 330 per cent’ and those are some huge claims. It's also Vegan for those looking for cruelty free cosmetics.

Lights, Camera, Lashes really does it for me. I'm not sure about the ‘330 per cent’ (I don't have a scientific lash measuring gadget) but it does give plenty of volume, a soft feathery effect and lots of length. I find it pretty darn similar to my ‘Better Than Sex’ actually, so if you enjoy that you'll probably like this too. 

Just like my beloved BTS though, careful application pays here. It can easily go quite clumpy and spiral into a monolash situation if you don't apply it with a careful hand and lots of restraint. But treat it gently and it will definitely show you a good time! 

I'd definitely repurchase this and I can see how it's some people’s everything mascara, so if you like a lot of volume, give it a try.

And finally...

I picked up this gorgeous textured bag as well. I'm quite obsessed with anything spiked or studded so I had to have it! I'm not quite sure what I'll use it for yet but it's sure to come in handy. It's actually a pencil case from the kids section so it was only £3 but I think the textured effect is major.

And that was my beauty haul this month. What have you been trying and loving? 

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