Musings of a self-confessed beauty addict from the heart of London!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Barcelona Beautiful

So, this Easter weekend just gone Mr P and I packed our bags and headed for sunny Barcelona. Well, it wasn't that sunny really, with temperatures in Brussels reaching a record breaking 28 degrees and a very sorry 17 degrees in Barcelona we were almost tempted to cancel our trip, but hey ho, on we went.

I had spent a good deal of time prepping myself for 'sunny' Barcelona. Mr P had to endure 3 days of me smelling like a rank old digestive biscuit in my bid to turn myself from lowly milkmaid into a bronzed goddess. It never fails to surprise me that despite all the advances in the manufacture of cosmetics no company has yet managed to come up with a fake tan that doesn't make you smell like the contents of a  mouldy cupboard. Anyhow, despite the smell I was very happy with the results. I used a combination of L'Oreal's Nutri Summer gradual tan moisturising lotion and then topped up my legs with L'Oreal Sublime Bronze tinted self tanner for the legs which I tried for the first time on Friday. I recommend both products heartily, if it weren't for the smell I'd probably use them more, but I'm just so self-conscious of the odour when I'm out and about.

Other essential prep included a leg wax, rigorous exfoliation, pedicure and manicure. And to think that once in Barcelona the most flesh I got to bare was on my arms, for like an hour only. What a waste of goddessness!

Still, better hot than not I suppose. 

We were not alone in Barcelona. Two other friends came along, one of whom was my dear carnival queen some months back. She came along on the condition that I would do her make-up twice a day on every day that we were there. And because she wanted to see Barcelona.....but mostly because of the make-up :)

This for me is no hardship. It's easy to get creative when you have a stunning canvas to begin with. Big beautiful green/blue eyes and the most luscious lips you can imagine make my job easy peasy. All I had to do was colour her in!

I'm also lucky that she is as much of a make-up obsessive as I am and has a make-up bag that dreams are made of, full of MAC, Helena Rubinstein, Dior, La Prairie etc. I had particular fun working with the Reelers and Rockers palette from the MAC Tartan Tale collection which launched before Christmas. It contained, amongst other colours, a gorgeous warm toned gold-y green along with a very wearable copper- burgundy. It worked both on her and me and our complexions and colourings couldn't be more different. How I wished I had picked up one of those palettes when they were still available.

I also got to trial the MAC Haute and Naughty Lash mascara which she brought along. This two wand mascara is supposed to define and separate with the finer wand and then build volume with the second. It looked like a bit of a gimmick, but I can honestly say it works. It's also really cool how one wand seems to 'fit' into the other.

The first coat with the fine wand is very natural and delicate but at the same time delivers length and good definition. The second application manages to deliver volume and curl without clumping the lashes together. My friend has much finer lashes than me and they remained beautifully separated even when I got a bit mascara-happy with the volume wand. Definitely one to check out when next in MAC.

Also in the make-up bag of dreams were some samples of La Prairie foundation which I insisted on using on her instead of the powder foundation she was using (also La Prairie..... *sigh*).
Oh my, what a beautiful foundation, so soft and blendable, creating a lovely second-skin effect and natural radiant finish. It was about a million times better for her dry skin and she glowed. I made a mental note to check it out at the airport on my return flight. When I did I nearly fell over...... €138!!!!!! Methinks I'll have to decline. You better make those samples last sweetheart.

I was hoping to find a Sephora in Barcelona, but I was cruelly misled by seeing a shop window with Sephora branded all over it, only to go there and find that the store was still being built. I could see products sprawled over the floor waiting to be put to bed on the shelves of paradise. And then stairs.... stairs! It was a multi-storey Sephora and I was not in time to see it in all it's glory. Oh the disappointment.

Luckily my darling friend had brought some things for me from Greece which is obviously more civilised as Sephora is thriving there. She picked up the Perfecting Cover Foundation for me (which I love, review to come). She also brought me the MAC Cream Colour Base in Virgin Isle which I've wanted for over a year and never managed to find. Again, love love love.

The Barcelona beauty haul did not stop there. At the airport I succumbed to the Yves Saint Laurent spring 2011 collection. Actually I was torn between the Chanel Vanities palette and the Yves Saint Laurent one but YSL won over the originality of the colours. I just couldn't resist when I saw that shimmery pink stare up at me.
I also picked up the Golden Gloss in number 40, incidently the colour used in the publicity shoot.

Being totally impatient, I opened up my goodies on the plane and, much to embarassment of Mr P, proceeded to photograph them on my fold-away table before I tarnished them with use.

But just look at those colours! Don't they just invite you to play? And I accepted that invitation immediately, giving myself an in-flight make-over.

Who says patience is a virtue?

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Sleek 'Avoir la Peche' Collection Review

Well isn't this just peachy?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

But still, I finally got my grubby mitts on Sleek's new Spring collection and decided to share my thoughts. There are 3 items in total and I picked up all of them, seeing as they don't break the bank.

The Paraguaya iDivine palette of eyeshadows.

The Pan-Tao blusher.

And finally the Pout Polish in Sugar May.

The packaging is oh-so pretty! I love the blossom design on the blusher case and the pout polish. It's a shame that it's not printed on the eyeshadow palette too, it's only on the box and that will inevitably get thrown away once it's gone a bit manky. Still, this is a small complaint!

The Paraguaya palette is just beautiful. I could sit there for hours just staring at the prettiness of the colours....all pinks, soft tangerines, peaches, golden apricots and a hint of darkness with a muted grey brown and a slate grey thrown in. Luscious....

But how wearable? Well, to be honest you kind of have to be really into make-up to know how to wear peachy orange shades on the eyes. But that's not to say you shouldn't try, and at this price (roughly £6 or €8.50) you can definitely have fun experimenting. The great thing is that 6 of the 12 shades are not orangey at all and very wearable on a daily basis. Sleek have helpfully included a transparent top sheet with a name for each colour so I can tell you exactly which colours I think you need have no fear of: Parfait, Blush, Bellini, Sandstone, Bittersweet and Stone.

As for the more peachy shades, well, it does lead me to the question of how much peach eyeshadow one really needs to have? Answer: probably one would be enough, but hey, it's still fun to play around with these different shades on offer and depending on your skin tone, the subtle shade differences between the peaches could really make or break your look, so it's good that the different options are there. If in doubt about how to wear peach on the eyes then an easy and flattering way is to place one of the more neutral shades, like Sandstone, across the socket and then take a tiny amount of one of the peaches and very softly apply just above the socket line as a wash of colour which you can see with the eye open. Apply a bit of dark brown or black liner to the top lid and you have a very cool twist on a classic daytime eye.

Funnily enough the two shimmery orange colours, Persian Orange and Peach Gold are perhaps the easiest to work with as the shimmer somehow lends itself well to a pretty light wash of colour all over the lid without the need to add any more colours. The mattes are a bit less forgiving. Pigmentation is generally quite good throughout the palette, though not as strong as in the Original or Storm palettes. However, I do not regard that as a bad thing when we're talking about a palette of orange eyeshadow!

The only colour that does not convince me is Bellini, a pale yellow gold shimmer. The texture is too crumbly and it applies patchily. As an eyeshadow I wouldn't bother using it on it's own.

Still not convinced? Well, how about doing what I did and sweep a blusher brush over 3 or 4 shades and use them as a blusher? This works an absolute treat!
First quad blush, paler, muted shades with a hint of shimmer.

Second quad blush, natural pinky peach matte flush. My favourite combo!

Try the first quad together and then the second quad. The first quad will give you a paler more shimmery blush using Parfait and Bellini, whilst the second quad will give you a gorgeous chic natural pink flush with the colours Blush and Persimmon really coming through.

This brings me on to the Pan-Tao blush. Now, this is very orange, very bright and VERY pigmented. Go easy, or you'll be Tangoed. Just like I was. This is the peril of trying to do your make-up in a room with bad lighting. I only used a smallish amount of product, but when I stepped out into daylight I noticed that my mum was staring at me strangely, after which she told me I'd gone orange and looked ridiculous.

Photo does not pick up how bright this really is, it's almost fluorescent orange!

I suppose it doesn't help that it's matte. The colour seems so much more concentrated when there is no shimmer to water it down. Despite this, I do like it. I've learnt how to use it now and it does give a lovely peachy flush to the cheeks when applied with a delicate touch. On darker skintones this would look amazing. For all you pale English rose types out there AVOID and just use the Paraguaya palette instead as a blusher. In fact, if I had been clever I would not have bothered with the blush but would have seen that the eye colours would have worked just as well. We live and learn....

My favourite product of the collection is undoubtedly the Pout Polish. What a gorgeous colour! Pale coral orange which goes on the lips like a pale peachy pink. It's a tinted lip conditioner so don't expect high colour, but in my opinion it gives just enough. The texture is so smooth and buttery and it tastes and smells like melted Carte D'Or vanilla ice-cream! It contains jojoba oil, shea butter, sweet almond oil, avocado oil and wheat germ oil so I guess with all these lovely ingredients it would work as a lip balm at a push. Normally I don't like pots of lip product just because I don't like sticking my fingers in it and then transferring the product to my lips, so I'll only be using this at home from the comfort and cleanliness of my bathroom. Not one to be sticking your fingers into once you've been on the tube..... eugh!

My already well-used pout polish :)

So conclusions after all this waffle (ooooh, I fancy a waffle now..... )

Paraguaya iDivine palette: Not strictly a necessary purchase, but if you're thinking of picking up a peach/pink eyeshadow you may as well get this as you're basically getting 12 colours for the price of one, and in terms of value for money I don't think you can beat Sleek palettes.
Score: 7/10

Pan-Tao blush: Really not necessary if you buy the Paraguaya palette. Not an easy colour to work with, but still pretty.
Score 5/10

Pout Polish in Sugar May: A sweet pretty treat for you lips, a lovely flattering colour for all. Shame it's in a pot as I'd like to take this with me in my handbag.
Score 8/10

What are your thoughts on this collection? Will you be wearing peaches this spring or just eating them? :)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Award time!

Sorry for the silence my dear beauty hounds, I've been away this past week with no time to blog. During my absence though it appears that I received a little award. Actually, I've received another award some weeks back which I totally forget to post on the page. So here they are, both of them posted at the same time. Forgive me if it seems like I'm blowing my own trumpet!

The Versatile Blogger Award came from Silvia at Nuvoledilana e Fioridicotone (Clouds of wool and cotton flowers..... awwwwww!) an blog in Italian about all things crocheted. Silvia makes some amazing creations in just minutes, so take a look if you have the chance. Yes, it's in Italian, but the photos speak for themselves. Grazie Silvia!

The second award came from Daisy at Simply Daisybelle, a really lovely blog filled with all things fashion and beauty related.  Thank you so much Daisy!

I'm supposed to nominate other blogs for an award (according to the Versatile Blogger I'm supposed to nominate 7, and according to Kreativ Blogger it's got to be 10!)

For The Versatile Blogger Award here are my winners:

1) Ruth @ A Model Recommends
2) Sam & Nic @ Pixiwoo
3)Tanya @ Tanyaburr
4)Gemma @ gemsmaquillage
5)London Beauty Queen
6)Daisy @ Simply Daisybelle
7)Christine @ Temptalia

For the Kreativ Blogger award my winners are all of the above, plus:

8) Silvia @Nuvoledilana e Fioridicotone
9) Fleur @ Fleur de Force
10)Sarah @ Third Culture Kitchen

I'm also supposed to reveal 7 facts about myself (according to Versatile Blogger) or 10 facts (according to Kreativ Blogger). To make things easier I'll just do 10, that way both requisites are covered:

1) I've lived in Brussels for three years now.

2) I married Mr P last year and it was the most incredible day of my life :)

3) As well as all things beauty I adore all things culinary and think about food as much as I think about lipstick!

4) My favourite colour is coral.

5) I melt whenever I see a puppy

6) I'm an opera singer

7)I have a serious addiction to baking....

8)... and as a consequence I also have an addiction to cellulite cream :)

9) I adore shopping for make-up and hate shopping for clothes (mascara can never make you feel fat)

10)I do Pilates, even though it hurts like hell.

Right, now that's done, I better line up all the products I have promised myself to review for you lovely girls.... :)

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Gel Eyeliner - A Cautionary Tale!

I'm one of those people who, for whatever reason, feels compelled to share her failings with others. Perhaps I shouldn't, but I always feel like I need to point them out before anyone else notices. So here I feel I must put my hands up and say...

"I can't make gel eyeliner work!!!!"

There, I said it. Now you'll all be pleasantly surprised if one day I become a world champion in the application of gel eyeliner.

So here's the thing. Liquid eyeliners, the ones that come with either a tiny brush on a wand or a felt-tip like pen, are supposed to be harder to work with and less precise, whereas gel eyeliners, the ones in little pot which you use with a separate brush, are supposed to be foolproof. Well, they certainly hadn't met this fool.

There are a number of famous gel/cream eyeliners on the market. Most notably by Bobbi Brown and Clinique. I decided a few months back to buy the Clinique one, seeing as it was only £13 and had received rave reviews online. I really thought that it would be my most used make-up item and that it would make lining a cinch. I expected it to go on smoothly, last all day and remain blacker than black. I imagined myself purring with delight when I would glimpse my expertly lined cat-eyes in a mirror, all thanks to the miracle of gel eyeliner.

Clinique Brush-On Cream Liner

Nothing could be further from the truth. I have tried three different brushes. The tiny one it comes with (useless), the Boots No7 eyeliner brush (doubly useless) and a flat slanted angle brush (useless and messy). At the end of each attempt I felt, and looked, like a 5 year old trying to replicate her mum putting on make-up. Try as I could, I couldn't manage even the shortest of straight lines, not even with short strokes. The product would smudge everywhere, and it was really really hard to remove the smudges.

The other day I thought I'd give it another go. Mistake. I was already in a rush that morning, and after trying carefully to create a decent line on both eyes I still managed to end up looking like my eyes were going in different directions! Bad, bad, bad..... For the first time in many many years I had to cleanse my eyes and start all over again. Only the pesky stuff wouldn't come off easily. By then I was horrendously late for my French class but I refused to leave the house looking like a toddler had drawn on me with a crayon.

I removed as much as I could and then whipped out my L'Oreal Carbon Gloss liquid liner. Ahhhhh, that's more like it. Who on earth decided that faffing around with a mini pot and brush was easier????

L'oreal Super Liner Carbon Gloss

Well, to each her own. The Clinique gel liner appears to be great for some, and indeed I've watched girls apply it perfectly in a matter of seconds. Maybe I've got the brush wrong, maybe the liner is just a bit too soft and creamy, maybe I'm just a bit pants..... who knows? I certainly got on a lot better with the Smashbox cream liners which were much firmer in texture, but then again I only used those for pushing colour close into the lashes with a flat brush, I never tried them for creating a flicked eye liner look.

For now the dinky little pot of black ink will remain in it's box until I regain the confidence to try again, and with a different brush.

The moral of the story? When you're in a rush don't faff around, simply STICK TO WHAT YOU KNOW!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Hello pretty!

Feeling quite drained from a weekend of flying with Easyjet (worthy of a blog in it's own right, with the sole content being a massive rant about disorganisation, ineffectiveness and just plain lacking in common sense)..... and.... breathe..... !

But despite being jaded I wanted to write a quick post about my nails. You'd be forgiven for thinking that I'm a bit nail-obsessed. I am, but only in the brief spells throughout the year when my nails are in a decent enough state to be painted. At the moment it's colours galore :) At all other times I couldn't care less.

Having exhausted my gamut of coral nail colours I decided that I wanted to sport some bright pink nails this week but I didn't have any pink nail varnish. Rimmel would have probably been my first calling point but we don't have Rimmel here in Brussels (at least, not that I'm aware of) so I checked out the other brands in the local department store. Lo and behold, I found my perfect (well, perfect for this week) pink. It was, of all things, by Hello Kitty!!! Not a Hello Kitty collection from MAC or any other brand, but an actual Hello Kitty brand of make-up. There were some gorgeous nail shades, and the rest of the make-up looked pretty sound too. The powder blushers in particular were gorgeously creamy and in lovely, wearable shades. The packaging, apart from the ubiquitous Kitty staring at you, was for the most part quite modest and attractive, perfectly acceptable for a woman to be carrying around without looking like she had a Peter Pan complex. I was very tempted to buy a peachy blusher and an eye-shadow duo along with the nail polish, but I decided to give just one product a test run before I parted with my cash for the other two.

Hello Kitty Laque & Shine in Lily Rose

After applying my usual base coat (Boots Expert Ridge Filler - brilliant!) I applied the first coat of polish. It's quite watery compared to some other brands, and the first coat looked a bit patchy. The second coat went on and the patchiness gave away to a smooth, vibrant pink. I set it with my Mavala quick-dry topcoat (again, my usual). I did this 10 minutes before leaving for the airport on Friday. I threw the bottle in my suitcase thinking that it would probably chip or smudge over the weekend so I needed to be prepared.

It did not BUDGE. Not even when locking up the house and rummaging through my bag to find keys, passport, travel pass. It lasted perfectly the entire weekend and only chipped a little on my right little finger after washing my hair this morning. That's four days wear. Not bad for a seemingly watery, kitsch nail colour....

Close up after 4 days wear! 

Now, I've not seen this Hello Kitty brand anywhere else other than this particular department store but I am sure it exists in other countries. It's made in France and a quick internet search has established that it is of course available there. Still, what a happy discovery.... Hello pretty!

Price €7.50

Check out these other luscious colours: