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

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A letter to Life

Dear Life

Thank you for all the wonderful things you bring to me ( the less-than-nice incidents you've thrown at me I'll let go, water under the bridge.... ) and for blessing me with gifts of food, oxygen, lipstick and Mr P. In that order. 

I love and hate your unpredictability, Life. You bring both excitement and trauma in equal measure, but at least you are never dull. Dull is certainly not a colour that suits you. Your colours, though ever-changing are at this moment luminous green, midnight blue, fuschia and coral. And how I love you when you're coral.

Now, Life, don't get me wrong, your attention to me is very much appreciated, but if you would just step to the side for an hour or so, so that I can ponder upon the gift of beauty and share my musings with the blogosphere, that would be just dandy. I have so much to say, but you always interrupt me and I never get to finish. Yes, you're probably more important, I know. But without beauty we, and you, would just wither away into shades of dull. And that's not fun, is it? 

So let's brighten up the world together, Life. Here's the deal: You give me a few hours a week to spread the word of the gloss-pel, and I'll iron Mr P's shirts. Promise. 

Best wishes


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Project Pan - For the good of the planet, the wallet and the soul

Unless you've been living under a rock these past few weeks you'll have noticed that the world is in turmoil again. More financial crises, more riots, more job losses....  it's all terribly depressing, so if you have indeed been living under a rock then get back under it and hide because things don't really look to be getting better any time soon.

So in the spirit of thrift and war-time gung-ho exuberance I am launching myself into a new state of beauty consciousness.

We all need a little treat now and then, and that's fine. My trip to America ensured that I came back with many little titbits which are now going to last me a good few months at least. When I got home I realised that I'd actually had an overload of treats. I needed to start using stuff up.

So here is my little pledge to myself and to my readers. Unless I run out of something completely, like mascara, eyeliner, face soap etc, I won't shop. The discovery of 6 mascaras in my make-up box, all on the go at the same time has made me realise that I needed to do some serious de-cluttering and some serious using.

On the plus side, I'll appreciate everything that I have much much more and I'll have more space at the end of the project for shiny new things which I feel I would have earned.

In order not to go insane I'm allowing myself one treat a month in the shape of nail polish. It's just not possible to have every colour, right? So that doesn't count :p

Just no more corals.

So I picked out 25 items which are almost half used and which I think I can finish before the year is out.... hopefully sooner for most of them.

Project 25 Pan! 

  • 5 eye pencils, all black, and all short and stubby
  • 1 brow pencil I must have used years ago and now don't usually bother with
  • Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint cologne (want to finish this so I can get Nectarine Blossom & Honey again..... lush!)
  • Boots No7 Advanced Hydration day cream (liked it more when I bought it than I do now.... but, it has to be finished)
  • MAC Brow Set
  • Nars Orgasm Blush
  • Prescriptives cream blush in Nubile (this is at least 5 years old!)
  • 4 mascaras.... Givenchy Phenomen'eyes, Maybelline One by One, Lancome Hypnose, L'Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black
  • Boots No7 Tinted Moisturiser (BB cream just took over and this was left languishing.... )
  • Givenchy Acti Mine make-up base (love this, will definitely get another one when it's gone)
  • Urban Decay Primer Potion 
  • Max Factor Vibrant Curve lipgloss
  • Jemma Kidd Gloss-stick in Bridgetown
  • Laura Mercier Eye Basics primer in Buff (very nearly finished actually, but got abandoned prematurely when I nabbed the Urban Decay primer duo last Christmas)
  • Erborian BB Creme au ginseng (This is lasted me for ages and I've been using it every day since April. You girls know how much I love this stuff right? )

Despite the added bonus of de-cluttering my make-up stash and the main objective of the exercise is obviously to save some money in these times of financial doom.
After all, Mr P won't be happy just eating scraps of plastic bread whilst I toddle around with the entire Chanel autumn collection plastered on my (albeit, happy) face.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Brush disaster!

I'm so gutted....

Real Techniques buffing brush, sadly going bald :(

More hairs on their way out.....

Just look what happened to my Real Techniques buffing brush after washing! I love this brush, it's so soft and it applies foundation beautifully for an airbrushed finish.... but now IT is finished.

This is the second time I've washed it and the hairs just literally started sliding out from the ferule. As you can see the hairs are starting to spike unevenly from where they are trying to make their way out.

The brush still works but I'm not sure how long I can hold off washing it before I give in and watch it disintegrate before my eyes.

The other brushes in the collection seem fine so far, but this one must have missed out on the glue in the factory line.

I'm thinking I may need to invest a bit more money for some serious quality brushes. 

Has this happened to any of your brushes? What are your favourite brush brands? So far MAC and Ecotools are my faves.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

NOTD - Essie Trophy Wife

This just shows you the power of product naming. I bought this for the name, not the colour, although the colour is gorgeous in the bottle. Another bottle that I bought is called California Coral, so chosen because I'd just been to California.

Make whatever judgement you see fit.....

In the meantime here is Trophy Wife in all her glory:

Essie Trophy Wife - Indoors

Essie Trophy Wife - Outdoors, you can see the shine better here

I myself love the colour but I'm not sure she loves me. I'll try living with her a few days and see. I think it's the shimmer that doesn't quite convince me. I also think that the last time I wore a blue-y toned nail polish was in 1990-something.....

So what do we make of her royal trophy-ness?

Monday, 8 August 2011

USA Haul! - Part 2

For part 1 click here.

If you need a reminder of the mega-ness (is that word? It is now...) of this haul then here's another gratuitous pic.

Mega by my standards, mini by others I'm sure
Obviously I haven't gotten round to using everything yet, so mini-reviews and first impressions will be coming along in dribs and drabs.

One thing I absolutely adore already is the Sugar Lip Polish by Fresh. This was probably the most expensive item I bought and one which was a 'what the heck' purchase at the till in Sephora. You see, just when you've decided what you want you go to the till to pay for it and lo and behold there is a whole new world of goodness lining the queueing area filled with dinky little irresistable treats which don't make a dent in your already full basket, but which ended up emptying your wallet none the less.

This was one of them. In a box no bigger than a lip balm it didn't look to be worth the $22 I paid for it, but I'd heard so many good things about Fresh that I thought I'd just pop it in. Anyhow, my lips are always terribly flaky and dry and this kind of promised good things.

Fresh Sugar Lip Polish - Utterly delectable!

I am SO happy I bought this. It is seriously wonderful stuff and now I just have to be careful that I don't over-scrub my lips as I really want to use it every day. You need the teensiest amount so the little pot will last me probably the best part of the year if I use it about twice a week. It's basically brown sugar crystals set into a luxuriously emollient base of shea butter, meadowfoam seed oil,  jojoba oil and grapeseed oil. It doesn't sound that thrilling but they really have got the balance of ingredients so right that I don't think just rubbing sugar and oil onto the lips would come close to how this performs. It smells sweet, like caramelised brown sugar, but almost citrusy at the same time. It begs me to lick it off but a flannel is really the way to go ;) Once you finish gently polishing the lips for, say, 40 seconds, you wet a flannel or muslin cloth and wipe away the residue. Behold, you are left with the softest, smoothest and most lusciously plumped lips EVER. At least that's what happened to me. My lips literally doubled in volume and I swear they had never felt smoother. I wasted a lot of time that evening pouting at myself in the mirror.... Love love love.

So that was the unexpected purchase. What I intended to come away with were a couple of good liquid liners in colours other than black. I chose a Make Up For Ever Aqua Liner in shade 07 which is the most incredible jewelled deep violet colour which sparkles so elegantly that it never looks teeny bopper. This I adore. The formulation is a bit watery so it needs two 'coats' before the colour really comes into it's own, but the applicator is great for getting a nice precise cat-eye and although it stays true to it's promise of being budge-proof all day, it's also not a trauma to remove with make-up remover, it flakes away easily.

The other liner I bought I love even more, in fact I may weep once I run out of it. It's the Smashbox Limitless Liquid Liner pen in Dark Brown. Such a perfect shade of brown, it could almost be black under certain lighting, it gives me a softer look without compromising on the drama of using liquid liner (I need to have some drama going on, drama is fun!). The applicator is even better than the Make Up For Ever liners in my opinion, it's slightly longer and has a bit more flexibility.

Make Up For Ever Aqua Liner in 07 and Smashbox Limitless Liquid Liner in Dark Brown, pictured here with Estee Lauder Double Wear Cream Eyeshadow in Vintage Violet. 

Here are swatches:

Top: MUFE Aqua Liner in 07, Middle: Smashbox Limitless Liner in Dark Brown, Bottom: Estee Lauder Double Wear Cream shadow in Vintage Violet
The Estee Lauder Cream shadow, pictured above with the liners,  was something I picked up at the Cosmetics Company outlet store. It was only $12 and such a lush shade of burgundy violet, I couldn't resist. It's no way as shimmery as the Benefit Creaseless Cream shadows and is definitely drier in texture. I love the colour but I wouldn't say it was violet, I see more burgundy brown with a purple undertone. It's going to be a lovely autumn colour methinks. I've only used it once and I noted that you really need to blend it quickly because it sets fast and doesn't move. Still prefer the formulation of the  Benefit shadows to be honest.

Another truly successful purchase was the Boscia Pore Purifying Black Strips. Actually I bought another box of these after I tried one in our hotel room in LA and saw how well it worked. I won't go into gory details, but if your a freakoid like me and you like, ahem, 'extractions' then these won't disappoint! They are seriously powerful. My nose has never been clearer, and I mean NEVER. Not only do they remove a lot of (cough) 'gunk', but they also facilitate the removal of even more 'gunk' manually.... if you get my drift. Or am I just sounding a bit disturbing???

I'd not heard of Boscia before seeing Pursebuzz do a video on these pore-strips a few weeks back and I made a mental note to buy them once I was in America. I also bought the Luminizing Black Mask which was recommended to me by the sales assistant as a great compliment to the pore strips. I can't wait to give it ago.... Out thee damn spot!!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Rodial Skinny Beach Sticks Review - Part 2: Beach

Short one, this. For part one click here.

After 3 weeks in the US I can honestly say that this product did nothing to help me tan any differently from how I normally would. I didn't tan that much actually, which is a bit sad as a post-holiday glow is always mood-enhancing, but on the plus side it means that I don't need to buy a new foundation and concealer and Mr P stays happy. He, incidently, has managed to return a bronzed god. *sulk*

So Skinny Beach broke both it's promises and earns a sorry 0 score all round.

Friday, 5 August 2011

NOTD - Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in Quick Sand

I broke my summer brights habit yesterday evening as I need to be wearing something more toned-down this weekend, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to test out the other Insta-Dri polish which is the only neutral colour that I bought in the US.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in Quick Sand

You probably think I'm going to tell you how much I love this, but you'd be wrong. When first applied it looks lovely and glossy and the microglitter finish is really flattering. The colour is a kind of peachy nude with a yellow undertone and at first I thought it really suited my colouring, but today I don't like it as much. It kind of looks grubby. I can't explain it but it seems to have dulled down a lot and the colour has become a wierd peachy fake dolly nude! The second photo shows more what I mean, but you may not agree with me. I just think it's not quite right.

I was kind of going for the mannequin nails look and it backfired. Oh well.... after tomorrow it's coming off and the brights are going back on. :)

Thursday, 4 August 2011

USA Haul! - Part One

So here is the bulk of what I managed to pick up on my trip. I'd say 50% are nail products, but that's just because I'm nail crazed at the moment and everything was just so cheap out there I thought 'what the hell'!

I'm really excited about the new brushes though. Particularly the Real Techniques ones which are only available online in Europe, I think at
Real Techniques Face Core Collection brushes -
I got mine from Ulta. They had sold out of everything  in the range and there was only this one kit left which is the face core collection. I think it was something like $15 which is an AMAZING price for such quality brushes. The case it comes in also works as a stand if you bend it back and secure it with the toggle supplied. Genius. What I love about these brushes is the unique shape of each of them. They are not your bog standard flat foundation brush and powder brushes, these are really formed to fit into the contours of the face for a flawless airbrushed finish. I have only tried the largest brush and the tiny concealer brush so far, but I'm loving them already, they are so, so soft and a pleasure to use. Big love to Sam Chapman who created them, this girl can do no wrong.

The other brush I got was a flat-topped face brush by Sonya Kashuk for Target.
 I just adore the handle, it's not only gorgeous to look at (it has a micro glitter/shimmer finish which the camera won't pick up) but it's also ergonomic and feels great in the hand. I haven't tried it yet but it's also incredibly soft. I just sat for 3 minutes brushing it up and down my arm, it feels that good.... yes, I know, I'm sad.

Also from Target I bought a whole load of Essie nail colours.
Essie nail colour in California Coral, Midnight Cami, Rose Bowl, French Affair and Trophy Wife (bought that one for the name!)

I have California Coral on my nails at the moment and it's a great replacement for my Rimmel Coralicious which glooped up on me and became unusable. I love the quality of these varnishes, they apply beautifully and last really well on the nails. I can't wait to try the others. No doubt there will be a few NOTD's coming up.

I also got some Sally Hansen nail stuff as no one knows nails like Sally.

Insta-dri nail colour in Quick Sand and Racey Rouge and Miracle Nail Thickener

Salon Effects Nail Polish Strips 

I wish I got more of the Sally Hansen colours, they are just brilliant! I have Racey Rouge on my toes and it's the only 1 coat polish I've tried that you can really use just one coat of. Drying time is incredibly fast too. These would be great if you really have very little time to do your nails and want maximum effect. And talking of maximum effect, I finally got my mitts on the nail polish strips. These are not stickers but strips of real nail polish which you transfer onto your nails. They come in a variety of designs as well as just plain colours, but I picked the black lace one and the gorgeous blue glitter effect one. I'm waiting for my nails to grow before I break into these babies as unfortunately they can only be used once. They do last a good week to ten days though (so I hear) and they are much much cheaper than getting a professional paint your nails for you.If you're curious, here's a video showing how it works.

Still hungry for more? Stay tuned for part two where we'll be talking lip scrubs, mega power pore strips, and no-budge liquid liners.

Click here for part deux! 

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Thrilled to the Max

Out of all my USA purchases, here's the thing I'm most excited about finding.

On a visit to Pike Place Market in Seattle we saw a plethora of fascinating little shops and stands. It was only when I stepped into what seemed like a regular poster shop did I realise it was much more than that. This place was called Old Seattle Paperworks and inside were original posters and adverts and magazines from bygone eras. The stand of original Playboy magazines going back at least 40 years was the first sight  that greeted us. Apparently it's popular to give someone (ahem, I'm thinking a guy rather than a girl) an original Playboy magazine from the month and year of their birth as a birthday gift.... Mr Pandora (if you're reading this) you're not getting one.

There were original posters and advertisements for everything from cigarettes, cars, tights, toothpaste, travel, and of course, beauty products. So you can guess where I migrated to.

There were so many beautiful images, I wanted them all. Date wise they varied from the 1930's to 1970's, but my favourites were the 40s and 50s. It struck me how many companies used famous actresses to endorse their products, in fact, most big brand cosmetics seemed to be endorsed by a stunner from the silver screen. Things really haven't changed, and it just proves the marketing power a big name can have. Women used to  wish to emulate these huge stars more than we perhaps want to today, so if Lana Turner was seen to be 'using' a certain face powder then it was more or less guaranteed to be a big seller.

The posters were on sale for $15 each or 3 for $40, so I went for 3 Max Factor Pan Cake Adverts from 1941/2. 

They feature (from the top down) Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, and Lana Turner, but I believe there are others out there featuring different actresses. I adore the imagery and I particularly love the way these women do not look directly into the camera lens but are pictured staring at something else in the distance. It's all so melodramatic! Although there are no colours, you just know that their lips are painted deep shades of red, and will you look at those brows? So breathtakingly beautiful.

For your amusement I've enlarged the captions from each poster:

You'll always look attractive because it stays on for hours without repowdering....

Love it!

Old Seattle Paperworks

Monday, 1 August 2011

American Beauty

So hello girlies, I'm back! How I missed you! I wish I had taken the laptop with me so that I could blog on the go because I came across so much that just begged to be written about. As it is you'll have to put up with me updating you in dribs and drabs as I challenge my jetlagged brain to conjure up all the beauty goss I have in store.

So all in all we had an amazing time in the USA. We travelled up from San Diego all the way to Seattle and saw so much that it was mind-blowing. We saved most of our shopping for Oregon where there is no sales tax (yippee!!) and even Mr P became a shopping crazed monster with all the bargains that were to be had at the outlets.

I had a total field day in Target on the second day we were in Oregon. I spent two hours and the best part of $200. Believe me when I tell you that that's a fraction for what I would have paid for some of the products in Europe. OPI and Essie nail polishes were less than half the price we'd pay in Europe and the entire Sally Hansen line was there displayed in all it's glory for approximately half the UK retail price. Then there was the fantastic Sonya Kashuk line exclusively for Target from which I picked up a flat topped face brush and a concealor palette. The miniatures section was like a kiddies' pick and mix counter, and I bought some nice little things to keep me smelling sweet on my travels.

I had heard tales of a place that they calleth Ulta, but only had a brief but glorious 10 minutes to spend there. I bought a set of Real Techniques face brushes by the awesome Samantha Chapman of Pixiwoo fame.

I made a 2 minute stop at the original Benefit store in San Francisco where I had my photo taken on one of their make-up stools, much to the bemusement of the staff....but alas no time to even swipe a swatch of eyeshadow.

I managed to persuade Mr P to allow me some precious solo time in Sephora in Seattle. He graciously agreed and I floated on cloud nine amongst Make Up For Ever, Smashbox, Kat Von D, Urban Decay and a world of other delectable brands. I came away with a bag of treats and some little gifts for my sisters-in-law.

Photos to follow tomorrow along with details of a surprise purchase which thrills me even more than all the make-up I bought.... :)