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

Friday, 30 September 2011

Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel Review (and brief comparison with Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish)

You know how you make a mental note to do things and then those mental notes stack up like pancakes (mmmmm, pancakes.... ) and you never get round to eating (doh!), I mean doing them?

Well, I have shelves and drawers crammed full of products I've been meaning to review and instead they just pile up like Mr P's shirts waiting patiently to be ironed. I prefer the pancake analogy, but anyhow....

So, a skincare review.Yay! Hopefully this will be useful :)

I'm a Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish addict. My addiction began back in 2005 and I've never looked back. It really is the best cleanser I've found and the only one which removes eye make-up properly at the same time as cleansing the rest of the face. I love everything about it, the smell, texture, the cloth that comes with, the way my skin feels afterwards. But there are a gazillion reviews of this on the net and I'm not going to add to them. Just know from me that I adore it.

But you can't buy it in Belgium. Sob. And I stupidly let myself run out of it back in June. Double sob. So I figured I should try and break the addiction and hunt down a similar product which would cleanse and remove eye make-up in one fell swoop. After about a week of futile searching and the trauma of me butchering the French language in an attempt to explain to the shop assistants what I was after, I actually only found one product which looked like it could do the job of C & P.

The Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel is an elusive little tube of orange gloop which seems to hide away behind the myriad of other Clarins cleansers on offer. It's a thick smooth gel which you massage onto dry skin and as you do so it transforms into a light oil. You can take it all over the eyes and remove eye make-up too. It then transforms into a light milk when you apply water and rinse it off. You can also use a washcloth to remove the excess.

I'll tell you straight off, this is not a bad product. In fact, it's a lovely product. You only need a small blob about the size of a 5 pence (or 5 cent) piece to cover the whole face. The gel seems to magically spread once it becomes an oil and it feels quite luxurious  to massage into the skin. The scent is clean and 'soapy'. It's a bit more artificially perfumed than I would like, but that's because I'm totally in love with the fresh eucalyptus scent of C & P.

Now the big question... does it perform as well as C & P?

In short, no. I can get every scrap of eye make-up off with C & P. This leaves me with areas of black in-between my lashes and under the eyes which I have to go over sometimes with a separate eye make-up remover. I also find that if I tone my skin after I'm still removing a bit of make-up and grime which does not happen with C & P.

Also, this stings my eyes if it runs into them when I'm rinsing it off. C & P does not sting my eyes at all.

As cleansers go I actually like the Clarins one despite that fact that it's not perfect. Most face cleansers are either milks, lotions or straight oils and you need a separate eye make-up remover. This one is  truly an all in one product.

In the last few weeks my skin has been breaking out a lot so I've changed my skincare regime. More on that soon. I don't think the break-outs are due to using this cleanser but I've gone back to C & P just because it's comforting to me when my skin is stressed like it is.

I still have quite a bit of the pure melt gel remaining and I've been using it all summer. I picked up two C & P pumps last time I was in London and I couldn't help but start using it again despite the fact that there is an ample amount of the Clarins still left in the tube. Naughty, naughty.... but like I just said, I feel like my skin needs it.

I would score Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel at 7/10 which is a respectable score. I'm sure that I would love it more if I hadn't already had C & P in my life.

Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel is €21.20 here in Brussels and £18.50 in the UK, although prices vary on different websites so shop around. Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish (with cloth) is £13.75.

Thinking outside of the box - The giant highlighter!

Or compact. Or tube. Or pot. Or whatever.

I've been getting creative trying to come up with ways to use products to their max, stretching them beyond their original job titles of eyeshadow, blusher, lipstick etc

I'm particularly obsessed with products which are generously sized or little used. Finding new uses for products gives me a little thrill akin to buying something new.

Except obviously it's not new and I'm obviously getting a bit desperate under the shadow of Project Pan.

But bear with me, because I'm actually quite chuffed with my 'new' discovery. I have a MAC Mineralize Skinfinish powder in the colour Soft and Gentle. A huge compact of champagne-beige shimmering powder, it was a gift from one of my brothers (Brother P the Elder) a couple of years ago. Still haven't figured out how on earth that happened.... how he ended up in MAC and how he ended up picking out a highlighter, lipgloss and eyeshadow..... it will probably remain one of life's great unsolved mysteries.

MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Soft and Gentle

Still, if you know the MAC Mineralize Skinfinishes you'll know how big they are. They are meant to be highlighters. Even if you use highlighter every single day, you only need a teensy amount each time. I don't think that I will ever get through this powder to be honest. There's just so much of it. I'll be 70 years old and I still won't have hit pan on this bugger.

100 years of highlighting!

It's pretty and I like the effect it has on cheekbones and browbones, especially after a few hours. It gives a subtle candlelit glow when applied sparingly. But it sits in my vanity case feeling useless most of the time because I only use highlighter when I can remember and sometimes in the evenings if I go out.

The other day I was in a hurry and I wanted  a neutral, shimmery eyeshadow to just whack on with a bit of liner and mascara. You think I'd be able to find something with all my stuff, no? NO. I saw the Mineralize powder poking out of the case and I just grabbed it along with a big fluffy eye brush and put it on my lids. And the rest as they say is history..... I've been wearing it as an eyeshadow ever since, all over my lids and underneath the bottom lashline. It's not obviously coloured, but it's just enough to provide a subtle shimmer to the eyes which looks oh-so pretty and very groomed. In the evening it's even better.

Swatched heavily, below, and blended out, above

The other place I've been dusting it is just above the upper lip. It gives a slight volumising effect to the lips by highlighting the cupid's bow.

I haven't used it on the body yet but now I'm 'thinking outside of the compact' I'll keep it to hand for the shins and collarbone. I'm pretty sure that's what it's meant for too, but I was so fixated on it being a 'face' product I just never considered this before.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

NOTD - Maybelline Rosy Sand

Consider this the sugar rush of posts. Nothing to 'eat' for ages and your hungry and need something quick, so you can satisfy yourselves on yet another sugary NOTD until I get dinner ready (aka, longer more interesting posts!)

So this is Maybelline Forever Strong in Rosy Sand. It's part of their nude colour selection, obviously meant as a nude for darker skin tones but I'm drawn to taupey brown shades at the mo so I grabbed this.

I was actually after more of a cafe au lait shade, but this is a tad darker and has a slight pinky undertone.

Maybelline Forever Strong in Rosy Sand

This is two coats with Essie Good To Go top coat.

It's been on my nails now for 5 days and the chipping is minimal. I love it. I love the colour, the shine and the versatility. It goes with everything, like Barry M Mushroom which I forgot to photograph. Actually this is the colour you'd get if Mushroom had a baby with a french manicure....

I'm seriously into coffee/taupe-y nudes at the moment!

Hope the sugar fix sorted you out. Dinner will be ready soon.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Wishful thinking

I thought it would be fun to let my imagination run wild and compile a beauty wish-list.

Chanel Illusion d'Ombre eyeshadows. ALL OF THEM. They are amazing and versatile and every colour just stuns. If I had to pick a favourite it would be Illusoire, a purple taupe shot through with sparkle or Epatant, a greyish taupe with a green undertone and incredible sparkle. J'adore!!!!!!

Dior Amber Diamond Highlighter
I've wanted this for like, forever. I have my huge MAC Mineralize Skinfinish which works perfectly well but somehow this calls to me.
Jennifer Lopez uses it. Now tell me I don't need it.

Dior Blush in Rose Vintage and Pink in Love

In my humble opinion I don't have enough blushers and I can't chose between these two newbies from the Dior Autumn/Winter Blue Tie collection. They both have a place in my fantasy make-up collection. 

Lancome Hypnose Doll Eyes Mascara

I love the visual for this and the idea behind it....huge doll like batting lashes. Lancome mascaras have never ever let me down. I love the original Hypnose so I'm itching to try this. In fantasy land only because I have at least 4 mascaras to get through first.

Givenchy Dahlia Noir

This surprises me. I had a first sniff of these a few weeks back and thought... meh.... And then I had another sniff last week and thought.... hmmmm.... And then today I spritzed myself with it and thought.......aaaaaaaaaaaaa! It's one of those scents that creeps up on you. It's sweet and smoky at the same time. A floral scent with depth and sensuality. It's sexy but not in your face. I also love the packaging, it's clean and timeless. I think I'd love a body spray or lotion rather than the perfume as I think that this would work beautifully worn all over the body in a delicate layer of scent.

Elie Saab Le Parfum

This surprises me too! I thought I would hate it but it was love at first sniff. It reminds me a bit of the original Michael Kors perfume, so I'm figuring it has similar notes in it. This is seriously sexy and addictive. I couldn't stop smelling the tester. Again it's floral, but with a twist. I think this one is going to be a classic. The bottle is just gorgeous. I'd wear this with a ballgown and with nothing. Is there anything this man can't do?

It's just a coincidence that my birthday is next week. Honestly it is. :)

What's on your fantasy wish-list? Share the desire! 

Saturday, 10 September 2011

NOTD - Essie 'Rose Bowl'

This was part of my American beauty haul and I tried it for the first time yesterday. It was not what I was expecting.

I think I was conned into thinking this would be more pink than it is. I'm a sucker for names and Essie went and named this Rose Bowl. To me rose means pink. I know that roses come in a myriad of colours, but I don't think red rose I think pink rose.

Essie Rose Bowl - artificial light

This is red. Like a true old-fashioned golden-age of Hollywood red. It could almost be a coral red in fact. It does have a pink undertone, but mostly this is pure glamour red.

The formula is much thicker than I would have liked and made application a bit more tricky than usual. On the plus side you could get away with one thick coat if you were in a rush, but two coats give optimum depth of colour. I topped it with Essie Good to Go fast dry top coat.

I wasn't sure I was crazy about it when I started to apply it. It wasn't the colour I was after. I wanted a more pronounced pink to the red.

After a few hours I realised that I couldn't stop staring at my hands. This shiny, bright uber glamorous red was incredibly cheering and made me feel like a bit of a fox.

Essie Rose Bowl - daylight
So in conclusion, me likey very much! I feel like I should be purring....

Thursday, 8 September 2011

NOTD - Kiko (Shade 325)

Actually this is a 'nail of the other day', so technically a NOTOD.

I hate it when colours are given a number and not a name. You just can't relate to a number and I do like to relate to my products it helps me bond with them.

Make whatever judgement you see fit.

I wanted something autumny and versatile that wasn't red or plum, and this particular beauty stood out to me when I was in Kiko (see my last post for more on Kiko).

An elegant muted khaki-grey, it stood quietly amongst its more brash and brazen sister bottles of obnoxious teals and vampy violets. Something told me that this was the colour I was searching for.

Kiko 325

 For 2.50 euros you cannot go wrong with this polish. It's pigmented, smooth, non-streaky and fast drying. And look at that shine. I didn't even use a top coat.

I cannot see an outfit this will not go with, and I know I will be wearing it more than any colour this season. Some greys can be too cool toned and flat looking, but this is warmed through by the khaki and to me it just screams 'expensive'.

I'm going to rescue this little gem from the anonimity of its number and call it something more befitting.

How about 'Clouded Moss' or 'Jungle Mist'?

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Falling off the wagon....

...and quickly getting back on it again!

Ok so I'm not supposed to buy any more make-up while on Project Pan, but as with any law there is always a loophole or two... n'est-ce pas?

To cut a long story short: Milan Airport - Sunday afternoon - Brand new Kiko Milano make-up store

What's a girl to do? Just ignore it?? And when the Italian economy is in such crisis and needs my help??

I'd heard of Kiko before but I had never been into a store. I (once again) abandoned Mr P with two suitcases and a healthy shove towards the seating area and I began my wanderings.

Mr first thought was that it was like an Italian Sephora. All the stuff is Kiko but it's kind of laid out like and looks a bit like the Sephora's own line. It's not expensive but it's not super budget either. Some things are L'Oreal prices and others like Collection 2000 or Barry M.... there doesn't seem to be much consistency. There is skincare too and a whole range of accessories.

I was good. I bought 4 things for research purposes. Two eyeshadow pen things, (one of which was a Long Lasting shadow stick (6.90 euros) and the other a powder-dip style pen called Eye Tech (5.90 euros)), a nail polish (2.50 euros) and a cuticle trimmer (2.90 euros).

Now hear my reasons for why I haven't strictly broken Project Pan:
  1. I've already finished one of the mascaras (yay!) and the Laura Mercier primer is on it's way out.
  2. I've lost my beloved Benefit creaseless cream shadow which is my number one most reached for eye product.... I'm gutted and have nothing else like that at all so I thought that the Kiko pens could somehow replace it. 
  3. Nail polish doesn't count, remember? 
  4. I don't have a cuticle trimmer.

Kiko Eye Tech Look eyeshadow

Kiko Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow

Long lasting eyeshadow in 06 (top) and Eye Tech in 10 (bottom)

 To give a quick overview/review.... The Eye Tech pen I don't like. I can't get enough shadow out of the damn lid! It took about 5 attempts to get the meagre looking swatch you see. I love the colour which is why this is so frustrating. It would be a fantastic every-day lid shimmer IF I COULD BLOODY GET TO IT. Definite design flaw with this one, unless I'm being a cretin and there's something I'm not doing right. It also drags on the eyelid terribly when you try to apply it to the eye. Fail. :(

The Long Lasting stick shadow on the other hand is richly pigmented and smooths to apply. The colour is a bronze taupe shade. I was hoping it would be a bit closer to the Benefit Birthday Suit, but it's much browner. This baby does not budge. You see that swatch on my arm? It wouldn't wash off.... seriously, I even tried scrubbing my arm with a nail brush! You need  make-up remover for this. You also need to blend it very quickly as it sets fast too. I like it, and will use it regularly, but it doesn't quite replace my poor lost Benefit.

I like the cuticle trimmer, it does its job. Nuff said.

The nail polish..... Whole. Other. Story. I think this may be lacquer love and the Coralicious of my autumn/winter. Nail of the day coming up....

All in all I'm intrigued by Kiko. So far it's a mixed bag but one I wouldn't mind dipping into again next time I'm in Italy. The nail polishes are DEFINITELY the stars of the show.

Have any of you tried Kiko?

NOTD - Barry M Raspberry (273)

This is my first ever Barry M polish. I picked up this colour along with Mushroom on a visit to London back at the beginning of August but I hadn't tried either of them yet.

This is love at first stroke. Gloriously pigmented, smooth, liquid enough to spread on the nail but without being either watery or gloopy, fast drying, high shine finish and actually opaque enough for one coat only, but I gave it two for longevity. And only £2.99! Makes you wonder ....

Barry M Raspberry

Raspberry is a beautiful deep red with a pinky undertone. It's a cream finish, so no shimmer. I adore it. It's the perfect summer/autumn crossover red.

Barry M Raspberry

Look how shiny!

Do you likey? What are your favourite colours at the moment?

By the way, I have another absolute beauty coming up soon.....

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Foil flirtation - NOTD circa 1998

I'll try and let the pictures do the talking this time.

During my massive clear-out of stuff a few weeks back, this baby surfaced from the darkest depths of my cupboard. And from the darkest depths of my clueless make-up years.

These are Special FX Nail Foils! What fun! They have the dubious honour of being the first thing I had ever purchased from telesales (QVC to be precise). When I saw the magic happen (glue + foil = instant metallic nails!) I picked up the phone and put my newly acquired credit card to good (or bad) use.

Special FX Nail Foiling Kit
Here's how it works. You paint a thin layer of the glue on to your nail, you wait for it to go clear and then you apply a small piece of foil (which you've previously cut to size). You smooth over the foil with your finger or a cotton bud (q-tip if you're in America) and then you cautiously peel off the foil. You should be left with the foil on your nail as the design sticks to the glue. Then you finish with the top coat sealer.

Top coat and glue plus 6 c-c-crazy foils..

 I can't pretend I didn't have fun with this. The leopard print design proved to be very popular with everyone, including my brothers and my dad who all decided it would be kind of cool to have a leopard print pinky nail for all of five minutes.  I had a whale of a time foiling my toes. I wasn't brave enough to wear any of them on my fingers as I was still a French manicure kind of girl back then.

 After about 13 years, here is a taster of what you can achieve with these. 

 The animal print is kind of in fashion I guess.... I'm not so sure about the other colours though, they really do look like you've just glued foil onto your nails, which I guess is the point, but I've never been convinced it's a look that works for me.

In terms of lasting power these are not great. They are a fun one-day flirtation on the fingers, but they do last a bit longer on the toes.

If you're at all interested in doing funky stuff with your nails then you can check out the Special FX website: I can't see the nail foils on here, I think they've been discontinued but a quick google revealed that you can still get them on ebay and various other outlet sites.

So, what do we think? Tack-fest or fun-fest?

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Meet baby BB! Comparison between Erborian BB cream in original and doré

So, Mr P and I were at Brussels airport on Friday on our way to Italy and I was stopped dead in my tracks by the sight of a new natural cosmetics section within the main shopping area.

Much to Mr P's amusement I dropped my suitcase and bolted across the terminal to welcome the new arrivals.

I couldn't believe what a great little selection there was. Actually I didn't really get much of a chance to explore because as soon as I saw the Erborian shelves I was blind to everything else. They had my beloved BB creme au ginseng in MINI SIZE!

Or should that be mini size?

There were testers of both the regular shade and Doré (golden). I took the opportunity to test the golden one, having previously been informed that it was 'too dark' for most people. 

Oh how wrong they were! This is a gorgeous summer version of the original. It blended perfectly into the back of my hand and didn't look at all orange or bronze. I picked up the baby size one for €13.20. At 15ml it is half the regular size, but judging by how long the regular size is lasting me I think that this baby one will work it's 15mls very hard indeed. 

My BB cream had a baby!

Erborian BB Creme au Ginseng (left-doré, right-original)

Erborian BB Creme au Ginseng (bottom -doré, top-original)

Erborian BB cream swatches blended out slightly (bottom - doré, top- original)

Erborian swatches blended out much more but not completely.
It's interesting because although you can tell the difference between the two they both look natural in their own way. I would wear them both with confidence. This weekend in Italy I wore the doré and absolutely loved it. It does everything the original does but is a little easier to blend in with my slightly tanned skin. At the moment I find that I have to work the original one a bit more into the skin to avoid looking a bit pale.  I would definitely recommend the golden shade for tanned olive skin to darker asian skintones. I know that some find the paler BB creams look too ashy on the skin, so this is definitely, absolutely, immediately one to check out!

I know I'm meant to be on a Project Pan, but I don't think there is anywhere else I could get a miniature Erborian BB cream in Brussels or London. Seriously! Plus it's so frigging great I'm not going to beat myself up for getting it. 

I am however slightly beating myself up for falling off the wagon at Milan airport today...... oops.

I'm sure you'll thank me for it though. :)

Friday, 2 September 2011

Vintage Pupa Heart

With my last post being about an 11 year old Chanel compact and this one being all about a 12 year old Pupa make-up box you're probably wondering from whence come these nostalgic offerings.

It's partly to do with my Project Pan, meaning that in order that I don't buckle under the weight of the autumn collections and break my pledge I need to satisfy my 'cravings' by digging out hidden treasures from my past. It's kind of like shopping because you forget what you have and you re-discover it all over again, minus the trauma you would normally cause to your credit card and your other half when he sees exactly how much that limited edition Chanel nail polish (or two.... or three....) cost.

It's also partly to do with the huge clear-out I completed recently, giving bag upon bag of clothing, shoes and old fashion jewellery away to charity. Stuff that I had been hoarding for over 15 years and would never fit into/wear again for love nor money.

(Clingy mesh tops? Black polyester boot-cuts? Someone knows what I'm talking about ;))

This cute little Pupa heart was gifted to me by a very dear friend. I can't remember when, but it was certainly before 2000 so I'm calling it vintage.

Pupa is an Italian cosmetics company which seems to be much more well known outside the UK. In Italy it's everywhere. They have a regular make-up line as well as doing cute make-up coffrets shaped like animals, dolls, hearts etc.... They are a bit kitsch it has to be said, but they are on the good side of kitsch which means that I would have no problem giving or receiving them as gifts. They make you smile and that's what make-up should do above all.
Mr P gave me a Pupa angel on the first Christmas we spent together. I squealed with delight. It literally was a match made in Heaven :p

So back to the heart.

You take the lid off and there are six eye-shadows formed into butterflies. So cute!  The colours are very warm and autumnal. I actually used them quite a lot by the looks of it although I never hit pan on any of them.

The second level contains a generously sized blush in a peachy brown which as you can see I used a lot. I remember loving this colour on me so I'm excited to start using it again. There are also two lip colours, a terracotta lipstick shade which I remember not suiting me, and the little gloss above it which I also hit pan on. 

The bobbly thing in the middle is a little perfume which Pupa like to include in some of their coffrets. They have quite an extensive scent range, but to be honest this one smelt a bit like something a 6 year old would wear. Not unpleasant, but a little bit how a child thinks 'perfume' should smell, if you get my drift... or perhaps not. Still, it's a nice touch, and the smell takes me back in time, so actually it has a purpose albeit not the one it was intended for.

Do you girls have any Pupa coffrets?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Vintage Platinum Chanel - A little treasured memory

So, remember when we were back in 1999 and everyone was going crazy for the huge meltdown the year 2000 would bring? What an anticlimax that turned out to be.... when Big Ben chimed it's last bell of 1999 we all stood there with baited breath waiting for something to explode, for the aliens to arrive, or simply for the TV to go a bit fuzzy.

But nothing happened. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

The year 2000 was basically 1999 one year older. Somehow with a 2 in front of the number it felt like we should all be living in spaceships by then and commuting to work via hoverboards or flying jet bikes or something.

11 years later and still no flying jet bikes (boohoo), and the new millenium is starting to look vintage and quaint. I read somewhere that something vintage is something ten years or older. So, technically I can call my Chanel Lumiere Platine 2000 vintage.

The millenium was a marvellous excuse for cosmetics companies to bring out special limited editions and Chanel was right up there with the best.

Boxed in black with silver edges and encased in a silver mesh pouch with the words "Star Product" instead of the usual black velvet, this little compact hides a sparkling silver powder.

The compact itself inside is very much like the Joues Contraste blushers except it is all silver, very space age and futuristic in homage to the new millenium. In fact I remember that most of the millenium limited editions had something metallic and space-y about them. Quite hilarious when you think about it now.

The USP of this Chanel powder was that it contained real platinum and that it would imbue your face with a fine platinum silver glow as an all-over highlighter.

A heavy-ish swatch of Chanel Lumiere Platine 2000 - obviously it's meant to be used with a light touch! 

I was in love from the word go. I can't even remember why I wanted this so much as to be honest at that time I didn't have the knowledge I have now in order to have made it work. But still, those were my early days of Chanelophilia.... I was a novice at this game.

I didn't actually buy this myself. I tried. Everywhere I went was sold out, so I had resigned myself to the fact that it would never be mine. That is, until a very good friend tracked it down and ordered it from Paris for me as a surprise for my birthday. I was rapturous with gratitude and practically worshiped the ground he walked on ever since. I will never forget the lengths he went to in order to find this compact.

That's what this really means to me. It's more than just a pretty silver shimmery powder. It holds the memory of someone who liked me enough to go out of their way to find it for me to make me happy.
And that is something that makes it worth it's weight in platinum.