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

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year my lovelies!

A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my lovely readers!

I'm sorry I've been absent of late, it's been a frantic few weeks and I've been both away and struck down with a cold.

I've been compiling a list of my favourite goodies of 2011 which was meant to get posted last week but life decided otherwise. Normal blogging schedule will resume after the first week of January.

Thank you all for your support and comments in 2011, it's meant so much to me, more than I could imagine. My blog will be a year old in January and what started out as a whim has blossomed into a full-blown hobby. I never thought that anyone would follow my musings so I'm incredibly chuffed that people actually read the few sentences I manage to string together...

I'll be holding a 'Blog Birthday' giveaway in January to say thank you properly!

I wish you all health, luck, love and happiness and lipstick for 2012!

With love


Monday, 12 December 2011

Behold the prettiness...

...that is this gorgeous mineralize eyeshadow from MAC.

An early Christmas present from my darling friend Ms R, this little beauty has stolen my heart. In the pan it appears a silvery pinky-lilac shot through with gunmetal veining.

It reminds me of the marbling we used to do in art class at primary school... you know,  where you mix oil paints on top of water and then lay a sheet of paper on top.

 Perhaps controversially I also love the white casing, a change from the usual black pots. This is part of the limited edition Glitter and Ice collection and the colour itself is called Strike a Pose. I was kind of overwhelmed by the size of the MAC collections this winter so I never really took the time to browse them properly. Plus I was trying to stay away from the little MAC store in Place Stephanie so that I would not be led into temptation.

MAC Strike a Pose mineralize eyeshadow swatched (not very well, I hasten to add!)
On the eyes this is the perfect winter shimmer! Not too frosty, not too coloured, it's a cool toned wash of lilac-grey shimmer. It's incredibly flattering and eye-brightening, I'm astonished at how 'fresh' I look with this on. It's the type of shadow I've been searching for subconsciously over the past few months but have not been able to find. I can't think of an occasion when this wouldn't be appropriate. 
If you'd want high density pigment in this then you'd be disappointed, but to me pigment isn't everything and I really believe that shadows like this can be easier to negotiate on hurried days. A quick swipe, minimal blending and you're done. I can't think of a skin tone this wouldn't work on.
Love it! 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Clinique - All About Eyes gift set (& short review)

Today I ran out of my All About Eyes cream. Normally I would relish the chance to try something else but instead I kind of panicked a bit and hastened to pick up another little pinky-peach pot later on this afternoon.

This is my third pot of the stuff. So here's the lowdown: It's a lovely lightweight gel-creme formula which soothes the eye area and is absorbed within seconds. It's very smoothing (probably due to the silica it contains) and this means it makes an excellent under-eye base/primer for concealer and foundation.

My main eye concern is my dark circles, I guess you could say I'm really more Panda than Pandora. Anyway, I've always had terrible darkness under the eyes, ever since I was a meer snip of a thing. I've not found anything that really makes a huge difference to them, although the obvious remedy of getting a good night's sleep does seem to make me look less like a 'consumptive heroine'.

All About Eyes does help too. It's not a miracle cream but it definitely takes the 'edge' off the purplish hue. I don't have a problem with puffiness so I can't really report on it's effectiveness in this area.
Previously to this I used Clarins' eye creams, the Contour Gel and the Eye Balm, both of which I liked and re-purchased but neither giving me the impetus to stick to them. This cream, however, is effective enough for me to want to keep using it, and with the lovely formula leaving my delicate eye area feeling great, it's a winner for me.

An even bigger bonus was finding this cute little gift set at the department store (Galeria Inno) today.
Containing a full size All About Eyes cream, a 5ml size of the All About Eyes serum roll-on, a mini High Impact mascara and a gorgeous little make-up bag, it was the same price as the cream alone. Plus I got a whopping 30% off as it was a weekend special so the set cost me only €27. Bit of a bargain methinks.

Clinique 'de-puff & define eyes' gift set

It does feel a bit odd buying a gift set for oneself, and I always feel a little guilty when a sales assistant asks me if I want it wrapped. My "Non, c'est pour moi" is answered with a look of mild bemusement mixed with a haughty disdain....

To be honest though, what really sold it to me was the make-up bag. I LOVE mesh bags for practical reasons. I like to see my stuff. I'm not so keen on the transparent plastic ones as they get so grubby from the inside and start looking manky. Mesh can somehow survive the grubbiness as it's by it's nature a see-through fabric.
I'm not making any sense am I? I'll shut-up now.

Suffice to say, I think this would make a lovely little Christmas gift!

Have you tried this? What are your eye creams of choice?

Friday, 9 December 2011

Ginger, spice and all things nice

I've been very good so far this Christmas and have not really self-gifted anything... until yesterday.

I popped into Zara home for a little nosey about and came across these beautiful candles encased in velvet-flock boxes. They were in red, blue and green but it was the red that stole my heart. Red and gold IS Christmas after all. You can decorate your trees and houses in all manner of silver, pink and purple, but to me nothing says "Baby Jesus in the manger" more than the classic red/gold combo.

Anyway, this is a limited edition candle which smells of Gingerbread. It's a more spicy gingerbread so it's an extremely warming and cosy perfume. The other two candles were something like, incense and winter berry or winter greens, I can't remember exactly, but they were a little too masculine and 'after-shavey' for my taste.

Zara Home - Limited Edition Gingerbread Candle

Gingerbread was €17.99 but this is a hefty candle and bigger than the regular Zara candles (not bigger than those stonking 3-wick numbers, but you know what I mean). This will serve you all throughout Christmas and possibly throughout January & February too. If you wanted to I suppose you could burn half of it this year and half next Christmas. It's very strong so I can't imagine the smell fading, especially if you put it back in it's little velvet case.

I can report that just one hour of burning will scent your room, and indeed your home, with Gingerbread spice for the whole night. Just blissful!

Now THAT is what I'm talking about.... All that embodies Christmas; joy, hope, love... and perhaps even melancholy, in a single flame burning in a beautiful red glass.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Bad, bad nails = no NOTD's

I'm so frustrated. I have so many pretty colours itching to be displayed on my talons and yet my nails have been behaving so abominably that I cannot even paint them anymore.

Big sad face...

The peeling has gotten so bad that I barely have any nails left, they really do look a horrible sight.

Bigger, even sadder face...

I've ordered some nail wheels from ebay which means that I can still show you all some pretty polishes but alas, I will not have the pleasure of wearing them myself for a while.

In a drastic last ditch attempt to salvage the wreckage I've ordered Nailtiques Formula 2 for peeling nails from It seems to have great reviews online with folks raving that it saved their peeling, flaking nails and turned them into things of wonder. Here's hoping...

Big, sad, but hopeful, face.

How do you all look after your nails?

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Effaclar Lotion Astringent Review (and general update)

I thought I'd better post this seeing as my original Effaclar review post gets a lot of search engine love on a daily basis so I figure that it helps people.  I promised I'd give on update on my Effaclar routine with the Lotion Astringent incorporated into it, so here it is.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Lotion Astringent

I'm happy to say that the Lotion Astringent sits happily in my routine and really does seem to enhance the effect of Effaclar K. It's a smoothing, exfoliating lotion to be applied to the skin twice a day with a cotton pad after cleansing. It contains the same exfoliating ingredient as Effaclar K so in theory you're getting double the exfoliation.

I've noticed that my skin is smoother and less 'bumpy' and I've not really broken out at all since using this new skincare programme. I've had the odd blocked pore or tiny spot and I still have blackheads on my nose (eugh!), but overall I'm starting to feel happy with my skin again. Those annoying little brown scars are fading too.

I'm currently on my second tube of Effaclar K which I interchange now with Lush's Vanishing Cream seeing as my skin is past the critical state. I've also started using Aveda's Exfoliating Lotion at night after cleansing whilst using the Effaclar lotion in the morning. I'm really loving the Aveda too so I'll probably do a short review of that once I've used it a bit longer.

The Effaclar Lotion Astringent does contain alcohol which is supposed to dry out the skin. I can honestly say that in the whole time I've been using this system my usually combination-dry skin has not felt dry or dehydrated at all. I think it all depends on the balance of ingredients and the quality, and I do believe this is a high quality product at a very reasonable price (approx. €14/£11).

I've nearly finished my bottle so I'll probably give it a little break before I buy another one and just use the Aveda at night

While I'm at it, I must also continue to heap praise upon Cicaplast for being the ultimate skin soother when I've upset my skin by picking at mercilessly. I don't need to use this as much as I did in the beginning, but knowing it's on hand to sort out 'home-facial disasters' is very comforting.

Let me know your thoughts if you've tried any of La Roche Posay or indeed the other products mentioned.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Review

I'm so totally late onto the Vitalumiere Aqua bandwagon, but I'm going to post this anyway.

I picked up Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua foundation from Boots last month.

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua

I was matched to B30 - Beige Sable which is generally a good match for my skintone. Although  the Beige range is supposed to be for skin with yellow undertones (as opposed to the Beige Rose, or BR numbers) it does still lean slightly pinkish on my incredibly yellow complexion. However that is probably a good thing as I don't really want to look so sallow, so this perks up my colour a bit without making me look odd.

I won't beat about the bush. I love this foundation. The texture is very light and creamy after you've given the bottle a good shake. This is the key, you MUST shake it really well to mix the components together. It's a water based foundation so it separates easily each time you put back in your make-up bag. Remember the shake and you're all set.

The bottle is compact and plastic, light and easy to carry which I love. It's still the standard Chanel foundation size of 30ml, but minus the heavy glass bottle which I find impractical and bulky. I'm all about convenience, me.

I like to use this with a standard flat foundation brush, but it works fine with fingers too. It blends into my skin beautifully leaving a gorgeous natural matte finish. It's not a glowy foundation like the original Vitalumiere, which I used to use a good few years ago, but it doesn't make the skin look completely flat either. As it settles and 'warms up' the skin takes on a very natural 'glow' without going shiny.

Coverage is good and there is obviously a decent amount of pigment in such a light feeling product. I would say that it gives light coverage which is buildable to medium. It evens out the skin so beautifully and makes concealing those darker blemishes and scars much easier as it minimises them significantly with just one thin layer.

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua (B30): Straight out the bottle (left), blended in slightly (centre) and blended out to almost nothing (right)
I find I don't need to powder at all when I use this. I rarely powder anyway, but sometimes with the Vitalumiere original and with the Prolumiere too I needed to add a dusting of powder. For your reference my skin type is combination-dry but I reckon that oiler skin types could use this happily with just a small amount of powder if necessary.

It has a fresh, slightly floral scent which I really like. I generally don't like face make-up to be scented but this is a really pleasant, non-headache-inducing smell. 

Staying power is between 6-8 hours of perfection without a primer. To be honest I haven't tried this with a primer yet, partly because I've been lazy and haven't been using one. For special occasions I will prime, promise!

This has been such a great everyday foundation for me when I don't wear my BB cream. It's natural, makes me look 'fresh', and feels so light on the skin. When I look in the mirror and forget that I've put foundation on I think that's the best sign of all.

Knocks spots off Pro Lumiere and Vitalumiere (original). My sampling of the new Perfection Lumiere tells me that I still prefer Vitalumiere Aqua. Perfection Lumiere is geared towards medium- heavy coverage and is more matte. What you would prefer pretty much depends on what you're looking for in a foundation but in my case Vitalumiere Aqua wins hands down. 

£31.00 in the UK from department stores and Boots
€39.50 (prices vary) in Belgium and the Netherlands
Have you tried this?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Angel Face

MAC MSF in Soft & Gentle, MAC Creamy Bisque and Boots No7 blush in Honey
 I like to call this my 'daily Angel' makeover. What it is essentially is a beautifully fresh 'nude' look which focuses on radiant skin and sparkling eyes (note, I say eyes and not eyeshadow.... ). This is not about colour or drama, it's about letting your natural ethereal quality shine through even when you're feeling less than heavenly :)

What you'll need for your Angel face!

The key to this look is fresh looking skin. I like to mix a little Armani Fluid Sheer No2 (a light highlighting liquid) into my Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua (review coming soon!) or use my Erborian BB cream with some Fluid Sheer applied on cheekbones. Don't pick anything too heavy on coverage or on shimmer. You want a light veil of cover just to even out the skintone. If you have a foundation which has a 'glowy' effect,  you may want to skip mixing in a liquid highlighter, adding only afterwards if needed.

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua and Armani Fluid Sheer No 2

Add your powder/liquid highlighter on cheekbones, browbone, down the centre of the nose, just above the cupid's bow, and a little on the forehead (skip this if you are oily skinned).

Add a neutral, pale terracotta blush. Something not too pink. I use Boots No7 powder blush in Honey. Build up gradually, you don't want much colour but just enough to give warmth.

No7 Blush (Honey)
 Conceal under the eyes and do the rest of your blemish concealing (if necessary).

For Angel eyes

For the eyes, apply your primer. I've been using Urban Decay Primer Potion in Sin which is a champagne shimmer, but any primer will do. Then take a champagne/flesh-toned powder highlighter and sweep this over the eyelid. Add a pale cream/white shimmer eyeshadow (I'm using MAC Creamy Bisque) to the inner corners to brighten even more.
Add a bronze/gold brown shimmer pencil to the waterline (I use MAC Teddy but MAC Powersurge would be even better), top and bottom and very softly smudge a little into the bottom lashline.

Keep brows natural, brush them through or fill them in a little if want.

Curl lashes and apply a lengthening mascara for clean, long fluttery lashes. I've been using Hypnose Doll Eyes.

For the lips just massage in a little lip balm and then, using your finger again, massage in a little rose shimmer lip colour so that it becomes the most natural of angelic lip stains. A more nude colour also works beautifully, like Collection 2000 Cream Puff lip cream in Angel Delight (very appropriate). I've also been using Laura Mercier 'Courtesane'.

Courtesane (top) & Angel Delight swatches
 So, so easy. So, so pretty. So, so flattering and youthful. This will make your eyes sparkle and will knock years off.

As a bonus it looks great in the harsh autumn/winter daylight because there is no colour as such yet the eyes are defined enough for daytime.

My favourite 'je ne sais quoi' look for cold, gloomy days.

What's your favourite winter face?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Gourmand Gifting

It's the 1st of December today, so it's officially ok to start getting jiggy about Christmas. For many this jigginess starts after Bonfire Night (5th of November for those unfamiliar with our bizarre Brit tradition), but for me it's today that marks the beginning of the festive season. I'm now 'officially' allowed bring my Nigella Christmas book off the shelf and into the kitchen, I can burn cinnamon and spice candles and incense, I can put up fairy lights, and I can dig out everything sequined and glittered which has been in hibernation for the rest of the year. Officially.

So, I'm celebrating the start of Christmas with a little dedication to all the wonderful scented (and flavoured) offerings which you may gift to your loved ones or perhaps even self-gift, which sounds a lot more philanthropic than just saying 'I bought this for me'....
'I've gifted this to myself' is simply an acknowledgment of your rights as an individual worthy of receiving wonderful things. You are asserting your self-worth.
Therefore, self-gift and be happy.

The inspiration for all this was my little unexpected visit to Godiva today.  I paused by window, captivated by the small blocks of sugar-encrusted marzipan which was so enticingly displayed on crystal cake stands. Some were plain, some had walnuts encasing them. Before I knew it I was leaving the store with two pieces of each in a little bag.
Godiva Marzipain with walnuts..... pure angel food
 I stood in the rain and took a bite....and then I tasted all that was good in the world. The sweet, comforting warmth and delicate perfume that only almonds and sugar could provide, so redolent of Christmas and all it's joys. As I walked along the road I savoured every bite and it was all I could do to stop myself from devouring Mr P's share.

So, almonds and Christmas. It's a very classic partnership,  and in fact, all nuts seem to come out at Christmas, both literally and metaphorically...

In homage to all things 'nutty' and delicious here are my favourite gourmand treats for Christmas:

First up is L'Occitane's incredible Almond (Amande) range. In my opinion the range is one of the best that they do and the products really are wonderful. Ironically my favourite of them all is the one I've never actually possessed in a full size, it being one of the most expensive body creams they do, if not the most expensive. The Milk Concentrate (Concentre de Lait) is a lush, lightly whipped body cream with a scent I can only describe as almond perfection. It captures the freshness of the almond as a fruit as well as the more creamy, gourmand quality you would normally find in almond scented goodies. It smooths the skin like no other cream I've ever tried and my skin is at it's softest whenever I've had the fortune to use the numerous samples I've been given.

 The almond shower oil (£16) is a luxurious treat for the skin, especially dry skin. It feels sublime to wash with and leaves the skin feeling silky and fragrant. Wonderful stuff. It's less scented than the body cream so you'll never be overpowered with almond if you choose to use both.

 The Delicious Paste (£26 )is a gorgeous body exfoliator which manages to be gentle yet rough enough to actually give results. This leaves me feeling like a GODDESS. I've bought this (sorry, I mean self-gifted this) numerous times. :P

For those in Italy (and elsewhere) lucky enough to have access to the amazing L'Erbolario range you're in for a treat. Their almond (Mandorla) range is incredible.

I particularly recommend the body cream and soap. The scent is that of a sweeter, headier almond than the the L'Occitane and is more of a one-note fragrance. For me this is the ultimate winter/Christmas scent. L'Erbolario bring out new fragrance ranges frequently, but this, along with the divine Narcissus range (Narciso) is my favourite.

Do I really need to mention Lush again? Well.... Snowcake, obviously. Just do it people.
All of Lush's Christmas offerings are pretty wonderful and in fact, Christmas seems to bring out the best in Lush's creative team. Take your pick of numerous bath bombs, bubble bar slices, soaps etc and make your own gift to someone. Alternatively there are some gorgeously imaginative ready packaged gifts. Here is my favourite.... someone I know will be receiving this from me ;)

Innit dinky??? Extra points for usefulness as the tin would make a super-cool trinket box.

Perfume wise, I'm totally in love with Diesel's new offering, Loverdose. It's a total vanilla-licorice overload but I LOVE it. It's a classic gourmand (sorry I keep using that word, but it basically means something that's edibly sweet, so very appropriate here) and I think that many will love it. Many will also hate it precisely for that reason, but I'll have you know that I normally don't like overly sweet perfume but this one has me hooked. Mr P loves it too. Babies also seem to like it.... (long story!)...
 I've actually asked for this for Christmas.... let's see if the Brothers P come up with the goods!

Another sweet offering comes by way of Zara Chocolate eau de toilette. There are two seemingly Christmas perfumes in Zara at the moment, Chocolate and Cherry.

Cherry smells like a hasty Duty Free till dash en route to Magaluf. Avoid.

Chocolate on the other hand is yummy and sweet but in a grown-up way. It's more of a milky-vanillary chocolate but warming and comforting all the same. Would be lovely spritzed onto woolly scarves and hats so you can snuggle in all it's milk-chocolate goodness :)
Best of all, it's only €4.95 for 10ml. It would make a lovely little stocking-filler. Sorry I can't seem to find a photo of this one....

I hope that's provided a little gift inspiration and brought about warm, cosy feelings of Yuletide.

If I had to choose one thing from here I'd just be really, really happy with a big box of what inspired me to write this in the first place.

Hint, hint Mr P... there's a Godiva down the road don't you know.