Jeffree Star’s ‘Beauty Killer’ Palette

Though it sold out in a flash, Jeffree Star’s debut eyeshadow palette has divided opinion. It’s too bold for some, too ‘safe’ for others. But for me, the palette is undeniably the embodiment of its maker, a true chameleon.

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Packaging

What first struck me was the size of the palette. It’s huge! That being said, it is very thin, so it still won’t take up too much room in your suitcase/zuca. Apart from its size, though, the outside of the palette is perhaps a little…underwhelming? It’s a lovely shade of pink, yes, but the logo seems a little off-centre given its outrageous font (just look at that ‘B’).

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What’s lacking on the outside is more than made up for on the inside. I don’t usually gasp when I open palettes – maybe the odd ‘oooo…’ – but I was shocked by how stunning this is. Everything is oversized; there’s a huge mirror, big enough to actually look in when using the shadows and, speaking of shadows, they’re massive too. Apart from their size, each shade is beautifully embossed with the Jeffree Star logo for that extra slice of glam. It’s almost too pretty to touch. Almost..

Shades

Star Power – Neon Pink (matte)

Princess – Pink Pearl (metallic)

Violence – Cranberry (metallic)

Rich Bitch – Gold (glitter)

Courtney – Peach Beige (matte)

Expensive – Teal (metallic)

Confession – Brick Red (metallic)

Vanity – Deep Brown (matte)

China White – Cream (matte)

Black Rainbow – Black (multi-coloured glitter)

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The descriptions above are of the colours as they swatch, not necessarily how they look in the pan. Both ‘Violence’ and ‘Vanity’ look very, very different in the pan; ‘Violence’ looks metallic violet, but swatches with a strong red undertone; ‘Vanity’ looks like a really unusual warm grey, but swatches a cool dark brown. I have to confess, I was a little disheartened when I swatched these two, but they do help to balance the other bold colours. They help make the palette more versatile. You can quite easily use only this palette to create a multitude of different looks because of the great mixture of neutral/bold, matte/metallic.

Just before releasing his palette to the public, Jeffree Star previewed it on his Youtube channel (screen-shotted below from makeup tutorials.com). As is shown here, the colours were chosen with the intention that they be split into four quads.

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This method of selecting four complimentary colours makes the palette particularly easy to use for beginners or those wanting to dabble in a bit of extra colour. Each quad is extremely wearable with Jeffree Star’s signature edge, be it a pop of gold glitter or neon pink. Yes, the combination of metallic teal and Barbie pink may be too OTT for some, but without these bold shades the palette would be a little flat. It certainly wouldn’t be Jeffree Star.

Pigment + Texture

To cut a long story short, the pigment is AMAZING. The matte shadows are slightly chalkier than the metallic, but that’s to be expected. The texture is much like Sugarpill shadows, and they pack the same punch and blend like a dream. The only exception is ‘Rich Bitch,’ which is more like a pressed pigment/glitter than an eyeshadow. It kicks up quite a lot of fall out, but can be lightly pressed onto the eye for a glitter effect or blended out for a more even coat of colour.

My swatches were taken without primer and the coverage of (almost) every shadow is brilliant. The metallics glide on without patchiness and the mattes, though they require a little bit more patience, are equally opaque. I was hugely impressed with ‘Black Rainbow;’ it can be hard to find a good black shadow, there’s plenty of ‘charcoals’ on the market, but this is a true, deep black.

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Overall, I love this palette! The colour choice it offers is unlike any other palette I own. It’s the perfect balance of sensible and bold, for the office or for a night out on the town. It’s a great introduction to brights for beginners and challenges the experienced makeup junkie with some new colour combinations.

Will you be trying ‘Beauty Killer?’ Check it out here.

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Review: Lime Crime’s Venus 2 Palette

Two weeks ago, Limecrime.com offered the original Venus palette (review here) for only $19. That’s just over £12…

Only two days later, it was clear why. “The bish is back.” If Venus 1 was a Margarita – always good, if ‘safe’ – Venus 2 is a fiery Meat Feast with extra jalapeños.

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The palette offers a twist on the original, it’s packaging a deeper, darker style that acknowledges many current trends – metallic, marble, russet hues and early 90s grunge. On the whole, I’m a fan of its compact size with magnetised lid and large mirror, just be careful to wrap it securely when transporting it (my Venus 1 is now in three separate pieces after an unfortunate collision with my bedroom floor).

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So, here are the shades:

Pigeon: a deep brown with a prominent blue/green shift. Dupe: MAC’s ‘Club’/ ‘Blue-Brown’ Pigment. 

Filter: luminous cornflower blue. Dupe: similar colours include ABH’s ‘Unicorn’ (not so luminous and slightly darker). 

Marsh: mid-tone grey-green.

Mustard: that guilty-pleasure shade, think 70s corduroy. Dupe: MAC’s ‘Uninterrupted’ (in-between mustard and a warm brown).

Fly: ivory with iridescent green shift.

Jam: gorgeous pumpkin, burnt orange. Dupe: Sugarpill’s ‘Flamepoint,’ Illamasqua’s ‘Apex.’ 

Mud: deep burgundy-brown. Dupe: MAC’s ‘Sketch.’ 

Boot: matte black with flecks of blue, green and purple glitter.

As with the original Venus palette, the shadows deliver pigmentation, opacity and staying power, even without using a primer. Only ‘Boot’ requires a little bit more work in order to achieve a consistent colour.

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For the equivalent of just £21 (before shipping), Venus 2 is the perfect way to mix up your makeup with punchy accents and duo-chrome shine for just over half the price of a conventional palette. Find it now at limecrime.com.

Molly x

 

 

*This is not a sponsored post – I was not asked to review this palette.

**I completely understand that Limecrime is a divisive company and I respect that many of you no longer support the brand. I want to make clear that my opinion is based on my own personal experience and I know that this won’t be shared by everyone. I hope that I do not invite criticism for continuing to use their products; for me, the brand offers some of the most unique and versatile makeup on the market, which is – in my experience – of high quality and a good price. Though I have received this palette as part of a care package, I have continued, and will continue, to purchase from the company’s website with my own money.

I am in the process of finding dupes for the shades in this palette for those of you who are interested in recreating any looks I post on my Instagram.

Again, thank you for your support and I hope you respect my position on this.

Review: Shien Cosmetics’ Silk Matte Lipsticks

Not so long ago, a parcel arrived, here, in the middle of England, all the way from New York. A small black shipper filled with reams of black paper and three black boxes labelled ‘Shien.’ Inside, three glossy black bullets housed the brand’s debuting Silk Matte lipsticks.

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For founder, Shien Lee, lipstick is about femininity and empowerment; her philosophy pays tribute to its transformative power, as fitting in the office as it is on stage. “When a woman wears my lipstick, I want her to feel like she shines.” It is little wonder, then, that of 8 shades available, 5 are red – the colour that typifies universal beauty, from 50’s glam to 00’s vamps.

Following Shien’s generous offer to choose my favourites, I chose two reds: ‘Cobra Lily,’ a rich burgundy, and ‘Red Lantern,’ a bold tomato-red. For my third choice, I wanted to try a different colour altogether, so of the nude, pink and gold shades remaining, I picked ‘Gold Viper.’ This colour is unlike any other lipstick I own; in low light, it is a deep copper and, in sunlight, a beautifully unusual rose-gold.

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These swatches were applied straight from the bullet… without a base… or lip-liner.

Seriously.

I couldn’t believe it either.

Thanks to Shien’s innovative ‘Silk Matte’ formula, the lipsticks have all the creaminess and shine of a satin with the staying power of a matte. It’s a feat of real-life wizardry.

Though dubbed ‘ultra-matte,’ they apply more like a super-pigmented balm. Made with moisturising white camellia oil, the product glides onto the skin without feeling sticky or greasy and leaves a lovely sheen – somewhere between Vaseline and a conventional lipstick. I’m sure I’m not alone in avoiding glosses and the like due to their irritating gooiness, while matte lipsticks can feel a little dry and flaky; these lipsticks offer the perfect compromise. Once applied, the product seems to ‘set’ in place without losing its ‘silk,’ satin finish so there is little transfer when eating or drinking (or smooching…).

Of course, these lipsticks aren’t straightforwardly matte so they won’t last as long as MAC or Illamasqua matte formulations (or the seemingly impenetrable LA Splash Liquid Lipsticks), but I think a little wear around the inside of the lip is a prize worth paying for their luscious look and feel. It’s also very easy to extend their staying power: just blot and dust with a little translucent powder.

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I am a huge fan of these lipsticks as they add some sophistication to my makeup arsenal. My favourites would be both ‘Red Lantern’ and ‘Cobra Lily’ as I find they have a more buttery texture, stronger colour and more silky finish (pictured above-gah! so beautiful!) than ‘Gold Viper.’ The latter takes a few more coats to get the coverage just right and is more ‘matte’ in both its look and feel. Still, it is a beautiful shade.

What do you think of Shien’s ‘Silk Matte’ lipsticks? See them here: www.shiencosmetics.com

Hope you like!

Molly x

Review: Illamasqua’s Gel Sculpt

Illamasqua’s Gel Sculpt was heralded as the new thing in contouring. It would usher in a new era of defining the face, they said. But, for what it’s worth, I’m unconvinced.

I remember the social media posts leading up to its launch: monochrome, abstract, mysterious. The hype surrounding the unveiling was huge and I was completely sucked in. I had my phone on my desk at work, continually checking my emails until it dropped into my inbox: ‘Available now.’ But then the delivery arrived and compared to the enormity of its billing, the box was teeny tiny. 

It’s so good that you won’t need to use a lot…It’ll last forever, I told myself.

And yes it probably will, because – two months later – I’ve only used it once.

Take off the cap and you’ll find a cylinder of solid gel (it reminds me of roll-on deodorant) with a fresh floral smell. Weird, but I can handle weird. Scoot the gel across your hand and it gets weirder. What, in the bullet, looks like the perfectly cool, deep IMG_4456taupe transfers to the skin as a pale coffee hued smudge. Gel Sculpt is really a glorified cheek tint and a strange one at that.

In their quest to create the first ‘natural’ looking contouring product, Illamasqua have skimped on the colour-punch that typifies their brand. Silhouette, so far, is the only shade intended to ‘sculpt’ the face so I understand that they needed to produce a shade that would suit every skin tone, but the truth is there isn’t a universal colour that will please everyone and, even if there was, I don’t imagine it would be as warm toned as this. I guess the name ‘Silhouette’ implies its intention to mimic natural looking shadows, but I can’t help but think it should be called ‘Obvious.’

The picture on the left was taken after just one stroke on my hand, immediately after application. As you can see, the colour is wish-washy, the coverage sheer and the finish oddly glossy. When I first used this on my face, I quickly applied more coats, presuming the colour would deepen as desired, but the sepia only became more opaque… in patches. With a slight hesitation, I took up my make-up sponge to dab off the excess and start again, but by that time the gloss had turned to matte, the gel had dried and my contour was fit to survive pollution on a nuclear scale.

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L-R: One stroke; Two strokes; A desperate amount of strokes.

A waterproof contouring product that won’t fade or rub away throughout the day? Amazing!

If you actually like it…

I just can’t seem to get my head around this product. I’ve tried applying it straight from the bullet onto my cheeks, but it dries too quickly leaving an unyielding streak of bronze that refuses to blend. I’ve also tried Illamasqua’s recommended method of application: the gel is applied to the fleshy part of your palm beneath your thumb on one hand; then bounce your palms together to distribute the product over both hands; finally, with your thumbs parallel to your ears, dab the product onto your cheeks, cradling your cheekbones.

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What I mean by “the fleshy part of your palm beneath your thumb.”

This method is great for creating a subtle hue around the face… if you’re careful. But as there’s little to no precision involved, it’s quite difficult to stop the product from straying into your hairline or down onto your jaw (and there’s no hope of neatening it up afterwards). I tried this method just before writing this post and had to apply more foundation underneath to try and sculpt some sort of shape from the brown splodge, which I eventually completely covered in NYX’s Taupe blush. Fail.

Perhaps, in a different shade, I’d appreciate Gel Sculpt a little more. The formula is innovative, but fraught with practical issues like ‘how on earth do I apply this?’ If the gel wasn’t to set as quickly as it does, it would be a whole different story, but for now it will sit gathering dust on my dresser.

What do you think of Illamasqua’s Gel Sculpt?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Laura Mercier’s Priming Duo: Foundation Primer + Eyebright

Primers have become an increasingly important part of my daily routine as I’ve gotten older. In my early teens, I had woefully dry skin, particularly around my nose, and found no way to remedy it other than to pull away the loose flakes (GROSS). In my late teens, I seemed to miraculously develop a T-zone and experienced ‘angry spots’ and open pores for the first time along with my already crispy nose (DOUBLE GROSS). Now, in my early twenties, my skin has plateaued at a manageable, if sometimes frustrating, combination of greasy and flaky (triple gross?). So along with my usual concoction of moisturising products, primers are a staple of my make-up kit.

Laura Mercier’s Foundation Primer, £29

Before now, my first and only primer had been Revlon’s Photoready which, despite having used it religiously for three years, wasn’t always up to scratch. Though it keeps my makeup in place for around 4 hours without noticeable creasing, its chalky paste-like texture does little for my already dry skin. It not only makes my rough patches more pronounced but can make my whole face feel tight and uncomfortable. So having scoured the internet for an alternative, there was one primer that seemed to stand out from the crowd – Laura Mercier’s Foundation Primer.

I know, I’m considerably late to the party, but its continued success since its first release in 1995 is hard to ignore. Winner of InStyle’s Best Beauty Buys Award last year, I figured its £29 price tag was a small price to pay for such an apparently amazing product. And who am I to argue with InStyle? Nobody.

But, as with anything, it has its quirks. Having used such a thick primer for years, the consistency was the first thing to strike me. It is a particularly loose, semi-set gel that turns to liquid as soon as it touches the skin. This carries the usual benefits: a little goes a very long way, there’s no risk of it caking and it feels instantly hydrating. Which are all good, but deceptive.

The formula is so thin that it feels as though it’s not actually doing much to your face, much like splashing it with water. Perhaps I’ve been kept in the dark for too long, but I’ve always associated primers with making my skin feel ‘buffed,’ that crazy smooth, lump and dimple-free, almost furry, feeling when all pores are filled and all wrinkles blurred. This meant, on first application, I assumed I hadn’t applied enough and coated my face in at least three days’ worth only to find my skin as un-‘buffed’ as ever…and a little sticky.

So the trick is to let it set before applying any products on top; if you’re too hasty, the formula has no time to create that desired ‘barrier’ over pores and fine lines and you’ll see no pay off. But give it a minute or so and this stuff makes for a lightweight, but seemingly impenetrable face fortress.

Unlike some, less expensive primers, this doesn’t zap all moisture from the skin in an attempt to prevent shine; instead it sets to a semi-matte, ‘second skin’ finish that allows for a flattering natural sheen. This is great news for those with dry/combination skin like mine, as it doesn’t feel tight or dehydrating and allows for what ‘glow’ you have to peak through. For those with oily skin, though, this formula may not be ‘heavy-duty’ enough to hold back shine for the whole day. On my oilier days (phases of the moon and all that…), I’ve noticed that, although my makeup doesn’t budge, I still need something to blot my T-zone. Those with oily skin types may therefore prefer to give the Oil-Free version of this primer a try as it is specifically geared towards controlling oil production and soothing blemish prone skin.

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The wonders of Laura Mercier’s Foundation Primer have been talked about for almost twenty years, and with good reason, but before you invest, it’s worth testing out the product at your local beauty counter to get a feel for its effective, if peculiar, formula.

Laura Mercier’s Eye Basics in Eyebright, £19

Laura Mercier’s Eye Basics are a small collection of tinted eye primers that work to prime, conceal and correct your eyelids. Seven of the Basics are neutral colours intended for particular skintones, but the eighth, Eyebright, is a striking baby blue. Even when Laura Mercier does colour, it’s in the most sophisticated of ways, with deep plums, navies and emerald greens so Eyebright stood out as something entirely different… I had to buy it.

The reviews of this product on various sites are awful with most complaining about the unusual colour, but I like it…I think. Due to a consistent lack of sleep (and a slight allergy to eyelash glue), my eyelids are always puffy in the morning. This, together with my already pale skin tone, makes for sallow, veiny and swollen skin that needs to be soothed and hidden, pronto. A sweep of Eyebright and my eyelids look instantly brighter and more even; the pale blue colour helps give life to pallid skin and neutralises redness, while anti-oxidants Vitamin A, C and E along with other anti-inflammatories reduce puffiness. Unlike the other colours in the range, Eyebright also has medicinal properties (apparently… LM doesn’t state exactly what these are) to heal and soothe broken skin. Which I don’t have…but when I do, it’ll be helpful.

Once blended, much of the colour fades to an almost sheer, white semi-matte finish which my fair skin can get away with wearing alone, but I’d  imagine that, on darker skin tones, this white wash across the eyes would look too stark. As a base for eyeshadows, though, Eyebright works with any skin tone and helps cling to pigment, making shadows look more opaque and pigmented.

Crease-resistant and waterproof, Eyebright is a good product to have in your beauty arsenal to give a much needed lift to tired eyes, used alone to colour correct and conceal or beneath eyeshadows to prime. That being said, this isn’t cheap. And does it do something that no other product can? Well, no, not really. A good concealer, corrector or eyeshadow base can do pretty much the same thing. For me, the real benefit of Eyebright is the colour; concealers and correctors can hide dark circles and redness, but are rarely pale enough to truly ‘brighten’ my skin. ‘Brightening’ concealers are often very yellow – in an attempt to cancel out blueish shadows. On certain skin tones, this just replaces one problem with another – tiredness with ‘jaundice.’ If you’ve been searching for something to avoid both of these issues, then maybe it’s worth giving Eyebright a go!

Would you consider Laura Mercier’s primers? What are your favourite priming products?

Hope you like!

Molly

Review: Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit

I really want to love this palette, but I can’t.

Anastasia Beverly Hills is the brand that turns girls into goddesses. First they fixed our eyebrows and now they fix our faces, sculpting cheekbones and jawlines since April 2014 when the long awaited Contour Kit went on sale.

It’s only in the last few months that I’ve truly realised the wonders of contouring and so, ever since, this palette has been at the top of my wish list. Last Thursday I received some particularly good news (more on this in a later post!) and decided to just bite the bullet.

I’d seen pictures of the palette all over Instagram, but expected a little more than what I got. It looks, dare I say it… cheap *wince*

With the image ABH has as a glamourous, luxury brand, I think it would better suit an Illamasqua-esque packaging: an all-black, glossy case made of sturdy, chunky material with a mirror inside, maybe? Instead, the casing is made of a stiffened, matte black card, the type that will scuff and mark quite easily. Oh, and there’s no mirror 😦 I’d actually be happy to pay more than £40 for this kit if the packaging was just that bit more ‘fancy.’

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But, even then, I still couldn’t use it.

Short of extending out a robotic arm and applying the powders for me, I expected them to deliver on every level. And, don’t get me wrong, there’s not a huge hype surrounding this kit for nothing; it seems that what money has been saved on the quality of the packaging has gone into the quality of the powders.

The term ‘buttery’ gets used a lot by beauty bloggers, but these powders really are lusciously smooth. You’d be forgiven for thinking they were cream-based; there’s no fall out and the pigmentation is amazing, even with the smallest dab of the brush. It’s another cliché, but a little really does go a verrrrrry long way. I’d imagine it would be a long time before you needed to buy a refill pan.

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For me, it will be a very very very long time – you could even say forever – as I won’t be using 4 of the 6 shades.

So now for the meaty bit: the colours.

I should have seen this coming. The palette is intended for ‘Light/Medium’ skin and though I fit into the former category, I certainly don’t fit the latter. I’ve seen a number of fair girls pull these shades off beautifully but, on reflection, perhaps they aren’t as pale as I am…

The Face Powders

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As the two matte shades in the palette, I’ve assumed that Vanilla and Banana are the intended ‘face powders’ for setting and correcting. Vanilla, while a lovely colour in itself, should really be called ‘Light Peach.’ In the swatches below I’ve compared Vanilla to Bare Minerals’ Powder Foundation in ‘Fair’ and MAC’s Mineralise Powder in ‘Light,’ the difference is huge. There’s no way someone as pale as I am could use this as a powder; on Saturday, I actually used it in place of a blush!

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I knew when I ordered the palette that I would very rarely use Banana – if at all. If you like the sound of Ben Nye’s Banana Powder (which is quite hard to get hold of in the UK), this would make a great alternative. For me, however, the colour is just too strong to use alone. I tried it as a corrector and it works wonderfully, cancelling out the blueish hues of under eye circles. Just dab it over problem areas and then cover with your usual liquid concealer. But having just bought Bobbi Brown’s corrector (which comes in a paste form), I don’t think I’ll be swayed to choose Banana instead. Powder correctors can turn gummy when used under liquid concealers and, with all the primer in the world, it still manages to crease and cake.

The Highlighter

11091167_10152696530006128_1864087248_nThe last of the three light shades is Sand, a pale nude shimmer. This is by far my favourite colour in the palette; it’s delicate shimmer catches the light in just the right way, it’s in no way glittery but has an almost pearlescent finish. In the photo below, I’ve compared Sand to my current go-to highlighters.

As you can see, the colour is very similar to Illamasqua’s Helios from the extremely popular Sculpting Duo. 

Much like Vanilla, Sand is most definitely a peachy nude, however, the satin finish means even pale girls like me can get away with it, especially when it’s layered over blusher. Ideally, though, Sand would look something more like MAC’s Lightscapade, a more universal champagne shade that suits both cool and warm undertones.

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The Contour Powders:

11081443_10152696529991128_653013877_n  (L-R: Java, Fawn, Havana) Again, I knew when I ordered the kit that I would find little use for Java and Havana, as both are particularly warm browns. But, I thought, with Fawn – a cool earthy shade – to rely on, I could use them to add a touch of warmth when the sun was out and when (if) I caught a tan this summer.

Of course, this depended on me liking Fawn. But I don’t. In the palette, sandwiched in between two russet shades, Fawn looks the perfect grey-brown. On my face, though, it’s still just that bit too orange-y.

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In the photo above, I’ve compared the three colours to other contouring products I own. My go-to shades are Illamasqua’s Cream Pigment in Hollow and NYX’s Blush in Taupe, both of which have a much cooler hue when compared to Fawn. Fawn is a lot like Benefit’s Hoola with the volume turned up. 

I have to be careful to add only a modest amount of Hoola before I tip into Tango territory, so Fawn is all the more risky for me. But layered with a touch of blush, Fawn makes for a lovely plum coloured blush/bronzer that’s perfect for a night out, but for a Spring day, it is just that bit too heavy for my taste.

Overall, I’d give this palette a 6 out of 10. The only saving grace being the quality of the powders; as you can see from my swatches, their pigmentation and opacity rivals cream pigments! But, while the colours aren’t unusuable, they do need to be mixed with other products in order to suit my skin tone.

ABH has since promised a ‘Fair/Light’ kit, which will hopefully include all those shades necessary for sculpting a pale face: white, silver, champagne and taupe.

Either that, or I’ll have to get a spray tan..

Hope you like!

Molly x

Essentials: Illamasqua’s Hydra Veil

There’s a lot of hype, and an equal amount of confusion, surrounding Illamasqua’s Hydra Veil. What is it? What does it do? Why does it look like that?! Well as someone who battles with flaky, dry skin, anything with ‘hydra’ in its name is an instant hit with me. Saying that, at £30, this product isn’t cheap and with its exact purpose somewhat ‘veiled’ in mystery (BADDUM-TSCH), it’s been one of those items that I’ve been lusting after, but not quite had the guts to buy.

Then payday came around and I got a little spendy.

I understand that there is a thread throughout my posts on the theme of “I bought this thinking it was [blah] when it turned out to be [significantly different blah].” Please trust that I really, really, do do my research on products before I buy them, but Hydra Veil seemed to evade any form of definition. What is a primer? What is a moisturiser? Neither or both?

So I bought it thinking it was the former; my foundation, particularly Illamasqua’s own Skin Base, has been settling into my fine lines a little too quickly of late, so I thought I’d invest in a good primer.

Illamasqua’s Hydra Veil is not a primer.

Well, not technically. Neither is it a “skin care” product as it doesn’t offer any long-term benefits to the skin – it won’t prevent those crow’s feet from forming and it won’t treat blemishes. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not absolutely AMAZING.

Illamasqua describes this as a “cosmetic care” product…

What I imagine they’re trying to get at is that Hydra Veil is geared towards enhancing the appearance of your makeup (your ‘cosmetics’), rather than treating or repairing your skin. With this instant hit of hydration, your skin becomes the perfect canvas.

In a typical Illamasqua-esque tub, all black, sleek and simple, there is a pool of clear jelly and a tiny little spoon. Cute, but a weird start to my getting-ready routine. It’s like no other beauty product I’ve tried before: just scoop out a pea sized amount and smother it all over your face. The veil has the texture of a semi-set jelly which barely holds its shape, so as soon as you apply a small amount of pressure it completely breaks down to a water-like consistency, making it easy to spread across the skin. If you apply the correct amount (more on this later), the product melts away in seconds to create that velvet soft, ultra smooth feeling that you would usually achieve with primers.

This is probably where all the confusion comes from as Hydra Veil does leave the skin feeling ‘primed’ for makeup. However, primers work by effectively placing a ‘lid’ over the top of pores and filling in fine lines. Any makeup applied afterwards therefore sits on top of this primer rather than falling into these crevices. This ‘lid’ also reduces the amount of oils secreted from the pores meaning that you’re less likely to develop shiny patches throughout the day.

Ilamasqua’s Hydra Veil, on the other hand, does not create such a ‘lid’ and it doesn’t fill in fine lines; this super smooth feeling is caused by the veil providing the skin with a huge, instantaneous hit of hydration which swells skin cells to leave that healthy, plumped feeling – an ideal base for makeup. Because of this, there’s no guarantee that your makeup will stay put for longer. It will, however, help to prolong that freshly-applied look by creating a delicately dewy glow.

Why not just splash your face with water? Water evaporates too quickly, particularly from a warm surface like skin, and can actually draw more moisture out than that it allows in.  Hydra Veil contains Glycerin (which I spoke about here), a product often found in mixing medium as it evaporates at a much slower rate than water. This means that products stay ‘wet’ for longer = the secret to that extended fresh-faced look.

I have noticed a huge difference when applying my foundation after Hydra Veil; my base seems to glide on effortlessly, no uneven patches, no difficulty blending, no caking or scuffing across dry skin. In particular, Hydra Veil works brilliantly in conjunction with Illamasqua’s SkinBase, the formula of which is given to highlighting every lump and bump. I haven’t noticed as big a difference in the longevity of my makeup, only that it looks ‘fresher’ for longer – which is obviously a massive bonus! Applying a spot of primer underneath my eyes and around my nose after the veil soon sorts this issue for a smile/frown/squint-proof base. It is especially good at waking up tired, puffy eyes, so massage some onto your lids to open up your peepers. (Illamasqua also recommends this as a post-shave balm (for guys, of course) to help soothe broken skin with a moisture punch)

The strengths of Illamasqua’s Hydra Veil are also its weaknesses; while it’s innovative formula works wonders, it can take a little getting used to. A very little goes a very long way; too much will only sit on the surface of the skin and have to be dabbed away = wastage and for an expensive product, wastage is a big no-no. It is worth experimenting with this product to see what is best for you: how much do you need; what areas of your face take to it best; what primers/foundations work best with it; they’re all questions raised by its weirdly wonderful design, and though it may take a few attempts, it will definitely be worth it in the end!

Would you consider Illamsqua’s Hydra Veil?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Review: MAC’s Mineralise Skinfinish – Natural and Lightscapade

So, my mini Manchester haul part two (see part one here) involves these beauties – MAC’s Mineralise Skinfinish in ‘Natural – Light’ and ‘Lightscapade.’

I get a real buzz out of buying products like these because they look so perfect and generous. Well, for the first handful of uses at least. The compacts are huge with MAC’s signature style: a clean, all black design with smooth, rounded edges. And that’s without seeing the products themselves: the pans are equally large and domed, the powders just as clean and smooth and, particularly in the case of ‘Lightscapade,’ mesmerizingly pretty.

MAC’s Mineralise Natural Skinfinish in ‘Light,’ £23.00

I’ve been looking for a decent powder for a while now. It seems that, as I get older, my skin gets oilier, so I don’t have a stock of powders I can rely on and my experience with different brands is quite limited. But you can’t go wrong with MAC, right?

Before now I’ve used Rimmel’s Stay Matte Powder for my work face and Bare Escentuals Loose Mineral Foundation for my ‘dressed-up’ face. Both have their weaknesses. Rimmel’s powder makes for a great blotting powder as it quickly absorbs oils, but unfortunately, on my skin, the powder doesn’t “Stay Matte.” It breaks down after 3-4 hours of wear meaning, by the end of the day, my concealer and foundation slips and slides as much as ever. It’s not bad for £3.99 though!

At the other end of the scale, there’s Bare Escentuals’ powder foundation. I plan to do an “In Defence Of” post about this as I think it gets a pretty bad rap from the beauty community; it’s by no means the powder, but it’s not all that bad once you’re used to its quirks. The trick to this powder is that less is more. I won’t go into too much detail here, but as a powder foundation, not a setting powder, it has a more opaque finish and a slightly thicker texture. Applying too much if therefore effectively like applying two layers of foundation = cake-face. A verrrrry light dusting can work well over the top of liquid foundation, but it’s just not right, and it’s been bugging me. 

 

So in comparison to Bare Escentuals, MAC’s Skinfinish is the ideal setting powder and is designed to work in conjunction with liquid bases = no cake-face. It has a very ‘thin,’ light consistency which makes it very easy to apply and helps avoid that awful gunky look as it sits on top of your foundation rather than mixing into it (as Bare Escentuals can). 

Coverage/Colour:

I find the idea of ‘coverage’ in relation to powders confusing: is a powder really meant to offer much? I personally don’t want my powder to contribute any real coverage to my face; doing so would only reverse the effort I’ve put into contouring and highlighting. I therefore only apply it sparingly to those culprit areas (underneath my eyes, around the tip of my nose, between my eyebrows and on my chin) with the intention of locking in place my foundation/concealer and matte-ifying the odd greasy bit. 

As I wrote about in my foundation post, MAC’s paler foundations/concealers/powders have a decidedly yellow undertone (as you can see from the swatch above) which is great for masking dark circles but not so effective at reducing redness so I wouldn’t rely on this to help cover that angry zit. The opacity of the powder can be adjusted depending on what you apply it with: a powder puff will pick up more product than a brush, while a damp beauty blender collects even more if you want a thicker covering. Still, I find that too much powder only dries out the skin surrounding the pimple which draws attention to it’s sticky-outy-ness *sigh* 😦

Finish/Staying Power:

The huge benefit of using this powder over conventional powders, and particularly translucent powders, is its ‘Mineralise’ formula.  A lot of powders are too matte, too focused on oil absorption, that they suck any sign of life out of your skin. MAC’s Mineralise range relies on the tiny light-reflecting minerals (much like those in NARS’ Radiant Creamy Concealer) to deflect light away from the face. While Lightscapade contains gazillions of these minerals for a gorgeous satin shine, the Natural Skinfinishes contain just enough to create a ‘glow,’ the desirable semi-matte “second skin” finish that mimics the subtle shine of naked skin. 

This powder’s staying power is second to none; I’ve lately become very paranoid about my makeup settling into the fine lines under my eyes and around my mouth, but this powder seems to do the trick! Inevitably, those creases begin to appear after 7-8 hours of wear so the odd touch-up is needed, but that’s a small price to pay for a powder that helps your foundation and concealer to look freshly applied for hour after hour.

MAC’s Mineralise Skinfinish in ‘Lightscapade,’ £23.00

I’ve heard of lipstick junkies, but is there such a thing as a highlighter junkie?! 

There’s been a gap in my little collection for a powder highlight so I finally decided to just go for it. And here it is. Aaaaaaaaaaah. It seems that there are many different versions of ‘Lightscapade’ – the latest reincarnation, for the ‘Lightness of Being’ collection, changed up the colour with pink and copper veining and stamped the powder with a cable knit design – but this is the old classic in fancy new packaging. 

 

Coverage/Colour: 

Again, coverage is a bit of a moot point with highlighters; my major concerns are it looking blotchy and obvious. But Lightscapade applies like a dream with the same weightless consistency as the Natural Skinfinish, leaving a subtle and consistent shimmer. In fact, the powder is so fine and delicate that I often get frustrated that it’s not showing up on my face, only to walk into a different light and have my cheekbones glisten. 

As a powder highlight, Lightscapade can be layered over a cream base for a super ethereal shine or used alone for a “your-skin-but-better” sheen. Its multi-dimensional formula means that different lights give different results so it might take a while to get used to the amount that’s perfect for you. 

Lightscapade’s gold hue would suit a variety of skin tones due to its multi-coloured veining: it contains warm gold for darker complexions, mid gold for olive skin and a champagne shade (and even a bit of blue!) for pale folks like me, all mixed into one. And you can easily vary it’s tone by changing the base you use underneath it; for example, I prefer it’s cooler shades so I often layer it over a white base (MAC’s Cream Colour Base in ‘Luna,’ reviewed here). On the other hand, a plum blush or bronzer will pick out its warmer tones if you prefer.  

Finish/Staying Power:

As the star of the Mineralise range, Lightscapade is packed full of those magical minerals that allow it to shine; it’s by no means ‘glittery,’ but has an ultra-fine, super satin finish that catches the light beautifully. Paired with the Natural Skinfinish, these powders recreate the skin’s natural, healthy radiance, almost as though you’re not wearing make-up!

Much like the Natural Skinfinish, Lightscapade will last up to 8 hours without losing its colour and shine. It’s lightweight formula resists caking and, in my experience, isn’t susceptible to excess oil – it remained in place across my T zone for around 6 hours and doesn’t transfer to the fingers as easily as a cream-based highlighter can.  

What do you think of MAC’s Mineralise Skinfinish?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Review: Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer

On a recent trip to the kingdom of shopping that is Manchester’s Trafford Centre, I thought it was high time I ticked some items off my wish list – the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer being one of them.

This might as well be dubbed “the ultimate concealer,” claiming to hide all blemishes, brighten all dark circles and even all complexions. And, they’re right. Believe the hype – this stuff is the holy grail.

Colour:

For a long time now my go-to concealer has been MAC’s Prolongwear in NW15 but, despite being amongst the lightest colours offered by the brand, it’s still just that smidgen too dark and doesn’t brighten up the eye area as I would like. When searching for a concealer that would both cover and brighten, Nars’ offering was a constant favourite amongst bloggers, particularly for pale skin.

‘Chantilly’ is described as a “true ivory shade,” but this doesn’t do justice to how gorgeous it is. It is a pure, porcelain colour like no other concealer I’ve seen before, with only a hint of yellow (great for countering those blueish bags and veins). The formula’s light diffusing technology uses tiny mineral particles to reflect light away from those problem areas making the skin appear brighter and fresher. I found that this worked particularly well under the eyes (I’m super paranoid about under-eye circles) and helped to take the redness out of angry spots – sadly no one has invented a concealer that will remove the huge lump thats left behind though 😦

You only have to google colour swatches to see that ‘Chantilly’ stands alone as a wonderfully light concealer. The closest colour-match I can find is Collection’s Lasting Perfection in ‘Fair,’ which is hugely popular amongst those with fair skin (especially as it is only £3.99). With a difference of £18, however, this is where the comparison ends.

11004055_10152607401606128_385663721_n

Coverage:

Retailing at £22, the concealer’s expense is truly seen in its amazing coverage and lasting finish. The formula really is ‘creamy:’ luscious and pigmented enough to provide medium to full coverage, but not too thick as to look heavy and cakey.

Nars claims that the concealer is ‘buildable,’ but I would beg to differ. This isn’t exactly a negative as the concealer is opaque enough to provide great coverage with just one coat, but too many applications can reverse the buttery texture and begin to look thick and claggy. This issue is easily avoided with the help of the sponge applicator which gives you greater control over where the product is placed, reducing the risk of applying too much or wasting the excess (unlike MAC’s overly generous pumps!).

11004055_10152607401631128_1132074150_n Finish: 

The concealer blends well with a Beauty Blender, but I find that a brush is best to spread the mixture evenly across the skin and really focus on those areas that need some extra tuning. As you can see from the picture above, the finish is a lovely ‘barely there,’ semi-satin one.

Whereas other concealers begin to break down after 5-6 hours, you can guarantee that Nars’ concealer will stay put, but what it does do, perhaps inevitably, is settle into fine lines. This can be limited with a decent primer, but I doubt there will ever be a concealer that doesn’t find it’s way into those little cracks and crevices. A few creases under the eyes and around my laughter lines isn’t too much to expect after a long day at work, I don’t think.

Would you invest in Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Team Matte Lip: My Lip Prep Routine

I guess I’m a day too late with this post, but here’s my guide to soft, smooch-able lips.

The recent trend for matte lipsticks demands a lip with no cracks and crusts and, being a particular fan of the matte look, I have had to change up my lip care routine – or, rather, invent it as I didn’t have one before.

Exfoliate: Lush ‘Bubblegum’ Lip Scrub, £5.50

My lips are particularly susceptible to dryness, especially at this time of year, and it doesn’t help that I have a bad habit of chewing at them when nervous/angry/bored/hungry. But now I’ve found10984956_10152607401591128_1105012554_n this little pot of magic.

Lush’s Lip Scrubs use castor sugar and a little sea salt to create an all-natural exfoliant that is perfect for buffing away dead skin. Just scoop a little on to your finger and away you go.The mixture also includes jojoba oil which is brilliant at hydrating the skin without leaving a greasy residue.

Like all of Lush’s products, this scrub leaves you feeling, looking and smelling good – and it makes for a tasty snack 😉

Moisturise: EOS ‘Strawberry Sorbet’ Smooth Sphere Lip Balm, £6.50

EOS’s balms burst onto the US beauty scene a few years ago, but have remained difficult to get hold of here in the UK until now.

Like the lip scrub, these balms contain jojoba oil along with shea butter, both natural super-powered moisturisers. EOS balms are also rich in Vitamin E which helps to protect skin from damaging pollutants, particularly sunlight. If your lips are very chapped, I would recommend the medicated ‘Tangerine’ scented balm which contains extra anti-bacterial ingredients to help repair as well as moisturise your lips.

Unlike Vaseline – which has, before now, been my go-to lip balm – EOS balms have a thin consistency that leaves your lips hydrated but not greasy. My favourite thing about it, apart from it’s smell of course, is that it doesn’t ‘travel.’ For me, Vaseline has a tendency to spread easily, giving the illusion of a sweaty upper lip; EOS balms, on the other hand, stay put with a natural semi-satin finish.

The shape also makes it weirdly easy and fun to use… but maybe that’s just me… ahem.

You could obviously stop here for a fresh, clean look, but I’m a sucker for a matte lippy. Lime Crime’s Velvetines are so unforgiving when it comes to dry lips as their ultra thin, ultra matte formula settles into every line and crease. But with this two-step process, the application has become so much easier – two must-haves for any lipstick junkie!

(This is Lime Crime’s Cashmere, my new favourite <3).

Do you have a lip care routine? What products do you use?

Hope you like!

Molly x