FOTD: Valentine’s (and some questions for you guys!)

I don’t usually post my FOTD’s, but rather post pictures on Instagram with product details underneath; would you like to read more about (or even see, if I can work out Youtube and editing software…) my make-up tutorials?

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Above is a shot of the products I used in my Valentine’s FOTD; I exaggerated my usual winged liner and added a second smoked-out wing underneath using the different angles of my eyeliner brush to smudge my gel liner. I also carved out my eyes in a subtle cut-crease using the nudes in my Sigma Warm Neutrals palette, eventually adding a little of Illamasqua’s Pure Pigment in Furore to my lid.

My lips were initially a verrrry nude colour using Lime Crime’s Cashmere but I felt it didn’t add enough definition to my mouth in comparison to my eyes, so I added a layer of Illamasqua’s lovely grey-mauve ‘Posture’ on top to create a muted purple colour, and voilà!

So would you like to read more posts like this? Or see how I do it? Are there any looks/ reviews/ topics you would like to see?

I’m excited to read your feedback – 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.

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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

Review: Illamasqua’s Embellish Eye Trio

I was sceptical as to whether the huge reduction on this set was because it wasn’t very popular. Was it the case that Illamasqua needed to shift an old bulk order that wouldn’t sell? Surely not… The gel liner? Unpopular??? I can’t speak for the brow gel as before now I’ve stuck to relatively cheap pencils to lightly shade in my eyebrows. But to think that ‘Embellish’ isn’t popular either astounds me. I already own the Vintage Metallix in ‘Courtier’ – a light beige-pink with a soft gold shimmer – and ‘Embellish,’ a medium brown with the same hint of gold, was next on my list.

On reflection, maybe it was just too expensive. The thought of buying this trio at the original price of £49.00 made me sweat a little, so when it was first reduced to £25.00, I added it to my basket. But with reluctance – it was still just that bit too expensive to be a sale bargain (though I then spent £26 on four new eye shadows without a second’s thought *facepalm*). Finally, after a long day at work, I received the email. ‘FINAL REDUCTIONS.’ And there it was. £14.70.

FOURTEEN POUNDS.

Whaaat.

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Bish, bash, bosh (and after a slight skirmish with PayPal), it was mine.

As a quick aside… Illamasqua’s delivery system is second to none, so if you can’t find something in store, don’t hesitate to order it online. I always opt for their free delivery, quoted as 3 – 5 working days, but have received my items within just two days of ordering. You even get a text with the name of your delivery driver and a verrrrry exact ETA (my last one was 11:42 to 12:42).

So these three gems arrived in their swishy presentation box and I was quick to dig in.

Brow Gel in ‘Strike,’ (single pot, £18.50)

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As I said earlier, though I envy those brows ‘on fleek,’ I don’t think a heavily sculpted eyebrow would suit my face and I can’t afford too dark a shade with my complexion and hair colour. When I googled Strike it seemed an ‘okay’ colour – maybe I’d get away with it – but I had a feeling that it would end up getting dusty at the back of my make-up table. But, two weeks in and I’ve used it every day.

‘Strike’ is a medium brown with a cool undertone so it suits my naturally ashy hair perfectly. I’d particularly recommend it for those with bleached or coloured hair like mine – pastels or brights – as it is a ‘safe’ colour, not too dark, not too light, not too blonde, not too brown. ‘Safe’ seems like an awful word, but I mean it in the best way: as much as I’d like to walk around with lilac eyebrows, I haven’t got the guts to bleach and tone them, so for now I need a neutral colour that doesn’t look to obvious.

In terms of application, I use my Sigma E65 Small Angle Brush to apply the gel. It has quite a loose consistency so the smallest dot of product will easily cover one brow. Once it dries, though, it won’t budge. Naturally, some of the gel can stick to your eyebrow hairs so I like to run over them with a spoodle just to remove any excess product.

I would recommend this for those, like me, who are looking to ‘tweak’ their natural brows, either by filling in gaps or neatening edges as the gel, by nature, is well pigmented, but has a semi-satin finish. If you are looking to re-sculpt your brows, then I think a product with a thicker consistency, higher colour pay-off and a matte finish would be better suited – like Illamasqua’s Brow Cakes, which have a powder/paste-like texture and come in a range of colours (‘Strike’ is the only brow gel available at the moment).

Precision Gel Liner in ‘Infinity,’ (single pot, £18.50)

I bloody love this stuff. Compared to the epic fail that was Urban Decay’s Gel Liner, Illamasqua’s version is what dreams are made of.

The key to a good gel liner is its consistency; you need it to be loose enough to apply it in as few strokes as possible to achieve a sharp, fluid line. This liner has a very similar texture to the brow gel in that it applies thinly, but with great, consistent pigmentation. And unlike a liquid liner, the product won’t crack or flake on the eye. I tend to apply my liner in layers, starting with a skinny flick and adding an extra layer until I have the thickness I want; doing this with a liquid liner can lead to cracking as the product begins to dry. And once it’s cracked, with the slightest touch or puff of wind, it begins to flake away.

A gel liner, by comparison, dries with some degree of ‘flexibility’ meaning there’s no risk of unwanted negative space. I’d very highly recommend this for anyone who’s go-to look involves eyeliner, but to get the most out of this product, make sure you buy a suitable brush to apply it with!

Vintage Metallix in ‘Embellish,’ (single pot, £16.50)

The Vintage Metallix are a collection of three gel-like eyeshadows and are amongst the newest products produced by Illamasqua. Each one – Courtier, Embellish and Bibelot – have a muted, ‘vintage’ colouring with a delicate gold shift.

I first bought Courtier, a lovely pink-beige, under the impression that it would act much like MAC’s Paint Pot (mine had turned horribly dry and thick at the time – I’ve rescued it since!). The Metallix can work this way, pigments cling to them particularly well and powder shadows can be easily blended into them, but their intended use is as cream eyeshadows. Once the cream has had time to set, it won’t be going anywhere; the Metallix’s staying power is amazing with and without primer so they’re a good choice for most skin types.

Embellish is, I think , the secret weapon to a smoky eye. If you’re not too confident working with darker shades, I’d definitely recommend this. Its rich chocolate colour is just dark enough to make an impact, but not so dark that it seems to close the eye up, as some deep/black shadows can if not applied just right. The hint of gold lends itself to both day and night looks and can either be exaggerated by adding a gold pigment or muted with darker shadows and lots of liner. With just a dip of the finger and a swipe of the lid, you’re done! There’s no need to fret about placement or blending due to its loose, buttery texture. It really is fool proof!

This set was most definitely a bargain at just £14.70. I’d even stretch to £25.00 (£49.00 still sounds like a lot of money…)! I would wholly recommend each of these products – whether bought separately or in this set – each have their own way of speeding up the getting-ready process.

Would you consider the Embellish Eye Trio?

Hope you like!

Molly x

January Favourites

Having not written about my December Favourites, this has been a long time coming. Of course, all the things I got for Christmas immediately became my favourite things in the world, so my January favourites include some Christmas presents that I’ve already reviewed elsewhere, some that I have now had chance to get used to and experiment with, and some new items I’ve bought since then.

Eyes

[Insert Lime Crime’s Venus Palette: read my full review here]

Sugar Pill’s Loose Eyeshadow in ‘Lumi’ (£8.95)

Pigments are for life, not just for Christmas.

10917666_10152607400031128_554375077_nThey’re now an essential part of my make-up routine, adding extra dimension to matte shadows, extra oomph to highlighters and extra sparkle to lip-gloss and nail polish. I was watching one of Mykie’s Youtube tutorials when she used this amazing iridescent powder to brighten the inner corners of her eyes. I’d only vaguely heard of Sugar Pill before and assumed, as an American brand, it wouldn’t be easily available in the UK. But thankfully, a local make-up boutique stocks their entire range – so here we are!

Lumi is particularly unusual in its colour and texture. When I saw it on Youtube, I thought it was white with a blue/pink shift – a more pigmented version of Illamasqua’s Beguile. In fact, in person, Lumi is ice blue-white. Because of this, I was hesitant to buy it, thinking it would be too hard to incorporate it into my usual looks that favour warm coppers and golds. But I took the risk and am so glad I did! It sparkles and catches the light beautifully, but isn’t loaded with glitter. I guess you could describe it as ‘shimmery’ rather than glittery, but that does no justice to its pigmentation and opacity. Its super fine texture means that it is extra concentrated, while still being light and easy to work with – there’s no need for adhesives or mixing mediums.

I love to pair Lumi with dark, cool-toned lipsticks – taupes and purples – for a kooky, high-contrast look, but, it is works equally well with lighter lip colours for a fresh, clean look like the one below.

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Lime Crime Liquid Liner in ‘Lunar Sea’ (£9.00)

This picture also shows my next favourite – Lime Crime’s Liquid Liner in ‘Lunar Sea.’ I have been searching for a white eyeliner for a while now so I can create different monochrome looks like this one. I’m a huge fan of Lime Crime’s other products so had no doubt that I would love this just as much as Venus and the Velvetiness. And I do; it has that signature, almost paint-like, pigmentation.

The fine brush is easy to use, particularly when drawing even lines, but, as it doesn’t taper to a fine point, it can be trickier to manage when sculpting flicks or curves. Like any liquid liner, too, layering the product can lead to cracking, so be sure not to overload your brush! With a little bit of practice, though, ‘Lunar Sea’ has easily made it into my list of all-time favourite eye products.

Face:

[Insert MAC’s Fix+: read my full review here]

Illamasqua Velvet Blush in ‘Peaked,’ (£21.50 £10.75)

10997230_10152607399916128_1193800173_nI had just hit pan in my usual powder blush (No7’s ‘Soft Damson’) when I saw this advertised as part of Illamasqua’s January sale at half the usual price. As it would be my first time using a cream blush (and I’ve heard the horror stories about how difficult they are to apply correctly), I confess that I would not have paid the full £21.50 for such a risky item. At just over ten pounds though, it was a bargain!

Having used it for around a month, I can safely say that it isn’t all difficult to use. As the colour pay-off is very high a little goes a long way so the cream need only be applied in very thin layers which helps to reduce the ‘patchiness’ that people had warned me about. I’ve tried applying it with my fingers and a blush brush as Illamasqua recommends, but found that each have their own way of moving the product around unevenly. Instead, my preferred method is to use a beauty blender; I now add this blusher into my contour routine and blend it out with my cream pigments (yes, I, too, have a ‘Neopolitan Face’ each morning – see my contour routine here).

I’d imagine that, with a lighter colour, uneven coverage would be less of a worry, but my skin doesn’t take to corals very well and bright pinks can make me look like a Cabbage Patch Kid, so I chose ‘Peaked,’ a gorgeous deep plum. This colour would look absolutely beautiful on darker skin tones, though, it’s slightly cool-tone means that pale girls like myself can still pull it off. It adds a bit of sophisticated rouge without looking hot and flustered (I was incredibly heavy-handed when taking my swatch, but you can see beautiful colour all the same).

In terms of the price, now I have used this item I would consider buying it at £21.50 – the pan is so big it will probably last until 2020! If you are considering it, though, I’d recommend that you go swatch it at an Illamasqua counter first just to ensure that the colour and texture will work for you.

MAC Cream Colour Base in ‘Luna’ (£15.50)

So in my contouring post, I said that I was waiting for Illamasqua to release a white/silver version of their Gleam highlighter. Well, alas, they haven’t, but I’ve found a brilliant alternative! MAC’s Cream Colour Bases are verrrrrry popular due to their versatility – they can be used as highlighters, concealers, blushers, eyeshadow bases and lipsticks.

I chose Luna – a pearlescent white – to be my new cool-toned highlighter and it works perfectly! The texture is quite solid (much like the Studio Fix concealers) so it is easier to work with when it’s warmed slightly in your hands (or you can try with a hairdryer but be careful not to get too close to the plastic!!!). That being said, it blends seamlessly with my base without losing any of its colour. I highly recommend Luna as an alternative to Becca’s Shimmering Skin Perfector in ‘Pearl’ which is very difficult to get hold of in the UK.

Lips:

[Insert NARS’ Anna: read my full review here]

MAC’s Lipstick in ‘Smoked Purple’ (£15.50)

I love purple in all its shades so this was an obvious choice for me. With Spring on the way, it seems the season for vampy lips is coming to a close, but I don’t see why dark colours can’t be used to add a bit of drama to a floaty summer dress and sandals. Right?! Smoked Purple is a deeper, cooler tone than Cyber (which I’m also a fan of) so would probably suit a wider variety of skin tones. I’m not sure whether it’s just luck with MAC’s mattes, but my Smoked Purple is a lot creamier than my Sin and Styled in Sepia. With any dark colours, though, it’s worth mentioning that even the slightest bit of dry skin will snag and catch the colour making it highly noticeable – I now wear tons of lip balm (my tasty new EOS balm) as often as I can to stop my lips going crispy in this cold weather.

What are your favourite products this month?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Review: Urban Decay’s Perversion Mascara and Cream Eyeliner

This post is one of two halves, one glowing review and one not-so-glowing, and not in the order I expected.

Anyone who follows me on Instagram will know that I can’t be without my eyeliner, whereas I usually skimp on mascara and opt for falsies. So it was a huge surprise to me that out of Urban Decay’s ‘Perversion’ range, I would love the mascara and really really really (really) dislike the gel liner. I’m not one for hating on a product, but I feel like I need to share my disappointment in the hope that I bought a ‘dud’ and that someone will point out that I’m completely mistaken.

I guess it’s better to get the negative out of the way first…

Super-Saturated Ultra-Intense Waterproof Cream Eyeliner in ‘Perversion,’ £16.00

Regardless of what I’m about to write, I remain a huge fan of UD’s eye products, particularly their Naked and Vice palettes with their signature pigmented, creamy finish. I therefore can’t understand why I haven’t taken to the Perversion Gel Liner; it seems, to me, to be a bit of a blip for an otherwise great, reliable brand.

I bought this as soon as I saw the glint of glass at the bottom of my Illamasqua liner pot; thinking I’d switch things up (despite my love of Illamasqua’s Precision Gel), I chose UD for its claims to be “super-saturated.” But I was a little suspicious when I first opened the jar and tried to swatch the mixture on my hand. I applied a little pressure, but nothing. My finger was as pale as ever. Maybe a film or crust had settled on top, I thought. So I picked up my eyeliner brush and scratched away at the surface. And I did really did have to scratch… (you can see from this picture below how the mixture isn’t exactly ‘creamy’)

Though I had more success in picking up some colour this way, I was really disappointed with the pigmentation and texture. As you can tell from the pictures, it is not at all ‘saturated,’ but looks more like yesterday’s liner after a few too many vodkas and a lonnnnnng sleep. To achieve the standard opaque finish would take a lot of coats and even then I don’t think it would be possible to achieve a clean, precise line – the mixture is just too thick and solid to work with. I even tried to scoop some out and ‘whip’ it to a smoother consistency, but the product dries almost immediately and begins to crumble, covering my cheeks in flecks of black powder 😥

Has anyone else experienced this? I’ve considered adding a little Fix+ or mixing medium to loosen it up, but I’m afraid this will weaken the colour, making it ‘wishy-washy’ (for want of a better term). Have I just been unlucky with one of a bad batch?

Perversion Mascara, £17.00

I did hesitate before buying the Perversion mascara, but then it began to follow me everywhere… It seemed to crop up in every magazine I read and all over my Facebook page advertised as the best mascara around.

Before now I thought that my eyelashes were beyond help. A couple of years ago I got into the habit of repeatedly curling them after I’d applied my mascara. One day at uni (while I was trying to look my best for a date… bloody typical), a whole bunch from the inner corner of my left eye fell out. And therein began my reliance on false eyelashes. Though my lashes have grown back, they are incredibly weak and poker straight so it’s rare that I find a mascara that doesn’t weigh them down with lumps of product.

Just one coat (!)

Just one coat (!)

But, UD’s Perversion is very different. As it’s so pigmented, one stroke is all you need to blacken your lashes. Unlike its eyeliner counterpart, this mascara really is super-saturated. It also holds well throughout the day; my drugstore mascaras – I mainly use Rimmel – begins to flake after around 4 hours, but Perversion stays fresh for the whole working day.

If UD were to make this mascara even better, I would suggest a double–ended wand. While the current wand is perfect for preventing clumps, it is big and cumbersome, particularly when trying to apply mascara to the lower lashes.

With summer on the way, though, I think it is worth investing in a decent mascara like this one to avoid the struggle of falsies on those sweaty, eye-squintingly sunny days.

How do your experiences with these products compare? Have they entered your ‘essentials’ list?

Hope you like!

Molly x

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My First Purchases From NARS: Audacious Lipstick and Eyeshadow

In my local Selfridges store, the Illamasqua counter is only metres away from the NARS counter, but it had never troubled me to go to ‘the other side’ until my last visit when I caught sight of the Audacious lipstick stand.

I’d seen numerous blogs raving about them, so I thought I’d pop over and have a cheeky swatch. And that was that. I fell down the rabbit hole into a beautifully luxurious NARS-y wonderland.

Well, almost. The three sample lipsticks that caught my eye were decidedly chewed and when I summoned up the courage to buy one without testing it, I was told there was none left in stock. Frustrated and geared up to buy something, I looked over the eyeshadows, found the one I fancied, and was told that, again, there was no stock.

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Eyeshadow in ‘Strada’ (£18.50) and Audacious Lipstick in ‘Anna’ (£24)

I looked e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e and eventually found them on ASOS’s site, two days later and here they are!
Packaging

As I opened the delivery box, the first thing I noticed was the size and weight of the products. The lipstick is the same shape as my Illamasqua ones, but bigger and heavier (!). It feels like a superior, quality, expensive product. The eyeshadow, too, sits in a smart, compact clam-shell style box with a cute little mirror on the inside. The only issue is its rubberised coating which shows mucky fingerprints like WOAH.

But the lipstick, in particular, is finished with little touches that makes it just that bit better than the other mid-range brands. The lid is magnetised – a handy little extra which means there’s no chance of it falling off in your handbag – and the actual lipstick is engraved with the NARS logo, which might add nothing to the product itself (especially when you’ve used so much that it begins to read ‘ARS’) – but it feels special all the same.

Colour

It was verrrrry difficult to decide what lip colour to go for; the line has 40 shades in total from the lightest nude to the deepest purple – there is a colour for every style and occasion. I’ve got a thing for dark reds/deep plums so was instantly drawn to Charlotte and Ingrid, but with Spring fast approaching, I thought it would be more worthwhile to invest in a light, versatile colour.

2015/01/img_0495.jpg After much deliberation (I even thought about blowing my wages on the whole collection at one point), I chose Anna. I’ve read quite a few descriptions on the internet where Anna is called a ‘smoky rose.’ I can see what they mean… kind of. To me, ‘smoky’ suggests dark, warm colours, like MAC’s Smoked Purple, but Anna is actually a medium, cool-toned, pink-mauve shade. It is the perfect pink; not pastel, not Barbie, but somewhere in between.

Unlike the lipstick, I didn’t choose Strada, Strada chose me ❤ It is an absolutely beautiful eyeshadow unlike anything I’ve seen before. Pastels are set to be big this Spring and many brands have released their own lilac shadows in various hues, think Illamasqua’s Creep. What is unusual, however, is Strada’s gold shift. I’ve never thought to pair lilac with gold, but assumed its cool tones would work better with an equally cool silver highlight, like Sugarpill’s Frostine. The fine gold shimmer that runs through this shadow is not only unique in itself, but also gives you more freedom to experiment with the rest of your makeup, creating new combinations of cool and warm colours.

2015/01/img_0502.jpg Application

The lipsticks in the Audacious range are dubbed as the ‘one-stroke’ wonders, so highly pigmented that there’s no need to swipe your lips more than once. I was sceptical as my lips can sometimes be a little dry meaning that one coat can look quite patchy. But it is actually true! With one coat, my lips were covered! The colour wasn’t as strong as I would have liked, but they really were covered. I tend not to apply more than two coats before I am happy with the intensity of colour and the even coverage. Anna has a lovely buttery texture that allows the colour to transfer easily to the lips, but its semi-matte finish means that – without going wild at the buffet – it can stay put for almost 4 hours before wearing away from the centre of the mouth.

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Strada, on the other hand, isn’t so pigmented. I think I’ve been spoiled by the colour-rich, crazy pigmented shades like those of Illamasqua and Lime Crime, but it certainly takes a lot more effort to bring out it’s gorgeous colour. This could well be because it is a shimmer rather than a matte shadow as shimmers are notorious for not having such a strong colour pay-off. In the picture shown below, I applied around three coats of the shadow with a soft blending brush. As it turns out, this shadow doesn’t respond well to foiling; wetting the mixture brings out the shimmer more so than the colour. To achieve the most true colour, I’d recommend using a white/extremely pale eyeshadow base instead. NYX’s Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk (my hero) is perfect for this.

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The intense gold colour is Illamasqua’s Furore, see my earlier blog post on pure pigments.

These won’t be my last purchases from NARS. In my opinion, the tangible quality of the products makes that extra £5-£10 well worth it. I’m already trying to choose my next lipstick, Anita or Bette?

What are your favourite NARS products?

Hope you like!

Molly x

My Favourite Foundations: Rimmel, Illamasqua and MAC

You’ve heard it all before, especially of late, “It’s all about that bass base.”

Having recently bought – though I feel better about the price if I say ‘invested in’ – Illamasqua’s SkinBase Foundation, I thought it would be fitting to write a review on my three favourite bases.

Rimmel Match Perfection in 001 Light Porcelain £6.99

So when I wake up at 6am, bleary eyed and puffy faced, it feels like a waste to apply my ‘best’ foundation for work. In the stuffy air of commuter trains and busy offices, I want a light, breathable foundation that won’t leave me feeling icky by 5pm.

Colour and Coverage : Seeing these foundations side by side, it’s clear that ‘pale’ doesn’t always mean pale; too peach, too pink, too orange, I’ve tried the lot.

Rimmel’s ‘Light Porcelian’ is truly the perfect colour for me; a fairly neutral shade with a slight pink hue that helps warm up my pale bits and tone down my blotchy bits. As the consistency of this foundation is very runny, when blended out, its coverage is sheer to light. It is therefore better intended for evening out complexions rather than concealing dark circles or blemishes. That being said, it is relatively easy to build up to a light to medium coverage if you apply a layer, set with powder, and then apply another layer.

Finish and Staying Power: You’ll have to pardon my lack of technical terms, but this foundation is very ‘wet.’ It is runny when dispensed from the bottle and has a similarly moisture-rich feel on the skin which is both a good and a bad thing. The dewy, satin finish means that I can fake healthy, hydrated skin even in this bitterly cold weather. I reviewed this foundation as part of my ‘Five Steps to Dewy Skin’ (read it here) and still believe that it is the best for achieving that desirable ‘glow from within’ look.

For those with oily skin, though, it may proof just too greasy feeling. I often find that, as the day goes on, the product slides away from my nose and down between my eyebrows where my skin can get oily. On the train home from work, the last thing I’m bothered about is my foundation, but if I were to wear this foundation for an event, I would recommend applying powder throughout the day to blot the excess moisture. Overall, though, it’s not bad for only £7!

The Weekend Foundation: Illamasqua’s Skin Base in 02, £32

At the weekend, I want the same breathable feel as my weekday foundation, but with a fuller coverage. So at the other end of the price spectrum is Illamasqua’s SkinBase Foundation, my weekend foundation. I had read a lot about this foundation before committing myself to buying it and, on the whole, I’m not too disappointed.

Colour and Coverage: 02 is the lightest colour offered by the SkinBase range, excluding pure white. As you can tell from the swatch, the difference between Illamasqua’s and Rimmel’s lightest shades is huge! 02 is described as ‘Pink Undertone with Yellow’ meaning it has the same balanced tone as Rimmel’s foundation, but is a lot lighter. If anything, this is a little too light for me so I often mix it with my Rimmel or MAC products to suit my skin.

The consistency of the product shouldn’t fool you; though it is just as runny as Rimmel’s foundation, it is considerable more pigmented. So while it can only be applied in very thin layers at a time, you’ll probably need fewer layers to mask those dark circles and blemishes. This cuts out that gross greasy feeling you get with heavy foundations and avoids clogging up your pores – yay!

With a good medium coverage, the SkinBase will even out skin tones, minimise dark circles and go someway towards hiding those angry spots.

Finish and Staying Power: The finish is somewhere between satin and matte as the formula is based on a BB cream rather than a standard foundation. BB Creams are full coverage foundations with a multi-functional purpose, acting as a primer, foundation, concealer and sun-screen. Amazing, right? Well, yes – if all of these functions work perfectly. As a foundation/concealer, the SkinBase is great but susceptible to over-working. I always apply my foundations with a beauty blender and have found that with too much dabbing the foundation begins to lift away, causing uneven coverage. The product also transfers easily to my fingers without using a substantial dusting of powder to set it. This means that any touching or poking at my face can leave behind noticeable fingerprints. But I guess that’s the price I have to pay for its silky texture.

As a primer, the SkinBase is so-so. I have experienced no sliding, caking or break-down before 5-6 hours of wear. Buuuuuut (and there’s always a but), it does have a habit of settling into my pores and fine lines soon after I apply it – and by soon, I mean about 10 minutes. It similarly clings to my dry patches, so be sure to moisturise well before using it! Using a primer beforehand does limit this, though that defeats the purpose of the ‘multi-functional’ formula. Illamasqua’s Hydra Veil primer, for example, is £30 and I feel that spending £62 on an effective primer/foundation combination is too expensive.

 

The Day to Night Foundation: MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid in NC15, £21.50  

With MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid, I don’t need to use a primer, but can rely on it alone to take me from a day in the office to a night in the pub!

Colour and Coverage: As you can tell from the swatch, this is the darkest shade I own, even though it is the lightest shade produced by MAC. The colour looks so different to the two other foundations because I opted for the yellow toned (NC – Neutral Cool) rather than the pink toned (NW – Neutral Warm) shade as I felt that NW15 was that bit too pink for me to pull off (just google any comparative swatches to see what I mean).

Many people assume that Studio Fix Fluid is full coverage, but it is actually a build-able medium coverage foundation, which puts you in control of where the most product should go. This means that I rarely need to use a concealer and even when I do, it is only to cover particularly dark circles or very angry spots.

Finish and Staying Power: This foundation has a natural matte finish; it is shine-free, but not so matte as to make your face appear flat and lifeless. Perfect!

As it contains silicone and various powders, the formula can zap moisture from the skin so those with dry skin should be sure to properly moisturise before applying to achieve the most consistent finish. For those with combination or oily skin, however, this is actually a bonus. As the product absorbs excess oil, there is very little movement throughout the day. I have found that it stays even and fresh looking for around 8 hours!

As you can probably tell, I have very little negative to say about MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid. If anything the colour is slightly off, but I do lighten it with powder and highlighter. It would probably my favourite out of the 3, but I try to mix up my foundation routine throughout the week to save clogging my pores with too much highly pigmented, heavy coverage product.

So what are your favourite foundations?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Review: Lime Crime’s Venus Palette

Introducing the “newtrals,” Lime Crime’s Venus mixes “Botticelli’s classical painting with the rebellion of the early 90s” to create the grunge palette.

I thought I’d collected my fair share of ‘warm’ eyeshadows: think MAC or Sigma’s ‘Warm Neutrals’ and you think taupes, caramels, the token frosted copper and highlight. But for Lime Crime, warm means deep red, russet and chocolate.

Needless to say, I saw the swatches on Instagram and fell head over heels, but was a little anxious as to how the ‘oranges’ and ‘reds’ (for want of more poetic titles) would translate on my fair skin. The smoked out bruised look may have worked in the 1990s, but this is 2015 and I have to pop in Sainsbury’s without any stares.

So when Santa left this under the Christmas tree, I got to work testing different looks and combinations. Here are my thoughts:

Colour choice: This is the best part of the palette and, perhaps, the most important part. There is a good even range of dark and light shades, all with their own unique tones that are unlike any shadows I’ve tried before. They are, too, surprisingly versatile; Icon and Divine are especially useful for giving a new twist to my go-to looks. That being said, it is worth being careful not to go wild with the reds; blended too far around the eye and it won’t be pretty, more sickly.

The wide range of the colours provided means that there will be at least one that isn’t for you. For me, this is Rebirth, the colour of ‘an overripe nectarine’ (…) or a bold medium orange. It is a beautiful shade, but will not work with my skin tone. Though I do like to use a light dusting on my cheeks over my usual blusher, just to add a different hue.

I would also like Aura to be a little lighter. As the palette’s highlight, for me, Aura would work better as a cream/champagne rather than a gold as I find myself having to brighten it with a whiter shade (usually UD’s Bobby Dazzler). Although, without it’s subtle metallic colour, the palette would be a little flat. The jury’s out!

Pigmentation: Below are the official swatches that I originally saw on Instagram. As you can see the satin shades, Aura and Shell, are particularly bright and bold, and the mattes deep and opaque. Lovely. Though I’d imagine that Doe Deere (the inventor of the palette and owner of those fingers) used some sort of eyeshadow brightener to boost the colours. Lime Crime actually does produce a brightener, but it’s £13.50 and I’d rather spend that amount on a new velvetine.

The pigmentation, then, without such a brightener can vary. Matte shades tend to need two or three coats if they’re going to look as deep and consistent as they do here. I usually cover my eye with NYX’s Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk to achieve the most ‘true’ colour; the white base serves as a brightener would, but costs almost a third of the price. The Satin shades have a slightly better consistency, but also need a little help from a mixing medium if they’re going to look as bold as they do above.

Texture: The texture reminds me a lot of Sigma shadows. They seem ‘thin’ on the eye. By that I mean weightless, with a velvet feel. While that’s lovely, there is a fine line between that and ‘chalky.’ The mattes, in particular, can feel chalky if applied in layers and do have a fair amount of fall-out (but I’m yet to use a palette that doesn’t).

Special Mentions:

Divine: ‘Dusty Stone’

The rather bleak description does this colour no justice at all. Divine makes the perfect transition shade, but I also like to use it alone to shade my crease for subtle everyday looks. The more it is blended, the more the colour seems to develop from an average taupe to a lovely pink-toned beige. It’s like MAC’s Velvet Teddy in an eyeshadow!

venus

Venus‘The Colour of Bruised Fruit’

It’s UD’s Vice 3’s Sonic, but better. Venus is a gorgeous red-brown with a light satin finish. Despite it’s unusual colour, it is surprisingly versatile and can work with similarly warm tones as well as navy, deep purples and silver. An essential shade for that sultry smokey eye.

Creation: ‘Rust Brown’

I left this colour untouched for a long time assuming that it was too orange-y for me to pull off, until one Sunday afternoon – pjs on and nothing to do – I decided to test it out. I absolutely love it! Creation is an unusual burnt orange colour that looks beautiful when paired with Divine. A must-have for those with green eyes!

In this look, I used Divine, Venus, Creation and a little Icon on my eyes, Aura to highlight my cheekbones and Rebirth as blush:

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What do you think of the Venus palette?

Hope you like!

Molly x