Faking a tan: MAC’s Powder Blush in Harmony

The sun is coming out, summer’s on its way and, yes, I could just sit outside slathered in oil with a sheet of tin foil, but why sweat when I can just fake a tan? This tutorial will show you, especially you pale folk, how to fake it without the risk of streaks or that lingering smell of biscuits.

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Contour

So, of course, the most important part of this look is your base with the secret being – as always – contouring. Whatever you do, do not try and fake it by using a darker shade of foundation/concealer! Contouring will only add colour to those areas of your face that would usually catch the sun, making for a more natural looking ‘tan.’

My preference for this look is a powder contouring product; cream-based pigments and concealers can look a little heavy on the skin and the look we’re aiming for is something fresh and ultra-natural. Powders are also much easier to work with in terms of building up colour and blending thoroughly. My go-to powder contour will forever be NYX’s Blush in Taupe, a perfect cool-toned brown. But, alas, a tan will never be cool-toned, so my mission began – find a warm contouring product for the palest of the pale.

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And here it is, MAC’s Powder Blush in Harmony, my most favourite product for this Spring/Summer. The colour is particularly difficult to describe as it lies somewhere between warm and cool tones. MAC describe it as a “muted rose-beige brown,” which kind of sounds like they couldn’t decide how to label it either, but I guess they’re not far wrong. The key with Harmony is that it doesn’t have that bronzer-type orange/terracotta look, instead it’s ‘rose-beige’ hue mimics the colour that pale skin would conventionally turn in the sun (providing it’s slathered in factor 30).

I begin by first applying my usual concoction of foundation: MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid in NW10 and Illamasqua’s Skinbase in 02. On the left below I have indicated the areas that I would usually contour using MAC’s Harmony and on the right, those areas I would contour with my conventional cool-toned contour, i.e. NYX’s Taupe blush.

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Add the two together and viola – sunkissed skin! As you can see, I bring my warm contour a little wider and higher than my cool contour, straying into the areas of my face I would usually highlight. Just as highlighter is used on the high points of the face, so too should this warm contour as these areas (cheekbones, nose, chin and forehead) are always the first to tan.

I choose to apply MAC’s Harmony first using my Zoeva Cream Contour Brush (though intended for cream based products, the angled edge of this brush makes it ideal for hugging the natural curvature of my face), being careful to diffuse it as much as possible – the wonderful feather-light formula makes this very easy! Blending a small amount of product around and underneath your jaw line will help prevent your neck looking a completely different colour to your face and I also like to add some across my collarbones to continue the illusion that I’m lusciously bronzed all over (remember to do this if you’re wearing a low cut top).

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I then use my MAC 186 Small Contouring Brush (it’s small, dense tip is great for focused and defined contouring) to apply NYX’s Taupe into the hollows of my cheeks using tight circular motions in an upwards direction. I’ve added a comparison photo of the cool and warm contour to give you an idea of how warm Harmony is (please excuse the state of my NYX’s blush, it’s particularly loved!).

Then for my nose, I use my Sigma Detail Brush to draw two lines about a centimeter apart down the edges of my nose with Urban Decay’s ‘Tease’ eyeshadow from the Naked 2 palette (NYX’s Taupe works equally well, but the buttery eyeshadow is particularly easy to blend). Having blended this in with my fingers, I use any excess product left on the 186 brush to continue blending and deepen the colour.

Highlight

MAC’s Lightscapade holds a special place in my heart as a 10/10 highlighter, but I think this look requires something a little warmer than its pale champagne colour. My favoured highlighter for this Spring/Summer is Illamasqua’s Lumos from the Sculpting Duo; it’s peachy gol11304283_10152797372771128_223119123_nd tone with super-fine shimmer adds the perfect natural ‘glow’ to the skin that, together with MAC’s Harmony, makes for the ultimate ‘sun goddess’ pairing.

I apply this is all of the conventional areas (overlapping some of my warm contour), particularly focusing on the bridge of nose and the highpoints of my cheekbones using my Zoeva Luxe Highlighter Brush. Beware that Lumos is a particularly fine powder so you may need a few coats to get the glimmer you desire (it also has quite a lot of fall out, so don’t apply it whilst wearing your best white dress…I speak from experience).

Blush

I don’t feel that this look really needs a blusher as there is already plenty of warmth in the contour; all the same I opted for an blushequally bronzed, glowy looking colour just to finish the face (I guess you could use a pink or plum, but I think the ‘flushed’ cheek is more girl-next-door than beach babe).

MAC’s Cream Colour Base in Shell makes the ideal blush for this sun-kissed look; just as Harmony brings together just the right amount of pink and beige, so does Shell have the perfect blend, a iridescent rose gold. With its gorgeous glossy finish, this cream colour adds that “fresh-from-the-sea” glow to balance the matte contour. I apply it with my fingers to the apples of the cheeks, sweeping it back and upwards to join my highlight, sitting just above my contour. This product also makes for a striking yet simple eyeshadow, just dab over the lid for a super chic take on the glossy eyes trend.

Eyes + Lips

For the look that I originally posted on Instagram, I chose a cool brown/taupe palette for my eyes and lips, using MAC’s Satin Taupe eyeshadow and LA Splash Cosmetics’ matte liquid lipstick in Ghoulish. I find that warm, deep colours can sometimes make me appear paler than usual as my skin doesn’t have the same depth of colour. So here I worked on the opposite principle: these neutral cool tones help to accentuate what warmth there is in my skin and so help me to appear more ‘tanned.’

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That being said, my favourite lipsticks to add to this base are at the other end of the ‘subtle’ spectrum. MAC’s Costa Chic or Jeffree Star’s 714 are both neon coral, a shade notable for making tans look ahhhhh-mazing. The sheer brightness of these lippies can’t help but to emphasis the warmth of your contour making even the palest of the pale appear lusciously golden (I used Costa Chic in the picture on the right above). I’ll be writing another blog post specifically on coral lipsticks so stay tuned!

Will you be ‘faking’ it this summer?

Hope you like!

Molly x

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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: Bobbi Brown’s Corrector

I’m tired. Okay, I’m exhausted. But I don’t want people to know it.

And it happens every time: an hour after applying my makeup, they start to creep back to the surface, those dark under eye circles. These aren’t just ‘bags,’ they’re suitcases and they refuse to go away.

Despite a cocktail of concealers, my attempts to mask them are all in vain. By 3pm my eyes look dark and drawn. So how do those other people do it? How do they look as fresh at 8pm as they did at 8am? The answer: correctors.

Colour correctors can be applied underneath concealers in a paste form, or over the top of concealers in powder form, and are produced in a variety of shades according to their purpose (and their place on the colour wheel):

Green counters red –for taming angry spots and broken veins;

Yellow counters purple –for masking particularly dark circles, scarring and bruising;

Orange counters blue – for hiding under eye circles;

I chose Bobbie Brown’s Corrector (£19.00) because of its amazing texture; correctors are, by their nature, a lot thicker and tackier than concealers, but this is thick while easy to blend, gooey but not greasy. In my opinion, Bobbi Brown also has the widest variety of shades available. I had looked into buying MAC’s Conceal and Correct duo but found the colour choices quite limited. Yes, I want enough orange to hide my dark circles, but I don’t want to look like I’ve had a fight with a can of St Tropez.

The lightest shade of corrector available in the Bobbi Brown range is called ‘Porcelian Bisque,’ an almost magnolia colour with the slightest hint of warmth. I assumed that this would be the ideal shade for me, but when swatching it in-store I found it too light (!shock horror!). This would be a great choice for those wanting to try a tame corrector for the first time, or those lucky enough to have only the faintest dark circles. I, on the other hand, want a Photoshop worthy corrector, so I picked ‘Porcelian Peach.’

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As the name suggests, this shade is still among the lightest offered by the brand, but it has a considerable orange hue. In the swatch above I’ve compared it to my typical concealer shade, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly (on the left). Bobbi Brown’s offering is the brightest of the two by far and has a salmon-esque colour as opposed to NARS’ typically yellow-toned bases. The corrector immediately lifts and brightens the skin, while it’s texture (I hope you can tell from this swatch just how thick and luscious it is) acts as both a wonderfully smooth primer and a glue to hold down your concealer.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous at first; being so pale, I’m particularly paranoid about my colour choices and, though I’ve had a number of concealer faux pas, I’ve never applied something so peachy intentionally. But, it works! In the pictures below, I applied my base as I usually would on the left and have added the corrector on the right. The difference is huge, and wonderful!

The true test of a corrector is its staying power. When your concealer begins to break down and fade after 5-6 hours (even when using the premium brands), a corrector will stay in place at full coverage for around 8-9 hours, meaning your face looks as fresh and dark circle-free as it did when it was first applied.

Of course, it’s not a miracle worker and there are some things to be careful of. This is by no means a light formula and adding another paste to your makeup routine does increase the risk of caking and creasing. The former can be easily avoided as long as you aren’t heavy-handed and blend the corrector in well – a  little goes a very long way (this one in particular won’t lose its intensity once blended).

As for creasing, I’ve found that applying a good amount of primer beforehand and a fair dab of powder afterwards helps to stop this from happening for the majority of the day. When I begin to notice lines appearing, it simply work the products back into my skin using my finger, reapply some powder, and I’m ready to go for the next few hours: a small price to pay for a dark circle eraser!

So, would you consider Bobbi Brown’s corrector?

Do you use correctors as part of your getting ready routine?

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

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

My Contouring Routine

I’m a recent contouring convert; ever since that photo of Kim Kardashian, I’ve been trying to add some definition to my face, drawing various lines in various colours in various places.

I’ve tried taupe, bronze and dark brown eyeshadows, eye pencils, creams and blushes in the hope of achieving the right look and after many attempts (and some utter disasters), I think I’ve finally cracked it!

Shading

Illamasqua’s Skin Base Lift in White and Cream Pigment in Hollow (both £17.50)

My first step is to ‘shade’ my face, or to map out where I want the light and shadow to be; I find that by first adding a subtle glow and depth to the skin, any extra definition added later to the nose and cheekbones looks more authentic. To do this, I’ve found the best products to use are cream pigments, essentially colour-rich concealers.

After applying my foundation and a very light layer of concealer around my eyes (just to even out those blueish veins), I apply the two pigments in those places that I feel need an extra oomph.

(Please excuse the damp hair and pyjamas…my getting-ready routine isn’t at all glamorous)

My favourite products for this shading are Illamasqua’s Skin Base Lift in White and Cream Pigment in Hollow. The Skin Base Lift has a beautifully silky, almost gooey, texture that blends easily with my foundation without losing any of its brightness. While it adds a visible glow to my skin, I don’t rely on this as my sole concealer. Illamasqua claims that each of the Skin Base Lifts has a peach undertone that perfectly counteracts blueish hues, particularly around the eyes. I guess having chosen the white shade, which obviously has very little peach to it, I have had to compromise on this full coverage. Nevertheless, I would recommend this product for those with pale skin who may struggle to find a contouring product light enough to make a noticeable difference.

Hollow is another product ideally suited to paler skin types due to it’s cooler tone. Before using this, I had been using Benefit’s Hoola to define my cheekbones: Hoola is known for having a cooler tone than most bronzers meaning it works well on even the fairest skin, but I personally prefer Hollow as its colour is cooler still, meaning it adds shade without any unconvincing ‘tan’ or orange hue.

Once applied, I then blend these pigments out with my beauty blender being sure to avoid any streaks, but also to keep the colours within their demarcated ‘zones.’

Defining

NYX Powder Blush in Taupe (£6.00) and Illamasqua’s Gleam in Aurora (£21.50)

For adding further, more defined, shadows to my face, I prefer to use a dark powder. As I like to add a little more colour to my nose (which, due to my combination skin, can get oily), I use a powder to avoid adding more product, which can lead to caking.

I use NYX’s Powder Blush in Taupe, a similar grey-brown to Hollow, to carve out my cheekbones with a dense blusher brush and to shape my nose with a detail brush, as shown below. As a powder, it is much easier to build up substantial colour without clogging the skin with too much product.

That being said, for my highlighter, I would have typically used a white eyeshadow with a light shimmer, until I discovered Illamasqua’s Gleam. I recently bought a bundle from eBay which included this Gleam and now I can’t stop using it.

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Many reviews I have read have complained that this highlighter’s sticky formula can lift off foundation and it certainly does (I have caused all kinds of blotches because of it) if not used sparingly. To me, it is less of a cream and more of a gel-like consistency and, though quite peculiar to work with, produces the most ethereal delicate glow.

My Gleam, Aurora, is a lovely champagne colour which works well with warmer shades of eyeshadow and lipstick on fair skin. With cooler shades of make-up, I would probably opt for a similarly cool toned highlighter – I’m waiting for Illamasqua to bring out a white/silver Gleam!

My face is now ready for eyeliner, mascara, the works! Contouring can look lovely and natural when just set with a little powder and left alone, but can also provide a base for adding a little blush or extra bronzer. In the look below, I chose to keep it simple with an ordinary contour and neutral lips and eyes.

What are your favourite products for contouring?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Three Ways with: MAC’s Prep + Prime Fix+

“You’ve spent £15.50 on a bottle of water?”

Well, no. MAC’s Fix+ may look like water, feel like water and taste like water (an accident..), but it is anything but water.

Admittedly, I searched for this under the false impression that it was a setting spray, aimed at making your make-up last longer by creating a thin film that withstands various ‘pollutants’ (hence the phrase, “hairspray for your face”). I even paid for it, brought it home, unboxed it, stared at it, bragged about it and tested it before realising that it is not a setting spray, but something much, much better.

Use 1: Skin Refresher

So if I had actually read the box, I would have noticed that MAC describes the spray as a “skin refresher” or “finishing mist.”

With my dry-combination skin, the spray works best as a “refresher” used after moisturiser. Spritzed over my face just before my primer/foundation, Fix+ gives my skin an extra kick of hydration so my base applies like a dream. The delicate scent of citrus and green tea is not only calming to the nostrils, but also to the skin – a detox in a bottle.

For those of you with oily skin, Fix+ is a must-have “finishing mist.” On those days when my t-zone is a little oilier than usual, I find myself applying layer and layer of powder in an attempt to ‘blot’ the not-so-dewy-more-like-sweaty shine that appears down the centre of my face. Fix+ is the perfect tool to avoid that overdone cake-y look caused by excessive powder applications. A few sprays and the mist is quickly absorbed into the skin (and powder), evening out the complexion to leave a beautiful glow as though you’d just woken from an 8-hour sleep on a crisp spring morning.

Use 2: Eyeshadow Brightener

I would pay £15.50 for this use alone. If you have read my last post on pure pigments, you will know that I am always searching for ways to amplify the colour of my eyeshadows and Fix+ is one of the best, if not the best, method I have found so far.

I can’t count the number of times I have typed “how to make eyeshadow brighter?” into Google. A common answer was to dampen the brush with water and simply ‘dab’ the shadow onto your eye. Not so simple. I tried this with Naked 3’s ‘Dust’ – notorious for it’s low colour pay-off – and have ruined it in the process: the shadow became damp, the water quickly evaporated and I’m left with a chalky mess 😥

The difference between water and Fix+ is that the latter contains glycerin, a chemical used in all mixing mediums as it helps retain water (i.e., no evaporated chalky mess). Fix+ is, then, a diluted mixing medium as well as a skin “refresher.” A little spritz on to your brush and the pigments in your shadows are given an immediate boost. In the picture below, I swatched from my gorgeous new MAC ‘A Harvest of Greens’ quad with and without FIx+ and the difference – particularly with the first two lighter colours – is huge!

 Use 3: Cream Thinner

Please excuse the less than elegant name… In my ‘November Favourites’ post I wrote about how my love for my MAC Paint Pot had come to a sad end due to it’s woefully short shelf-life; after only a few uses, the cream had become so thick and dry that it was impossible to blend. With a little bit of Fix+, however, the cream came back to life and was, in my opinion, a better texture than before, thinner, smoother and easier to work with.

I’m yet to try it out, but I’d imagine that the same process can be used to thin out foundations, concealers, cream highlighters and blushes. The possibilities are endless!

So how do you use your Fix+ spray? If you don’t have it yet, would you invest in it?

Hope you like!

Molly x

How to Make the Most of Pure Pigments

It’s the perfect time of year for adding a touch of sparkle to your make-up routine and pigments are by far the best way to do so. With Christmas parties and New Years Eve in mind, I recently bought both Beguile – described as “light shimmer” (?) but actually an iridescent white – and Furore – “champagne peach shimmer” – by Illamasqua.

Having swatched them under bright lights in store, the colour and sparkle was self-evident, I had to buy them! But when I applied them to my lids the next day, I was a little underwhelmed by the pay off. So here is a quick guide on how to make the most of your pigments.

Of course, you could just simply apply the powder to your bare skin for a simple, stripped back look, but the party season demands something a little more dramatic. The strength of your pigment depends on the base they are applied to; below I swatched the pigment alone; with Illamasqua’s Sealing Gel; with Illamasqua’s Vintage Metallix in Courtier; and with MAC’s PaintPot in Painterly.

Beguile

Beguile

Furore

Furore

As you can tell from these pictures, the difference is striking. On my pale skin, both pigments, particularly Beguile, are barely visible when used alone and only add a slight shimmer (which could work well as a subtle highlighter, though Beguile is a little less ‘natural’ due to its iridescent pink and green tones).

MAC’s PaintPot was also pretty useless; I initially thought an eyeshadow base like this one would be perfect for pigments, but the formula is too heavy and thick to allow the powder to be distributed evenly.

courtier

For a daytime look, I was looking for a product that would carry my pigment as well as tone down the glitter. My favourite thing to do this would be Illamasqua’s new Vintage Metallix in Courtier (£16.50). This cream-gel is intended to be used alone (Courtier is a gorgeous “vintage nude” with slight gold shimmer) as a smudge-resistant eyeshadow, however it provides a light but opaque, smooth but slightly tacky base – perfect for a layer of pigment!

For nighttime looks, I needed something that would make my pigments ‘pop’ (cringe… but you know what I mean), so I opted for Illamasqua’s Sealing Gel. This dinky bottle may seem expensive at £7, but it’s uses are endless. It is a mixing medium revered amongst make-up artists for turning eyeshadows into liquid eyeliners. However, if you place a few drops on your eye lid, tap with your finger until it becomes tacky. Once your pigment is applied on top, you’ll see an unbelievable transformation: the colour is bright, the shimmer intense and the coverage even (no lumps of gunky glitter clogging your lid).

This is my version of a day and night look using Pure Pigments (Furore on the left, and Beguile on the right):

How do you make the most of your pigments?

For FOTDs and previews of my blog posts, follow my instagram: http://instagram.com/beautsoup

Hope you like!

Molly x

My Skincare Routine

I have a few confessions to make… I hate the taste of water; the only fluids I’ll willing consume are tea, gin and custard. I never manage my five-a-day (or is it seven-a-day now?) and often have cake for breakfast. And, worst of all, I am a picker; spots, blackheads, random lumps that appear on my forehead, all feel the force of my two forefingers.

All things considered, I should be prone to spots, blemishes and wrinkles. Though I have my genes to thank for my relatively clear skin, I have developed a skincare routine that helps keep break-outs at bay, as well as one for when that monster zit appears on the very tip of my nose.

Make-up Removal:  Simple ‘Kind to Skin’ Cleansing Wipes, £3.49

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I have been using these make-up removal wipes for as long as I can remember. My skin is highly sensitive to strong perfumes (even Johnson’s Baby Moisturiser stings 😦 ), but these wipes have never caused any irritation. Simple’s wipes are produced with different formulas, each tailored to different skin types – Cleansing, Exfoliating, Oil Balancing, etc. – I use Cleansing because I prefer full-coverage foundations and concealers that need an equally thorough removal. The only one I would not recommend is the Exfoliating wipes as their course texture can leave your skin feeling a little raw. 

No7 Beautiful Skin Eye Make-up Remover, £8.5010859346_10152459363021128_1544665499_n

The amount of eye make-up I wear means that I have to be careful not to scrub away at my eyes too much when removing mascara and eyeliner. This remover is excellent for lifting off those last bits of glitter, crusted eyeliner (eww) and waterproof mascara. As it is oil based, those with particularly oily skin may not take to this product, however, I would recommend it for anyone with dry or combination skin as it both cleanses and moisturises that delicate skin around the eye.

Cleansing and Toning: No7 Soft and Soothed Gentle Cleanser and Gentle Toner, £8.00 each

Boots No7 is a brand I completely trust when it comes to taking care of my skin. Their products are hypo-allergenic and ph-balanced so as not to cause irritation. As well as having a beautifully silky texture, they also have enough power to sink deeply into the skin, leaving it feeling fresh and hydrated.

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I know it’s kind of gross but this picture is of the cotton wool pad I use to cleanse my face. This is AFTER using a make-up wipe. Though make up wipes will remove make-up on the surface of the skin, cleansers penetrate deeper into the pores, helping to lift out the residue inside.

Obviously cleansing is crucially important, but why use a toner? Many people skip this process, but toning is essential for restoring the ph balance of your skin. When I wasyounger my mom told me that while cleansers open your pores, toners close them; I don’t have the dermatological evidence to back this up, but it does enforce the equal importance of cleansing and toning (ideally twice a day). My favourite moisturiser is also No7, I review it here.

Blemishes: No7 Colour Calming Primer, £10.50

In this col10850801_10152459363016128_1593091137_nd weather, my skin can often look red and mottled. To solve this issue I use this colour calming primer, again by No7. The lotion is green – opposite to red on the colour wheel – meaning, once blended, it is particularly effective at reducing redness and helps to even out your complexion (as you can see from the picture below).

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When I do have break-outs, I often apply this to the area using a concealer brush, working it around the spot to mute that angry red colour.  The key to this product is blending: a little goes a long way and, without effective blending, can leave your skin with a peculiar green-grey undertone. Once foundation and concealer is applied, however, the green colour is not at all noticeable.

What products are key to your skincare routine?

Hope you like!

Molly x