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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My Custom MAC Eyeshadow Palette: Part 1

I was a few steps away from the checkout, MAC’s Warm Neutrals Palette in hand, when I thought… I actually won’t use around half of these colours. It doesn’t include any of the shadows I’ve been lusting after for a while now and, in my opinion, there are a few too many yellow-y honey shades and no “curve-ball” colours that would really mix up my every day looks. For £65, it’s a pretty steep investment in something I wouldn’t use all that much. 

So I put it back and decided to build my own custom pro palette.

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MAC eyeshadows aren’t cheap by any means (individual pans cost £10) so building your own 12 piece palette will cost just under double the price of the pre-made ones. But if being able to pick out your own shades means that you’re more likely to use them at every opportunity, the extra expense is surely worth it. 

The range of colours and finishes offered by MAC is quite overwhelming when you’re trying to choose just twelve. Whenever I visit my local store, I go into a heady daze where everything and anything is beautiful, wonderful… and affordable (eesh), which doesn’t make for easy decision making. 

But I’m going to (try and) be sensible. I’ve decided to choose 4 matte transition shades, 4 warm neutrals (frosts/shimmers) and 4 more unique, out-there colours to mix up my go-to looks. Here are my first 6 beauties:

 Mattes:

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L-R: Wedge, Quarry, Handwritten

Wedge: This is one of MAC’s most popular transition shades, a lovely warm beige. Given that I’m a sucker for warm colours, I was surprised to find that I don’t actually own a matte in this colour, so it was an obvious choice to help blend other shadows. Its neutral hue and matte finish provide a “no make-up, make-up” look which is perfect for Spring and helps to add definition to the eye with subtle depth. 

Quarry: A lesser known shade, Quarry is a unique grey-beige matte with a cool mauve undertone. In comparison to Wedge, Quarry is great for blending out cooler shades of grey, pastels and silver. Again, a great staple for lighter Spring-time looks when you want to tone down that dark smoked out eye.  

 11081649_10152673001251128_1376393010_n Handwritten: Okay, so I know I’ve just said that I’d look to tone down a smoky eye for Spring, but there are some days when nothing else will do. If in doubt, smoke it out, right?! 

Black smokes can look a little heavy on my face, particularly if my eyes are tired and a little puffy, so I usually rely on chocolate browns or deep burgundies as my go-to smoke shades. Handwritten is ideal for this, either placed across the lid or blended into the crease. 

Warm Neutrals:

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L-R: Satin Taupe, Sable

Satin Taupe: My first “proper” eyeshadow was Bare Minerals’ Loose Shadow in the colour ‘Celestine,’ a beautiful mid-tone taupe with a gold shimmer. I must have worn it almost every single day whilst I was at university, no matter what the occasion. Since leaving (and having an income!), my makeup collection has grown and Celestine has gotten lost – or ‘over-shadowed’ (BADDUM…) – by my other palettes. When I swatched Satin Taupe, it instantly reminded me of Celestine (if not as shimmery) and I knew I had to have it. 

Maybe it’s just me, but I often work on creating multi-tonal smokes in my crease and underneath my eyes, but can sometimes be left stumped as to what to use on my lid. I need a neutral colour with enough oomph to stand up to dark smokes and enough interest to work well be itself. Satin Taupe is the answer!   

11081663_10152672999761128_1406915266_n Sable: This was the first shadow I was drawn to when scanning the shelves at MAC. Sable is a warm, earth coloured red – the marsala shade – with a delicate gold shimmer that is not at all ‘glittery,’ but rather has a gorgeous pearlescent finish. I tend to use this in a similar way to Handwritten to mix up my usual smoky eye looks. Though classed as a ‘shimmer,’ Sable’s shine is subtle enough to be smoked out in the crease without causing your eyes to glimmer like beacons – an absolutely beautiful shade perfect for switching up classic looks for those summer-time date nights!

  

Curve-balls:

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Vex: This is a strange colour, but strange in a really really good way. It doesn’t look much of a “curve-ball,” but it’s duo-chrome finish is so difficult to capture on camera. While it looks like an ordinary silver grey shadow in some lights, in others it shines like a pearl with pink, purple and green hues. The best way to draw out the multi-dimensional colour of this shadow is to foil it with MAC’s Fix+ or another mixing medium. I’ll definitely be making the most of this shade this Spring as it makes for a gorgeous compliment to pastels and smokes alike, it’s great for adding a quirky edge to simple looks.

MACVex  So, that’s half of my collection already sorted! Ideas for my next 6 shades include ‘Cranberry,’ ‘Pink Freeze,’ ‘Mythology,’ ‘Plum Dressing,’ ‘Crystal’ and ‘Trap’ with possible curve-balls being ‘Plumage,’ ‘Sumptuous Olive,’ ‘Jest’ and ‘Lucky Green.’ 

What are your favourite MAC shades? Would you consider making your own custom palette?

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

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

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

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

October Favourites

10743229_10152388564081128_2051728089_nMy October favourites are a reflection of the time of year and were mostly geared towards setting up and adding to my autumn wardrobe. That being said, my favourites for this month are all make-up or skin care based (although the backdrop to this photo is a lovely olive green tassel T-shirt I recently bought from Topshop).

Eyes – NYX Jumbo Pencil Eye Shadow Liner in ‘604 Milk’ (£5) and Pastello Eyeliner in ‘Cedrata/Gold’ (£3.99)

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NYX’s jumbo eye pencils are a mix of mineral oil and powder, a combination that makes for a gorgeously buttery application. I use this as a base for my eyeshadow, to brighten my water line and as a brow highlighter.

I’ve been looking for a gold eyeliner for a while now, but was not convinced by liquid offerings that tend to carry a ton of glitter. This Pastello pencil caught my eye as it’s a lovely gold colour with an olive undertone so it complements copper, taupe and brown eyeshadows beautifully.

I also purchased Sigma’s Warm Neutral palette this month, see my review here.

Lips – MAC’s ‘Sin’ (£15.50), No7 Moisture Drench Lipstick in ’02 Plum Beautiful’ (£9.95) and Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in ‘Mink’ (£7.49)10754777_10152388564001128_259433765_n

MAC’s Sin is a colour I’ve been looking for for a while now; I wanted a deep red/plum with a matte finish that would be striking enough for an autumn evening – and here it is!

MAC lipsticks are most definitely my kryptonite, I’m yet to find a brand that matches their thick, tacky texture that stays put for almost 6 hours!

The other choices have been reviewed here and here. No7’s Plum Beautiful preempts SS15’s trend for plums on the eyes and lips, while Revlon is the star of my new fascination with brown lipsticks.

Nails – Rimmel Salon Pro Nail Polish in ‘397 Beige Babe’ (£4.49)

Prize for the worst name ever: cringy and inaccurate.

This colour is a re-make of a ‘Lycra Pro’ colour which was a little lighter, beige colour. However, the ‘Salon Pro’ version is a mid-taupe, a lovely accompaniment to the typical autumn shades: berry, burnt orange and aubergine.

Rimmel claims that these polishes are chip resistant for 10 days, which is impossible to achieve without keeping your hands away from water and sharp corners for that amount of time. If you’re willing to keep topping it up, though, I’d definitely recommend it.

Body – The Body Shop Almond Body Butter (£13.00 £6.50)

THIS IS THE BEST BODY BUTTER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. I am a sucker for things that smell like ice-cream and this butter’s sweet creamy scent is just the thing that you want to slather all over yourself. I have dry skin not only on my face, but all over my body, and this is the only butter that my skin soaks up like a sponge. It absorbs in minutes, but the smell remains for hours. The only issue is that it’s discontinued (I have no idea why 😦 ), so while it’s nice and cheap now, it won’t last for long.

I should start a petition or something…

Fragrance – ‘Womanity’ Eau de Parfum by Thierry Mugler (£49.50 for 50ml)

Staying with the theme of smells, this is my favourite perfume ever. Like Mugler’s other perfumes ‘Alien’ and ‘Angel,’ ‘Womanity’ has a really unique, sweet-savoury, smell – top notes of sweet green fig, a heart of caviar and base notes of elegant fig wood – that lasts all day. It’s strength means I can still smell it on my clothes when I open my wardrobe ❤

Though it’s at the top end of the price-list, Mugler has developed these beautiful eco-friendly refillable bottles, which means you can top up your supply for only a fraction of the initial price (a refillable 50ml bottle is only £38.50).

What are your favourites this month?

Hope you like!

Molly x

What I Wear To Work

I’ve recently started work at a local university (hence why my posts will now have to wait till weekends) and so, while I need to look smart and professional, a little self expression is always welcome.

Outfit

In terms of outfits, I like to stick to neutral colours – white, black, grey and navy – but play around with textures and patterns. Mohair, lace, cord and viscose help to add a bit of interest to block colours and each have their own particular way of clinging to my figure or flowing loosely. I have a definite thing for all things check and tartan and recently bought a two piece check co-ord set from Marks and Spencer. The top piece is a gorgeous peplum shape, the fit of which nicely balances out the straight legged trousers.

Make-Up

My work make-up follows the same principle as my outfit: I tend to keep my eyes neutral, but use a bold colour on my lips. Benefit’s ‘Big Beautiful Eyes’ palette is the perfect little contouring kit containing a creamy ‘industrial-strength’ concealer and three different colours to help create a gorgeous muted smokey eye.

The palette offers a concealer in ‘Boing 02,’ an alabaster pink base eyeshadow, a cocoa shimmer contour shadow and a deep chocolate liner colour, each of which have their own designated brush specially designed for their specific forms of application.

Benefit’s ‘Boing’ is a shade darker than my usual concealer so I tend to use it to cover blemishes and opt for MAC’s Studio Finish Concealer in NC15 under my eyes. My base is completed with a sweep of Bare Mineral’s Touch Up Veil in ‘Light’ – a lovely lightweight compressed powder that helps to minimise shine and even out my complexion.

Finally, my current lipstick of choice is No7’s Moisture Drench Lipstick in ’02 Plum Beautiful,’ which not only has a lovely satin finish but also doubles up as a lip moisturiser.

Make-Up Bag

It’s rare that make-up applied at 6am will stay put until 5pm, so I carry a mini make-up bag with me to help top up throughout the day. Inside I carry my lipstick of choice, a dinky reel of dental floss, a mini tube of hand cream and a travel bottle of perfume. I also take my Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer in ‘Fair 1:’ this concealer is considerably lighter than that in the Benefit kit so I top it up at lunch time to freshen up my face and stop my eyes looking heavy and tired.

What make-up essentials do you take to work?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Review: Sigma Warm Neutrals Palette

Cue angel song… Aaaaaah.

Sigma’s Warm Neutrals Palette  presents 12 gorgeous shadows, each with richly pigmented pink, beige and burgundy tones – perfect for Autumn.

I’ve been coveting this for so long. Having already fallen for the versatility of UD’s Naked 3, I thought that this palette – which offers some stronger, exaggerated colours – would allow me to ramp up my neutral go-to looks with a new pop of colour.

(L-R) Oyster Sand; Sugar Milk; Mild Mannered; Dove; Fawn; Cinnamon; Russet; Balanced; Cosy; Innocent; Optimistic; Warm Stone.

The palette (priced at £29.95) offers the perfect mix of matte, satin and frosty shades. The matte shades, like Cinnamon and Cosy, apply like butter and make the ideal transition colours to add some definition to your crease (as below). The satin shades, particularly Oyster Sand and Balanced, have a more powdery texture and so require some patience to get that desired colour payoff. 10736074_10152388374206128_598444932_n

My only complaints would firstly be the smell. Compared to the dizzy heights of MAC’s signature vanilla scent, Sigma’s shadows have a peculiar chemically smell (if I’m absolutely honest, it’s a little like cheap scented tissues), so it’s probably a good thing they are applied a fair distance from your nose.

Secondly, the pigments in the darker colours, like Russet and Warm Stone, while they’re great for creating dramatic looks, can collect in your brushes. Be careful to remove any access (I usually just swipe the brush along my hand) before jumping into the lighter colours or a different palette.

Special Mentions

Oyster Sand: ‘Soft, Light Pink with Periwinkle Undertones.’

This colour is so unique. As the description says, it has a blue/purple shift which picks up the light beautifully. It’s great for lightening the inner corner of your eye, but the ‘periwinkle’ shimmer isn’t neutral enough to work as a highlighter. I’ve also found it hard to make it work with the neutral colours in the palette, but it is amazing with the pinks and burgundies.

Optimistic: ‘Sophisticated Watermelon.’

Prize for the best description ever. To me, this is one step better than UD’s Naked 3’s ‘Dust.’ It’s colour is more exaggerated than ‘Dust,’ with a lovely unusual red base. I’ve always been wary with red eyeshadows as they can make my pale skin look bruised and tired. However, ‘Optimistic’ is the perfect balance of pink and red to add the right level of warmth to any look.

Russet: ‘Deep Burgundy.’

This is another great departure from the usual neutral palette; instead of the conventional greys, taupes and black, ‘Russet’ is the colour for creating an autumn inspired smokey eye.

Date Night FOTD

For this look, I combined my three favourites into a smokey eye, topped off with my must-have flick. I echoed ‘Russet’s’ burgundy colour with MAC’s ‘Sin’ lipstick and Rimmel’s Lasting Finish Nail Polish in ‘Black Cherries 193.’ And voilà!

Would you consider Sigma’s Warm Neutrals Palette?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Five Steps to Fresh, Dewy Skin

For me, the colder months of the year don’t just bring fireworks and Christmas presents, but also cracked lips and a peeling nose (eww). My skin has always been woefully dry, so the trend for a fresh-faced, dewy look was one I’ve been keen to get right.

It’s taken a bit of time, but I think I’ve finally cracked it! Here are my five steps for that sought-after glow:

1. Moisturiser – No7 Beautiful Skin Day Cream for Dry/Very Dry Skin SPF 15, £12.50.

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I’ve tried all sorts of moisturisers but this is by far my favourite. Unlike others I’ve tried, it doesn’t sit on top of my skin, but gets absorbed almost immediately. It also doesn’t over compensate by making my face feel heavy and oily.

(I’m yet to be convinced that I need a night cream too, I just use this every morning and every night).

2. Radiance Fluid – No7 Skin Illuminator: Radiance Boosting Beauty Fluid, £11.00.

highlighterThis is my ultimate secret weapon. This fluid has a pearlescent finish that has no other purpose (that I know of…), but to make your face glow. It’s like 12 hour’s sleep and a long soak in the bath in a bottle! It can be used alone, under or over foundation: a light sweep is great for adding a subtle shimmer, while a thicker coat is perfect for highlighting.

My only complaint is the method of application; you have to squeeze the cream through a clumsy brush extension which can make it difficult to control how much is dispensed at any one time. Definitely worth a try!

3. Foundation and Sponge – Rimmel London Match Perfection Foundation, £6.99 and Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, £5. 99.

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Two months ago, I would have sworn by MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid as the perfect foundation. It offers brilliant, full coverage with a gorgeous matte finish (and smells like old school paint!).

For a dewy-look, however, this Rimmel foundation offers a great alternative – it makes my skin look and feel perfectly hydrated.

I’m also a recent convert to the beauty blender; I bought this cheaper alternative to test it out (I’ve always used my fingers to apply my base) and will never look back!

When damp, the sponge is perfect for tapping and blending foundation into the face, leaving a flawless, dewy look.

4. Highlighter – No7 Instant Radiance Highlighter, £9.95.

This is a very new addition to my make-up collection, but so far I am really impressed.

It comes in a variety of colours, but I chose a gorgeous champagne shade, which offers a healthy warm shimmer without any glitter or exaggerated sparkle.

It’s rollerball applicator is extremely easy to use and combines the benefits of a powder and a liquid highlighter: it can be blended easily like a liquid, but is light and build-able like a powder.

5. Gloss – Vaseline Lip Therapy Petroleum Jelly, £2.18.

Good old Vaseline! With the recent trend for bare-faced beauty, vaseline offers the perfect light sheen to the lips to complete the dewy look.

It can also be used on bare eyelids or on top of eyeshadows to create a unique glossy finish (like that used by MAC at London and New York’s AW14 Fashion Week).

A thin coat of Vaseline on your eyelashes before bed is also meant to nourish longer, thicker, stronger lashes (something I am in definite need of).

What are your go-to products for radiant skin?

Hope you like!

Molly x