Review: Shien Cosmetics’ Silk Matte Lipsticks

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

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

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

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

Seriously.

I couldn’t believe it either.

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you like!

Molly x

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Review: Anastasia Beverly Hills Artist Palette

In short, my review of ABH’s Contour Kit went something like this: they’re magical, immoveable, wonderful powders in the completely wrong colour. Pale girl problems. So as I saw the Artist Palette, a stunning collection of neutrals and brights, I knew the quality would be top-notch, and now the colours were perfect – I had to have it.

When the package first arrived, being totally honest, I was a little liiiiiitle bit disheartened by the size of the pans. But that’s just me being greedy. Converted from US dollars, this palette costs under half of those produced by Urban Decay and Too Faced, neither of which offer particularly generous amounts of each colour. So for the price (and the quality you get for that price) you can’t moan at this being on the ‘petite’ size.

In my last review I had a little moan about the look and feel of the Contour Kit, but the Artist Palette is different. Well… not by much; it has the same stiffened board casing and magnetised closure, but there’s something sturdier about it. (I even performed the ultimate test of dropping this in the bathtub on holiday to find that no water or bubble bath had found its way inside. Surely the acid test of any magnetised clasp?) In my opinion, the casing is finished to a standard that’s better suited to the eyeshadows it contains, there’s no rough edges, no dents , tears or scuffs. And while the Contour Kit went for the ultra-sophisticated all-black colour scheme, the Artist Palette is decorated with flashes of bright colour as a hint to what’s inside.

Open up the lid and you’ll find 12 beautiful shades ranging from a dusty mauve-pink to a bright, warm yellow. Ordering this palette online, it’s difficult to see the shades clearly; yes, there’s a blue, a green, an orange and a pink, but they’re more complex and dimensional than that.

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Here’s my breakdown of the colours (adapted from ABH’s own descriptions):

-Dusty Rose: think LimeCrime’s ‘Cashmere’ in an eyeshadow, the perfect “griege” with a hint of mauve.

-Aubergine: described as “velvet eggplant,” a deep purple-black.

-Anaconda: the description “shimmery green” does NO justice to this colour and I’m not even a fan of green eyeshadows. This is a true emerald green with a fine gold shift.

-Punch Fuschia: think of a bold, punchy fuschia colour… You got it.

-Buttery: the colour of a good vanilla icecream.

-Blue Velvet: a rich navy. And by ‘rich’ I mean that it’s actually a deep shade of blue, not like some ‘navy’ shadows that turn out as a nondescript dark smudge (I’ve been let down before…).

-Charcoal: described as ‘matte black,’ but I’d argue it’s somewhere between black and deep grey as the name suggests.

-Unicorn: hands down my favourite eyeshadow in the palette and, quite possibly, ever. A heaven-sent periwinkle. Gah, I love it.

-Phresh: a bold canary yellow, another unexpected favourite of mine.

-Baby, I’m a Star: a soft, mid brown with gold shimmer. The ‘meh’ colour IMO (every palette has one).

-Orange You Fancy: the loud, glitzy sister of Orange Soda, a brightened orange shadow with gold sparkle.

-Beigely: A frosted beige much like MAC’s Satin Taupe, but a smidgen warmer.

These swatches were taken with no primer or base, just a dip of the finger and you can see that the colour pay-off is amazing, particularly for the brights.

If I could make some tweaks to these colours to suit my personal taste I would make “Buttery” into a champagne or pearl highlighter shade like MAC’s “Phloof” (the ultimate…). I like my brow highlight to have a subtle satin finish, but “Buttery” is both too cream to show up on my skin and too matte to truly ‘highlight’ anything. As it is, however, “Buttery” is really handy for blending novices as it can be used to buff away harsh lines without depositing any extra colour = magic! On the other hand, I would take the shimmer out of “Baby, I’m a Star.” A matte mid-tone brown like this would be so useful for adding definition to the eye when using light, bright colours and softening harsh lines when using darker colours. Adding the substantial gold sparkle to this shadow makes it quite difficult to use unless it covers the lid in a rather conventional smoky eye. Beyond this, the colour is neither here nor there. With “Beigley” having a similar shimmer, I think ABH could afford to make one of the two super-neutral shades into a matte.

Texture-wise, these shadows remind me a lot of those by Illamasqua or Sigma: they aren’t particularly ‘creamy’ in the pan like those by MAC or Urban Decay, but have a super-fine powder formula. This can be deceiving as it might feel as though the brush isn’t collecting much product or that you’re not applying enough product to the skin, but with only a light sweep of the brush, the colour pay-off is bold and opaque.

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This not only extends the life of the palette (as you need to use very little product), but also helps with the longevity of the shadows on the skin. Creamier formulas can sometimes sit a little heavy on the eyes and can be a real nuisance for those with oily skin types due to sliding and creasing. These light-weight powders are therefore great for adding colour without ‘gunk’ and, with a spot of primer, hold up for 8 hours with very little signs of movement (having tested Beigely and Dusty Rose on my mom, who has oily skin). For dry-combination skin like mine, the ‘powder-y’ nature of these shadows can accentuate any flakiness or fine lines around the eye, so be sure to moisturise thoroughly before use. That being said, these powders could hold up alllllllll day; I actually fell to sleep in the look pictured on the left (whoops!) and woke up to find the lovely periwinkle hue still there.

My faith in Anastasia Beverly Hills is restored!

What do you think of the Artist Palette?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Team Matte Lip: My Lip Prep Routine

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

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

Exfoliate: Lush ‘Bubblegum’ Lip Scrub, £5.50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you like!

Molly x

Review: Illamasqua’s Embellish Eye Trio

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

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

FOURTEEN POUNDS.

Whaaat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you consider the Embellish Eye Trio?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Review: Urban Decay’s Perversion Mascara and Cream Eyeliner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perversion Mascara, £17.00

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

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

Just one coat (!)

Just one coat (!)

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

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

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

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

Hope you like!

Molly x

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My First Purchases From NARS: Audacious Lipstick and Eyeshadow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colour

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

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

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

2015/01/img_0502.jpg Application

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

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

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

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

What are your favourite NARS products?

Hope you like!

Molly x