Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Valentino Valentina Assoluto.

Come Christmas and birthdays, I am one of those people who knows exactly what she wants. My not so subtle measures include emailing my mother items from my wishlist, and casually dropping an item into conversation with my friends.

Whilst some requests fall on deaf ears (like the micropig I asked for for my 21st... still waiting on that one), one of my very first Christmas requests at the tender age of 15 was fulfilled... a gorgeous scent by Valentino called 'Very Valentino.' Unfortunately, it seems this particular perfume has been discontinued, but having been a fan of their scents since I was a teenager, I jumped at the chance to try out a fragrance from their current line.

Valentina Assoluto* features top notes of Italian Bergamot (a type of citrus fruit), Smeggia Peach and White Alba Truffle, with additional notes of Patchouli, Madagascan Vanilla and Jasmine. The result is a seriously sultry, seductive scent... maybe even more sultry than Elie Saab Le Parfum.

There's absolutely no mistaking that this is a designer fragrance - not only is the scent gorgeous, but it's housed in a beautiful bottle adorned with a blush pink flower, and finished with rose-gold detailing. Its formula is eau de parfum, and I'm still able to smell it on my skin several hours after applying it.

Obviously, given that this is a high-end purchase, there's a high-end price tag to go with it... perhaps not something you'd buy for yourself, but given that it's exactly one month 'til Christmas today, maybe it's time you ladies made some not-so-subtle hints to your loved ones...

Valention Valentina Assoluto EDP (50ml) is priced at £62.50, and available at Harvey Nichols.

*PR Sample

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Bourjois Christmas Collection 2014.

Bourjois' new Christmas collection has just dropped... and it is all kinds of awesome.

I was very lucky to have been sent a few goodies from the Bourjois team to test out, so I'm hoping to cover their new releases whilst also combining the (technical term coming up) info-ey-schminfo-ey bit with a mini review - I aim to please.

First up: the Smoky Stories Eyeshadow Palette* (£7.99 each). I've got my mitts on (bottom left, clockwise) #03 I Love Blue, #05 Good Nude, #04 Rock This Khaki and #07 In Mauve Again.Whilst these actually came out back in October, they're a great idea for a Christmas party makeup look. They are made with 4 shadows of varying intensity and depth... and much like the Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Eyeshadow Palette, provide foolproof application of a smokey eye, with a 'Light Touch' glitter shade at the centre of the palette that can be used to add extra sparkle and highlight to your look.

The shadows have an eyelid base integrated into the formula, allowing for up to 12 hours of continuous wear. I haven't tested out this claim, and to be frank, it would take a lot of convincing to get me to ditch my NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, especially with my super oily 'lids.

Rock This Khaki and Into the Blue probably wouldn't be my personal picks, as I tend to be a neutrals gal when it comes to eyeshadow.
However, the taupe shades of Good Nude, and the plum undertone of Into the Mauve are right up my street.

Into the Mauve

Good Nude

I was impressed at the pigmentation of the 3 outer shades, with minimal product required for a really good colour pay-off. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed at the Light Touch shadows - given how creamy the 'Pop' shade in the Charlotte Tilbury Palette is, I had somewhat high hopes for this glitter based shadow... but it was quite chalky and powdery (4th finger, right), which surprised me as the other 3 shades in the palette were pretty well pigmented. If you are looking for a drugstore dupe of the Charlotte Tilbury offering, the Smokey Stories quads are probably your best bet, as the 3 main shadows are rather good, especially as, unlike the high-end equivalent, you don't have to go hungry for a week to buy them... but perhaps invest in a glitter pigment like this one to use alongside it rather than going for the Light Touch shades.

Probably my favourite picks from the Christmas collection now: the Color Edition 24 Hr Eyeshadows* (£6.99) in 07 Floccon d'or (above, left) and 08 Marron givré (above, right).

Floccon d'or is a cool golden beige shade, whilst Marron givré is a rich, warm brown. I really don't think the photo has done Floccon d'or any justice, as it's one of the most pretty eyeshadows I've ever tried out. Both are engrained with a fine glitter, which makes them perfect for the party season. I find these are much easier to blend with fingers rather than brushes, and are so much more forgiving than the Maybelline EyeStudio Color Tattoos, as they take a fair while to set, giving you more time to blend and create your desired look... but once they're on, they really do stick around. 

Floccon d'or isn't quite as pigmented as the other shade, and takes a couple of swipes to get full colour pay-off, but I do think that's largely down to my Indian skin-tone. I've had so many compliments wearing these eyeshadows together, with the lighter one across the lid and the darker shade in the crease and lower lashline, I hvae to say the Color Edition 24 Hr Eyeshadows are quite the drugstore gem - definitely a must have, especially in these gorgeous shades.

Over to the Rouge Edition Velvet line-up, now - I've done a full review of the shade Ping Pong here, and whilst the product's formula remains unchanged, a couple of new shades have been added to the range just in time for the party season: Happy Nude Year* (£8.99, above) being just one of them. I previously proclaimed the Rouge Edition nude shades to be completely incompatible with my skin-tone, but with its warm lilac-pink hue, Bourjois have finally added a produced a nude I'll wear happily.

I do think red lips can be a bit of a Christmas makeup cliché, so I'm looking forward to pairing this nude matte-finish lipstick with a super sparkly, smokey eye come party season.

The 1 Seconde Nail Polish range (£6.99 each) also has a couple of new additions: Grey to meet you*, a silver-grey shade (not pictured, forgot to photo it... d'oh) and Glitterizer* (can't find a direct link for this I'm afraid) - a sparkly, glitter-filled topcoat which dries to a gel finish. Slicked over Style*, a cherry red shade, you'll find the perfect Christmas look for your nails!

Unfortunately, given the fact I'm not allowed to wear nail polish in hospital, I haven't had the chance to test these out on myself yet... but I'm sure when I'm exam free and able to indulge in a bit of pampering I'll be able to correct that.

The Mascara Volume 1 Seconde in Ultra Black* (£9.99) has become a new favourite of mine in the space of about a week - and that's no mean feat. Despite the fact I have a full tube of Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Eyes Mascara nestled in my makeup bag, I've consistently plumped for this drugstore option these last few days.

I'm always slightly sceptical of the 'darker than black' claim some beauty products have, but I promise it's completely the case with this mascara. The brush is pretty unique (and has been registered as an official Bourjois design... so you won't find an alternative to this mascara in another other brand), and has spherical bristles built into it... apparently this gives more volume to the lashes, and whilst it certainly does do that, I've actually found the best part of this mascara to be its lengthening properties. 

Things can get clumpy if you're not careful, though, so to avoid that, always ensure you give the wand a light blot into some tissue before application. I have to say, I do favour the ever-so-slightly spidery lash look, so I love the fact this mascara packs a serious punch when it comes to length and volume.

The new Mega Liner in Ultra Black* (£7.49) is another addition to the Christmas line-up, boasting an ultra black formula and an angulated felt-tip applicator, rather than your run-of-the-mill felt-tip end. I'm so used to working with a normal felt-tip liner that this made quite a refreshing change for me... the slanted tip meant it was really easy to draw the straightest of lines along the lashline, and I felt the staying power was much better than my usual choice of liner. Whilst I think it is as intensely black as my normal choice, I found it actually stayed this way for a lot longer, and I didn't feel like it needed an eyeliner top-up half way through the day as I've found with many other liquid liners.

Whilst the tip is a massive asset for a straight line across the lashes, I did find it a little more tricky to work with when creating a really fine feline flick... so this is where I reverted back to my trusty L'Oréal Paris liner*, but if you're a novice to liquid eyeliner, or are more experienced and want to create a more dramatic cat-eye for the party season (like I will be doing), this Bourjois liner is a great option.

Rosie the rabbit is not part of the Bourjois Christmas collection. The reason I have featured her is she did seem to want to act as assistant photographer... or rather, destroyer of my perfectly placed makeup set-ups. She got rather excited at the red velvet throw I used for the photographs above, and on several occasions pulled the throw off the table as I was carefully setting up my displays... I like to think she was trying to get her paws on my Bourjois makeup, the little monkey.

*PR Sample

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Perfume Picks.

I'm of a somewhat polyamorous nature when it comes to perfume, I'd love to be the kinda gal eternally committed to that one special fragrance... which I did find in my previous signature scent Alexander McQueen My Queen that has, sadly, been discontinued, so I now tend to have a few on the go at one given time.

Here are the 5 scent-sational (I'm hilarious, I know) fragrances that I'm loving right now:

I'm going to throw out a wildcard here, and start off with the most unlikely pick of the bunch - Katy Perry Killer Queen... I know, a celebrity perfume. Before you get all judge-y on me, let me tell you how I came to find this gem of a scent. I was perusing the pages of Glamour with my mum sat next to me when I saw a sample of the perfume stuck to one of the pages. "I bet it smells rubbish!" I proclaimed, whilst opening it up... oh how wrong I was. With top notes of Dark Horse Plum and Wild Berry, along with hints of Jasmine and Patchouli, the result is a rich, fruity and floral scent, perfect for winter nights out, and, just throwing it out there, the bottle is also pretty damn cool. Nice work Miss Perry.

Next up, is the Zara Woman Floral, a warm and floral (are you beginning to see a recurring theme here?) scent, featuring notes of Rose, Jasmine, Hyacinth and Amber. Being an EDT, it's not quite as long lasting on the skin, so probably a more appropriate daytime pick. The perfume is rumoured to be a dupe of the more costly Flora by Gucci, and having previously owned the Gucci scent, I actually prefer the Zara version!

Boss Orange Woman has been top of the perfume wishlist for quite some time now thanks to a commercial featuring a Beatles cover and the beautiful Sienna Miller - who says advertising doesn't work? This is fruity, floral (quelle surprise) fragrance featuring notes of Sweet Apples and Orange Blossom, with a spicy undertone to it thanks to notes of Sandalwood and Olive Wood. Again, as an EDT, this is probably more of an AM choice, rather than something you'd wear on an evening out, but it's been a very welcome addition to the perfume family.

Probably one of my favourite perfumes ever, the gorgeous Elie Saab La Perfum, which I got for my birthday last year. I've barely made a dent in it, as this really is a perfume I save for truly special occasions... but when I do bring it out, it's one I really love wearing (as a side: I also save it because it costs an arm and a bloomin' leg). A seductive floral, woody scent, featuring notes of Orange Blossom, Jasmine and Honey Rose, this is the kind of perfume that's in it for the long haul. In fact, I can still smell it on my hair the morning after a night out, even when someone has spilled a Jägerbomb or 3 into my locks.

Finally, I'm saving the best 'til last, as this is the fragrance I've been the most loyal to of the entire bunch. I rarely repurchase perfumes, and this is my second bottle of the stuff... if that doesn't tell you I love it, I don't know what will. Vera Wang Lovestruck is a romantic, floral scent featuring notes of Sheer Musk, Lotus Blossom and Pink Guava. Whilst I love the Elie Saab option, it's not exactly very me in that it's a bit 'ooh-err-sexy,' whereas Lovestruck is a little less obvious, a little more young and playful. It is both day and night-time friendly, and one I get a lot of, "What are you wearing?" when I've plumped for it.

I have to say, Lovestruck is the one I'm most likely to stay loyal to as a long-term perfume love... but don't hold me to that...

Friday, 31 October 2014

Contouring: My Top Tips.

Earlier this week, I told you how contouring had previously brought me out in a panic, but I've been feeling somewhat brave recently, so it's something I've been playing around with more and more of late.

Today I wanted to share with you my top 5 tips for contouring, which in my experience are pretty important to create a sharply defined cheekbone.

1. Use taupe-toned, matte shades only.
There's something of a myth with contouring that a bronzer is your best bet to created a defined cheekbone, but unless it is matte, with a taupe undertone, let me tell you, this is not the time to use your bronzer. Bronzers tend to be engrained with shimmer, whilst having an orange-undertone to them, and it doesn't create a great look when used as a contour. And whilst contour powders are created with a grey-taupe undertone, you don't have you use an expensive, specialised product to created a chiselled cheekbone, a cheap matte eyeshadow will do the job just as well!

2. Don't overload your brush.
It's always better to start off with a light hand and build up your look, rather than starting out with too much. Make sure you tap excess off the brush and buff the bristles into the back of your hand before applying it to your face to ensure even product distribution.

3. Follow the hollow.
Suck in your cheekbones and move your brush back and forth along the hollow of your cheeks. Use small circular motions at the hairline to ensure you create a soft line rather than a harsh 'stripe' under your cheeks.

4. Keep your foundation brush nearby.
Whilst you're applying your contour, continually check it's blended properly. If it's not, step away from your contour brush, and pick up your foundation brush and buff any harsh edges away.

5. Highlighter is your friend.
To really make your cheekbones stand out, don't forget to apply highlighter to the tops of your cheekbones. My pick is the Soap & Glory Glow All Out Luminizing Face Powder, which I apply with a fantail brush along the high-points of my face.

It seems I've got over my fear of contouring just in time for Halloween, ironic, really...

A modified version of this post originally appeared on the Epigram website, click here to read it.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Idiot's Guide to Contouring.

Just to clarify, you are not the idiot - I am.

You see, even as a beauty blogger who plays around with makeup on a daily basis, the word contouring is enough to break me out in a cold sweat.

And whilst I would love to rock a cheekbone like Kim K, I'm not the kinda gal who is going to get herself all muddled with 4 different shades of foundation, a bronzer, a highlighter and a Beauty Blender... talk about effort.

What's more, I think contouring gives the impression of being something of an expensive trend to embrace... the much-hyped Kevin Aucoin Sculpting Powder comes in at an eye-watering £33.00. And as I, personally, think contouring is a bit much for daytime, I wouldn't even use the aforementioned product on a daily basis, so it just seems like an awful lot of money to spend.

I'd given up all hopes of contouring my cheekbone-less face, until I read that Cheryl Fernandez Versini (whose contouring skills I have long admired) proclaimed that she uses matte taupe-toned eyeshadows to create her killer cheekbones... and it got me thinkin'.

I love the L'Oréal Paris Glam Bronze in Golden Bronze*, a matte taupe bronzer which adds very subtle definition when used on the temples and cheekbones, but if you wanted a more dramatic contoured look, it's probably not your best bet (... especially with my skintone).

I then found a matte brown eyeshadow in my stash - mine is by TIGI Cosmetics and I'm pretty sure it's no longer available, but the Natural Collection Solo Eyshadow in Crushed Walnut is a pretty good dupe.

Taking a swipe of the L'Oréal Paris Glam Bronze followed by the matte eyeshadow on an oblique-headed Contour Brush from the TMart Professional Brush Set*, I tapped off any excess, then buffed the brush into the back of my hand to ensure even product distribution across the bristles...

I then took the brush to my face, all the while mentally reciting a top contouring tip from Charlotte Tilbury: follow the hollow.  

I buffed in circular motions along the cheek hollow...

Look - I have actual cheekbones!

My technique probably need a bit of practice (I will be sharing some of my contouring pearls of wisdom here on Friday), but this method has proven to be something of a revelation to me, and whilst I still won't be embracing contour on a daily basis, I can't wait to add this to my evening makeup look.

All I'm sayin' is watch your back, Cheryl and Kim. I've now got a contour brush, and I'm not afraid to use it.
*PR Sample

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