I have to say I was never really into the contouring 'thing...' but that was before I realised I didn't have to use the super time-consuming Kim Kardashian method to get crackin' cheekbones.

Last year, I shared a couple of secrets to how I create my own contour product, but with my usual choice of L'Oréal Paris Glam Bronze hitting pan a few months ago, I've been forgoing the contour.

Going into Boots for my usual 'one thing only,' (I forget what that was, seeing as I walked out with a bag full of new beauty toys), but I found myself at the Maybelline counter, intrigued by their latest release - the Master Sculpt Contour & Highlight. 

This is one of the first convincing budget alternatives I've seen to high end contour products like the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder. The matte grey undertone to the Maybelline product was what sold me, as unlike the more orange-toned options in Boots, this one actually looked like it would produce a natural-looking contour.

I'm not going to lie, the packaging obviously doesn't look quite as nice as the Kevyn Aucoin option, but it's a pretty damn good alternative if you're not feeling all that flush, like me... roll on my first pay cheque at the end of August.

I'm actually rather impressed with the Master Sculpt contour powder (more about the highlighter in a second) - whilst it's not super pigmented, I've actually found this to be something of a blessing, as the product can be gradually built up to the desired look without fear of the dreaded stark stripe under the cheekbone.... it's particularly great if you're new to contouring, and want something to practice with.

The brush included in this set is not great at blending out the contour powder, and it's a little on the scratchy side... but if you can tolerate that it's pretty decent to use to deposit product in the hollow of the cheek - I tend to get a good amount of contour on the brush, tap off the excess, suck in my cheekbones and nestle the length of the brush along the hollows of my cheeks, before sweeping the it towards the hairline. I then go in with my Real Techniques Expert Face Brush to buff the edges and create a natural looking finish.

As for the highlight, it leaves a little to be desired. I find it rather chalky, and I don't think it actually does 'highlight;' more like leaves a dusty residue on the skin... then again, very little is going to live up to my highlight of choice, Benefit Watts Up! Highlighter (which I used on my graduation day). To be frank with you, I think I'd rather the Master Sculpt have been a 'one job' product with just the contour powder, rather than trying to be a 2-in-1 which does one of those jobs well, and the other... well, not quite so well.

A final note to add: if you're worried this colour will be a too dark on you, fear not, as I went for the Medium/Dark shade of the Master Sculpt - there's also a Light/Medium shade available to those with fair skin tones... so everyone can cheat their way to razor sharp Kim Kardashian cheekbones.

The Maybelline Master Sculpt Contour & Highlight is priced at £6.99, and available at Boots.

Check out my top tips for contouring here.
Monday, 27 July 2015

Graduation Day Makeup.


Just a quick post to tell you about the makeup I chose to wear on my graduation day last week... unfortunately I've got no real close-up photos of my look, but hopefully you can get a jist from the above pictures along with the following description of what I was going for with my makeup.

It can be super tempting to trowl on cosmetics at a special event, but given graduation was an AM affair, I wanted my skin to look fresh and dewy especially in unforgiving natural light... the best compliment I received regarding my chosen look was from my best friend, who said my skin, rather than my base, looked ' fresh and polished.' I think this is partially because I've stopped using brushes to apply foundation and concealer - instead, I've been patting and blending it in using my fingers, and this is what I did on graduation day. The warmth allows product to really mesh into the skin, and it looks so much more natural than when makeup has been painted on, and I find there's less temptation to use a too much product when you use your hands.

And, of course, I went for my trademark cat eye (some things never change) but freshened things up with a bright gold summer -ppropriate eyeshadow, along with lots and lots of individual lashes... 

Skin Prep

Base

Blush, Bronze, Contour & Highlight

Brows
NARS Eyeshadows, Belissima & Coconut Grove | Maybelline Brow Drama, Dark Brown

Eyes

Nails
Revlon Nail Enamel, Privileged

*PR Sample

You've probably gathered from my last post that I'm kinda sorta obsessed with anything rose gold right now... to the point where even my new iPhone 6 has it on it.

My old iPhone 5 got a little well worn whilst I was away. If you know me personally, you'll know that the term 'butter fingers' doesn't begin to cover how clumsy I can be, and it seems the dropping of my iPhone approximately 15639876 times a day, combined with lack of phone case meant that, after 6 years of owning an iPhone, I managed to smash the screen of one for the first time.

Thankfully, I was due an upgrade upon my return home, and determined not to let my new phone meet the same fate as my then-current one, I purchased an iPhone 6 case from the other side of the world.

I'd long admired the Monika Strigel range on Casetify, and as I knew I wanted a white and gold iPhone along with the fact I had a discount code, I quickly plumped for the Rose Gold Faux Glitter Case from her range, as I thought it looked really chic and pretty, and chose the Classic Snap option.

Shipping was free, and the case arrived within 2 weeks of me ordering it... pretty good going considering it was shipped from the USA; it was wrapped in sturdy packaging to prevent any damage occurring whilst the parcel was in transit.

The case itself is gorgeous - whilst the rose gold 'glitter' is not actual glitter, but printed onto the case, it still somehow manages to look sparkly, like the real thing. It easily clipped onto my phone, and has been made with the camera and various side buttons in mind, so there's nothing obstructing any of the phone's functions. I had to take the case off my phone last week to install a screen protector (I have this one and it's brilliant) - it was a bit of a nightmare to get off, I will admit,
 - but in all honesty that's probably a good thing, as it means your phone is snug, safe and protected from bumps, drops and scratches (all of which are inevitable, in my case).

I've gathered from a quick browse through the collection that Monika Strigel's cases work best with the white and gold iPhone 6, so unfortunately if you've already got the black and grey one, these cases probably won't look quite as good on your phone. However, if you were getting jealous of the whispers of a rose gold iPhone 6S, you could save yourself a bob or two by simply buying a rose gold-toned case like this one... let's face it, the 6S is hardly going to knock the socks off  the 6, is it?

If you're looking for a something different from the usual Kate Spade or Cath Kidston offerings for the iPhone, whilst still being feminine and functional, look no further.

The Monika Strigel Rose Gold Faux Glitter iPhone 6 Case is priced at £25.60/$39.95, and available at Casetify. To save $10 on your case, enter the code QM2I9W at the checkout.

It's usually pretty safe to assume that when you go travelling, you'll probably have something stolen off you - and whilst I kept a close eye on all my electronics, it was my jewellery I should have been watching. Unfortunately for me, I had 2 sets of earrings stolen from my hand luggage when I was in Trinidad Airport; one pair being relatively cheap, and the other.... not quite so cheap. It was completely my fault for taking them away with me, so in all honesty I have no one but myself to blame. In an extra stroke of bad luck, both pairs just happened to be pearl drop earrings, so I was left with a dangly earring-shaped hole in my heart.

When I got back, one of my first purchases was this gorgeous pair of Nikki Lissoni Rose Gold Plated Coin Earrings... and I've pretty much been wearing them ever since.


I've recently developed a bit of a thing for rose gold; I find the pink hue compliments my skin tone where gold and silver could perhaps look a little stark. Speaking of which, if rose gold isn't your thing, the Nikki Lissoni coin range also has options of silver and gold plated jewellery; and this collection doesn't just stop at earrings, there's coin pendant necklaces on offer too. 

But back to the earrings; they're composed of 2 parts; a small stud carrier and a coin which attaches to the stud - you do have to buy these two items separately. And fear not; the studs are available in silver, gold and rose gold to ensure they match with your choice of coin! The Fantasy Tree Earrings have a beautiful floral design, and are embellished with small crystals adorning the tree branches. They are light as a feather to wear and look so gorgeous on, especially when they catch the light and those gems sparkle like nobody's business. I think they are absolutely stunning, and would make a wonderful gift for yourself a loved one, especially if they've got a special birthday or event coming up, like graduation... and would you know it, I happen to be wearing these very earrings to my graduation day next week!

And for when my rose gold obsession dies down, I've got my beady eye on the Gold Lovely Flower Coin Earrings, as well as the Bouquet of Roses Earrings, and I also like the Vintage Flower ones, too - at this rate, I might as well hand over my first pay cheque to Nikki Lissoni...

The Nikki Lissoni Fantasy Tree Coin Earrings are priced £30.00, and the matching stud carriers at £25.00 - to check out the entire range, click here.
Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Nuts About Coconut Oil.


If you've been paying any attention to beauty and health news, you just might have noticed that everyone and their aunt is raving about coconut oil. I've long been a fan of this wonderful stuff being a part of my beauty regime, but following my switch to a plant-based diet earlier this year, I've been using it for a whole lot more...

Coconut oil truly is one of nature's miracles - it's packed full of healthy fats, is a natural antibacterial and anti-fungal, and, unlike processed oils, actually has great fibre and nutritional content. I'm currently using the Vita Coco Extra Virgin Coconut Oil*, which is 100% raw and cold-pressed - this process ensures all of nature's goodness is preserved in the oil.

I've been trying this product out in a couple of different ways, and today I thought I'd share the ones I loved (...and the ones I didn't).

1. Cooking
What they say: One of the healthy hallmarks of coconut oil is that the 'good' fats contained within it remain stable and do not release harmful free radicals when subjected to high heat - basically, this means coconut oil is just as healthy to eat in its raw form as it is when it's cooked. Ingesting the healthy fats in coconut is widely thought to be good for cardiovascular health, raising the levels of HDL - a 'good' cholesterol (which ideally you want to be higher) in the blood. Coconut oil can be widely used in cooking in place of other oils, with recommended methods including roasting, frying and baking, and imparts a light coconut flavour into food.
What I found: I can't comment on my blood cholesterol levels as I didn't get that nerdy with my little project, however I have loved using coconut oil in my cooking. I've roasted vegetables in it, stirred it into porridge (this is my favourite recipe), fried with it to cook some delicious sweet potato pancakes and also to stir-fry. The Vita Coco is much more 'coconutty' than most of the other coconut oils I've tried - this means there's some cuisine it probably wouldn't lend itself well to (coconut tomato sauce for your spaghetti? I don't think so), but it's great for most cookery, especially sweet things!

2. Oil pulling
What they say: This is an Aryuvedic medicine practice where you swill a tablespoon of coconut oil around in your mouth for ten to twenty minutes without swallowing it. The swilling of the oil around the teeth and gums supposedly 'pulls' toxins out from the mouth, and when you spit it out, the milky white hue of the oil is supposed to show you all the nasty bacteria and toxins you've drawn out - long-term benefits include 'detox,' clearing of the sinuses, fresher breath, improved oral health as well as whiter teeth... hmmmm.
What I found: You've probably gathered from the use of quotation marks,  the word supposedly and the 'hmmmm,' that I'm not remotely convinced by any of that... blame the day job for my scepticism. Nevertheless, I tried it out for a week and it was a seriously unpleasant experience. My mouth felt horrible afterwards, my teeth looked no whiter and I certainly didn't feel 'detoxed' (however that is meant to feel) - never again.

3. Makeup removal
What they say: The fats in coconut oil effectively break down makeup, including waterproof mascara - rub a small amount of coconut oil into the skin, and onto the eyes, massage in and remove with a warm, clean muslin cloth or flannel - this leaves the skin clean of all makeup without stripping moisture away.
What I found: I've long used coconut oil as a makeup remover - it effectively removes my makeup (including my lashings of 'shadow, mascara and liquid eyeliner... #CatEyeTilIDie) and leaves my skin feeling clean and soft... although I am careful to ensure I remove every trace of oil, more about that in a second. However, given the Vita Coco Oil is quite expensive, it felt pretty extravagant using it once a day to cleanse, so I think I'll use a cheaper coconut oil for this purpose.

4. Moisturiser
What they say: The healthy fats in coconut oil replenish dry skin, provide a small amount of natural sun protection, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and, due to its vitamin E content, fade scars and hyper pigmentation.
What I found: Coconut oil is wonderful as an all-over body moisturiser - I've been using it since I came back from travelling, and genuinely think it has helped to prolong my tan! Whilst it's great for the body, I wouldn't use coconut oil as a moisturiser on my face - I have done so after reading countless celebrities saying it helped clear up their complexion and give them a gorgeous radiant glow... unfortunately, I started to notice lots of clogged pores and spots forming on my cheeks after I used it as a moisturiser, and a more thorough research made me realise coconut oil is actually rather comedogenic - which means it clogs pores... it didn't take rocket science to work out why my skin was playing up. Again, as the Vita Coco product is a little on the pricey side, I think I'll use a cheaper alternative as my body moisturiser.

5. For dry hair
What they say: Once again, those wonderful fats are to thank for this benefit - coconut oil is said to replenish lacklustre hair, leaving it super shiny and soft. Additional benefits include better growth and reduced hair loss, plus it's also a natural anti-dandruff agent!
What I found: I've also used coconut oil for my hair for many a year - whilst I was travelling, I made sure I used a coconut oil blend in the ends after I washed it, and despite being exposed to sun and salt-water on a daily basis, my hair looked super healthy when I came back. I also use coconut oil as a hair mask, applying it all over my tresses, leaving it on for 5-10 minutes before rinsing it out. The only slight issue with using an oil in the hair is that if you put a little too much into your wet hair, or don't rinse it out thoroughly enough your hair feels pretty gross and greasy, so just make sure you apply sparingly or use lots and lots of water to get every last drop out!

I think it's safe to I've gone a little nuts for coconut oil...

Vita Coco Coconut Oil (250ml) is priced at £5.99, and available at Amazon.

*PR Sample
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