Wednesday, 4 July 2012

MAC Eyeshadows I've Hit Pan On

Predictable Ronseal title there. Without further ado:

Top row: Dazzlelight, Vex, Blanc Type, Phloof!
Bottom row: Coquette, Patina, Copperplate
The first two pans on the top left are nearly new, since I totally finished up my first Dazzlelight and Vex.

Top row: Dazzlelight, Vex, Blanc Type, Phloof!
Bottom row: Coquette, Patina, Copperplate
L-R: Dazzlelight, Vex, Blanc Type, Phloof!
These four are my favourite highlight/lid colours. Dazzlelight is my staple neutral for all over the lid - really brightening without being overly frosty. Vex is a gorgeous unique shade, a silver/beige with green/pink duochrome. Blanc Type looks incredibly dull swatched, but is an almost perfect match for my skintone (tiny bit yellow) and very useful for blending out edges, or evening out the lid. Phloof! is a verrrry frosty pink-white, best suited for an inner corner highlight, but I have been known to wear it over the lid with matte purples in the crease. I do love a bit of shimmer, me.

L-R: Coquette, Patina, Copperplate
Coquette is my eyebrow colour, an excellent cool-toned mid-brown shade which is also useful for defining the crease. Really glad I found this, as it doesn't get many mentions on blogs. Patina is the one I'm surprised I've hit pan on, since I don't use it very often - this is about as warm a brown as I can comfortably wear. My rubbish swatch doesn't show the antiqued gold shimmer on this, which is very pretty. Finally, Copperplate is a brilliant buttery matte grey-brown, super pigmented and blendable, which can be worn as a light wash or a dark smoky crease. This is a touch too dark for my brows in the daytime, but I do use it in the evenings for a more dramatic look, as it's nice and cool.

These are definitely among the MAC shadows I would repurchase (or already have done), and use on a regular basis. My next foray into my MAC palettes will be following up the purple theme!

Till next time,

Josephine x

All Things Purple - Lipstick Edition

So I finished my exams, and went to the ball, and turned 23. I'm now at home for a week or so, packing for a month in Nepal, and rediscovering my love for purple makeup products.

Kicking off with lipsticks, naturally!

L-R: MAC Violetta, Snob, Up the Amp, Topshop On the Town
Top to bottom: MAC Violetta, Snob, Up the Amp, Topshop On the Town
MAC Violetta is the queen of purple lipsticks. This is a Pro shade, which I bought at the (admittedly sometimes quite scary and unwelcoming) MAC Pro store in London. It's pretty damn purple - no lilac or mauve nonsense here, just straight up bright purple. Can be a teeny bit unflattering against the teeth, but a stunning lipstick nevertheless. Just to round things off, it's in my favourite Amplified formula, which is super-opaque and long-wearing.

Taking it down a notch to MAC Snob, which is a very blue-toned lilac pink (Satin finish). I got this (and the Topshop lipstick here) a month or so ago from Alice's blog sale, which is awesome. Very pretty girly daytime shade - barely purple against the others here, but a more wearable variation on the theme.

And of course the classic MAC Up the Amp. I highly recommend trying this out if you don't already own it - great Amplified formula, really unusual darkened lavender colour which is wearable day to night (I'd say). Love this one!

Finally, a non-MAC contender, Topshop On the Town. Sadly I think this is discontinued, so I snapped it up from Alice's blog sale! I think MAC have released limited edition versions of this shade in the past (Lavender Whip?). It's a pale mauve colour, not the most flattering but unusual and fun, particularly for spring pastel makeup which I love wearing. I haven't come across a dud Topshop lipstick yet in terms of formula - this is similar to MAC's Amplified finish.

If you have any other purple lipstick recommendations (especially non-MAC), do drop me a comment!

Lots more purple where that came from, in the shape of blushes (MAC, NARS, Illamasqua), eyeshadows (MAC and Chanel spring to mind), and the odd nail varnish/lipgloss/miscellaneous item.

Till next time,

Josephine x

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Revision Ate My Life

To the extent that I've only acquired three new things recently. I bought two, and one was a lovely present from my mother, hurray!

Here we have Chanel No. 19 Eau de Parfum, Illamasqua Skin Base foundation in 02, and Illamasqua lipstick in Eurydice (from the new Human Fundamentalism collection).

The perfume was the gift, earlier this month, after I went through a phase of loving No. 5 again. It is a bit of a shock when you first smell it if you're used to standard popular fruity/sweet scents, and I wasn't sure I liked it when I first wore it. I'm happy to say it's grown on me, and I now love it. It's a very green floral, heavy on the iris, and almost woody - perfect for this wet spring we're having! Victoria has a lovely review, as does Angela on Now Smell This. It's completely different from any other scent I own, and I can see myself getting through this bottle pretty quickly! I must say it doesn't last as long on the skin as you might expect from an EDP, but then again I do like my perfume obnoxiously strong, so maybe it's just me.

I reached the halfway point in my exams on Friday (I now have a week "off" to revise for the next set), and wandered over to Selfridges in the afternoon to peruse the Illamasqua counter. I did nip into the Beak St store first, but got fairly terrible service (for the first time ever, I may add) so left, shame! Anyway, I was keen to test the Skin Base foundation in 02, the next shade down from white, since I'd seen swatches of its pinky-pale brilliance - and I was not disappointed. I've only worn it twice, but the match is perfect and if I moisturise well in the potentially flaky (delightful) areas around my nose the finish is also lovely. Very pleased with this so far!

And of course I bought this lipstick. It's bright blue-pink AND matte, two of my favourite qualities in a lipstick. Need I say more? Well, it's incredibly long-wearing, without being too heavy-feeling or cakey on the lips. This is my first lipstick from Illamasqua, and I'm impressed.

My tea break is now over, and I shall slink back to my land law revision. Woe is me. Hope everyone is well and looking forward to summer! (Eternal optimist alert.)

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. I am so impressed with myself for only having bought TWO things on Oxford St. I nearly bought four more (two blushers from Dainty Doll, and a blusher and lipstick from Topshop) but just wasn't enthused enough to get to the till. A sea change in my spending habits, perhaps...I can only hope!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

MAC Lipsticks: Lustre Edition

I only have three lustres - I know, only! They're all more recent purchases, after I figured out that the more eye-catching shades I bought initially don't cut it for everyday wear in some circumstances! These three are all very wearable for daytime in any environment, particularly since the lustre formula is relatively sheer and glossy - you can slick it on lightly, or build up the colour for more intensity.

The wear time isn't great, but this is in the nature of the formula; these wear off nicely and are so easy to reapply, so it isn't really a problem. Lustres are the perfect choice if you don't fancy the done-up look of a opaque, highly pigmented lipstick (such as the mattes or amplified cremes, both of which are coming up!).

L-R: See Sheer, Syrup, Plumful
Top to bottom: See Sheer, Syrup, Plumful
Top to bottom: See Sheer, Syrup, Plumful
See Sheer is a muted coral, particularly lovely for spring/summer. MAC describes it as a "grapefruit pink", which is admittedly cute, and grapefruit is spot on, but if you want a pink lipstick, go for one of the other two!

The easiest way to describe Syrup is as one of those "my lips but better" shades. This is probably the most natural-looking, easy to wear MAC lipstick I own! (See also Cosmo, which is a shade darker and more pigmented, but also made of awesome.) Syrup is what I would class as a neutral or "nude" lipstick, since it is a close match to the colour of my lips (rather than the colour of my skin, as with other so-called nudes!). This is easy to touch up without a mirror, to give a dash of colour and make your face look brighter and more groomed - I usually apply it on the train in the mornings! Highly recommended. (MAC have this down as a "cloudy pink", whatever that means.)

Plumful is a deeper, plummier (surprise!) version of Syrup. Given my penchant for berry colours and purples, I love this as a wearable member of that colour family. Great for a slightly more dramatic lip which is still very wearable. MAC call it a "blossoming rose-plum" - I guess rosy plum is quite accurate, though how helpful "blossoming" is is up for debate.

The first MAC lipstick I was ever recommended was Patisserie, a lustre which looks like another MLBB colour, but it was out of stock at the time (excellent sales tactic, Oxford MAC girl!), and now I have Syrup I don't feel the need to buy it. Honest...

Till next time,

Josephine x

Monday, 30 April 2012

MAC Lipsticks: Cremesheen Edition

Just putting it out there: I have a lot of MAC lipsticks. What can I say, addictive personality and all that jazz. There's something about them that got me seriously hooked a while back - Ruby Woo was my first (which I think I've talked about in my post on MAC red lipsticks), and I soon accumulated a lot more. My last purchases were some of the matte brights from the Iris Apfel collection, and I think my obsession has eased off a bit now - you never know, though...

I love seeing which shades people have chosen, so I thought I'd swatch my collection for you. I've split them up by formula, as categorising by colour would be too messy and random when you have as many pinky and/or bright shades I do!

Kicking off with the cremesheens, for no reason at all. It turns out I own seven. Which is bizarre, since I don't think of this as my favourite formula - I prefer mattes and amplified cremes (I have nearly all of the amplifieds!), or lustres for less pigmented colour. I can't say I wear any of these on a truly regular basis except Speed Dial, though part of my motivation for swatching them all is to encourage myself to use more of my collection!

L-R: Creme Cup, Speed Dial, Speak Louder
Top to bottom: Creme Cup, Speed Dial, Speak Louder
I can never figure out why I don't like Creme Cup more! It's a cool-toned light pink, which everyone loves, but I just don't warm to it (ha) very much. Maybe I'll try wearing this one more, as it seems undeservedly neglected! However, I much prefer the other two colours here...

Speak Louder and Speed Dial are both blue-toned pinks, though Speak Louder is darker and redder. These don't get mentioned all that often on blogs/YT - people seem to favour nudes or super-brights! Speed Dial is a very wearable, pretty everyday pink, while Speak Louder is pretty bright on the lips (which I love for daytime, but it may be more of an evening shade for other more tasteful people!). Both great for summer.

L-R: Shy Girl, Ever Hip, Jazzed, Crosswires
Top to bottom: Shy Girl, Ever Hip, Jazzed, Crosswires
Ever Hip and Jazzed are limited edition shades I got in a blog sale last summer, when I was going through a coral phase. I'm usually not that keen on coral shades on me, as I find them tricky with my colouring for some reason, despite wanting to like them! Ever Hip is a lovely pinky coral which does work fairly well on me (also, I adore the Liberty of London packaging!), while Jazzed is more true coral.

Crosswires is a shade you rarely hear mentioned on blogs/Youtube - it's a pinky coral red (helpful), like a more pigmented version of the lustre See Sheer. Gorgeous for easy-to-wear summer lips. (This is basically a coral version of Speak Louder, if that makes sense!)

Shy Girl is one of those incredibly popular shades, but I find I have to be careful what makeup I wear with this. For a warm-toned summery look - bronzer, peachy blush, golds on the eyes - this peachy nude is lovely, and the formula is miles better than Hue, a glaze finish which is basically a pink version of this. So if that's your style I definitely recommend Shy Girl (though you probably already own it!). On me, however, this look is not the most flattering - I wear it occasionally when I'm feeling summery, and I do enjoy it, but it's slightly jarring against my complexion.

Having swatched all these, I'll definitely be wearing them more in future - especially Speak Louder and Crosswires, which have been unfairly relegated to obscurity in the bottom of my makeup drawers!

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. I think I heard some of the lesser-known colours, like Crosswires and Speed Dial, mentioned in Miss Princess Pancake's excellent video on her favourite MAC lipsticks, which features some really wearable shades. Thought I must have got the idea from somewhere when putting in that particular online order!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

More New Things, feat. MUFE and Stila

Subtitle: "Natural Light, What Natural Light?"

Let me introduce you to Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet + foundation in shade 15 Alabaster, and Stila Convertible Colour in Lillium, my latest purchases.

I acquired the foundation from Precious About Makeup. Miscellaneous influences: rave reviews on Youtube, such as Tiffany's; noticing it on Cami's wish list; promisingly pale swatches on Glossed in Translation. It wasn't cheap, but I kind of impulse bought one evening. Very pale, pink undertones, matte - this had potential. And I'm pleased to say I am in love with it.

This is only the second foundation I've ever had that I can apply straight from the bottle AND IT MATCHES (the other being the Illamasqua Light Liquid Foundation in LF115). Immediate plus. I applied it on top of the Murad mattifying primer (double whammy) in a morning rush as I was leaving for a weekend in Oxford - I know, sensible timing. But this stuff went on like a dream (I used my fingers to apply it), looked great - and more importantly still looked great by the evening. No powder required at all, and it didn't look cakey. My friend couldn't tell I was wearing foundation at all - which isn't to say this doesn't even out the skin and look pretty flawless (hideous cliche but it's true). Genius. So far, worth the price tag. Now if only MUFE was a bit easier to come by, I think we'd be entering Holy Grail territory here.

And in Oxford, I bought more makeup. Obvs. Specifically, this Stila cream blush. Well, the Boots on Cornmarket had a new Stila stand, next to the Orly stand (I bought Rage, though I haven't applied it yet!), and I gravitated towards these. I do love me a good cream blush, and Anna had mentioned this one a few times on her blog, so I had a swatch and went for Lillium, a warm pink.

The packaging is a winner - fairly small and light, but substantial-feeling and cute (with a mirror, always a plus since I use cream blush to touch up during the day). The formula is very different to my favourite cream blushes by Topshop, which are cream-to-powder and set matte - this is almost sticky, and never dries completely matte. "Dewy", I believe, is the relevant makeup cliche buzzword here! When I first applied this I didn't realise how pigmented it was and had to rectify the situation with foundation and powder, so beware. I found this a tad tacky to blend with fingers; it works better with a brush, like the MAC 188. So I don't think I'll be trading in my Topshop blushes anytime soon, but this is a delightful addition to my horde of blushes!

If you have any recommendations for cream blushes do drop me a comment, as I'd love to try some other brands (any excuse!). I have my eye on Illamasqua, but am open to suggestions!

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. Speaking of Topshop cream blushes, there's a new one in town: a pink called Prime Time. I need.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Nostalgia in All the Colours of the UV Rainbow

Unusually, I tidied my room today. (This may have something to do with tort law revision.) These were among the most bizarre things I found lurking in drawers, relics of my undergrad days:

The second photo aptly represents the contrast between my previous student days, when I used to go out most nights of the week, and my current revision-bound, hermit-like state. (Why I ever needed six whole tubes of UV paint is of course a mystery.) This may have more to do with the fact I've been living back at home this year after four years away, which has been interesting. I live in a very small town outside London, so let's just say the UV paint and the last train home are not particularly compatible. Frankly, I think I've left behind my glowing-warpaint days, but you never know, I may bust this stuff out after exams are over!

Anyway, enough of the random post - there's a tort textbook with my name on it!

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. My latest foundation craving, courtesy of Cami, is the Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet + in Alabaster, available from here. My current combo of Revlon ColorStay + Illamasqua Light Liquid is a bit of a pain to mix up, what with the glass bottle of ColorStay inevitably glopping a metric ton of product onto the back of your hand, and can look a tad cakey if you're not careful. So the search for a pink-toned, pale, matte foundation continues...

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Makeup Stockpile

So, for some reason I took pictures of the contents of my makeup drawers (bought from WH Smith last year, inspired by Anna's similar ones).

If nothing else, I can report back that the blinding glare of an entire drawerful of MAC lipsticks seriously confuses the auto setting on my camera, as you can see below...

Foundations and blushers, feat. NARS, MAC, Illamasqua, Topshop, Bourjois, Benefit, et al
Hilariously amateur photo of MAC lipsticks - and yes, there are two layers. I have a problem
Lipliners & glosses etc. Amusingly, I don't even count myself as a lipgloss-wearer
Mixed bunch of eyeliners. I usually wear the L'Oreal liquid liner. Fail.
Eye shadows - heavy on the cream shadow side here, palettes elsewhere!
Lipsticks, including MAC overspill. I have no excuse.
And this isn't even everything I own - I have a separate makeup bag for stuff I'm currently using every day. And my two MAC eyeshadow palettes and UD Naked palette are elsewhere. OH LORD. Is this normal? Spending ban needed pronto, especially on the lipstick front. Because nobody needs that many lipsticks. Not even in a nuclear winter. I couldn't face photographing my nail polish! Another time, when I'm feeling stronger...

Anyway, I think my next post will be on my favourite high street makeup. More words than pictures this time, honest!

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. I really hope this doesn't come across as in any way boastful - apart from sheer boredom at sitting at home revising contract law all day, I was motivated by a desire to remind myself what the hell I actually own before I'm tempted to buy yet more, and encourage myself to use more of all this stuff rather than grabbing the same bits & pieces every morning. I may do a lipstick of the day "challenge" to shake things up in those groaning lipstick drawers, for one thing!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Latest Face & Boots Bits

So, I'm entering the black hole of revision & exams until June. Worryingly, I seem to have forgotten how to revise, finals being all the way back in the dim & distant past (well, 2010).

This is what I've been wearing on my face if I feel like making more-than-no effort.

L-R: Murad Oil-Control Mattifier, Illamasqua Light Liquid Foundation in LF115, Revlon ColorStay Foundation in Ivory, L'Oreal Mattifying Powder, and NARS Douceur blush (bottom)
Primer: the Murad Oil Control Mattifier. I'm definitely a fan of this stuff - helps make-up go on smoothly, controls shine brilliantly throughout the day, and has SPF 15.

Foundation: I've been mixing Revlon ColorStay (Combo/Oily version) in Ivory with Illamasqua Light Liquid Foundation in LF115 (the palest skin-coloured shade). I used to wear the ColorStay on its own, but it is a) much fuller coverage than I need/want, and b) too dark/yellow, irritatingly. Mixing in the Illamasqua sorts both of these problems pretty nicely, giving a far better colour match and less cakey coverage. I mix them up on the back of my hand (really don't appreciate the fact the ColorStay has no pump, dammit) and apply with my fingers. I used to use a Sigma F80 flat-top kabuki brush but I find it soaks up half the product and is a right pain to clean, so fingers it is!

Top: Revlon ColorStay in Ivory; bottom: Illamasqua Light Liquid Foundation in LF115
LF115 is a good match for me on its own when blended out, if a tad neutral, but it does emphasise the pallor in a dramatic way which I don't always want, especially in the daytime. I also have this foundation in LF120, which is pinker, darker and a more easy-going shade. I can't say I'm in love with the formula on its own, as it has a tendency to look streaky/greasy, as if it's just sitting on top of the skin in an awkward way. Such a shame given the ah-mazing shade range! Must try Skin Base sometime. But am very happy to have discovered a way to use this one, really enjoying it at the moment!

Powder: the L'Oreal Transparent Mattifying Powder, sadly discontinued ages ago. I bought several of these from eBay when I realised it was no longer available in shops, so I'm now working my way through my stash. The packaging is a bit silly, as surely nobody ever uses the rubbish little brush in the lid - I just unscrew that and use a standard powder brush, obv.

Blush: NARS Douceur. Perfect everyday natural blush. I usually use a MAC 188 with this.

This, plus some mascara and lipbalm, is my standard leaving-the-house routine. I'm impressed by the Murad primer - I don't need to touch up with powder AT ALL during the day. Impressive. Although to be honest more often than not I will just use SPF and powder on top. Because it's only the library. If anything I prefer sticking on a bright lipstick - yesterday I went for MAC Girl About Town and remembered how much I looove it! - to cheer up my face, rather than spending ages on eyeliner etc.

Hope everyone's having a lovely weekend!

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. Today's cheeky Boots haul:

Top to bottom: Soap & Glory Thick & Fast Mascara; Revlon Lip Butters in Macaroon & Sweet Tart, Soap & Glory Lid Stuff eyeshadow quad in Off the Wall Flowers
I fancied picking up these two Lip Butters having seen endless swatches on blogs. I now have six in total, five of which I like - Peach Parfait is the exception, since I find it gritty with obvious unflattering shimmer. I also had a poke around the Soap & Glory makeup, since I'd heard good things about their mascara, and ended up getting both the mascara and this random eyeshadow quad. In the end, the whole lot only cost £21 - the mascara and quad were £10 each, so I ended up with the Lip Butters for 50p each. Win. Chatting to the cashier is always worthwhile! This was something to do with a £2 off voucher which wouldn't scan properly, so he put them through as a pound! Nice one.

I definitely think my Lip Butter collection has grown big enough now. None of the other colours appeal to me as they're all too pale/shimmery, so I'll concentrate on actually wearing what I've got - revolutionary, I know. Will report back on the S&G bits at a later date when I've given them a whirl!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Skincare Routine (Of Sorts)

I've rounded up the products I'm currently using to cleanse/tone/moisturise/all that jazz. I have normal to combination skin, with a T-zone that can get pretty darn oily at times; I also have fairly big pores around my nose, which I hate. I get a few spots round my chin now and then. This is what I use pretty much every day...

L-R: Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, Instant Boost Skin Tonic (attractive muslin cloth out of shot)
1. Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser

Not much to say about this as every blogger and their cat uses it, so I'm sure you've come across it before even if you don't use it yourself! I've been using this for nearly a year now, and have stuck with it, which is more than I can say about any previous cleanser I've used. It is expensive (in fact I need to re-order, ouch!) but it's really gentle and gets your face clean effectively. Surprisingly, I quite like the faff with the muslin cloth - I thought I'd hate it, especially having to wash the cloths so frequently, but I actually find it quite therapeutic and no bother at all.

I first tried this because I was getting sick of the harsh anti-blemish face washes I kept buying from Boots, especially the common ones with a scrub element. I used to use those face mask type products from Soap & Glory, like The Fab Pore and No Clogs Allowed, but after a while I found they stung my skin and made it feel tight and uncomfortable. Not cool, especially since I've never had sensitive skin at all. Another product in the same vein which I used to use but now wouldn't go back to is the oddly popular St. Ives Apricot Scrub line.

In fact I think I turned to Liz Earle after a baaaad experience with Clinique's god-awful "3-step programme". Suffice it to say that rubbing my face with pure alcohol didn't do wonders for my skin - the "clarifying lotion" (I think I even bought the mildest one) gave me delightful red dry patches across my cheeks, which is pretty impressive given that I don't have dry skin. Nice one Clinique.

In conclusion, I think I will be repurchasing the Liz Earle for a long while to come, and I definitely recommend it if you haven't tried it already! (If someone wants to step into the breach and buy me this subscription to the cleanser of my dreams, they are of course very welcome.)

2. Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic

This couldn't be further removed from the evil alcohol water purveyed by Clinique for the "toning" step. It's incredibly gentle, and smells like a National Trust shop (you know, kind of herbal/floral/wholesome, probably with a sprinkling of tasteful tea towels). Initially I thought I wouldn't buy this again, but I'm completely converted - it gets rid of the last traces of makeup and cleanser, and gives your face a lovely fresh feeling.

L-R: Alpha-H SPF 50+ Moisturiser, La Roche Posay Fluide Extreme SPF 50+
3a) Daytime - Alpha-H Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF 50+

I am trying to be good and use this every day. Another pricey one, but the best I've found in terms of finish and texture. It doesn't dry completely matte (this would be a miracle, I think), but it doesn't interfere with makeup on top, and it doesn't pill or otherwise make a nuisance of itself. I've repurchased this many times from LookFantastic, so if you're looking for a high-SPF daily sunscreen for oily/combo skin, I recommend giving this a go.

Mini sunscreen rant: I've tried a couple of other high-factor daily wear facial sunscreens, given my fear of tanning/wrinkles/freckles etc. There was a La Roche Posay SPF 50 offering (Anthelios XL Fluide Extreme, to be precise - pictured above), which was really runny and hard to apply. Then there was the Clinique Super City Block Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 40 (copy and paste job there), which was, frankly, awful. For starters, it turned out to be tinted (i.e. orange), which was not obvious at all from the packaging - I wouldn't have bought it had I known this, at least not without testing the shade, since I'm wary of "one-colour-fits-all" tinted products. It's marketed as an "invisible primer", which is far from the truth in my experience - not only was it orange, it also pilled and rubbed off like crrrazy while blending into the skin, even before you dared to put foundation over the top. I persevered with this for longer than I should have because I wanted it to be a great product, but had to chuck it in the end (which is why it doesn't make an appearance in the photo). In fact, I don't think I'd bother buying anything else from Clinique, given my negative experiences of their products so far and the vast range of great brands out there. If you're a Clinique fan, though, do drop me a comment about your favourite products, as I always like to try stuff out on recommendations!

So, I'm perpetually on the look-out for good SPF 50 or so facial sunscreens, but will be sticking to my Alpha-H for now...

Top: Liz Earle moisturiser; bottom: La Roche Posay Effaclar K
3b) Night-time - La Roche Posay Effaclar K / Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturiser (Normal/Combo Skin)

I mentioned the Liz Earle moisturiser in my last post - I've been using it under NARS Sheer Glow foundation in an attempt to sort out the patchy/flaky bits the foundation reveals/creates(?). I've only used it a handful of times, and it does the job of hydrating the skin without being too greasy. Can't really comment on long-term effects though.

I bought La Roche Posay Effaclar K when LRP products were on offer in the big Boots on Oxford Street. I'd heard quite a bit about it on blogs, specifically Dee's very informative post on the Effaclar range, so when I got a major breakout around my chin (I swear it's related to leaning my chin on my hand all the time when I'm studying!) I wanted a new product to sort it out. This did the job impressively! I applied it morning and night for a few weeks, and it cleared my skin up excellently. It dries down pretty fast so makes a decent base for makeup. I would definitely repurchase this in future. I also picked up the Effaclar Duo, which I'll be trying when this runs out (which will be soon - it doesn't last particularly long). This range is fairly pricey when not on offer, though, and this tube didn't last me all that long.

L-R: Bioderma Crealine H2O Solution Micellaire, Boots Botanics Soothing Eye Make Up Remover
Wildcard: Bioderma Crealine H20 Makeup Remover

My friend visited from France and left me half a bottle of this because she couldn't fit it in her suitcase. I was nerdily excited to try it, since so many bloggers rave about it. And it is pretty damn amazing - incredibly neutral, perfume-free, takes off makeup without rubbing, and doesn't leave residue. I definitely will be picking up more of this when I go to Paris this summer! Recently, I foolishly repurchased the Boots Botanics oil cleanser (the one with two layers that you shake up, which is called the Soothing Eye Make Up Remover) with a voucher I had, forgetting I really didn't like it last time I tried it - horrible warm feeling on the eyes, and leaves so much residue you might as well have dipped your face in cooking oil. I've been using the Botanics and not enjoying it much, so I was very interested to try a non-oil-based makeup remover. Shame Bioderma is such a pain to get hold of in the UK!

OK, it turns out I had a surprising amount to say about skincare. Whaddaya know. Apologies if I expressed my distaste for your favourite product here, goes to show how subjective skincare is! If you have any recommendations for good everyday sunscreens/eye makeup removers, let me know!

Till next time,

Josephine x

Monday, 2 April 2012

New Things Edition I: Face Things

So it has been an age since my last post! Meaning I have acquired quite a few new things in the meantime. Kicking off with...


L-R: Murad Oil-Control Mattifier SPF 15,  NARS blushes in Douceur and Deep Throat, NARS Sheer Glow foundation in Siberia, Topshop blush in Head Over Heels, Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturiser (normal/combo skin)
L-R: NARS Douceur, NARS Deep Throat, Topshop Head Over Heels
Top to bottom: NARS Douceur, NARS Deep Throat, Topshop Head Over Heels (OMG IT'S OUTSIDE)
First up, NARS. Having seen various bloggers of the pale persuasion wear Douceur with aplomb, I was keen to try it out. I'd previously overlooked it at counters in favour of a few more eye-catching shades, since it is pretty unremarkable in the pan (i.e. at first glance it's a boring matte rosy brown, which also looks dull swatched above), but recently fancied a neutral blush to balance my collection, which is impractically heavy on loud pinks and the like. So I trotted along to Selfridges after classes one day, and ended up buying it. I now wear it nearly every day, with any colour lipstick or eyeshadow, for a perfectly neutral, natural cheek, without fuss or shimmer. Brightens up and defines the face, without being overbearing. Bold claim: if I only had one blush, ever, it would probably be this one, for sheer versatility and wearability. (Maybe.)

Frankly, the raved-about Deep Throat pales in comparison as far as I'm concerned. I've hardly worn it since buying it for about £15 on Buyapowa over a month ago. It's a pretty, shimmery peachy pink, and I'm sure I'll wear it more in the summer, but I'm not overly enthused about it to be honest. At least I got it cheap!

The other new blush in my stable(?) is Topshop's cream blush offering in Head Over Heels. Not quite sure why I bought this - I was in the Oxford Circus Topshop to look at the lipsticks (I can't be the only person who shrinks in fear from the prospect of buying clothes in that shop, it's basically a rugby scrum), and came away with this too. I do love my Topshop cream blushes, so I suppose my collector's mentality came out (especially because it's only £6). Confession: I haven't worn it yet. Oops. But it is very pretty, and I love the formula.

A sideline: why the heck have Topshop discontinued all the colours in this formula except Head Over Heels, Neon Rose & Flush? They're all squarely in the bright peach/coral family, and the testers sitting side by side are verrrry similar. The neutral one, Nutmeg, is my favourite! And there are now no cooler tones/pinks in the line at all. Bizarre. Sort it out, Topshop. (I do love your amazing lipsticks though - a story for another day.)

I also picked up NARS Sheer Glow in Siberia from Cami's blogsale. I had hesitated to buy this full price (about £30), but couldn't resist it when a bargain popped up! So far, I'm on the fence about this. It's pale, all right - a smidge yellow for me, but light enough for this not to matter too much when blended. However, it accentuates dry/flaky patches I hadn't even noticed before! I don't own any other foundations which do this, so was a bit surprised, especially as it's aimed at people with drier skin (I have normal/combo).  It went on slightly better when I slathered on moisturiser beforehand the second time round, but I'm a bit unimpressed so far, having heard so many people praise this so highly! Still, I shall persevere. And the paleness makes me happy.

The Murad Oil-Control Mattifier was a spur-of-the-moment online purchase after seeing it recommended on the Beauty Boudoir. It was available (relatively) cheaply on Look Fantastic, and as a fairly shiny person I thought I'd give it a try. So far I've mainly used it in the evenings, since in the daytime I tend to use my SPF 50 Alpha-H moisturiser, especially now it's actually sunny. It acts like a primer, leaving a smooth surface for foundation etc, and it definitely reduces shine. It's looking good so far!

Finally, I also threw in my pot of Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturiser (normal/combo skin one) - I've had this for a pretty long time and never ever used it, but when Sheer Glow started going all flaky and worrying I whipped this out of my drawer and gave it a go. I wouldn't really use it on my T-zone, especially my chin as it's pretty damn oily (ick), but on cheeks etc it's good stuff - fairly non-greasy and easily absorbed. Will definitely be using this more from now on!

And now got to dash, since my deadline is ticking ever nearer (oh lordy). Next up: lip things, feat. Topshop and Revlon.

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. Bonus picture of animals frolicking in the sun...

L-R: Bertie and Dennis

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Brush-Free Makeup for the Hungover

We've all been there: you've woken up after a night out, feeling less-than-ideal, and need to look presentable (i.e. less shit) as soon as possible. Without the benefit of good lighting, an enormous stash of products, or indeed any brushes (in the likely event that you've stayed over at a friend's/boyfriend's house and therefore don't have any brushes, or just can't be bothered with the whole brush thing).

This is how I would do it...

L-R: 17 BB Makeup, Collection 2000 Concealer, Topshop Blush in Flush
 I'd go for some kind of foundation type stuff you can slap on with your fingers, to even out the inevitable blotchy/dull bits. My current choice is 17 Blemish Balm All-in-One Magic Makeup in Light - because if you ever need magic makeup, it's when you're feeling/looking distinctly worse for wear. Surprisingly, this is pale enough even for me, partly because it's light coverage and easy to blend. Winner. I think Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum would also work well here.

Stick on some concealer where required. Like the rest of the world, I favour the Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer, in Fair. (Irrelevant observation: I think they've now dropped the crazy futuristic "2000" part of their moniker, leaving the bizarrely abstract and meaningless "Collection". Fair enough.)

Blush is pretty much essential to avoid looking like the undead if you're very pale like me. Cream blushes are the way forward in these situations. I'd choose Topshop Cream Blush in Flush (or Nutmeg, the neutral colour). And it has a mirror - handy.

L-R: MAC Bare Study, Rimmel mascara, Topshop white kohl
First up, neutral-coloured sparkly stuff will help. MAC Paint Pot in Bare Study is ideal. Smear this liberally all over the lid with your finger, possibly on the browbone too if you're keen. Dab some on the inner corners too, as this will distract from how knackered you look.

Next, mascara. If you suffer from dark circles, maybe skip the lower lashes. I'm using Rimmel Lash Accelerator in Extreme Black (now with even more black!).

Desperate times, desperate measures - white kohl. On the waterline. You might look a little crazy, but this is probably better than the bloodhound effect. (If you have a tasteful flesh-coloured pencil liner, go with that. I only have Topshop Kohl in Frost, a glaring matte white. Keeping it classy.)

L-R: Revlon Lip Butter in Sugar Plum, 17 Mirror Shine Lipstick in Belle; front: Lanolips
 Your most basic option here is a heavy-duty lip balm, for the predictable dehydrated lips - Lanolips 101 Ointment is my top choice. (Must investigate the tinted versions some time.)

A bit of colour may well be your friend here, however. I'd go for something glossy and easy to apply, like a Revlon Lip Butter (I like Sugar Plum), or 17 Mirror Shine Lipstick in a neutral colour - when I went to look at these I wanted the super-popular Beehive, like the sheep that I am, but it was way too pale, too peachy, and too much like MAC Hue for my taste, so I went for the darker, more wearable pink Belle, which is lovely.

At this point you're pretty much done. Congratulations, you look more like a normal person now! However, if you have a few extra minutes, how about some optional extras?

Clockwise from top: No. 7 pressed powder. Stella McCartney Stella, Jemma Kidd highlighter
Now is the time to fake a youthful, healthy glow with a cream highlighter. In a pinch, you could dab MAC Bare Study or other pale cream eyeshadow of your choice along your cheekbones (gotta love a multi-tasking product, though subtle this ain't). If I was feeling fancy, I'd go for the ludicrously-named yet foolproof Jemma Kidd Dewy Glow All Over Radiance Creme in Iced Gold - the "All Over" bit really is outstandingly redundant, though I suppose you could smear this all over your face if you wanted. Added bonus: a really big mirror to do your makeup in (though I have been known to do mine using the mirror in the Topshop blushes).

Grab some pressed powder if you're prone to shininess, and dust over your T-zone. I use No. 7 Perfect Light Pressed Powder in Translucent.

Finally, spritz some perfume - this will give the illusion of being more rested/groomed/clean than you actually are. The only bottle I have small enough to bother packing in an overnight bag is Stella McCartney Stella EDP (have they stopped doing the printed bottles now?? I'm sad about this), which fortunately happens to be a lovely fresh floral scent, perfect for spring.

TA-DAH! You are now ready to stumble out into the bright, noisy world in search of a very large coffee. Good luck!

Till next time,

Josephine x

Thursday, 8 March 2012


Yeah, I went there. (I'm pretty sure I'm not the first and I won't be the last - just felt compelled to do it!)

Taupe is a pretty magical colour. As far as I'm concerned, a taupe is somewhere along the spectrum between grey and brown. (A great blogger who is particularly passionate about taupe is Elvira of The Pink Sith, who has an awe-inspiring collection!) I gravitate towards the greyer taupes, since I'm so cool-toned (as I may have mentioned an obnoxious number of times in my previous post, apologies!), but since lots of "true" greys turn blue/silver on the skin when blended, or are too dark and harsh for daytime, taupes are some of my staple daily shadows. This may be deviating from the "taupe" brief somewhat, but I also class purple-toned greys in the same general category of "wearable every neutral-ish colours", so I've included them here.

This post was prompted by my acquisition of the Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 Hour Eyeshadow in Tough As Taupe, from Stacey's blogsale. Having heard lots about these on various blogs, I was v. excited to be able to try them in the flesh, so to speak. (I also picked up Audacious Asphalt and Bold Gold, of which more another time.) I don't know if these are going to launch in the UK at all, but they're basically a version of cream potted shadows, in the same vein as MAC Paint Pots/Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadows. Here's hoping they do make an appearance on these shores, as my impressions are pretty good so far!

Here are all the taupes I pulled from my collection:

Top row, L-R: NARS Lhasa, Ruby & Millie Beige 840P, Chanel Illusoire.

Middle row, L-R: Maybelline Tough as Taupe, Benefit Skinny Jeans, Illamasqua Hollow.

Bottom row, L-R: MAC Morning Frost, MAC Copperplate, MAC Satin Taupe.

Here are swatches of what I think of as the purple-toned taupes:

Top to bottom: NARS Lhasa, Ruby & Millie Beige 840P, Chanel Illusoire, MAC Satin Taupe
I've raved about NARS Lhasa before, so I won't add much here, except to say this is the perfect colour for a daytime slightly smoky eye. It doesn't photograph brilliantly (not helped by the fact I'm not a brilliant photographer), but in person it's more purple, with a subtle shimmer/sheen. Gorgeous.

I think Ruby & Millie Beige 840P (I absolutely hate brands with numbered shades!) might be discontinued - I don't think Boots stocks the range any more, at least. But if you can get hold of this, I highly recommend it! Amazing buttery formula, incredibly pigmented (much more so than Lhasa). Basically a cooler version of Satin Taupe, as you can see from the swatches.

Chanel Illusion D'Ombre in Illusoire. These did the blog rounds last year sometime, and I just had to get this colour (especially with money off on the Debenhams website). A shimmery (almost glittery, really) purple-grey? Yes please. I don't plan on picking up any other shades, but this bizarre sponge/gel hybrid formula is brilliant - buildable, blendable, long-lasting.

MAC Satin Taupe must be one of their most famous eyeshadows. It's a good frost, pretty pigmented and shimmery rather than glittery. This is a plummy cool brown - looks great in the crease with Phloof! or Vex on the lid. I'm definitely glad I bought into the hype on this one!

And the rest:

Top to bottom: Maybelline Tough as Taupe, Benefit Skinny Jeans, Illamasqua Hollow, MAC Morning Frost, MAC Copperplate.
Tough as Taupe is a grey-brown elephant-coloured taupe, quite dark - basically a cream version of Copperplate, one of my favourite MAC shadows. It's very pigmented, and applies well, but I did find it creased after about four hours' wear, so next time I'd wear this with a primer underneath. Very pleased with this!

Benefit Skinny Jeans Creaseless Cream Shadow is a bit different, more like a grey-green. I rarely wear this, but now I've swatched it, it's going in my everyday makeup bag! The formula is a bit drier and harder than the Maybelline shadow or the MAC Paint Pots, but it's very pigmented, applies smoothly and blends out well.

A multi-purpose product always appeals to me, so Illamasqua Hollow Cream Pigment, a cool-toned brown, is a bit of a winner - I use it on the eyes for a neutral matte wash, or on the cheeks for a subtle contour. Quite a dry stiff formula, but long-lasting and easy to apply with fingers.

I'm being a bit cheeky here by including two colours that aren't in the stores - MAC Morning Frost came out in a winter collection last year (hence the white lid). This is the perfect easy everyday neutral to slap on with your fingers for those early morning starts: a shimmery cool brown, light enough to use all over the lid, and you can get away without a primer.

MAC Copperplate is a staple for me. A cross between grey and brown, it's a matte squared (why are there not more of these?), so applies smoothly and is incredibly pigmented and blendable. It's a touch too dark for my brows in daytime, so I use MAC Coquette, but this is a really versatile shade for a light wash over the lid, or deepening the crease. To be honest, this is about as brown a shadow as I can comfortably wear!

So there you have it, my range of taupes! These are definitely some of my favourite shadows - where some people love warm browns, I love these!

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. I finished my coursework, hurrah! It was a close-run thing, but I did it. Phew. Sadly the next deadline is 8th April, but I'm not thinking about that just yet...Hope you're all enjoying the sunshine today!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Rate or Slate #1: MAC Eyeshadow Edition

Having lighted upon an appropriate rhyming pair of words, I give you my version of the up/down, hot/not, in/out feature.


Out with the old, in with the new - MAC Vex
This might just be my all-time favourite MAC eyeshadow - and I own thirty-one in total. It's certainly the first  eyeshadow I ever finished.

Questionable swatch photo ahoy!
This is one of the good frosts - applies smoothly, without chunky glitter, just shimmer. MAC describes this as "beige with pink-green pearl" - I agree about the duochrome pearl effect, but I see more silver/grey than beige. (Maybe a very cool-toned beige.) 

This is the perfect all-over lid colour for me, either to wear on its own or with a grey/purple (such as MAC Blackberry or Satin Taupe, or NARS Lhasa) in the crease. I 100% recommend that you give this a swatch next time you're at a MAC counter/store, if you're in the market for a wearable yet unique everyday lid/highlight colour. I am very pinky-pale, with blue/grey eyes, so I definitely favour cool-toned eyeshadows, and this is the best neutral I've found so far!

Which brings me neatly (kind of) on to...


L-R: All That Glitters, Woodwinked
These are truly awful on me. As in, they're orange. Now, I know orange-toned eyeshadows are supposed to flatter blue eyes, but who cares if your eyes look bluer if you look distinctly ill/exhausted, with red eyes and grey skin? Bluer eyes be damned!

Top: All That Glitters; bottom: Woodwinked
These are both veluxe pearls, so they're super pigmented and smooth. And, in their own right, they're gorgeous colours, which look great on lots of people - just not generally people with my colouring, I imagine.

Top: All That Glitters; bottom: Woodwinked
These blended-out swatches really show the orange tones, particularly in Woodwinked. The change is actually quite dramatic, from the warm gold of the first swatch, to the fairly strident orange below.

Anyway, All That Glitters is a warm peach which is verrry popular - but on me it's not only too warm, it's too dark to use as a lid colour really. I have tried to wear this a few times in the past, especially since it's such a nice formula, but without much success. I will probably give this another whirl in summer, with peachy blush and some (gasp) bronzer, but it's not my favourite look by a long shot, and I'd always reach for something else in preference to be honest.

Woodwinked can look OK, if not particularly flattering, for a dramatic summer evening eye, if I use a primer (usually Too Faced Shadow Insurance), lots of black liner and mascara, and try not to blend it out too much so it doesn't turn lurid orange. But frankly there's never really a time when I can be bothered to use a product which works against my skin-tone so radically.

I would never repurchase either of these - not that I'll ever use them up. God knows why the sales girls encouraged me to buy these, rather than more suitable cooler-toned colours. These were among the first MAC shadows I ever bought, mainly on the strength of the enormous amount of blogger hype - so many girls listed these two among their favourite colours, that I just had to have them! Sad but true.

As always, these are just my personal opinions based on my experience with the shades mentioned. All That Glitters and Woodwinked suit a lot of people, but they absolutely don't work on my super-pale, cool-toned skin, which is such a shame!

Hopefully this will become a regular feature, since it encourages me to pick two or three products rather than ramble on endlessly about 20 in one post!

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. It's so very wrong, but I am intermittently tempted by colours like Bronze and Antiqued, even though I know they'd look awful on me in the manner of Woodwinked. Curse you, MAC!

Current Preoccupations

I have a pretty addictive personality. This can be good - I usually throw myself into things and get very enthusiastic about them. It can also be bad - everything in moderation, etc. Here is a choice selection of what's been preoccupying me over the last week!

SONG: "Don't Unplug Me", by ALL CAPS. This came out in 2010 but I've recently rediscovered it, and am obsessed. Previous obsessions (according to, which I only signed up to last January sadly - think of all that music being listened to unrecorded, so to speak) are "Pop the Glock" by Uffie, and "Beat Control" by Tilly and the Wall.

ALBUM: Still Foe's Bad Dream Hotline. Brilliant stuff - every track is worth a listen (or five - I actually had to buy the CD, thanks to Spotify's incredibly irritating five-plays-and-you're-out rule. I miss the old days).

BOOK: M.R. James's ghost stories (available cheaply from Amazon). I never read actual horror fiction (i.e. anything gory), since it just doesn't appeal to me, but these are chilling little gems: mannered, yes, but brilliantly effective.

FOOD: Salted chocolate (specifically the Lindt kind). I've also been making occasional batches of plain vanilla biscuits (courtesy of Nigella Lawson's must-own The Domestic Goddess). Also jelly - the kind where you snip up the cubes with scissors and make it yourself, obv. Nostalgia in a wibbly-wobbly spoonful. Strawberry or raspberry are the best flavours. And jelly should not have bits of fruit in it, since that just ruins its bizarre translucent glory. (Only possible exception: really good trifle on a summer's day.)

Not my jelly
YOUTUBER: Kathy from JustKissMyFrog. (It was actually her February Outfits video that reminded me of the addictive ALL CAPS song mentioned above, which makes her awesome already.) If you aren't already subscribed to her, I highly suggest you do so now! I absolutely love the eclectic (had to use that word) mix of videos she makes, which are hilarious, personal and insightful, usually all at the same time.

WEARING: Grey everything - jumpers, skirts, cardigans. My style at the moment is basically school uniform chic (and the "chic" part is questionable). From the ages of 11 to 16 I wore a black watch tartan kilt to school every day, and I now own three kilts in different tartans which I've found in charity shops and shortened to above the knee, to be worn with red or black roll neck jumpers. (Red is pretty much the only colour I wear at the moment.)

Dream jumpers
NAILS: Nothing! This is pretty revolutionary for me, since I wore nail varnish pretty much constantly since I left school (where we weren't allowed to wear it). I felt my nails deserved a bit of a break, since they weren't in great shape, so I haven't had nail varnish on since New Year. The downside of this is that my huge nail varnish collection (featuring Barry M and Models Own heavily) is sitting unused at the bottom of my wardrobe!

So, there you have a sprinkling of the things I'm enjoying at the moment. No makeup! I will be starting a hot or not, up or down style feature, which will be about makeup (of course), when I next take a break from the world's dullest coursework essay.

Till next time,

Josephine x

PS. Random photos are from