Friday, 27 January 2012

My Perfume Collection

I am definitely not one of those people who's happy to have one perfume on the go until they finish the bottle (because how boring and sensible would that be?). I love the idea of a "signature scent" by which people can recognise you even in the dark (handy!), but I also love mixing it up perfume-wise. Living at home at the moment means I get to use my mother's perfumes as well, so I've included the ones we share in this post. Usual disclaimer about my general incompetence when it comes to describing perfumes - this is something I'd really love to learn more about! I will pop links to some wonderful perfume blogs I've come across below.

L-R: Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lilia Bella EDT, Calvin Klein Eternity EDP, Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb EDP, Stella McCartney Stella EDP,
and (front) Thierry Mugler Angel EDP

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lilia Bella EDT: First off, I should point out that this is apparently discontinued. Boo. For those interested in Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria line, the Perfume Shrine has an excellent post on the topic. This fragrance is basically lily of the valley with a splash of lilac - light, floral, fresh, and perfect for springtime.

Calvin Klein Eternity EDP: This one was a present. I really don't like getting perfume as a gift - this sounds pretty obnoxious, but my justification is if I haven't chosen and tested it myself the chances of me liking it are slim, and it's pretty awful for someone to spend what's usually a significant amount of money on a present I won't use. I also don't really understand the practice of asking someone for a particular perfume as a gift - if you're going to specify exactly what you want, why not just ask them for the cash and buy it yourself? With that mini-rant out of the way (oops!), back to Eternity itself. Apparently it has notes of Freesia, Mandarin, Sage, Muguet, White Lily, Patchouli, and Sandalwood. I find it quite spicy (peppery) and citrus-y, something I don't particularly enjoy. To be honest I would never have bought this for myself.

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb EDP: Let me start off by saying I will definitely be repurchasing this when it runs out, regardless of the high price! Victoria of Bois de Jasmin has a lovely review on this, so I'll limit myself to a few obvious observations: for starters, this is probably one for sweet-toothed perfume wearers only! Definitely a gourmand fragrance, which will appeal to dessert lovers. Easy to wear, warm and delicious. Vanilla & jasmine with a dash of patchouli. Gorgeous!

Stella McCartney Stella EDP: This is my latest purchase (heavily influenced by the cute bottle, I'm not going to lie) which I bought after borrowing it from a friend. Already over halfway through the bottle - I'm in a phase of wearing this most days. Great daytime floral - first impression is ROSES, and it dries down to a fairly warm, woody amber on the skin. For a more nuanced analysis, see Now Smell This. I'll be repurchasing this (and not only to acquire another of the three printed bottles!).

Thierry Mugler Angel EDP: God knows how many bottles of this stuff I've gone through - I'd never be without it! This is incredibly popular, so you've probably encountered it before, if not in a department store then on a crowded train or similar. Because this stuff is potent! I happen to adore it, but it's definitely a try-before-you-buy situation. Massive amounts of patchouli to balance out the in-your-face vanilla/honey sweetness. Not a subtle, girly perfume by any stretch of the imagination! Notes include bergamot, helional, hedione, red berries, dewberry, honey, patchouli, vanilla, coumarin, chocolate, sandalwood and caramel. One of those fragrances everyone should try at some point! I've been through phases of wearing only this for about a year at a stretch, and will doubtless be going back to it soon. It's probably more of a winter fragrance due to its warmth and sweetness, which can be a tad cloying in summer, but I stubbornly wear it all year round anyway.

L-R, top to bottom: Armani Code EDP, Lancome Hypnose EDP, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle EDP, Vera Wang Princess EDT, Nina Ricci Nina EDT, Dior Miss Dior Cherie EDP

Armani Code EDP: Sephora's website describes this as a "blend of zesty blood orange, ginger, and pear sorbet softened with hints of sambac jasmine, orange blossom, and lavender honey, warmed with precious woods and vanilla." So there. My bottle is ancient, only half full, and probably went south a while back. I loved this a few years ago, but never wear it any more. It's a pleasant enough fruity, summery scent, but pretty generic, and I would never repurchase.

Lancome Hypnose EDP: I class this in the same category as Angel - heavy, punchy, vanilla-with-a-twist. It's basically oriental vanilla/vetiver/passion flower, and it lasts for ages on the skin. I love this in winter - think this is my second bottle. As with Angel, this can give you a headache if you're over-liberal!

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle EDP: top notes of bergamot and orange, a heart of jasmine and rose, and base notes of patchouli, vetiver, vanilla, and the ubiquitous white musk. Another very popular one - a pretty, girly floral, with just enough sophistication to save it from the tweenage market. I don't wear this as often as I used to, but it's nice in spring/summer. When this bottle runs out I doubt I'd repurchase.

Vera Wang Princess EDT: In my defence, this was purchased by my mother. I'd previously encountered it when recommending it to male friends as a present for a girl who liked the Juicy Couture perfumes (this is what happens when you leave perfume choices to men!). I do wear it now and then in summer, as it's pleasant enough. Top notes are apparently "lady apples, water lily, golden apricot and mandarin meringue", with "a heart of ripe pink guava, Tahitian tiare flower, wild tuberose and dark chocolate", and a drydown of "vanilla chiffon, pink frosting, precious amber and forbidden woods". Right. Lady apples? Forbidden woods? How the hell can chiffon, meringue, or frosting even be notes? Who knows. This bears some similarity to Flowerbomb, but I'd go for the latter in preference every time. This is basically pink fruit and vanilla - the mass-produced cupcake of the perfume world.

Nina Ricci Nini EDT: I've got to say, the cutesy apple bottle is strike one against this perfume. This is another of my mother's purchases (not that she actually wears it!). Comparable to Princess - toffee apple, cotton candy, and vanilla. Pretty sickly stuff. Here's Victoria's excellent review.

Dior Miss Dior Cherie EDP: I bought an enormous bottle of this in duty free many years ago, because I thought it smelt of watermelons (such a discerning teenage consumer). I finally finished that bottle far too recently (it had definitely gone off, but I determinedly wore it till the end!). Notes include mandarin, strawberry leaf, violet, jasmine, caramel popcorn, wild strawberry sorbet, musk, and patchouli. There's a blindingly obvious trend towards Sweet Things emerging here! This is sweet and fruity, with caramelised sugar and strawberry being the dominant impressions. Inoffensive and very girly, I still wear this occasionally - and it's a very cute bottle!

I also own and wear Thierry Mugler Alien, and Dior Pure Poison, but these mysteriously absented themselves when I was photographing, and this post is probably quite long enough already (sorry about that!).

I think I can safely conclude I'm in a pretty serious perfume rut! (I can also conclude that I have a headache from all that sniffing, but that's by the by.) I'm keen to branch out a bit; perfumes on my mental list to try at some point include some by Tom Ford (Violet Blonde, Black Orchid, Tobacco Vanille), Annick Goutal (Mon Parfum Chéri), and Serge Lutens (Jeux de Peau, Tubereuse Criminelle). Oh yes, and I can't help wanting Prada Candy - which smells like you'd imagine, lots of caramel, vanilla and benzoin! Also my mother is getting Illamasqua Freak for her birthday from me, so I'll be stealing lots of that too.

Insert a gratuitous pretty Miss Dior Cherie advert here:

And finally, a shameful perfume confession: I gave away Guerlain's Mitsouko, legend though it is, because it smelt of pepper and cloves on me. This doesn't bode well for my future blossoming into a sophisticated perfumista...

Excellent perfume blogs:

Till next time,

Josephine x

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Procrastination Courtesy of Pinterest

So, I got hooked on Pinterest today. Not great timing given the essay due in this evening, but what can you do.

Follow me on Pinterest

Image from Because I'm now addicted to that too.

Some time I will figure out how to remove the silly grey lines Blogger puts around images. [Edit: ta-dah!]

And now, back to the essay. I may have to unplug the internet, but by God I'll finish it. It's on the British constitution, the separation of powers, the rule of law, all the fun stuff (not that you wanted to know).

Coming soon: perfume collection.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Everyday Face of the Moment

Here we have all the products I use in my standard daily makeup routine. Scary.

 That's a whole lotta makeup. It's probably more sensible if I divide it up into vague categories, since listing it all here would be loooong (I tried it. It was).

Face products

L-R, top to bottom: NARS blush in Sin, MAC Mineralize Skin Finish in Lightscapade, Alpha-H Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF 50+, Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum in the lightest shade, Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection concealer in fair, and No. 7 translucent pressed powder.

I rarely wear foundation, but if I do feel like it, I blend in a small amount of this Bourjois one down the centre of my face, where I need a bit more coverage. Usually I just stick to concealer and powder - I definitely need powder after applying sunscreen, as it does look shiny, particularly till it dries. I'm trying to wear sunscreen every day, even though it feels (and probably is) bonkers putting it on when it's grey and cloudy outside.

Then I swipe on my latest favourite blush, NARS Sin, which is a gorgeous wearable plum with a bit of gold shimmer, and a quick dusting of Lightscapade on top of my cheekbones (such as they are). I was going to photograph the brushes I use, but a) this post would be even longer and b) they're dirty, as usual. For the record: I do own the Sigma F80 flat-top kabuki, but if I'm in a rush and want to slap on a bit of this foundation I just use my fingers, as I do with the sunscreen. I use a MAC 188 for this blush, the amazing Illamasqua highlighting brush for the MSF.

Eye products

Top to bottom: L'Oreal Super Liner in carbon gloss, Benefit They're Real! Mascara, Too Faced Shadow Insurance, MAC Paint Pot in Bare Study, MAC eyeshadows in (L-R) Crystal Avalanche, Vex, Dazzlelight, Coquette, and Copperplate.

This tube of the Too Faced eyeshadow primer has lasted me for absolutely ages, and it works brilliantly to keep eyeshadow on all day without creasing/disappearing (my mother is also a convert to this stuff!). However, when I went to the Oxford St Boots to repurchase (it's hard to find the brand in all but the biggest stores), I found it had gone up by FIVE POUNDS, to £16.50. At least, I'm pretty sure I only paid £11.50 or thereabouts last time I bought it. Now uncertain whether I'd purchase again at that price, but I shouldn't be running out any time soon. I'd also like to try the classic Urban Decay Primer Potion and MAC Painterly Paint Pot - should probably steer clear of the NARS one if I'm complaining about price!

I love the effect of this Benefit mascara, which everyone has been raving about - long, voluminous lashes with curl. So what's not to like? Well, firstly the price; I used a £5 off voucher in Boots, without which I do think it's overpriced. And it's a complete pain to get off at night! Maybe I should invest in a more heavy-duty makeup remover, but I always end up with panda eyes and flakes of black everywhere!

The L'Oreal Super Liner is an old favourite for flicked black eyeliner, which I go through phases of wearing every day. I have tried the Maybelline gel liner with a MAC 210, but I find it too fiddly, and difficult to get a smooth line without expending more effort than I'm willing to make in the mornings!

My eyeshadow standbys are either Bare Study all over the lid for a brightening effect - I just whack this on with my fingers if I need to get out of the door fast - or, for more leisurely mornings, a wash of Vex/Dazzlelight with a bit of Copperplate in the crease, using a MAC 239 and 217. If I'm feeling fancy, I'll pop some Crystal Avalanche in the inner corner for a highlight.

I always run some Coquette through my brows with the Illamasqua angled brush. I only started doing this in August, but now I wouldn't be without it - adds a bit of definition and polish to the face, which has to be a good thing!

Lip products
L-R: MAC lipsticks in Cosmo, See Sheer, Syrup, and Plumful, and Neutrogena lip balm with SPF 20.

These are what I think of as my everyday lipsticks. If I'm feeling super lazy, I just stick on some lip balm and have done with it. The next step up in the grooming stakes is Syrup, which is basically a toned-down version of my lip colour, with some shine to it. Plumful and See Sheer are equally easy to wear (these are all lustre finishes, meaning you do have to reapply quite frequently, but I think the formula works well for the everyday, not too done look), but make a bit more of an impact colour-wise: Plumful, as the name suggests, is a beautiful berry/plummy colour, See Sheer a coral red.

Finally, Cosmo, which may take the title of Favourite MAC Lipstick Ever (quite an achievement given the size of my collection, which is a topic for another day). It's an amplified finish, so packs a bit more punch and lasts longer on the lips - a gorgeous deep rosy pink, similar to my lip colour but a tad darker. Since I'm so pale, this definitely draws more attention to the lips than the other shades mentioned here, but if I'm wearing understated eye makeup I like this effect. This is the one MAC lipstick I anticipate repurchasing. Love.

And there you have it. I'm now wondering if that's a ridiculous amount of makeup to wear for a normal day. Maybe I'll go in to college entirely makeup-free one day next week and see how I feel - I think I'd find blush the hardest thing to give up!

Till next time,

LL x

Friday, 20 January 2012

Dennis the Cat

I haven't got much time today (lunch with a friend plus essaying like crazy), but thought I'd pop up a picture of Dennis.
Dennis arrived in July. We already have a dog, a nine-year-old miniature Schnauzer called Bertie, but we haven't had a cat in years. We picked Dennis (then called Sam) from a roomful of cats in a rescue centre, because he purred the loudest - we'd gone intending to choose a small, black lady cat, and ended up with a ginger & white tom. He is enormous, always hungry, and always around - having had cats in the past who would leave for the day after breakfast and not come back till dinner, this is much appreciated.

Spot the makeup brushes and bottle of Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum in the background...

Photo of Bertie to follow - he gets a bit overexcited when he hears the artificial shutter noise of the camera, so he isn't the most photogenic of dogs.

Till next time,

LL x

Thursday, 19 January 2012

My Blush Collection - Illamasqua

[EDIT: Swatches coming shortly!]

Yesterday was another thrilling day at law school. Today, I'm taking a break from revising EU law to bring you another instalment of my blush collection: Illamasqua.

L-R, top to bottom: Katie, Lover, Sin, Hollow Cream Pigment, Morale, Hussy

As you can deduce from its dusty state, Katie is definitely a favourite. I ordered this shade and Hussy from the Debenhams website one day last summer while bored to tears in the library, hunched over an essay on early modern theatre and legal culture. Katie was the success story of that order: she's a pale baby-pink, fairly neutral in tone, with a matte finish (as always, Temptalia has clearer pics of the product in the pan, but on this occasion I think KarlaSugar's swatch is more helpful on colour). I think it's pretty pigmented, but obviously since it's such a light pink it's unlikely to work well on darker skintones. On me (cool-toned, lighter than MAC foundations - srsly MAC?) it can be built up to a fairly noticeable pink flush, or kept very subtle. Perfect for spring, but I wear this all the time anyway. It has the distinctive Illamasqua blush scent, which is a bit like cake batter. The packaging is OK, a bit bulky and can be fiddly to open but it's nice to be able to see the colour through the lid.

And then we have Lover. This was purchased in Selfridges after I walked in in search of a peachy blush. I never go for peach, so I was interested to try one. This is a delightful fairly pale true peach colour, again matte (see KarlaSugar again - I should really learn to master this swatching business, but there's never any natural light - excuses excuses). I'm still not 100% convinced it works on my colouring, but it makes for a fun change in spring/summer with a peachy lipgloss like Revlon Super Lustrous Coral Reef.

Next up, the colour formerly known as Sin. At least, I think that's what it's called - there's no name on the back. [A quick trawl through my email inbox reveals it is indeed called Sin.] I picked this up in Illamasqua's summer sale for £10, since I was looking for a purple/plum blush. When it arrived I was a bit disappointed it wasn't more blue-toned - it's definitely more plummy than purple - but I've since grown to love it, and wore it for about a month straight in November. It looks terrifying in the pan, in the way of most Illamasqua blushes, and it is very pigmented, but with my trusty MAC 188 you get a surprisingly natural-looking cheek, which of course can be built up for more drama. I don't know if this shade is still available, but it's worth a look if you fancy wintry, plummy cheeks - don't be put off by its vampy appearance in the pan, as it does blend out to a pretty raspberry colour!

Moving on to the next row, we have Hollow cream pigment. Not a blush, but it crept in there any way because I originally bought it for contouring purposes. It's a pretty good colour: a cool brown/taupe, with no hint of red, with a completely matte finish. Certainly closer to the shade I want than MAC Harmony blush. Quite a stiff cream formula, which makes using a brush a bit tricky - fingers are probably best with this, for application if not blending. Charlotte from LipGlossiping has also tried it out as a contour, and wasn't completely convinced. Contouring is definitely something I haven't got the knack/face for personally, and I rarely bother with it on an everyday basis. I also use Hollow alone on the eyes for a very neutral, polished look, if I'm wearing bright lips/cheeks, and it's a pretty good base for other shadows if you so choose.

Morale is one of the brand's two non-matte blushes, released with the Theatre of the Nameless collection last year. The other one is Ambition, a neutral pink, which I don't own (yet). Morale is a very blue-toned pink, almost violet when swatched heavily, which may make it less than ideal for warmer skintones which suit gold/peach shades. This kind of colour has my name written aaaall over it, however, and it's very pretty on the cheeks. The finish is shimmery, not glittery - much as I love Illamasqua's main line of matte blushes, I think this finish is a great variation. I find it very pigmented; however, when my mother used it, she complained it didn't show up on her cream foundation. Since she's also pretty pale, I find this bizarre - in my experience, blush usually sticks more to foundation, especially of the dewy/cream variety, and refuses to blend. Maybe best to get an MUA to apply this over your usual foundation before purchasing. I also find that you get A LOT of powder kicking up when you swirl a brush in this (also true of Katie, but not to the same dramatic extent), which is a shame. Though in my opinion the gorgeous colour alone makes this blush worthwhile!

Lastly, Hussy. Weirdly, I think I've barely worn this since I acquired it. It's a bright, very warm pink, which KarlaSugar aptly describes as "watermelon". Looking at it now, I'm mentally resolving to WEAR THIS when summer comes around - it looks rather lovely! I think it was overshadowed by the more demure Katie when both arrived last summer. It does blend out more red than pink, which is a bit of a shame since the colour in the pan is stunning, but since I wear MAC Frankly Scarlet this shouldn't put me off. Must use more, and see if I can fall in love with it.

While I definitely have no plans to acquire any more matte blushes from the brand (though you know what they say about the best-laid plans), I do have my eye on Ambition, the other shimmery blush. I'd also like to try a colour from the cream blush line - I'll have to pop by Selfridges/the lovely Beak St store at some point to try out the cool pinks (naturally), and maybe the famous Rude. Lies, the pearlescent pink, also looks like it'd be worth a swatch.

And now I will stop fantasising about blush and get back to work! Next up: my two (oh yes, I now have two) NARS blushes.

Till next time,

LL x

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

My Blush Collection - mainly Topshop and MAC

Let me start by saying that I absolutely love blush. It's probably one of my favourite makeup items, both to buy and to wear. I'm very pale with very dark hair, so generally without a bit of colour to my cheeks I can look a bit Twilight-esque (if you'll forgive the reference).

So here are all the blushes I own, on my delightful rumpled duvet (I should really iron more often). In common with a lot of makeup addicts, I don't intentionally "collect", but have somehow ended up with far more blush than I could probably get through in a lifetime (worrying thought). And I still have lots of blushes on my "to swatch with a view to purchasing" list (catchy) - see previous post on this topic.

For years I owned only one blush at a time. I know, I know - those were the days. I think the inaugural blush was one of the Bourjois pot ones, possibly in Rose d'Or or similar, and I actually used the horrible little brush it came with. A good look, I'm sure. I then moved on to the L'Oreal Blush Delicieux, one of which (in the shade Bois de Rose) has survived and is pictured above (small pink square, next to the lonely NARS). I didn't buy a new one until I'd used up the previous one - what kind of crazy talk is that? Anyway I'm pretty sure L'Oreal don't make these any more, so I'll spare you a picture of the dregs I have left.

Then my friend gave me Benefit Posietint for my birthday, which I adored, and which I still think is a good product. It's not everyone's cup of tea - if you don't blend pretty speedily you end up with radiant and unshiftable pink dots on your cheeks, for one thing - but I find it gives a gorgeous natural pink flush which lasts for ages. I don't reach for it much except when it's hot (so that'll be never), but I did finish my original one and repurchase. Another downside: the pink shiny layer on the container does flake off extravagantly with use, leaving the product looking distinctly grotty. I also have the mini samples of Posietint and Benetint which came with Glamour sometime over the summer - can't say I'm overly enamoured of Benetint, a bit too ferocious and ink-like even for my blush-loving tastes.

Then came the release of Topshop makeup (in May 2010, I think - in the run-up to my finals, which of course led to copious amounts of time spent browsing the internet in mild panic). I bought the much-hyped Neon Rose cream blush, and now own four:

L-R: Neon Rose, Pinch, Flush, Nutmeg

These are lovely! Cute and convenient packaging, though it does get a bit dirty with use; handy mirror for touch-ups (I've had Flush in my everyday bag for the past month); great cream-to-powder formula which is matte (I love a matte blush) and blends easily. I just apply and blend with my fingers, mucky pup that I am, as I think using a brush like the MAC 188 would be more hassle than it's worth with these.

Neon Rose and Flush are both listed on the Topshop website, but I'm pretty sure more shades are still stocked in the larger stores. Neon Rose is a brilliant spring/summer colour, which can be a bold, vivid coral or worn blended and (fairly) subtle. Pinch is the one I wear least, since it's easy to overdo this intense raspberry shade, but with the right application it's a lovely pink. Flush is a toned-down version of Neon Rose, a bit more pink and milky, which gives a great day-to-day healthy glow (cliche ahoy), easy to slap on on the train in the mornings! And finally Nutmeg, which as you can see from the pan has had a lot of love in the past - a browny-rose shade, which I imagine NARS Douceur to be like. Very natural, if the slightest bit muddy on my skin tone (this is probably just personal preference, as I like dolly-pink cheeks!). I would definitely buy any new shades released in this formula, especially since they're only £6 each - bargain!

I'll spare you my deeply amateurish swatches taken with flash, and instead direct you to the excellent Delicate Hummingbird, who not only has the blush collection of my dreams but takes better photographs too.

Next up we have MAC.

Clockwise from top left: Something Special; So Sweet, So Easy; Frankly Scarlet; Harmony

Before I get started, I should point out that the frankly awe-inspiring KarlaSugar has amazing swatches of pretty much all MAC blushes known to man/woman. I'm sure you knew that already, but there it is again. As you can see, I actually don't have many MAC blushes. Which is especially surprising, given the sheer volume of MAC lipsticks and eyeshadows I own. To be honest, the appeal of MAC blushes somewhat eludes me, and I'm not keen to change that if I can help it. I did once have a flirtation with the freakishly bright Pro shades, but couldn't face the prospect of buying (and inevitably filling) a palette. Long may this abstinence last!

I think Harmony was my first purchase out of these, ordered online (never a wise move) because I fancied trying my hand at contouring. Having a round face without much definition (which is a nice way of putting it), cheekbones were always the dream, so I was prepared to spend some cash in pursuit of them. Harmony is a decent contour colour for us pale girls - fairly cool in tone, and not overly pigmented. The beautiful Julie uses it to great effect in lots of her looks. However, I've never quite got on with this, and have since taken to using the Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow whenever I have a stab at contouring (which is rarely). Then came Frankly Scarlet, bought after an MUA in the Covent Garden store applied it, which I do love and use. With a light hand and a 188. For wintry Snow White cheeks, or blended even more for a dolly flush.

The two other shades are the new-formula Cremeblend blushes. I bought Something Special on a whim in Debenhams one grey, rainy "summer" day last year, and it really is rather nice: a milky pink coral, for a peachy cheek that's perfect for spring. So Sweet, So Easy was out of stock at the time, so of course after playing with the tester I had to order it online. Less essential than Something Special (but of course), it's a very pale cool-toned pink, not overly pigmented but fun for a subtle, fresh girly look. I will definitely be breaking out both of these colours when (if) the warmer weather rolls round.

A couple more MAC cheek products:

L-R: MAC Lightscapade MSF and Azalea Blossom Blush Ombre

I didn't own a powder highlighter, so I picked up Lightscapade from a recent collection, the name of which escapes me, after hearing lots of good things about it. I do use it daily, and it's a pretty highlight - not too gold for my skintone, which is a plus - but I can't help thinking MAC Dazzlelight eyeshadow does much the same thing for less. Ah well. And then we have Azalea Blossom, which I bought in a blog sale from the lovely Kelly, because Cami had raved about it and it looked purdy. It is purdy - a delicate lilac/pink, which puts it squarely in the realm of Blush-I-Must-Have - but somehow I'm not quite as love with it as I thought I would be. If you fancy picking it up, it's currently available in the Daphne Guinness collection.

So, having written over 1000 words on blush (the mind boggles), I will take a break here, probably have a cup of tea, and cover Illamasqua, my single NARS blush and a few odds and ends in another post.

And finally, I now have a renewed desire to wear a different blush every day, as well as buy several new ones. Success.

Till next time,

LL x

Something a Bit Different: What I'm Reading

On a bit of a different note – my latest Amazon order arrived:
Betty Friedan, The Feminist Mystique (1963)
Kat Banyard, The Equality Illusion (2010)
Cordelia Fine, Delusions of Gender (2010)

I came across a mention of Banyard’s book in a comment on a post on The F-Word blog (I think – anyway here’s the review), and for some reason this sparked off one of my occasional Amazon mini-binges. I'd been meaning to get hold of a copy of Friedan for a while, but never got round to it. During my time at university, I was completely spoiled for choice on the library front, with every book pretty much ever written (or close enough) at my disposal, so I've yet to adjust to the concept of Buying Your Own Books. I'll update you once I've actually read them, but for now, these are the newest additions to my bookshelf, which currently mainly consists of cheap copies of early modern drama and a lot of poetry.

Gender was always the critical perspective to which I was naturally drawn as an undergraduate, even though I deliberately abandoned it for the Masters as too cliched and over-done - but my instinct was to engage with critics and theorists from Judith Butler (even though Gender Trouble, while brilliant, is nigh-on impossible to read!) to the Shakespearean feminists like Juliet Dusinberre and Lisa Jardine. And of course I loved Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar's The Madwoman in the Attic as an eighteen-year-old fresher mad about Hardy and the Brontës. My favourite Finals project was undoubtedly the essay I wrote on gender and linguistics, during which I fell in love with the outspoken (and outdated, but that's another story) critics like Julia Penelope (the astonishing Speaking Freely: Unlearning the Lies of the Fathers’ Tongues) and Dale Spender (Man Made Language - see what she did there?).

Even writing these few paragraphs has made me regret all the books I didn't read when I had the chance, while they were sitting innocently on the library shelves! Sadly my student budget won't stretch to cover them all (especially given that debilitating addiction to blush), so I'll be pacing myself. And we'll have see how long my resolve to keep up "academic" (the in loosest possible sense - the essay-writing days are definitely over for now!) interests lasts in the face of impending law exams...

And speaking of blush - I have a feeling my next post will be on that very subject.

Till next time,

LL x

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Current Wish List

AKA Things I Want to Buy, If Only I Had the Money.

Currently featuring, for the first time ever, a shedload of NARS:
  • Lhasa eyeshadow and Valparaiso Pure Matte lipstick from the new Spring collection. Just because. I recently bought Vesuvio Pure Matte lipstick and I love the formula, so probably won't be able to resist buying one or two more.
  • Carthage Pure Matte lipstick, although this is a very summery shade so I may be able to hold off for a while! That and the fact I already have lipsticks in this colour, but who's counting?
  • And lots of blush: having recently acquired Sin, a gorgeous cool-toned berry with gold shimmer, I now need to try Douceur (raved about by lots of bloggers, including the lovely Estee), Mata Hari, Sex Appeal (I quite like the idea of a blush about as pale as I am, for those bleary mornings when blending is beyond me!), Desire (or Gaiety, the latest release - I love me a bright candy pink!), and the notorious Deep Throat. I realise that is one hell of a lot of blush, oh dear. I'm hoping to sidestep Orgasm, on the grounds of its apparently fairly obnoxious gold glitter, but you never know.
For once, I hardly want anything from MAC - shamefully, I think I own all the permanent eyeshadows and lipsticks that interest me, and I'm not that big on the collections. (Come to think of it, that's a complete lie coming from someone who bought two lipsticks from Iris Apfel and a highlighter from the-collection-with-Lightscapade, the name of which now escapes me.)
  • Am debating the merits of acquiring the MSFs in Blonde and/or Redhead from the Naturally collection. Naturally, I need neither.
  • Since my beloved No. 7 pressed powder is coming to an end once again, and I have yet to come by a £5 off voucher (how is that possible?), I'm interested in trying the much-feted MSF Natural. However, given my vague knowledge of just how dark the lightest MAC foundation shades are, I'm not optimistic it will be pale enough for me.
And finally, the only thing I'm vaguely coveting from Illamasqua is Belladonna Intense Lipgloss, thanks to the gorgeous Cami. I own two of these, in Follow and Fume (LOUD colours, of course), which I picked up in a sale last summer, and they are stunning - amazingly pigmented, and not sticky at all! Which is a special bonus, since sticky lipgloss reminds me of my fourteen-year-old self's obsession with Lancome Juicy Tubes (do those still exist?).

I'm far too terrified to add up how much that little lot would cost, if I did indeed buy all of it. Ignorance is bliss. I'm not even looking at the other Spring collections (Chanel, Guerlain, just say no). So much for a post-Christmas month of self-denial and frugality.

I will keep you updated on how my errant will-power and I get on this month!

Till next time,

LL x

My MAC Neutral Palette

Disclaimer: this is a pretty epic post, apologies!

So I thought I’d post about my MAC neutral eyeshadow palette – because I’m endlessly nosy about what shades other people pick for theirs. Also, when I first started out buying MAC, owning a full palette was the ultimate dream (I now own two, because I’m greedy). And finally, I’m so pale and very cool-toned, so warm colours generally look awful on me – hence my palette has none of the warm browns that look so lovely on other people. I do own the (in)famous Woodwinked and All That Glitters, but I look distinctly ill if I wear them, so they’re relegated to my less-used colours palette, awaiting the day I really want to look like I’ve cried myself to sleep (you never know). I'll pop up a separate post on that palette another time - hopefully admiring all the pretty colours will encourage me actually to use them!

Without further ado, the palette in all its dusty glory:

Left to right, top to bottom:
Crystal Avalanche, Blanc Type, Nylon, Dazzlelight, Phloof!
Vex, Omega, Era, Patina, Satin Taupe
Blackberry, Coquette, Copperplate, Print, Typographic

Given my sadly lacking photography skills, I think swatches might be a bridge too far; there are so many good versions out there (for starters, Temptalia and Karla Sugar, who do a far, far better job that I ever could). So I’ll stick to some descriptions and opinions of each colour.

Crystal Avalanche: This is my latest purchase, which found its way into my basket while buying two Iris Apfel lipsticks. It’s a white shimmer (veluxe pearl I think – I’m not great on the finishes, as they’re not printed on the pans). Not overly impressed so far, since it’s not quite as pigmented as I thought it would be, but it does the job for inner corner highlighting. I’ve only used it once or twice though.

Blanc Type: this is a pale cream, with a matte squared finish. When I first got it I didn’t think I’d use it, as it hardly shows up on my skin tone (just a tad darker/yellower), but it’s great for blending out darker shades, and on its own for a minimal wash of colour over the lid to even things out. Lovely.

Nylon: It was this or Ricepaper, and I’m glad I got this! It’s a white-gold shimmer, without being overly yellow or harsh. Gorgeous highlight.

Dazzlelight: I’ve already bought a replacement pan. Need I say more? Veluxe pearl finish, so it applies like a dream. I love using this as an all-over wash on the lid, or as a highlight. Neutral cream shimmer, with a subtle pink cast (this and the next shadow are as pink as I can sensibly go on the eyes without looking ill). Would repurchase over and over.

Phloof!: Basically a pink-toned version of Nylon. I use this as a highlight with purple or other cool-toned colours, or as an eye-brightening lid colour when I’m feeling lazy. Very shimmery, so if that’s not your thing, maybe go for a shade with a more satin finish.

Vex: Another favourite, as you can tell. Backup already purchased. A unique colour I think. A cross between grey and champagne shimmer, with pink/green sheen. Great all over the lid with a grey or purple in the crease (also just generally great – definitely check this shade out if you’re pale and cool-toned).

Omega: Not 100% sold on this one. I haven’t used it an awful lot, but it’s been in my palette for a few months. It’s a fairly cool mid-brown matte shade, OK in brows, OK in the crease. Not rave-worthy. I definitely didn’t need this one – more a result of the foolish yet overpowering urge to fill up the palette.

Era: I feel this has potential, but I’m yet to discover it in full. It’s basically a slighter lighter version of Omega with a subtle shimmer. I bought this with the intention of wearing it with winged liner and red lips, but I feel I probably already had other colours which do the job. And like Omega this is a smidge warm for me.

Patina: I’m not quite sure how I hit pan on this – a fairly early purchase in my MAC spree, I suppose. It’s lovely though – depending on how much you blend it out, it can be a bronzed brown, or an antiqued gold. I think it has a pink/green duochrome thing going on, but it’s subtle and depends on the light. Just about cool enough for me to wear all over the lid. Worth checking out.

Satin Taupe: Obviously had to own this, given its cult status – though I did um and ah about purchasing for a while. As I’m sure you know, it’s a plummy brown, or a browny plum, depending on how you look at it. Great colour pay-off, lovely on the outer lid with Vex or similar. Deservedly popular I think (though how “taupe” it is remains up for debate).

Blackberry: A muted plummy purple matte shade, great for in the crease. I like this with Vex and/or Phloof! (yes, sadly that shade does have an exclamation mark in its name – cheers MAC). I bought this in preference to all the matte browns MAC seems to do so many of, and it does the job. Can look like a generic crease colour, or more purple if blended out.

Coquette: I never hear this shade talked about on Youtube/blogs, but I love it! It’s a green-toned brown (which sounds, and is, quite weird), which I use every day in my brows – because I live in fear of having red-toned brows if I use a “truer”, warmer brown. Fairly decent pigmentation for a matte colour, but not scarily dark for brow-related purposes. Also good in the crease. Would definitely repurchase.

Copperplate: I love this eyeshadow. The perfect taupe (cool grey-brown – though I’m not completely sure that’s what taupe is). Amazing application and colour pay-off (matte squareds are awesome, why are there not more of them MAC?). I used to use this in my brows pre-Coquette, but I had to be careful to use a light hand.

Print: I bought this ages ago, along with Electra (in my colour palette), but I hardly ever use it. It’s a decent enough satiny mid-grey, but somehow I never reach for it – occasionally for smoky evening looks, which let’s be honest I rarely bother with. Pigmentation isn’t outstanding, but I suppose that’s not what this shade is for. I have definitely found MAC’s selection of greys and grey-toned colours very limited compared to the legions of browns, which is a shame. Though maybe I just need to play around with this one more to give it its due.

Typographic: I bought this in preference to Carbon, which I hadn’t heard great things about. It’s another matte squared, which means it’s impressive on the pigmentation/application side of things – basically a matte black, which is useful to have around but not a daily-use item. I mainly use this as a liner with an angled brush (when I can be bothered, i.e. rarely), or to darken the outer V for evening eyes. Worth having, but probably very dupeable with a cheaper brand.

I now have black eyeshadow all over my hands and keyboard, having been swatching each shadow messily on my fingers while typing (not worth recording in the medium of photography to be honest), so I will stop there. Writing this has definitely inspired me to mix up my eyeshadow choices a bit more, and there are a few relative non-starters in the palette which I wouldn’t pick again given the choice, but overall I’m pretty happy with the neutrals at my disposal! Also, a full palette is definitely a satisfying thing to own (if you don’t let yourself think about the expense!), and I use mine every day.

Next up (at some point): the colour palette, and lots of eyeshadow-related buyer’s remorse!

Till next time,

LL x

What I'm Wearing

So, with what may well be short-lived enthusiasm, I'm posting again. Just something quick and easy.

Shampoo: generic Herbal Essences, picked up in Tesco

Conditioner: ditto

Styling Products: none, lazy, lazy person that I am

Shower Gel: I don’t like shower gel – soap all the way!

Body Moisturiser: I am a poor excuse for a girl – I don’t moisturise. Unless I slap on some E45 cream on my legs when things get desperate.

Deodorant: some aluminium-free one

Face Wash: Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish

Cleanser: generic Garnier eye makeup remover; makeup wipes

Exfoliator: I just use the muslin cloth routine these days

Primer: none

Foundation Brush: if I bother with foundation, I use the Sigma F80 Flat-top Kabuki brush

Foundation: if any, Revlon ColorStay or Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum

Concealer: Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection concealer

Powder: No. 7 translucent compact powder when I’m out, and the loose version at home

Blusher: oh so many. Illamasqua Katie and Sin(? the dark purple one, the name has rubbed off); MAC Azalea Blossom; Topshop cream blush in Flush, which is lovely. Though I’m currently favouring my latest purchase, NARS Sin.

Bronzer: I long ago stopped fooling myself I could wear bronzer. And it’s winter anyway. I think I own the Bourjois “chocolate bronzer”, which turns me orange.

Highlighter: MAC Lightscapade

Eyeshadow Base: Too Faced Shadow Insurance, forever and always (or at least until I try Painterly)

Eyeshadows: MAC eyeshadows in Vex, Copperplate, Blanc Type, Dazzlelight; MAC Paint Pots in Bare Study, Morning Frost, Let’s Skate!

Eyeliner: L’Oreal Superliner in Carbon Gloss

Mascara: Benefit They’re Real! (again, staying true to the irritatingly perky exclamation mark!)

Lipstick: MAC Syrup, Plumful, Craving; Pink Pigeon is my current night-time shade of the moment

Lipgloss: none, just the Lanolips 101 Ointment which is amazing

Nail Colour: some grey one by No. 7 (damn you £5 off vouchers) which has chipped horribly and should really be removed

From which I think we can conclude I am supremely lazy. Reading over that has definitely given me a few ideas for beauty-related resolutions (the most important kind, no?) and, unfortunately, items for the wanted list.
Next time, I promise to have photos, of something (preferably makeup). Because too many posts without photos are boring.

Till next time,

LL x

Saturday, 14 January 2012

40 Beauty Questions

For a first post, I thought I'd spare you (my entirely hypothetical reader) my shoddy camera-work and have a crack at the ubiquitous, brilliantly nosy 40 questions. If only I could be this productive when it comes to coursework!

-How many times do you wash your face daily?
Once in the morning, once in the evening. Even if sometimes it’s only a makeup removing wipe (bad habit I know)!

-What skin type do you have?
Normal/combination – I get an oily T-zone which I hate! The only time I ever had dry skin, in nasty patches on my cheeks, was when I used the Clinique 3-step cleansing system thing – the toner (or whatever it’s called) is basically just alcohol, yuck!

-What is your current facial wash?
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish – gold.

-Do you exfoliate?
I used to, with all sorts of fairly harsh products, but now I find the muslin cloth does the job.

-What brand do you use?
Just the trusty ol’ muslin cloth at the moment.

-What moisturizer do you use?
When I remember (which is supposed to be every day, oops), it’s the Alpha-H Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF 50+ - I don’t use a moisturiser at night.

-Do you have freckles?
Yes, I do get them across my nose and cheeks if I go in the sun too much – hence the sunscreen!

-Do you use eye cream?
Nope, though I probably should!

-Do you or did you have acne prone skin?
Thankfully no, though I do get spots on and off around my chin, lovely!

-Did you ever have to use Pro-activ?
Guessing this is a type of acne treatment, so no.

-What foundation do you use?
Full disclosure: I don’t really use foundation! I do own several (Revlon ColorStay, Illamasqua Light Foundation, Bourjois Healthy Mix and Healthy Mix Serum) and went through a phase of wearing foundation daily for about 6 months last year, but I just can't seem to get on with it! During the whole time I wore it regularly, I lived in fear of hugging someone and depositing half my face on their clothes (not the best way to make an impression). That aside, the main problem I have is colour: pretty much everything I've tried is too dark and/or yellow, and leaves a horrendous tide-mark between face and neck - attractive. Next on my list to try is Illamasqua Skin Base, but I've heard pretty mixed reviews. Probably a whole separate post right here, so will stop rambling now!

-How about concealer?
 Like the rest of the world, I use the Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection concealer, which I love.

-Do you know your undertone colour?
I always think this is simple, but then I get confused again! Definitely cool-toned (pink). Hence the problem with the yellow/apricot/peach (why??) foundations which "drug store"/high street brands tend to put out.

-What do you think of fake eyelashes?
In my head, I like them - definitely a fan of the big-lash look. In photos, however, they often veer towards drag-queen territory, which is a fun place to visit but not necessarily where I want to live. Must try the much-vaunted Ardell Demi Wispies, Eyelure isn't quite cutting it any more!

-Did you know that you are suppose to change your mascara every 3 months?
The packaging says 6 months. And I laugh in the face of danger. (Though I'm guessing an eye infection isn't exactly a laugh a minute, so this is probably a deeply foolish attitude.) As long as it applies OK, I keep wearing it.

-What brand of mascara do you use?
Currently, Benefit They're Real! Which is impressive, but a nightmare to get off at night.

-Sephora or MAC?
In the absence of Sephora in the UK (oh cruel fate), I'm going with MAC.

-Do you have a MAC Pro-card?
Nope. And I feel mightily out of place in the Pro store, as well.

-What tools do you use in make up application?
Brushes, fingers. Nothing unusual.

-Do you use make-up base/primer for the eyes?
Yes, I love Too Faced Shadow Insurance. Take that, Urban Decay. I'd also like to try MAC Paint Pot in Painterly.

-For the face?
No. Even when I wore foundation, I didn't bother - who needs an extra step in the morning? Though if I did go back to wearing foundation, I might investigate primers.

-What is your favorite eyeshadow (colour or shade)?
 Let's go with the classic "hit pan" criterion: Vex, Dazzlelight, Blanc Type, and Patina (mysteriously - must've been using that one in my sleep). All MAC.

-Do you use pencil or liquid eyeliner?
I used to use pencil on the upper lashline, but I found I ended up with a mirror image printed on my eye-socket. (Yup, I'm weird like that.) So now I use liquid for that, and save the pencil for the lower lashline, if I fancy channeling Kate Middleton.

-How often do you poke your eyes with an eyeliner pencil?
Never. How dextrous am I? Mascara wands, on the other hand, are a different story (They're Real should come with a health warning, that sucker hurts like hell).

-What do you think of pigment eyeshadows?
The only loose eyeshadows I have are the Barry M Dazzle Dusts, of which I bought loads about four years ago. I still wear about 3, but they are of course fall out city.

-Do you use mineral makeup?
Never tried it, but would be interested to.

-What is your favorite lipstick?
MAC - most worn is probably Cosmo. Or Revlon - I had a meaningful relationship with Mauve It Over for a year or two.

-How about lipgloss?
Wearing lipgloss reminds me of being about fourteen. So no. Though if I had to choose, I'd say Revlon do some nice lipglosses (Super Lustrous or similar, the formulation of Lilac Pastelle etc). I did buy two Intense Lipglosses in the Illamasqua sale once, which are lovely and pigmented but I never reach for them.

-What is your favourite blush to use? 
Oh so many - Illamasqua Katie is a strong contender though. And my first Nars blush purchase (the gorgeous Sin) is a new favourite too.

-Do you buy your makeup on ebay?
 No, too time-consuming and the cynical part of me assumes it's all fake.

-Do you like drugstore makeup? 
The humourless Brit in me objects to the term, but yes, I do buy/wear a lot of makeup from Boots, Superdrug and the like.

-Do you go to CCOs? (cosmetic company outlets)
I've never got round to it yet, so the odds aren't good I ever will!

-Did you ever consider taking make-up classes?
Never actively considered it, but I'm sure it would be fun! I'd certainly love to learn more about applying more dramatic eye makeup.

-Are you clumsy in putting on makeup?
Let's just say winged eyeliner and I have a love-hate relationship.

-Name a makeup crime that you hate?
Blue eyeshadow? I'm pretty easy going on that front to be honest. To be honest, I hate it more when a statement is phrased as a question? (I know, I can't help being a grammar bitch.)

-Do you like colorful shades of makeup (lipstick,eyeshadow) or neutral ones?
Despite owning a whole palette (I know, I know) of colourful MAC eyeshadows, I only ever wear neutrals (maybe with a little purple thrown in). But I adore bright lipstick, and of course bright blush.

-Which celebrity always has great make up?
 No idea.

-If you could leave the house using just ONE make up item,what would you use? 

-Could you ever leave the house without any makeup on?
Of course, popping to Tesco for emergency milk being a prime example.

-Do you think you look good even without any makeup on?
 Awkward. Not too scary I suppose?

-In your opinion, what is the BEST makeup line?
I think Revlon is a pretty good high-street all-rounder. I do love a bit of MAC, but they have a fair few dud products. I think my next obsession might be Nars, though I'm not sure my wallet can handle it!

-What do you think of makeup?
 I find it strangely compelling. And ruinously expensive!

 Till next time,

LL x

First Ever Post

So, after quite a while following many lovely beauty bloggers and Youtubers, I decided to give it a go myself. Not sure I'll be contributing anything very original, but since I have a shameful amount of makeup (in which I have yet to lose interest - probably a good thing?) I felt it was time to take the plunge and start posting. Will my point-and-shoot camera be up to the job? Only time will tell!

 I'm Josephine, 22 years old, living near London, and a student by occupation - I finished my second degree in English literature in July, and became a law student in October. I'm eagerly anticipating/dreading the date in 2013 when I finally start A Real Job as a City solicitor. In the mean time, my cosy student bubble leaves a lot of time (too much, some might say) for buying/wearing/rambling about beauty-related things.

Here's a random get-to-know-me tag I found somewhere on Google. Because I'm supposed to be reading about vicarious liability, and I don't want to.

1. Are you named after anyone? My middle names are my grandmothers' names, so yes.
2. When was the last time you cried? Ages ago. Stiff upper lip and other British cliches galore.
3. Do you have kids? Pets, yes. Kids, no.
4. If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself? It really depends. Who is this other person? Could I exist in two places at once? Cue spiralling existential crisis.
5. Do you use sarcasm a lot? I would say yes, but it wouldn't be sarcastic enough.
6. Will you ever bungee-jump? No. I am hideously cautious and hate adrenalin. Did you see that clip of the girl's bungee cord breaking? I rest my case.
7. What's your favorite cereal? I'm more of a porridge girl. Oh the glamour. Alternatively, Marmite on toast.
8. What's the first thing you notice about people? Whether they smile or not. People who don't smile scare me.
9. What is your eye colour? Blue/grey/undecided.
10. Scary movie or happy endings? Happy endings. I have an overactive imagination and hate scary/gory films as a rule.
11. Favorite smells? Coffee. Talcum powder. Rain. Lilies of the valley. Vanilla.
12. Summer or winter? Winter. I am sadly not designed for summer, much as I'd like to be - I hate being hot and sticky, and I'm luminously pale. Give me woolly things and frost any day.
13. Computer or television? Computer, because you can watch TV on it. Bargain. (Well, if I ever get round to buying a MacBook Air it won't be such a bargain, but you catch my drift.)
14. What's the furthest you've ever been from home? The US, Barbados. Nowhere incredibly exotic (yet).
15. Do you have any special talents? Not of the party-trick kind, no. Must work on that.
16. Where were you born? London.
17. What are your hobbies? Reading, drinking tea/coffee, watching films, going to the pub, reading the Sunday papers cover to cover, cooking, walking my dog, talking too much, blowing my money on makeup, and t'internet I suppose.
18. Do you have any pets? A cat and a dog. I am suspicious of anyone who doesn't like pets.
19. Favorite movie? Let's go with an embarrassing one: Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. What do you mean Robin wasn't American? (And presumably didn't have a mullet either...Less said about that the better.)
20. Do you have any siblings? One younger brother.
21. What do you want to be when you grow up? A real person. A girl can dream.

And finally, a shocking confession (at least, shocking for someone who owns as many lipsticks as I do): I wasn't wearing any lipstick at all today, until I gratuitously slapped on MAC Syrup whilst typing this post. Oh the shame.

Till next time,

Josephine x

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