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