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Monday, 28 February 2011

e.l.f Everyday 32 Eye Shadow Palettes

These handy sized palettes were incredibly popular before Christmas 2010. So why not bring out two new versions for Spring? In the first photograph I've compared the Christmas palette with the Everyday Basics palette. The top two rows (16 shadows) are identical but the bottom 16 shadows are subtly different.

The everyday palette is definitely more subdued and softer, so it is great for natural looks and more so if you wish to branch out from brown! There is only one lonely matte shade in the palette and it is the top right hand corner (a soft taupe brown, a bit like Studio Pebble). The other shadows are split between glittery and satin shades. I would like to have seen a few more matte light shadows in this palette as I use them to set my primer, now I have to carry a separate one as this palette doesn't contain it. I also use darker matte shadows with an angled eyeliner brush to fill in eyebrows and as a liner. You see, they really should have consulted me first!

However, everyone regardless of age, colour and eye shape can wear these satin shades however a good matte base is necessary to prevent them slipping. In the absence of a matte light shadow, I use a translucent or my face powder instead.

Since getting this palette I've used it quite often and think it will come travelling with me next month as it is so versatile. Even more versatile dare I say it than my Urban Decay Naked Palette and my Coastal Scents Natural Palette because there are many more shades to play with. I am not sure how many more palettes I can cope with, I feel like a very neglectful make up hoarder. I need to get depotting or my other favourite single products will start to sulk! However, they are such great value and perfect for travelling that I can't help myself but use them. I recently attended a friends hen weekend and had 9 (including myself) gorgeous ladies to prepare, I did this using one Coastal Scents palette (the smoky eye) but would have loved this for day looks.

The second photograph is the Everyday Brights palette which contains some gorgeous shades which would be spectacular for a spring look or a party look. Again these are non matte shadows, predominantly satin finishes with a few glittery ones.

As you'd expect, swatches are paler and fainter for the lighter colours, but the darker colours come out true to the picture. If you like your eye shadows to be bold and bright, make sure to use a lighter eye lid base, perhaps use a lighter shade of foundation or concealer on the eyelids first. A pale base such as the white cream eye shadow, shadow and liner stick or studio eyelid primer also work well. To keep colours extra vibrant I use them with a slightly damp brush, which also reduces pesky fall out.

The palettes are £9 each from e.l.f cosmetics UK. Get them while you can as they are limited edition!

As you know, or maybe you didn't, I work for the company which operates e.l.f UK, this review is not only a heads up about their arrival but my honest opinion of the product. I am not paid to review these products as part of my role.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Yes to Tomatoes Totally Tranquil Facial Hydrating Lotion

This white hydrating cream is great for oily/combination skins. It's a water/aloe vera based lotion so won't overload the skin, however it is packed with essential oils and natural extracts (such as chamomile, rosemary, red tea, tomatoes (of course), red pepper and ginkgo bilboa leaf).

Fully prepared and expecting it to smell like vegetable soup, I was most pleasantly surprised to discover the delightful scent of beautiful florals.

I have been using the hydrating cream for about a week now and I am not growing tired of the smell or texture. It leaves my skin soft and plump without greasiness. It works very well with my foundation, whether liquid, tinted moisturiser, mineral or cream to powder, too many foundations, moi? ;-) So I am quietly impressed.

There are several types of products to try from the Yes To range - all fruit and veggie inspired that have been developed for different skin types. After a bit of Googling, I found the range in the UK on But if you want to find out more about the ranges, check out the US site.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Swatchy Goodness, e.l.f Studio Tinted Moisturisers

Seven of the most popular shades, applied directly with no blending. Blending in results in a very light almost undetectable finish.

If you're not an avid foundation wearer but do not wish to face the world with a naked face, you've probably tried a tinted moisturiser. With only one or two colours to choose from, it's not really been a successful product for me.

If you wish to add "something", be it glow, to your bare skin as well as some SPF 20 (good for antiageing as well as protecting), then here's the latest product to reach Europe from e.l.f. the SPF 20 Tinted Moisturiser (£3.50 for 25ml tube).

As it contains pigments it is not going to be as hydrating or oily as a regular moisturiser. To my dry/combination skin it felt light and was easily absorbed. Before use give it a good shake to make sure the formula is mixed properly, it can separate if left too cold or too warm. I was wondering whether I would get the tell tale bloom effect, where pigment is left behind to cling to dry bits. It didn't do this.

Coverage is very light and smooth. Do not expect to hide discolouration and blemishes using this alone, I find I require a light concealer afterwards for spots and marks. This light consistency does make any colour mismatch rather forgiving. I could easily use Beige, Sand or Almond and make it look natural with blending. A little goes a long way as well, one small squeeze is enough for face and neck. The formula is matte, it doesn't contain any shimmer, so why not mix in your favourite liquid highlighter for an added glow? I am using NARS Orgasm liquid illuminator which works quite well with my skin tone, but you could use an e.l.f shimmering facial whip in your favourite colour too.

Those of the ultra pale variety will probably find the porcelain shade too yellow, similarly for deeper skin tones espresso will be too light as I would say it is about an NW50, perhaps a bit lighter.

You may need to reapply around the mouth and nose during the day because the cover is so light, it is easily wiped away but I wouldn't say that it transfers like full coverage foundations.

I prefer this tinted moisturiser to some foundations, it does not settle in fine lines or pores and blends very well to a soft, natural finish.

Please feel free to ask a question about these tinted moisturisers, I shall do my best to reply.

I am also testing out the flawless finish foundation and cream eyeshadow (so far so good). They haven't arrived yet in the UK but are due soon. The perks of the job no less.

**In response to a question, I thought I'd answer it here. The consistency is not comparable to the SPF15 Shielding hydrotints. They are quite different, the SP20 Studio moisturisers are drier with more pigment. Which is great for oilier skins as it does not load the skin with extra oil.

In terms of colour.
Hydrotint Ivory is lighter than Studio Porcelain
Hydrotint Rosy Beige is less yellow than Studio Porcelain and a good alternative for neutral/pink based complexions.
Hydrotint Apricot Beige is closest to Studio Nude
Hydrotint Light Beige is closest to Studio Beige
Hydrotint Honey is closest to Studio Sand
Hydrotint Spice is between Sand and Almond
Hydrotint Toffee is darker than both Studio Espresso and Mocha

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Lush Dream Cream Review

I was 19 when I purchased my first pot of Dream Cream from Lush in Kingston, I had a friend who was 30 (she seemed very wise to my 19 year old self) and she raved about it so I had to try it. I remember being slightly disappointed as I didn't love the earthy smell of tea tree mixed with lavender. It has grown on me over the years and I have gone through countless tubs since then. I had a little break from it for the last few years and then was given some the other week. Dubious and delighted were my reactions on recognising that nostalgic but odd scent of lavender and tea tree. I was instantly transported back to being 19, and having a precious pot of it.

Dream Cream (£10.25 for 240g tub) is a medium thickness hand and body cream. It feels almost like a gel. You can use it on the face but beware of the tea tree if you are sensitive as it is quite strong. It is, light olive green colour and smells most strongly of lavender and tea tree. The main ingredients and emollients are oat milk (so beware of sensitivity), rosewater and olive oil. Chuck in some essential oils and whip it all together and you have a tasty treat for your skin.

I find this is a great cream for hands more so than the body, as it's not quite rich enough to last the day without layering up, which just then feels too heavy like a body butter. But I do keep a pot of this by the bed and computer during the day. It is light enough to use a finger-full after washing hands and use a keyboard without leaving greasy marks everywhere. It definitely hydrates and soothes dry hands and makes them look youthful by hydrating dry cuticles. I depot a little and keep it in my handbag also.

Dream cream is also light enough to use as a cleanser, just be sure to remove it thoroughly from around the eyes or it will make them puff up overnight as it is very hydrating (double edged sword).

Dream Cream is available from a Lush store or online from

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Liz Earle Body Brush Review

I have a small stubborn patch of cellulite. I think being a runner and cyclist actually makes cellulite look worse because of the hard muscle underneath gives the adipose tissue nothing to blend in to and hide! So my legs may not wobble but they have bumpy bits just like the rest of womanhood.

I started body brushing in mid January 2011 and maybe did it three times a week. At first it was scratchy and uncomfortable. The official advice is to start brushing very lightly to get used to it. I don't expect that it gets any more comfortable but you begin to understand your skin's tolerance and limits.

So as the name depicts, a stiff brush is held either in your palm of on the end of the detachable handle. Take the brush and start at your feet, brushing upwards from the toes to tops of the legs. Do both feet and legs in this way. Then start on your bottom and waist, always brushing towards the heart. This helps move stubborn fluid in to the lymph glands to drain away. Then from the arms and down the body to the heard.

My skin goes a little pink, and after a while I find the tingling sensation enlivening. I find it warms me up so I need to turn down the shower temperature.

After your body brushing and shower, complete by using a light but silky body cream (Liz Earle Energising Body Cream is rather good too). However you don't have to body brush before a shower, sometimes I do it before I go to bed.

A very important note:

It's important that if you are undertaking an intensive body brushing regime that you cut down your fat intake to a manageable level (70g of fat is normal). Body brushing can release more fats in to the blood stream. You may need to decrease your fat intake and increase your exercise level to prevent it from being laid down in fatty deposits. If you're concerned, you should consult your doctor first, always.

I have ended up enjoying body brushing but a couple of weeks I forget to do it. I suppose with any beauty regime that's the danger. I didn't notice a huge difference, I still had the same dry patches of skin and cellulite too (boo) but it did feel more toned as it encourages better blood flow to the skin so it did look better in terms of glow. Personally I would prefer a good massage than body brushing for those effects.

The upshot of the trial is that if you like body brushing it has some benefits to your skin tone and texture, but I wouldn't get your hopes up of curing cellulite or ingrown hairs.

Thanks to Liz Earle for the Body Brush and Energising Body Cream for my trial.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Wrinkle Filler Review - Soap and Glory Fill Monty

I have been oggling and stalking several wrinkle fillers for the last year or so, and so bit the proverbial bullet a few weeks ago to try to sort out some unappetising frown lines appearing between by eyebrows and also laughter lines around my mouth. I am far too squeamish to consider injections in my face, it kind of doesn't go with my growing old gracefully attitude. I also didn't want to buy creams which contain ingredients which relax facial muscles. I feel that's a bit of a cheat and I just want a cosmetic effect with zero interference beneath the surface.

So after much stalking I settled upon a lower end priced filler, Soap and Glory's Fill Monty Dab-on wrinkle filler. At around £10 for a 12ml pot (about the size of a mineral eye shadow pot), it was worth a try.

Fill Monty is a water and glycerine based, white, fairly thick cream which contains various polymers. These cross over each other to form a kind of mesh. These mesh in theory acts as a bridge over your "dermal canyons" as I like to call them. You can then layer foundation over and no one will be any the wiser!

So did it work? Dabbing hopefully at my forehead I prepared my skin. I applied a mineral foundation and went off for the day. Several times I had to re-dab the wrinkle to push the product back in, eventually giving up and wiping it away as it was not helping! So sadly I have to report that even after several further uses, this product did not fill my fine lines and keep them filled.

However, I am not disappointed and I do have something good to say about the product that would lead me to consider buying it again. I have found it to be an excellent primer for dry skin. It is instantly hydrating and yet mattifies the skin ready for your chosen make up (powder, cream or liquid). I used it on my friend when she came over for her bridal make up trial and we both liked the effect. However I do need to get a separate wrinkle filler now.

If you have any suggestions for brands I could investigate, please leave a comment below.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Quest for Symmetry

Bodies and faces are never symmetrical. Some people have features that have better symmetry than others, and these people are often found to be more attractive than those without. Psychologists tell us that this is because the brain is simple and finds symmetry easy to recognise without having to stress over the nuances. We are programmed to recognise symmetry as beautiful, perhaps because it is nearly impossible to attain in a complex system.

I am often asked about how to make faces appear more symmetrical. So here's a method that is easy and quick. Start with a photograph, I am using my passport photo.

(I used a graphics programme to digitally flip half my face to mirror.) However you can do this by using a mirror down the middle of your face. Now look at the image in the mirror and on the photograph. It should look like mine below. Turn the mirror over to see the other side.

You can see in the pictures below what I would look like if each side of my face were mirror images.

This is a great way to see where you can work to find symmetry. Work out the features you like or wish to diminish on each side of the face. I prefer aspects of each side of my face and I try to incorporate them in to my make up.

On my left hand side I prefer my slim nose and wider mouth.
On my right hand side I prefer my more round eyes and pointed jaw line.

So when you look at these aspects you can contour the opposite side of the face to match.

The middle photo is my natural face, I have not contoured anywhere.

But you can now see where I should concentrate to achieve more symmetry.

On my left hand side, contour the chin to shave off the squareness and bring it to a point and open up the eye with liner on the upper lashes.

On my right hand side, contour the nose to make it slimmer and outline the lips to widen them to match.

It feels really weird looking at the two faces either side my face, they are not me!

I wrote this article a week ago and then watched a programme last night which confirmed my thoughts about symmetry.

I am working on a tutorial about how to achieve greater symmetry using techniques that I use in my make up and on clients.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Big Hair! Organic Colour Systems - Spray Gel Review

So how does someone suffering from thinning hair get BIG HAIR? It's not impossible and I couldn't wait to share my find of a product that really helps.

A friend on Twitter heard my plea for product suggestions as I was trying to find products that would work with my fine and thin hair that didn't weigh it down or make it look like plastic frizz.
I shall be eternally grateful to Sally Learmouth from Gloss Communications for bringing this product to my attention. I went online just before Christmas and bought it from Karine Jackson (online store) for £8.95 for 250ml. I was very lucky to receive it before Christmas with all of the postal delays and problems!

It's a really easy product to use, I have a few tips for those with fine hair like mine that will make it work really well.

Wait until your hair in 80% dry before spraying lightly in to the roots and long the length of the hair. Leave to dry naturally and do not comb through whilst it is wet or your hair will stick together and take on that gelled look!

Use a straightener, waver, curlers or barrel tong on the roots to give them lift. The gel spray really comes in to its own then, holding the curl and giving thickness to your hair which lasts about 2 days. Spray lightly once your hair is dry to hold the curl and prevent frizz. It really is that easy!

I love the product, it smells fruity and a little goes a long way. I am tempted to stock up in case there is a worldwide shortage!

Next time I am in London and have time, I think I would like to book a hair appointment at Karine Jackson for a cut and style. That is a bold thing for me to say considering I have a pathological hatred of having hair cuts. Some people dread the dentist, I dread the hair dresser in the same way!

When it comes to fine hair, it's very hard to find a stylist who knows what they are doing and doesn't make you feel like a freak of nature for being a woman with thin hair.

So I'll report back if I decide to pluck up the courage to go to a swanky salon and face my hair demons.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

The Curling versus Volumising Mascara Smackdown.

On each eye I am wearing a different mascara. One claims to be a volumising one and the other is a curling one. I have curled both lashes mechanically and applied them in the same way.

So can you honestly tell which is which? Go on have a guess and leave a comment.

If you put your guess in a comment, I shall also post a comment with the answer!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Raw Skin Food Review

100% allergen free, vegan and gluten free skin care products. The website is fairly easy to use once you have a good look at all the functions, but could be better as it is a little "busy" looking with popups and flash animation on the front page that are prone to glitching in browsers (geek alert!). You can also find a list of stockists on the website.

If you'd like to see some models using the range then watch the YouTube channel here.

After describing my skin as combination/sensitive and prone to flare ups of rosacea. I was advised to try and sent 3 products for my review.

Mab Fabulous Gentle Facial Cleansing Milk, £7.20 for 100ml.
Ingredients: Rose Water, Rice Bran Oil, Coconut butter, Cherry Kernel Oil, Ylang ylang essential oil.

A lightweight white milky liquid with a slight cherry scent which is very pleasant. The cleanser really does have the consistency of milk, so be careful when pouring it! However the consistency works for removing eye make up using cotton wool pads. I warm the product a little by pouring about a 10-pence- sized amount in to my palm. Then I massage over the face and neck. I remove using a damp face cloth or cotton wool pads.

My ultimate test of a cleanser is to take a toner soaked cotton wool pad and sweep over the face and eyes to check if any make up has been left behind. No residue was found apart from a waterline eye liner and mascara. I now concentrate a little more massage around the eyes and pay attention when removing with a damp cloth.

Mab Fabulous Soothing Face & Body Tonique, £8 for 100ml spray bottle.
Ingredients: Organic Rose Water, Rice bran oil, Coconut butter, Cherry kernel oil, Ylang ylang essential oil.

This is a oil and water mixture in a spray bottle, it smells mainly of the Ylang ylang essential oil. It's almost a musky fragrance, not unpleasant (reminds me of dream cream by Lush) and quite uplifting.

I was delighted to try about this product, a moisturising toner which can be used all over the face and body for a quick moisture fix. However at lower temperatures (anything below 15 degrees C) it turns the cocoa butter solid. My solution is to pop it in the sink in some warm water prior to use. I put it in as I am putting on my cleanser and getting my face cloth ready and in a few minutes it is ready to use. Shake to mix the contents and spray a fine mist over your face after cleansing or spray on to a cotton wool pad and sweep over the face. I would like to try this as a moisture fix for when I use mineral foundations to see if it can eliminate the cling-on factor. I'll also be keeping tabs on it to see how it fares in summer (fingers crossed for some heat) as I would love to keep it with me in my bag as a refresher spray and for use on holiday. There is no SPF in this product for info.

Imperial Whipped Complex Face and Body Balm, £8.80 for a 50ml tub.
Ingredients: Mango butter, Coconut butter, Lemongrass essential oil.

An opaque mixture of butters and oils which at room temperature is solid. As the name suggests, it has been whipped in to a light and creamy texture and smells strongly of lemongrass (a cross between ginger and lemon sort of scent). Again it is an uplifting scent that makes me inhale deeply.

I apply a balm mainly at night or if I am going out in to windy or low temperatures. I rub a small amount on to my finger tips and tap on to the face and neck. Then gently sweep across the face and down the neck to encourage lymphatic drainage. After the oily feeling subsides I am left with soft and plump feeling skin.

I wouldn't use this balm on the rest of my body, although you can on rough parts like elbows, knees and feet, simply because it is a small pot that I would soon exhaust.

A few days after receiving the Imperial Whipped balm it began to separate into oil and wax. I took a spatula and whipped it up again, but it does separate again.

Why should you buy it?
Reasonable prices, helpful staff, Vegan, cruelty free, hand crafted, no perfumes or synthetic ingredients which are organic and fair trade. So many good reasons!

Why it might not be for you.
I found it hard to find a reason why this might not be for you other than the separation and solidification issues with waxes and temperature. I guess it depends on where you stand with budget and if you like perfumes and expensive packaging?

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

How to get great passport/ID photographs

It's that time again, I need a new passport. With that comes the need for photographs!

I decided to put some thought in to how to make my passport photographs look good, rather than make me look too ill travel!

The tutorial ended up a bit longer than I thought, so it's split in to two videos!

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