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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

MUA Luxe Velvet Lip Lacquers!

‘Velvet’ lip products are going absolutely nowhere this Spring/Summer! If you haven’t already spotted an influx on your high street, keep your eyes peeled with MUA, Topshop and Bourjois bringing the formula down to a more accessible level than the slightly more expensive and harder-to-get Lime Crime Velvetines. MUAs offering, the MUA Luxe Velvet Lip Lacquers, come in at a measly £3 each and are available in in 5 shades, four of which I have for your visual pleasures today.

MUA Luxe Lips

MUA Luxe Lips Swatches

L-R: Kooky, Atomic, Funk, Criminal

The lip lacquers are house in a matt-effect tube with posh-looking gold print on the caps. These apply with a typical doefoot applicator.

MUA Kooky


MUA Atomic


MUA Funk


MUA Criminal


Swit-swoo! Aren’t these colours gorgeous?  Out of the four shades I have (I’m missing Reckless, a blue-based red) Criminal is definitely my favourite – it’s a bright, clean, butt-kicking pink. If you’re a fan of Candy Yum Yum by MAC or OCC Nylon Lip Tar, this is the sort of shade for you. Kooky is almost a true purple and if you like the 90’s goffik sort of look that Lorde sports, this is the shade for you. Funk is bright and vibrant without being too neon or overpowering – it’s perfectly girly.

The formula for these is creamier than other versions of this type of product, meaning you have to be very careful not to apply a thicker application on one part of your lips than the other as it can dry in streaks. If you look at my swatch of Kooky, you can see why you need to go slow and steady on these! Wear time is, as expected, pretty darn good! I do find they come off when eating most things (you’ll have to have a touch-up after a big meal or oily food, but a snack or a cuppa would be fine) and that I have to be careful when I apply to the ’waterline’ of my mouth, making sure this area is dry otherwise the product doesn’t adhere well. Rather than wear away evenly, these can feel  a little ‘gummy,’ which I’m not a huge fan of. They remove easily with an oil-based remover though (a micellar water probably won’t cut it!) and if you’re just having a cheeky drink or giving someone a peck on the cheek, they’ll sure as hell stay put! The only shade I had a problem with in regards to wear was Atomic – I really don’t like how it felt on the lips compared to the others and it was a bugger to get off, feeling almost clumpy while I was removing it. As expecting, these will feel dry on the lips, but if you want the wear from a lip product, it’s pretty much tough shit!

MUA Luxe Lips Comparison

L-R, MUA Atomic, Lime Crime Suedeberry. MUA

I can’t complete this post without comparing to the Lime Crime Velvetines. In my opinion, these aren’t dupes for the LC shades. Atomic is a much brighter, truer orange as compared to the more peachy Suedeberry, and Atomic makes Pink Velvet look dull in comparison. I actually prefer the MUA shades! As mentioned, the formula for the the MUA version is much creamier and I find that makes it a little more difficult to neatly apply a second layer, especially considering the fact it takes longer to dry. As noted, I also find that the thicker formula makes it harder to apply neatly with the applicator compared to the Lime Crime, although I’d recommend using a brush for both – the look of both the products is so matte and dense there’s not much room for error.  The Lime Crime wears longer and more evenly, and feels lighter on the lips without the ‘gummy’ feeling as they wear. I can’t lie and say I prefer the MUA formula over the LC, but the differences are small. I’m a beauty blogger, I *will* find the differences!

To sum up? All of the colours are gorgeous and they’re certainly long wearing, but the formula isn’t up to par with the Lime Crime one which in my opinion is much more sophisticated. For £3 though, I can’t complain too much at all and I can only hope that MUA bring out some vampier or more unusual colours!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Quickie Review: Melt lipsticks in Space Cake and Belladonna

I bought these two sometime last winter and haven’t got round to showing you all yet! If you’re on Instagram, you’re certain to have heard of this company, with everyone going mad for their bright, unusual colours. I wanted to try them because their imagery is just gorgeous – perfect modern pin-up glamour on gorgeous alternative models – my kind of photography! Srsly, this lookbook.
The packaging was super, super cute – the lipsticks are in simple matte black tubes with the purple Melt logo but they don’t look or feel cheap, they’re a nice quality. My order came with a sticker and a small mirror, which was exciting (I love stickers. Give me stickers!) and was packed in pink styrofoam peanuts. The boxes both had a slightly differing Beetlejuice-esque striped design, and you get a card with some of their images on. Basically, if you want a gorgeous package in the mail, you’ll get one from Melt.
melt swatches
Space Cake, Belladonna.
Melt Belladonna
Belladonna is where I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very red and I’m not the kind of girl to turn down a red just because she had 20 others that are very similar – I bought this shade because I just can’t resist a pretty red, and I knew I would wear it more often than a bright peach or blue. I just found the formula to be a little thin, a little dry on application, a little lacking something on this one. You can see compared to the photo of Space Cake below that the texture is different and looks much dryer – and they were taken on the same day. There’s nothing awful about it at all, but I can’t jump up and down and say ‘This formula is grrrrr-eat!” because at least for this colour, I don’t find it to be true.  I don’t *dislike* it as such and I do wear it, but I wasn’t blown away at all – for $19 you can get a much, much better red, anyway. Belladonna doesn’t appear to be on their website anymore. If I find out if it’s discontinued, I’ll update.
Melt Space Cake
Space Cake
mac glitter and ice cool lotd
Wearing Space Cake
First of all, wowza. It’s GREY, you guys. Grey like this, a grey creme, is not something I can remember another company doing. I know Lime Crime had Chinchilla or whatever it was called, that MAC had Grey Friday and I know there have been greyed purples and oyster grey colours floating around and OCC have some options, but I don’t recall another company with a colour like this at all. Believe it or not, ‘odd’ lip colours aren’t that odd anymore and you can get pretty much whatever colour you like these days if you look for it. Anyway, I could go on about naunces of grey and it’s undertones and it’s pink-ness or not, but this shade was new to me. I was expecting this one to be really dry as well, but the formula is much better. It’s a lot creamier than the other shade I had and I was much happier with this formula. It’s not the longest wearing  or the most hydrating, but it’s a good, solid opaque creamy formula. It’s worth noting I don’t find this one to be as matte as the website show it to be.

Would I purchase from Melt again? I don’t know. Based on Belladonna, no. Based on Space Cake, yes! These are pretty bloody expensive for a small brand at $19 a pop (more expensive than MAC which go for $16 and a shade more than Lime Crime which retail at $18) and while I don’t mind spending if I like what’s on offer, that fact that they’re reasonably pricey *and* I have to ship to the UK and deal with customs fees as well makes me a little less likely to bother. For those on a budget or who don’t want to shell out for wackier colours they’ll only wear occasionally, I just can’t seem to find anything here that makes me go ‘Yep, definitely worth twenty bucks!’ It’s all up to what you’re willing to spend personally of course, but I just wasn’t as blown away by these as I could have been.  Am I stupid and possibly bitter for letting my expectations get the better of me? Maybe. I’m certainly not saying they’re shit, or to not get them - the aesthetic of the company is to die for and it’s the type of company I’m drawn to and want to support.  I’m still really interested in their green shade, Blow, which was recently released. If it reviews well, I’ll probably pick it up as it looks stunning and hope it’s the same formula as Space Cake.

Melt Lipsticks are available from

Have you tried Melt yet? Where do you get your crazy lip colours from?

Monday, 17 March 2014

MAC Retro Matte lipsticks in Relentlessly Red and All Fired Up

Inspired by the classic shade Ruby Woo’s ‘one-of-a-kind texture’, toward the end of last year MAC released a series of Retro Matte colours. To anyone familiar with MAC lipsticks, this could be seen to be the biggest dick move MAC have made for a while, as Ruby Woo is widely known for being dry as hell. However, being a fan of mattes and spying some shades I’d not seen before on a recent trip to my local MAC stand, I picked up two shades.

MAC Retromattes

All Fired Up on the top, Relentlessly Red on the bottom.
MAC RetroMattes

Relentlessly Red, All Fired Up.
MAC All Fired Up RetroMatte Swatch
MAC All Fired Up.’‘Bright Fuchsia matte.’ Err, if you say so. Not fuchsia to me at all, though it’s certainly a pink-leaning red.
MAC Relentlessly Red Swatch
MAC Relentlessly Red. ‘Bright Pinkish Coral matte.’ Why on *earth* they named this shade Relentlessly Red is totally beyond me – in the words of Willam, “Girl, it’s fucking pink!”
Wearing MAC All Fired Up
Wearing ‘All Fired up’ with a deeper red liner on the lip line.

While I don’t hate these, I can’t say I’m in love with them. I don’t really know what I was expecting from this formula, there’s something about it that bothers me. I find them rather flat and feel they need a cgood couple of swipes to get to full payoff – I know you can’t always expect eye-popping vibrancy from mattes but there is something rather dull about these in real life. Well, my boyfriend complimented me when I wore them, so what do I know? They look good, I think I just wanted more from them.I  wouldn’t rush out to buy them just because of the formula, but if you happen to like the colours, I don’t actually find them that drying - which I was expecting considering they're based on Ruby Woo – certainly no more than MAC’s regular mattes.

Retro Mattes cost £15 from MAC.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Wedding Makeup Series Part 2: What should I look for in a makeup artist?

If you didn't catch my first post on whether to hire a makeup artist or not for your wedding, you may want to click here! If you're looking into hiring one, read on! Grab a cuppa as it's a long post! I know I won't have covered everything, so if I've missed something, please ask me and I'll help if I can. I’m not as up to scratch on hairstyling, but these questions should work for both.


First and foremost, look for your artist (duh!). Googling makeup artists in your area may come up with all sorts of artists - for fashion, TV, film, stage, special effects, etc. While plenty work in many areas, not all will be suited for your needs, so obviously look for bridal specific websites or pages on their websites.  Once you've found one you like the look of, take a good hard look at their website or page. They should have a variety of examples that look like they're from different, real life weddings and events (this goes for your wedding photographers as well!). Before and after shots can be helpful when choosing, although this is dependant on their clients agreeing to put the before shots online so plenty of artists won't have these. Make sure your artist is local or local-ish to you before you contact them - a lot of artists will travel to you, but that will almost definitely cost you more.

Before I start on specifics, remember: no one can choose your makeup artist but you! You need to go with your own gut feeling about who will work best for you, and remember if you have a trial with someone and you don't like them, you don't have to book them. I've listed some things to think about/questions to ask below, but a lot of this may be answered on the artists website, so click around and have a read through first! There are a million and one specific questions you may want to ask your artist, but don't be afraid to ask , no matter how silly it may seem to you. It's your money, face and wedding day photos after all!

Questions to ask/Things to think about:

What makeup do you use? This is a question that will make most pros roll their eyes if you ask them, but it can be important. The answer you're looking for, unless you have a specific question in regards to allergies or similar, is something along the lines of "I use a wide variety of brands to ensure I get the best results on the day." You are not looking for "I only ever use MAC/Chanel/whatever!" A good MUA will have a wide variety of brands, (often including professional brands that most people won't even have heard of) but trust me, if you like the results you've seen on their website, then it's good stuff! If you're hung up on only using one brand, I'm really sorry but you need to throw that thought right out of the window!  I don't know *any* makeup artist that only uses one brand unless they work for the brand.

What do you charge and what is included? Now this is a minefield, as there will be a huge variation in cost for makeup artists and this can depend on so many things - what city you are in, the size of your bridal party, whether you're having hair and makeup, or one or the other. However, your artist should be able to give you a clear breakdown of costs of costs and what is included, for example "Brides Makeup and hair + Bridal Trial (Bride Only) = £XXX, plus bridesmaids/MOTB hair and makeup £XXX each, (wedding day makeup/hair only, no trials)" If it's not clear, ask for a breakdown. Sometimes prices will be listed online, but in my experience, most will give you a quote for your party instead, as putting something like  'Bride + 2 Bridesmaids incl. Bridal Trial = £XXX" online will result in people contacting them and saying 'But it says £XXX! Why won't you do my nine bridesmaids, my mum, my mother-in-law, the Vicar, my cousins, dog and next door neighbour for that amount?!!", so don't be suspicious if they're not. 

And remember - makeup artistry isn't cheap. It doesn't have to cost you the earth, but it's worth Googling and comparing artists in your local area to get a good picture of what you 'should' be paying. I can’t tell you what you should be paying because it varies so much, but don't expect it to be twenty quid, okay? A skilled makeup artist will be worth the money, I promise. Once you’ve set your date, start researching so you can get a good idea of what it will cost and start working it into your budget.

What is this contract? Why am I paying a deposit? Your makeup artist, like every other vendor you're hiring for your wedding, is a business. I will say it again - they're not a person doing it for a giggle, they're a business. It's in their interest to protect their business, so like other things you'll get for the day, you will most likely have to sign a contract, pay a deposit, or similar to guarantee your booking. Like anything else you might have to sign for your day, read it carefully. It will most likely have boring details like cancellation policies, etc.

I have scars/pigmentation/scalp issues/tattoos/allergies/another skin issue/tattoos I want covered. Can you help? This won't be relevant to everyone, but if you do have an issue, it's better to let your makeup artist know straight away so they can look after you to the best of their abilities. If you're looking for them to do makeup on other people in your wedding party and one of them has an issue, make that known as well. A good makeup artist should be able to cope with any of the above 'issues', but it does make it a hell of a lot easier on them if they know beforehand, and you know any concerns you have will be looked after. Win-win.

With regards to covering tattoos or large birthmarks, etc., this is often a service you'll have to pay extra for, so make it known before you get your final price - no-one is going to do it on the day for you if you haven't told them first! It's time consuming, a different skill and using probably different products - that's why it'll cost more.

How will you ensure my makeup/hair will last on the day? Again, every  artist will have different ways of ensuring this. All artists should be able to tell you they'll use thing such as long wearing foundations, setting sprays, layering techniques, or a combination of these or similar techniques to ensure a long-lasting look. Someone MUAs will build a little touch-up kit for you to take with you (often these will have powder or blotting paper, q-tips, a lipstick or sample of the lipstick you're wearing, breath mints etc.), some will purchase a lipstick on your behalf for you for you to take, and some even have an option where they will charge extra for them to stick around and do touch-ups after the ceremony, etc. Again, this is something that’s probably going to be on their website, but it may be worth talking about in your initial consultation if you have concerns. It's certainly worth talking about if you're getting married in a different climate than you're used to, or in a particularly hot/humid time of the year.

What happens at my trial? Lots of people don't understand why you have trials for your wedding, but they're for lots of reasons! Basically, it's to make sure you'll be happy with your makeup on the day – you’ll be discussing your skin/hair type and how to care for it before the day, your dress style and colour scheme, what style and colours of makeup you like, what you'll need for touch-ups – everything! All of this also cuts down on time on your wedding day when you'll feel like every second counts. Your artist will talk you through how they do their trials, but they can be really fun as you get to see your ideas come to life! Your artist may ask for a photo of you before your trial too, so they can see your skintone/hair type, etc. At the end of the session, you most likely will have seen your final look - squee!


Do you have references? If a makeup artist gets good feedback, they'll probably be shouting about them anyway on their website or Facebook page because they're great for their business, but if not and they're something you feel comfortable seeing, feel free to ask!

What qualifications do you have? In some countries/states you need qualifications to practise makeup or other cosmetology/aesthetic services, but in some you won't. Make sure if you have local laws requiring qualifications that your artist is legit and has what they need to work, but remember that regardless of this, the persons work should speak to you instead of what school they went to. You can be qualified through the roof but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily any good. You don't need to ask what school someone went to if their work speaks for itself.

How do you chose what look to go for? Can I send you pictures? Gathering makeup looks that you like can be really helpful to your artist – much like when you go to the hairdresser! Sending them a link to your Pinterest board with 1,001 totally different images on won't help them work out what you're looking for though, so try to narrow it down and if you can, let them know what it is you like about the look, i.e., "I love this colour eyeshadow," "I like the pin-up vibe here," “This hairstyle would suit my dress.”   Bear in mind one look may look totally different on different people, so if your artist tries to explain how to change something to work for your skin tone or eye shape, please listen to them!

I’m a person in black/Rainbow Brite Impersonator and I wear crazy/heavy makeup day to day. Can you still help on my wedding day? I know lots of people who wear ‘non conventional’ makeup still want help on their big day. If you normally wear a lot of makeup or a certain style of makeup, mention this to your artist and/or show them photos and stress you want to look like you! They may even ask you to wear your usual style to your trial so you can nail your wedding look together. If you do wear this style of makeup and your artist won't listen to what you want and work with it, don't book them. It's a simple as that. There will be someone out there who will help you make a 'bridal' version of you, I promise.
Keep hygiene in mind!

This is probably the most important part! A quick Google of 'how can I tell if my MUA is hygienic' should tell you all you need to know, but if your artists kit looks dirty, smeared or dusty, if their brushes don't look clean, if they double-dip products (i.e., use the mascara brush that comes from the tube when it's not a fresh tube that they will only use on you, apply lipstick straight from the bullet without disinfecting before and after, applying lipgloss from the tube), have dirty nails, don't have disposable mascara wands, if they don't sanitise/wash their hands, any one of these is a massive red flag. Run away, run away, run away. You might feel comfortable sharing makeup with a friend or sister (I may share a lip balm with my sister for example, but my professional kit is cleaned both during and after each shoot or client, and I make sure they SEE me doing it!) but a professional needs to keep clean at all times -risking giving a client pinkeye is not even thinkable and that is NOT something you want to deal with on your honeymoon. Seriously, hygiene is so important in a professional for health reasons, plus people who don’t clean their kit usually don’t take care of it in other ways – dirty brushes don’t blend as well, unsharpened pencils won’t get as crisp a line, etc., so you won’t get as nice a result anyway!

Disposable mascara wands.

My mate’s doing my makeup!
What about if you want a non-professional to do your makeup? A friend, a cousin, etc.? This is sometimes awkward, because we're all awkward talking about money with friends and family. If they're good at makeup, whether they're pro or not, and they're close to you they may well offer, which is great! Someone offering to do your hair or makeup is a really nice gift, no? However, whether they're a pro or not, you should still ask them to do a trial, and you shouldn't take them up on the offer if you're not 100% confident they'll do a good job. If it's someone close to you, things can get pretty awkward if the result is not what you were expecting. You don't want to hate the makeup on the day and associate those feelings with your friend! You can always use the 'I'd prefer you to relax and enjoy the day,' line which is pretty legit, and lots of people do genuinely feel that way about people offering them services on the day. However, if you do want someone close to you to do it and they don't mention it, ask them what they'd charge - they may give you a good rate, and you won't know if you ask. If they do offer it for free, it's nice to maybe give them a gift if you can, but at least make sure you shout about your makeup to everyone you know and help promote them a little.

Generally speaking, if someone doesn't offer, please don't ask them to do it for free , especially if they're a pro and that's how they make their living. It's not a nice conversation for them to have and you won't get the answer you want. It's their business, after all! Too many makeup artists and hairstylists get people crawling out of the woodwork when their wedding comes around and it's very frustrating. This goes for all services – cakes, photography, etc. I don't mean to lecture, but it's a bit of a pisstake.

Phew! Well, I hope that helped someone out there! If you can think of anything I’ve missed, please let me know! I'm going to be addressing those of us who are doing our own wedding makeup in my next posts, as well as putting together an inspiration gallery for bridal makeup.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Illamasqua Neutrals Palette

I had a little Illamasqua haul recently and the Neutrals palette caught my eye. I love neutral eyeshadows and was in the market for a smaller palette to take with me to my wedding later this year. I’ve never been fussed on the Naked palettes, my Inglot palettes are too damn big to travel with and I’m worried my trusty MUA Undress Me Too wouldn’t stand being bashed around in a suitcase – for all it’s awesomeness, that is some flimsy packaging right there. I read amazing reviews of this palette from Illamasqua, so thought I’d take a chance.

Illamasqua Neutral Palette
Isn’t it a handsome looking little palette? A very simple but chic combination of colours, all wrapped up in that glamorous Illamasqua shape. You get 6g of shadow in this palette, so the shadows aren’t full sized – the single Illamasqua shadows contain 2g each.
Illamasqua Neutral Palette Swatches
L-R, Stealth, Vintage, Wolf and Obsidian. Applied on bare skin on top and NYX Jumbo Eyeshadow in Milk on the bottom. 

According to Illamasqua, Stealth is a ‘creamy buttermilk, matt finish.’ Wolf is a ‘rich chocolate brown, matt finish.’ I find Wolf to be quite cool-toned.  Obsidian is a ‘rich black.’ Vintage is an ‘antique gold’ with a satiny finish and is exclusive to this set – the rest you can buy on their own. This is both great because Stealth, Wolf and Obsidian are such great staple colours, and sucky because Vintage is really gorgeous and richly pigmented and I’m sure would sell well as a single! The pigmentation on the matte shades is good too – Stealth looks a little weaker because it’s closer to my skin tone than the rest, but it performs well. Obsidian isn’t the blackest of blacks, but I find that a plus as  really rich blacks can be harder to work with. I have some from some older Sleek palettes for example that are black as sin, but are awful to apply and blend!

Illamasqua Neutral LOTD 3
Illamasqua Neutral LOTD 2

Vintage on the lid, Wolf in the crease, Obsidian and Wolf together on the outer V and lower lashline, Stealth as inner corner and brow highlights.
Illamasqua Neutral palette Look
Stealth all over the lid over a light layer of NYX Milk pencil, with Wolf blended softly into the crease and on the lower lashline, with Wolf pressed onto the upper lashline.
I’ve really been enjoying this palette – Vintage in particular is really gorgeous and looks great with my eye colour, and the rest of the colours are so handy to have. I’m not sure if this is the one for me for my wedding – I think I’ll still take it, but supplement it with a warmer brown more along the lines of MAC Swiss Chocolate. But it’s six months away, so we shall see! If Wolf were warmer, this would probably be my favourite quad of all time. I do still really like it, but it’s not my 100% perfect neutral set.

Do I think this is a nice palette? Yes indeed I do, a very nice palette! Do I think you can get equally nice neutrals for a lot cheaper? Yes. It’s not the cheapest palette in the world – but it is better value to get a quad where your eyeshadows will run you £5.60 per gram as opposed to £7.75 per gram. If you’re a fan of Illamasqua’s eyeshadows, want to try a palette from them, or simply love the classics, this is a really nice quality item and you can’t go wrong with the colours. You can pick it up for £34* on the Illamasqua site.

What’s your favourite neutral palette?

*I bought this item myself, but I am eligible for Illamasqua’s pro discount scheme.

Monday, 10 March 2014

MAC Viva Glam Rihanna Lipstick and Lipglass

Happy Monday everyone, let’s do some lipstick swatches! Hurrah! I have both items from Viva Glam Rihanna, a lipstick and a tinted lipglass.

MAC VG Rihanna

Oooh, innit gorgeous? These two have the same sort of soft touch rubbery-velvety packaging as the Temperature rising collection from summer 2013 and they are just lovely. Viva Glam lipsticks normally have a little red band on them, so I like that they kept a red colour to the packaging. Riri fans will like the addition of her signature on the bottle of the lipglass and the twist-up part of the lipstick.

MAC VG Rihanna Lipglass Swatch

Viva Glam Rihanna Tinted Lipglass. What a gorgeous finish on this one!

MAC VG Rihanna Lipstick Swatch

Viva Glam Rihanna lipstick. This is a Frost finish and has a gorgeous strawberry tone to it.

VG Rihanna

Both products layered together.

MAc VG Rihanna Swatch

Unnecessary hand swatch.

VG Rihanna LOTD

Both products layered.

Aren’t they lovely? I think I may actually prefer the lipglass slightly out of the two, but they’re both so pretty and girly. I’m glad MAC is finishing up their run of products with Rihanna with a Viva Glam collection. I’m a huge fan of Viva Glam, and I’m glad to see them bringing back some colours that are more likely to suit a huge range of skintones (*cough all the VG Nicki  and VG Gagas*), which the permanent line of VG colours are supposed to. It’s  worth noting that in the promo pictures, Rihanna is wearing Brick lipliner blended into the lipstuck, so the look in the promos is a little different – there’s a face chart and instructions  on the MAC site. I’ll have to try the look soon as it’s gorgeous

The lipstick costs £15 and the tinted lipglass costs £14, with all proceeds going to help men, women and children living with HIV and AIDs. Yes, these are dupeable colours, but as it’s for charity you’ll get no suggestions from me! It is a limited edition collection, but I believe it’s sticking around for the year, so you’ve plenty of time to go and get it!

Have you picked this up?What’s your favourite Viva Glam Lipstick?

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Illamasqua Gleam Highlighter in Aurora

I love me a highlighter but I haven’t used a cream or liquid one for a very long time – not since Benefit discontinued their Moonbeam highlighter and I swore never to buy from them again (lies!). But everyone I know who has tried Illamasqua’s Aurora has raved about it, so I thought it was about time I gave it a go.
Illamasqua Gleam in Aurora
Standard Illamasqua packaging – beautiful! I still love the pinched shape, it's so elegant.

Illamasqua Gleam in Aurora Swatch

Aurora is a pale 'beige champagne iridescent' cream – there’s not too much pink or too much gold/yellow in it, so it should a decent variety of skintones from pale to medium. This is swatched heavily on the left and blended out on the right.

Illamasqua Neutral LOTD 2

All Illamasqua products except my mascara and eyeliner – Illamasqua Neturals Palette, Skinbase in 03, Sangers lipstick and Touch lipgloss, Eyebrow Cake in Peek.

As you can see, it’s a really subtle effect on the skin – you’ll have to zoom in to see properly, but I’m just wearing the highlighter here – no blush or contour. In my opinion, a highlighter usually *should* be subtle. I love a strong look, don’t get me wrong, but most of the time, you probably don’t need a strong highlighter (or contour, but that’s another post in itself!) at all. The soft glow you get from this product is still beautiful and gives you a lovely dewy look. If you wanted, you could certainly build it up more, like in my swatch above, but it is quite an emollient feeling product so bear in mind that if you do build it up, that may affect the longevity. With a normal light application though, this lasts pretty well - better than most cream blushes I’ve tried - so I’m not afraid to wear it to work or on a busy day when I won’t have time to touch up. It feels very lightweight on the skin and the formula is very thin, but it doesn’t feel greasy or like it’s sitting on top of your foundation, ready to smudge and smoosh everywhere. It really is a fab formula!

It’s not a super cheap product at £18.00 , but the finish in my opinion is well worth the money. Definitely one to check out if you’re near an Illamasqua counter soon, and like all products, if you get the chance to test it on your face, do.

What are your favourite champagne highlighters?

Monday, 3 March 2014

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat

Is there anything new left to say about these blushes? No. But I’m going to talk about this one anyway. I skipped the fuss about the Ambient Lighting Powders when they were launched and even though I don’t normally get sucked into hype around new makeup releases (I think I may be the only beauty blogger on the planet who couldn’t give two shits about the Naked palettes) I jumped straight in and pre-ordered one of the Ambient Lighting Blushes.

The Ambient Lighting powders are subtle powders that supposedly give different effects - subtle glows and refined finishes - and the blushes follow on from that with each shade being mixed with a different Ambient Lighting powder. Hourglass says ‘the airy, lightweight powders contain optically transparent particles that amplify the colors to a multi-dimensional level—effectively reinventing the way you view blush…The result is a natural radiant finish with seamless, soft-focus and buildable color. ’ I decided could live with that, so I went ahead and ordered.

Hourlgass Ambient Lighting Blush Diffused Head

As pretty as the gold compact looks, I don’t love it. If feels kind of cheap and very lightweight – for a £28.00, I have to say I expected a little more heft. While I know it’s not all about the packaging, the reality of high-end products is very often the opposite – you’re paying a lot more money for the packaging. So I kind of wanted it to be a bit nicer feeling. Anyway, the blush itself is beautiful looking in the pan with a lovely marbled effect. Hourglass says this is a a ‘vibrant poppy blush combined with Diffused Light for a subtle halo effect.’ I don’t see where the poppy is coming from – this is a warm, slightly pinky peach to my eyes.  I like that this has a large enough vein of the Ambient Lighting powder running through it that I can put a small brush into for a subtle, glowy brow highlight if I want.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Diffused Heat Swatch

Swatched, this looks pretty unimpressive. I have to say, I was really disappointed when I went to swatch it on the back of my hand – I could see shimmer particles, and the colour wasn’t that impressive. I thought I’d spent a whole bunch of cash on what I could have gotten out of a £5 baked blush. But a hand swatch is not the same as a face swatch.

Hourglass Diffused Heat
Ah, on the skin it is *such* a different story, friends. Somehow when you apply it with a brush, it just looks a lot more refined and less flat. It is a very lightweight powder and does kick up adust when you sweep your blush in the pan, so I was expecting to  have to apply a couple of layers, and you don’t need to, at least with this shade. Hourglass say on the site that ‘the cutting-edge formula means that its full potential is only displayed on application.’ You guys – I think this bullshit might actually be true. I don’t know what sorcery it is, but it looks much better on the face than I ever thought it could on the skin. Yeah, it's pretty subtle. But subtle blush is *good*, especially when it's got such a lovely finish.
I have to say that it is really a seamless blush – despite the shimmer particles I saw in my swatch, it almost melts into the skin and the finish looks, dare I say it, very natural. I’m always wary of foundation, blush and powder formulas that claim to be natural/seamless/subtle – are they so sheer looking they’re crap or are they so sheer looking they’re genius? I have to say with this one, it may be the latter. With that in mind, good formulas like this aren’t going to be something other people are going to really notice, and that’s a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your view. This is definitely one of those products that makes you look better but it’s really hard to put your finger on.

And just for  the record, a couple of other poorly-lit photos of me wearing it:
MAC All Fired Up LOTD
Sleek Acid LOTD 4

I…. don’t know how to gather my feelings for this blush properly. Do I think it’s bloody expensive? Yes. Do I think it lives up its claims? Yes, it actually does. The finish is  great, it’s really pretty, and I’ve been wearing it straight for two weeks. Would I spend £28 on another one? Well…. yes, but I probably couldn’t justify it to you! If you’re interested in a blush with a beautiful, subtle finish and you don’t mind paying the prices, Diffused Heat is great, although I have heard it’s one of the more pigmented colours in the range. If you’re not overly fussed, you prefer stronger pigmentation and/or you can’t get to somewhere where you can try these on your face, I would say you could probably skip them. I got mine online because I’m an impatient idiot, but if you are interested, I’d really, really recommend getting to a store to try these – because these are all differently swirled and are meant to be subtle, make sure you look at the one you’re actually physically buying to check the powder-blush ratio is right for you.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders cost £28.00 and I got mine from SpaceNK.