Monday, 28 May 2012

NARS Gaiety vs. Sleek Pixie Pink | Comparison & review

Both NARS and Sleek are well known for their high quality blushes. Plus both of these blushes are pink.. so I thought that was reason enough to do a quick compare on them.

These are not dupes for each other, but they look fairly similar in the pan. On the skin, Gaiety is a lot cooler while Pixie Pink is a warmer, darker pink.

Sleek Pixie Pink, NARS Gaiety
NARS Gaiety, Pixie Pink

In terms of texture, I would say that Gaiety was a bit creamier but there isn't much difference. Both are well pigmented by Gaiety perhaps less so, meaning you can build it up.

Sleek Pixie Pink, NARS Gaiety

As you can see, the colours are completely different on the skin. Gaiety is much more of a bubble gum pink whereas Pixie Pink looks more fuschia to me.

I find Gaiety a lot nicer on my pale skin, but Pixie Pink is still a very nice colour. The quality of the two products is very impressive and consistent between the two- despite more than a £15 price difference.

NARS Gaiety, £21.00
Sleek Pixie Pink, £4.99

Saturday, 26 May 2012

My Everyday Makeup Brushes

My brush collection isn't massive, and I do use pretty much all of the brushes I own to some extent. These are the brushes I use on a daily basis and are therefore probably my "favourite" brushes. I think they are a reasonable mix of higher end, mid range and lower end products (read: MAC, Real Techniques and E.L.F.). With higher end brushes I put a lot of research in before buying them because they can be expensive and I want to make sure I'm getting the most for my money. A couple of the brushes I have I use for purposes other than their "official" one. I always think it's useful to see what people use their brushes for so you can see what other uses they might have. Sometimes a brush is rubbish at its intended purpose, and instead of neglecting it and wasting money, you can usual find an alternative use for it. 

L-R: Eco Tools powder brush, E.L.F. angled blush brush, Real Techniques buffing brush, stippling brush, contour brush, E.L.F. lash/brow brush. Eco Tools angled eyeliner brush, No. 7 eyeshadow shading and blending, MAC 210, 217, Real Techniques foundation brush, MAC 239, Real Techniques concealer brush

Hopefully I listed all of the names correctly, I did it from memory so who knows? 

To break it down, here is a description of how I use the brushes:


Real Techniques Stippling Brush: I use this to apply blush and it works very well with cream blush.

E.L.F. Angled Blush Brush: This is not an amazing brush as it is not at all dense and I struggle to use this with blush as it refuses to pick up enough product. Instead, I use it for highlight as I don't like to be too heavy handed with it. It's great for this purpose.

Real Techniques Buffing Brush: I use this like everyone else- to buff in liquid foundation. So much has been said about how great this brush is, so I'll just say that I agree with all of that. It also comes in handy when I over load the blush on my cheeks and need to blend and tone everything down.

Real Techniques Foundation Brush: Okay, does anybody use this as a foundation brush? Why would you when it's so tiny and comes in a collection with the AMAZING buffing brush? Sorry "foundation brush." I use it for concealer under my eyes and it works well to go over fall out you might have from eye shadow.

Eco Tools Powder Brush: My favourite brush for blush! I use it more than the stippling brush. It's a perfect size and sooo soft. One of my true (brush) loves!

Real Techniques Contour Brush: I use this to contour my cheeks with bronzer and to apply highlight. Sometimes I use it to put on blush too, so it is a general good all-rounder if you were traveling and wanted to pack light.


MAC 210: Gel liner application. Best brush I have found for this.

Real Techniques Concealer Brush: Like to RT foundation brush, I find it inappropriate for its official use because of it's size. It is tiny. Luckily this makes it perfect to add highlight to the inner corner of the eye. Before I had this brush I really struggled to find something to do that properly.

MAC 239: Packing eyeshadow on. My favourite ever brush for putting eyeshadow onto my lid in a lovely manner. Expensive, but does the job. Much better than my Eco tools or Urban Decay brushes for doing the job.

No. 7 Blending Brush: I did a post on this, comparing it to the 217. It is not as good as the 217 but I use it most days because I usually need a second blending brush.

MAC 217: My all time favourite brush. BLENDING, BLENDING, BLENDING. 


Eco Tools Angled Eye Liner Brush: This is the only thing I use to fill my brows in. It is not the most amazing brush in the world for doing it, but I have no complaints. One day I will splash out on something better, but for now it does the job just fine.

E.L.F. Lash/Brow brush: I use this to comb through my brows and put them into a nice shape, in preparation for filling them in. Sometimes I comb through my lashes with it, but not very often.

So, those are the brushes I use on a day-to-day basis. Is it not very many, average or a lot?!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

MAC 217 vs. No. 7 Eyeshadow Blend & Contour | Comparison

As a blending obsessive, I am always wishing I had more blending brushes. Up until a few weeks ago I only owned a MAC 217. I can get by with the one, but really, you need more than on blending brush for a perfect smoky eye.

In a world where money grows on trees, I would probably like to have ten 217s to hand. That is excessive I suppose, and 4 would probably be a perfect amount.

Anyhoo, I'd heard lots about the No. 7 blending brush. It retails for £7.25, but if you have a voucher (and when don't you have a voucher?) it will set you back just £2.25. This is a much nicer price than the £16 for a 217. I wasn't expecting that it would surpass my 217 and that I would be able to stock up on a couple of these for under £10 and be done, but I thought it would be a useful addition to my brush set.

Shown in comparison to a vaseline tin for a good idea of scale

So, how do they compare? Firstly, the MAC 217 is a lot longer than the No. 7 brush. This means the No. 7 brush is easier to use closer to the mirror and more handy to travel with/throw in your bag. The length of the 217 has never bothered me though. So I think length is just a personal preference, if you prefer shorter brushes, the No. 7 brush will probably appeal to you.

In terms of weight, the MAC 217 is considerably "weightier." I can't really say it's heavier, because these brushes barely weigh a thing. But the 217 is certainly more substantial. I quite like that feeling when I'm paying £16 for a brush, but I can let it go if I'm paying less than £3.

L-R: MAC 217, No. 7. The 217 is considerably wider

Finally, how does the blending compare? Well, unfortunately the 217 is my winner. The hairs are a lot denser and the No. 7 brush seems quite flimsy in comparison. However, the No. 7 brush still does an OK job. Just not as well as the 217. OMG, SO MANY NUMBERS!! Confusing. After using the two side-by-side for about two weeks now, I always reach for the 217. And sometimes after I've used the No. 7 brush, I go over it with the 217. This might just be me thinking that the 217 can do it better, I can't say.

Unfortunately this is a crappy photo, but it shows that the 217
 is considerably thicker and denser than the No. 7 brush

I would say that the No. 7 brush is worth getting if a) you can't afford the 217, or simply don't want to spend that amount of money on a brush or b) want to add a couple of extra blending brushes to your set. 

Because these are so cheap with a No. 7 voucher, I'm definitely going to pick up a couple of more, because it is so handy to have clean blending brushes. A clean No. 7 blending brush is going to be of more use than a dirty 217. One day I might splash out a couple more 217s, but until then I am happy with this cheaper alternative to rely on.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Fun top coats

I am a nail varnish/polish freak. As a result I have amassed a huge collection and of course, it doesn't last for a very long time, so I do try to keep the amount I have down to a reasonable number. One way of doing this is with different top coats. With a couple of different top coats and a few colours you can get so many unique looks. It's also useful if you're bored of a colour and feel bad that you no longer wear it. Neglected nail polishes, this is your friend!

My two current favourite top coats are Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Hidden Treasure and Model's Own in Indian Ocean. These are both pretty famous products, so I'm definitely not breaking any ground here, but I thought I'd talk about them anyway.

I know Sally Hansen was limited edition but I just bought a couple more bottles of this the other week in a cheap shop in town, so it's still around!

The Model's Own Indian Ocean is more readily available in Boots.

Both of these polishes are duochrome which may be my one true love. I love duochrome lips, eyes (MAC Club!!) and nails. If I could work it into blushes and foundation.. well, I probably wouldn't. But I'd be tempted.

Because they are both duochrome they add a lot more depth to what would just be a plain single-colour polish. Sometimes I like that, but sometimes it's good spice it up a bit in the nail department.

Indian Ocean has blue, purple and gold colours
 and looks different in different lights

I've found that both of these last a long time on my nails. I normally plan to put a proper, clear top coat over the top of them, but always forget. Luckily these last. I would say I get 3-4 days with no chipping and up to a week of acceptable wear out of them. I'm a bit fussy about chipped nails though, so for someone who isn't bothered by it could wear it for a lot longer. 

I haven't tried to wear Indian Ocean on its own, mainly because I saw swatches of how many layers it needs to become opaque (it doesn't ever seem to reach a good level of opacity), and I just don't think Hidden Treasure would look good on its own. However, they are worth owning simply to layer over colours. 

Hidden treasure is mainly a gold colour
 but it also has some green in it

On a negative note, I have read that Model's Own Nail Polishes contain 'The Big Three' (formaldehyde, toluene and DBP) which isn't great, I guess? I'm not a scientist so I won't pretend to know that I know a lot about this as I have not looked into it enough. But if these things freak you out (and maybe they should? I don't know) then give Model's Own a miss. They do sell a Big Three-free line, but why can't all of their products be free from horrible chemicals?


Model's Own Indian Ocean

Model's Own Indian Ocean layered over the top of Revlon Lilac Pastelle

Model's Own Indian Ocean layered over the top of Technic Pretty Pastels (no other name given..)

I've only Indian Ocean with purple colours but I think it would work on all sorts of other colours, especially blues. One coat is quite subtle and wouldn't clash with any colour underneath. I think it could look really cool over black.

Sally Hansen Hidden Treasure:

Sally Hansen Hidden Treasure layered over Nails Inc. Powder Pink 
(exclusive to this month's InStyle magazine)

Hidden treasure is SO GOOD over a nude colour. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of that, but I am not exaggerating the absolute beauty of those two combined.

I can't pick a favourite out of these as they serve different purposes. Well, I use them both as a top coat to make the colour underneath look more interesting, but one's cool toned and one's warm. So they're completely different? If you want something to make your nails look a little different, these two are perfect!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Lancome Hypnose Drama Mascara | Review

Oh my, what a mouthful of a name!

I've decided that I'm not going to do Glossybox posts for a number of reasons. 1) I get it delivered to a different address and don't see the products for a while, making it impossible and 2) There are a plethora of them, most of which I read myself.  I take some kind of sick pleasure in seeing what everyone else's boxes contained.

However, I thought I would review individual products which come in the boxes after I have had an opportunity to use them and they stand out to me. Today is one of those days!

When I got my Harrods box I was fairly unimpressed- a perfume sample, a tiny moisturiser sample (actually worth a little over £20 because the full size costs a ridiculous amount), a cleanser sample which I'd been given several of for free before, a shower gel and a mascara. Wow, looks like I just did a mini glossybox post. Anyway, onto the mascara. I was pretty underwhelmed to receive it as I have several thousand (read: 8-10) mascaras which I am endeavouring to get through. As soon as I used the Lancome one however, my pile of others has been neglected (sorry mascaras). It is the best mascara I have ever used!

Oh dear. This is just the sample packaging, and in no way resembles the full size packaging :S

Obviously this mascara doesn't give the effect of wearing false lashes, and I refuse to believe any mascara ever will. But the look it does give is very dramatic. If you're not a fan of big lashes for the day then this might be a bit much, but I'm sure it's possible to achieve a tamer application. I haven't tried. I'm too into big lashes for every occasion. The S-shaped wand of this mascara is a little bit different than anything I've ever used before. It is loaded with bristles and picks up a LOT of product, which is something I think some people will hate. This does pose a major clump threat but I haven't had any problems thus far. It does, however, give my lashes volume which really is as important as length to me. I've worn this in the evening on a couple of occasions and I definitely think it is ideal for that purpose. After a day of wear my lashes still look good, no flaking or any other hideous mascara-related problems to be reported.

One view of the wand, not looking S-shaped

I've always been against buying a high end mascara, but unfortunately this one may push to it. I've always been happy with my Max Factor False Lash Effect, which up until now I thought was the best thing for my lashes. EVER. I was mistaken. I am both sad and happy about this. Happy because I can achieve better lashes and shopping at a department store is more fun than shopping in Boots, but sad because, well.. shopping at a department store is more expensive than shopping in Boots.

The S-shape of the wand.. with a lot of product on it!

I'm not sure how many ways I can say "It adds volume", "It totally lengthens", "It's really.. black," so I shall let the photo do its thing. Unfortunately the photos aren't great but hopefully they can demonstrate more than I can with words like "big" and "impressive."

Taken after a day of wear (side note: taking photos of your eye is not easy)

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

NYC Blue Rose Lipstick | Review

I got this lipstick because it is supposed to be a dupe for MAC's Show Orchid, a limited edition and now Pro lipstick. I'd been meaning to look into ordering it but decided first to google some dupes and lots of information came up for this one. I thought for £1.49 I would buy this, check I like it, and then look in to somehow getting Show Orchid (I'm lazy and phoning up MAC seems like a lot of effort). This is also my first (and only) product from NYC. Im really not a makeup snob but I've always veered away from the brand for some reason. So here are my thoughts on the lipstick.

The first superdrug that I looked for the lipstick in was sold out, along with about three quarters of the other colours. I'm not sure if they are really popular products, or if they shop was badly stocked. When I got to my second superdrug of the day, there was only one left, so I grabbed it quickly! So assuming both superdrug aren't just run poorly, I would imagine this could be a popular colour?

The colour of this lipstick is a GORGEOUS (!!) vivid blue purple. Although I don't have Show Orchid to compare it to, from side by side swatches I've seen, they look identical. The colour is very bright and as when the light catches it you can see the blue quite strongly. This is definitely and evening lipstick, or a day time LOOK AT ME lipstick. I reserve it for evenings.

The texture and pigmentation are lovely. It doesn't drag on the lips and one swipe packs on enough colour. However, the colour is not going to stay for very long. Drinking from a glass will leave it covered in the colour, although some still remains on your lips. So, this is a lot of upkeep. It costs £1.49 though, so is it that unexpected? If I'm not eating or drinking, this lasts for about 4 hours on me.

Swatched: 2-3 layers, 1 strong layer, 1 very light layer and just dabbed on lightly

Another gripe I have with this is the packaging. Ugh!! The bullet does not go all the way down, which while this might look nice in the packaging, does not bode well for keeping it in shape. I am very careful with this lipstick but I have still dented it more times than I care to remember. What a hideous design flaw. If you weren't careful and were doing your lipstick in a hurry you could easily break the bullet off completely. However, I do think the packaging looks OK, tacky, but OK. Just not functional.

The lid, which has lipstick all over it from where it hits the bullet every time I try to put it away

This is definitely one of my favourite colours to wear, and is up there with my MAC lipsticks for a "I want my lips to look cool" situation. Obviously at £1.49, you are not getting MAC quality, but if you like Show Orchid and are lazy like me and don't want to bother with the hassle of getting a pro lipstick, definitely give this a go. Yes, the packaging is terrible and you probably shouldn't kiss anyone while you're wearing it to avoid plastering it on their face, but it is a beautiful, fun colour, so why not?!

A quick, messy application

Weird picture? I find it annoying when lipsticks only 'stick to' the outside of my lip. Unfortunately I'm bad at explaining, but this lipstick covers the whole lip well, so you're not left with a horrible ring of colour!

For now my umm-ing and aah-ing over whether or not to get Show Orchid has been postponed!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Topshop highlighter- Sunbeam | Review

I'm going through a bit of a highlighter obsession. I am the unlucky owner/wearer/VICTIM of dry skin. Yay. Therefore I find myself drawn to anything which can offer me a 'dewy' 'shimmery' complexion. Mmm. When swatching a few items in Topshop a couple of weeks ago, I saw this and stood there for a while loving it. I thought I'd be responsible and not buy it until I was sure I needed it (of course I NEED

Having returned to Topshop and snapped it up (with my student discount.. dropping it down from £10 to £9. Woah.) I can happily say that this is amazing and that everyone should own it- if you are in the market for a highlighter.

It's a really nice texture, very pigmented and looks so lovely on the skin. So, I guess it ticks all the boxes a highlighter should? It also comes in semi-cute packaging. I like the colour, I like the shape, I like how easily it opens.

It contains 6.6 grams of product so I'm sure this will last me forever, if I stop randomly swatching it every time I walk past it. It's just such a golden, shimmery, beautiful colour that I feel compelled to put my finger in it at least once a day. Gross.

Swatched heavily, medium-ly and then just a gentle dusting

This gets massive thumbs up from me. I have 'retired' my other highlighters to a drawer where all my neglected items go to feel neglected and am committed solely to this one until I next do a makeup rotation. That will be a sad day.