Friday, November 30, 2012

The Body Shop - Vitamin C Microdermabrasion

Last Friday The Body Shop offered Ireland a little slice of Black Friday shopping with 30% off everything in the shop.  Besides there being a great selection of Christmas presents to choose from I decided to stock up on two of my favourite Body Shop products at the moment.  I am currently obsessed with the Ginger Sparkle Body Butters (normal price €18.95).  Besides having the cutest little gingerbread man on the packaging the butter smells amazing.  I know some people don't like the smell of ginger but this body butter leaves a soft scent without being overpowering.  I didn't notice much sparkle (although there is a sparkling body lotion if you want more shimmer for the party season) my skin has been feeling absolutely amazing, just what is needed during this cold snap.  I am a bit odd where it comes to nice body creams and butters - I only use them on the top half of my body where I can smell the scent and I use a lesser cream on the bottom half of my body (anybody else have body cream snobbery like this?)  Now that I am stocked up on Ginger Sparkle my whole body is properly moisturised and what a difference it's making to my shins and calves

The main reason I went into the Body Shop was to stock up on the Vitamin C Microdermabrasion, to be honest it's kinda weird I haven't blogged about this before.  This little product has been working away in my bathroom for a while now.  As the name suggests, it's a microdermabrasion product 
which uses very small exfoliating particles and crushed garnet stones with the added boost of Vitamin C.  The product removes dead skin cells which leaves the skin soft and smooth while looking brighter and feeling fresher.   It's very easy to use - I keep it in the shower and use it about three times a week.  You can feel the particles scrubbing on your skin but it is not rough on my skin and it doesn't inflame my skin. 

All this is done with a light refreshing citrus scent.  When I first tried this in the shop I was stroking my hand where the cream had exfoliated and left the skin baby soft.  I used to use Origins Modern Friction for a similar purpose but I actually prefer the Body Shop's Vitamin C and what a bargain it is when Origins Modern Friction costs €44.00 and the Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion costs €17.00.

As an added bonus you can get mini facials in the Body Shop which cost  €15 which is redeemable against the purchase of any skincare products. So you could buy the product and get a free facial.

 Did you pick up anything from The Body Shop's Black Friday offers?
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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Perfume Gift Giving Made Easier with Scentlab at Debenhams

There's no doubting that perfume is a lovely gift to give and receive. However, sometimes I'm quite reluctant to buy fragrance for someone unless I know that there's a particular one they like because scent is such a personal and subjective thing. Something that I love, other people can hate (case in point: anyone who comes within a few feet of me these days will be hit by a waft of Thierry Mugler's Angel and I know that's a real love or hate scent - sorry if you hate it!). 

Yet, perfume is a really classic Christmas present and countless bottles and sets will be bought all over the land over the next few weeks. How can you be sure that the recipient of your gift will like what they're getting? Well, maybe give Scentlab a go. 

Scentlab, which is exclusively in Ireland at Debenhams on Henry Street in Dublin, is a really cool touchscreen device that is basically a virtual perfume advisor. Through a questionnaire, either based on the type of scents that the person likes (eg. caramel, floral, oriental, etc.), or based on their lifestyle (or the lifestyle they aspire to!), Scentlab will suggest three perfumes that best suit them. It chooses from over 30 fragrances, testers of most of which are very handily displayed beside the screen. 

I thought this was a really fun innovation and I can see it being very useful for loads of people over the Christmas season. It definitely takes some of the guesswork out of selecting a perfume to give as a gift. 

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lancome Happy Holidays 2012 - My Top Two Picks of the Collection

I never used to really go to Lancome for makeup. I of course used their Star Bronzer and have used their mascaras over the years but I have always steered away from the makeup range.  If I am being honest I always thought that their makeup was for the more "mature" lady, I get a grown up vibe from the counters and the promotional pictures.  Earlier in the year my lovely friend Andreea at Your Beauty  introduced me to the products and once I started using Lancome products I realised what amazing quality they were. One of the first products I was introduced to were the newly formulated and packaged eye shadows. When you start using Lancome shadows, your MAC shadows will be tossed over your shoulder and you will not look back.

I have become a bit of a Lancome convert and when I saw some of the products due for the Christmas collection I was very excited.  Can I start by just saying that I HATE the promotional picture that goes with the collection - I love the picture of the makeup but I don't understand why the model is pictured twice? (answers on a postcard).  I think the makeup in the collection is stunning but I am kinda left cold by the visual.  Emma Watson is one of the new brand ambassadors and I am excited to see how they use her to attract a younger brand audience.

The Christmas collection is a wonderful edit of wearable and pretty golden shades and I have to admit it was really hard for me to pick just two items.  What I love about this collection is when you're wearing the shades they enhance your look, people comment that "you look well" not that "your makeup looks well".  The products really help you to shine.

My first pick is Ombre Hypnôse Mono in Fil d’Argent (is it wrong I want all three of the eyeshadow shades?).  Not only have Lancome jazzed packaging up for Christmas with pretty golden packaging, they have also created a fancy taupe (I already have another Lancome taupe that is stunning but this one blows it out of the water).  You would think that taupe is taupe, but Fil d'Argent schools all other taupes.  This a wearable pretty shade that can be used wet or dry - I love eye shadows that you can use wet or dry as it means that you can increase pigmentation and create a different look out of one shade.  If you don't believe how stunning these shadows are go and have a swatch, they are so soft and buttery.  The eye shadows cost €25.00 each which is on the spendy side but the quality of the shadows is amazing,  I guarantee that once you swatch them you will be hooked.

My second choice is Ombre Les Paillettes aux Yeux in  À la Belle Étoile which is a loose pigment in a apricot/light rose gold shade.  This is going to be hit or miss with some people, Sile reckons it's a bit messy but I think the shade makes it worth while.  I have been using this all over my lid as a light colour and then using Fil d'Argent on the lid (and sometimes wetting the shadow and using it as a liner).  I am planning on using this as a highlighter on my cheekbones (well to create some cheekbones) and along my shoulder blades (again to create shoulder blades) over Christmas.  This pigment costs €24.50 and I can see it lasting forever.

I have the pigment here over my eye and used the shadow as a liner for a pretty and simple look.
Here I blended the shadow up the lid and used the shadow wet all along the lid.

As I have said I found it very hard to just pick two things (the liner in Jazzy Taupe has my name written all over it).

Also available from Lancome this Christmas is a pretty amazing beauty box.  When you spend over €35.00 (that will be the gold eyeshadow and jazzy taupe liner for me) you can purchase this amazing beauty box for €50.00.  Let me put the value in perspective for you. The full size Bi-Facil makeup remover is €28.00 and the blusher would be over €36.00 - that is already over the €50.00 and I have only mentioned two items. 
So even though I don't like the advertising campaign for the Christmas Collection from Lancome I am absolutely in love with the products, the quality really is outstanding.   I will go as far to say that this is my favourite makeup collection this Christmas.  The products really proved themselves to me and it was my mistake to think that Lancome was for the more mature lady - I love them and I am not in the least mature.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Models Own Disco Mix

This polish is a bit legendary. It seems like I've been looking at it for years on UK beauty blogs, but I never met it in the flesh until last Friday in Boots in Liffey Valley. Of course, it came home with me ;)

Apologies for the blurry photo but the light was brutal and the flash on the camera was washing out the sparkle so the above picture actually gives a good impression of what the polish is really like. The colour is STUNNING - a mixture of jewel toned pink, purple and blue glitter. 

This is two (quite sloppily applied) coats - it probably could have done with a third. The coverage is quite good though, it isn't one of those glitter polishes that you need to apply ten coats of to get anywhere. I added a top coat of Sally Hansen's Insta Dri to smooth things over. By the way, I'm finding that Insta Dri is really improving the longevity of glitter polishes on me. 

So what do you think? I think this polish definitely deserves the 'legend' status I had given it in my head! 
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Vichy Idealia Soothing and Illuminating Cream - It's really quite amazing

It's very exciting hearing about new beauty products but I have to admit sometimes when you hear the science behind how the skin acts and reacts it can leave you in a shuddering mess in the corner.  There is nothing like hearing about the mortality of your skin to leave you rocking back and forth with your gnarled hands covering your face - one step away from turning into the wicked witch from many a fairy tale with your skin disintegrating by the second.

While my skin if not my mentality is getting more mature  it is still a bit mental - it can be a little oily and I get breakouts on my chin (which are sometimes Ben and Jerry induced).  In September Vichy launched Idealia in response to us all wanting the obvious perfect or "Ideal" skin.  Skin that is youthful looking, luminous, radiant and free from blotches and redness.  Idealia works on improving the tone and texture of the skin and is quite a magical little pearlscent tub.

Vichy have put five years of research into this cream which is made up of Kombucha which is made from Ceylon tea and gives long lasting toning (and is also a health drink of the same name if I am not mistaken), AHA’s to smooth skin texture, Vitamin B to increase radiance, Polyphenols to aid micro-circulation, LHA to promote cell renewal, Adenosine, a retinol-like anti-wrinkle action and Vitamin E which of course is an antioxidant to help fight against free radical stress on cells.  So there are a lot of busy little ingredients.

Vichy have done extensive testing on Idealia and the clinical results are pretty impressive with skin texture and pore visibility improving by 21%.  Skin tone was improved (more even complexion +27% improved micro-circulation and radiance +33%) and of course the one we all want to know about - wrinkles were improved by 16%.

Clinical tests are grand and everything but how did I find the cream?  I have the cream in normal/combination (its also available for dry skin).  The packaging is a beautful pearlescent tub which contains the slightly pink pearlescent cream - except its not really a cream, it's a cream/gel hybrid.  Idealia is light and fresh on the skin and I find it absorbes really well.  My skin tends to get dehydrated so it needs moisture, except creams tend to be too heavy for my skin.  My skin is like Goldilocks and Idealia is just perfect for it.  My skin has noticeably improved, it feels fresher and brighter and apart from the odd Ben and Jerry break out I haven't even been having spots.  As I mentioned above my skin finds cream too heavy and I can get milia (white heads) on the tops of my cheeks but I have noticed since using Idealia that not only have I not gotten as many, they seem to have diminished.  I also like that the cream doesn't have an overpowering scent - there is a slight fragrance but not one where you think people can "smell your face".

The cream, although it has anti ageing properties, is aimed as a cream for women (and men I suppose - actually the cream/ gel texture would be lovely after shaving the face I imagine) of all ages and skin types and as the skin on my face seems to be living in varying decades (eyes are beginning to show their age but chin is still a stroppy teenager at times) I can see how it would work on varying skin types and ages.

Of course because it's Vichy it contains Vichy Thermal Spa Water is suitable for sensitive skin and is hypoallergenic, paraben-free, dermatologically tested, comedogenic, and physiological pH 5.5.

When I showed this cream to Sile she loved the consistency but told me how she hated creams that you have to take out of a tub - she can't stand it and thinks its unhygienic.  Personally this doesn't bother me but some people should keep it in mind. 

When I run out of Idealia I will again return to rocking back and forth covering my face and wait impatiently for my flying monkeys to return with more of this skin saviour.

IDEALIA Smoothing and Illuminating Cream is available now and costs (50ml) €26.00.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Stila Snow Angel Color Palette Christmas 2012 - it's a MUST HAVE

Crack open your Christmas lists, tell Santa you have been very nice altogether, I have something here that everybody will want and need this Christmas.  Stila's Christmas Collection really does have something for everyone and quite honestly I don't know who would not want to receive this Snow Angel Colour Palette this Christmas.

The palette is designed to look like a snow flake, a beautiful snow flake filled with magical Stila goodies.
The palette contains 18 eye shadows in the shades: peace, love, gold, sleigh, cookie, dashing, eggnog, icicle, dance, merry, kitten, jingle, gingerbread, truffle, chestnut, cool, clove and fairy.

But sure why stop there, the outside colours of the palette are 12 cheek colours: shimmery snow angel, shimmery coral, shimmery apricot, shimmery peach, shimmery pink, shimmery plum, matte pink, matte plum, matte berry, matte melon, matte clay and matte bronze.

For good measure Stila have added a deluxe sample size Stay All Day Waterproof Volumizing Mascara and a look book to give you a few ideas for makeup looks.

The eye shadows, as with all of Stila's shadows, can be used wet or dry. This is one of the reasons I love Stila eye shadows, it makes them so versatile and you can create two different shades with the one shadow.  Sometimes I worry when there is a set or pallete like this that the quality with not be as good as the regular products - don't worry the quality of these shadows is superb.  They are buttery soft and a joy to use, I even enjoy using the matte colours.  The shades are luscious, warm and pretty - there are enough shades to keep me a busy girl for a long time.

The palette offers a great range of cheek colours (you can see these are the colours on the outer part of the palette) from a bright hot pink to a matte bronze and also a highlighter.  My favourite - well it's too hard to pick just one.

The only products that Stila don't wow me with tend to be the mascaras - that could be because my eyelashes are not the most impressive lashes -  but it is lovely to try this mascara, sure we are not going to say no are we?  I look on it as an added bonus.

I was going to swatch the whole palette but where would I put so many colours?  Should I swatch all 30 shades on my belly (granted it's big enough). Above I took a small selection and swiped once and swatched them on my arm. 

For me this palette is a MUST HAVE this Christmas,  when I got it I jumped up and down, did a twirl, hugged it to my chest.  The palette is so pretty and the colours are beautiful. There is something for the neutral girl and something to add a pop of colour. 

So Santa could you please bring all beauty lovers this amazing palette for Christmas, they deserve it and will be really good for the rest of the year, what's more it wont cost you a fortune.  You can pick it up at the Stila counter in Harvey Nicks Dublin for €35.00 (yeah that's right 18 eye shadows and 12 blushers for THIRTY FIVE EURO) or at where shipping is free for Ireland and the UK (click here).

I think that Stila have done an amazing job at creating not only a pretty and practical and pigmented palette (how is that for alliteration for you?) but also one that is very affordable and lets face it at just over €1 a shadow it's fantastic value.

If you happen to think that this is perhaps too many colours for you - maybe it's too pretty, maybe its value is too mind blowing - then don't forget to check out the rest of Stila's fantastic Christmas Collection (go on and click here and look at the prettiness).

PR Sample

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Black Friday at the Body Shop!

I've never been in America for the Black Friday sales but I'd say I'd be a really good Black Friday shopper - I can be super military-like at times when it comes to shopping and I'm also fairly handy with the elbows when the situation requires it ;-)

This year The Body Shop is bringing a little bit of the Black Friday sales experience to Ireland by offering 30% off everything in store this Friday 23rd November.  How amazing is that?!

We've already looked at some of the great stuff they have in for Christmas this year - this is the perfect opportunity to cross some presents off your shopping list. And you know we advocate a 'one for them, one for me' approach to Christmas shopping.

See you there!
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NOTD - OPI On Her Majesty's Secret Service

You can tell that I am a beauty lover from this post - yes that's right I have some polishes from the OPI 007 collection and I still haven't seen Skyfall.  I know, priorities.  I picked up On her Majesty's Secret Service when I was in America where it cost me $2.00 and change.  The shop I bought it in had a special offer on - buy one get one 75% off which I only noticed when I looked at my receipt later.  I should have gone back and bought ALL THE POLISHES, especially when we are paying nearly €13.00 per bottle here.

HMSS is a beautiful gunmetal shimmery sparkly colour - it gives the shimmer and vibrancy of a glitter without it being a pain in the bum to remove.  It also has subtle different colour shimmer, a glint of red here and a glint of blue there.  It's really pretty.

You can't really see how pretty the polish is from the pictures and it is perfect for this time of year. I have seen the collection in my local chemist and the whole collection is very pretty.  Right all I need now is a blue eyed hunk in a tux.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stila Brush Set Christmas 2012

When buying Christmas presents I tend to go with a "one for you, one for me" approach especially when I set eyes on Stila's fantastic Christmas sets.  Now as you know I am a huge Stila fan and I particularly love their brushes which have lasted me years.  Stila's Christmas Brush Set is fantastic, really cute and when I found out it costs €24.00 I snapped one up on a recent visit to the sparkly new Stila Stand in Harvey Nicks Dublin.

There are five brushes in this set all with beautiful arctic blue handles (ah sure I don't know if they are arctic blue but it sounds suitably festive). The quality of the brush handles is the same as their usual (normally black handled) brushes except these are slightly shorter - although not tiny nubbin brushes like some brands release as Christmas sets.
The brushes that are in the set are pretty much everything you need to create a face of makeup - no bizarre extra brushes that you would only use on the second Sunday in January to create the perfect prison tattoos - these are all brushes that you would use every day. 

The set includes:
  • #24 powder brush
  • #5 eye shadow brush
  • #33b domed concealer brush
  • #33a foundation brush
  • #4 smudger/liner brush
First up is the Number 24 powder brush.  I am used to big fat whopper face brushes which I tend to use to apply bronzer, so when I saw this I was thinking it won't "size up" so to speak against my face.  I started to use the brush to apply blush and it is perfect.  It picks up the right amount of product and without any effort applies it to my face.  It makes the perfect cheek brush.

33a foundation brush and the 33b domed concealer brush are usually together on a double ended brush (you can read about that here) that happens to be one of my favourite foundation brushes so I am delighted to see them included in the set. 

The foundation brush allows you to brush on your foundation in no time, it's like a flat foundation brush and a bigger brush had a baby.  In essence you can brush on your foundation and buff it out at the same time which makes it very easy to use and it also doesn't eat half of your foundation (some foundation brushes can be so hungry).  It's another simple to use and essential brush.

33b domed concealer brush - Oh how I love.  Seriously this magic little brush helps me to apply concealer in the same manner as the foundation brush, by applying and blending out the product quickly and easily.  What I love most about this brush is that it manages to fit beautifully under my eyes and also around my nostrils which get very red indeed.   I hate those flat concealer brushes that just kinda wipe the product around your face, recently of course fluffy brushes have become the trend for applying concealer.  This brush mixes the two but as well as applying the product beautifully it also perfectly fits the contours of your face.  It is wonderful to use.

No 5 eye shadow brush - in fairness you wouldn't really be able to create a face without having a basic eyeshadow brush.    As you can see below it's very similar to the MAC 213 but slightly wider and slightly less dense.  I love these kind of brushes to apply my eyeshadow.  This brush is another easy to use, essential brush.  You will see below the brush compared to a MAC brush.

4 smudger/liner brush - This is a bit of an odd brush its not flat enough to be a flat liner brush and its not skinny enough to be a skinny liner.  For me its the only dud brush of the set as its bristles are a bit rough to use on the lids.  It applys my smudge pot nicely although unfortunately not very comfortably - its scratchy and a bit rough on the lids.  I am disappointed with this brush (go straight to your room and do your homework and learn how to be softer) but it doesn't take away from the set as a whole. 

In all I think this set is fantastic value at €24.00, I would use all of the brushes everyday (in fact they are what I have been using everyday) apart from the liner brush which is just too scratchy for me to use.  I think this brush set would make a fantastic gift for anyone and you would never think that the 5 brushes cost €24.00 that works out at €4.80 a brush or €6.00 if you exclude the scratchy liner brush.

As well as the brush set Stila have some fantastic sets released for Christmas - some of which I will post on in more detail but they include a starter skincare set for €12.00 (an exciting new skincare range is set to launch early next year),  The long wear lip colour set which costs €29.00, the Seeing Stars Smudge Stick Set which costs €35.00 and the Written in the Stars palette which costs €28.00.  

There are plenty of things that we can add to our Stila Christmas list - what's on yours?
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Armani Eyes to Kill Quad Palette No 6 Boudoir

I have been having a bit of a love affair recently - you will be pleased to know I have excellent taste and this love affair involved Giorgio Armani and the Eyes to Kill Quad in Number 6.  This love affair makes me feel really classy and sophisticated as only Armani can make a girl feel.  When I started using this I needed some cheering up - I had just returned home from my holidays so I was experiencing a post holiday downer and I was feeling shattered.  Eyes to Kill quad was exactly what I needed.

The quad is simple and stunning and is a mix of two shimmering shadows (the top two) and two matte shades (the bottom two).  Now you may or may not know that I am not a fan of matte shadows - I know all the cool kids are big fans but I am neither cool nor a kid and  for the most part matte shadows are hard to work with and generally a bit poo (I cant believe I used the word poo in a Armani post, it seems so wrong).  Armani promises that these are  "the perfect matte" - pift I thought, prove it. 
If I am being honest here when I started to play with this quad (hands up who plays with make up) it was a lazy Sunday and when I mean lazy, I mean I was still in my PJs with an unwashed face - the minute I started to swatch the shadows I knew they were something special so I legged it in to wash my face so I could put these on my eyes. The shadows are soft and yet pigmented and the mattes are only frickin' deadly - they are not chalky or bitty, Armani have indeed created a smooth and blendable matte. OK OK Armani I believe you they are the perfect matte - and quite possibly the perfect quad.
There is not a bum colour in the set - initially I thought the lightest matte colour (second on left above) was a bit too ruddy brown, but it is extremely flattering on the eye.  It's just one of those sets where all the colours work well.

The compact itself is sleek black, now usually I am not a fan of plain black packaging (ahem MAC) but Armani make it sleek with a satisfying magnetic close, which makes it so fancy like something Bond would use - if Bond was a woman or perhaps just wanted to highlight those amazing blue peepers (these colours would look stunning on him).  My only gripe with the packaging is the inclusion of the sponge applicators.  The palette costs €58.50 so if I am spending that much on a palette I am going to have a couple of brushes floating around.    When buying makeup I tend to apply "Makeup Maths" and to me I would feel a whole lot better if the palette didn't have the spongy tips and the secret compartment where they are held and the palette cost €48.50.  Makeup Maths would make me feel better if the palette was under the big 50 - its just the way my mind works.

Armani Eyes to Kill Quad Palette No 6 Boudoir costs €58.50 and would make a fantastic Christmas present.  Armani Cosmetics have been knocking it out of the park lately and I have been so impressed by their latest offerings.  What is your favourite product from Armani?
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