Saturday, 31 August 2013

Review: Sans Soucis Mascara

Mascara is one of those pieces of make up that you really need to get right. How many of us have looked someone in the eye only to be distracted by stuck together clumpy lashes? Just me? I didn't think so! As a blonde, I need mascara to avoid that blonde eyelashed look favoured by Jon Bon Jovi and errr... piglets. Sadly, I also have incredibly sensitive eyes so am limited in my choices.

Sans Soucis is a German brand who uses thermal spring water from Baden Baden. Their skincare is absolutely amazing, I highly recommend. I have also tried some of their eyeshadows and they are good, sturdy products; not in the same league as their skincare, but certainly worth the pennies paid.

Today, however, I'm reviewing the mascara. My first impression is that the brush (above) is a very unusual shape and you can see from the photo that the mascara is stringy and wet. I found it difficult to work with the brush and the consistency, especially when trying to coat the lashes right down into the base.

I found it really tricky as well to get the brush into the inner corners and due to that I gave up on the lower lashes. The colour is very good, a proper rich black, sadly this only seemed to highlight where I'd missed lots of the lash. I also found the mascara to go on clumpy.
(before)                               (after)

You'd be forgiven for thinking that there isn't a great deal of difference between the before and after photographs. In fact, the after photograph is possibly slightly more unflattering as the mascara is heavy and it is pulling down the lash. This mascara did not suit me at all. I think that I could make it work however if I used it with false lashes or if I discarded the oddly shaped brush and used a disposable brush so that I could work it through the lash properly. In it's favour, I can also report that it lasted all day and didn't smudge at all. 

I would be really interested in hearing from others who have tried this mascara, and also any of the other Sans Soucis make up. 

Big feet, little feet, Gel-y foot spa goodness!

Fancy dunking your feet in jelly at the end of a long day?
Well today, thanks to the beauty crowd, I had the pleasure of doing just that! Gelify Spa Luxury Foot Soak is a foot bath product that turns the water into jelly. And it's not just for feet - Gelify also make a bath version so you can dunk your whole body into jelly.

The concept is not a new one, but as far as I'm aware it's been designed more with children in mind rather than a nice relaxation bath for adults. Now why should the kids have all the fun, hey? Having said that, when I came to test this, I asked my husband whether he wanted to try it with me. He declined. I made jokes about lime jelly naked twister and his interest peaked a little, but I figured I was fighting a losing battle and enlisted the help of my five year old daughter who was very excited by the concept.

Within the box you get three foot bathes, each consisting of two steps. 

You have a step one, which turns the water into jelly, and a step two which turns the jelly back into water. The step two is just Sodium Chloride (in other words salt). Fill your foot bath and sprinkle in step one. Give it a swish.

The water then turns into jelly. My daughter was very excited, but I have to admit that I had hoped for a lot thicker jelly. I think mine didn't work exactly as I'd hoped for several reasons. The first is that I used too much water. The second is that I live in a hard water area and therefore I'm thinking that the salt and mineral levels in the water mean that I should have used less water or more product. Gelicity comes from North Wales where the water is possibly a lot softer (I'm assuming this because when I lived in West Wales the water was very soft - it saved me a fortune in shampoo!)

 Looking at the video advertising the bath gel, it's clear that the water turns into a thin gel, very similar to mine. It also talks about little balls of gel which then can be used for massage. My water certainly turned to little balls. Little balls of nuisance at times as they rolled out and accidentily got onto the floor.

When you've finished paddling in gel, you use the antidote (salt) and turn the gel back into water. It took a few moments to work and there were still a few rogue balls dancing around. I was really pleased when my feet came out of the water to find that they were really lovely and soft. Now I've used a lot of foot masks and foot bathes and I'm used to soft toes as a result, but I'd say that this left my feet really soft. It has also left my hands nice and soft too. Result!

Although it wasn't quite what I expected, I'd say Gelify have a good product going on there. I'm a little dubious about the amount of mess a whole bath of little jelly balls could make, but a foot bath is just about the right amount of gel I'd say (although I have to admit to wanting all of my skin to feel that lovely and soft). I'm not sure whether I would buy it again, and I think this might be something that Gelify find. It will be easy to tempt people to try it, but will it be something that people will purchase regularly?

Are you tempted? If you are you'll be pleased to know that Gelify are advertising on their website for reviewers. Will you be contacting them?

Friday, 30 August 2013

Lovely Betty is in fact pretty lovely!

Yee-ha! I'm quite outspoken when it comes to how much I love Oriflame perfumes. I don't know what it is about them that so captivates me, but they just seem to have such depth to them.

Lovely Betty is an Eau de Toilette rather than an Eau de Parfum, but despite the strength it lasts well. The blurb from the Oriflame rep leaflet suggested that it smells of toasted marshmellow and neroli. It's certainly an interesting and unusual combination. I very rarely order perfumes without smelling them first, but the description of this one intrigued me. A friend had received their Oriflame order before I'd put mine in and they had some of the sample vials and assured me that it was worth the money.

Fortunately, when it arrived, I realised that she wasn't wrong, and rather than being lovely, it was in fact wonderful. On first spray, the marshmellow and neroli are equal partners and are surprisingly good bedfellows. This first whiff continues for the next hour or so on my skin and it reminds me of some of the stronger Bond No. 9 perfumes (although not quite so strong and pungent as it is a toilette rather than a parfum... and a small fraction of the cost)

It changes slightly on my skin throughout the day, with the marshmellow note fading and the neroli becoming far more musky and spicy. It's a really interesting fragrance, so much so that I find myself smelling it during the day and trying to identify the different notes. It's not just me who is intrigued, I've worn it today and been asked by two different people what my perfume is. I'm hoping it is because they liked it...

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Barefoot Venus bath time!

Natural, luxurious bath products are my idea of heaven. I really enjoy those extra long, extra hot baths where you can completely relax. With two children, a job, and various writing projects it's not often in a day that I have time to think!

Barefoot Venus are a Canadian bath and body company with a range of indulgent and natural treats. Again, I was lucky enough to be sent these as part of an international beauty products swap.
Opening the body lotion and taking an exploratory sniff, I was pleased to find a fresh, clean smell with a hint of flower. The fragrance is very subtle on all of the products I tried. I much prefer a more subtle smell as I don't like my body lotion to fight with my perfume, but I can see that it could easily not be strong enough for many people's taste.

One of the main ingredients of the bath dust is Shea Butter, and although this is evident from the swirling whiteness it creates through the bathtub, it lacks the greasisness that a lot of heavily butter based products have. Whilst I agree that the oiliness gives you plenty of softness in your skin, I find that if you wash your hair in the same bath it will also be oilier. I was very pleased to see that this was not the case with the Barefoot Venus bath.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Canmake Stay On Balm Rouge

Canmake is a Japanese cosmetics brand whose make up range is what I typically think of when I think of Japan. They are cute with floral and cartoon like packaging, and a lot of candy colours. I find that the Japanese love of porcelein skin and rosy cheeks and lips really suits my English rose colouring and therefore the Japanese pastel and candy colours are a very fortunate match for me.

When my friend NeNe from Bunny and Spice asked me if I wanted to try the Canmake lip balm stain (think Revlon Just Kissable or Clinique Chubby Stick but without the pencil tip) I jumped at the chance! 

 As you can see, it differs from the other balm stains by applying like a lipbalm with a flat rounded end rather than the usual pencil type finish. Although this is slightly more difficult to apply and doesn't look as appealing as the chunky pencils, I think it is just as easy to use. It's also a lot easier to see just how much you have left.

NeNe chose a very flattering strawberry red colour for m, and as you can see from the swatch opposite, it applies as a gentle sheer 'just been kissed' colour. When the gloss fades through the day, the 'just been kissed' stain continues.  

 On the lips the gloss is evident, but only in the way that it gives the lips a healthy, soft shine rather than a sticky, glossy look. It is pretty durable and I found that it also works well with a stronger red lipstick on top. This suits me well for days when I know I won't have access to my bag to be reapplying every few hours. I can start the day with drama-rama red, but know that I'll end the day still with a soft definition to my lips.

I have to say that I have found the trend for balm stains really refreshing. I've never been a gloss fan, but I do like my lips to look soft and healthy and I naturally have dry lips.I do wonder how long the trend for balm stains will last. Will they be a flash in the pan and over by Easter 2014? Or will they be a style that runs and runs?

Sunday, 25 August 2013

theBalm Balm Jovi Palette, well worth the splurge!

Recently, Feel Unique had a sale on theBalm palettes. Which reminded me how much I adore my theBalm Balm Jovi palette. Priced at £34 it is on the more expensive side, but you get a reasonable amount of make up for that, as well as a whole load of cute.

I often put my make up on whilst on the tube to work (terrible habit I know), and because of that I love to be able to whip out a palette that not only has everything in it, but is also light to carry and has a decent mirror.

 It's probably clear from the photos that I have had this palette for a few months now, and it's certainly seen some use. I have to admit that I rarely use the blush, highlighter, and lipsticks, but the eyeshadows are some of my favourites.
 Each of the shimmer shadows are named in parody of a rock band, and you have a good range, possibly all you need for a night down the indie club. Through the centre are the matte shadows and these are similarly musically named. The packaging gives you some ideas of which colours to pair together.

The lipsticks fold out of the base which is a clever little design meaning that you don't lean in the softest part of the palette whilst perfecting your smoky eye. The shades are designed to work on the lips and cheeks and to match in with the rest of the palette. I don't use these very often but if I'm in a rush they are perfect just to smear on my lips without needing too much precision.

I find that when I use a palette regularly, I have one or two standard looks that I use. With this one it is no different and my go to look uses four shadows. I wear Iron Maid In across the lid, rem above the crease and under the eye, Alice Copper in the outer corners, and The Stroke across the top lash line.

I prefer to wear with a fuschia lip, but if I'm on the run I'll finish with Milly, as you can see in the photo below:

Were you tempted by the Balm Jovi palette in the Feel Unique sale? Or did you already own it? If you haven't taken the splurge on this one then I am afraid I going to be an enabler for you and say that I highly recommend it!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

If you love the smell of old churches... Demeter's Holy Water!

Being a history loving pagan, I absolutely adore old church buildings. I love the coolness of the building when you walk in, I love the decor, and I love the quietness and stillness in the air. Most of all though, I love the smell, which is quite unlike anything else, except perhaps the smell of abandoned castles.

Demeter Fragrance Library's Holy Water fragrance promises the embodiment of that dusty old church smell. If you've not experienced Demeter fragrances before, then I highly recommend seeking them out. They are light, subtle, easy wearing fragrances that are unusual (but mostly highly pleasing) subjects such as Thunderstorm, Crayon, Grass, and Sugar Cookie. They don't last long on the skin and many of the flavours are very similar to each other, but when you find a goodie... it's a goodie!

So what does Holy Water smell like according to Demeter Fragrance Library?

I am pleased to report that the overwhelming note is Lily, underpinned by a much more subtle clean freesia type smell. There is a very slight hint of muskiness, but it blends in well. It is a very pleasant and easy to wear fragrance and if I close my eyes I can imagine that cold stone smell and stillness in the air I so love in old church buildings.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Fangs for the Bubbles: Honeycatz Cosmetics, Blood Sudz

Honeycatz Cosmetics are a wonderful little brand with a spectacular repertoire of boudoir friendly, kitsch bath products. I think the brand itself is from the US, but this little bottle of goodness made it's way across to me from Canada as part of a mystery swap set up through an international beauty group.

I can't tell you how lucky I feel to have been sent this! Named 'Blood Sudz', this fabulously packaged shower gel is made from pomegranate and cassis and arrived in a luxorious coffin shaped box, complete with red velveteen lining and tiny pillow.

 (image taken from the Honeycatz website)

The shower gel itself smells amazing and it is perfect for lounging in a big hot bath as those Autumn days start rolling in. Compared to the very moisture rich shower gels I usually use, it is a little drying on the skin, however, an extra rich bath bomb full of shea and cocoa butter soon fixes that.

If, like me, you hadn't heard of Honeycatz Cosmetics before, I thoroughly recommend you have a little search through their website. You will soon have a wish list (mine starts with Rub my Tummy body butter)

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like they currently sell in bricks and mortar shops outside of the US and Canada, but a little search through their website shows that they are happy to ship worldwide. 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Stafa! Introducing Villimey, viking beauty charms!

It is no secret that I am a sucker for a gimmicky beauty product, and therefore I often get asked to review new arrivals on the scene. I am lucky to be a member of a facebook site The Beauty Crowd who actively sources recommendations and reviews before deciding on which brands to feature in their online store. As a member, I was sent this amazing little product to trial.

Villimey is a brand who use Icelandic herbs and traditional Icelandic recipes in order to create little charms. Among the charms available there is a muscle charm, a lip charm, a belly charm, and a baby bottom charm. The Beauty Crowd are currently trialling the Villimey Foot Charm, and here it is:

 As you can see it is a rather distinctive green colour, which comes from the leaves of the Calendula and Lady's Mantle used to make it. On an aesthetic level, it's none too attractive, but on an organic level, it's actually a really good sign because you know that the ingredients are truly natural and not messed around with to create a product that looks pretty. The charm itself is designed for cracked heels and fungal infections. It isn't going to pamper your toes, but it is going to fight those bacteria and fungal spores that cause discoloured skin, itchiness, and smelly feet. It can also be used to fight thrush. Having said that it won't pamper, it does have a nice fresh smell, and is a pleasant texture without too much greasiness.

I don't tend to suffer from cracked heels or athlete's foot, but I do have a habit of wearing inappropriate shoes, especially in the summer. Therefore, I do get a few blisters, as well as those parts of your feet that get rubbed raw by wearing shoes without socks. I decided to trial this little charm on those and it worked well... like a charm.

As someone who is very interested in folklore (especially that of medieaval Northern Europe) I would love to have more information about the original recipe, possibly a translation of the text, or a story about the sort of people that would have used it. Often, someone making or offering a salve like this would also offer a spoken charm. Within Britain this would often have been in Latin, as it was a language that the average person didn't speak. Today, we could perhaps use a charm in Old Norse! 

 The price of the Foot Charm is £18, which is considerably more expensive than similar natural products. However, it has considerably more product in the pot than similar natural products. For me, there isn't enough information about exactly which herbs are used, and how the recipe differs from the other charms available in the range. Lady's Mantle and Calendula are often used for grazes and inflamations and are fairly all purpose herbalist go-to cures. Once I experience some of the other charms, I will report back on whether one pot really would fit all needs.