Sunday, 29 September 2013

MUA Smokin Palette, a dupe you ask?

There is going to be obvious comparisons here with the Urban Decay Smokin' palette that was released in 2012. But does the MUA (which is a mere fraction of the price at £6) really compare?

Let's take a look...

 The MUA is at the top and the Urban Decay below. Both palettes include ten (very similar) colours, some matte, some shimmery, designed to create the perfect smoky eye look. Both include a pencil. The Urban Decay version includes a tiny eye primer, which you need with Urban Decay shadows. You don't need to use the one they include, but I would say that you always need a primer with them to give you the best effect.

It's clear immediately that the Urban Decay is the more expensive product, it has a mirror and a really handy zip case. Looking at the shadows themselves however, there's not much in the quality.

The swatches above are from the MUA Smokin palette, and you can see they have good colour payoff. All except the first shade which you can harldly see at all on the paper. (Hint, it is number one of six on the top line)

The UD version on the other hand was strongly pigmented. When you discount that disappointing first shade however, I would say that I prefer the MUA shades. Rockstar and Loaded from the MUA were always that little bit too shimmery and didn't have a lot of staying power on my eyes. The MUA versions on the other hand are amazing, just the right amount of shine and last well throughout the day.

The eye pencils I would say there is no comparison to. Urban Decay, I am afraid to say is far more superior. It is softer and has a much stronger pigment. I have sensitive and dry eyelids and I find the majority of eye pencils just aren't soft enough for me to work with. The MUA here is no different, it doesn't mean that it is terrible, but it does mean that it isn't suitable for me.

All in all, I would recommend that if you don't already have Urban Decay Smokin', the MUA Smokin palette is a really good buy. Even if you do have the Urban Decay, for £6 I would say the better quality of the darker colours (purple, blue, green, and grey) is worth the money alone.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Canmake 'pore smoothing' marshmallow powder

There are some big claims put upon this little compact here. That's right; here sits the Canmake Marshmallow powder. It's designed to smooth pores and to give an 'airbrushed' effect. Now I've heard of primers and foundations that promise such delights, but a powder? I had to see if it lived up to it's claims.

 The first thing that struck me was that the case is actually plastic rather than metal. This makes it really easy and light to transport, whilst still keeping it's fancy design.
 The powder comes in two shades. This is the lighter of the two and it's a really good fit for my skintone. When I first used the powder I found that it sat on the skin and made my face look a little cakey. But I persevered and soon discovered that you need to use very little of this powder to create the desired effect. It doesn't behave like a transluscent powder. Not at all. 
Once I realised that I needed to tap almost all of the powder off of the brush and really push it into the skin, I was amazed by the effect it had. I have large pores and as you can see from the photo, it has geniunely blurred them. If you look at the photo you can see almost every single eyelash, but you can barely see the pores at all. 
  As you can see from the full face photograph, my skin definitely has a glowing, airbrushed quality to it. No mean feat I hasten to add. I have combination skin and because of that I've never really got anywhere using powder foundations. I have used this over a BB cream in the photographs, but I am seriously considering whether this would work for my as a solo cover or over a CC cream.


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Visee eyeshadow, fresh from Japan

When NeNe from Bunny and Spice asked if I wanted to try the Visee eyeshadows that had got such good reviews I jumped at the chance! The Visee eyeshadows are well known for being really soft and easy to blend. How can anyone say no to that?
As you can see, NeNe picked out a really natural nude shade that is perfect for me. I love the little flower design on the shadows. There is great colour payoff with the two shadows in this palette and the reviews were right, they are really easy to work with. The formula is soft with a little shimmer to them, but they don't puff and drop which sometimes happens with the softer formulas.
The packet had a little image on the back which showed the brown shadow on the lid and the pink as highlight. On my eye shape (which is slightly almond, deep set, and hooded) it works better the other way round and I use the pink on the lid and the brown in (and just above) the crease.

I used the brown underneath the eye too and the black from the Naked Basics palette just across the outside of the upper lash line. This gives me a really natural look that works well with a bright lip.


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Lumene BB Cream... the battle of the BB creams continues!

Natural Code from Lumene is made with Arctic Plaintain and is designed for blemish prone skin. You can expect then, that this BB cream is pretty good. It isn't the only BB cream that they make, they have BB creams in their other ranges designed for different skin types too.

 This includes, as you would imagine, lots of lovely natural nordic ingredients. There is also no alcohol, parabens, or sulphates. It does however have SPF 25 to protect your skin from the sun. 

At first I was a bit unsure about the colour as it looked a tad too orange for my skin (as you can see in the photograph). The formula applies quite thickly and when I was first putting it on I was thinking that it was going to behave a lot more like a tinted moisturiser than I had hoped for.

However, once it had worked into the skin it was able to blend into my colouring really well and although it has given my skin a slight warmth it doesn't turn me orange and more importantly, it has given my skin a really good natural coverage. The photo to the left shows
the BB cream only and I think it's done a pretty good job of covering the natural redness in my skin as well as blemishes and the dark circles under my eyes.

The photo to the right shows the full face and I have to say that the BB cream has given me a pretty flawless look. As you have probably guessed, I'm a bit of a BB cream nut and when you see one like the Lumene in action, it's easy to see why.

NARS Realm of the Senses cheek palette

NARS Realm of the Senses is a very beautiful palette consisting of three cheek colours. There's a plummy shade for adding definition and dimension, a beige shimmer for highlighting, and a peachy blush for adding warmth. I absolutely adore the graphics of the palette itself.

I was concerned that the plum and beige would be too dark to do what they were supposed to on my skintone but in actual fact the colours are a lot more sheer than they appear in the pan. However, they do build up fairly well when you add extra layers. I have always found the opposite with NARS blushes (as in they go on very pigmented but blend out well) so this is a welcome trait. 
This photograph shows just the NARS and a BB cream underneath. This is with one layer of each shade and I'd say that's given me a fairly natural look but with more definition than my face usually has. I will say that the shimmer is a little frustrating as it sits in my pores and highlights them in places. 
This photo is using an extra layer of each and you can see it does make the difference when the flash is on but it is a bit much in daylight for my skin (which is admittedly pretty light).

All in all I'd say this was a pretty good palette, I like the way the colours can build up and also can be swirled together and layered on top of each other. It is certainly very versatile. I'm not 100% sure that I don't already own better products for my skintone, but then that's not to say that they are all in the same palette and the ease of use is certainly a bonus. I do think that maybe this is more suited to younger, more flawless skin. However, I'm also convinced that the palette is worth the price tag; you get a lot of product in there and it's a good workable quality, as well as having a strong packaging design.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Lumene Blueberry Volume mascara (it's good stuff!)

I recently received a parcel from Maarit in Finland and was delighted to see this Lumene Blueberry Volume Mascara nestling within.

In fact, this was actually a two pack and included two mascaras which is something I haven't seen before but I think is a fabulous idea because realistically you should only be keeping your mascara for three months once opened.

The first thing I noticed when breaking the seal and
drawing out the wand was that the mascara itself has a really fresh and appealing smell. I guess that will be the blueberry then! I have to admit however that it is pretty unusual as most of the mascaras I have tried have had a slightly chemical smell. In fact I've come to expect either a lack of fragrance or that distinctive mascara smell when opening a new pack.

As you can see from the photograph, the brush itself is well designed with wide apart spikes. You can see from the brush that the formula is a little sticky and therefore I was concerned that it might make my lashes clumpy but this wasn't the case at all.

The left eye in these photographs has mascara on and the right set of lashes are clean.
You can clearly see the difference that the mascara makes. You can also see that it is a wonderfully defined rich black. I'm always impressed with a strong black and I think it makes such a difference to the definition of my eyes.

Due to the natural content of the formula, as well as the lack of chemical smell I was afraid that this might smudge and move during the day, but this wasn't the case at all and it lasted well throughout the day. It also removed easily using simple Boots baby wet wipes (although to be fair those wet wipes can shift most things known to mankind including crayon from walls)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Skin food Argan oil hair mask

A few years ago I used to work near a Japanese hair salon in Central London and they became my regular hairdressers. As I've got quite thick, strong, slightly unruly hair they always gave me a special treatment before they cut my hair. I feel silly for never asking what it was, but the softness used to last a good couple of weeks after the cut.

I asked my friend NeNe from Bunny and Spice what she thought it could have been and whether it could be something that I could use at home and she suggested that I try the Skinfood hair mask. In fact NeNe very kindly picked it up for me and sent it over the seas for me to try.

Before I started using it, I spent some time looking at the different reviews and instructions that I found on the internet and the general consensus was that you left it on for at least ten minutes with some clingfilm over your head and then rinsed it out. There were a few people who suggested that you should use a mild shampoo to wash it out of your hair.

With that in mind, I sort of followed the instructions. I used it in the bath so I piled my hair onto my head and left it for ten minutes before using a mild shampoo to rinse out. The active ingredient is Argan Oil which has become the 'must have' ingredient in hair care over the last year or so. It seems as though every second brand at the moment proudly displays it's Argan Oil range. However, in this Skinfood mask there is a more clinical smell underneath the Argan Oil fragrance which suggests that there might be some chemical straighteners included that do the *real* job.

After the first use my hair felt really soft and shiny with no frizziness and it lasted this way for about a week with repeated shampooing, conditioning, and styling. One thing I did notice was that my scalp had become slightly irritated by the formula. Therefore to fix this, the next time I used it I ran it through the ends of my hair first and then left it just for a minute on the hair nearest the scalp. Again, my hair was really soft and lasted for about a week, but this time there was no ill effect on my scalp.

I have had this now for a couple of months and I use it once a week to keep my hair softened and tamed. I can also say that on the few occasions I have left it for longer than a week between uses, I notice my hair begins to get a little unruly and straw like again.

Have you tried the Skinfood mask? Would you recommend any other brands?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Kissed by a Rose, Sans Soucis at their best!

That's right, this is yet another post about Sans Soucis! This is the Kissed by a Rose Anti Age Repair day cream. All Sans Soucis skincare products are made with thermal spring water from Baden Baden. They then use or are inspired by various other natural ingredients. 

The Kissed by a Rose range includes Grape seed oil and Rhododendrum leaf. It has a really gentle floral fragrance that has a hint of rose and a lot of fresh greenery. Although it isn't designed for sensitive skin it feels instantly cooling and soothing on my face. At 34, I'm at a strange age when it comes to skincare, my skin is too old and I have too many of the beginnings of fine lines to be able to use the skincare aimed at younger skin and 'first wrinkles'. Yet, my skin remains combination so the oiliness, especially in the t zone, means that I can't use a lot of the very rich and hydrating wrinkle creams for fear of a shiny oily mess.

Kissed by a Rose is a perfect step forwards from the Clarins moisturiser I used for a decade until it sadly just stopped giving my face what it needed. When I first tried it I was initially concerned about the slight pink tone to the formula, thinking that I needed no more rosy hues to my skin, but actually the moisturiser sinks in so well that you would never know it was tinted slightly. It sinks into the skin leaving no oiliness at all, but after a week or so of use my skin was visably firmer and plumper.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Have you heard about Marshmallow Blends yet?

I have heard whispers about how good Marshmallow Blends are for the past year or so, but until now I'd never got round to trying them.
I was asked by NeNe from Bunny and Spice to pick up one of the 'good enough to eat' Shower Fluffs for her, so I thought I should use the excuse to see what all the fuss was about myself!

I thought I would also give the Shower Fluffs a whirl and chose this Cherry flavoured one for myself. The first thing that struck me was that the packaging was plastic. From the photos, especially those showing the metal lid, it looked as though they came in glass jars. As I was posting off to Japan I was pleased to have the smaller weight so that I could add more things for the 2kg small parcel limit. I guess it also works well for Marshmallow Blends as the majority of their customers buy from them online.

My second thought was how delicious it smelt. I am pleased to report that it smells just like a big Bakewell Tart. Who can resist that? The formula itself is easy to use and doesn't have too much soapiness to it which means that you can also use it in the bath without getting that scumminess on top of the water. I was pretty shocked to see that it was much, much firmer than I expected. I had thought they would be the consistency of marshmellow fluff. There is a layer of glitter in the top and I have to say that as a woman in my early thirties that has to dress smartly for work, this doesn't really please me. Call me a kill joy and call me no fun, but glitter gets everywhere and the last thing you want is to find a chunk of glitter in your cleavage whilst at a board meeting.

I also thought I would order myself the Coconut Ice bath slice. Another pretty pink colour (I must have been in a pink mood...) it also smells delicious. Unsurprisingly, it smells of coconut ice. As you can see it arrived to me broken but I think it would be very difficult to try and transport without breaking. I used about a quarter of this slice in my bath and I'm pleased to report that it crumbled well and created a nice sea of foamy bubbles across the bathtub.
This means I have another three yummy Coconut Ice baths to look forward to! When I had finished my Marshmallow Blends bathtime my skin felt lovely and soft. The fragrances of both the bath slice and the shower fluff didn't linger on my skin after I had dried my skin and put my clothes on. Whether or not this is a plus or a problem for you depends on how much you like your bath products and body lotions to linger on your skin. There are times I love it to, but similarly, there are also occasions when I would prefer that my perfume takes centre stage.

All in all I very much enjoyed my Marshmallow Blends bath products. I will be ordering again and I have liked their facebook page to keep up with their special offers. 


Sunday, 15 September 2013

BB = Baden Baden? Say hello to Sans Soucis BB Cream

I spend a lot of time shouting about just how good Sans Soucis skincare is. It's no surprise then that once I heard that Sans Soucis had brought out a BB Cream it went right to the top of my wishlist. Like all Sans Soucis products it is made using thermal spring water from Baden Baden.
BB creams were big news a few years ago and since the initial excitement there are few brands that don't have their own. It's evident when you try a few that some are undoubtably better than others. So how did Sans Soucis' offering shape up?
I have chosen the shade 'Natural' which is the lighter of the two available (the second choice is beige). It is a fairly good match for my skin tone which at present has a tan to it after our unexpected good weather this summer. Once my tan has faded this will be the perfect colour for me, but that does make it pretty light. I'm not sure how dark the beige is. 

The formula is slightly thicker than some of the BB creams I own and gives an excellent coverage masking the majority of my skin imperfections. It can't quite deal with the newish spot on my cheek which is still in that inflamed and red stage.
It does however deal with the moles on my face so I'm confident that it will have no problems covering freckles should you so wish to do so.

The photo above shows just the BB cream (with moisturiser underneath), nothing else.
I have chosen (mostly out of laziness) not to use undereye concealer today and I do think that the BB cream has done a pretty good job on my eye bags. I think it has dealt with my large pores pretty well too. It's not clear from the photograph but it is a bit too dewy (read shiny) to wear by itself, which is a shame.
And here is the finished look. It's actually given me a pretty good coverage and I must admit that I very rarely get this good a coverage from a foundation even (which often gives a powdery/ cakey finish or doesn't cover very well). I'm going to take this opportunity to also say that I'm always shocked just how much of a difference blush and contour makes to a face, and to say a big 'ha' to all those people who don't see the magic in make up. Fools!

I can safely say that this BB cream is going to get a lot of use. With an SPF of 15 and with it's light tone I can see this being a favourite over the Autumn and Winter.

(With thanks to the lovely Ela from Mad About Make Up without who I would sadly still be bereft of my Sans Soucis BB Cream as they don't ship to the UK)