NOTD: Speckle Polish Dupe with Essie Lilacism & L'Oreal Confetti Top Coat

Posted on: Wednesday, 27 February 2013

 Essie 'Lilacism', £7.99 here and L'Oreal Color Riche Confetti Top Coat, £4.99 here

Like many, I've been enamoured somewhat by the Illamasqua I'mperfection speckle polishes, and also shocked at their £14.50 price tag. So when I saw this L'Oreal Confetti Top Coat for £4.99 I thought something similar could be recreated, and I'm really pleased with the results! It's not an exact dupe for the Illamasqua polishes, which have more muted speckles, but this is really eye-catching and I've had a number of compliments on it. I've paired it with a number of pastel shades and personally I think it looks really lovely!

What do you think of this compared to the Illamasqua polishes?

Birchbox UK February 2013

Posted on: Monday, 18 February 2013

So it's Birchbox time again - I got back to Uni today and this arrived within a couple of hours. I had high hopes for the contents of the box after last month's impressive offerings and I'm pleased to say this one definitely hasn't disappointed! This month's box is a London Fashion Week-themed box (though I always think the themes are a little bit loose as most products could apply to any theme really), and has some generously sized samples as well as some nice little extras. So without further ado...

Vichy Thermal Spa Water (Limited Edition), full size RRP £17
Birchbox say: "Soothing and regenerating, this multi-purpose product is naturally enriched with 15 minerals and 13 trace elements. It can be used as a toner, to set make-up or as a refreshing boost."

Vichy is a brand I both know and like and I'd read good things about their Eau Thermale so I'm more than happy to see this in my box, especially as my Caudalie Beauty Elixir is on its last legs. I sprayed this onto cleansed skin today and it was lovely - odourless but very refreshing. I'm looking forward to trying it over make up to see its setting power, too. This is a very decent sized sample and should last a good while.

Nick Chavez Beverly Hills Plump N'Thick Leave-In Thickening Mist, full size RRP £13.90
Birchbox say: "Get visible volume with this light but powerful leave-in treatment from Nick Chavez. Just spritz onto towel-dried hair before styling."

Nick Chavez is a brand I think I've heard of before, but never tried, so I was excited to find it very well reviewed on MakeUpAlley. To be honest, I now have a plethora of volumising/thickening sprays but this is a great travel-size so hopefully I'll get good use from it. Another product I'm really happy with.

Korres Guava Shower Gel, full size RRP £8
Birchbox say: "The sweet, sophisticated scent of this moisturising shower gel will invigorate you, while wheat proteins and aloe vera cleanse and hydrate your skin. Absolutely divine."

I've reviewed a number of Korres products on my blog and it's one of my absolute favourite brands. This shower gel smells absolutely beautiful and I'm thrilled to have a Korres product in a beauty box - this is what they should be like!

EBOOST Natural Energy Booster, full size RRP (20 sachets) £20.99
Birchbox say: "We're relying on EBOOST's natural, nutrient-rich, no-crash tonic to see us through this year's Fashion Week. Just mix the sachet contents with cold water and drink up."

Somewhat nonplussed about this 'lifestyle extra' - we aren't all at Fashion Week, Birchbox! I'll probably try it but I'm not expecting great things.

Birchbox Eyelash Curler, RRP £10
Birchbox say: "Get a wide-open, catwalk worthy gaze with the help of this Birchbox eyelash curler. You'll be amazed at the difference it makes!"

A beauty extra from Birchbox and one that I actually quite like. My Topshop eyelash curlers are getting pretty battered so it's nice to have a shiny new pair, but I'll have to report back on how they fare because today was a make-up free day for me!

Gerda Spillmann Bio Fond Cream Foundation, full size RRP £20
Birchbox say: "This light, creamy base is easy to apply, offers great coverage and sets to a powder finish. No wonder it's used on movie sets..."

I've taken further photos of this so you can get a better idea of the product. The colour match is off for me, but it looks like it'll go nicely with my beloved Xen-Tan so it's not a complete write off.

The formula is lightweight but offers medium coverage which is perfect for me so I'm pretty happy with this. It also comes with a sponge in a fairly pretty compact which is always useful. The brand itself is not one that I've heard of but I'm assuming it's a theatre make-up brand in the same vein as Kryolan and Ben Nye and they're normally fantastic quality because they're designed to last under harsh lights and for hours at a time. So a slightly odd product, but a great one I think insofar as it's nice to see it in a beauty box.

So I'm really happy with this month's box and am glad that Birchbox have got off to a winning start as I was on the verge of cancelling my subscription altogether after some poorer JolieBox offerings! Let's hope the boxes continue to be this good...

Did you get a February Birchbox? It's not too late if you do want one and you can subscribe here.

All products will be available at the Birchbox UK E-Shop in the next few days, with Free Delivery on brands featured this month (£10 minimum spend). But, as ever, do shop around for better prices!

MAC 'Creme Cup' Lipstick

Posted on: Friday, 15 February 2013

MAC 'Creme Cup' Lipstick, £14 online and in stores
Although not officially one of MAC's bestsellers, Creme Cup is a much talked about lipstick from their permanent collection. It is described as a light blue pink and falls under their Cremesheen category, and was originally released as part of the Cremeteam collection that debuted in February 2009. As with most Cremesheens, Creme Cup is well-pigmented but - again like most Cremesheens - I find a little drying. Personally I'm much more of a fan of the Amplified/Amplified Creme formulas, because as you can see from the photo, I find the lipstick settles easily into any imperfections in the lip. I don't consider myself to have dry lips at all really, but you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise from the photo! It's also prone to looking quite cakey on the lips, so be sure to have a blotting tissue or a light hand to avoid that.

So aside from the slightly misleading 'cremesheen' title, this is a very pretty colour and - thanks to its bluer undertones - flattering when it comes to making your teeth look white. It's also a very easy every day colour to wear and goes equally well with understated, 'no make-up' make up as it does with a smokier brown or taupe eye. I don't generally wear this in the evenings, but I do like a bold lip, so there's nothing to say you couldn't.

Personally I think it's a very dupeable shade and you'd be better off looking elsewhere to find the right formula. I find I get a much smoother, prettier finish from the Revlon Lip Butters and L'Oreal Rouge Caresse, which are near enough half the price, and the YSL Sheer Candy Lipsticks, all three ranges of which have similar shades.

Altogether, not a great MAC lipstick for me. Do you have Creme Cup? What do you think of it?

L'Occitane Shea Honey Whipped Body Cream

Posted on: Thursday, 14 February 2013

L'Occitane Shea Honey Whipped Body Cream, Limited Edition, £16 for 125ml
I've been having a bit of a L'Occitane love affair recently, having fallen in love with their hand creams, lip balm and the gorgeous Almond Shower Oil. So when I saw that they'd released a limited edition Shea Honey collection, I made an online order and within a few days a beautifully packaged order arrived on my doorstep.

The first thing to say about this is that the packaging is absolutely beautiful. Although not the most hygienic in that it doesn't come in a squeezy tube, the beautiful cartoon decorations and soft yellow label make this the cutest looking body cream I think I've ever had in my collection.

The second thing is the beautiful, comforting smell of honey and the soft soufflé style texture. It's one of those products that feels completely luxurious to apply, sinks in and feels instantly nourishing, and also leaves a long lasting scent to the skin which I personally can't get enough of. During the winter months my legs get dry very easily so I have to be extra careful to keep them moisturised, especially if I'm going anywhere near fake tan, and this has been a hero product to me of late.

It is formulated with shea butter, which, according to L'Occitane's description, is used by women in sub-Saharan Africa - so you know it's going to work for dry skin! L'Occitane has a fairtrade partnership with the women of Burkina Faso who produce it, and the L'Occitane Foundation supports literacy programs and entrepreneurship projects, so you can feel good about using it too.

Have you tried the Shea Honey range? Next on my wish list is the hand cream!

Caudalie Divine Oil

Posted on: Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Caudalie Divine Oil, RRP £27 for 100ml (£25 here)

Caudalie are my favourite skincare brand, without a shadow of a doubt - the majority of my skincare products are Caudalie and work wonders for my skin. They're one of the few brands that I trust completely to look after my skin and I'm yet to try a Caudalie product that I don't like. Truth be told, they are on the higher end of the price scale but I'm a firm believer that skincare should be an investment. Whilst I often feel guilty for splurging on overpriced make up when I know there are cheaper almost exact dupes, I will never feel guilty for spending my pennies on good quality, trustworthy skincare.

I felt slightly differently about buying their Divine Oil for the sole reason that I wasn't sure if I did actually like dry oils. I bought Nuxe's Huile Prodigieuse Golden Shimmer in the summer and, like Caudalie's offering, it claims to work wonders on your face, skin and hair. Although I probably put far too much into my hair, it just didn't really work for me, but it was lovely to use on the body. That being said, it has been gathering dust in my cupboard during the winter months because of its shimmer (that just looks a bit odd without a tan). So I was hesitant to buy the Divine Oil because I thought I may not get my money's worth for it - but how wrong I was.

The first thing to say about this is that it smells absolutely incredible. A blend of hibiscus, grape, sesame and argan oils, this is a gentle, fruity but mostly earthy scent that is both light and fresh but also warm and luxurious. The oil itself is fairly light and you spritz it onto the skin from the bottle, much like you would a perfume. I actually really like putting this on my pulse points just before bed and enjoying the smell as I doze off! The oil is also made with Caudalie's patented polyphenols which work as antioxidants to defend your skin against any nasties.

This has worked wonders on my skin in the drier winter months and has nourished my legs back from near enough snake-skin to smooth and supple. I have also massaged this into my cuticles on various occasions and they are in better shape than ever. I'm yet to try it as a bath or massage oil but I imagine it will be just as effective when I do!

The bottle is a beautiful glass construction with a marbled back that gives it its distorted but very aesthetically pleasing appearance, and it has a beautiful wooden lid which gives it a little extra in the style stakes. It's certainly something you'd be happy to have on display. Top marks from me for the packaging.

Brand wise, Caudalie use naturally active and biodegradable ingredients, steer clear of parabens (I preached about these in this post) and do not test on animals. Full house for Caudalie!

Have you tried the Divine Oil?

January Empties

Posted on: Monday, 4 February 2013

So despite having had my blog for 2 years, I've never done an empties post, but always enjoy reading them - so I thought I'd start a new monthly series of it on my blog. Without further ado, here's what I finished up last month:

Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic, £12.50 for 200ml
We'll start with the two most well-talked about products - the first one being the Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic, which I reviewed in full after I'd bought it back in August here. This has taken me 5 months to finish, which is good in terms of product longevity but if I'm honest I have switched up my toners a few times between then so I'd say if you used this daily it would really only last 2 or 3 months - but for the price, that's not bad. It's a lovely, fresh (if slightly 'mature') floral scent that helps to calm my redness issues and for that reason it's something that I probably will repurchase when I next make a Liz Earle order. It's not revolutionised my skincare routine by any means but it has its good points! This also makes a great make up cleaner (by that I mean grubby NARS packaging) but then again, so's a cheapy make up wipe or a bit of water!

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Rose and Lavender Hot Cloth Cleanser, £19.75 for 150ml (Limited Edition - Sold Out)

I always feel a bit guilty posting about something that's sold out/limited edition, but less so with this because really it's just a slightly glorified Cleanse & Polish. This is great - nothing wildly different to the original formula bar the smell, and I actually prefer the original - a perfect, gentle everyday cleanser that gets rid of even the heaviest of eye make up. I'll definitely carry on buying Cleanse & Polish, but wouldn't bother with the limited edition when the original is so brilliant (and £7 cheaper).

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation in Santa Fe, £30.50 for 30ml

My staple foundation for 3 years (in fact it's nearly our anniversary!), I can't say enough positive things about Sheer Glow. Coverage strong enough to cover my awful redness but light enough to look natural and fresh, I've never found a foundation that comes close to this one. My only bugbear with it is that it has no SPF so I tend to use YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat (review here) during the day and save this for evenings - and you don't get any flashback because of said lack of SPF. This must be my eighth or ninth bottle and I've already bought another (and noticed that NARS' prices have gone up - this used to be £29.50)!

OPI Start to Finish - FFF (Formaldehyde-Free Formula), £13.95 for 15ml

This is the only real 'meh' product of my empties this month. The concept of OPI's Start to Finish is that it acts as both a base coat and a top coat, as well as naturally strengthening the nails. They offer this in a simple "Start to Finish" and then a "Start to Finish - Formaldehyde Free Formula", which I think is a bit odd - both are the same price, so why would you not buy the FFF one? Anyway, I digress. This did the job of a base coat perfectly well, but was lacking the shine that I felt a top coat really should. I also didn't think it did that good a job of strengthening my nails - not like OPI's Nail Envy products do, anyway. For those reasons I won't be buying this again; it wasn't bad, I'd just rather use Nail Envy and a specific base and top coat.

Caudalie Vinexpert Night Infusion Cream*, £35.10 for 40ml

I got this back in the summer, so 40ml has lasted a long time! This has quickly become a Holy Grail for me. It's officially part of Caudalie's anti-ageing range Vinexpert, which has their patent ingredient Reservatrol-Oleyl as well as shea butter and is the most beautiful, buttery formula that leaves my skin super smooth and plump in the morning. I honestly couldn't be without this stuff and so have already raided the cupboard at work for another! A full review on this is much-deserved so will be on its way very soon.

L'Occitane Angelica Hydration Cream, sample size, full size £29 for 50ml

I wouldn't normally include a sample in an empties post but because it's such a brilliant product I thought I only should. I've also used up 2 sample pots so feel like I've given it a good road test. This is a gorgeous, fresh-smelling light cream from L'Occitane that contains 'organic Angelica' and is meant to stimulate your skin's 'aquaporines', improve its elasticity and prevent damage from nasty free radicals. Jargon aside it's a lovely everyday cream that works wonders for my dehydrated skin so I will be picking up a full-size of this when I'm next in L'Occitane.

L'Occitane Shea Butter Mango Flower Hand Cream, £8 for 30ml

For me, L'Occitane are the big daddy of hand creams (and anything bodycare for that matter). I got this full-sized hand cream in a magazine - I forget which one - a few months back and have absolutely loved it. It is beautifully scented with mango and a really rich cream, although it sinks in nicely and leaves my hands soft for days. I've already bought another of these to keep in my handbag and can't see my affections for it waning any time soon.

Have you done a January empties post? Like I said I love reading them so leave me your link if you have!

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