Saturday, November 28, 2015

Paul & Joe Christmas Gift Ideas

A couple of weeks ago as Christmas lights were starting to appear across London I was invited down to the new Paul & Joe boutique in Mayfair to see their latest releases. Paul & Joe are one of my favourite brands to meet with as their events are always special with small, intimate groups of bloggers meeting with the brand ambassador and make up artist extraordinare Craig-Ryan French as he talks through the seasons new products and shares his tips on how to use the products.

Of course this visit was to introduce us to the Paul & Joe Christmas releases, the starring role belonging to the Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet inspired Masquerade Collection. A limited edition make up bag featuring the fabulous masquerade imagery contains your choice of pastel or warmer tones for the eyes in innovative eyeshadow sheets. Each sheet can be used up to 100 times and I think these are perfect for travel and all those nights out attending Christmas parties.

Also included are a Creamy Cheek Colour, eye Liner and Paul & Joe's famous Rose Treatment Balm - all you need to throw in is your favourite mascara. A perfect gift for a friend or maybe even a Christmas treat for yourself.

Next is the Paul & Joe Luxurious Body Collection* which is beautiful collection of pampering products; bath salts, body soap and a delicious body butter which is my favourite of all three items. There are two scent choices and I have No 2 an energising and dramatic mix of citrus, herbs, spice, ylang ylang, musk and vanilla for an oriental aroma. Packaged in a prettily decorated floral box to make wrapping easier who wouldn't wanted to open this on Christmas morning.

The great news is that with the Black Friday madness happening all weekend over at ASOS you can get 20% of both the gifts mentioned by entering CYBER at check out.

Time to tick of some more people of your Christmas list and bag a discount don't you think.

*this post contains press samples

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Charlotte Tilbury launches at John Lewis

Charlotte Tilbury launched way back in 2013 and I jumped straight onto the band wagon and armed my BFF Ben with a Christmas list of products from the range I would like. He battled the crowds to make some purchases for me, and still to this day he says he can't believe how much money he spent on make up!. The good news is that unlike Ben there is no need for anyone to fight the festive hoards as Charlotte Tilbury has now launched online at John Lewis.

In celebration of the brand online launch as well as being available in John Lewis stores  I was invited down to their Oxford Street branch to have a 'Tilbury Transformation'. I know many people don't enjoy in store make overs but I like to take the opportunity to try something different and picked the Vintage Vamp look which you might have seen on Instagram here. Well if you're going to have a Tilbury Transformation let's make it a good one. Funnier still was I had this applied at lunchtime and returned to the office looking very different than I'd left.

Following my visit John Lewis also allowed me to choose four products from the range to try for myself at home and let me tell you picking 'just four' items from the range is more difficult than it sounds - yes first world problems right there.

Before diving in to discuss the products I chose and how I found them I must admit that my previous picks from Charlotte Tilbury had left mixed feelings. So Marilyn from the KISSING lipstick line is my go to for nights out but The Glamour Muse Eyeshadow Palette was a disappointment. As was the Full Fat Lashes Mascara which had dreadful fall out for me but the Limited Edition Gold Bar Highlighter, which is making a comeback this year , is another favourite and go to for nights out.

So how did my new picks fair you want to know, well let's start with Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation* in shade 4.5. This foundation has been five years in the making due to Charlotte's tenacity to ensure her products are the best they can be. Dubbed a 'miracle in a bottle' that claims to work for pretty much anyone whatever the age, skin condition or type. At £29.50 and with an impressive 15 shades it is comparable in pricing to Nars, Estee Lauder and the like.

There is no question Charlotte Tilbury packaging is gorgeous and I could buy most products for that alone, although I do feel that the Magic Foundation bottle is a little bit disappointing. Yes there's a glass bottle and the gorgeous rose gold lid but the white lettering and pump make it appear a little cheaper than I would like. That said unlike Nars for the same price your pump is included and I'd rather keep the price point down than wasted on packaging and it's still aesthetically pleasing to look at and sits nicely on my dressing table.

Onto the Magic Foundation itself. You have a thick, medium to full coverage foundation that does not feel heavy when applied and blends nicely onto skin. It reminds me of Make Up Forever HD Foundation (the original formula), which I love, in terms of formula and finish but will flatten your face out, or certainly does in my case, to give you a blank canvas to work from. I tend to use lighter formulas day to day but I've found myself wearing this flawless and long lasting formula almost daily since I've had it. Minimal concealing is required when using the Magic Foundation, even for my dark circles although contouring/warmth needs to be put back in my face. It's not a complete matte finish but certainly not

My only complaint is that it contains SPF as I would happily use this as my 'evening' foundation but there is the fear of the dreaded flashback. Not that that will stop me I'm sure. If you too are looking for a lighter, fuller coverage foundation I'd recommend picking up a sample.

Next I chose the famous Filmstar Bronze & Glow Palette*, swooned over by many bloggers across the country and one I have often looked at and admired from afar. At £49 this is certainly not the cheapest of products but one look at the gorgeous packaging and using my famous trick of dividing the cost of the products contained, £24.50 for the bronzer and the same for the highlighter makes the price appear more palatable.

I'm still undecided how I feel about the Filmstar Bronze & Glow. It hasn't wowed me but that might be a mix of my make up skills and using alongside the Magic Foundation which requires more effort from my limited contouring skills. Both products are finely milled and I find them luminous without being too shimmering and they create a radiant look. In fact the problem is me and that this duo blends so nicely to give a subtle contour and natural appearance that I think throws me into thinking I'm not even wearing make up. If you have friends who, unlike us bloggers, stick to just one product this would be the perfect gift for Christmas to cover their needs for a radiant complexion.

Finally I decided to try another two of the eye shadow palettes, The Dolce Vita* and The Rock Chick*. The principle behind the gorgeous Charlotte Tilbury quads is Prime, Enhance, Smoke and Pop with each giving you the ability to take your look from desk to disco. Firstly I can say that both these quads were a bigger hit than my previous purchase and surprisingly it's The Rock Chick quad which I am absolutely in love with. Usually I prefer shades of brown on my eyes and it's a been many years since I played with greys and black rimmed eyes but The Rock Chick gives a look that I've been returning to daily. The Dolce Vita which I know is a popular choice is lovely and has been worn a lot since I received it but I do find it less exciting but maybe more because it's my usual choice and I have similar colours and options in other palettes.  All the shadows have great pigmentation and allow you to smoke up the look you want as appropriate. I wear with my Lorac or Urban Decay eye primers and find that they will last way beyond office hours. I can't wait to wear these over the festive period and use the glittery pop.

To sum up I'm pleased to have had another opportunity to try more products from the brand with pleasing results and whilst some are more loved than others they're all great additions to my make up collection and I can see why people are such a fan of the brand. The only problem is now I want to add The Rebel to my collection.

*This post contains press samples

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Beauty Empties | October 2015

Along with my late October favourites, so too is that month's empties. In fact empties have fallen by the wayside more that any other posts of late so there are few jumbled posts that will appear but for now let's focus on what has recently made it's way into the pile.

Quite a few of this months empties have already been repurchased and that includes KMS California AddVolume Shampoo and Maybelline BrowDrama. Both these products are staples and ones I can rely on. For different jobs obviously. KMS California AddVolume Shampoo* isn't the cheapest product but I love the volume it gives my hair and I recently found a bottle at a reduced price in my local Homesense so I couldn't resist picking it up. See my review on more KMS California products here.

Maybelline BrowDrama I've discussed many times. Day to day I'm too lazy for penciling in individual hairs, even with products that make that easy. Instead a quick swipe from this Brow 'mascara' and I'm happy with the look. I have of course replaced already and am tempted to try other versions for comparison but I always resist preferring to stick with what I know. 

Two favourite skincare items ended up in the pile this month, Vichy Idealia Eyes* and L'oreal Age Perfect RefreshingToner. Both of this affordable items hold their own against luxury brands. Vichy is one of my go to high street brands, particularly the Idealia range. The products are perfect for my 30plus skin that I don't always treat as well as I should. With dreadful sleeping patterns and habits dark circles can be a problem for me but Idealia Eyes makes me look more awake than I feel. Toners are always difficult to talk about for me, this isn't the 'refreshing' spritz, nor the tingly acid tone type but it's one I like for those inbetween days when you want something more than just the refreshing spray but not too much for exfoliating toners. There is a lovely masculine scent to this toner which I enjoy and I always feel like my skin looks better for using this.

Unfortunately the Nanokeratin System Re-Vive Invigorating Shampoo and Conditioner* was not as much as a favourite as KMS was. Nothing to dislike just nothing to love either - especially for the price point and from a salon brand. Despite being specially formulated for 'virgin hair' like mine it never gave results that I couldn't get from cheaper alternatives. I do have another couple of sachets of this product to use so I will try again and see if I notice better results.

Another month, another hand cream and Vaseline Intensive Care Healthy Hands + Stronger Nails* is perfect for this time of year and a great size for those of you like me who use a lot of hand cream and an even better price. This isn't the fanciest of hand creams but it keeps hands moisturised, isn't greasy and has a subtle scent. 

Even before we reach the end of 2015 I think I can safely say 007 Fragrance for Women* was my surprise hit of the year. As I talked about in my initial review I had a slightly snobbish opinion of what I would class as a novelty fragrance and was proved very wrong. The 007 fragrance became as loved as my Chanel classics and for a much more affordable price. Perfume is something I usually request for Christmas or might treat myself to in duty free but this is one I could easily justify treating myself to 'just because'. 

If you saw this instagram post then you'll be aware of my love for Sure Maximum Protection deodorant. It literally won't let you down, or me at least. I've dabbled with other deodorants, as much as recently in fact and they just don't compete with this favourite. Sexy it isn't but I'm a sweaty betty and have spent years tackling wet patches under the arms and trying every deodorant known to man and this is the first that ticks all the boxes. My only complaint is I seem to go through them sooooo quickly. 

And finally is a boring product but one I mention for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was introduced to The Breath Co via a press sample and secondly it's important for me that my readers see that I will continue use products beyond the 'freebie' and purchasing with my own money - especially in this case when I could by far cheaper versions. This is a toothpaste that I recommend for anyone who doesn't like that minty toothpaste flavour. Minty it says but it has none of that overpowering flavour that would make you gag if you took a sip of orange juice. If you're interested keep an eye on the usual Boots offers, you can usually get it discounted. Read my original review here

Did you spot any products you use in my trash?

*this post contains press samples

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

October Favourites

Without stating the obvious 'I'm late' with Octobers' favourites posts in unofficial blogging laws but I'm happy with 'better late than never' and you get a post on a Saturday seen as I've neglected things lately. Enough rambling, let's dive in before I hit publish on Novembers favourites.

I'd read about the Sophia Webster collaboration with Toni & Guy in a magazine and whilst I can't justify the cost of these fabulous flamingo shoes from Ms Webster, I can justify the cost of a bottle of shampoo. I actually happened across these products when I went to order my new sofa. I took a wrong turn at the retail park and found myself in front of a branch of Boots I didn't know existed. Clearly it was meant to be so I took advantage and treated myself. There was a 3 for 2 offer on at the time so I also picked up the 3D volumiser which alas wasn't a favourite and just made my hair a weird combination of crispy and greasy so that was passed over but the shampoo and conditioner were a hit. With Sophia Websters limited edition packagine and designed for fine hair this isn't a shampoo and conditioner that gives a lot of volume but makes hair look fresh and clean without weighing it down. It's my every day shampoo if you like. There's actually a fabulous gift set available which you can find here. A perfect Christmas gift I think.

Another product I picked up on my serendipitous Boots trip was the Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in East End Snob. This lip liner has done the rounds on blogs and YouTube and again was in the back of my mind to purchase. I like Dervish from Mac as my 'goes with anything' liner but it's always great to have an alternative. I can't speak to it's claims as a dupe for Charlotte Tilbury's Pillow Cheat Liner but I can say I bloody love the Rimmel one. It's become a staple and every day go to as I embrace nuder lip shades. The shade is lovely whether worn alone all over the lips or just to line. I can't say I'm giving Kylie Jenner a run for her money but I do find lipstick is looking a little more polished these days.

Following on from last months pinky nude lip favourite, another oldie but goodie has made an appearance. Hot Gossip from Mac is the slightly shimmery sister to Syrups cloudiness. Sometimes I prefer a nude lip to have a gloss to it but when you don't actually like wearing gloss a shimmer and slight frostiness can have a more wearable effect. Step in Hot Gossip. I've actually broke the bullet of this so I'm having to use a careful hand as I'm not prepared to cast it aside just yet and I'm loving wearing it with a darker eye at the moment.

Make Up Revolution's Iconic Dreams Palette* is fast becoming a staple in my make up routine and one I reach for when I don't want to think too much about my eye make up. I featured it in my Going for Gold post last month and was amazed at the quality and pigmentation of such a cheap product. I know if I use these eye shadows I'll create a great look and one that will last from day to night. I'm very tempted with the Make Up Revolution 144 eyeshadow palette currently only £8 until midnight on Tuesday. I'm picked one up today for a young lady I know will like it for Christmas and whose mum wants her to have well performing affordable products.

As mentioned above the Toni & Guy shampoo didn't provide much volume so I've been reaching for Batiste Oomph My Locks XXL Volume Spray* on an almost daily basis to add a little more. We all know and love Batiste for their dry shampoo range, especially me and their new line of styling products is working a treat too. Dubbed 'backcomb in a bottle' just spray in your roots and give a rub and away you go. I'm going to have to pick up the texturising spray next time I hit Boots.

Finally is the Laura Mercier Hydrating Foundation Primer which was a surprise favourite. Early last year I spoke of my first dabble with Laura Mercier primers and how it didn't work for me so when a friend passed this version over to try I had limited expectations. If ever there was proof that it's often a case of just trying the right product, even from the same brand this is it. Where the original was too sticky for me, this is a lovely cream and feels like applying a lighter moisturiser to the skin. With now of the stickiness and adding a hit of hydration without going overboard this is perfect. I've been using this a lot with a foundation I've been testing lately (more of that later in the week) and it was the perfect first step to accompany some of the more flatter foundations we wear. So much so is my love for this product that I apply simply this after my skincare regime for days when I'm sitting around at home or just popping to the local supermarket.

Have you tried any of my favourite products?

*this post contains press samples

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