Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Testers & Germs

Just the other week, I was stood by the L'Oreal make up counter feeling a bit grossed out at the scene that was unfolding before me: a girl, having finished work and probably on her way out for a few cheeky drinks in the City, was hurriedly re-touching her make-up using the testers. There she was, with wild abandon, slicking on the worn-down manky lipsticks and finger-prodded eyeshadows. Urrrgh!!

I would rather go without than put on make-up that countless people had deposited their countless germs in. Eye-infections, anyone? Cold sore virus? Hell-to-the-no thanks! The furthest a tester ever gets with me is the back of my hand and even then I wonder what kind of lurgies I've invited onboard.

Coincidentally, this week I came across an article about the dangers of using testers and it's worth a read, if only to confirm what you already know: that testers should go nowhere near your face. Check out the link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1268268/Dangers-make-counter-E-coli-EVERY-tester-beauty-counters.html

Here are a few choice quotes which made me put down my toast:

"In a shocking study, researchers found that every make-up tester pack they analysed was contaminated by the e.coli bug... As well as e.coli - which causes stomach cramps and diarrhoea and, in severe cases, can be fatal - staphyloccus and streptococcus bacteria were found, which can cause infections"

"Dr Elizabeth Brooks, a biological sciences professor at Jefferson Medical College in Pennsylvania, who led the study, said: 'Wherever you can see e.coli, you should just think e.coli equals faeces."

Testers= E.Coli = Faeces? Dr Brooks, this is possibly the most disturbing equation ever.

And just incase you needed further clarification, Dr Brooks is on hand:

'That means someone went to the bathroom, didn't wash their hands and then stuck their fingers in the tester"

Stay away from those testers!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

AUI: Applying Under the Influence

Let's be honest, getting ready is often the best part of a night out. The metamorphosis process is fun: I love breaking out of my nondescript daytime chrysalis and emerging- after prepping, painting, teasing, straightening, curling- as a peacock. (Please suspend all knowledge of biology when reading this. I recognise that saying a butterfly would have been more inkeeping with the whole 'metamorphosis' and 'chrysalis' analogy thing that I had going on, but a peacock seemed less trite and cheesy).

My mate's birthday night out was no exception. Earlier, I had taken myself off to Boots in search of a nude lipstick and came back with YSL Rouge Volupte in shade 2. Granted- this shade is verging on being too light for me (it's much lighter than it appears in the pic below), but with the right application, it was going to be the perfect fodder to the
dark smokey eye that I had planned. So I started getting ready, carefully dabbing on the lipstick, glossing it up with a Juicy Tube and deftly managed to avoid the corpse look...

However, fast forward three hours, numerous glasses of champagne, vodka and sambuca shots, and the same could not be said: in my drunken state, my careful application method had gone out the window and was replaced with a more heavy handed approach. I had taken to doing Jenson Button-style circular laps of my lips with the Rouge Volupte, sans mirror.

At the time I was blissfully unaware, but post-event exami
nation of the photographic evidence proved that I looked ridiculous, atrocious. Ridiculocious, if you will. Yes people- this faux pas warrants the invention of a new word, it was that bad. Not only did the thick layer make me look deceased but the combination of nightclub lighting and camera flash meant that the my lips had taken on a luminous quality. I had glow-in-the dark corpse lips. It was as though I had been snogging Slimer from Ghostbusters:

Thankfully, the photos also showed that I was not alone - my friends had obviously wanted to share in the delight of a new YSL lipstick and it got passed around. There we were, grinning like inebriated buffoons with matching ectoplasm lips! I would so love to upload a pic of us to show you just what I mean, but shall refrain as I don't quite fancy being ostracised by my friends. Someone's attempt to upload said photo to Facebook was met with picture comments such as "GET THIS OFF NOW" and frantic texts like "Please remove picture 57 from album 2 asap". And thus, it was banished to The Recycle Bin. At least I hope so - don't want that one coming back to bite me in the ass in years to come...

This is in no way a slight on the YSL product, rather I just felt it was my duty to warn others of the perils of "Applying Under the Influence". Relying on friends to tell you what you look like is of no use if they are as drunk as you are.

If there was a way of rigging a breathalyser to some of my make-up items, scenes like this could be avoided.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Pearl Drops Instant White

Whilst lounging around with my girlfriends, drinking tea and watching
Jersey Shore*, an advert came on for a product that left me quite

Pearl Drops Instant White.

You paint on this emulsion-like liquid which makes your teeth white, temporarily.
It's the non-whitening whitener.

How does this crazy concoction work exactly?! Can I really paint it on
in the morning, attend meetings, and be sure that the finished effect
looks subtle enough up close that my attendees won't think I am the
office nutjob that Tippexed my teeth?

Maybe I'm not too far off the mark: is this, in fact, Tippex re-
promoted as a beauty product? Perhaps some corporate suit wanted a
slice of the billion pound beauty industry and decided to appropriate
it via the stationery cupboard. In that case, I have a great new
eyeliner that I can sell you. Don't be put off by its Biro-like

Seems like this product has come from the Boy George Beauty School of Thought.
But painting double chins black does not make them disappear, much in the
same way
that Dulux-ing your teeth probably will not look normal.

Wonder what it's made of. I don't fancy ingesting a Tippex-like substance.
Something about the skull and crossbones symbol on the side of the bottle
tells me
that this would be of limited nutritional value.

Still gonna try it though.

*25 minutes of my life that I shall never, ever get back.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

O.P.I Haul

My mum's an OPI obsessive and so am I, so recently between us we picked up few new colours! Most of them are from the Hong Kong collection that came out not so long ago. Here's a breakdown:

Red My Fortune Cookie:
A pillar box red. A brighter red than the other OPI reds that I have (Comet Loves Cupid, Big Apple Red). Less blue based than the others. Probably not my favorite red but a nice bright one all the same. I like how red nails straddle the classy/tarty line.

Hot and Spicy:
Kind of reminds me of a shade from the Miami collection, 'OPI on Collins Ave' but with less red. This colour happened to be in loads of magazines that I picked up. Quite a wearable orange and is a nice match for the coral make-up that has been on trend recently.

Dim Sum Plum:
Nice but unremarkable. Ubiquitous in the way that I think you'd find this sort of shade in every brand's nail polish collection.

Lucky Lucky Lavender:

This shade seemed to receive loads of column inches as the pastel nail trend landed. I was worried about this looking too Tippex-y but I don't think it does. I received lots of compliments when I wore this for the first time - I think it's quite unusual. A cheaper dupe can be found in the Barry M range.

Yoga-ta Get This Blue!:

Hmmm. This looks so lovely in the bottle, like OPI's Russian Navy but with a teal shimmer running through it.Unfortunately the shimmer doesn't come through when you apply it to the nails and it ends up looking just like Russian Navy or the Barry M dupe of Russian Navy.

My favourites from the above? Lucky Lucky Lavender because it's not usually the shade family that I go for and Hot & Spicy because it's a wearable orange.

Anyone tried the Leighton Denny range? As I type this, he is on the shopping channel flogging his wares, which appear to be priced similarly to OPI... am tempted to try it but if I don't like it then the opportunity cost would be that I could have got a bottle of OPI instead! Let me know what the verdict is on the Leighton Denny stuff...

Want List: Revlon Strawberry Suede Matte Lipstick

Though I'm re-evaluating some of the items on my Want List (the Tom Ford lipstick might not make the cut due to the exorbitant price tag (just how good can a lipstick be? Is the product really going to justify that price point? Sorry Tom, but you gots ta go), there was one item that was non-negotiable: Revlon Matte Lipstick in Strawberry Suede.

I really, really like this lipstick. The texture reminds me of MAC's matte red Ruby Woo and the colour is a bright orange-red. I don't think the pic above does jutice to the intensity of the colour, but in real life it has a 'block' effect - totally opaque.

I'm looking forward to wearing this on nights out and even in the day time - although maybe not for work... not sure my conservative office is ready for this one. And that's conservative with small 'c', just to be clear in this election frenzy! =)

I plan on wearing this with pared down eyes e.g. defined brows, no colour on the lids but lashings of mascara, barely-there blusher and highlighted cheekbones. Before applying matte lipsticks, I tend to skip the lipbalm but moisturise my lips well with my face moisturiser instead. This makes the lips feel comfortable but doesn't create the creamy base that a lipbalm would give, which can sometimes take away from the matte effect of the lipstick by making it shiny.

Ahh, this colour puts me in the mood for cocktails and hot weather. Roll on summer!!

Monday, 12 April 2010

The Want List: April 2010

(L-R: Too Faced Mood Swing Lipgloss, Dior Addict Colour Awakening Lip Balm, Mac Prep+Prime finishing powder)

I don't want the sales assistants to take out an injuction on me so I'm going to stop doing repeated slow cruises past these make-up counters and finally make it my business to acquire some products that I've been eyeing up for a while:

  1. MAC Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Powder £17
    Finding a finishing powder that lasts and isn't ageing seems to be akin to searching for the holy grail. Loads of people have blogged about this, extolling its mattifying but non-cakey qualities and how it hardly ever needs to be touched-up.

  2. Revlon Matte 'Strawberry Suede' Lipstick £7.29
    Bright but not garish, matte but not drying, this is such beautiful coral-red for summer. I swatched around 15 Revlon lipsticks on my hand in Boots the other day (pearl, creme and matte formulations- all very nice) and this colour had the 'wow' factor.

    I like the sophistication of matte lipsticks but hate the application and wear of them - they feel drying and after a while look...stale. I'm always conscious I've got them on my lips. This one doesn't drag and does actually have a suede-like finish, perfect for creating a rockabilly/pin-up girl look.

    This might become my summertime obsession, so I will do a separate post about this once I have it and include pics.

    It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.

  3. Dior Addict Lip Glow Colour Awakening Lip Balm £20.50
    Saw this on a Pixiwoo youtube tutorial and I liked what I saw. It seems to live up to its claims, noticeably "beautifying and enhancing natural lip colour". At £20.50 for what is essentially a balm, it's not cheap, but I will figure out some make-up maths (same principle as fashion maths- price per wear etc) to justify it.

  4. Too Faced Mood Lipgloss £12.00
    There seems to be a 1990s make-up revival on the catwalks this spring and another 1990s trend appears to have influenced this range of lipglosses - lipgloss that changes colour with your mood. Yes, guilty as charged - I was the owner of several mood rings in my youth (as well as the plastic dummies - remember those?!). Oh, the shame.

    I swatched these in Boots and quite liked the Petal Pink or Berry Pink shades. The Pink Shimmer one looks too milky white and didn't transform much on my hand. Maybe I just wasnt in the mood?

    It's probably all a gimmicky marketing ploy that preys on nostalgic twenty-something year-olds, but I am curious as to what this is like on the lips and whether it is actually reactive...

  5. Tom Ford's Private Blend Lipcolour £35
    The ex-Gucci designer and director of the Oscar winning film 'A Single Man' has brought out a range of lipsticks that British Vogue devoted a full page to in their April '10 issue. Due for release on April 24, these are slickly packaged, as you'd expect from the Ford-ster. Tom Ford is known for being meticulous - to the extent that he wore them himself whilst in development to make sure they were just right - so I am intrigued to test these colours and see how they perform.

    The stand out colours for me are: Blush Nude, Ginger Fawn, True Coral and Pure Pink. But at £35 each, I think just one of these babies will do. In fact, damn - that's a lot of money. I will need to carefully consider this purchase.

I realise all of the above are lip products and allude to a misspent afternoon swatching make-up in Boots. If anyone has tried any of these, please let me know your thoughts :D

Thursday, 8 April 2010

My new MAC blusher

In the space of a couple of weeks, I seemed to keep hearing about MAC blush in 'Peaches' from different sources.

Firstly, I heard that Kim Kardashian uses it to achieve that coral/peach glow she has. As a fan of KK's make-up looks, this was the first tick in the box.

The second tick in the box came when I read that the chick off T4 -Jameela Jamil- uses it because "it makes you look like you eat fruit even though you don't". Now as someone that never seems to fulfil her 5-a-day quota, I took this as a sign. I was meant to take my ass down to MAC and acquire this. The universe was telling me to.

I do like this blush. I like MAC sheertone formulations and this colour is a true peach, which is quite lifting.

Works well with Sugarbomb as a highlight (see my previous post about sugarbomb).

Tick Tock... I can't wait

... L'Oreal announced today that they'll be releasing their new mascara 'Volume Million Lashes' nationwide on May 1st, and I will be the first in the queue for this one.

Femail magazine put 25 mascaras which span the price spectrum (from high-end brands like Estee Lauder and YSL to inexpensive brands like Elf, 2True, Gosh, Maybelline) to the test in their ultimate challenge and this one came out on top. Check out the hyperlink to see the results.

It makes for interesting reading as some of the premium brands score the lowest, having been totally trumped by the cheapo brands - a good example of this is Diorshow weighing in at £18.50 and scoring only 4/10 whilst Gosh Intense Lash receives a glowing review, makes it into the top ten and costs a measly £6 in comparison.

Now, I don't like recommending mascaras. They seem to be the most subjective cosmetic item ever. It's the whole 'one man's junk is another man's treasure' principle: I have friends that swear by YSL Faux Cils, MAC Zoom Lash and MUFE Smokey Lash, whereas neither of these do anything for me.

My personal favourite is L'Oreal Lash Architect in Carbon Black, which is why I am keen to try the brand's new offering (which incidentally will be priced at £10.99). I can build up Lash Architect coat after coat and retouch during the day without it clumping too much. Plus, it doesnt smudge under my eyes (I have oily skin and most mascaras seem to transfer) or flake, and keeps its curl.

But then again, you may try it and find that it's a pile of pants. One (wo)man's treasure...

Anyway, I'll try Volume Million Lashes when it hits the shelves and let you know how I get on. The review sounds impressive, I quote; "Lashes look instantly longer and thicker - as if you've had extensions... gold standard of mascaras". Sold!

My expectations are now set very high and if upon trying this I find that I'm unable to create gale force winds/sweep the floor clean with a flutter of my lashes, I shall be very disappointed...

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

This easter, I have been mostly wearing...

Nars 'Easy Lover' Lipgloss.

Never been a massive fan of Nars lip products (lipsticks too drying, lipglosses not glossy enough, although LOVE everything else Nars) but I purchased this because I'm a sucker for bright pinks and I am on a quest to find a dupe for the Lancome Juicy Pop limited edition gloss in 'Electric Pink' that came out a couple of summers ago... quite possibly the best gloss I've ever had (blue-based, well pigmented pink that looked good in all stages of its lifecycle on the lip - started out glossy and left a lovely, even stain as it wore off).

This ain't no Juicy Pop, but it does give a pretty, translucent wash of pink on the lips either by itself or over lipstick.

So, will I be having more dalliances with an easy lover in the future, once I exhaust this one? Nah. I won't be repurchasing. Mainly because, everytime I re-apply, I get the Phil Collins song of the same name* stuck in my head.

And that folks, is not a good thing.

*for those unfamiliar with this song, please see the horrendous youtube video below and my reason for not repurchasing will be justified.



Was killing time in Boots in Liverpool St Station perusing the make-up counters and picked up Sugarbomb, Benefit's latest blusher.

I didn't bother to swatch it in the store - I saw the mix of 4 colours in the box and thought they'd be pigmented enough to show up on my skin. It didn't even occur to me otherwise, as they don't look that pale. 'Georgia' on the other hand is definitely too pale for me, but this is darker in comparison.

Got it home, tried it on the apples of my cheeks, and...

Sugarbomb bombed.

No colour pay-off whatsoever on my skintone. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. It's the invisible man of blushers.

HOWEVER - much experimenting ensued and I have since found that it is really lovely high on the cheekbones, making them sheen really subtly (subtle enough for daytime) and photographing nicely. See, it's all about the placement.

Since this discovery, it has been part of my daily face routine and will not be festering untouched on my dressing table as initially feared.

Dontcha just love happy endings

Smokin' Eyes Palette: Some Pics

Here are some pics of the smokin' eyes palette in action...

The one on the left is my eye. I used everything in the palette except for the pale pink shadow, which I subbed for my Illamasqua pigment in Furore under the eyebrow arch. Used a MAC 217 to blend and apply.

The one on the right is my friend's eye that I made up for her.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Benefit: Smokin' Eyes Palette

I hate buying palettes where you can't select your own colours as there always seems to be one or two 'dud' shades that never get used, so not sure what possessed me to buy Benefit's Smokin' Eyes... especially because I'm not the bigeest fan of Benefit (twee packaging, hit-and-miss colour pay off, and all at premium prices) .

Anyway, it must have been the make-up artist's demo of the product that happened to be going on at the time, but I found myself handing over my cash for this... but no regrets, as I really like it:

Good Points:

  1. The pewter shade and the darker shade blend together really well to create a smoked-out look and having a grey base isn't as harsh as black. Pigmentation is good and the texture of the shadows feels soft and expensive.
  2. It comes with the 'brow-zings' eyebrow gel which I loved - I was able to fill in any gaps in my dark eyebrows without it looking too dark, heavy and, er, bloke-ish if that makes sense. Angled brush that comes with the palette is just right for applying this.
  3. It comes with the subtle pale pink highlighter cream 'Eye Bright' to use in the corner of the eyes to brighten them. I like that they provided this for the inner corners instead of a silvery white shade - that's a make-up trick that I feel is a bit cliched now... all a bit textbook.
  4. Instuctions are good for smokey eye novices
  5. Size of the mirror is quite generous.
  6. Black kohl eyepencil is good - doesnt drag, easy to smudge, nice on the waterline.


  1. The pale shadow isn't shimmery enough. If this is to be used under the arch, I think it needs to catch the light more. I usually substitute this for my MAC Phloof! shadow, or Illamasqua pigment in Furore for night time looks.
  2. Despite how much I like it, there's quite a lot of fall out from the dark shadow. I'd advise doing your base after the eye or applying translucent colour under the eye first to protect the base.
  3. The eyeshadow brush provided is poo. Just don't bother. Rather use a MAC 242 brush for application then a 217 for blending, or even just my fingers.
  4. I could say that the tweezers were rubbish... but I will refrain. I bought this on holiday and having forgotten my usual tweezers, so I was grateful for these. They're ultimately a really handy addition to the palette.

All in all, a good buy. I like that it contains lots of products and accessories and I really wasn't expecting much. I'll post some pics of with my eyes made up to show you... for now, here are the pics of the palette.

Fuller Lips: My Favourite Lip Trick!

Top Picture: Before
Bottom Picture: After

I like using this trick to make my lips look fuller in a subtle way.

You basically need 3 shades of lipstick and one clear gloss:

1. Fleshtoned/Nude Colour
2. Darker pinkish brown shade
3. Pale gold tone

1. Apply the fleshtone/nude colour all over your lips (I use Lancome L'Absolou Rouge in 06 Rose Nu)
2. Apply the darker shade in the centre of the lipline on your lower lip. This creates a shadow under the fullest part of the bottom lip which makes it look fuller (I used Chanel Allure in Prodigious )
3. Apply the pale shade in the centre of both lips, again to make it fuller and catch the light (I used Nars Lipgloss in Orgasm)
4. Apply clear gloss all over (e.g. Lancome Juicy Tubes or Lipglass by MAC).

This works well for day or with a smoky eye as the overall look is pale. You don't have to use the same products - any dupes you have will do.

Crest Whitening Strips: One Box Later...

..and it seems to be working.

To gauge how dramatic the effects would be, I treated only my upper set of teeth and left the bottom au naturel.

Unfortunately, I underestimated how effective the strips are and am now left with a mouth that looks half decent and half Worzel Gummidge.

I have one more box of the normal White Strips left and during my recent trip to the US purchased a box of the Advanced Rapid White Strips (only because I could find the normal ones - have they stopped making these?). Despite the temptation to widen the decent/Worzel Gummidge gap for amusement purposes, I will be seeking to whiten both sets. However I will be pacing myself with this as I do notice a significant increase in sensitivity with frequent use... to the extent that breathing in in cold weather causes pain. Ah, the price of looking good.

I will keep you posted of progress...

p.s apologies for the extreme close up. I don't mean for this to look like a dentist's textbook :)

Don't Believe The Hype: Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment

Sorry, but just don't believe the hype about this one.

Seduced by tales of a cult celebrity following, I parted with $22 for this in Sephora and applied... and applied... and applied... waiting patiently for signs of any benefits that might justify the hefty price tag...

But they never came.

Nope, this is just a glorified stick of balm. I almost feel that calling it a treatment is a bit misleading as, to me, that promises more than what a balm would deliver.

You could buy 14 Nivea balms for this and get the same effect.

I'm also not a fan of the citrussy scent... it reminds me of detergent/airfreshener... toilet cleaner. 'Fraid so.

And to top it all off - the cherry on the proverbial cake- during the night it seems to emulsify, migrate onto my chin, and leave me with a constellation of spots to wake up to!!

Erm, no thanks.

The Best Nude Nail Colour?

I've always shied away from wearing nude colours on my nails because I could never find a shade that compliments and lifts my skintone, giving me that polished, understated 'expensive' look... they always seem to make me look unwashed, like I could do with a good scrub with a nail brush...

Until now!!

O.P.I's 'Dulche De Leche' strikes the perfect balance between a nude/fleshtone, without being too pink or too grey.

Everyone went mad recently for Chanel's Les Particulieres as the season's best nude... but I didn't jump on that bandwagon because that shade (minky grey) would do nothing for my skintone (passable for light asian/south american/mixed race) and would just make me look like I'd dipped my fingertips in clay (which is fine if that's the look you are going for, but i wasn't!)

'Dulche De Leche' ticks the boxes for me - and best of all it's by my favourite nail brand, OPI. I can paint it on on a Sunday and know that I won't have to touch it til the next Sunday.

Check out my pic.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

New York... concrete jungle where dreams are made of (and where Sephora is on every corner)

I've just come back from New York City (my first time) and to say that I was excited about getting back into Sephora would be a massive understatement. I. Could. Not. Wait. I had searched out all the branches in the city beforehand and found that there was one 2 minutes away from my hotel in Times Square which was open til about 10pm at night... let the shopping commence.

I've loved Sephora since its short-lived stint in Brent Cross shopping centre (someone needs to bring it back quicktime... I struggle to understand how it wouldn't do well - I alone could keep it afloat with the sheer volume of my purchases) and the Miami branch on Collins Ave, where I received the best customer service *ever* (thanks Stacey!).

Like a loser, I couldn't contain my excitement as I was approaching it so I took a photo to commemorate the occasion...

Stay tuned for a post showing my make-up haul from the US including the stuff i picked up in Sephora...

I'm new to this game...

I've spent many a late night watching make-up vids on youtube and following beauty blogs, promising myself 'just one more'... but then finding that the early hours have slipped away and I'm due at work in a couple of hours. Eek!

I've found it all very inspiring and hence I have set up my own blog. I love how make-up can come together like some form of alchemy to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. I'm by no means an expert - I have no credentials to my name other than a lifetime (nearly - I started way too young) of trials and tribulations and I have been around the make-up block long enough to try a lot of products and be able to share what's worked for me and what hasn't...

hope it helps.

Loulita Bonita