Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Review: Beauté Liqui-Gel Stain in Flouron

I'd never say I was a connoisseur of the lipstain, but I'm definitely not flying blind with this next review. All I know is what I do like, and what I don't - and I am definitely, irrevocably in the camp of people who hate BeneTint (we have a support group on Thursdays at 9!) It leaks in my handbag, it gives me unblendable warpaint streaks and is quite clearly surfing on a wave of cult status without having done anything to gain it.

So you can imagine my delight when I received a lipstain in a formulation I'd never come across before: the gel. After I'd stashed it in my handbag for a week with no leaking, I was already impressed. I applied it leisurely without feeling like hesitating a millisecond would make me look like I'd rouged my cheeks in the dark and painted a scarlet bullseye in the centre of my cheek. The name of my new favourite stain, then, is Beauté's Liqui-Gel Stain in Flouron,* and I'll admit, if it were a party guest, it'd be the annoyingly brash friend-of-a-friend who nobody will admit to inviting, and who will walk around clutching two beers and laughing at their own jokes.

Once you get to know them, though, it's truly a beautiful relationship.

Beauté Liqui-Gel Stain in Flouron - check out that colour!

THE PACKAGING of the Beauté Liqui-Gel Stain is simple, understated and chic, and incorporates a fairly stout lucite tube with a doe-foot applicator for easy application, which works well with the gel texture as it does not drip from the applicator like some stains can.

APPLICATION of this retina-scarring wonder, as I have said, is easy-peasy. As with all stains, you do need to blend it quite swifly, but you're not going to experience the stupidly fast-forwarded time constraints like from a more liquid formula. I choose to blend with my fingers (which obviously end up a little pinkened from this process), though using a dense flat-topped brush on the cheeks works well too. It's pretty easy to apply, though I'd suggest application on a cheek-by-cheek basis (which sounds a bit rude, but it's not!) and apply a dot and gradually build the colour.

One coat of this product gets you the perfect just-smooched look and a beautifully-flushed cheek which is a great afternoon pick-me-up when your blush has already begun to fade. Two coats (you thrill-seeker you!) will deepen and brighten the beautiful pink shade for a bit more of a pow! kind of feel. This product works well for layering due to its fabulous formula, which doesn't sink into fine lines and disperses evenly over lips and cheeks.

Flouron on the lips!

Cheek shot (this is the dewiest you'll ever see me, eek!)

HOWEVER, less is more with this product: the formula is both extremely pigmented and longwearing, so take it slow and build up gently. Flushed cheeks may be in, but the pantomime season isn't quite here yet. On my first go, I'll admit, I was over-enthusiastic and misjudged the liqui-gel's pigmentation completely. Kiwi didn't even falter on that one and sent me scurrying back to the bedroom with a sharp 'What have you done to your face?!'

LONGEVITY is good with this product and I get at least 6 hours' of wear with this on my lips, both eating and drinking (but not all at once...), and I get longer wear on the cheeks. It fades well without creating that nasty tidemark some lip products can bring about and is definitely less drying than other stain products.

Things you may need to know about this product is that I did detect a light scent of roses with an added floral undertone. This is very likely due to the fancy ingredients: Essential Rose Extract and Orchid Extract OS. The former is added for anti-viral and moisturising properties whereas the latter is rich in minerals which occur naturally in the skin.

Putting it in direct competition with BeneFit's offering, it is priced at £23.50, and for me, this delivers where BeneTint fails to: it's more practically-packaged, blends more easily and lasts longer. It's underrated and overshadowed by BeneFit's cult product, but overshadows it effortlessly in terms of quality.

It is available in three other colours and you can investigate it further here. I can tell you now that I'll certainly be investigating the other shades soon. Simply perfect.

* This was sent to me as a gift by Coco Beau. I am not being financially compensated for this review, nor do I have an affiliation with Coco Beau or Beauté. All opinions are most definitely my own.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Review: MAC Pro Longwear Foundation

Hands up if you're unsurprised by the fact that I broke my no-MAC-foundations rule and ran to buy one?

That'd be a full show of hands, then, because I am nothing if not principled and a woman of my word... Except until I decide to change my mind.

My grievances with MAC foundations are few, as it stands; I merely prefer to buy elsewhere because I've never really been that... bothered by any of the furore surrounding the celebrated Studio Fix Fluid or the Mineralize Skinfinish Natural. As it is, MAC and I did have one brief fling when I tried the Studio Sculpt foundation, which left me an oily, greasy mess and smelled oddly of paint. So we stopped talking, and delicately extricated ourselves from our embarrassingly quick and pleasureless fumble.

And then came Pro Longwear, enticing me with its saucy promises of 15 hour faces and the thought of not battling oiliness. I was seduced, and despite the fact that every opinion I've seen about this foundation has expressed the contrary, I still feel justified in saying it's amazing and it's probably verging on Holy Grail country for me. Colour me surprised: it's actually really bloody good, in my humble opinion.

For this foundation, MAC gives us a pump ready-integrated with no extra purchase necessary. The formula itself is fairly thick and requires speedy blending and application as it is quick to set on the skin. The finish is matte but not mask-like and the coverage is pretty good, but not full. I found this foundation to be less buildable than others (certainly less buildable than other silicone-based formulas I've reviewed), but building it up is certainly possible... but it could end up in a stubborn hands-flapping bitch-fight if you're not quick enough.

Photographed in natural light featuring guest blogger of my pile of laundry in the background.

The feel of this foundation is what keeps it from being Holy Grail; although it sets quickly, it leaves this almost tacky feeling which feels like it's sorely in need of powdering, rather than the silky feeling I'm used to. It's not a deal-breaker and indeed, I got fantastic wear from this foundation without powder, but it just felt nicer when I dusted a little over it. So to those who like to powder, be aware: use a light hand, a fluffy brush and a finely-milled powder and only dust over the places you need it - overdoing it will make a cakey, powdery mess.

Another view, because I'm narcissistic enough to believe you love looking at endless pictures of my face.

Onto the most important thing about this foundation: the wear. I wore this on a transatlantic flight, with all the hours and stressing in between, clocking up an impressive 16 hours' wear. When I finally got to the hotel and removed my makeup, it was still all there - despite recycled air on the plane, the inevitable dehydration of cruising at 35,000 feet and my fretful touching to see if I'd become oily yet.

EXTREEEEME CLOSE-UP (after having cleaned the house from top to bottom, phew!)

So for wear? Well, 16 hours with barely any breakthrough oiliness and no mask-like skin despite encroaching fatigue? It speaks for itself, really.

However, although I experienced no adverse reactions from this foundation, I would definitely point out that it does feel heavy on the skin and the long-wearing formula (and its ingredients) could cause people with more sensitive skin to break out. I'm not saying it's a given, but as I've heard reports of cystic acne from the famous Studio Fix Fluid, then it could happen here, too, so always get a sample! It's also worthy of note that it does contain SPF10, so therefore will protect your face but is not suitable for flash photography unless you happen to enjoy the Casper look. It doesn't oxidise too badly (if at all) on me; I'm yet to experience it doing so.

Taken with flash - not too bad for whiteness factor, but there's still a white cast there.

While removing it, an oil-based cleanser will definitely lift all of the product off, and this is something to consider whilst cleaning your brush of it as well; I found it quite difficult to clean my brushes just using a shampoo. In terms of brushes for application, it works well with denser brushes with a flat top, such as the E.L.F. Studio Powder Brush or the Sigma 197.

The final word? I've worn it every single day since I bought it and it's definitely a straight-A student for me. It really does deliver what it promises and your face will last until the end of your day with no problems. As much as it pains me to say this about a MAC foundation - don't hesitate and go grab a sample. The flawless-faced you will thank me in about 15 hours' time...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Jetlagged Ins and Outs

So, I'm back from the heaving metropolis of New York after a midnight flight on a too-cold plane where the food was inedible right down to the little cheese triangles they give you for afters. I didn't sleep one inch and I've been passing the day in a largely somnambulistic state; stumbling about with my eyes half-closed and tripping over things. I fell asleep with my hair wet and woke up 2 hours later, mumbling about the time and feeling concerned that I'd done something awful to my body-clock. Luckily it was only 6pm, but I'm still trying to shake off the lumbering fatigue which shuffles after me and leaves my brain shackled and useless in a dusty corner somewhere.

So, before I have to think too much, let me recap my week, which was mostly spent wandering wide-eyed around the Big Apple. The subject of fruit is an interesting one: I was paying for a coffee in Macy's when a slender-waisted employee presented the cashier with her 'lunch'.

'What's than, an apple?' the cashier asked.
'No, it's called a nectarine - it's a type of plum,' the girl responded.

I'll admit, I turned around and stared.

Not the point of this post, I'll also admit, but sometimes anecdotes are good for the tired brain. I had my conference from 10am - 10pm on 3 days, which left me in academic fatigue and reeling with a case of youthful stupidity; everyone was just so much cleverer than me. However, I ploughed through and did a little shopping and fell in love with Essie polishes (but interestingly, not the city itself). Enough about me? Good, I'm too tired for much more talking.

IN:
- Victoria's Secret: This shop can't come to the UK fast enough; the bras are lovely and I bought 2 of the same style (in the same colour) as it was so comfortable on my saucy lady lumps that I had to. The choice is great, the saucy underroos are galore, the prices were pretty good in the US (which probably won't be a mainstay in the UK), but overall, very happy.
- Viva Glam Cyndi Lipglass: Things that don't require much effort but pull my makeup look together in seconds are very popular with me, and this is one of them. It's lovely and opaque enough with a beautiful colour to wake my face up - although definitely not a good lip choice when there's a breeze - the hair-in-lipgloss scenario is such a terrifying menace.
- MAC Pro-Longwear Foundation: I wrote a review of this (in my Moleskine notepad, because I am infinitely pretentious), during a conference lunch break, and will be telling you all about it in a review (probably tomorrow). Needless to say, it's amazing and I've worn it basically every single day. It stays on until I take it off. AMAZING.
- Being home: Hate to say it, but I'm not cut out for the US; I missed my Kiwi and I missed England with all its infinite quirks.

OUT:
- Summer: Bring on the deep red lipsticks and the plum ones too, oh and the crackling of bonfires and sparklers and spicy cinnamon scents. Summer is done with and I'm glad about that. Just think: no more wasps!
- NARS Sheer Glow: I bought it, I loved it, I finished it and then I did not repurchase it. I found there is more that the world of foundation has to offer me which blends much better, stays much longer and is just much better for my skin type. Still love you, Sheer Glow, but sayonara for the foreseeable future.
- Airplane travel: 7 hours of sitting in the same seat, next to the same awful member of the human race, breathing the same recycled air, eating food 1 molecule away from being plastic and not being able to drink enough water because the person next to you is so asleep they're drooling onto their free pillow so you don't feel you are stealthy enough to step over them to use the stinky airplane bathroom? Oh my skin - I'm so sorry. I'll make it up to you.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Hair + Oil = match made in heaven?!

I rarely blog about hair.

It's mostly because I don't know anything about hair. My hair generally does what it does, and I'm cool with that. We have a tacit understanding: what happens with my hair happens, and we most certainly do not talk about it (unless it's a Really Good Hair Day, in which case we will most certainly congratulate one another and high-five on a most propitious case of working as a team).

So, yesterday, I went to get a haircut, after several days' worth of dithering over salons, special mega-deals and so on.

Finding a hairdresser in London is hard; everything is overpriced - apparently I'm not already paying enough for the privilege of living in the capital. London's hairdressers, it seems, are a greedy-eyed parade of scissor-wielding corporate ventures, something I try to avoid.
It's not that I have anything against a chain salon... Not really. I always find, however, that the price is always unfairly bumped up and you're always 'offered' (I like to think of it as bothered) the new super-duper awesome one-day-only hair treatment. Once you've nixed that suggestion, you're subjected to the hard sell - you definitely 'need' to buy the clarifying shampoo and conditioner, and you should probably use the spray wax as an expensive outro/postlude to your hair routine.

So, yesterday, armed with a 50% off coupon for first-time customers, I made my way (yes, despite the strikes!) to the first chain salon I've been to in years.
The haircut, as it goes, was excellent. I went to Rush in Covent Garden and was introduced to my stylist Sanchia (hardest name to remember ever), a quirky South-African lady who reminded me of a boho pixie; she was sunny and happy and she gave me a great haircut. She didn't even try to sell me anything (well, not really).

Apparently £70's worth of haircut.

At the time of paying, I nearly choked on my complimentary cranberry juice when they asked, without a trace of a smirk, that I hand over £70. That voucher sure came in handy at that point. And I would go back... given an unexpected windfall/lottery win/special occasion/someone else paid.

One lovely thing to come of the haircut, though, was the product she used on my hair. Brace yourselves - it was an oil. AN OIL. She warmed the tiniest amount up in her hands and applied it to the ends of my hair; it smelled delicious so I was naturally curious, and then horrified once I found out what she'd used. My hair is fine, but there's a lot of it, so product build-up is a problem for me; my hair falls flat if someone just talks to me - like it has built itself up to be a letdown every time.

However, this oil... was magic. I have never had softer, shinier locks in my entire life. Ever. She recommended I buy a sample bottle, priced at £5, which she said would last me ages - and advised against buying the huge one.

Image borrowed from Google.

And you know that thing about how when you go into a salon and you come out with a product they used, full of hope that you can get it to make your hair how they made it look with this miracle chemical mixture? It never happens, does it? You spritz and tweak and your hair ends up like an oil slick, or sticking out in funny places...

Well, I used it this morning, expecting the worst, and now my hair is exactly the same as it was styled in the salon: unbelievably soft, shiny and just... lovely.

Apparently the future of hairstyling is Macadamia Oil. Try it and see, it's bloody magic.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Scarlet Fever.

"When in doubt wear red."
- Bill Blass

Candid in-car-on-the-way-to-the-Supermarket shot. Today's choice of red: Bésame Voluptuous Lip Colour lipstick in Red Velvet.*

It could be the new hair style and colour I've been sporting recently. It could be the new girl I discovered on YouTube who I met at a recent meet-up whose retro stylings and effortlessly classic makeup style had my jealous heart aflutter. It could be the fact that it's September, that the nights are drawing in bit by bit and it's finally time for anything but coral.

Recently I've been shyly reaching for deeper hues; at first I pansied about and dabbed them as a stain, and gradually built myself up for the full whammy, the Hollywood sexbomb, the proper scarlet pout. There's just something in this shade which makes me feel right at home, confidently sassy and ready to get on with the day. Matte, glossy or peppered with shimmer - it doesn't matter; just as long as it's scarlet and screaming and paired with a glossy liquid liner, a perfect face and an insouciant cocked brow.

Well, there's always a reason why trend after trend passes the simple red lip by, but never surpasses it: the confidence and pure sex you exude while wearing it are simply incomparable.

Insouciant brow? Check.

* Bésame Voluptuous Lip Colour lipstick set provided for the purposes of review. All opinions expressed here are my own and I am not being financially compensated. I am not affiliated with either Coco Beau or Bésame.

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