Monday, 29 November 2010

iPulse, my bad genetic make-up and the elegant Blogger Event

A little while ago now I was privileged enough to be invited to My First Blogger Event, hosted by iPulse at the elegant Mayfair Hotel in London. I have to admit, for much of the event, I was suffering from an inferiority complex - so many illustrious denizens of the Big Bad Beauty Blogging world who routinely perch atop their soapboxes to deliver wonderfully-composed beauty tidbits, and then little old me?

Thankfully, none of them were scary - I got to meet the lovely Jen of Mizzworthy fame, and the equally lovely Sarah of I Heart Cosmetics.

The whole point of the event, because I'm not very good at getting to the point myself, was a round table event where we were invited to grill the CEO Scott Wotherspoon and his tribe on concerns, problems and general questions about the current iPulse device.

I felt spoiled; champagne, nibbly canapés and fish and chips! In a cone! An evening spent in good company, food and a good chinwag about beauty and all things hair removal... And Mr. Wotherspoon was surprisingly knowledgeable considering he was surrounded by a room of not only the more hirsute of the female population, but most likely his most discerning critics too.

In true 'me' style, I actually managed to leave all of my carefully-scribed notes from the Question Time style affair right where I wrote them... On the table. But, I do remember a few little tidbits of information for those of you who own an iPulse, or are thinking of owning one:

1. Fake tan matters: If you tan or fake tan, the iPulse is not going to be as effective as it would be with natural skin. You shouldn't use the iPulse after exposure to sun anyway, but even if you've fake-tanned, you need to scrub it off and treat your pasty skin as it is.

2. Facial hair is special: Facial hair is a different kind of hair to that on the rest of your body, and even if you're pale-skinned and dark-haired like me, it'll take much longer to treat and may not go away completely. It may be more of a maintenance job rather than a Bye Bye Beardy one.

3. Weekly treatments: The thing about the iPulse as opposed to treatments in a salon is that you do the iPulse treatment weekly, whereas a salon treatment is performed on a monthly basis. The reason you can only have a salon-style treatment once a month is to allow for skin repair - however, this doesn't make the iPulse any less powerful or effective as you're doing it 4 times a month rather than one and it all works out the same overall.

4. Unibrow: Bad news for those of us wanting to treat our eyebrows and rid ourselves of tweezers forever: it's not a good idea to treat your eyebrows at all. Remember how you once accidentally plucked an eyebrow hair out and it looked really obvious and it never really grew back and you had a gap there forever? The iPulse will do that, but 10 times over - you may well end up with only half an eyebrow. Not a good look. The light is not unsafe to the eyes, though.

5. Slather on that gel: The gel provided is dual-purpose in that it acts as both a skin cooler for your comfort and it also focuses the light to where it needs to get to. Without it, your treatments will be both more painful and less effective.

So, how did I get on? Well, in the interests of beauty, I've shaved various parts of myself including my arm and my face and have been lucky enough to get pretty good results. My legs (as a result of a combination of salon laser treatments 5 years ago and the iPulse) are patchy and bald and take much less upkeep. My bikini line is receding in terror and my underarms too.

It is a time-consuming treatment, however, which does take a lot longer than it estimates on the site and this, for me, is the reason I am not as diligent as I should be about going through those all-important hair-zapping machinations. After the event, I've been more motivated to keep up the treatment, and while I will say that it hasn't obliterated all hair everywhere within the 12 week time-frame and declared all-out war on those follicles, it's definitely working, and I'm definitely a much improved model from my starting genetic makeup (thanks, Dad!)

So, I put it to you: Any questions?

Much love.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Sugarpill, and the field trip away from monochrome

Much like the famed canine buddies of Pavlov, I respond to certain stimuli, although I am fortunately much more housebroken in my daily life than I suspect the dogs were. Equally fortunately, I don't usually start drooling at the merest tinkle of a bell, but I do often get the glazed look of longing when I spot a particularly coveted makeup item, or feel compelled to hit refresh repeatedly on the MAC website when a new collection releases, even when I don't want anything, just to check what's selling out.

Pretty colours and shiny things bring out the worst in me - a double-edged sword of WANT cut with a silvered blade of 'but I don't even wear colour'. I think twice about my purchase and usually reluctantly put my beaten debit card, sighing and huffing and talking myself down all the way.

However, when I saw an FOTD on Lillian's blog a very long while ago, I was powerless to resist and the WANT train hit me full-smack in the face. I simply had to have.

The product which prompted it all was Sugarpill's Chromalust Loose Eyeshadow in Royal Sugar, and it is the colour dreams are made of. The notion of blue eyeshadow actually strikes fear into my heart usually, but we (the blue and I) reconciled our differences of 80's blue eyeshadow up to the eyebrows and offensive pink lipstick and shoulder-pads and I clicked 'order'.

4 weeks of waiting followed as the Royal Mail lost my package and took 2 weeks sending it back. Fed up with waiting, I attempted to place a new order and Paypal limited my account for reasons spurious and apparently routine. Despondent and fearing my colourful dreams were not to be, I was nonetheless itching to get my order, so I ordered elsewhere, and then somehow 3 other Sugarpill shades fell into my basket.


However, what I'm trying to say here, in a roundabout fashion (because it wouldn't be me if I weren't roundabout), is that Sugarpill is fully responsible for reawakening that childish SQUEE! emotion in me, that excitement I lost when unboxing a new product for the first time. I want more and I want to put them all over my face and be colourful and shiny and bright and look like a rainbow threw up on me. Even if they scare me a little.

Enough of the syntax and pontification though - you have to see these swatches. I was so amazed by these new jars of shiny that I wanted to go back to MAC with all of my pigments and demand a refund for their having been so dull all this time.

I suck at swatches, as always: 1. Darling (teal with teal shimmer); 2. Royal Sugar (royal blue with silver shimmer); 3. Paperdoll (lilac with magenta shimmer) and 4. Stella (black with multicoloured shimmer).

I've got my Gollum face well and truly on - that face of selfish wanting - I want MORE MORE MORE of Sugarpill and LESS LESS LESS of MAC. Oh, how I wish I'd discovered it sooner - it's like finally finding the big X on the treasure map, and it was right in front of your nose the whole time.

A few things I've noted while using this and enacting my first wide-eyed foray into what feels like Dorothy's Oz:
- These are ridiculously pigmented and can stain - the only thing which got this off my hands and arm after swatching was oil.
- They throw up quite a lot of dust - they are more finely-milled than MAC and require a more sticky base, such as Fyrinnae's Pixie Epoxy (which I don't own, but can justify now!)
- Using them wet with water, especially for concentrated areas (liquid liner) can mean the shadow cracks on the eyelid as the pigment is much more loose and finely-milled than a MAC pigment, so try MAC's various mixing mediums.

Have you ever tried Sugarpill?

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Beauty 5: 5 ways to combat dull Winter skin

My skin is subject to some turbulence due to some cold air invading my otherwise usually balmy atmosphere; it seems that I'm always due at least one horrific break-out and attack of the dermatological flatline with the change of the season. It mainly involves dull skin punctuated by the angry, radioactive glow of a brigade of surging pockmarks and dryness, rather than the advert-ready glow of healthy skin and having basked in 12 hours' worth of sleep.

Despite drinking more water and eating more fruit, my skin still feels lacklustre and a C+ "could try harder" student. Whilst I've managed to stop picking at my boils long enough for my face to heal, my skin feels grey, flat and one-dimensional, and I'm trying to remedy that, battling along valiantly with a few products.

It's working, and I feel the need to share. Here are my top 5 products for combatting the dull, rough-hewn skin that Winter is bringing in flurries.

1. Exfoliate: One of the easiest and best and oldest-est ways to happier, flake-free skin. For the face, the Body Shop Facial Buffer is a force unto itself and completely unbeatable. It's cheap, you can use it with your existing chosen face unguents and potions, and er... It's just brilliant. For body, Soap & Glory's Flake Away is a coarse sugary scrub which smells sweet and fruity and leaves a little of its oils on your skin to keep your grey elbows moisturised throughout the day - perfect if you're a chronically-lazy person for moisturising, like me.
2. Consider oil: As a night treatment, I like to use oil to moisturise when my skin feels sore and wind-beaten. My two very favourites are the A'Kin Rosehip oil, sent to me by my almost-favourite Aussie Jade (my actual favourite Australian happens to be Karl Kennedy FYI), and the Nude Replenishing Night Oil. The Rosehip Oil happens to smell... interesting, but is lovely and moisturising and reasonably-priced for brightening up my skin. The Nude Replenishing Night Oil is a more high-end product, but is lovely and light, and sinks in easily for overnight em-plumpening purposes.
3. FACE atelier Ultra Foundation: I can't sing the praises of this foundation enough. It doesn't cling to winter dry patches and glides onto the skin effortlessly for a healthy, dewy-but-not-too-dewy finish which is a perfect usurper of a whole summer of stay-put matte finishes.
4. Cream blush: The emollient nature of the cream blush is perfect for duller, dryer skin seasons, as it lends a little gleam and glow to the skin if you've still not made friends with the bewildering world of highlighters. My pick for the harsher climes is MAC's Blushcreme in Posey - a deep pink of tramping through cold weather, but being rewarded with a mulled wine and a mince pie for your pains. Lovely.
5: Highlight: Oldest trick in the book - but it works. Dior's Amber Diamond, currently the rightful recipient of a huge amount of hype, is a lovely highlighter which is low on too much glitter and just adds a beautiful, soft sheen to catch the fading light on dull days.

So, that wraps up my little list of essentials for faking a little brightness in these colder, darker days.

What are your secrets to brighter skin?

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Review: Bésame Voluptuous Lip Colour Set in Red Velvet

A few weeks ago I posted about a new red lipstick I had allowed into my relatively small inner-circle of scarlet-hued beauties. As a capricious 20-something female with a penchant for classic Hollywood-style glamour, I am hugely selective about the red lipsticks I allow into my stable (filled only with the best, most racing thoroughbreds). I like the strong, screaming and stubborn - and who wouldn't? Red is a colour which can often put the frighteners on many an unaccustomed lady, but when you want it, you want it to be strictly non-migratory (such as the African swallow... thanks Monty Python) and to last the distance.

I think the main thing I find frustrating about the red lip, though, is the little question of lipliner. I once hustled to NARS after having purchased the ultimate Cruella de Vil lipstick - Red Lizard - and was approached by a sales lady inquiring if I needed any help in a twinkly-sweet-customer-pleasing voice. I explained: I needed a lipliner which matched exactly; no half measures. I wanted a screaming lipliner to match my screaming lips. She looked blank and pulled out a little drawer, displaying the paltry selection of various nudes before starting dubiously towards the darkest one, uttering the fatal words 'This might go?'

Anyway, before this post is overtaken by a rant, I'll stop with the digression and get to the point. It's rare that I'm genuinely impressed by all-in-one type kit products because there's always one product which lets it down. When I received a little kit from Bésame to review, care of Coco Beau, I was understandably a little wary and was beady-eyed from the beginning.

The product in question is a Voluptuous Lip Colour Set in Red Velvet, a vintage-boudoir-inspired set containing a lipstick, lipliner and a lipbrush. Bésame feel like a brand with a flair for finishing touches - the brush, the mini velvet travel sleeve and a helpful set of friendly tips make for a nice addition without being patronising. In short, this is a one-stop easy-install model for instant glamour with vintage-styling which would look great with a lightbulb mirror, and a matchy-matchy feel which is kitsch and appealing.

Both colour and texture-wise, the lipstick in this set is between MAC's Dubonnet lipstick and Red Lizard by NARS. It has a warm-pinkish lean within the classic red range and is creamy and smooth to apply with a satin finish rather than the classic Hollywood matte. The lipstick screams with pigmentation - perhaps down to the mineral formula - and is a full-on red which can easily be sheered out (but why should you?!) Lasting power is great; I wasn't counting the first time, but I consistently get great wear out of this whilst both eating and drinking and it doesn't feel drying on the lips. I do detect a hint of vanilla-y waxy scent from this, which doesn't bother me, but may well bother others. This lipstick, interestingly, does contain a veritable apothecary of intriguing ingredients, though: rose wax for silkiness, and aloe, green tea and botanical oils to protect and soothe.

Lipstick and lipliner swatched together.

My favourite thing about this set are the matching products which tie it all together. The lipliner is, of course, a perfect match for the lipstick and all the hard work is done for you here. It is an automatic pencil and twists up smoothly with no need to sharpen. It is creamy and smooth and works well on its own too, as well as underneath the lipstick, and it's lovely and easy to apply with no dragging on the lips.

The brush is a petite little thing which at first sight may look a little flimsy, but don't knock it 'til you've tried it. It's actually perfectly ergonomically designed to fit between the thumb and index finger, the bristles are soft and are staying firmly put. They're just stiff enough to glide around the contours of your lips but not too stiff to hurt. One main criticism I do have, though, is the lack of a little lid or protective cover to stop the residual product from getting all over your makeup bag. It's a small detail, but for me, one I would have liked to see.

ALL IN ALL, I have to say I love this little set - it's definitely a La-Z boy set with everything included and pre-matched for you. I love the packaging and style of the whole set, and the way it's carried through, even down to the lipbrush, and the product itself is exemplary - beautiful on a fair few skin tones, creamy, pigmented and moisturising and the one-way stop for Hollywood-style glamour for those of us less-inclined to play matchy-matchy with finding a lipliner in the bewildering world of brands! brands! brands! and sell! sell! sell! It retails at £30 from Coco Beau, and you can investigate the other shades here.

* This product was sent to me for review from Coco Beau. I am neither affiliated with Coco Beau nor Bésame Cosmetics, and I do not receive financial compensation for reviewing the products - and I wouldn't show you them if I didn't love and truly recommend them.


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