Saturday, 23 June 2012

JolieBox June - Anniversary edition!

Despite myself, and swearing off beauty boxes for good, I was pretty impressed with this month's JolieBox offering. JolieBox are trialling their new customisation, which has been something other boxes have offered in the past (Carmine), and that some boxes said they'd offer and made you fill out a questionnaire, but then sent you random unequal samples that were unsuitable (guess who?! You have three guesses and the first two don't count).

It feels a bit weird to be reviewing a beauty box, to be honest. I unsubscribed from all of them, and was pretty unimpressed with their product selection, repeated brands and customer service. In the past few months they've definitely been a persona non grata on this blog, and I even took to Twitter to bemoan the boring monthly deluge on the blogs, where there's the predictable beauty box review each month.  That's not a comment on the bloggers doing them, by the way. The beauty box brands need to mix it up a bit.
I was kind of surprised to be asked to review a beauty box on this blog, since my many and various rantings and disavowal of all things monthly and box-shaped (oh, apart from periods, since I can't avoid those buggers) have often meant that beauty boxes don't er... seem to like me (what can I say, I speak my mind).  I accepted, however, on the basis of curiosity, for one.  And to see how this customisation thing panned out.

Actually, I found JolieBox's packaging to be ridiculously cute, and it was designed by Mzelle Fraise.  It was a pleasant surprise - and it sounds shallow to praise the packaging, but I thought it was sweet and lovely.

The products, then:

Yon-Ka Crème Protectrice Vitalisante in Pamplemousse.

This was the customised product, and weighs in at 50ml.  I have oily skin so I opted for this one, and I actually really like this (colour me surprised on this one, I'm snooty about moisturiser).  It's hydrating and sinks in fairly quickly, making a nice base for makeup, however it does deliver a huge whack on the scent - which depends on whether you like grapefruit or not.  Pleasantly surprised.

L'Occitane Angelica Hydration Cream.

Um... two moisturisers? I feel like the balance in this box is off.  It's a decent-sized sample of 15ml, and is hydrating without being greasy - but I prefer the other cream and feel like another skin care product could have been included (toner/serum/whatever) which wouldn't have given the box that hint of déjà-vu.

Institut Esthederm UV inCellium Spray.

I'm nonplussed by this.  It's fine if you want a tan, I guess.  It's a product which is supposed to increase/enhance the skin's protection against the sun (although you still need a good sun cream). I'm not a person who actually goes in the sun, though - and the size leaves me feeling like I wouldn't see the benefit of it because I wouldn't get many uses.

Elysambre lipstick.

This is a natural brand and not one I'd heard of.  I LOVE this lipstick, however, I'm wary.  I know some people got a heinous gilded beige colour reminiscent of that dark part of the 90's and shoulder-pads, so it's all to do with the luck of the draw.  Mine is pigmented and a lovely dark berry colour and I actually cooed and put it on straight away.

JolieBox nail file.

What...I kind of stared at this and shrugged a bit. It's like a cheap throw-in for me.  I mean, I can use it, but there's nothing exciting about it, at all.  I can take or leave it given I really enjoyed (most of) the products, however.


For my first beauty box in MONTHS, I'm subtly impressed. I think though, on balance, I like the box/packaging more than the actual contents.  I do applaud JolieBox's attempts to customise (yaaay!), although the balance of the box was off, especially with 2 moisturisers and 3 skin care products in total.  I feel like the makeup included was a bit 'luck of the draw' too, so you could end up with something heinous.  Overall, though - for the first box in a very long time, I quite liked it.

Would I resubscribe? Hmm. Still musing on that.

If you want to try out the birthday box, JolieBox have left their subscriptions open here until the end of this week.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Essie polishes, a mariner's trio.

A couple of weekends ago I was haunting the cosmetic stands of Boots, and ended up with a £50 bill, because that's what a new razor, new toothbrush heads, new tweezers and everything else that could either run out or go missing at the same time could cost. Oof.  I did, however, manage to earn some points, and allowed myself to spend a frankly insane amount of my store points on some Essie polishes.

L-R: Mesmerized, Lapiz of Luxury and Turquoise and Caicos.

It's like they're free, right?

Everyday for the past two months, I've been eating my morning breakfast overlooking the sea, which is (and not to sound smug) friggin' awesome.  Even if the English seas are not the most salubrious of waters, and look positively murky, not to mention the condom wrappers on the beach - there's still something romantic about living right on the beach, and the amazing walks along it I've been having (mostly accompanied by a little stop-off for a beer).

There's something a little oceanic about the three Essie polishes I picked and they sort of blend from one to the next like the prettiest of blue-tinged segues (let us not confuse segue, with Segway, the small motorised upward, um, thing, that George Bush famously fell off of).

I am not very good at photographing swatches, or my own hands in them. Sorry about my piggy fingers :)

Mesmerized is a beautiful royal blue, so pretty and bright, and not a colour I would ever pick in a million years.  Since we've started the (long) process of buying a house, however, I seem to be gravitating towards these kinds of classic primary colours for décor - red, blue and yellow - and I don't know why.  Kiwi picked this one out for me, and he did good.

Lapis of Luxury is a colour I've wanted forever.  Ever since I picked up Splash of Grenadine in New York a few years ago, I wished I'd gotten this one too.  It's the prettiest pale periwinkle, so sweet, and there's something sort of sailboaty about it, but I don't know why.

Turquoise and Caicos
spoke to me.  Kiwi hates turquoise and deems it in the midst of a terrifying existential crisis (Is it blue?! Is it green?! NO IT'S NEITHER, EXISTENTIAL CRISIS), so something about this (rebellion?) made me swoop on this.  Or it could have just been that summer feeling.  Whatever.  If you ever want an Essie polish to avoid, take my advice. This is the WORST Essie polish I have ever used.  This picture took 4 thick, streaky coats, and then I sat there afraid to move or do anything for fear of smudging the multi-layer paint job.  Such a shame, although I hear earlier versions of this were perfect, creamy 2-coat formulas, so I guess I got unlucky.

Oceanic blues are definitely suiting my mood over shouty corals and neon brights, there's something just lovely and sleepy about them which suits my mood, and the sea breeze blowing my skirt up at every opportunity. 

What's going to be on your fingers and toes this summer?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The shopping edit: June.

Perhaps it's the whole capsule collection idea that prompted such a short shopping list this month, where instead of my usual squeezing the most out of my 600x600 pixel square in order to show you the things I'm currently making googly eyes at, I'm faced with a surfeit of white space.  It feels weird, because I just don't really want anything - well, apart from these five things.  And a blush from Illamasqua Naked Strangers called Naked Rose (which I now have and LOVE FOREVER OMG OMG GUYS YOU NEED IT).

So anyway, this shopping list is kind of not in my usual style, like I've polluted myself with my own self-righteous use-more-shop-less propaganda.  I have to admit, though - it did work. I am buying less - and more to the point, I'm wanting to buy less.  It's a bit of a weird feeling.  I may need a lie-down.

Untitled Document

As usual, each image will take you to the product's website with no affiliate links or crap like that because I'm not a sneaky linkerer. 

1. Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum.

I haven't smelled this, but something in me wants it - I don't know if it's the bottle or what but it just looks so sweet. I ordered a little sample, but I'm hearing good things about this, and that it's similar to Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. Maybe. I have a feeling this will be a lovely little thing of a perfume.

2. Laura Mercier Metallic Creme Eye Colour in Alloy.

I'm in the early stages of a relationship with Laura Mercier, and this would definitely be the next step for us. This is a gorgeous metallic taupe cream eyeshadow and is basically gorgeous on a plate (with a side serving of either cream or gravy, depending on which course you're on. Not both, you sick thing). Realistically, I probably don't need this thing, but I need to make up for the fact that the Caviar Stick in Amethyst and I don't get along, mainly because it's too warm for me and makes me look diseased. This would more than make up.

3. Caudalie Vinosource SOS Thirst-Quenching Serum.

I keep hearing amazing things about this and will be grabbing a sample tube this month to see if it lives up to the hype. I'm a huge fan of Caudalie skin care as it has always delivered great results for me. My skin typically tends to be oily and dehydrated, so I'm looking forward to seeing if this is going to walk the walk.  I found a little samples page at Zuneta here, where you can order a maximum of three (different) samples for free, as long as you pay shipping, so that's exactly what I did.

4. Beauté Liqui-Gel Stain in Fever.

Actually I already bought this, so this is sort of a lie. In a pinch, this would make an amazing Halloween fake blood product. An expensive fake blood product.  Other than that, this. is. THE SHIT. This is easily the bestest, most reddest of the red Snow-White-gone-vamp stain and it is incredible.  I say that about a lot of things, but seriously, this is something you must own. You'll see why in my excitable OMG post coming up about how much you want this. Because you do.

5. Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm.

I finished a friggin' lip balm. A whole one. I have never, ever finished a lip balm in my entire life, due to various reasons.  Usually I lose the lip balm somewhere, or it smells funky. Or I hate it and throw it away, and I never usually use lip balms anyway.  This is sort of a reward. Yes, I know, for finishing a lip balm. Weirdly, since I've started to use balm regularly, my lips have more dry and sore than before. If I didn't need it before, I do now! This is supposed to be the stuff of miracles. Can't wait.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Antipodes. Kiwi skincare (that contains actual kiwis).

I find it kind of amusing that my blog is so full of the phrase 'kiwi' and here I am actually, finally dealing with it by talking about a Kiwi brand.  My boyfriend is called Kiwi, I have a Kiwi family member who is just quietly awesome and I adored the TV series Flight of the Conchords.  The stage is set for me liking the Kiwi thing.

In April, I was lucky enough to be invited to a blogger event hosted by the New Zealand skincare brand Antipodes, a brand which I had limited contact with or knowledge about, but a brand I can get behind, with a strong ethos based in scientifically-researched, certified organic or natural products which are designed to give the skin a whack of what it needs without playing Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Paraben.

The purpose for the tête-à-tête was to launch two new products into the UK market, a cleanser called Juliet, and a serum called Apostle.  Having spoken to a friend called Jade, who is across the pond and then some in Australia, Antipodes is a popular brand down-under, so I was curious to know how it had flown so long under my radar.

Juliet is a skin-brightening gel cleanser that sort of smells like green apples (not sure why they are specifically the green kind, but it smells like green ones).  I've found this to be a pleasant cleanser to use - it never dries out my skin or hurts when it gets in my eyes.  Skin-brightening? Questionable. I haven't seen anything dramatic from it - it's also supposed to balance oil, but I haven't noticed anything to that effect.  I do, however, love this product for the purposes of double cleansing - but I don't think it'd get full makeup off very effectively.

Apostle is a certified organic water-based serum that feels really nice on the skin, and sinks in really quickly with no residual stickiness or sliminess.  The idea behind it is that it contains Vinanza Performance Plus, which is some kind of magical voodoo ingredient derived from Sauvignon Blanc grapes, a powerful antioxidant. It's designed to brighten the skin and make it glowy, while hydrating and not making it sticky.  While the texture and colour are a bit suspect, I think this is a pleasant product to use, but there has been no noticeable change to my skin.  I was kind of disappointed, since the reviews of this have been so good, but nothing, zip, zilch, nada.  I have generally good skin though, so I don't usually see dramatic results from skin care.

I was also given the Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream to try, and it doesn't smell a bit like vanilla.  In fact, it sort of smells like Christmas, spicy and sweet.  It's a thick, luxurious cream in an apothecary-style jar, and it's a fantastic moisturiser.  I think this will work amazingly for my chapped wind-whipped skin in the winter, although it's a little too hydrating for now.  If you've got dry skin, this will be a fabulous day cream as it contains shea butter and manuka honey, though it might be too rich for oilier skins.

In short, I was pretty impressed with my foray into a more organic and natural style of skin care, but although the products are lovely, the claims they make were a bit too close-but-no-cigar for my personal skin type and needs.  If you want to check them out for a bit of natural beauty, click here for their website.

Do you dig the natural/organic products revolution, or are you still cool with parabens?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Beauty 5: 5 best new discoveries.

I'm about to resurrect an old post series I used to do when I was but a nipper at this blogging game, and I haven't done a little post in an embarrassing amount of time.  So, here we go with something you probably haven't seen before, a Beauty 5 post.  Today's topic is my 5 best new product discoveries, the A+ good-job sticker students who make my daily routine a little easier and prettier, and whose end of term reports are bringing in top of the class grades (stop. with. the. metaphor.)

1. Alpha-H Liquid Gold.

Um. I have basically used this 6 times and am committed to the movement.  This stuff is like genius in a bottle.  Now - if you didn't get it by now, I have what is known as smugly-generally-good-skin. It is a terrible affliction whereby I don't often get spots, my skin tone is mostly even and generally there's nothing wrong with it.  I'm firmly in the camp of 'can't complain', because I can't, even with my eczema flare-ups.  The point is, that when I try a new skincare product I very rarely see a huge difference in my skin.  Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair does sweet FA for me - and believe me, I wanted to rave.  However, THIS. STUFF.  I have been skipping foundation and going for tinted moisturiser.  My skin has been bright and glowy and exuding loveliness.  BUY THIS.

2. NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base.

Oh, you. Where have you been all my life?! As a staunch opponent of the Urban Decay Primer Potion movement because I hate the way it feels greasy (and people keep telling me I'm using it wrong and that's why I hate it - NO. I actually just hate it), I have been waiting for a little excuse to purchase this baby.  And then I finally did, and there was much rejoicing.  It locks down my eyeshadow all day, stops it creasing and fading and doesn't feel oily on my eyelids. Marvellous.

3. Illamasqua Powder Blusher in Nymph.

This is that kind of healthy vitamin advert girl blush, the type which features just the prettiest, healthiest, glowiest looking girl ever with sweetly flushed cheeks and that kind of serene getting-my-vitamin-c smile.  I'd never tried a matte Illamasqua blush before this one - the first Illamasqua blush I ever owned was Morale which was, funnily enough, one of their first ever shimmer blushes.  Nymph is this gorgeous fresh warm-toned candy pink and you only need the tiniest bit.  It's so beautiful for Spring and goes all day and then some.

4. YSL Glossy Stain (Vernis à Levres) in 5, Rouge Vintage.

Be still, my beating heart.  Even though this applies a bit patchily on me (and I am only now getting the knack), I just adore the sweet muted raspberry red of Rouge Vintage (left).  It's a beautiful glossy shine which wears brilliantly and looks beautiful throughout the day.  It might be a little bright for some, but this is firmly my 'daytime' red.

5. Louise Young LY24B Eyeliner Brush.*

This is just the tiniest eyeliner brush I have ever seen.  No other eyeliner brush compares to those made by Louise Young, and this is the latest brush, following on from both the bigger sisters of the LY24 (my first love!) and the LY24A (the one I cheated on my first love with).  It's teeny tiny and works so so amazingly for detail and precision, and the quality is, as always, superb.  I think I might even like this more than the LY24A, I just can't help it, I'm a fickle lady.

What's your best new 'discovery' recently?

* PR sample.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Illamasqua Naked Strangers.

This post is a little and/or long overdue. Please delete where appropriate, or if you're one of those people and need to be different, then circle the correct answer instead.  Anyway, so I've kind of been lost in thesis land, writing the most astoundingly amazing PhD thesis ever, a thesis so brilliant that every single academic upon reading will pause, forks poised to their mouths, dumbfounded by its brilliance.

Einstein will call me from beyond the grave to congratulate me on my contribution of sheer genius to the world, because they will have figured out how to do reanimate dead geniuses by the time my thesis is done (6 months' time)...

Actually, I've been banging my head against a wall trying to bang some intelligence out of hiding, having hysterical crying fits, dreaming about kittens and trying not to procrastinate, followed by panicking madly and exhausting myself, but managing to write 20,000 words in about 4 days.

Sometime in all that madness, a couple of samples of Illamasqua's newest summer capsule collection arrived at my house and I was powerless to do anything about it, and now I feel I owe it a post.

Intense Lipgloss in Stranger, and nail polish in Faithful.
The full collection launched online on Thursday of this week, with two blushes (of which I've already ordered one because I couldn't help myself), three nail polishes, an Intense Lipgloss and a Sheer lipgloss.  The quality, as with all Illamasqua launches, is incredibly high, and the products are a bit of a lovely visual treat.  I received one nail polish and an Intense Lipgloss to try, and you'd better believe it when they say 'intense'.

Told you it was intense! Intense Lipgloss in Stranger
The Intense Lipgloss in Stranger is a shimmery platinum gold colour, and it makes me look like C3PO if I apply it straight.  However, it's wonderfully pigmented and neither gritty, nor sticky (a huge feat!) and I can see it really shining lightly applied over a bright coral like Vegas Volt from MAC.  For everyday wear - well I'm not sold for myself - but if you can pull it off, you're a braver person than I.  Loving the new packaging on the glosses, though - it looks sleek and lovely.

Nail polish in Faithful - in normal light and then in sunlight.
The nail polish in Faithful kind of reminds me of a beetle, or something, it has this bronze flash of colour in the light, but morphs into a medium warm brown out of it.  It's all quite subtle until that bronzey glint.  It's a gorgeous shade which doesn't suit me very well, but I can see it selling well with the beautiful bronze sheen for summer and the flawless formula of Illamasqua polishes.

I think it's funny how this Illamasqua collection played out, in the end - because even when doing neutrals and nudes (and strangers being naked), they still manage to have a little twist on the sheer glosses and sheer colours and throw a wildcard into the mix.


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