Monday, 27 August 2012

Rimmel Lycra Pro : Stormy Skies

Today's manicure is something I picked up a month or so ago when visiting a larger town: Rimmel Lycra Pro, in Stormy Skies.

I hadn't seen this shade before, though I don't know if that means it's new, or if it's just because my local stores only sell limited amounts of Rimmel shades (the displays are always so tiny!). Either way, I spotted this one and had to buy it because it's an unusual blue/grey shade that really does make me think of stormy skies.

In the bottle, it's more blue than grey; a dusty, smoky version of periwinkle that I couldn't wait to see on my nails. Once on the nail it dried much darker than bottle colour and became more grey. In fact I thought it was a basic elephant grey until I put it next to something grey and realised it was still pretty blue after all. 
Application was pretty much a dream. It has the gorgeous wide, flattened, curved-end brush that I love so much about Rimmel Lycra Pro (these pictures show NO CLEAN UP whatsoever, that's how tidy a cuticle line you can achieve with this brush). The highly pigmented, creamy formula applies like butter, without any of the patchiness you can get sometimes with creme polishes like this. It was almost opaque in one coat - if you apply it thickly enough then it could be a one coater - and two coats was enough for perfect coverage. These pictures show three coats, though, because the blue tone in this grey shows up better with three coats than it does with two. Drying time was pretty decent, too - I didn't bother with a quick drying top coat, as it dries well enough by itself (though it's best to let each coat dry before adding the next one, or you get brush marks).

Just about everything. It looks great, applies well and lasts ages (only a little tipwear after 2 days, no chipping, and that's without top coat).

It dries darker on the nail and I prefer the colour in the bottle. My pictures all show it looking pretty blue, and this is accurate for bottle colour, but in reality it's a little more grey on the nail.

Stash or Trash:
Definitely stash. This is a really great polish!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

SpaRitual : Up At Noon

I woke up the other morning thinking 'it's been too long since I had a SpaRitual manicure'.
(Yes, I'm aware that waking up already thinking about nail polish is a sign of obsession, but I'm beyond help so just humour me, ok?)
Anyway. I have a decent sized stash of SpaRitual in my cupboard, so I stuck my hand in at random and pulled out this little pretty here:
Introducing Up At Noon. Ah, those were the days... before I had a child, I could get up at noon every day. Well, okay, maybe not every day... I did still have to work. Weekends, though... weekends were definitely for staying in bed and watching TV or just plain snoozing the morning away. It was wonderful and lazy and it felt so good - then motherhood came along and the rest is history. Let's just say, the day they bring out a polish called 'Up at 6.30am', they darn well better send me a whole crate of it for free. Until that day, I'll just have to wear this polish instead and call it irony.
Up At Noon is, at first glance, a bright pink, shot through with a violet shimmer (which makes a nice change from the far more common blue shimmer you tend to see in other pinks along these lines). That's not all you get, though. The pink shifts to orange at certain angles and in certain lights. I wouldn't say it's strong enough to call it a true duochrome effect, but it is pretty! The first picture above is how it looks most of the time, with the pink/violet effect most visible. The second picture shows the more orange side to this polish. It's more obvious in real life than it seems in pictures, and much more obvious in the bottle than on the nail.
Another shot of the pink/orange/violet shift. You can see the orange most clearly at the tip and edges of the nail, and the violet in the middle by the light reflection.
Formula wise this is pretty great - applied beautifully, drying time was reasonably fast even with three coats. Apart from a bit of tip wear (and a chip near one cuticle that was entirely my fault for being cack handed), the polish still looks perfect three days later. The only fault I can find is that it's very sheer. If you have short nails, you'll get away with three coats, but long nailed girls will probably need four unless you're not too bothered about visible nail line. In these pictures I am wearing three coats, and although you can't see the VNL too badly here, it's a lot more obvious in real life. The next time I wear this, I will be layering it over a pink creme (I am far too lazy and impatient busy to wait for four coats of polish to dry. Just blame it on 8 years of Not Getting Up At Noon Any More).

I liked the colour. Almost fluorescent pink in bright light, orange/muted pink in subdued lighting, violet flashes everywhere. Pretty :)
The formula is mostly great - not too thick or thin, applies nicely, drying time not too bad.
Wears well. I'm doing a TON of typing at work at the moment and still only have a little tipwear after three days.
I love the bottle shape and the rubber cap on SpaRitual polishes. The brush is good, too. 

It's too sheer for my liking. Needs at least 4 coats to get rid of VNL (or layering over something more opaque)

Stash or Trash?
Definitely stash. I haven't found a SpaRitual polish I don't like yet. I also love this polish as a pedicure :)

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Bare Minerals : Holy Grail foundation!

'Ooh, you have olive skin! You're so lucky!'
It's something I've heard many times and I've always thought 'that's what you think'. Sure, olive skin can look beautiful, bordering on exotic, hinting at mediterranean origins - and sure, it looks great when we tan (not to mention the way that olive skin rarely burns). But considering we have about 2 minutes of sun in the UK per year, unless you want to live on a sun bed it feels like a pretty lame trade-off against the major draw back of having a light olive skin tone: never, ever being able to find a foundation the right colour. EVER. I've tried truckloads of foundations and concealers from drugstore to high end and not one of them, from Rimmel to Dior, has come through. Cosmetics manufacturers all seem to think that we're pink, or orange, or deathly white, none of which apply to us olive skinned girls!! The very few I have found who catered for olive skin tones all seemed to think that olive = dark mediterranean, so their offerings were way too swarthy for my light olive skin. This wouldn't matter so much if I had perfect skin but I don't. I NEED foundation. For about 20 years now I've been 'getting by' with foundations that made me look satsuma orange or chalky pale. Until now.

Enter Bare Minerals foundation - now officially my Holy Grail Foundation. It has SPF 15, it covers without looking heavy, it's buildable, and it comes in 20 different shades to suit pink, yellow/olive, rosy, neutral, and even rich red undertones, from porcelain-pale to deepest dark. I bought it as part of the 9-piece Get Started kit, which cost £49 but is absolutely worth every single penny (the brushes alone would cost £57 if bought separately!) You get three really great, high quality brushes (concealer brush and two different face brushes, for full and lighter coverage), two different shades of foundation (I have the 'Light' kit, which comes with 'Light' and 'Fairly Light' foundations), a Mineral Veil (translucent fixing powder), a 'Warmth' bronzer and a 15ml tube of Prime Time foundation primer, plus a DVD that teaches you the swirl, tap and buff method of applying powder foundation. The foundations, veil and bronzer are all reduced size 2g pots, whereas the full sizes are normally 8g (and cost £24 each), but I've used the 'Light' foundation at least 20 times since then and have barely even scratched the surface. A little bit goes a very long way!

Application is really easy. Moisturise as normal, use a teeny bit of primer if you like (I've used it with and without primer and been happy with the results both ways), then apply the powder, just tapped into the lid and picked up by swirling with the brush until it disappears into the bristles. Tap to remove excess, then buff into your skin - face brushes with a circular motion, and the concealer brush kind of 'scrubbed' over the blemishes as if you're trying to rub them off with a pencil eraser. You use the concealer brush with a little of the powder foundation to conceal your worst flaws, then the same powder with the face brush over your whole face, applying as many layers as you need to get the coverage you want. On its' own, you get a glowy, fresh faced look, but you can fix it with the mineral veil if you prefer a more matte effect. Wear is impressive, too - I'm a subconscious face toucher (yes, I know it's bad, but I can't seem to help it) and by the end of the day most of my skin has normally gone back to its' pre-foundation state, my fingers having undone all my hard work by about lunchtime. Not so with Bare Minerals, which still looks freshly applied at the end of the day.

Want evidence of how great this is? Check out these before and after shots. Brace yourself, the 'before' is a little scary :-p

It hides dark circles like they were never even there. I can't believe it covers so well and yet it feels like I'm not even wearing anything.

Blemishes, too.  No cakey, mask-like feeling. And it's the right colour for me! 'Light' is perfect right now, while I have a little bit of colour. 'Fairly Light' is a little pale for me, but it's not meant for olive skin anyway (it's for pink undertones, and just came as part of the kit). However, it's easy to mix shades, and I'm going to keep the 'Fairly Light' because combined with 'Light' it looks like it'll be perfect for the depths of winter when my skin turns even more pale.

Incidentally, I've had fewer break outs since using this. I don't think that this is down to some magic skin treating property in the Bare Minerals, but I do suspect it's because it's gentler on the skin than my old foundation. Since it's just mineral powder and none of the other chemicals and junk they put into traditional foundation creams and lotions, Bare Minerals should be less likely to block my pores. Either way, I'm not complaining!
With just a hint of 'Warnth' bronzer, used as blusher

A few days ago, someone said to me yet again: 'Ooh, olive skin. You're so lucky'. And you know what? For the first time ever, I agreed with them. Because for the first time ever I can look in the mirror and actually enjoy the colour of my skin instead of cringing at my dark circles, blemishes, and tell tale orange tide mark of mismatched foundation.

What I Liked:
Perfect colour for my light olive skin (YES!!)
So easy to apply you could do it without a mirror
Flawless finish and amazing coverage without feeling heavy
Lasts all day
Fewer breakouts
No need for separate concealer

What I didn't Like:
The click-lock lid (specially designed lid that you twist to close up the holes after use, so the powder doesn't get everywhere) on my Light foundation sticks and makes it hard to open. I don't know if this is a common occurrence with all Bare Minerals foundation, just a quirk of the smaller pots, or whether I was just unlucky (my other three pots are OK so far), but I've had to stop closing it and block the holes with a cotton wool pad. Hoping it won't happen again when I buy the full size!

Stash or Trash:
Are you kidding me? Just try and take this stuff away!!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Accessorize : Pin-Up

Happy Saturday! At last it's the weekend, ugh this week really dragged :( Why does the time always seem to move slower when you're waiting to go on holiday? Next week is the last week of work before I get the week off to go and do fun stuff with my family. I can't wait!!

Anyway the slowly dragging week somehow gave me the urge to have vampy nails. I haven't done that for a while and it felt like a nice change. My partner in crime for this vampish excitement was the lovely Pin-Up, by Accessorize. 

Pin-Up has an aubergine (eggplant, to you US types) base, filled with magenta glitter. It's opaque in two coats, applies nicely, dries smoothly and has a not-too-shabby drying time. This polish has multiple personalities! From a distance it looks like a dark vampy purple with purple shimmer...
...close up, it looks like this...
...and in the shade, it looks different all over again:
Isn't it pretty?

I really like this polish. EXCEPT. It is TERRIBLE for tip wear. I had tip wear within an hour of first painting! Undeterred, I wrapped my tips with it - and the tip wear came right on back.
This is after one day. It looks worse here than in real life (macro is brutal).
 It was weird though, because although it appeared fast, once it was there, it didn't get much worse. It just doesn't like sticking to tips! 

I love the colour. 
The formula is great (apart from the tip wear) - goes on nicely, dries smooth, not too slow.
Wear - apart from that intial tip wear, it lasts ages! I didn't change this for four days and it still looked the same as it did after the first day (ie the last picture above)

The tip wear :(
I was a little disappointed that the glitter doesn't show up on the nail as well as it does in the bottle. It sinks into the base too much.

Stash or Trash?
Hmm... it's borderline for this one. Although the tipwear wasn't bad enough to make me take it off for 4 days, I didn't love how quickly it appeared or the fact that wrapping my tips didn't help at all.
I did love the colour though. I'll probably try wearing it again, and wrapping my tips with top coat AND polish.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Color Club Back to Boho : Nomadic in Nude

There's a lot of brands out there, most of them releasing special or limited edition collections, and usually I'll want one or two from this collection or that, but not all. There are a few brands, though, where I have to hide my wallet to prevent me buying everything they ever release ever - and Color Club is one of those brands. I can't decide if it's a shame that they're quite hard to get in the UK, or whether that's a blessing (for my wallet, at least) - but between TK Maxx and Ebay I seem to have amassed a nice enough collection of these little beauties in spite of the lack of 'proper' Color Club stockists over here!
Back to Boho was the 2011 Color Club autumn collection (that's fall, for those of you who are across the pond), a  shabby chic, vintage 70's styled collection that promised to bring 'Boho Glam' to your nails. Amongst the 12 was Nomadic in Nude, a pale putty nude creme that the press releases described as 'off white', though I'd say it was closer to grey-beige. I don't have a lot of nude polishes (most of them look a bit odd against my olive skin tone), but I loved the way this one looked in the bottle, so I tried it anyway.
Application - well, it's a creme. Not only that, but it's a pale creme (which for me tend to show the same application problems as pastel cremes), and kind of sheer to boot - so it was hard to get it completely even and smooth. It would have been better if I'd done three thin coats, I think - but I was impatient - instead I applied two thick coats, after which it was opaque, but a bit brush strokey. My fault more than the polish! Nonetheless, the formula was mostly nice - dried reasonably fast, went on smoothly (when I wasn't rushing it and blobbing it on too thick). I had no trouble with cuticle pooling, either. No clean up required :)

Wear was really very good indeed. It took over a week to chip and by that time there was only a small amount of tip wear despite my having spent a lot of time with my hands in water and even scrubbing things with a pot scourer!

What I liked:
The colour. It looked pretty nice even against my usually nude-hating skintone, against which most nudes tend to look too orange, or too pink. I liked how it looked almost white in some lights, grey in others, and even like pale chocolate milk at times.
The wear. It lasted forever!

What I didn't like:
It could have done with being a little more pigmented - then two thin coats would have sufficed. I dislike having to do more than two coats of polish (maybe I'm just lazy).
The formula wasn't quite as nice as some of the other Color Club polishes I've tried. It's very far from being horrible, though.

Stash or Trash?
Definitely stash. I can see me using this one as a palette cleanser, as well as a nice neutral/nude polish that doesn't make me cringe to see it against my skintone.

Maybelline One By One Volum' Express Mascara

Something a bit different today; I'm reviewing mascara. Let's call it Mascara Monday shall we?

Normally, I am pretty unadventurous when it comes to mascara. I don't like spending money on a new one only to hate the formula and have to buy another type, wasting money I could have used for nail polish or lipsticks. However I've recently started to have problems with flaking in my normal favourite brand so I thought it was time to try something new. Enter Maybelline One by One Volum' Express, in Black. It claims to make your lashes bolder and fuller without clumping. 
This is the Lash Catcher brush, claimed to catch, coat and declump your lashes. Instead of a traditional one with bristles, it's one of the new style rubber brushes with lots of stiff plastic 'teeth'. I was torn about this because I have quite thick lashes and this kind of brush tends to make them clump together, so I usually stick to traditional brushes. However this one has denser 'bristles' than many I've seen and is closer to a traditional brush in appearance so I thought I'd still give it a try. See that strange hair like thing on the end? For some reason you tend to get these with this mascara - I got them from new so it can't be an eyelash, I guess there are lash lengthening fibres in this mascara (or maybe the liquid just thickens into strings) and occasionally you get a long one like this. Anyway I just pick them off, they're annoying but not a deal breaker for me. 
One Coat
Once I'd used it I noticed a few things. One, it actually is quite good at coating without too much clumping. score one to Maybelline. Two, the tapered end makes it easier to get the lashes in your inner corner without painting black all over your skin. Also good. Three, the bristles get down close to the roots very easily. Normally with a regular brush you have to work at this. If, like me, you're not an old hand at using plastic brushes, this means you poke yourself in the eye quite a few times until you adjust to the reduced amount of pressure required - ouch!!
Two Coats
As you can see you do tend to get little 'blobs' on the end of your lashes here and there, again a bit irritating but I found that if you leave it to dry (which doesn't take long) you can pick those bits off easily enough. Again I think this is just the lash building part of the mascara getting a bit carried away :-p
Once applied it wears pretty well. It's not waterproof (though there is a waterproof version available), but I can come home after a full day at work and it's still there, without flaking or smudging under my eyes. This is an improvement on my previous favourite Rimmel because that used to look great when applied but tended to flake or otherwise 'disappear' so it almost looked like I hadn't bothered with mascara that day.
Removal is pretty great. I always use a bi-layered oil/water based eye make up remover (the ones you have to shake before use) which will remove anything and everything, but even so, some mascaras need more effort than others. My lashes tend to hold on to mascara 'residue' and even when I take them off before bed, sometimes I wake up the next day with panda eyes. Maybelline One by One came off almost completely with one good swipe of remover and is still gone the next day :-p

Would I buy this again? For sure. It's not without its' faults (I still prefer 'proper' brushes and those fibre bits are a little annoying) but it makes my lashes look pretty good and lasts well, is buildable and doesn't require a sandblaster to remove.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Rimmel I Love Lasting Finish : Tangy Tangerine

Today's manicure is a sweet Rimmel I picked up a couple of weeks ago when I was in Asda (well, a girl's got to have treats to get her through the weekly grocery shop, right?). Although I'm not really into orange as a colour in general, it's really been growing on me as a manicure colour these last few months and when I saw this one, Tangy Tangerine, I had to just slip it into my basket.
Now I don't normally get on that well with pastel colours like baby pink and lilac (they look funny against my olive skin tone), and let's face it, the nail polish market is fairly saturated with those sorts of colours too. This one just seems a little bit more unusual, though... a pastel orange? Yes, please :) I love that it's bright, yet muted at the same time: a good colour to try if you want to dabble in the summery bright citrus polishes out there, yet don't want to take the plunge into full on neon territory.
Unfortunately the application was a lot more of a pain than I've come to expect from Rimmel's I Love Lasting Finish formula; it tended to be streaky despite the fact it's well pigmented, and needed to be applied quite thickly to counteract this. This is pretty standard for most pastels, though; I don't think I've used one yet that was a dream to apply. These pictures show three coats, over one coat of Nail Envy, with a top coat of Orly Sec 'N' Dry. Even with the Sec 'N' Dry it took ages to dry completely, something which is demonstrated quite well by the sheet mark on my middle nail, obtained when I went to the bathroom over an hour later :-/

What I liked about Tangy Tangerine:
It's a really pretty colour - bright enough to be eyecatching but muted enough you could still wear it at the office. I love that it's an orange pastel - definitely less common than some of the bog standard baby pinks and lilacs out there.
It wears well once it's completely dry. Two days in and no tipwear yet.
The brush is nice. Not as nice as their rounded pro brushes or the mini versions of the pro that come with their 60 second polishes, but it's soft enough and wide enough to flatten out nicely on the nail and give you good coverage and a tidy cuticle line. The pictures above show no clean-up whatsoever.

What I didn't like about Tangy Tangerine:
Like most other pastels, it manages to be both thick and streaky at the same time.
It takes forever to dry, mostly because it's thick.

Keep it or Bin it?
Keep, unless somebody comes out with a very similar colour without the application problems. It's a really good pedi colour too, really summery and cheerful :)

Friday, 3 August 2012

Body Shop Body Butter : Wild Cherry

Happy Friday! Today's review is for another Body Shop product, their ever-popular Body Butter in Wild Cherry.

 When I was a teenager Body Butters were really popular and I remember slathering myself in Mango body butter like there was no tomorrow. Almost 20 years on and the shop is still full of body butter, still in the familiar large round pots, but now with prettier labels and available in a lot more varieties than there used to be. As well as Wild Cherry, there's Olive, Cocoa Butter, Chocomania, Hemp, Moroccan Rose, Pink Grapefruit, Japanese Cherry Blossom, Sweet Pea, Vanilla, Floral Acai, Macademia, Shea, Coconut, Moringa, Satsuma, Mango, Sweet Lemon, Peach, Brazil Nut, Vitamin E, Almond, Aloe, Mango, Papaya, Blueberry and Strawberry! At £12.50 they're a little pricier than I'd normally pay for a body moisturiser but you get 200ml of product for your cash and a little bit goes a very long way, so I guess it's not too bad.
As soon as I opened the pot I noticed two things: one, it smells absolutely gorgeous. I was actually expecting an artifical, 'cherry coke' kind of black cherry scent, and that isn't the case. It smells strongly of real cherries. The scent is strong enough that you can definitely smell it on your skin long after it's applied, but not strong enough to be annoying or give you a headache. This is a plus for me. I like skin products to smell nice, but not knock out passers-by.
The other thing that I noticed was that it's a lot runnier than I'd been expecting. The Body Butters I used as a teenager were so thick as to be almost solid, and a quick squizz at some of the other varieties revealed they mostly have that same thick texture too. However, the jar does say 'for normal skin' whereas a lot of the other ones are intended for drier skin, so I figured normal=runnier.
The butter, or shall we say cream (it just doesn't seem like a butter to me when it's this fluid) has a pale pink colour, applies easily and sinks in fast. I was a little worried it wouldn't be that moisturising but my horribly dry skin on my legs slurped it up and felt wonderfully smooth afterwards. The butter leaves a slight residue on the skin which makes it feel extra moisturised, but it's not enough to feel greasy or leave marks on your clothes. It lasted a long time, too: despite my dry skin I am terrible at remembering to moisturise, yet two days later my legs still felt pleasantly nice and smooth.

What I liked:
Smells gorgeous
Lasts a long time
Absorbs quickly, yet is still very moisturising, even on very dry skin.

What I didn't like:
The price (although not appallingly expensive it's still more than I'd like to spend on a single body product)
The thickness. It wasn't buttery enough for me to think of it as an actual body butter. More like a moisturising cream in a jar.

Some people might think the scent is just a little bit too strong. I like strongly scented creams but if you prefer   less fragrant offerings, try one of the other butters as this is one of the more aromatic varieties the Body Shop sell. Some of them are strong, others a lot more subtle.

Would I use it again? Most certainly. I loved this so much that it even made me remember to moisturise my legs more often than the measly once a week or so that I normally achieve.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

17 Fast Finish : Fury

It's August already! If you're in the UK you'll already know about the loooong rainy spell we had (OK so it was more like a biblical flood), followed by one measly week of actual summer sunshine. That was last week, and it didn't last - we're already back to rain :( It is in honour of the rain's return that I show you today's polish - Fury, by Boots 17. Mainly because if that one week is all the summer we get, I will be furious!!
Now I'm not going to lie. I have a bit of a love hate relationship with 17 polishes. They have some gorgeous colours, but the formula on every 17 polish I have tried before has kind of sucked - especially with the 'Fast Finish' polishes, which seem to take FOREVER to dry. However, I saw this colour, and I liked it so much I figured it would be worth another try. Armed with quick-drying topcoat, I dived in.
In the bottle, Fury is a rich antique gold with a subtle green duochrome shift. Once on the nail, you mostly lose the duochrome effect, although it retains a sort of green 'hint' to the gold, it's not very easy to see the two colours separately. Depending on the light, it's either the same sort of antique gold you see in the bottle and on this picture here, or else it's more of a coppery bronze colour like in the picture below.
Application wasn't as bad as I expected, although patience was required and I had to do a couple of fingers twice. You need to let each coat dry completely (I used two coats here) before adding the next or you get horrible brush marks and the polish underneath smudges. You also need to apply the polish quite thickly for it to look smooth, which can make it a bit of a pain getting a nice cuticle line. Finally, you'll need a lot of time, or a quick drying topcoat (I used Orly Sec 'N' Dry), because it may say Fast Finish on the bottle but frankly Slow Finish would have been a much better name. It's worth persevering though because the end result is actually a really nice colour and finish which wore surprisingly well. In these pictures I have already been wearing Fury for three days and the tipwear is only just starting to show.

What I liked about Fury:
It's a gorgeous colour, quite unusual - there's a lot of gold/green duochromes out there already but this one is more of a bronze/green.
It wore well - no tipwear until the end of the 3rd day.

What I didn't like about Fury:
It takes forever to dry
It needs very careful application to look good.

Bin it or Keep it?
Keep, because I like the colour so much - but if I found a dupe with a better formula then I would probably ditch this one and keep the dupe instead.