Friday, 6 September 2013

The All-New Ciate Mini Mani Month for 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... NOT!

Each year I entertain myself by noting the untimely appearances of Christmas advertising and merchandise, and each year it seems to come sooner and sooner. But I doubt that even in my festivest fantasies I could have conceived getting Christmas-related mail in early SEPTEMBER. I can just about justify the move by appreciating the nature of the product in question and the amount of excitement it created last year, so without further ado, let me share with you the news that

Ciate is bringing back the Mini Mani Month nail polish Advent calendar!


As an owner of last year's calendar, my firs question was, of course - is it going to be the same? Partly different? Entirely new?

The answer is exciting and will most likely cost me £42 - the whole range of colours in this year's calendar is entirely new, with exclusive caviars, glitters, sequins and other Ciate's novelties alike.

Currently available at Selfridges, and soon coming to Ciate's webpage, it is likely to sell out pretty quickly (hence such an early appearance), but get yourself on Ciate's mailing list and keep your hand on the re-stocking pulse.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Deborah Lippmann Glamorous Life

In true spirit of the day, this Valentine's day I opted for pink on the nails. And given that it is year 2013, of course had to be the rose gold variation of pink. The rose gold trend has been dominating the precious metal scene over the last few years, and shows no signs of stopping.

On the nails, rose gold looks very refined and, dare I say it, glamorous. Hence the name, I guess:  Glamorous Life by Deborah Lippmann.

This is one of my favourite nail polishes in my collection, and the only thing that is stopping me from saying "THE favourite polish" is just how difficult it is to apply! I don't know whether it is because I have extraordinarily streaky nails, or it is an inherent property of foil polishes. Probably both. But the glowing effect it gives your hands is worth the struggle.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Polemics of an underwhelmed blogger - It's a 10 Miracle Leave-in Product

Most of us put some amount of research before exchanging our hard-earned cash for cosmetics (the mere fact that you are reading this entry tells me so), and it is particularly true for products of the pricier kind. Extraordinarily successful representatives of their cosmetic categories tend to accumulate appraisals and promotions from beauty editors, beauty bloggers, and youtubers alike exponentially - the more people talk about it, the more people talk about it. This is, of course, known as hype. A product's fame is amplified significantly if it is hard to get. And the less available the hyped up product is, the better it seems to preform. To observe that phenomenon, one only has to look up some reviews on Makeup Alley ( of products that have been discontinued. I am confident to predict, that the majority of products that have the "discontinued" seal on it rate at least four or higher.

The product I want to mention today is not discontinued, but is infinitely difficult to get hold of if you are located anywhere else in the world other than a 'participating salon' in the United States. I am talking about the Miracle Leave-in Product by It's a 10. This has received extensive coverage in the various medias regarding it's miraculous properties (it's a hair leave-in conditioner by the way), so obviously I felt compelled to try it. Google returned few options in response to my attempts to purchase the damn thing, mostly including shipping from Australia for the price of a small jar of gilded caviar. So I abandoned hope and put my desire on standby until some willing participants agreed to go out of their way in their travels to America to purchase and deliver a desperate soul some hair spritz. And then one day, aimlessly exploring the dump that is our local TK Max for concealed treasures, I see it! Just standing there, bearing a price tag of £12, less then a half of what I was almost prepared to pay for him.

 Interpreting this as no less than a sign from the Gods of Hair Styling, I purchased him, rushed home and washed my hair immediately, disregarding rebelliously my previously constructed hair-washing schedule.

It's a 10 Miracle Leave in Product Review

And then came the meh. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Perhaps I didn't do it right. Or maybe the stars weren't aligned, but whatever the reason, the Miracle Leave-in Product appeared to leave no mark of improvement on my hair whatsoever. According to the reviews and the claims, it was to repair dry and damaged hair, add shine, smooth and de-frizz, protect from heat, detangle, prevent split ends, provide silkiness and enhance natural body. To be clear, had it succeeded in all of those tasks, it would be, without a doubt, a freakin' miracle. I wish I had at least several of these points to confirm, but I'm afraid I have nothing. It's as if I never applied anything to my hair at all, it's quite remarkable, really. Most rubbish products at lease leave your hair greasy or flat, as a hallmark of their failed mission to make you beautiful. Perhaps I was pointing the nozzle in the wrong direction? Perhaps my bathroom walls and cabinets can now withstand the scorching heat of a flat iron plate, should it ever be applied on them.

To summarise, I was underwhelmed. Disappointed, really. And also relieved that I didn't have to go through extensive financial and logistical troubles to obtain this conditioner. Now we all understand, that just because something doesn't work for some people doesn't mean that it will not for others, and this is simply another example. I envy the people that reap the benefits from the use of this product, and please don't let my experience discourage you from trying it - the people that like this stuff are still in the majority. But maybe don't set to swim the Atlantic ocean just to get it, there are plenty of impressively good hair products probably a walking distance away from you.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

An ode to Teal

I firmly believe, that before I got interested in makeup, I had no idea of the existence of teal. Of course there was that odd pine needle colour that was sort of green, but blue, and both but neither in particular, but never had I ever considered "teal" a real option when selecting colours for my computer desktop wallpaper. Same can be said about the mysterious colour taupe, by the way, but that's a whole different story.

Back to the point - teal is a wonderful and versatile colour (and this is coming from someone who doesn't like blue and is not particularly keep on green either) and I am glad I have discovered it. One makeup product is fuelling my love for teal more that ever, and it is the Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow with a fetching name 8E.

MUFE Aqua Shadows are cream eyeshadows in jumbo pencil form, which also make excellent eyeliners, depending on the shade.  The product is soft, does not drag on the lid at all and is easily blended, although you have to be quick, as this will set as stone (I usually do one eye at a time).

It is not a twist up pencil, so you will need a specially-trained jumbo sharpener to do the job, my fine attempts at which are depicted below.

As the rest of MUFE's Aqua line, these are waterproof, and My God are they waterproof! I ran the swatch below under hot tap water for an experimental demonstration. In fact, these shadows are everything-proof, as it wouldn't come of even after vigorous rubbing. What's reassuring though is that is comes right off with your regular makeup remover (I use Bioderma, of course. Who does't?)

The colour of 8E is deep, rich, and vibrant. It's described by MUFE as Matte Green, but I beg to differ - as much as it is green, it is also blue, and both, but neither in particular. I pair it wish a dusty matte olive colour from the NARS High Society palette in the crease and MAC Blanc Type over the lid.

If you find that lining your eyes with anything but blacks gives a sort of wishy-washy look and does not define the eyes as well, try applying the coloured liner reasonably thickly, and then run a tiny fine line of black as close to the lashline as you can (I like using a liquid for this, as you can really trace it over the roots of the lashes themselves). That way it doesn't take away from the colour, but pulls everything together somehow.

And if you usually shy away from such colours on your face for the fear of looking 80's, check out the Aqua Shadow pencils nonetheless; there are other more conventional colours to consider. 

But as typical of any colour infatuation, it has crept into other areas of my collection, and anyway - I find teal a perfect colour for these mid-inbetween-season months like February. By now, everyone has had their fill of wintery darks and purples, but it's not quite appropriate to whip out the neons just yet. So he is called Electric Teal, and I have fallen in and out of love with this polish repeatedly throughout the years, but it is currently in my 'shortcut' pile of polishes, and it is wonderful. The formula is magical, as are so many of the Nails Inc polish formulas (formulae?). The shade was a colab with the InStyle magazine, but there are plenty of these hanging about on eBay, at friendly eBay prices.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

MAC Strenght launches in the UK

Okay, people! The moment we've all been waiting for is finally here: MAC's greatly anticipated Strenght collection has launched online! It is still unclear as to when it is hitting the stores, so if you have been dreaming of owning either or both Party Parrot and Pink Pigeon as much as me (I have been a slave to the avian alliteration lipsticks since I missed them with the Iris Apfel collection), then head over to, and do it quickly as well!

Illamasqua Beauty School Drop-in

Hey, guys! This Sunday, 3rd Feb, Illamasqua are hosting a nation-wide event, which will excite any makeup addict.

Almost 4 hours of professional live tutorials scheduled on the day. We all love a good show and tell, and I expect nothing less than eccentric and unconventional from the Illamasqua team.
Did I mention it's completely free?

Check out the timetable for your local store below, or check out the events page here. Do let me know if you're thinking of coming to the Beak Street London store, we can all have a jolly makeup time together.

Sunday 3rd Feb 2013
Beak Street, Selfridges Birmingham, Selfridges Exchange Square, Selfridges Trafford Centre, Debenhams Glasgow, Debenhams Cardiff, Debenhams Meadowhall, Debenhams Belfast
Timeless Beauty

13:00 - 13:15 - Enhancing skin with cream based products
13:15 - 13:30 - Illumination and highlight

14:00 - 14:15 - Lifting and elavating features
14:15 - 14:30 - Colour correction

15:00 - 15:15 - Soft and flattering definition - Brows and Liner
15:15 - 15:30 - Timeless Palettes

16:00 - 16:15 - Expressive Eyes
16:15 - 16:30 - Dare to shimmer with blusher
16:30 - 16:45 - Shimmering Pout Perfection
Sunday 3rd Feb 2013
Liverpool & Leeds
Timeless Beauty

12:00 - 12:15 - Enhancing skin with cream based products
12:15 - 12:30 - Illumination and highlight

13:00 - 13:15 - Lifting and elavating features
13:15 - 13:30 - Colour correction

14:00 - 14:15 - Soft and flattering definition - Brows and Liner
14:15 - 14:30 - Timeless Palettes

15:00 - 15:15 - Expressive Eyes
15:15 - 15:30 - Dare to shimmer with blusher
15:30 - 15:45 - Shimmering Pout Perfection

Sunday, 27 January 2013

NOTD Essie + Butter London

I must admit, I am reluctant to try expensive and popular nails polish brands for the fear of liking them too much. I thus shied away from the rectangularness of Butter London bottles for a very long time. 

This Christmas, however, one came into my possession, and as I dreaded, it is freakin' awesome.
So as I slowly clamber onto the Butter London bandwagon, I thought I'd share my fresh discovery with you. 

It's called Rosie Lee, and it's straight-up small particle glitter in a clear base. 'Rose' is a good description for the colour in the bottle, or if worn on its own. It leans somewhat copper. You can get opaque coverage in three coats. I found through trial and error that the cuticle line looks tidier with a base colour underneath.

Here I painter one coat of Essie's Your Hut or Mine with two layers of Rosie Lee to follow. This Essie pulls the whole combo away from copper and more into the realm of pink.

Your Hut or Mine deserves an honorary story of its own, as it's one of the few polishes I have ever met that looks good in one single coat - an outstanding member of the Essie family. It's a medium rosie-pink with fine pearlescent pink shimmer.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Illamasqua Spring Collection Teaser

Illamasqua has just released some mysterious-lookin' artwork to spread the word about their upcoming spring collection, so I thought it would lighten my burden of anticipation by sharing it:

May I just add.. 
The collection's called I'mperfection (see what they did there? Excellent!).

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Astalift Gift With Purchase Alert

Just a quick shout-out to everyone who has been putting off trying out the mysterious and wonderful Astalift product range - Debenhams is currently running a Free Gift with Purchase deal on any Astalift product. Here's what they say:

Free with any Astalift purchase
Worth up to £24. Choice of 15g Replenishing Day Cream or 15g Regenerating Night Cream. For Day Cream enter code X640 in your basket. For Night Cream enter code X680 in your basket. 

Astalift is an anti-ageing skincare brand developed by Fujifilm. That's right, the photography people. They have worked hard to establish their own line of scientific research focusing on collagen, anti-oxidation technology and micro technology. Quite the twist, but the line has been acclaimed by many.

Winter hand care

Although my compatriots will probably disagree, It has been astonishingly cold around here lately. Hell, we even saw some snow, which everyone respectfully honoured by driving at 15 mph. The extremities are always first to feel the cold bite, but with feet securely coated in Ugg (whatever, fashion police, I plead innocent), hand skincare moves rapidly to the forefront in my list of cosmetic concerns. Having said that, hands rarely come off my care radar, as I work in lab gloves a lot, hence wash my hands a lot, and I also often hear that hands are one of the first age giveaways.

My hand care routine is by no means complicated: it features of a standard hand moisturiser and an interesting product, which I have discovered by accident and ended up loving. I shall start with the latter: Crabtree and Evelyn Gardeners Hand Recovery.

I got this tube as a gift-with purchase sample, and assumed it was a hand cream. When the need arose, I  routinely squeezed a little of this in my palms and started spreading. My first reaction was "omg, this is wrong! It must have gone off or something..." It was very gritty and would not sink in as I expected. After recruiting help from a tap, I noticed my hands were left with a light oily residue, smelled of lavender and were soft as a pony's nose. 

I red afterwards, that the product was indeed an exfoliating-moisturising-conditioning treatment designed to "aid and relief of very dry and work-roughened hands". It looks and feels very much like a rough scrub infused with oil. The smell is of "green clover (??), lavender, sage rosemary and thyme" - sophisticated and subtle. I apply this to dry hands and massage it around in my palms. The sensation is DIVINE! It's slippery enough to not drag the skin; the hard particles just hit the spot. I then rinse with water, and leave be. The light oiliness is soaked up as the hands dry.

Have you just peeled a muddy potato, fiddled with bike chain or shined some black shoes? Sometimes conventional hand washing doesn't quite cut it, but this awesome goo will rid you of the plumber's hands look instantly. It's the kind of treatment that you won't be using every day - I've had my sample tube over a year, so the generous 100 ml (£16) will last you an eternity. It comes in several different scent variations, and is quite a unique little thing on the market. 

And as far as daily hand cream application goes, my heart belongs to the one and only Laura Mercier hand cream (or should I say Hand Crèèèèèème?) in Crème de Pistache. And my love for this is rooted entirely in he scent. I can tell you that this is without a shadow of a doubt the best-smelling product I have ever used. It smells like a bakery, but not just any old "ooOh, cake" kind of deal. It smells like that forbidden bakery that you walk past on your way to work at 8 in the morning, having made some ambitious carbohydrate-related promise to yourself just the night before. It is sweet and strong, and lingers on your hands for hours.  

The first time I wore this (having helped myself to a serving from the LM counter), an ignorant shop assistant at an IT shop said "something smells SO nice!". I barely held back my automatic response to present my hand to him in an excited "it's this, isn't it?!" gesture.

I have tried the whole range of Laura Mercier hand creams, including everybody's ultimate favourite Crème Brûlée, but Pistachio is still the best in my opinion. It comes in a 50 ml tube (£13) with a practical twist-and-squeeze dispenser. 

And last but not least, for my cuticles I use Cuticle Oil + by Orly. I picked this one mainly for it's size - it's a 30 ml bottle that I've had for over a year now and hardly made a dent in it. Nonetheless, it's a professional product with thoughtful ingredients like orange blossom and wild cherry extracts to moisturise, heal and refresh problem cuticles. You can find this guy online for around £10.