Friday, 27 February 2015

Product Spotlight | Urban Decay Revolution Lipsticks

Oh. Wow. They’re described on Urban Decay’s website as “creamy, badass luxury”, and I don’t think I could agree with that statement any more. The Urban Decay Revolution Lipsticks retail for around £15.50 and in my opinion, are worth every penny of that price tag. The shades I currently own are Catfight, Native, Anarchy and one “Sheer” formula, Lady Flower.
(Lady Flower will have her own paragraph at the bottom, as the Sheer formula does seem to behave slightly differently from the rest.)

The packaging is edgy, weighty and looks very cool on display. The sheer formulas have a slight lilac tint to them whilst the original line is a silvery gunmetal colour. These lippys are not for the fait hearted though, and I wouldn’t recommend them for those of who you might be new or inexperienced when it comes to lipsticks, because wearing one of these is like painting on your lips with paint. Mulan, anyone? 

Y’know when you temporarily forget how high maintenance applying a red lip can be, and then you go to whack it on only to take extra care to stay in the lines, not smudge anything and keep it all looking even and crisp? That’s how pretty much  how all of these are. When applying, the pigmentation is so intense that even the more gentle natural colours leave you little room for error, especially on pale skin tones like mine. I’m sure my rushed swatches are a mess so don’t look too closely!

From right-left: Catfight, Native, Anarchy, Lady Flower

But don’t let that terrify you because once they’re on, they’re going nowhere. I couldn’t believe how long lasting they were when applied properly. Blot these once or twice, reapply and blot again and they won’t budge. I got through a three course meal whilst wearing Catfight, and can trust Native to still be hanging around after a lengthy day shopping. The finish isn’t matte, but isn’t a glossy look either. It’s just a nice, creamy middle ground. They don’t feather, (which is big problem on me, especially with creamy textures) nor do they slip and slide about as the day goes on. All that sounds like a bit of a recipe for dry lips at the end of the day, but they’re not drying at all. I never have a problem with dryness when I wear these, nor have I noticed a drying affect over time from them. In fact, they glide over any dry or rough patches on my lips beautifully, and if anything seem to make them appear softer and smoother than before. I’m desperate to own more from the line because I’ve never been so impressed with a traditional lipstick, I think they may even make Holy Grail Status in that department.
Lady Flower is the only “Sheer” formula I currently own, though I hope to fix that very soon! I have swatched almost all the Sheer line, and was once again surprised by the strong pigmentation of them. One coat is defiantly enough, but you could build it to two coats if you really wanted to. I’ve come to imagine the term “Sheer” as meaning a soft tint - think Revlon Lip Butters and Rimmel Baby Lips - but that’s not at all what Urban Decay have created with these. The best way I can describe it, is to say that the Sheer Line is simply a regular lipstick, as you would imagine a lipstick to typically be in your head. They apply like normal, wear off after an acceptable amount of time, and give a decent pigmentation. The regular Revolution lipsticks however, are like lipsticks on steroids. If that frightens you a bit, then why not experiment with the sheer line which carries many of the same awesome colours but in a more wearable,  every day appropriate way.
Overall, these are awesome awesome products, and I can’t wait to own more.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Jo Malone | What The Reviews Don't Tell You

Even if the price tag would put you off ever buying one for yourself, I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t love to receive a Jo Malone candle as a gift.
For me, they’re absolutely one of the most luxurious items I can think of, partly due to how completely unnecessary they are. I mean, once in a while I may be known to splash out on a Molton Brown hand wash, but what do you expect me to do, not wash my hands? I need hand soap. The same can almost be said for makeup to a certain extent, I’m pretty sure mascara is a basic human right. But no matter what ridiculous lies we tell ourselves, it’s very difficult to justify £40 on what is essentially, a scented lump of wax. I mean, you’re literally burning your money!

Perhaps this is what makes the Jo Malone Candles such a beautiful gift, the sheer extravagance of them; somebody telling you, “Hey, you’re worth this.” We all love that, right?
Maybe it’s their chic, understated design. The classy, classic glass jar is very easy to spot as being Jo Malone, yet doesn’t demand attention. They definitely make a statement when left unburned as home d├ęcor. Even when that last pool of wax at the very bottom has gone, you can rinse out the jar and use them to store makeup brushes, cue tips, even as a toothbrush holder (as demonstrated by yours truly), and continue to enjoy looking at them for months.
So why am I only talking about how they look, and not how they smell? After all, they are scented candles. Well, it’s like this…
When standing in the cream and black gorgeousness of a Jo Malone Boutique, receiving amazing service from the polished, lovely ladies who massage body lotions and perfumes into your hands, it can be very easy to get swept away in the heavenly scents that surround you. Sticking your nose in and out of the entire range of candles, most of which are quite unique and sophisticated, you then trot off home with that “ooh, what a treat!" feeling.
After such a euphoric shopping experience, and such an extortionate purchase, you can feel obliged to absolutely. love. this. candle. With a reputation and price tag to match, it is surely candle of the Gods. But be warned:
A lot of Jo Malone reviews will praise them for being “elegant and not overpowering”, or “beautifully subtle”, and in my experience, that is to say that they are very, very subtle in smell. As someone who’s worked in a candle shop, I like to think I know candles, and those who don’t have the nose of a bloodhound may find some Jo Malone candles to be very weak in perfume once lit.
Pomegranate Noir, a hugely popular Jo Malone scent, has never seemed to give me this trouble. Sadly, the same can’t be said for Lime Basil and Mandarin, Jo Malone’s signature (and my favourite!) scent. Truth be told, I hardly smell it at all when I burn it. Nor am I impressed by the perfume power of English Pear and Freesia, a really feminine fragrance. When I compare this to a Yankee Candle that floods my entire flat after five minutes and for a fraction of the price, it’s hard not to be a bit disappointed. Having said that, plenty of people find Yankees overwhelming and too dominant, so if hardly-there is your thing, go for it.
I will always love a Jo Malone candle. Get me one for Christmas and we’ll be best friends forever, but when parting with my own hard earned cash, I tend to invest in the diffusers instead, which I don’t think I could say a single bad word about. My Lime Basil and Mandarin diffuser has lasted MONTHS and fills our bedroom with a subtle yet distinctly detectable scent. When I want a bit more oomph out of it, I simply flip the reads in the oil. As for my candles, I like to leave them as ornaments mostly, burning them on special occasions but certainly not relying on them to add a welcoming aroma to my flat.In conclusion, no I don’t think a Jo Malone candle is going to fill your four story house with fragrance for a week, but I do think they’re a truly beautiful gift and a luxury I will continue to indulge in every once in a while.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Real Techniques | Bold Metals & Original Line In Depth Review

When the Pixiwoo sisters first launched their Real Techniques makeup brush line in 2011, it seemed like the beauty community went crazy for them. And rightly so. These brushes are a great price, good quality and look pretty on a vanity or dressing table.

Girls who loved makeup, but perhaps couldn't afford to build a brush collection from brands like Mac, could pop down to their local Boots and pick up a ready-made set of brushes without splashing their cash. On top of that, the brushes were made by trusted Beauty Guru’s they knew, and the amount of buzz and rave reviews on the internet left them in no doubt that the brushes would get the job done well.

Whilst now I tend to reach more for my Sigma brushes, I loved the Real Techniques range when I first got my hands on them a few years ago. I can’t deny that the original line still offers truly great value for money and great quality brushes. They are soft, hold up well over time, and offer enough of a range to suit most people’s basic makeup needs – by that I mean, most people can almost own every brush they’ll ever need by just sticking to the Real Techniques line …almost.
Designed to be makeup brushes for the “every day girl”, they were never intended to be show-stopping, industry-changing tools (though you could argue they kind of were!) and so now, Pixiwoo have launched the Bold Metals Collection, designed for  a more professional market.

The Bold Metals Collection consists of just seven brushes:

100 Arched Powder £25.00
101 Triangle Foundation £22.00
200 Oval Shadow £15.00
201 Pointed Crease £12.00
202 Angled Liner £10.00
300 Tapered Blush £24.00
301 Flat Contour £24.00

Not wanting to go overboard, I bought the only brush that really jumped out at me, the Flat Contour brush.
As you can see, the brushes are priced much higher then the original collection. A few people have had real problems with this, as I think the Real Techniques brand has now become associated with affordable makeup tools, but that’s not what Sam and Nic were trying to achieve here. In their own words, “these are premium brushes that are being sold in a drugstore”.
So the price didn't make me wince that much when I took my single, solitary £24 brush to the counter, as I was expecting a truly top notch result for my money. What has upset me a little bit is that, the brush I own doesn't really feel that premium at all.

That’s not to say it’s not a good brush, but I think the main thing that makes it a good brush is because there’s very little on the market to rival it. Being unmistakably designed as a contour brush, it fits perfectly into the hollows of your cheekbones and deposits a “stripe” of product, for you to then blend out. That distinctive flat, dense, “contour shape” is perhaps something that only the NARS Ita brush is really competing with right now, and at £43 I think I’ll give that a miss thank you!
The brush is nicely weighted in your hand. It feels heavy, and in that respect, good quality, but it’s also an awkward diamond shape which just doesn't sit as naturally in my hand as a classic round handle. Not to mention it’s very long, which isn't a big deal but looks unnecessary and strange next to my other brushes. 
I’m also really, really not a fan of the colour or finish of this brush. (Don't hate me!) It’s a personal preference thing obviously, but for me, the “rose gold” coating just looks tacky and cheap. It’s far too shiny and whilst I'm a fan of rose gold in general, I think I’d prefer my makeup brushes to be a more timeless, classic black, rather than something currently on trend that might look really dated in a year or two. Pixiwoo also claim that the brushes are much softer than the original collection, but I don’t feel like that’s the case with the brush I own. Maybe I got a bad one? Maybe the other brushes in the collection are absolutely heavenly, but my Flat Contour brush feels distinctively average in the softness department. It deposits product well, but not that well, sometimes leaving me with darker areas to blend more extensively no matter how hard I try to coat the brush evenly!

It doesn't do a bad job at all, but where I was once perfectly happy with the leap up in price from the old collection, I’m now not so sure…and £24 now feels like a bit of a sting for what I actually ended up with.
I’d still like to try more from the Bold Metals collection, it just didn't meet my expectations after such hype. That said, you might absolutely love them, so please don’t take this review too negatively. 
I couldn't recommend the original line any more highly for someone with basic makeup needs and a modest budget. I really don’t think you’ll find better for the price.
As for the Bold Metals collection, I say go for it if you have the money to spend and want to try out Sam and Nic’s latest launch, but don’t expect miracles or game changing results, and don’t feel like you need these brushes if your budget is tight or you’re fairly new to makeup.
Stick to the original line for amazing affordable tools and maybe try Sigma or Mac if you end up seeking better quality from your brushes down the line.
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