Japonesque: Breast Cancer Awareness Collection

I’m back! Finally. Unfortunately I have been suffering from a mixture of bloggers block and having loads of work to do for my PhD. My apologies.

I received this Japonesque Touch-Up Tube in Pink a few weeks ago. The touch-up brush set includes a blush/powder brush, a lip brush, a foundation brush and two eye detailer brushes all packaged in a cute pink metal tube that can easily be thrown into the bottom of your handbag for make-up touch-ups on the go.
While the touch-up tubes come in a number of colours, the pink edition is part of Japonesque’s Breast Cancer Awareness campaign. The press release says $1 from every item purchased will be donated to Breast Cancer Awareness Research, although I can’t see anything about this on any UK site where the tube is available, which is a bit disappointing.

I really like the set. The brushes are all really good quality, as you would expect from Japonesque, with the added bonus (for me anyway) that they are also made from synthetic fibres. They are all soft and nice to use and give a nice finish. To be honest, I have such a small brush collection as it is, I have been using these brushes for more than just touch-ups.
I also think the tube is a really good idea. I don’t often carry brushes as they can get a bit mashed in my super tightly packed make-up bag, so this is a really good solution. The tube has been rolling around in the bottom of my bag for ages and still looks great and, obviously, the brushes have all stayed in great condition too!

The set is available on HQHair.com, priced at £16.95. Other products in the Japonesque Breast Cancer Awareness range include a Brow Kit, Mini Heated Eyelash Curler, a Pocket Lash Curler and a Mini Manicure Set (which does say money will be donated to Breast Cancer Research).

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is important to raise awareness even if there isn’t any money going to charity. Breast Cancer doesn’t just affect older women, it’s important that us younger ladies are also aware of our breast health. Check out CoppaFeel for information on breast cancer awareness for younger women.

Hope you are all well,
I hope to be back blogging much more regularly again now.

Lip Boom (Shake, Shake, Shake the Room)

Lip Boom is a new product from budget high-street brand Make Up Academy (MUA), created in conjunction with Alexandra Burke of X-Factor fame.

Doin’ Good, Bring It, It’s A Situation and LMK (Let Me Know)

I’m not a fan of Alexandra Burke, so, for me, her involvement is of no real consequence. If anything, it potentially stood to put me off. I only really got interested in the product when I saw the promo shots of the different shades. I fell in love with the colours and the glossy-glittery finishes, particularly the four bolder shades (from a total of 8). The photo below shows the promo shots of these four shades, clockwise from top left; It’s A Situation, Bring It, Doin’ Good and LMK (Let Me Know).

Photo from MUA Facebook page

As soon as I heard they were available on the MUA website, I headed straight over and picked up all four – at £3 each I had absolutely no hesitation about getting all four!

I’ve had them for a little while now an have been playing with them and wearing them to test them out. I really like them all, but in different ways.

Doin’ Good is a really great everyday sort of shade, not too pink, not too neutral and not too bold, but still glam, especially using the glittery gloss. I’ve worn in to work and out to lunch and have been really happy with it – it’ll probably be the one I use up quickest.

It’s A Situation is an amazing high impact shade, showing up as more red or more purple depending on the light. I have worn it during the day – I felt like being a bit dramatic – but is probably more of a nightime shade on my pale skin.

Bring It is also fab. I love red lipstick, and this is a really good red shade. The gloss has gold shades in the glitter that really compliment the red.

I am really torn on LMK (Let Me Know). It might be a tad dark on me, but I haven’t properly made up my mind. I haven’t included a picture of me wearing it as I had to use my flash and the whole set up made me look a little dead. It’s a really deep purpley-red brown, which is really dramatic, like It’s A Situation.

Me wearing Doin’ Good, It’s A Situation and Bring It (Left: Lipstick only. Right: Lipstick and Gloss)

The pigmentation in all of them is really good and strong. The lipsticks aren’t drying, especially not with the gloss added as well.
The gloss obviously fades with time, particularly when eating and drinking, but the lipstick has pretty good stating power, and the glitter takes quite a lot to budge.

I think they’re really really great, especially given the price. I’m always impressed by MUA products, they have a great range and are far better quality than their prices suggest.

Have you tried and of the Lip Booms yet?


Vintage Nation

Vintage Nation, from the people behind Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, is being held at Brighton Racecourse on Saturday June 9th 2012 (10am til 11pm).

I really want to go, but at the moment, haven’t found anyone to come with me, so I thought I’d put some feelers out to see if any of you lovely people would be interested.
There will obviously be vintage shopping, but also vintage cars, live music, vintage hair styling and make-up, burlesque, a village green (brought to you by Crabbies), a man-made beach, G&T’s, champagne, DJs, dancing and the promise of fireworks!
Check out both the Facebook page and event.
Let me know if you’re interested, or already going! I think it looks like a fantastic day out 🙂

Get the Look (Beauty)

Last week I put up a post about Look Beauty finally being available online, having launched their own website.
I’ve been waiting for Look Beauty to be available online pretty much since in launched towards the end of last year, but no Superdrug near me stocked it and , despite regularly asking, they never got around to putting it on their website. So, when I heard they had got their own website, I headed straight over and started picking out things to try!
While I haven’t been able to try or even see any of the range ‘in the flesh’, I’ve seen and heard plenty about it online – through both the Look Beauty Facebook page and other blogs.
I was most keen to try out their Nail Pop nail polishes, as I’m a bit of a nail polish addict, and their Double Hit Lip lipstick and gloss, as I liked the novel combination of lipstick and gloss in one product. In the end I ordered 2 Nail Pops, one in a pinky-coral shade called Ribbon and another in a purple shade called Flares, and a Double Hit Lip in Pink Punch, a bright hot pink 🙂
Delivery was really quick, especially as we’ve had the epic Easter Bank Holiday weekend, and it was nice to get my hands on my products so quickly! They arrived a few days ago now, so I’ve had a bit of time to play with them. As I was one of the first 100 people to place an order through the site I also received a free Stretch Factor mascara!

The nail polishes were the first thing I tried out. It’s been ages since I last painted my nails, partly because I’m a bit bored of all the colours I have and don’t think any of them are particularly Spring-y. I like these two shades, they feel quite spring appropriate but without being too pastely, I’m still not convinced I can pull of pastels. The polishes have quite a thin consistency, not that that’s a bad thing, it’s easy to start off with a thin coat and then build up. I often find I make an awful mess with thick polishes anyway. I got a good opaque finish in 2 coats still. They dry really quite quickly and have a really high gloss finish, although I would be interested to see them under a matte top coat too. I only painted them yesterday, so they haven’t had to suffer much wear and tear, although I did do the washing up earlier and they’re still fine!

I bloody love the Double Hit Lip!! The colour is fab and the product is easy to use. I was expecting the lipstick to give a bit more of a matte finish, but I still like the slight gloss it has. I’ve been wearing the lippy with gloss over the top all day and have only reapplied once, after lunch, so it’s standing up quite well. It definitely wouldn’t last long in kissing situations though :/ I think, personally, I would always use the two together, but you can easily mix it up between just lipstick, just gloss or combining them.

The mascara is also really nice. I don’t actually change mascara brand a lot, I’ve been using Max Factor Masterpiece or Masterpiece Max for ages. I like the formula, the brush and the finish. I often can’t get on with mascaras with standard brushes anymore. The Look Beauty Stretch Factor has a variation on the Max Factor type brush being made of plastic ‘spikes’ rather than the more traditional bristles. I find I get a more even application, fewer clumps and better lash definition with these brushes. The Stretch Factor brush is also a bit strange having longer spikes on one side, for upper lashes, and short on the other, for corners and lower lashes (I presume anyway). Given how devoted I have been to Max Factor, the fact that I’m impressed by this one is actually a really good sign!

Please excuse my awful eyebrows :/

So, overall, I’m really impressed with Look Beauty. I will be making many more purchases in future (maybe not this month though :/). Has anyone else checked out their website yet?

On another note; what do you think of the slideshow? I was just messing around with new features I found on Photobucket, is it too much?

Hope you’re well,

Take a Look (Beauty)

Some of you may know that I was beginning to get quite annoyed at the fact that Look Beauty, the cosmetics range launched by Look magazine, wasn’t available in any Superdrug store near me or on their website.
As such, I was really excited yesterday when I heard that Look Beauty had launched their own website 🙂 I headed straight over and bought two nail polishes (in a pale pink and lilac shade) and one of their Double-Hit Lips, a combination of a lipstick and lipgloss, in hot pink.
I’ve heard good things about the range from bloggers who do live near a Superdrug stocking the products, so I’m really keen to get my hands on some and try it out for myself.

Nail Pop in Ribbon, Double Hit Lip in Pink Punch and Nail Pop inn Flare

If you’ve also been deprived of Look Beauty by your local Superdrug, I really recommend you head over to the website – here. They currently have £2 off their lipsticks and the first 100 orders through the site will receive a free mascara (I’ve no idea how many orders they have had so far though).

Have you tried any Look Beauty products before? Will you be now they’re available online?


Brush with Greatness

I love make-up. I love wearing it, buying it, looking at it, experimenting with it; The whole kit and caboodle. Except, I don’t own the whole kit or caboodle.
With the exception of one year when I worked full time in retail, I have been a perpetual student, with a student budget. I’m also not a make-up pro, as much as I love to play with the stuff. So, a combination of limited funds and not always really knowing what I’m doing has meant I’ve never really had anything close to a good collection of brushes. I have owned and used some brushes in my time, but mostly cheap ones, bought in sets and usually nothing much use beyond applying blush and basic eyeshadow.
I’ve wanted to improve my make-up skills for quite a while, specifically when it comes to applying eyeshadow. Also, the blogging world has exposed me to a whole world of beauty blogs full of gorgeous girls with flawless make-up! Both of these things have only served to fuel my desire for a good brush set. But, no matter how much I want good brushes, I’m still totally at sea when it comes to knowing what brushes I might need and which brands are any good (or at least, good on a budget).

Ok, I’m not completely ignorant about brands, but I put some feelers out on Twitter and did some of my own research to be sure. The usual suspects all popped up; MAC, Japonesque, Bobbi Brown, NARS. It was only when I started looking at and reading about some of the individual brushes that a few terms kept popping up – synthetic and natural – and that made me stop and think. So many of these high quality, big brand brushes are made from natural fibres or a mixture of natural and synthetic fibres. Now, some people might chose to ignore the fact, or just not realise, but natural fibres mean animal fibres – animal hair. 
I wasn’t really sure how I felt about that.
Now, I don’t want to get into my overall views on animal cruelty, but, basically, when it comes to cosmetics, I try to avoid animal testing as much as possible and I certainly would never wear real fur (with the possible exception of vintage). So why then, would I want to apply my cruelty free make-up with animal hair brushes? 
Come to think of it, why are these brushes even made of animal hair in the first place? Reports on the benefits of natural versus synthetic fibre brushes are mixed, I suspect due to improvements in producing synthetic fibres as well as the price you pay for a particular brush. Supposedly, natural fibre brushes are softer and create a more natural finish. However, they are no good for applying cream based products and can cause allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin. Some sources say that synthetic fibre brushes are not as soft, shed more and become brittle and easily caked with time. Other sources say more or less the exact opposite; that they are softer, shed less and have the added bonus of being cheaper.
Whatever the benefits, I still can’t get my head around the idea of using the hair of a squirrel, goat, pony, sable or badger to put my make-up on. That’s a real sticking point. If I let myself think about it too much things get even worse as I know synthetic fibres are made from oil, and that’s not exactly environmentally friendly either. All this ends in a bit of an internal ethical debate, but I still come out the other side preferring the idea of synthetic fibres.

When you look at a lot of these brushes it can be hard to tell what they are made from. Most website, like MAC and Japonesque, simply describe brushes as being made from natural or a mix of natural and synthetic fibres. As a result of this, I think a lot of people could end up using animal hair brushes without realising, if they don’t know what ‘natural fibres’ really means. On this point, the NARS website is really good, telling you exactly what type of hair each brush is made from.
Just because these well known, high quality brands use natural fibres doesn’t mean that natural is the only way to go if you want a good quality make-up brush. If you take a little time to look, there are actually loads of synthetic fibre brush ranges out there, some from specialist companies and some from brands you’ve probably heard of.

An eco-conscious beauty brand using environmentally sound materials and supporting environmental charities. Their brushes are made from synthetic taklon fibres with bamboo and recycled aluminium handles.
I’ve heard a lot of good things about this brand, these are amongst the synthetic brushes that I’ve heard are as soft if not softer than natural fibres. They have a good, clean look with their natural bamboo handles and the price range is good, definitely cheaper than most of the high-end natural brushes.

Bamboo Foundation Brush. £6.25 from Cocktail Cosmetics
Bamboo 6 Piece Eye Brush Set. £11.05 from CutECOsmetics

The Bambu range from Bdellium is certified vegan friendly. As with the EcoTool brushes, they are made from synthetic fibres with handles made from bamboo and recyclable aluminium. Apparently, bamboo is the most sustainable plant in the world (according to their blurb on Cocktail Cosmetics). They have a funkier look than the EcoTools brushes, going for a bright green finish to the handles and brush fibres, still reflecting their ‘green’ eco credentials. They’re a bit pricier than EcoTools, but still cheaper than a lot of natural fibre brushes.

Banbu Green Vegan Foundation Brush. £10.50 on Cocktail Cosmetics and cutECOsmetic
5 Piece Bambu Smokey Eye Brush Set. £24.95 on Cocktail Cosmetics and cutECosmetics

You may not know the brand name, but you might have heard of it’s creator – Sam Chapman of Pixiwoo! The brushes are made from synthetic Taklon fibres with aluminium handles. There’s clearly been a lot of thought put into the design, as the brushes are colour coded by stage of use, have their names printed on them so you don’t get confused and stand up on their ends so you can display them on your dressing table. Again, they’re priced well, much cheaper than the big brands using natural fibres.

Foundation Brush. £8.95 from Cocktail Cosmetics
Starter Brush Set. £20.95 from Cocktail Cosmetics

I love Illamasqua make-up, and all their brushes are made from cruelty-free synthetic fibres. If it’s good enough for Illamasqua then it’s good enough for me. In-keeping with the general image of Illamasqua and their products, the brushes are all sleek black in design. In terms of price, these are more on a level with other big brand brushes, but are probably worth it!

Foundation Brush. £26.00 from Illamasqua
Eye Shadow Brush. £18.50 from Illamasqua

These aren’t the only brands specialising in synthetic brushes. Urban Decay brushes are all synthetic and vegan friendly, however, I couldn’t easily find the brushes I wanted so didn’t feature them. Also, some of the brands I mentioned earlier do have some all synthetic brushes. Cocktail Cosmetics make it quite easy, splitting brushes by natural, synthetic and vegan. CutECOsmetics specialise in eco-conscious products, so all brushes they sell are synthetic. Either search specifically for synthetic brushes or make sure you read about the materials used. If you prefer to buy these things in shops rather than online, ask about materials!
You might have guessed by now, that I’m most keen on getting a foundation brush and a set of eyeshadow brushes. I think I’m leaning towards the Real Techniques brushes at the moment, I really like the style and the starter set looks awesome!

I’d love to hear if any of you have any input on this subject; Do you use natural or synthetic? Do you think about your brushes being made from animal hair? What brands do you love? What brushes are in your essential selection?

Hope you’ve all had a good week and are looking forward to the weekend! If you’re going to TOWIB, have  loads of fun, I will be at the next one!

Absolutely Shattered

Today, I tried out my new OPI shatter polish in gold, that came in my December JolieBox.
I don’t own any other OPI polishes, largely due to the price, but have been aware of the brand ever since I first heard about their Muppets collection (want). I have also never used a shatter polish before, but have been interested in trying one out for a while, so I was really pleased when I found this in my box.
While gold isn’t a colour I wear a lot of, this polish is so pretty and just screams Christmas, so I’ve been eager to try it ever since it arrived!

Here I’m wearing a No7 polish in Damson Dream underneath the shatter polish. I liked the combination of the deep purple-toned red under the gold, especially during the festive period 🙂 I’ve also got a top coat on top here, which I don’t always do, as suggested on the bottle, and it did really increase the shine and sparkle of the gold.

The OPI polish was really easy to apply, with a good brush and consistency. The shatter effect developed a lot quicker than I was expecting and was fun to watch. I think I would buy more OPI polishes in future, if I’m feeling flush!

This months JolieBox (actually the first UK JolieBox, previously known as Boudoir Prive) was really impressive. While the (full size) polish is probably my favourite product, the others were all also really exciting. Unfortunately, I’ve had to leave the rest of the box at home while I’m away for Christmas so can’t play with or write about the rest of the box yet.

Hope you are all getting in a festive mood. These nails have definitely helped me 🙂