30 November 2012

November Favourites & Fails

You know you're getting old when you find yourself thinking how last November feels like it was just yesterday. In fact, 2 Novembers ago, I was starting this blog - and time's flown! Unfortunately for you, rather than a celebration this favourites comes with 2 misfortunes - 1) my "fails" were forgotten and thus are in text below and 2) my favourites video this month will be somewhat reminiscent of my earlier, slightly fuzzy, non-HD days as I forgot my camera at my friends'! Can you tell I've had a hectic month? But I hope you enjoy the video - lots of make-up this month, I don't think I've had this much in ages!

Please see the YouTube page for details :)

What was my "fail" you ask? The Body Shop Coconut Body Scrub. When you have grown up in tropical countries like I have, you have the luxury of smelling real coconut and mangoes in your youth. Which also means you can smell an artificial one from a mile away. THIS, by far, is the worst artificial coconut smell I have ever smelt in my entire life. And the brown beads look like dirt on your skin. Naff. /rant.

Putting aside my disappointing, perhaps slightly overreactive scrub fail, I hope everyone had a great month - can you believe it's the holiday season soon?! Cannot. Wait! How cool are the decorations on Carnaby Street? :)

What are your plans for December?
Remember to link me up to your favourites :)


Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram: @MakeYuUp
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29 November 2012

An Intro to Gel Nails with Hi-Shine

Here's an embarrassing confession of a beauty blogger - the truth is, I never REALLY knew what gel nails were. I couldn't get my head around the fact that they weren't just your standard nail polish but that they came in the same little bottles. I didn't understand how a gel could possibly work on your nails , and I didn't understand the benefits over normal nail polishes. So don't even get me started on Shellac.

Anyway, so when I was given the chance to book in for a Hi-Shine gel nails treatment at the Lash Bar on Marshall Street I thought - why not?

My nails in Dark Secret

Oh and I LOVE the effects - they're so flawless, polished and shiny that I can't stop staring at them, and most of all - they dried so fast and nothing I do seems to dent them! Although I'm a clear newbie at gel nails, I'm very impressed with Hi-Shine so far.

Hi-Shine has 13 colour choices, which in my opinion is slightly limited, but I found love in their shade, Dark Secret, which is this dark, near-black plum. It's perfect for the winter, and a shade that will go with anything and that I wont get sick of wearing. I saw this on Lauren who was introducing me to the range, and with her black and grey ensemble, this looks very vampy and classy - thought I'd have a shot at it myself! :P

I had lots of questions before I started, so I thought I'd do this post by going through several questions that I had before. As usual, if you have any more questions please do let me know and I'll get the answer for you.. somehow!         

1. What is the process like?
First, your manicurist will add some texture to your nails by slightly buffing them, because gels need something to grab on to. Then a base coat is applied, and you stick your fingers under the UV light for 30 seconds while the other hand is done. Then two coats of the colour are thinly applied, of course with the UV light in between. After two coats, a top coat is applied and again, 30 seconds of UV. Then a Before and After 2 in 1 is applied, where the sticky texture of the gel is removed and gives you the "touchable" typical dry feel. After a slick of cuticle oil, you are good to go - as in, you can stick your hands in your pockets, rummage through a box of whatever, you name it - your nails are actually dry! (Yes, I walked around for a few minutes with claw hands cuz I just couldn't get used to the fact!)

2. Why does the bottle look like any other nail polish?
For those of us who are used to acrylic nail treatments, it may seem odd that gel nails look like something you could do at home (it is now, actually - keep reading til the last paragraph!). However, it's only similar insofar as the product is applicable with a brush and is contained in a bottle. The layers have to be much thinner than normal polishes, and the product doesn't dry like a varnish does. Apparently, it doesn't get gloopy inside the bottle and you need a UV light to dry it on your nails. And even when they're considered "dry", it wont feel like the "dry" you're used to. It'll still feel sticky and it will dent, but wont transfer onto your fingers. That's why the Before and After 2-in-1 must be applied to remove that sticky feeling.

3. How does the gel make a difference to the final result?
* It has a very glossy, wet, jelly look. It's absolutely stunning and I wish all my polishes would do this!

* It smoothes out the ridges on your nails and gives it that high quality, polished look. This makes it great for special occasions and holiday seasons like now.

* You aren't likely to get dents or scratch it because it dries instantly. This is probably my favourite thing about gel nails - I am an impatient brat with a perfectionist's expectations, which makes gel nails ideal!

* Hi-Shine claims their nails last up to 3 weeks. If this is true, this would be perfect for holidays, a time with a string of parties (like now!) and busy periods of time where you wont have time to do them yourself.

There's no question that the results are gorgeous and worth the costs in the right circumstances. My nails look so glossy, polished and just perfect! Hi-Shine charges £45 for a full set, and while I adore the results and learned so much about gel nails, I did get a few nips on the cuticles that bled and is still quite sore, which I don't mind personally but I think I would have done if I'd paid £45 for it. They're highly reputable though so I'd be surprised if I wasn't just unlucky. The staff were lovely, and the application, formula and results, I couldn't complain about. Although it's too early to say about the lasting power, I think my Hi Shine nails look fab!

Whether they foresaw my love for gel nails yet my simultaneous tight budget, I'll never know, but the exciting thing about Hi Shine is that they've created an at-home kit called the Hi Shine Nails Nail Bar in a Box which retails for £120, but is currently on sale for £99, and a smaller kit called the Travel Kit for £75 (Christmas list alerts!). I personally love the effect of gel nails, but I couldn't justify £45 for every time I want to change my colour so these sets are perfect as they contain every single thing you'll need! With the set, the wait under the UV light is slightly longer at 2 minutes, but I'd happily wait that if it means I can get 60 applications per bottle of gel for the cost of under 3 manicures! A perfect middle ground is what I like! :)

I am super excited to be able to try the set as being a lucky sod, I went and won one in a competition, so keep your eyes out for a review! Thank you to Hi Shine for hosting this competition and teaching me so much about gel nails!

 Have you ever tried gel nails, and if so, what were your thoughts?
If not, would you consider getting some?


*The treatment was complementary at a press event.
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28 November 2012

Diego dalla Palma MascaraGOGO

You guys must know by now how much I adore my Maybelline Hyper Curl Cat Eyes Mascara, but recently I've been having an affair.. a mascaraffair.

The "other" mascara has been the Diego dalla Palma MascaraGOGO *epic name alert*. Why has my fickle soul submitted to such a (not so) treacherous act?

Well, when you look at as many beauty images or try as many mascaras as I do (fickle soul, like I said),  you notice that there are many types of lashes to be had. You've got the natural lashes that are like an extension or a slight thickening of your natural lashes, then there's your spider lashes where it's more about length and slight clump-age of the lashes, and then there's the one that separates,  volumises and fans out for a full, extremely feminine and delicate look. This is that which the Maybelline cannot satisfy, that the MascaraGOGO gives me.

It's hard to show in photographs (sad attempt there), but the brush really picks up on lashes I didn't know were there, giving me a much fuller look than my Maybelline - it feels more "width" oriented than "height", which I really like. It's also super black. What I've noticed about this mascara is that it keeps the lashes separate, yet volumises them all at once. Especially when paired with a smokey eye like the one in the photograph, it really adds gradience anddrama on your eyelids!

The only thing that this lacks slightly for me is enough hold. However, unlike most volumising mascaras, it doesn't lack it enough to straighten my lashes, so I imagine for most people who don't need a mascara to defy gravity, this would be have an epic effect to unknown degrees! Instead of lashes that seem obsessed with the floor, I usually have about a natural amount of curl left at the end of the day. This is something I sacrifice for the gorgeous fanned out, full effect :)

Although it may not be perfect, it's close enough to be a refreshing and nice change from my usual spikey spider lashes that I've stuck to for quite a while now. It's much fuller, more voluminous and fluttery yet natural at the same time. Most volumising mascaras like these make my lashes stick straight in an hour, so to be able to have the volumised lashes option has been a great breather!

Diego dalla Palma is available from M&S Beauty Halls, which is coincidentally holding a 20% off of all items from tomorrow to the 2nd of December - get going if you've ever wanted to try some of the great brands there! :)

Have you tried anything from Diego dalla Palma?
What's your favourite volumising mascara?


*Received for consideration.
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26 November 2012

Fragonard & A Perfume-Making Workshop

I'm sure many beauty bloggers out there have wondered what they'd create if they could create a beauty product of their own.. I've had the time anyway, and I've gotten lost in day dreams about brushes quite a lot myself! But fate decided to throw me in the deep end for my first go at beauty creativity (as we all know, perfume and scents are not my strong points, down there with science and hair styles), and I got to have a shot at making a fragrance to learn more about the brand and the composition of perfumes with Fragonard, a perfumerie from the south of France. 

At the workshop we were taught about various things, including top notes (which make the majority of the formula), middle notes and base notes. The top being the ones you smell first which are usually quite citrussy, the middle being the dominant one that lingers over time, and the base that ties it all together. Since we were making a citrussy scent, we used notes of oranges, citrons, bergamot, mandarin, neroli, petit grain, verbene, rosemary and lavender. The ones that I put extras of were the bergamot, neroli and lavender to give a bit of a orange yet floral and herby tones as well. The end result? I quite like it if I say so myself! Fei from Peonies and Lillies was there too, and she took more of a lemony route, with lots of verbene and citron.

We also learnt about how scents differ from where they've been sourced - a neroli scent from Tunisia can apparently be very different from a scent from elsewhere! And did you know that on the first day of perfume school, you have to be able to identify over 500 scents? With a memory and nose like mine, that's probably not the best career path for me..

After the workshop, I strolled around their stand, sniffing away (my scent senses were thoroughly knackered by the end of it). And I have to say, I have never found a perfume line that I liked all the smells of! All the perfumes are so inoffensive, traditional yet creative, and they're all very feminine and floral in different ways. I can only guess that the nature and landscape of the south of France played a heavy part in inspiring a lot of these floral and natural scents, as I filled my lungs with the Mediterranean French countryside and dreamed of a holiday there soon!

The packaging of the products are all so pretty as well. They vary so much with different lines, but all of them are incredibly French and very arty indeed. I tend to skip perfumes when I go to the M&S Beauty Halls, but Fragonard, alongside Chantal Tomas, another French lingerie-designer-turned-perfumer, has become some of my "not to miss" brands for M&S Beauty Halls! For those of you on the lookout, their bestsellers are Belle de Nuit, Diamant and most of all, Soleil, while Fleur d'Oranger is also a popular one in Britain.

The Feminine Eau de Toilette Collection

The Naturelles Collection

To me, Fragonard seems like the perfect French perfumerie. It's a family business created in 1926 in Grasse by Eugene Fuchs, of whose great granddaughters currently run the company. I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Agnes, and her and the other CEO Francoise, maintain the various aspects of the company today, including the perfume school and their museum.

I have to say the artistic capacity of the company is phenomenal. The designs of the bottles, the illustrations of the boxes, and the photography in their magazines are truly inspiring and gorgeous. It really makes me miss France! Again, the scents and the art really capture the beauty of the landscape, and it just makes me long to bask in their sun, green and flowers and stroll around the clay-coloured towns of the region!

Speaking of the range, there are 5 collections - the Feminine EDT Collection (6 scents, £26/100ml each), the Men's EDT Collection (4 scents, £26/100ml each), the Eau de Parfum Collection (2 scents, £32/50ml each), the Eau de Toilette in Organdie Bag Collection (4 scents, £36/200ml each) and the Naturelles Collection (8 scents, £22.50/100ml for 7, and one box of perfumed tissues, which is £8 for 20 sachets). My favourite was definitely the Feminine EDT Collection!

One of the little gift sets that Fragonard makes - they're great for stocking fillers! 

 Fragonard also makes soaps and bath products.

It was such a fun experience, and I feel like I've found a really nice perfume range that I can count on finding something I like if I ever feel like sporting a new scent (or make myself feel bad that I'm not in France!). I think everyone I've seen since then have got a whiff of my perfume, and I'm definitely not sick of flaunting my latest creation just yet! I came home to tell one of my friends who was familiar with and adores Fragonard, and had visited their factories in the south of France before. The factory attracts thousands of visitors a year, so if you're interested in seeing what a perfume factory is like, it's a great place to go! I, for one, would love a visit if I'm ever in the area!

You can get Fragonard products from M&S Beauty Halls or their website. From the 29th of November to the 2nd of December, beauty products from M&S are 20% off! Be sure to check out other faves like Australian Native Botanicals, Diego dalla Palma and NUXE.

What are your favourite perfume notes?
Any favourite perfumes? :)

*This was a press event and workshop.
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21 November 2012

Event: A Pixi Adventure

Tucked away in one of my favourite streets in London, Foubert's Place, is a shop you wont see anywhere else in the country - the Pixi shop. For me, Pixi is the light green brand that I had mixed feelings about - was the green sophisticated, or was it cheap-looking/young? Their massive palettes voted in favour of the latter, but their individual products often came across as the former. Last night I got a chance to swatch to my heart's content at this cozy lovely boutique-like shop and make up my mind about them once and for all!

These are the Succulent Lip Twins (£12), and as you can see highly coveted in the beauty magazine world (take that for what you will!). I got to take home one of these in the shade No 2 Coral Camellia and while the idea is fantastic - a solid, highly pigmented tint for the lips and cheek at the tip and a liquid balm in the tube - I'm still mixed about it. Is it gimmicky? The smell is reminiscent of the plasticy cherry from cheap make-up that you get as a child, but priced at £12 and packed with natural oils and extracts, it's not exactly a toy. A similar thing can be said about their Lip & Line (£12). The formula, engineering and pigment is definitely commendable, but the smell really throws me off.

On the other hand, we have a part of the new Christmas collection. The Lid Shadow Pens (£12) definitely catch my eye, but all your eyes must have drifted to the massive Early Bird palette (£16). While this may have initially fallen into my youthful category, this is actually perfect for any lady! Packed with 3 blushers that come in a red, pink and peach (which I've skillfully cut off the picture.. see the site for a full image), two bronzers and a highlighter, with a vast array of eyeshadows - the right half reminiscent of the Naked Palette and the left more for the creative of girls - and 4 matte multi-purpose powders, you will only make the most of this if you know what you're doing - this is not child's play in any way, shape or form.

The powders are slightly powdery and it'll create some fall out on the pan. However, the formula is oh so buttery, and the pigments smooth on like a dream. At £16, this is a must-have and a perfect Christmas present for any girl who loves her make-up, or who wants to learn more!

Eye Shadow Quartettes (£16) with the Christmas collection with equally as beautiful a formula! Eye colour products from Pixi are a no-fail, with actually smudge-proof Straight On Till Morning Liner (£9.50) and smooth, pigmented Lid Shadow Pens (£12).

Pixi perfumes - absolutely stunning scents and unique, cute packaging!

Some Pixi skincare.

Sneak peek of the Spring collection released in March.

Can some things come across as young? Sure. Are the lip products going down well with me? Not as of yet. That's how it is with most brands right? But I feel we're on to a winner with the Early Bird palette (tutorial coming soon, hopefully!) and eye colour products.

Eyeliners, even those with glitter, did not budge despite my borderline violent attempt at scrubbing it off, and the crayons were similar to my favourite yet inaccessible Sephora Jumbo Liners. And don't get me started about the eyeshadows - SO smoooooth and pigmented! Above all, you're not going to pay an arm and a leg for any these products. Most of the products range from £10 to £20 which is within most peoples' budgets, whether you think of it as a treat or as a good quality everyday product. 

I feel absolutely privileged to have gotten my very own Early Bird palette, because I think it's absolutely genius! And it shows that the powder formula of the brand in general is amazing quality, as I've found from my experience using the bronzers and blushers. On first impressions, they were so soft and applied super evenly and feathered on the skin. An additional thing I like is how the packaging is not overly Christmas, which means you wont look like a knob busting it out come Spring-time..

My verdict? Pixi is an adorable brand with the modern woman in mind - lots of practical engineering, an aim for the fresh face with an edge of cute elegance with the light green packaging. Let's just say Pixi's joined the team of brands I will consult when I need an eye product. The fear of the unknown's been withered away, and I will undoubtedly be popping back to uhm and ah over the crayon liners and the quads! The quality is just superb. 

Have you tried any Pixi products?
What are your thoughts?

You can order Pixi products on their website and on ASOS.


*Press event.
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18 November 2012

Instagrunday #11

1. Loving my Real Techniques brushes! 2. Back to studying.. agh! 3. Tanning the green way with TanOrganics :) 4. Cool tables and treasures at the lovely Red Door Cafe in Greenwich 5. Pigs! My favourite animals :) 6. Get ready with me! 7. Cuddling up in the duvet for the new Big Bang! 8. Perfect morning!: porridge, coffee, video editing & news. 9. "ARGHHH I'M AN ANGRY BURRITO BEEEAAAN!!!"

I hope you had a lovely week! :)



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16 November 2012

*Let's GetYuReady*: Everyday Smokey Eye

After discovering the amazing YouTube search term that is, "Get Ready With Me" (it's my new favourite type of videos to watch - send them over if you have any yourself!), I've decided to do one of my own! Recently I've been loving wearing this look..

It's a subtle everyday smokey look using Nic's tips on smokey eyes for small eyes - it's dramatically changed how well a smokey eye suits me and I've enjoyed it much more than I did a few weeks back!

I also thought it might be a good opportunity to show you guys some new products that have entered my daily routine since I finished a few products, and since I took up Lil Lady Life's philosophy of using the same products everyday in trying to use up products! If you want to hear reviews on any of these products, do give me a shout in the comments below :)

But for now, let's get Yu ready! (Yes I take the mick out of my own name.. might as well join in with the rest of the world!)

I hope you enjoyed my first ever Let's GetYuReady!
Please see the YouTube page for details on all the products I used :)

Have you used any of these products?
What is your go-to look these days?


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15 November 2012

Let's Compare: Laura Mercier Secret Concealer vs. Bobbi Brown Corrector

Undereye darkness and circles can be a person's worst nightmare - they can instantly drag your face down, and they are a constant reminder of last night's restless sleep, that one last drink you shouldn't have had or that thing that's been occupying your mind for the past month. I am all too familiar with my under eye circles - more than I wish I was!

This has led me to try several under eye correctors, but two struck me as incredibly similar - the Laura Mercier Secret Concealer and the Bobbi Brown Corrector. After finishing the Bobbi Brown one, and having a go at the Laura Mercier one, I thought it might be valuable to do a bit of a comparison to help you make up your mind :)

Hands down, Bobbi wins this round. Bobbi's is a miniature compact that is slim and will fit any make-up bag or pouch without taking up too much space. Not only that, it has a mirror that I found incredibly useful because you do want to perfect the undereye as it's so easy to make it look cakey and fake. This is one of my favourite things about this product - in fact, I've kept the packaging cuz it's just generally so handy for the make-up bag!

Laura Mercier's packaging is incredibly tedious. It's a screw top which means 1, you spend more time opening it and 2, you have to find a place to put the lid. It's just a bit of a faff by all accounts, even if you aren't comparing it to Bobbi's!

Colour Range
Bobbi's comes in 12 shades, and Laura's in 6. Bobbi's may seem like the winner here, but in actuality, her range has lots in the light to medium category but the darkest shade really isn't very dark. For Laura Mercier, the intervals may be bigger, but the range itself is wider.

Bobbi's is £18 for 1.4 grams, and Laura's is £18.50 for 2.2 grams. Again, not a straight-forward win for Laura though. In my opinion, you are paying for the incredibly useful packaging of Bobbi's, which is something to consider as it may encourage to use or travel with it more. Personally, my Bobbi Brown one lasted me a good year and a few months which for me, is long enough for £18 especially since I'm quite fickle and like trying new things after I finish products - but that's just me!

Ahh, the all important formula! Unfortunately, this is where it becomes neck and neck - they're incredibly, incredibly similar. Laura Mercier (as you may be able to see) has a bit of a pastey, sticky nature, making it slightly tacky, while Bobbi's is quite thick and creamy and ever so softer, more hydrating but slightly heavier than Laura's. The coverage is also pretty much the same. In terms of lasting power, I think Laura wins by just a bit I guess because it sticks on your skin. So really, I think I prefer the effect Laura Mercier's, but the consistency of Bobbi's - which is where the other aspects become very important.

In both of these, I find the best result is by using a concealer brush - finger often apply too much with such thick, unblendable formulas, and are better off for patting it in rather than applying! I would not touch Laura's with a finger though, but Bobbi's is manageable if you don't have a brush. They're both difficult to blend, and should be used in a patting/dabbing motion and by building coverage in sections. 

My verdict?
It's crazy but I'm seriously not sure! The packaging is a huge weight for me in this case because I found it so useful, which makes me want to go with Bobbi Brown, but the formula is just ever so slightly better from Laura Mercier - and that's what should really matter, right? For me, Laura Mercier has a slight edge but I'll always have a soft spot for Bobbi's packaging and hydration - should I perhaps depot some Laura Mercier into my old Bobbi?!

Ultimately, I think it'll come down to the shade. In the case of correcting/concealing, it's easier to deal with a better colour match than a better formula, as I found out when the Bobbi Brown wouldn't match my skintone and look horrible! When I run out of my Laura Mercier one, I'll choose which one to repurchase depending on which one has the product that matches my skintone the best. Otherwise, it's some serious swings and roundabouts!

Have you tried either of these correctors?
What is your favourite corrector?

You can get these from various retailers including Debenham's for Bobbi Brown (currently on sale for £16.20), House of Fraser for Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier, and SpaceNK for Laura Mercier.


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14 November 2012

sienna X x Children In Need

As I learnt in the past 4 years of living in the UK, Children in Need is a pretty big thing - and that's coming up this Friday!

For those of you who don't know, it's a night when the BBC fundraise through a show for the Great Ormond St. Hospital. The hospital is a children's hospital, and the fundraising is to fund facilities for the kids or for the families so they can stay with their kids while they're hospitalised. During the show, there's loads of celebrity performances and whatnot that makes it a generally moving and heart-warming evening with some moments of intense laughter - most notably the BBC news presenters' dances, but they aren't doing it this year - BOO.

Now Sienna X is a brand I've never tried besides their cream bronzer, but their fake tanner is incredibly popular - most recently, they were responsible for the tans of the whole Skyfall cast! Anyway, they organised at the MOBOs for celebrities to sign some of their products so they can be auctioned on eBay and the funds can go towards Children in Need - fab idea or what?

Image from MODUS PR

Being a massive Stooshe fan, I jetted over to their ebay page and bid £5.50 for the tanning gel - only to be outbid within 5 minutes.. gutted. The fight continues! Some other celebrities include..

Aston & Oritse from JLS - the highest bid at the moment!
Lauren Pope
Emeli Sande
Misha B
Rebecca Ferguson
Jorgie Porter
The 5 Olympian Collection - includes 3 Gold medallists
.. and many more!

Another quick mention of an auction for Children in Need that's caught my eye has been the Designer Pudseys.. my favourites are below. Which are your faves? (Images all from external sources)

 Alexander McQueen's & Loewe's
Burberry's & Paul Smith's (Paul Smith is the boy's favourite, rather!)

GQ's & Giles Deacon's

Anyway, back to Sienna X. Why not see if some of your favourite celebs have taken part in this? Just pop on over to sienna X's ebay page and have a bid - if only to raise the stakes for other die hard fans to donate more to a great cause ;)

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13 November 2012

Overview: Sulphate-Free Hair Products

The idea of products being sulphate-free seems to be infiltrating the mainstream little by little, so I thought I'd do an overview on hair care products that I've used that have been sulphate-free - 5 brands, and a few products from each to be precise! There's mini reviews of what I thought, and who I think the products will work for. Many brands have different lines for different hair types, so I can only describe how they've acted with my "combination hair" (watch the video and you'll know what I mean, haha!) and give you an idea on who I think they'd work for!

If you're looking for ideas on products that are free from these hotly debated chemicals, I hope my video can help give you an idea on where to start. Many of the products I mention are also parabens and PEGs free, and many aren't animal-tested either! 

I'm in no place to say whether sulphates are bad for you, because 1) it's hotly debated and 2) well, physics and biology were my worst grades at school, so I didn't even bother with chemistry! But the way I see it, there's nothing saying avoiding sulphates are bad, and personally, I've found they've had great effects for my hair over time :) (more on hair care tips and tricks here!)

So I hope you found this video helpful! All the details about the products are on the YouTube page for this video. Again, do let me know if you have any sulphate-free favourites, I'd love to try some more!

Have you tried sulphate-free products?
What are your favourites?


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12 November 2012

A Late Instagrunday #10..

1. Victims of the Boots "Buy 1 Get 2nd Half Price" 2. Snowy :) 3. They had Ruffles in ASDA!!! 4. Loving the Enrapture Jumbo Waver - £29.99 at Boots with code HAIR20 5. A lovely present from the boyfriend for our 4yr anniversary :) 6. Brrr.. wrapping up to see Skyfall! 7. Monsieur Jean-Jacques.. 8. Bonfire Night at Southwark Park! 9. Watching the US elections in bed.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend! What an eventful few weeks it's been!

Follow me on Instagram: @MakeYuUp

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8 November 2012

P-P-Pan, Pan, Pan, Pan!

Always a cause of celebration in my eyes, hitting pan is a big step in a life of a make-up hoarder. It's a bittersweet experience of realising how much you love a product, and the impending good bye. That being said, from experience, the life of a product after pan is often much longer than before pan - so it's not too sad at all in reality - cue celebrations!

These are the four products that I've hit pan on recently, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to give reviews on products that I seem to consistently use and go back to. There's nothing more annoying than reviews of products after 1 or 2 uses! So here goes - a quick review of the products in my collection that's been loved through and through ;)

The Body Shop Extra Virgin Minerals Cream Compact
Kose Junkisei Powder Foundation

I wont go on too much about my The Body Shop Extra Virgin Minerals Cream Compact, as I have a review and application video on it (clickity click click!) but basically I see it as the poor man's Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua. It gives a nice skin-like finish and has a low-medium coverage. It's not quite as smooth or brightening as the Chanel, but for a £20 saving it's not bad!

The Kose Junkisei Powder Foundation was one of my first ever foundations, and the reason why I'm so picky about powder foundation - this stuff set the standards HIGH. It's so finely milled, it has medium-high coverage, and it just so so smooth.. it's a dream to apply. I used to use this as a foundation but these days it's become my powder, as it combats oils well, it's lightweight, and adds a nice level of coverage to my foundation. Absolutely lovely.

HD Brows Palette (Foxy)
MAC Blush in Style

I've been using the HD Brows Palette for a while now, and on a day to day basis I only use the colour that's hit pan (Ash Brown) and the darker colour, but in minimal amounts. The reason why I've hit pan is because it's one of the few cool-toned browns for brows - it's so difficult to find one that's really cool enough for darker hair like mine. The consistency is smooth, easy to apply and lasts all day. Job done!

I kid you not, MAC Blush in Style is the first blush I've hit pan on since 2nd year of university. EEK! It's so subtle and glowy, that it goes with literally anything and I imagine, any skintone. I use it with my MAC 109 which picks up a lot of colour so it's perfect for a sheerer blush like this. It's also a frost finish which means you get a gorgeous golden highlight. To me, this blush can do no wrong ;)

Oh I do love hitting pan. It's like you spent your money well, you made a good decision, you found something you love and for once I feel like a normal person who doesn't hoard make-up and hits pan on a regular basis! I always feel like patting past-Yu in the back and saying, good choice love, good choice (crazy lady).

What products have you hit pan on recently?

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7 November 2012

Cream Bronzers: Why So Pale?

Recently it seems cream bronzers are making a break in the beauty blogging world. I personally was drawn to them because I had assumed they'd last slightly longer than powders, that they'd give a more natural finish and well.. they're just different - what kind of a beauty blogger would I be if I wasn't curious? ;)

I think most of us can agree that this all started with the Chanel Bronze Universelle/Soleil Tan de Chanel. I too, was drawn to this and came to own one through a blog sale. However, I hardly touched it. Then a few weeks ago, I received the Sienna X Illuminating Cream-to-Powder Duo*. This, again, was left unused after a few trials.

The reason? They're just too light for me - an NC30, which is not a skintone I struggle to find powder bronzers for. This isn't a rant or a post of vengeance - it's a warning sign to other medium skintoned girls hoping to buy a cream bronzer, and it's a flashing neon arrow sign for brands about a market waiting to be fulfilled..

To explain what I mean, above are a few swatches. From the left you see Sienna X's bronzer, highlighter and then Chanel. Now they are completely competent of contouring someone of perhaps NC20-25 or lighter. However, the reality is that you blend cream bronzers a lot more, and frankly, these disappear into my skin. I've tried brushes, I've tried fingers, I've tried blending, I've tried patting. The Chanel is just too light, and the Sienna X just doesn't seem to build, and the amount of product I use to get a hint (if that) with either, just isn't worth it.

So what's out there for medium skintoned girls?
I did a bit of research and found that some cream bronzers have catered for darker skintones - these include the Hourglass Illume Creme-To-Powder Bronzer Duo (of which the packaging, can I just say, is exactly the same as Sienna X's?) and the Tom Ford Shade and IlluminateMAC also recently came out with Sculpting Creams in loads of shades. However, you are talking a whopping £55 for Tom Ford, and Hourglass at £40! So if you are a medium skintoned gal yearning for a cream bronzer, you're either gonna need a wad of cash, a whole lot of patience or an affinity for the MAC formula.

So a disappointing start for me, needless to say. But there's no denying that in terms of formula, both the Chanel or Sienna X would be great for lighter skintones - the Chanel is creamy and soft, while the Sienna X is smooth and dries to a powder finish - the highlighter is also very pretty and glowy, and the packaging is pretty badass.

Again, this wasn't meant to be a rant nor a wrathful word vom, but a slight nudge (and a long ass ramble). After two disappointments, I am sat on the edge of my seat, figuratively frothing at the mouth for a brand to come out with a darker and affordable cream bronzer. Cue neon arrow sign.

But maybe it's just me - am I using them wrong?
Perhaps I am.  If you've made either of these products work for a medium skintone, I'd love to know!

What cream bronzers work for you?
Have you ever had trouble finding something to suit your skintone?

*Sienna X received for consideration.
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5 November 2012

Aaaall Gone..! #2

After a long hoard, I've finally recorded my 2nd Aaaall Gone video!
See what I've finished, and what I thought about each product below :)

See the YouTube page for details on the products :)

Apologies for the short post - I've just come back from Manchester, and am off to see some fireworks for Bonfire Night! Is anyone else up to much tonight? :) Hope everyone has a good time!

What have you finished recently that you'll repurchase?

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2 November 2012

Getting a Natural Look with Heavy Coverage Foundations

MAC Studio Fix Fluid, Revlon Colorstay and the Estee Lauder Doublewear (oh yes I've tried them all!) are often considered marmite - some love it for the flawless coverage and some hate it for being heavy and mask-like. Granted some of the negative opinions are most likely genuine, I think some are misled. Make note, I'm no make-up artist, but when applied correctly, these can have a lightweight finish to your skin, and be a gem in your collection for the bad days when you need that bit more to hide behind.

The answer, in my opinion, is the duo-fibre brush. Ever since the Sigma F80 and now the Real Techniques Buffing Brush took over as the go-to foundation brush, the duo-fibre brush - once an incredibly popular foundation brush, seems to have lost its appeal in the beauty YouTube/blogging world. I too, more often than not, prefer heavy-handed buffing more than I do the flimsy blending of the duo-fibre brush, but I feel the brush is still the best when it comes to heavy coverage foundations.

Again, I'm no make-up artist, but from the way I see it, the duo-fibre will maintain the coverage whilst feeling light-weight, because it applies the same full-coverage product but less of it, as fewer bristles come in contact with the skin. In addition, when you stipple, you are distributing the product evenly across the skin, allowing for the product to stretch more evenly, thinner and wider than if you were to buff out from one location. Put together, you've got a natural and lightweight look and feel, but with the same flawless coverage. As a super-anal person about foundation looking natural, this method is the only way I wear these heavy foundations and I absolutely love it!

Now a MAC 187 is pricey, but there are alternatives (they wont last you as long, granted) - I got my first duo-fibre brush for £5 on eBay. Try one of these out, and see how you like it. It could work wonders, and if you still don't like it, you've only lost out on a fiver and you can use the brush for lightweight application of powder or blush! Otherwise, the next best thing is wetting a sponge like the Cosmopolitan sponge or the Beauty Blender, or a brush like TiffanyD has in this tutorial here.

And lastly, a small note about the big 3 flawless foundations: MAC Studio Fix Fluid, Revlon Colorstay and Estee Lauder Doublewear. In my opinion, they are all pretty much the same (same smell, no pump, same coverage, same consistency etc.,), except the price. Just go with the one you can afford, and the one that has your colour match - Estee Lauder and Revlon were both too pink for me which is why I've gone with MAC personally.

If you want that matte flawless coverage, but feel full foundations are usually too heavy - give these duo-fibres a shot, because you'll get the coverage but not the mask. It may seem old school, but for me, it's foolproof. 

Are you still a duo-fibre brush lover?
What's your favourite full-coverage foundation?

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1 November 2012

CoverFX: Repackaged, Reformulated, Relaunched

Earlier in the year, I was introduced to the brand CoverFX and had the chance to try a few of their products. Being a primarily foundation-based brand, it was so up my street. However, I was torn. The finishes were always lovely, but getting there was always a mission. The products didn't blend well, they didn't work with many of the traditional application methods and it was all just a bit difficult.

Now I must have not been the only one thinking this, as CoverFX have freshly reformulated and repackaged their entire line, and let me tell you - they've done well. Extremely well.

CoverFX Relaunched

The reformulated and repackaged CoverFX launched earlier in October, and is now available in House of Fraser and Harvey Nichols. The line has always been free from mineral oils, fragrances, glutens and parabens and was originally derived for a more dermatological purpose of helping to cover burns and other skin issues. So the products are useable even on the most sensitive skins. I think it's quite hard to find a cosmetic line that's mineral oil and paraben free, so I've always been impressed by CoverFX in that respect.

Some products from the new line that I've photographed above include the new Total Cover Cream Foundation SPF30 (£37), Pressed Mineral Foundation (£31) and the Illuminating Setting Powder (£29). They also have some brushes - the two you can see above are the Cream Foundation Brush and the Powder Brush. The latter is fantastic and something I hope to write about in more depth in the future. The former, in my opinion, is skippable and the concept is much better executed in the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. Other reformulated products include the Blotting Powder (£23) and the Matte Setting Powder (£29).

Now it might be confusing seeing as it's not a designer brand but has prices that are actually higher than most, and the packagings are pretty bog standard. In my opinion, you pay for the ingredients, the new formula (I would not recommend paying for the old un-reformulated ones, from my experience), and the colour selection. The colour selection is impressive, and something worth checking out if you are 1) struggling to find your perfect colour or 2) are as anal as I am with colour-matching. As the previous Managing Director from MAC now works with CoverFX, you can even convert your MAC shades to CoverFX shades using this chart.

New vs. Old Total Coverage Cream Foundation
I was so pleased to hear that CoverFX was reformulating their cream foundation because the relationship between myself and the old one was totally bittersweet. The finish was gorgeous - so natural and very flawless, yet the application was a nightmare. Sponges tore, brushes too dense didn't blend and those not dense enough didn't pick up colour. I can now confirm that the formula is much softer and blendable and applicator-friendly. You can use any old sponge or foundation brush with it, which is what you want from a pretty expensive foundation. It's also travel-friendly, as you can use it as concealer with the included sponge or a finger.

The only differences I've noticed are the packaging (which is actually exactly the same shape despite looking sleeker, just glossier and in a slightly shimmering dark blackened green), and the formula, which I feel has slightly less coverage (still medium) and slightly dewier. However, I think this will work in favour of CoverFX as they start taking a more consumer-based approach instead of their past clinical approach. Most people who want to use cream foundations are probably those with drier skins who will appreciate the extra hydration. If you want a more in-depth comparison, please do leave me a comment below :)

The Powders
The powders were products I hadn't tried in the old formula, so it was a completely new experience for me. So far, I'm very impressed with the Pressed Mineral Foundation - more so than the cream actually! The coverage is mind-blowing and something I didn't expect from a powder foundation at all. Even with my acne scarring and redness, I didn't need any concealer to feel comfortable. I've so far only applied it with one certain buffing brush, but I will try it with some more and hopefully report back ;) The Illuminating Setting Powder has been largely untouched, so I can't say much more as of yet!

Good move CoverFX. In the past I didn't recommend people try CoverFX because of its difficulty and the prices, but now I think I can, purely because not only will you find a perfect colour match, you will also get a product with less harmful ingredients than most cosmetics, and I think the prices are justified for that. From my experience, the Total Coverage Cream Foundation, the Pressed Mineral Foundation and the Powder Brush are true winners and the ones to watch for! ;)

You can get CoverFX from Harvey Nichols and House of Fraser in the UK.


*Received for consideration.
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