Review: The Basingstoke Country Hotel (and spa)

Posted by Lipglossiping On September - 26 - 2014

In line with my usual state of perma-disorganisation, I’d left things quite late when I decided to book a night away for mine and Mr. L’s 10th wedding anniversary.  It felt like such a frivolous thing to do, I wasn’t really sure whether we should be doing it at all, given our current state of finance (we’re saving for a deposit) and the fact that Joe is only 20-weeks old.  But when my cousin offered to have Joe for the night, my resolve was tipped over the edge and I began to frantically google for something that would give us the little treat we felt that we wholeheartedly deserved!

Unfortunately, our anniversary coincided with the Southampton Boat Show, which sees thousands of visitors descend upon Hampshire.  Hotel rooms were at a premium.

The deal I *really* wanted to go for, which was a Balmer Lawn break in the New Forest from Travelzoo, wasn’t available for booking on the date we needed!

In the end, I found something that looked very reasonable on Amazon Local, an overnighter at the Basingstoke Country Hotel which included a meal and a late checkout for £109, good value no?  Reading the reviews on Tripadvisor, people suggested that it was worth upgrading to a better room, so I gave them a ring and asked to upgrade.  I happily paid the extra to upgrade to one of their top rooms, a deluxe double.  I also enquired about the treatment menu at the spa and promptly booked two massages for us over the phone.  All at additional costs.  Mr. L was a bit of a reluctant spa-goer, having never had a massage before but I was excited to introduce him to the experience, and hoped it would be a good one!

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Upon arrival, we checked in and were given directions to our room, which we promptly headed for as we didn’t have long before we were due to go for our spa treatments.  The deluxe room was large but sparse, with a large bed and a flat screen TV.  However, the furnishings are quite dated and things are looking tired.  The bathroom was lovely and big but again, pretty basic.  It had a bidet but to be honest, I would rather have had a clean (non foisty-smelling) shower curtain!

Overall, what became apparent, very quickly indeed, was that this hotel wasn’t going to be a luxury experience.  It’s aimed at the corporate market.  It feels like a Premier Inn.  There’s nothing wrong with a Premier Inn, heck, I spent my honeymoon in one – I’m no hotel snob… but this just wasn’t matching up to its star-rating and description.  There were stains on the carpet, the skirting boards and walls could have done with a good scrub to remove the tea stains, and despite there having not been a drop of rain all day, you couldn’t see out of the window for the condensation and dirt.

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A quick peek through the leaflets on the sideboard revealed that had I not booked my spa-treatments in advance, I could have had 20% off by booking them on the day.  Leaving this information for all guests to access seems a little insensitive.  I understand the principle behind encouraging last-minute bookings in the spa but it’s irksome for a customer who has had the foresight to pre-book only a few days earlier.  A better option would be to invite the receptionist to enquire upon check-in as to whether guests have pre-booked any treatments.  If they have, fine… if they haven’t, perhaps at this point it would be wise to make them aware of the offer.  Rather than, “Hey, here’s a discount YOU CAN’T HAVE”.

We headed down to the spa area, which involved checking-in at the reception area of the gym before being led through to the waiting room.  There was a coffee machine, and we were told to help ourselves while we waited.  I made two teas but then realised that there was no milk available and no-one around to ask so I had to leave them on the side.  The “relaxation” area was pretty unrelaxing.  Hard chairs, too-loud “musak”, and the room is in general need of repair.  The wall behind the coffee area (which I think was also a reception desk), had been boarded up for hopeful future repair?  Basically it just didn’t feel like a retreat.  In any way, shape or form.

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The treatments themselves were sadly pretty insipid.  I’d booked over the phone for two Hot Stone Massages but for some reason, we ended up with plain back massages instead.  I’m pretty easy-going and didn’t mind this but it’s a point to note that you should double-check before arrival.  During the massage, at no point was I asked what kind of pressure I liked, neither was my husband and the CD in his treatment room kept skipping throughout his massage.  The oils, if scented, were undetectable to my nose and although I could feel my therapist passing over various trigger points in my back, she didn’t ask if I’d like her to work on them with a little more firmness.  Again, at the time, I didn’t particularly mind because I was happy to opt for a more relaxing experience.  However, the offer of a little customization would have been nice and really sets one therapist apart from another.

Sadly, we walked out of the treatment rooms feeling quite indifferent about the experience.  I have since assured Mr. L that not all massages are equal and that it is completely possible to experience bliss and relaxation from a good therapist!  He’s unconvinced and it will take some work getting him to try again!  Perhaps I’ve just been spoiled in some glorious spas over the years.  Overall, it certainly wasn’t a terrible experience but I wouldn’t book again.  I just don’t feel that the treatment achieved anything… in terms of easing tension, inducing relaxation, or lifting mood.  It was… for want of a better word, all pretty “meh”.

We headed back to the room to relax a little before dinner.

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Dinner wasn’t too bad, and our server (an older lady, I forget her name) was really lovely.  The fat on our belly pork hadn’t rendered very well though and we could only eat about 30% of the meat… also a little more (well-flavoured) mash wouldn’t have gone amiss!  My favourite was the chicken liver starter that I enjoyed, it was really very tasty indeed.

Sadly, my chocolate brownie dessert was ridiculously small, I would have been red-faced had I been serving that night, a quarter of a strawberry and a piece of brownie no bigger than a small scoop of ice-cream? Come on now!  Also… lose the slates-as-plates please, my ice-cream was melting quicker than I could chase it around the bumpy surface, I reckon I lost most of it either in the ridges or off the side!

We retired to bed feeling pretty dispassionate about the day but we were, at least, very much looking forward to an undisturbed, baby-free sleep!  Unfortunately, the bed was really uncomfortable… both of us found the mattress to be lumpy as hell and fidgeted all night because bits (springs?) were digging in to us.  At least a Premier Inn guarantees you a good nights sleep!  We actually laughed over the following weekend, as we took the kids to Pontins, and got a better night’s sleep in what we had expected to be terrible beds there!

Upon checking out of the Basingstoke Country Hotel, the receptionist asked if we had enjoyed our stay.  In all honesty, I couldn’t even bring myself to do the very British thing of moaning about it throughout before smiling and saying “Oh, yes… lovely” to the reception staff.  I just simply said:  “It was alright, thank you”.

And it was.  But only just.

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No more tangles, no more tears? The Wet Brush…

Posted by Lipglossiping On July - 7 - 2014

Between my daughter and I, we own almost 3ft of hair.  Not including the stuff on my top lip, which would take us into double figures… just the hair on our heads.  Mine is grey dark and fine in texture with a tendency toward dryness and some breakage at the ends.  Hers is blonde with an average texture that is neither especially fine, nor magnificently thick.  Her hair sheds like a mo’fo though and she seems to replace it twice as quickly.

Every morning when I brush her hair for school, we have a little chat about the “Tangle Fairy“.  A mischievous sprite who visits her nightly to play havoc and dance a jig in her locks.  To be fair to Leila, she’s a tough cookie and not a total squinny when it’s time to get the brush out… but just like every kid, she has her moments during a detangling session.

The worst of these is after a hair wash, I don’t condition her hair in the bath because regular conditioners weigh her hair down too much, instead we use the Boots Coconut & Almond Leave In Conditioner because we both love the smell and it saves the palava of an extra rinse at bath-time.  As much as it leaves her hair soft and deliciously-scented, it doesn’t do much in the way of detangling.  Usually, I can get away with it if I’ve remembered to brush her hair before the hair wash… but when I forget to detangle, I have a fight on my hands!

Enter, The Wet Brush.

The Wet Brush

Taking the world by storm, this is a hairbrush that has been designed with detangling in mind.

I’m no stranger to detangling brushes… infact, I’ve done a vs. comparison of the Tangle Teezer and the Michel Mercier on my blog before, where neither proved to be total solutions to the detangling problem.

So how does The Wet Brush fare?

The Wet Brush 2

Really well actually.

The rubber-coated body and well-designed handle ensures that, unlike the other leading detangler on the market, this one won’t fly out of your hands mid-brush.  It’s built like a “proper” brush, feeling more substantial and to be honest, as though it’s been finished to a higher standard.

The flexible plastic bristles reach through the hair to the root while the ball-tips on the end are a little gentler on the scalp.  It’s lightweight but feels substantial in the hand, a good combination that ensures that a). I don’t break a toe if I do drop it in the shower and b). Leila can use it on herself with confidence, without getting arm-ache.

Basically, if you’ve read my comparison review that I linked to earlier, you’ll see that The Wet Brush combines all the things I liked about both the Tangle Teezer and the Michel Mercier.  Into one brush.

The Wet Brush 3

I’m struggling to fault it… and although it doesn’t completely eliminate all tugging during a detangling session, it makes the experience far less traumatic.  You’ll also be pleased to discover that it’s less costly than the other detanglers on the market.

Don’t just take my word for it though, here’s a quick Instagram video of me trying out the brush on Leila for the first time.

So is it perfect?  Well… it’s definitely more than halfway there… the only thing I would say is that you have to be mindful of storage.  I chucked this into Leila’s “hair box” along with all her other bits and bobs and the next day, some of the bristles were bent because a can of dry shampoo had been pressed into the side of the brush.  To be fair though, they went back into shape with a little coaxing and I’ve just been more careful since.

Perhaps this isn’t one for throwing into your handbag… but then again, it wasn’t meant to be!

The Wet Brush is available in two different styles and a variety of colours, priced from £11.99 and available to buy online at www.cultbeauty.co.uk

* press sample

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Acer Liquid E3 Mobile Phone Review

Posted by Lipglossiping On July - 3 - 2014

Today, I’m stepping a little outside of my comfort zone to bring you a mobile phone review.  You see, when I was offered the opportunity to test the latest budget smartphone on the market, the Acer Liquid E3… my husband told me that if I didn’t accept it, he’d divorce me.  Infact, I think he also pointed in the general direction of my beauty cupboard (currently occupying what should be his wardrobe) and said “You owe me”.

So, lets crack on shall we?  Pay attention please, you wouldn’t want to be responsible for breaking-up a happy marriage, would you?

Acer Liquid E3 Review

The thing about mobile phones is that since 1998, I haven’t been able to live without one.  I can totally remember my first, it was a Motorola, for which I needed to upgrade the size of my handbag to status: suitcase just to accommodate.

Oh, how times have changed.  Gone are the days of Snake, the ability to store a maximum of 100 numbers, and even “proper” buttons… today’s (smart)phones are required to organise, alert, entertain and inform.  Actual telecommunication is more or less an afterthought.

These mini-computers have become an indispensable part of our lives…. I don’t mind admitting that I get the same uneasy feeling when I’ve left my phone behind that I used to experience when leaving the house without my cigarettes!  It’s a sad, sad fact that the last thing I do at night is put down my phone and the first thing I do upon waking is reach out and pick it back up.  Smartphone addiction, it’s totally a thing.

My first mobile phone cost around £75, my last mobile phone cost £599.  The Acer Liquid E3 promises many of the features of modern, high-end mobiles without the ridiculous price-tag.  Infact, this phone is firmly ensconced within the “budget” market, costing under £150.  But is it any good?

Let’s face it… I’m an Apple fan girl.  I hate myself for it.  I swore I’d never be one… but the truth is, the lure of the “App Store” has always been damn-near irresistible.  In the past, the Android O.S. just hasn’t been able to compete on the same level.  At least not for someone like me who just wants amazing-ness and ease of use straight out of the box.  I’m not interested in Android’s more complex features, I just want instant access to Candy Crush without feeling like I’m having to program the damn game myself.

But times have moved on and so has the Android O.S.  Nowadays, it’s far more intuitive and user-friendly.  To be frank, it’s far more… fun.

But enough about that, I’m not here to review the operating system but deliver a Liquid E3 review that doesn’t beat around the bush (too much)!

Acer Liquid E3 Review Camera

Lightweight, relatively thin, and sleek… my first impression of the Acer Liquid E3 is that it punches well above its weight.  It doesn’t look like a cheap phone, it doesn’t feel like a cheap phone.  My admiration is only compounded when the backlight turns on and I experience the 4.7-inch  screen in all its technicolour glory.  Bright, crisp, and easily viewable from tight angles… it single-handedly won me over before I’d even begun exploring any further features.  Compared to the iPhone 5’s 4-inch screen size, this one feels positively luxurious.

This generously-sized display is also perfect for streaming You Tube videos and viewing websites and you can see in the photo above just how well the screen handles my blog’s resolution.  The performance also delivers on all accounts, I haven’t experienced any major slowdown issues and response-time is good thanks to its 1.2 GHz quad-core Mediatek processor and 1GB of RAM.  To be fair though, I haven’t overloaded it with apps yet, unlike my other phone.

One of the Acer’s major selling-points are the cameras that deliver a giant (back) resolution of 13-megapixels and a (front) resolution of 2 megapixels, a selfie-taker’s dream that even offers flash capabilities on both cameras!  The quality of the images is also better than I had anticipated, even in low light.  You can see a (resized) example of the image quality from the back camera here.

Storage capabilities are somewhat limited by the phone’s 4GB of internal storage but there’s thankfully a microSD card slot that can be used to expand upon this.  The battery life of the Acer Liquid E3 is also nothing to write home about and drains after a day of only moderate use.  For me… this is a deal breaker.  It frustrates me how mobile phones have become so much more advanced over the years and yet their batteries… well, this important “feature” seems to be overlooked by most manufacturers nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not completely dire but it’s not something I’d put down as a “strength” for this model.  I should also note that there’s no 4G available on this model.

Ultimately, this is the first Acer mobile phone that I’ve used and despite some shortcomings, I won’t deny that it’s opened my eyes to a world outside of Apple.  I honestly thought that I had to pay top-dollar to get even remotely close to the kind of user experience delivered by my beloved iPhone.  I was wrong.

The Acer Liquid E3 is available on pay as you go from Three for just £134.99 or on contracts starting from only £14 per month!

* press sample

Clinique Lash Power Feathering Mascara Review

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 26 - 2014

Our lashes are longggggg, with many a curly end.  That leads us to who, knows what… what to use…

We want hold!  Long enough to last the day.

We don’t want heavy… just natural muh-scar-ruhhhhhhhhhhhhhs.

Brownie points if you recognise the song I couldn’t stop myself from butchering.  I’m sorry.

Clinique Lash Power Feathering Mascara is a relatively new release, having launched only a few months ago.  It promises a softer, more natural look without compromising on hold and an overall fluttery effect.

The key thing to remember with this mascara is that it places a lot of stock in being a buildable product with a formula geared toward the application of more than one coat.  Of course, if you really only want a touch of darkness and gloss added to your lashes, by all means… stop after a single coat.

If, however, you want a little more va-va-voom, you will need to apply a couple of additional coats to get the finish you require.

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The wand delivers a fine application of product, well-distributed almong the fluttery bristles which really comb-through the lashes as you sweep the brush from root to tip.  The formula never clumps and neither does it leave behind blobs of product at the tips, regardless of whether you’re on your first or third coat.  Longevity is good and I don’t suffer from flakes or smudges as the day progresses.

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Ultimately, whilst I recognise and admire the strengths of this latest “natural” mascara from Clinique, I don’t really like it.

The tube contains only 5.5ml of product, a few ml less than Clinique’s other offerings while retailing at a few ££s more.  I’m quite happy with the finished result – as shown above – but to achieve this, I need to apply 3-coats.  That could get expensive, quickly.

In a classic, “it’s not you, it’s me” scenario… I’m not a good target market here.  I don’t want natural, barely mascara’ed lashes.  I want floor-sweeping doe eyes.

Thanks Clinique, but I’ll stick to your High Impact mascara for now.

Clinique Lash Power Feathering Mascara is priced at £18.00 and available to buy on counter and online from clinique.co.uk

* press sample

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Cartier La Panthere Perfume Review

Posted by Lipglossiping On March - 13 - 2014

Whilst I try not to get too hung up on product packaging, I do feel that it’s only fair to point out that the bottle for the new Cartier La Panthere fragrance is way, way, too cool for school.  Seriously, it builds the kind of bottle-lust in me that I didn’t even know existed until now.  Solid and strong… it’s a beautifully angular monument to the luxury brand with the iconic Cartier panther peering out from within.

I think my favourite part about it is the top… the err, spritzer… and the golden, almost neo-classical design of those geometric lines under the cap.  Despite it’s obvious *cough* panther *cough* extravagance, there remains a certain understated quality… it just screams glamour, expensiveness, and good taste.

cartier-panthere

The press release describes Cartier La Panthere as a “feral floral”, flowers gone wild… animalistic, even.  Indeed the gardenia within has been let loose with abandon, allowed to bloom until the milky white petals exude their earthy qualities to the max.  It’s a kind of dirty glory that you might not have imagined a floral could possess, don’t fight it… just enjoy its pungent qualities and subtle sweetness.

Some have described La Panthere as unwashed, and a little skanky (which in my opinion could only be a fragrant compliment when it comes to perfume!) but to my nose, it’s not a true skank-fest in this way.  Perhaps, as a lover of “dirty” fragrances, my skank benchmark is placed a little higher than most!  Sure, it’s musky and a little sour in places but there’s just too much refinement going on, too much floral elegance for it to ever be anything other than fairly well-tamed at all times.

The sillage and longevity of La Panthere is testament to the quality of the work behind it.  On my skin, I get at least 6 hours of wear that floats across the ether, casting its warm drydown out like a (oak)mossy net among the crowd.  I feel classy with this fragrance against my skin, nay womanly… without a hint of girlish mischief, I’m all about the serious business.

Cartier La Panthere is available exclusively on counter and online at Harrods, priced from £49 for 30ml

* press sample

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Daisy Eau So Fresh Marc Jacobs Delight Edition Review

Posted by Lipglossiping On March - 7 - 2014

The daffs are out, the rain is a little less persistent and I’ve even turned my heating off (for now).  Could it be that Spring is upon us?  Now, as a blogger, I take comfort from the fact that I can resolutely lay claim to no “proper” writing abilities, and so to start this evening’s post, I’d like to – if I may – completely butcher the following light verse from Ogden Nash…

Spring is sprung the grass is riz, I wonder where the perfume is?

Well, here it be… in the form of the limited edition Daisy Eau So Fresh Marc Jacobs Delight Edition.  The juicier, fruitier, and altogether sweeter incarnation of the original Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh which was released back in 2011.

Daisy Eau So Fresh

Daisy Eau So Fresh Review

Daisy Marc Jacobs Eau So Fresh

And what a pretty perfume she is, resplendent in pink, gold, and green.  Scent-wise, she’s not my cup of tea… by now, you’ll possibly know that I like my fragrances to be a little broodier, a little more… pissed off.  Daisy Eau So Fresh Delight Edition is about as un-pissed off as a perfume can get.  She’s up with the lark, singing “Good Morning” like Judy Garland on acid before you’ve even had time to press the snooze button.

With top notes that include: blood orange, pink pepper, and white tea; you know that you’ll receive a full-force, pink-pepper fruit bowl in your face from the off.  It’s also lacking the resolute bunch of green notes that refused to lay down and die in the original version, giving the fruitiness an added extra.  One that will be either welcomed, or shooed away depending on your tastes.

From here on in, the fruitiness – though never completely subsiding – steps back a little to make way for a floral heart of tiare tahiti, violet, and… err, oh, more fruit in the form of raspberry.  It’s a pleasant scent that evokes feelings of an eternally hopeful, warm Spring day spent enjoying the sunshine.  Heck, the pesky fruit even manages to sneak into the muskier base notes, as apricot skin puts in an appearance… prolonging the good-natured agony.

As a whole, Daisy Eau So Fresh Delight Edition is clean and a little powdery, tender and flirty in a youthful, innocent way.  You’ll probably either fall in love with her, or want to club her with a grumpy stick, this may depend on your age and the current state of your love-life.  Go sniff her out and decide for yourselves!

If you’re a fan of the Marc Jacobs Daisy franchise, you’ll be interested to hear that there is also a while-stocks-last Delight Edition of the original Marc Jacobs Daisy which promises a more vibrant expression of the iconic Daisy signature.  I actually prefer it!

Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh Delight Edition is available on counter and online, while stocks last, priced from £52.00 for 75ml

* press sample

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Diptyque Tam Dao Review

Posted by Lipglossiping On January - 22 - 2014

I umm’ed and ahh’ed a little over this purchase… despite being a huge fan of masculine scents, I couldn’t help but wonder if I were taking things (too much) to the next level by indulging in a fragrance that was so steeped in the masculine staples of sandalwood, cedar, and cypress.  Eventually, I came to a “to hell with it!” conclusion and decided that if those notes were good enough for my candles, they were good enough for my skin.  And I’m so glad I did…

Diptyque Tam Dao Review

Diptyque Tam Dao Review

Diptyque’s Tam Dao is about as masculine as a “unisex” perfume can get, let’s make no bones about this… it practically scratches its balls and holds your head under the covers before letting rip.  However, unlike the olfactory experience that scenario describes, this one is quite delicious.  Its initial presence is incredibly strong… the woody notes flow through the air and make me worry that someone will come along and Mr. Sheen me before they (rather quickly) dry-down to a creamier and more musky affair.

To my nose, the cedar is most prominent… followed closely by the sandalwood, which lends a clean sharpness that I keep mistaking for spice.  Supposedly, there’s some rose in there, but my nose just isn’t picking that up which is a bit of a shame.  Longevity isn’t brilliant against my skin chemistry, I get around 4-hours at most, but its presence is strong and I’ve had a couple of few compliments from unlikely sources since adding it to my collection.

I’d describe this as quite a raw concoction, it’s bold and unapologetic in its lack of restraint but if you desire a natural-feeling, deeply woodsy scent, this one could well be for you.

Diptyque Tam Dao is currently priced at a ridiculously good £19 for 50ml from the SpaceNK sale, alternatively you can pick this up for £55 from diptyqueparis.co.uk

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Guerlain Tenue de Perfection Timeproof Foundation Review

Posted by Lipglossiping On September - 17 - 2013

Sometimes technology baffles me.  I’m not talking the kind of bewilderment that leaves my Dad staring blankly at the DVD player for hours on end until someone finally takes pity and shows him where the eject button is; I mean the type of bemusement that comes from trying to understand something that employs so much science, you need a minimum of a BSc to know where to start.

Let’s just say then, for simplicity’s sake, the new Guerlain foundation is really rather technical.

Guerlain Tenue de Perfection Foundation Review_1

It’s pretty much an unspoken rule that for a foundation to be long-lasting, I mean… truly marketed on its long-lasting qualities, it will generally suit one particular skintype over another.  Oily-skinned ladies, this one’s for you.  Except, it’s not.  Well, it is, but it’s not just for you alone… supposedly.  Confused?  Me too… stick with me…

Guerlain’s Tenue de Perfection Timeproof Foundation makes no bones about being a wear-proof foundation, it’s been designed to provide the kind of longevity that will see you through the day, and then some.  It sells itself on “unfailing perfection”, an “infallible formula”, and “16-hour hold”.  These are no meagre claims.

Guerlain Tenue de Perfection Foundation Review_2

The thing about this foundation is that, it doesn’t feel like a traditional longwear foundation.  It feels exceptionally lightweight on the skin, delivering a classic velvety texture without immediately seeking out my dry patches (although in fairness, I’m not winter dry at the moment), and coverage-wise, it offers a medium, buildable formula.  This is what I mean about the rule-breaking… this isn’t really how long-wearing foundations are supposed to feel or look.

With regards to how it feels on the skin, for those who are familiar with other formulas, I would say that this feels somewhat similar to the recent Armani Maestro Fusion foundation… it’s a barely-there product with a lot of slip.  Except this one has more pigment, more coverage in a single sweep, and doesn’t highlight dry flakes within seconds of application.

Guerlain Tenue de Perfection Foundation Review_3

I’m not going to try to explain, question or debunk the science behind this foundation because I don’t understand it enough to pretend that I do!  Let me instead, present the information to you as it is written in the press release.  Perhaps between us… we’ll share a greater understanding of the technical aspects.

The formula forms a complexion-enhancing film over the skin through the use – a first for Guerlain – of three volatile oils that evaporate one after the other.  Three different volatilities create a flawless complexion in three stages.

The first masterstroke: the first oil evaporates instantly under the fingers, to ensure perfect wear for the product and allow it to melt into the skin, which immediately appreciates its softness.

The second key step: the second oil coats the skin, more completely and evaporates just after helping the foundation to glide evenly over the skin, providing perfectly uniform coverage.

The third highlight: the final oil is then released to apply and fix the Timeproof complex, ensuring irreproachable correction and all-day hold.

So, my understanding of this is that the first two (of the three) oils, exist to provide a kind of “inbuilt primer” for the foundation.  Encouraging greater glide and skin prep… but that, the key to the success of this foundation is in the fact that these oils “evaporate”, therefore ensuring that they don’t interfere with the formula’s longevity later in the day.  The third oil, I’m not entirely sure about.  As I said, it’s a bit beyond me!

Guerlain Tenue de Perfection Foundation Review_4

Now, back to my trialling…

Well, you can see from the before/after pictures above that the colour match was not good for my skintone.  I used shade 13 Rose Naturel.  I count nine shades available on the retailer’s websites, which appear to be grouped according to undertone: beige, rose, and golden (dore).  Although the rose undertone is obviously correct for me, it looks as though I would need the “clair (light)” version rather than the “naturel (natural)” which I have here.

It appears that there may only be two depth-stages in the rose undertone (the aforementioned clair and naturel)… so I’m not entirely sure how pale this foundation actually goes.  Definitely do some counter-swatching and don’t buy this one blind.

You can see that the foundation evens out the skintone quite nicely but doesn’t eliminate the need for a concealer… this doesn’t provide heavy-duty coverage for blemishes but is buildable for areas of discolouration or uneven skin-tone.

You should also be able to detect that it doesn’t mask any natural luminosity either, both photos were taken within 2-minutes of each other and my skin displays similar highlights without any additional dullness after applying the foundation.  Basically, my skin still looks like skin.

I think that in the colder months, as my skin becomes more parched, I might uncover some issues with this foundation.  After wearing this for around five hours, I did notice that dryness had become more apparent when looking closely in the mirror.  Although the foundation hadn’t slipped from my t-zone – infact it lived up very well to its claims of longevity – it had gathered slightly on the dry patches around my mouth and nose.  Just enough to highlight them.

All in all, I’m intrigued, if not completely sold on this foundation.  It doesn’t help when you don’t have a colour match because your eye is instinctively drawn to the flaws that this accentuates but from the time that I did spend wearing it (indoors), I can vouch for a longlasting, lightweight formula that evens the skintone in a natural way without masking luminosity.  As for the technology, well your guess is as good as mine!

Guerlain Tenue de Perfection Timeproof Foundation is priced at £37 and available to buy on counter and online at debenhams.com, harrods.com and feelunique.com now.

* press sample

Red Lip Series: Lime Crime Velvetines in Red Velvet

Posted by Lipglossiping On July - 31 - 2013

You can’t eat cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without getting porky.  You can’t put in zero effort and reap all the rewards (unless you’re a cow).  And you can’t wear a kickass, uber-matte lipstick without it all going wrong… eventually.

This is how I feel about the Lime Crime Velvetines in Red Velvet.  I’d held off buying for ages, I’m not a fan of the way the brand has conducted itself in the past and to be honest, I haven’t been a fan of the products that they’ve released either.  But the swatches have been amazing.  Screw the fact that I’m in the 30+ category and “really” shouldn’t be wearing uber matte lipsticks, seriously… screw that!  Red Velvet has been on my radar as a must-have for a long while.  I had to try it, I just had to, didn’t I?

Lime Crime Velvetines Red Velvet Lipstick

The packaging is rather nice actually, less unicorny and more sophisticated girlie… I do like the frosted glass container but there’s one irritation that bothers me each time I use it.  Why is there no inner ridge in the tube where I can scrape off the excess product?  Peering inside, it’s like looking into the Black Hole of Calcutta and when something is this frighteningly pigmented, you need absolute control over the amount of product on the wand.

Without smearing this around the opening, I don’t have that control and it balls up pretty quickly at the top, threatening to make a holy mess.

Lime Crime Velvetines Red Velvet Lipstick_1

But the one thing you can’t deny is that once applied, Red Velvet is in a league of its own.  Richly pigmented, deeply opaque, and velvet-textured… it’s a cracker.  I’ve found it best to apply in two thin layers… once to get perfect outline and once to fill in for complete coverage.  The formula is very wet to begin with and I inevitably end up with some of it on my front teeth.  However, within 60-seconds it dries to an almost powdery finish.

Lime Crime Velvetines Red Velvet Lipstick FOTD

The texture is lightweight but you can “feel” it on your lips because of the apparent dryness it imparts.  It’s not actually that drying in terms of what it does to the condition of your lips but it will happily settle into all of your lip furrows and stick like the proverbial to the outer lip-line.  It’s colour-depth and downright vampiness makes this the perfect choice for a night out… except, you might not want to choose it…

Let me explain…

On me, it wears U-G-L-Y.  I have a large bottom lip and the first place that this disappears is toward the inside of my lip, leaving a horribly apparent ridge of colour.  This colour-ridge narrows as the colour slowly disappears from the centre of my mouth, eventually leaving me with a rather impressive ring around the lower lip-line.  And this is without eating, only drinking.

Compared to some red lipsticks, I actually found this to be relatively transfer-proof, there’s a little left on my glass after drinking but nowhere near as much as most lipsticks.  It also resists transferring to my teeth once it has set on the lip, so it’s a real shame that I experience such horrible overall wear.  You can see the kind of wear I get in this photo on my Tumblr.  You should note, however, that this may be a peculiarity on me… many other bloggers report great wear from this product.

Ultimately, it’s a gorgeous red but I probably won’t wear it without a serious case of paranoia, and when you’re braving a lip this ka-pow, that’s not a great combination.

Lime Crime Velvetines in Red Velvet is priced at £11.50 and available to buy online from love-makeup.co.uk and cutecosmetics.co.uk

Do you own one of the Velvetines?  What are your thoughts on them?

Clinique CC Cream, all that and a bag of chips?

Posted by Lipglossiping On April - 16 - 2013

I’m engaged in a bit of a tempestuous relationship with Clinique’s new CC Cream*.  A turbulent love affair that swings from “YOU DO NOTHING FOR ME!”, to “HOW DID I EVER LIVE WITHOUT YOU?”  Unforunately for you dear reader, this may make for a somewhat confused review that I’m hoping will unravel itself by the end of the post, leaving me standing firmly on one side (or the other) of the fence.

First up, CC Creams… why would you need one?

Marketed as the industry’s answer to colour-correction, you should be interested in them if you suffer from a range of tonal issues.  Nose like a lush?  Hyperpigmentation like an ageing banana?  The CC Cream, in theory, should help to brighten, reduce dark spots, take out redness, reduce sallowness and act as your one-stop solution to anything that removes you from the “normal” range for skintones.  Of course, that’s not actually going to happen, not in the biblical sense at least… we’ve been around the block long enough to reduce our expectations somewhat when it comes to these kind of claims.

But still, it’s an interesting theory… particularly when you’re not expected to use these CC Creams as a stand-alone base product.  The CC Cream should be considered a primer, something that will prep your skintone in advance of your usual base product.  Except, that’s not actually the case here.  Bucking the trend, Clinique have released a CC Cream that contains enough pigment to actually act as your base product… oh, ok then.

Clinique CC Cream Review

Forming part of their established Moisture Surge range, the Clinique CC Cream promises to deliver oil-free hydration, colour-correction, and sun protection.  It comes in a total of six shades ranging from Very Light to Deep and contains a summer-appropriate broad spectrum SPF30.  For your money, you get a fairly generous 40ml of product… though priced at £28, it sits at the higher end of Clinique’s pricing for their base products – has anyone else noticed their recent price jumps?

Clinique CC Cream Review2

Application is a little tedious and best achieved (in my opinion) with clean fingers, a little at a time, working the product into the areas of the skin that need “correcting” before blending toward the edges of the face.  The thick texture requires you pay attention to ensure that your blending skills are up to par, I’m assuming that this is a side-effect of a higher SPF protection.  That being said, it’s a product that will happily accept a few layers over the areas that require a little more help.

The shade Very Light is well-suited to my skintone despite it looking somewhat peachy when initially dispensed from the tube.  I would say that instead of brightening my complexion, it actually dulls it a little.  It’s not a disaster, because I’m handy with a bit of highlighter… but still, it seems to take away radiance rather than inject it.

Clinique CC Cream Review3

Clinique CC Cream Review4

Clinique CC Cream Review5

So how does its colour-correcting capabilities perform?  Well, it certainly does “something” but I’m not convinced that it achieves it in a different way to any other light-coverage base product on the market.  In other words, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if Clinique had called it something other than a CC Cream.  You know, maybe something breakthrough like “tinted moisturiser”… but as much as this irritates me, I can’t dismiss the product because it does fit in perfectly with my preferred summer makeup routine.

Even though it delivers too much blanket coverage for me to value it as anything other than yet-another-tinted-moisturiser-masquerading-as-something-new, my dehydrated skin bloody loves it.

Once applied, the gluey texture diminishes and leaves behind a velvety finish that feels comfortable on the skin without encouraging too much shine across my t-zone.  The level of sun protection means that I don’t feel too guilty about forgetting to apply a separate SPF underneath, particularly when I’m finishing off my base routine with a dusting of (SPF-rated) mineral foundation to achieve a more complete level of coverage.

Clinique CC Cream Review6

So, there you go.  I feel like I’m fence-sitting a little, despite my best intentions not to.  Incase you’re under any misconception, I’m calling bullshit on the CC Cream status because I’m not seeing anything that I wouldn’t get from a standard (good) tinted moisturiser.  The areas of my face that aren’t affected by diffused redness are displaying the same colour-correction as my red bits… it just doesn’t feel like they’re being cleverly targeted in a specific manner.

That being said, I like the product.  Go and get a sample from your nearest counter and try it on your face before deciding if it’s the kind of product that would fit in with your daily routine.  Certainly don’t judge it on a back-of-the-hand swatch like I did when it was first released, once applied to the face it’s a completely different animal and very kind to those of us with complicated moisture-concerns.

Clinique’s Moisture Surge CC Cream is priced at £28 for 40ml and available on counter and online from clinique.co.uk and johnlewis.com

* press sample

Under the Spotlight: Kiehl’s NEW BB Cream!

Posted by Lipglossiping On April - 4 - 2013

If ever there was a product subject to some major scrutiny on this here blog, this would be it. You see, Kiehl’s recently discontinued one of my favourite base products: their Ultra Facial Tinted Moisturizer… and this, their new Actively Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream has taken its hallowed place. I’m not entirely happy about this but I am curious to see how it compares, and ultimately, differs.

If Kiehl’s have done away with a fantastically valued tinted moisturiser – we’re talking 75ml of product for £20.50 – and replaced it with a glorified 30ml of tinted moisturiser (hyped as a BB cream), priced at £23.50 for 30ml, I’m not going to be a Kiehl’s fan for much longer am I?

Kiehl's new BB Cream

Old vs New

Their old tinted moisturiser was a no-fuss product without any real skincare claims (not withstanding a less-than-substantial broad spectrum SPF15). Other than fantastic value, a naturally sheer coverage, and some thoroughly decent moisturising capabilities, it delivered nothing more. But that was all I wanted.

The new Actively Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream has far more going on beneath the surface. The most obvious of which is broad spectrum SPF50 PA+++ sun protection. Whether or not one physically applies enough product to benefit from this protection in the real world is still up for discussion but it does at least, offer it in the first place.

It’s also been formulated with a high level of Vitamin C to help boost skin radiance and fade dark spots, which combined with a moisturising base certainly does enough to qualify bullshit-free, bonafide BB Cream status.

Kiehl's new BB Cream

the old Tinted Moisturiser (on the left) compared to the new BB Cream

You can see that the texture of the two base products are completely different. At this point, my faith in Kiehl’s has been restored and I’m sufficiently convinced that their new release isn’t simply an excuse to bump the price on an old favourite.

So what do I actually think of Kiehl’s new BB Cream now that I’m happy to judge it on its own merits?

It’s available in three shades: fair, light, and medium. Of the three shades, I received “light” which is sadly a little too dark for my skintone as you’ll see in the following photos.

The texture is thick and the tone is fairly neutral, it certainly doesn’t present the greyed-hues of some Asian BB Creams which should please anyone who finds they tend to look ashy on their skin. Unfortunately, if I’m wearing the “middle” shade of the three, anyone with a darker skintone will feel excluded from this launch.

Kiehl's new BB Cream

Please excuse the pin curl clip!

The texture feels heavier than their tinted moisturiser and yet provides only the same level of coverage and skin-unifying. The heavier texture is something that can often be expected from a product with increased sun-protection. Nevertheless, the finish isn’t greasy or even particularly dewy, something that many combination/oily skintypes should be pleased about.

I don’t feel that the BB Cream delivers the same level of prolonged moisture to my skin as the original tinted moisturiser did, and as someone with dry skin – this has the potential to be a deal-breaker for me. To be fair to Kiehl’s, this new BB Cream isn’t marketed toward any specific oily/combo/dry skin issues and as such, I’m assuming it’s more of a one-type-suits-all product. Taking this into consideration, I’m impressed that it neither highlights nor clings to my dry patches.

One thing that I will say improves upon my beloved tinted moisturiser is the longevity of the BB Cream. I have worn it on four ocassions and each time, coverage has lasted comfortably into the evening – something my old favourite would never have been able to achieve.

Ultimately, I don’t like Kiehl’s Actively Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream as much as I liked their Ultra Facial Tinted Moisturiser, not for my specific skin concerns and not for my wallet.

However, as a BB Cream, and standing on its own merits, it performs very well and should suit most skin-types thanks to a formula that genuinely seeks to provide an effective skincare treatment alongside surface beautification.

Kiehl’s Actively Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream is priced at £23.50 for 30ml and available to buy on counter and online at www.kiehls.co.uk

* press sample

More than just mineral? NATOrigin Loose Powder Foundation

Posted by Lipglossiping On December - 12 - 2012

If I concentrate hard enough, I can hear my Nan speaking to me in her sing-song valleys accent.  She’s saying: “There was a little girl, who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead.  And when she was good, she was very, very good.  And when she was bad, she was horrid.”  Which is precisely how my skin feels about mineral makeup – on a good day, nothing comes close to looking better and more naturally flawless on my skin.  At other times though, it can look like I’ve dipped my face in a vat of semolina flour… which then slowly cooks in situ, as the day progresses.

I tried NATOrigin Loose Powder Foundation, after it was recommended to me as a cross between a mineral foundation and a setting powder. This is good news for me as I often use my mineral foundation as a setting powder… albeit with a very light hand.

NATOrigin Loose Powder Foundation

Compared to most mineral foundations I’ve tried, I found this to be sheerer… more finely milled, and lighter in texture.  The unglamourous but practical packaging features enough space to hold a sponge between the lid and the sifter should you need a way to avoid spillage during travel.  This extra roominess also means that you’re more likely to keep the powder in the pot whilst picking up product on your brush, and not allover your dressing table.

The foundation is available in four shades, and I was sent the second lightest – which as you can imagine, is a touch too dark for my skintone but thanks to its sheerness, doesn’t cause me much concern.  The foundation is about as genuinely organic as you can get, certified so by the prestigious ECOCERT and promises a hypoallergenic, paraben-free formula which has been approved by AllergyUK as an allergy-friendly product.  Quite interesting when you consider that the label states that the product may contain Bismuth Oxychloride, a known potential irritant and something that many of you have grumbled about in the past.

NATOrigin Loose Powder Foundation

The quantity shown in the lid is roughly the amount I’ve been using for a full face after applying a light tinted moisturiser as a base.  It’s my favourite way to apply this foundation and both sets my makeup and gives me a little extra coverage in the areas where my base is letting me down.  The combination of the two products as a single base gives me great medium/full coverage with none of the heaviness that I’d get were I using liquid/cream foundation alone.  It’s a real time saver as I don’t have to worry about the finish looking at all caked-on or artificial.

The NATOrigin Loose Powder Foundation lacks the pretty sheen that I enjoy from other brands such as Bare Minerals, infact I’d consider this one as fairly mattifying, obviously a bonus for half the population but I prefer my finishing powder to have a little luminosity in these darker months.  I’ve been mixing a liquid luminizer into my moisturiser to solve this problem.

NATOrigin Loose Powder Foundation

Hopefully the above photo will let you deduce the amount of coverage you can expect from using NATOrigin Loose Powder Foundation on bare skin, it’s a sheer-medium finish and as I’ve already mentioned, a matte one.  I’ve been enjoying using a flat top kabuki brush which works the product into the skin and ensures that you get maximum coverage with the least effort.

NATOrigin Loose Powder Foundation is priced at £17.75 for 5g and available to buy online from www.natorigin.co.uk

* press sample

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