Agent Provocateur Fatale EdP Review

Posted by Lipglossiping On August - 23 - 2014

If you haven’t yet found an Agent Provocateur fragrance that you’ve liked, things are (probably) about to change.  The release of Agent Provocateur Fatale heralds a more mainstream approach from the lingerie brand who have thus far been known for their slightly quirkier take on perfumery.

I’ll begin this review by putting my hands up and admitting to being a die-hard fan of the original pink-bottled Agent Provocateur in all it’s rose-tinted skankiness. From the off, Fatale has its work cut out, at least for me, to live up to the original.

Agent Provocateur Fatale (2)

Agent Provocateur Fatale

This sense of departure, of exploring new ground, is immediately apparent in the packaging design.  Gone are the hand-grenade ‘fume bombs of old… goodbye to opaque containers and hello to crystal-cut clarity and what amounts to a showier centrepiece.  It seems a shame to muddy the waters of what is such a striking and instantly recognisable part of the brand’s identity, but hey… what do I know?

As much as Agent Provocateur may want their latest femme to be of the “fatale” variety, my nose finds her a little too playful to live up to Hollywood’s benchmarks of Phyllis Dietrichson and Cora Smith.  It’s true that Fatale is seductive… I mean, if Agent Provocateur know how to do one thing well, it *is* the art of seduction, after all…. but with this latest release, I’m missing the deceptive kickback, the surprise that waits patiently in the wings.

Upon first spray, the powerful blend of blackcurrant and patchouli is brought to the fore – a combination that proves to be a heady, exotic pairing with a juiciness that retains the essence of youth.  A scent best-suited for the cooler weather, its inherent warmth springs forth from the sensual musk that lingers many hours after initial application.  There’s also a slight bitterness omnipresent throughout, gently tempered by the creamy gardenia… it has the same affect on me as how a well-made tiramisu might still appeal to a coffee-hater.

For me, Agent Provocateur Fatale is all about the slow smoulder… its gourmand hints of chocolate are to thank for an endurance that ensures a magnetic personality.  It is… at least, reassuringly addictive.  Though it may not be my favourite AP release to date, I can’t help but return to my wrists for just. one. more. sniff.  What it lacks in old-skool glamour, it makes up for in charm.

Agent Provocateur Fatale is available in 30ml, 50ml, and 100ml – priced from £36.00.  Buy instore or online from Debenhams, John Lewis, and Escentual.com

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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!

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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

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Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer Face SPF20 Spotlight

Posted by Lipglossiping On February - 24 - 2014

I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear about a new all-in-one face base, I get very hopeful at the thought of being able to shave minutes from my morning beauty routine… any opportunities to hit the snooze button in bed are precious to me and I welcome them with open arms.

Sarah McNamara is a lady that I’d never heard of before but her range is available to purchase in the UK via QVC and includes a variety of products based around the idea of one-step application products that are designed to “instantly transform your skin”.  Her hero product, and the one that launched the brand’s range is the original Miracle Skin Transformer SPF20 which has recently been flanked by the illuminating “Spotlight” version of the product, which I’ve been trialling over the past few weeks.

Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer Face Spotlight

Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer Face Spotlight 02

Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer Face Spotlight 06

Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer Face Spotlight 03

Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer Face Spotlight Swatches

The product claims to be a 5-in-1 skin enhancer to help hydrate, prime, illuminate and protect your skin.  My hormonal dryness is the bane of my life at the moment and I’m sticking to products that promise to brighten the dullness and provide coverage that I can amp up with concealer as needed.

On paper, the Miracle Skin Transformer Face SPF20 Spotlight should be exactly what I’m looking for… but can a suit-all product cope with my drier-than-normal complexion?

At this time of year, I’m not too concerned about SPF protection but in the Summer, I would be all over the SPF20 this product provides… my only caveat is whether you’re actually applying enough of it to achieve the rating stated on the bottle.

The formula is silicone-based with the traditional primer slip and glide.  It takes a reasonable amount of rubbing in to blend so I’d recommend applying it with your fingers rather than a brush, something I’m happy to do with a lighter base product.  The illumination is there in the form of a subtle and rather grown-up sparkle which you can hopefully detect in my swatch photo set above.

My biggest issue with this product is that it’s sadly just too dark for me.  The original Miracle Skin Transformer is available to purchase in a variety of shades but this Spotlight (illuminating) flanker is only available in the one shade.  It’s best suited to fair-medium skintones and if you’re any paler or darker than this, you’ll be limited to applying only a thin layer of product before it starts impacting on your natural skin colour.

Sadly, this isn’t the answer I’ve been looking for… it copes well with my dryness and doesn’t ball-up or migrate toward the drier patches but it’s just not the all-in-one solution I was hoping for.  Because of the shade, I can’t actually apply enough of the product to achieve any kind of even skintone without darkening my pale skin… so for me, it works purely a primer… and I already have plenty of illuminating primers that I’m happier with for my skin-type.

I’d have little hesitation in recommending this as being one of those products that would probably work fabulously on women without any real skin issues, I could imagine it being a great summer-holiday investment for fair/medium-skinned folk who are looking for a little sun protection and illumination without a foundation-heavy feeling on their skin.

Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer Face SPF20 Spotlight is available to buy online from qvcuk.com, currently priced at £26.88

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February must be formula month, because I’m going gaga over some perfectly-created lipsticks.  Don’t get me wrong… I’m a sucker for some pretty packaging too and can be driven equally wild by a product based purely on it being the perfect shade but the perfect formula?  Well, like I said, it must be a month for it because not only did Clarins blow me away with their sheer (gerrit?) perfection earlir this month, it’s now Estee Lauder’s turn to get me all of a flutter with some incredibly-formulated, deeply-pigmented lip colours.

The new Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipsticks – launched just this month – feature a range of 20-shades that should particularly excite my fellow bold lip fans.  The collection promises to deliver saturated colour and continuous moisturisation with a formula that stays true for up to 6-hours.  Formulated with a new and exclusive Time Release Encapsulated Moisture Complex with Hyaluronic Acid, I’ve been rather impressed with the happy medium the brand have managed to capture between long-wear and comfort.

Have a little look at the two shades that I’ve got here… Tumultuous Pink and Red Ego…

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick in Red Ego and Tumultuous Pink Review Swatch 01

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick in Red Ego and Tumultuous Pink Review Swatch 02

First of all, the packaging is a bit of a departure from Estee Lauder’s classic heavy gold styling… these lipsticks are dressed in navy with gold accents.  The heavy-weight feel is still there but it’s a little more understated in design with that incredibly addictive magnetic closure that feels so satisfying to use.  Application is easy straight from the bullet but as with most bold shades, I prefer to tidy up the edges with a lip brush and the formula of these offers enough slip that I can achieve this easily with just a little extra product applied near the lip-line.

Talking of the formula, although creamy… it feels very light-weight for the amount of pigment it provides.  Infact, I almost want to describe them as being more like a rich gel formula, either way… you know when something just feels technologically advanced?  It’s like wearing an old skool Rouge Volupte without any of the weight or inconvenience of migration/feathering.

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick in Red Ego and Tumultuous Pink Review Swatch 03

The swatches above show two swipes taken directly from the bullet, you can see the shine and the depth of pigment that the two shades – Tumultuous Pink and Red Ego – provide.  Upon fading, they leave a stain which makes them perfect for blotting if you’re not keen on a high-shine lipstick.  I tend to blot Red Ego once but leave Tumultuous Pink just as it applies, it’s a personal preference.

I’ve included shots below of both lipsticks worn on the lips, the pink leans a little more fuchsia on my lips than I expected from the bullet and the hand-swatch but I’d imagine that this may not be quite so apparent on a warmer skintone.  From the shade range on offer, Dominant looks to be a bluer-pink (or possibly just a little lighter) than Tumultuous PinkDefinitely worth swatching on counter first though to get your perfect pink match!

Red Ego is simply a dream.  Shade-wise, it’s my perfect red… rich and dark with just enough of a berry hint to complement a cooler skin-tone.  It looks darker in the bullet than it does on the lips, especially when blotted, but it still retains the kind of richness that your standard pillar-box red just can’t deliver.

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick in Red Ego and Tumultuous Pink Review Swatch 04

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick in Red Ego and Tumultuous Pink Review Swatch 05

The Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipsticks are available to purchase on counter and online from esteelauder.co.uk now, in a range of 20-shades (+ one online exclusive), priced at £24.00 each.

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Autumn Beauty Pick: Clinique Fresh Bloom All Over Colour in Plum Poppy

Posted by Lipglossiping On September - 20 - 2013

Give it a couple more months and we won’t need to use blusher.  The faux Jack-Frost-has-been-pinching-your-cheeks look will be served up daily by Mother Nature.  In the mean-time, Clinique have a rather lovely solution to inject some colour into our cheeks!

First things first, it’s a thing of beauty in the pan.  I mean, look at it.  Look!  I never tire of pretty makeup…

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Considering I struggled like hell to cut out pastry leaves that actually looked anything like leaves for the top of my apple pie last week, you can colour me impressed by Clinique’s ability to craft a bleedin’ poppy into their blusher pans.  You don’t want me to spoil that pristine surface do you?

Tough.  Here’s a swatch:

clinique-plum-poppy4

Plum Poppy makes for a soft-neutral shade with enough pink in it to ensure that it’s a flattering choice for cool skin-toned girls like myself.  The pink keeps the colour looking fresh, rather than muddy as some plums (including the much-loved NARS Sin) tend to turn against my complexion.  There’s a slight iridescence to the formula that translates nicely once on the skin, giving a subtle highlight without any over-the-top shimmer or sparkle.

The texture is soft and picks up easily on a brush.  For application, I prefer to use a stippling brush… just for a lighter touch as I do tend to be a little heavy-handed and Plum Poppy doesn’t take too much effort to build into a natural-looking flush.

The brand actually market this as an “all-over color” as well as a blush, meaning that you could… if you wanted to…. wear this all over your face.  In my opinion, it’s far too pigmented for that kind of application but hey, whatever tickles your pickle!

clinique-plum-poppy

Clinique Fresh Bloom All Over Color in Plum Poppy is priced at £26 and is available to buy on counter and online at johnlewis.com

* press sample

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.

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Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede Review

Posted by Lipglossiping On September - 16 - 2013

Jo Malone’s Peony and Blush Suede is the latest release from the British fragrance house, created by expert nose, master perfumer Christine Nagel. Described by the brand as “the essence of charm”, the fragrance is available in 30ml and 100ml varieties, priced at £39 and £78 respectively.

With notes of peony, red apple, jasmine and “blush” suede… the scent reminds me of a classic girly scent. One that has been crafted to appeal to a younger audience with a bright, uplifting floral bouquet made up of creamy roses and pinker-than-pink peonies.

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It’s another very British-feeling scent, the kind that the Jo Malone brand do so well, invoking the feel of strolling through a country garden in full bloom.  To further appeal to the sensibilities of a more delicate nose, the strong (and it is powerful) floral bouquet is set against an undercurrent of red apple, nothing as obnoxiously juicy as wild berries but fruity enough to give it some sweetness and… a little bite.

Beyond this, my nose doesn’t detect a huge amount more.  I long for the promised suede but only get the tiniest of hints at a very clean interpretation that smells somewhat powdery and reminds me more of a white musk than a leather.

Jo-Malon-Peony-and-Blush-Suede.2jpg

I imagine this is why Christine has described this note as a “blush” suede… adding just the lightest of touches to remove the freshness from the florals, amping up the creaminess and giving it a long-lasting “warm skin” type feeling.

Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede will undoubtedly appeal to a huge fan base, particularly with the added benefit of the kind of longevity and sillage that I could only have dreamed of from some of the brand’s previous releases.  It’s not quite my cup of tea in the scent department, I generally favour something a little broodier, but it’s a beautifully wearable scent that brightens the mood and will be top of many, many Christmas wish-lists this year.

Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede is priced from £39 and available to buy online at jomalone.co.uk and instore now.

* press sample

If you only buy one thing this Autumn…

Posted by Lipglossiping On September - 12 - 2013

… it should probably be one of these.

Clinique All About Shadow Super Shimmer_1

Now, I’m flagrantly shirking my own rules and responsibilities here.  These two eyeshadows turned up only yesterday and I’m bumping the review queue like a woman on a mission to enable.  Why?  Because these Clinique All About Shadow Super Shimmer eyeshadows* from Clinique are bloody gorgeous, that’s why.

The 2.2g single shades are a dream for those of us looking for high pigmentation colour with a super-creamy texture.  If your eyelids aren’t quite as smooth as they once were, please don’t be put off by the “super shimmer” moniker… this is not disco ball glitz but a smooth shimmer with light-reflective qualities, it’s all very sophisticated and grown-up!

Clinique All About Shadow Super Shimmer_2

The acrylic packaging is rather bulky for the size of the pan inside, thanks to the included sponge applicator and large mirror.  Personally, I’d rather depot these into a palette… but Clinique haven’t made this kind of DIY trickery particularly easy in this instance.

The super-soft texture does mean that you have to be careful of a little fall out, both when you lift the colour from the pan and during application, however… this is nothing that tapping your brush before applying won’t solve.

Clinique All About Shadow Super Shimmer_3

The shades I received are both sublime.

08: Olive in my Martini is much more of a dirty brown than a true olive… there’s only a very little gold/green in there.  It’s more of a hint at a neutral-green than anything more directly representative.

02: Blackened Honey would be a killer set against green eyes.  The warm tones are beautiful for Autumn, thankfully the kind of burnt umber that doesn’t make you look like you’ve got pink-eye.

Clinique All About Shadow Super Shimmer_4

Now, I’ve only these for the one day but it’s now lunchtime and I’m sitting here wearing Olive in my Martini.  It’s been on my lids since just after 7am and despite the fact that I was too impatient to pair it up with an eye-primer… it’s holding fast.

I doubt that it will last the whole day without a base underneath but Clinique have also just released their All About Shadow Primer for Eyes too, should you be reliant on extra long wear.

Clinique All About Shadow Super Shimmer_5

So, why am I so stoked by the new Clinique All About Shadow range?

Well, if the rest of the range is anything like these (and remember, these are the “super shimmer” finishes, I haven’t tried any of the others)… you’ll be getting great texture, super-blendability and high levels of pigmentation without sacrificing on a more sophisticated, non-glittery finish.

All About Shadow Singles are priced at £16.00 / €19.00 and available to buy on counter and online from clinique.co.uk

* press sample

Balmain Ambre Gris EdP review

Posted by Lipglossiping On August - 28 - 2013

Ambre Gris is the latest addition to my fragrance wardrobe, which by the way, is steadily growing larger than my actual wardrobe. Exposing my horribly shallow heart to you, I will readily admit that I was first enticed to this fragrance because of the bottle.

It’s a thing of beautiful contrasts with its smoky-grey, monolithic-looking flacon, simply labelled yet topped off with an outrageously camp discoball-esque cap. It’s lovely. It feels heavy, like you could bludgeon someone with it should that urge take you. It’s impressive, it makes a statement… and that’s just how I like my perfumes.

Pierre-Balmain-Ambre-Gris

Launched in 2008, the notes include: pink pepper, cinnamon, tuberose, immortelle, myrrh, gaïac wood, benzoin, white musks, and ambergris.  On paper it looks like a spicy oriental with a heavy helping of wood and a dusting of sweetness.  In reality… well, that’s mostly accurate.

Opening with a sharp exhalation of pepper, the fragrance delivers a punch of spice with the kind of brusqueness you’d expect from a mean, elderly Aunt.  This isn’t your usual youthful pink pepper, fruity concoction but something with a little more heritage to accentuate its spiky manner.

Before long, the fragrance warms up on the skin and the cinnamon turns sweeter while the tuberose gets down to business knocking away the sharp edges left, right, and centre.  I’m not the world’s biggest fan of tuberose, it’s a note that often leaves me feeling as though I need to come up for air and there is a certain synthetic sickliness to this fragrance that I’m blaming on the tuberose, but thankfully… not enough to require a snorkel.

Up until this point, I like Balmain’s Ambre Gris… but I can’t say that I love it.

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All this begins to change roughly twenty minutes after application.  The smoother tones ushered in by the tuberose make way for something warmer and more comforting still.  The scent wears ever more closely to the skin as the vanillic benzoin curls around my wrist and the ambergris imparts a soft, animalic property that tempts me back to my pulse points over and over.  At this point, it feels more like a unisex fragrance but with an inherent sweetness that glazes over the woody notes and gives the scent a gourmand grounding.

It’s less smoky than I’d like, cleaner than I’d want, and sweeter than I’d usually crave but it feels like a bridge between my old perfume-loving tastes and the new.  In that respect, it really does feel like a comfort.  Take Dior’s Hypnotic Poison (my old uber-fav) and throw some curveballs at it.  It’s not as sexy as Hypnotic Poison, nor is it as overachieving… but it is a nice interpretation of a classier, more grown up woody-oriental that keeps its edge and lasts long, long into the night.

Balmain Ambre Gris is priced from £42 for 40ml and is available to buy in-store at John Lewis and online at Escentual.com

An afternoon at The Vineyard Spa, Berkshire

Posted by Lipglossiping On August - 15 - 2013

A few weeks ago, I was invited along to experience the facilities and treatments at The Vineyard Spa, located just outside Newbury in Berkshire.  It’s only a short hop up the A34 from where I live and a blisteringly hot day meant that by the time I’d pulled up outside the hotel, I was more than ready to cool off in their swimming pool.

The spa offers a range of pampering options, specialising in treatments by Darphin and some rather special Grapetherapy – well, they are The Vineyard, after all.

Facilities include a large circular pool, jacuzzi, steam room, and a sauna with changing areas and plenty of relaxation spots in the main atrium.  The spa is attached to the hotel and as such, offers a more informal setting with unisex facilities and even designated “children’s times”.

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I’d booked myself in for two treatments, a full body massage with some added hot stone loveliness and an eye reviving treatment which I hoped would plump those fine lines that are slowly creeping in to view.  On arrival, we were checked in and had our treatment appointments confirmed before being shown around the facilities and directed to the ladies changing room.

Inside the lockers you’ll find the obligatory robe and slippers, although the mood lighting is lovely… I did spend a good five minutes trying to retrieve the set of keys that I’d managed to drop into the abyss, and then nearly left my phone at the back of the locker because I didn’t spot it on the way out – one of those motion-sensing (i.e. locker door opening) lights would be really beneficial in there.

My other grumble about the changing room would be the toilet facilities.  There’s a single loo… with a frosted glass door and no hook inside to hang up your dressing gown/towel/whatever else you might be holding.  Basically, it’s all rather… public.  If someone’s having a wee… anyone using the changing room will hear you.  Now, I don’t know about you… but I’d rather wee without worrying whether other people are imagining that Austin Powers scene!

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Having said that, there were plenty of things to make up for these shortcomings… Darphin skincare beside the sinks, plentiful clean towels, complimentary bottled water, and hair-dryers that make short work of actually drying your hair.

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I spent an hour relaxing by the pool, catching up with some friends before being collected by one of the therapists for my first treatment.  The treatment rooms are located in a different part of the building… a little walk away from the spa area.  To be honest, I didn’t enjoy walking through the hotel like this… past the reception area, past the kitchens, along the corridor and up the stairs.  It’s a little humiliating, fresh of face, wrapped in a towelling robe and shuffling along in a pair of slippers.  I thankfully only passed one small group of guests on my way but they looked rather bemused to see someone in this attire!

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I’d been looking forward to my first treatment for a long while, my first full body massage and my first experience with hot stones.  What can I say other than I loved it?  My therapist, although small in stature, applied plenty of muscle-relieving pressure that literally undid the knots that I’d been feeling in my calves.  Combined with the reassuring warmth from the hot stones, I enjoyed an experience that I didn’t want to end.  I’d recommend the Hot Stone Ritual to anyone.

The ambiance in the treatment room was perfect… gentle, repetitive music that lulled me into a deeply relaxed state and a cocoon-like room temperature that tempted me into hibernation!

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Back in the atrium, beside the pool… lunch was served.  I opted for the lamb which was served bento-style with creamy mashed potato and a tomato salad.  It was truly delicious, generously dished, and cooked to perfection.  Dessert was a classic strawberries and cream with a slice of sponge.  The meal was filling without being too heavy or rich, nicely balanced and… well, I’m making myself feel hungry just remembering it!

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After lunch, I returned to the treatment rooms upstairs for my second pampering session of the day… this time, the Darphin Eye Reviver.  Sadly, I wasn’t quite so enamoured of this treatment as I was with the hot-stone massage.  I felt that for the length of time given to the treatment (25 minutes), too much of that was spent cleansing and toning my face… time which I would have preferred was spent performing manual lymph drainage or other massage technique.

Having said that, once again, the whole experience was incredibly relaxing and I did emerge with temporarily refreshed-feeling eyes.  I’m just not sure I’d pay for that treatment again.

The Vineyard Spa in Berkshire is a great choice for a more informal spa day.  Spa connoiseurs may feel that the hotel/spa setting doesn’t quite deliver the level of privacy or finesse that they expect but if you’re a little intimidated by the thought of protocols surrounding spas and treatments this would be a great venue for an introduction to the spa scene.  The staff are welcoming, friendly, and knowledgable… the food was delicious and the facilities more than adequate.

I’d be particularly tempted by one of the Vineyard’s spa evenings for two which includes four-hours of spa time, a main course, and a 25-minute treatment each for £105.  A lovely (and not too expensive) idea for couples to spend a bit of relaxation time together over dinner.

To find out more about The Vineyard hotel and spa near Newbury, visit their website, find them on twitter, or call them on 01635 589415.

* I was a guest of The Vineyard Spa for the day and received one complimentary treatment.

FOTD with the Limited Edition Benefit The Rich Is Back Kit

Posted by Lipglossiping On July - 10 - 2013

The 1970s were responsible for many a wonder. Star Wars, the MRI scan, the first black model on cover of a major fashion mag, the Krankies…

Oh.

Wee Jimmy Krankie aside though, let’s face it… the 70s were something to celebrate. Unless you had a box of FAB ice lollies in the freezer during one of the decade’s infamous rolling power cuts. But forgetting all the political shenanigans of the time, what about the D.I.S.C.O? The glitz and glamour of the real Boogie Wonderland?

Well, Benefit are bringing it back thanks to a collaboration with eminent fashion designer, Matthew Williamson.. himself, a child of the 70s. Ladies and… (probably) ladies, I present to you The Rich is Back!*

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Of the kit, Matthew Williamson says:

“This is high-octane glam makeup for dressing up to look fabulous & dance the night away!”

Well, not really… is it? I mean, it’s a nice-enough kit… and probably far more sellable as it is than if it were high-octane glam makeup but c’mon Matthew Williamson… in what world would you describe a bunch of neutrals livened up with a teal… a sheer pink lipgloss and nude blush “high-octane”.

It’s not. It’s not really very 70s night-time glamour at all. But then, you’re not really Donna Summer either are you?

So perhaps we should just be thankful that this kit is a bit more wearable than the looks the girls would have been rocking down at Studio 54. Let’s see what you get for your money….

Benefit The Rich Is Back_05

Perhaps, infact… the most glam thing about this set is the packaging itself which can be repurposed as a jewellery case once you take away the makeup tray. I do love brands that do clever stuffs like that, talk about upcycling!

As for the contents, well you get:

  • eyeshadow palette 4 x 0.8g Net wt.
  • they’re real! mascara, 4.0g Net wt.
  • gimme fever cheek powder with brush. 2.0g Net wt.
  • lip gloss in inferno 6.5 mL / 0.22 US fl. oz

The eyeshadows are pretty sparkly, as one might expect from a kit dedicated to this era. The champagne shade (Disco Dust) is a really wearable highlight that doesn’t attract any attention in an unflattering way… it simply adds a touch of luminosity rather than any ageing frostiness. Solid Gold is a regular gold, a little sheerer than many but infused with some delicate sparkle that makes this a nice shade to wear all over the lid anytime of the day. Get Down Brown is a bolder choice considering the sheerness of the other shades, this one packs a lot more pigment. Finally, Feel So Teal although lovely to look at does that crappy thing of blending out to grey like many other teals.

Pretty they are, high-octane… they ain’t.

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Alongside the eyeshadow selection, you also get a mini They’re Real! mascara… you don’t need to be reminded of my love for this product, but incase you do – the seach box is up there! ^^^

The lipgloss in shade Inferno… is more of a match-strike really. A pretty sheer red infused with plenty of non-gritty glitter but “inferno” might be pusing the trade description act somewhat. Texture of the gloss is nice, non sticky and long-lasting. Trust me, that’s a real compliment coming from this bonafide lipgloss hater.

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The final product included in the kit is a Gimme Fever cheek powder with a brush. I’m not sure why they included a brush when there’s no eyeshadow applicators but include one they did. Gimme Fever is probably my favourite item in the kit, it’s a buildable blush-cum-highlighter that will suit a variety of skintones thanks to its neutral tone. On medium and darker skins this will sing as a cheek highlight and for lighter skintones like mine, it will show some of that pigment as a nude blush (again, with sparkle).

I wore it very lightly in my FOTD as I wanted to contour instead and use Gimme Fever to reflect the light.

Benefit The Rich Is Back_swatches

Here’s how the kit looks when all the products are used together… who says you need to fear the seventies? Embrace the decade!

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All in all, it’s a nice kit. I’d say that the packaging belies the contents… it’s a little schizophrenic. Infact, considering the daytime makeup trend in the 70s was pretty understated, I’d say that the light, natural-looking aesthetic (with added sparkle) fits really well within the era. It just doesn’t quite fit with the disco-esque, glammed up sexy night-time packaging and leaves me a little confused as to the designer’s intentions and whether he actually saw the contents of the kit before bestowing those wickedly vibrant prints on the casing.

If you want to get your hands on this one, be quick… it’s a limited edition.

Benefit The Rich is Back Kit is priced at £26.50 and is available to buy instore and online at debenhams.com

* press sample

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