beauty

Medieval torture devices of beauty

wp-1453239301190.jpgI’m not one to go to extremes for vanity’s sake, but the weirdest part of my skincare routine is definitely the the microneedling, or if you’re feeling fancy, collagen induction therapy.

WHAT IS IT?
CIT is a cosmetic medical procedure used to treat scars such as stretch marks or acne scarring, or to treat wrinkles, by pricking the skin with hundreds of tiny needles, which stimulates collagen production and repairs damage.

As dermarollers are inexpensive on Amazon and the reviews seem pretty good, I figured at best, I’d have wonderful skin, and at worst, I’d have wasted a couple of pounds and would have red skin for a couple of days, so not much to lose. Despite looking like a miniature medieval torture device, the results so far have been impressive, and honestly, the pain is minimal – comparable to a rough exfoliant.

HOW TO:
I remove my makeup and cleanse my skin with micellar water, then start to work while my skin is still damp. Taking the clean (v. important, unless you want a breakout) roller, I start rolling it back and forth over my skin, focusing on places where wrinkles develop, such as around the mouth and forehead. I work first by going four or five times up and down, then left to right, then diagonally both ways in small patches, until I have done my entire face.

Afterwards, my skin is red but not bleeding, and I immediately apply a layer of moisturiser. After that has soaked in, I’ll apply a second layer. I do this process on a night so my skin has time to recover before I want to put on makeup again.

The next day, I resume my usual skincare routine (removing old product with micellar water, and reapplying moisturiser before moving on to makeup) as normal. My skin always looks refreshed and glowing afterwards, and feels super smooth and baby soft. Totally worth the ten minute’s effort every week or so. Will it keep my skin looking youthful as I age? Only time will tell. But I’d like to think that future me will be thanking present me for the preventative efforts I’ve been making.

I should definitely point out that this treatment is definitely not for you if you have any active skin problems, such as healing wounds or an acne breakout, obviously. That would just be asking to spreading more germs around your face, but it’s worth looking into if you’ve got scarring from issues that you’ve now recovered from

I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to improve the appearance of mild scarring, take preventative action against future aging, or simply wants soft and refreshed skin! Affordable, time-efficient, and with instant, and long-term results? Totally worth a try.

– Niko

 

ALL THAT GLITTERS: 2015 holiday beauty

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It’s December, it’s finally acceptable to have tinsel EVERYWHERE, and all the beauty brands have their holiday collections out by now. Being achingly far from my next student loan installment and having a huge list of gifts that I need to be buying other people before myself, I’ll be waiting for the January sales before there’s a possibility of picking up a few treats, but I’ve compiled a list of my top holiday beauty picks if you were looking for gift inspiration, or simply planning to indulge yourself!

1. Tom Ford Lash Tips Mascara in Burnished gold, £35 /// Gold mascara. GOLD. MASCARA. Technically it’s just for the ends of your lashes but the possibilities are endless with this one – gold lower lashes, a bright streak on the outer edges, total lash gilding? This has you covered.

2. Ladurée Les Merveilleuses Pressed Cheek Colour /// Okay, I couldn’t find a price, this techically isn’t from a holiday collection, and I suspect it’s only available instore in Japan, but would this not make the perfect Secret Santa present? The whole line looks like it came straight from Marie Antoinette’s vanity table, and there’s a whole twenty shades to choose from! I’m not sure what I’d do with the yellow one, but I’d love no.10 or 11 in my collection.

3. Charlotte Tilbury Mini Lipstick Charms, £29 /// Three mini lipsticks in wearable shades, all in Charlotte Tilbury’s gorgeous signature Art Deco-inspired packaging. I’d be thrilled to wake up to these on Christmas morning.

4. Dior Diorific State of Gold nail polish, £20.50 /// I’m sure you could maybe probably definitely get a very similar polish at the fraction of the price, but the orb-shaped bottle would make a lovely gift and a very pretty addition to any vanity table. Glitter nail polish is an absolute must for December.

5. Chanel Long Wear Cream Eye Shadow in Rouge Noir, £25 /// For this season, Chanel has based its holiday collection around its iconic Rouge Noir, and the Eye shadow looks abolutey divine. I sampled a few of the other products instore and really liked the rouge noir eye pencil, and am seriously considering the gold eye crayon. The mascara from this collection has sold out on Boots online, so I’d suggest acting fast for one of these limited edition pieces!

What’s on your Christmas list?

– Niko

COCOA BLEND: zoeva’s dream palette

wpid-wp-1447957034012.jpgSince Zoeva’s Cocoa Blend palette was released this summer it’s been at the top of my wishlist (you might recognisse it from this wishlist), but I was a bit hesitant to pay the international shipping fees. Keeping my beady eye out, I finally snapped one up on Beauty Bay before it sold out again, taking advantage of their free and speedy tracked delivery.

And the wait was SO WORTH IT. For a ridiculously affordable price, you get ten beautiful eyeshadow colours that can take you from daily wear, to intense evening looks. The palette, themed around a box of chocolates as the names suggests, leans very much towards warm shades, and is a welcome change to the cool tones that are currently dominating my eye collection.

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The shadows themselves are super soft and easily to blend, and are packed with pigment so you can create looks as intense as you like. They’re interestingly multi-dimensional and you don’t really get to appreciate this until you apply them to the skin. Pure Ganache (bottom row, far left), for example, looks like a warm gold in the pan, but on the skin reveals a burnt reddish undertone. I was also really excited for Substitute For Love (bottom row, second left), an orangey matte that works well on its own, or as a base for a smokey eye combined with Beans are White (top row, far right) and with Delicate Acidity (bottom row, far right) as a ‘pop’ shade on the centre of the eyelid.

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In natural daylight

The packaging is gorgeous, and the chocolate box theme is carried clearly through with it. Made from card, the palette is lightweight, which makes it great for travel, especially since it’s such an all-purpose colour selection, but I would worry about it getting bashed up a bit in transit. It does come with another card sleeve for a bit of pretection, though.

Overall this is a brilliant palette with a great edit of shades that you can mix and match for just about any occasion, and I can see myself getting a lot of use from it. The price point is super affordable, and I’m already considering what my next Zoeva purchase will be.

-Niko

LIPCOTE: beauty’s worst-kept secret

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I feel like this product is seriously underrated, and since I arrived back at university without it, I’ve just felt lost! Lipcote is a lipstick sealer that prevents smudging, feathering and fading, and is an absolute life saver!

I think a lot of people who have heard of it have been put off by the previous formulation, which had a strong chemical smell and stung while it dried on the lips, but it’s back with a vanilla flavour and none of the sting, a welcome improvement.  Simply apply lipstick, blot, then paint a thin layer of the product on your lips and let it dry. Your lipstick will become unbudgeable and withstand everything from eating to regular everyday wear, no reapplication needed.

It works best for matte lipsticks and simply won’t work on anything really glossy, so if you want that look, I’d recommend applying Lipcote and putting gloss over the top, but for strong colours in matte and cream formulations, this is perfect.

I’m glad Lipcote and I have been reunited, this time with prettier packaging and more lip-friendly!

– Niko

GET IT BEFORE IT’S GONE: £2 clinique lipstick

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I was casually browsing the web on my phone after having an incident in a restaurant involving my right eye and some hot sauce, and it came to my attention that this month’s Glamour magazine comes with free Clinique products. Two of which being lipsticks. I headed straight to my nearest newsagent to have a look and was fortunate enough to find the last free lipstick… It seems that the free moisturiser and mascara aren’t so popular.

The lipstick appears to be from their latest range as I saw them on display in Boots, so even though it’s not full size, it’s definitely a total steal at only £2 for the price of the magazine.

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The shade, cherry pop, is the first true red lipstick I’ve tried for years (I’m more of a rouge noir kinda gal) and I’m really impressed with it.  There’s a slight sparkle to it, but nothing overwhelming, and the formula is creamy and full of pigment, totally non-drying.

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If you’re interested, I’d recommend looking sooner rather than later as it seems to be flying off the shelves! And for this price I’m definitely going to have a look for the nude lipstick, too. I might even pick up the moisturiser and mascara while I’m at it.

– Niko

VAMP: red nail polishes for the holiday season

wpid-wp-1446660650474.jpgAfter complaining for God knows how many weeks, my nails are finally at a relatively uniform length so I can start wearing bold nail polishes again (yay.) Deep reds are my favourite because of the whole carnality kind of thing it’s got going for it, and realising that I’ve got quite a few very similar shades, I thought I’d do a little breakdown on the ones I own. For when you’re so inspired by my writing that you must rush out to buy your own. Obviously.

Revlon Nail Enamel in Vixen, £6.50 /// This is the one I’m wearing in the feature photo, taken after four days. As you can see, chipping is really minimal, and I think this is due to the fact that the polish doesn’t truly harden. This is brilliant for long-lasting colour, but as it stays quite… malleable? It absorbs impressions of things like bedsheets and scratches easily, so it does lose its glossy sheen quickly.  I know this is a bit of a Devil Wears Prada situation, but of the solid reds I’m reviewing, this is the most pinkish, a kind of claret colour. The flash in the photo below really emphasises the differences, but in real life, it’s harder to tell.

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And the prize for most dust particles in one photo goes to…

Chanel Le Vernis in Rouge Noir, £18 /// I love a product with some history. Compared to the previous product, this is more of a true lacquer, which means it hardens much more, but also chips in larger flakes. I think the colour is more impressive, too, as it has a deeper, dimensional shine, and moves slightly away from ‘cute berry colours for autumn’ and closer to ‘vampy villainess’ territory. Like I said before, this difference is minimal and nuanced, so don’t romance yourself with the Chanel brand if you’re not that bothered about the tiniest details and you’re just looking for something that lasts, in which case I’d suggest the Revlon.

Calvin Klein Splendid Colour in Opus, £4 /// This is one of the more unusual reds I’ve come across. It’s a semi-opaque grey-brown with a red shimmer. On its own, it doesn’t look particularly special, but on top of a base coat of bright red it gives a really pretty, multi-dimensional effect. As far as I can tell, it’s pretty long-lasting, but I’ve never worn it without a base and top coat, so I can’t really be any authority on that. It’s so cheap, though, that it’s worth giving it a go to see if you like it.

L-R: Revlon, Chanel, Calvin Klein, Sephora, Nails Inc.

L-R: Revlon, Chanel, Calvin Klein, Sephora, Nails Inc. And a tiny hair. Ew.

Sephora Nail Lacquer in Resist to Temptation /// Either I’m blind or they don’t have their own nail polish brand on their own website. Guess they don’t want to make sales. What I can tell you, though, is that if you like Rouge Noir but don’t want to shell out on that price tag, this is a great alternative. It’s very, very slightly more brownish, and I actually bought it because in the bottle it looks likes a chocolate brown, but is definitely a deep red on the nail. It also sets quite hard like the Chanel, also resulting in large flakes coming away, but I got less wear out of it before it started chipping. It’s inexpensive so if you like it, buy it, but definitely don’t expect miracles.

Nails Inc. Alexa Hearts, £15 /// Finally, something completely different. I’d been lusting after this since last Christmas when I saw it in a limited edition Alexa Chung gift set, but didn’t want the full set, so just waited until I found it on eBay, where I snapped it up for £7. What I like about it is that the hearts are matte, rather than traditional shiny sequins, however, the product is very difficult to use. The picture supplied on the website is very misleading as it gives the impression that you’ll get a sweep of polish full of these tiny hearts, whereas in reality, the stupid tiny brush provided makes it very difficult to pick up even one. This could be massively improved by providing some kind of tool to pick out an apply individual hearts to the nail, or doing away with suspending them in liquid, and just selling them dry in a little pot. It’s also pretty expensive for what you get, so I would advise keeping an eye out at craft stores to see if you can find similar sequins without the expense. I’m definitely glad that I didn’t pay full price.

Have you tried any of these products? What did you think?

– Niko

HIGH END vs HIGH STREET: concealer reviews

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I will not be apologising for the blurry photo, as it was taken at 6am this morning. 🙂

I ran out of my beloved YSL Touche Éclat yesterday, but I was having second thoughts about spending a lot of money on a new one so checked out Boots for some more bank account-friendly options. I picked up Revlon’s Colorstay Concealer to give it a go, and honestly, I’m quite impressed. Here’s a little comparison and breakdown of what made it worth my while:

Price /// Obviously, Revlon wins this round. We’re talking £7 vs £25 here.
Winner: Revlon

Packaging /// Revlon’s packaging is sturdy and inoffensive, and one of the reasons that I chose it was because it wasn’t some ridiculous colour that other products in this price point were, as I like to keep a bit of a unified theme on my vanity table. It seems to be a fairly good quality that won’t crack or split when travelling. Practicalities aside, YSL gets my vote in this round because it’s like a pretty gold magic wand and clearly I am a magpie.
Winner: YSL

Application /// Revlon comes with one of those wands that you apply lipgloss with allowing you to dab on as much or as little as you like, whereas the YSL product is one of those precision brushes with a clicky at the other end which drives concealer to the bristles. I found this a bit ‘stabby’ sometimes and it was often difficult to get the amount I needed, and the synthetic bristles weren’t praticularly good for spreading it across my skin either.
Winner: Revlon

Concealer /// Ah finally, this bit where we actually judge the products on what they’re supposed to do. Revlon is definitely the heavier product of the two and for that reason it does a better job of concealing imperfections, but I find that YSL’s light-reflecting qualities are better for colour correction such as over dark circles, and obviously a better product for contouring. At the end of the day, though, I have other products for higlighting so Revlon is better at the simple task of perfecting skin.
Winner: Revlon

Durability /// Sometimes I get home and ask myself if I actually remembered to put on concealer. Today I was impressed at Revlon’s staying power. Without any primer or powder, it looks just as it did this morning! Here’s a photo for evidence, I’m sure it’d have stayed on my nose, too, if I hadn’t been rubbing it with tissues all day:
wpid-wp-1445450605956.jpgWinner: Revlon

The Colorstay concealer is the champion of this round! I thought as such an iconic product, Touche Éclat might have put up a bit more of a fight but when I break it down into these categories, I only with I’d found the Revlon sooner! I’ll be saving a fortune in the future, and for a better product to boot!

– Niko

NEGATIVE SPACE REVISITED: illamasqua ‘swarm’ nail polish review

wpid-wp-1445367923445.jpgI’ve broken the nails on both my index fingers, so right now I don’t want to draw attention to that with my usual deep colours, but I’m still interested in exploring more minimalist nail art, like I did a little while ago with my recreation of the Adam Selman catwalk look.

This time, I used a single coat of Illamasqua’s nail polish in ‘swarm’ to add a bit of flourish. It’s a top coat with large and small flecks of almost-black glitter that glistens brown-red in certain lights, and it feels perfect for the run up to Halloween! To me it looks like little pieces of black lace or a miniature swarm of teeny-tiny creepy crawlies, revealing just enough natural nail.

I love it as another angle to the anti-nail art concept, but would also be a great top coat for adding texture to other solid colour polished. I’ve found that it chipped quite badly in the first 24 hours application, but I was quite rough on my hands during that time, so it’s probably worth wearing a good topcoat to seal it down.

It retails at £14.50 for 10ml, but have a root around in TK Maxx, that’s where I found mine for £3.99!

– Niko

TOPSHOP HIGHLIGHTER REVIEW

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetI’ve been out of England for most of this year, and the one thing I really missed the most was Topshop. Much as I love Florence, the city isn’t great for shopping unless you can afford to drop 4+ figures in Chanel, which left me in a bit of a rut. I was really excited to revisit one of Topshop’s makeup stands and stick my fingers in all the testers, as I’d picked up a couple of products last December and was really impressed by the quality of the products at such a great price point.

I’m not really supposed to be spending money at the moment, so when I sampled their highlighter in ‘Horizon’ I left the store empty-handed. I already have highlighters, I don’t need another, surely…

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I ended up returning a couple of days later and bought it and I’m so glad I did, because let me tell you, that stuff is a GAME CHANGER. The bronzey powder is super finely milled which means you don’t end up with huge glittery flecks across your face, and it blends in effortlessly. The pigment also helps me make the most of what remaining tan I have and reflects light in a really natural way, giving a nice dewy glow, whereas more silvery highlighters tend not to blend so well.

For £10, it’s a brilliant product. It is very intense so only a little is needed at a time, otherwise you do end up looking like this, but that does mean that you’re getting value for money as you’re not piling it on just to see some effect. I would absolutely recommend this and I’m definitely going to go back for Sunbeam when my tan has faded. If I had to fault it, I’d say that I’d prefer black packaging so it looks more at home at my vanity table, but I can’t really blame Topshop for my interior design preferences.
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I’ll be writing about my makeup routine, including this product, soon, so keep reading in the next few days!

– Niko

A QUICK NOTE ON: NAILS

On second thoughts, the red looks a bit bloody, doesn’t it?

A couple of weeks ago, Garance Doré wrote about this nail look at Adam Selman, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.

While I’m not ready to accept that nail art is over (sad face) I love the simplicity at play. My go-to nail colours are usually deep jewel tones such as burgundy, emerald, and plum, but when I remove it after a week or so, I’m always convinced that there’s nothing better than a healthy, well-manicured, natural nail. I also don’t like to wear polish unless my nails are of uniform length, which is rare.

This is the the perfect balance of the two; the nail is simply embellished with a dot of contrasting colour. It’s a great way to look a bit refined without drawing attention to my broken nails (I only photographed my good hand!)

I chose a deep red for my nails (Chanel Le Vernis in Rouge Noir), but I think black would have been more of a ‘look’, you know? Maybe next time.

– Niko