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Friday, 20 November 2015

Library of Fragrance - Cardamom

Spicy fragrances have been one of my saviours this year.  For some reason that's not quite clear (but which is possibly related to trigeminal rather than olfactory nerve stimulation) my parosmic nose can register spicy scents (and tastes) really quite well.  So, when I discovered Library of Fragrance were bringing out a Cardamom perfume, I was super-excited.  

Cardamom is one of my favourite smells (and tastes) anyway, so I was always destined to love this, but even so, I was a bit surprised by it.  Expecting a sharp and pungent hit of hot perfumed spice, I was greeted with a soft fluffy cloud of warm cardamom-scented powder.  Creamy and gently perfumed with cardamom, this is really lovely.  It smells a lot more expensive than any £15 perfume has any right to, frankly.

Library of Fragrance perfumes aren't particularly known for their lasting power, but this seems to last quite well on my skin, having a 3-4 hour wear time (which, compared to the 30-minutes to an hour I get from Clean Laundry, is nothing short of miraculous).  I was hoping for a sharp punch of spice to use for layering over other fragrances that I have trouble interpreting, but what I got was actually a lovely fragrance in its own right, perfect for wearing alone.  Can't argue with that.

It'll be in-store soon.

The Fine Print: PR Sample

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Thursday, 19 November 2015

United Beauty Gel Touch Top Coat

I'd love to be able to do a complete gel manicure at home, but sadly, I remain the cack-handed muppet I always was, and the thought of having to do all that cuticle-work and tidy-up and preparation makes me a little light-headed.  Luckily, one of my good friends is Nails by Miss Merx, so whenever I fancy a full-on gel manicure, it is to her I go.  Times being what they are, however, I can't afford permanent gel manicures, and my nose being as problematic as it is (I can no longer bear the smell of nail polish) I can't be doing with painting my own nails too often either, so what is a girl to do?

Enter United Beauty Gel Touch Top Coat, which claims to turn any nail polish into a gel manicure.  All you do is apply your nail varnish as usual, wait until dry (incredibly important, this step), cure with the included UV lamp and boom!  You're ready to go!

Costing £49.99, the kit includes a UV lamp, a bottle of topcoat and five cleansing wipes (which you use before and after applying the top coat, initially to remove grease, and then afterwards to remove any residual gel left over after curing).  I really like this, with some caveats - the cleansing wipes are on the dry side, so once you've used them pre-manicure, they're too dry to use to wipe off excess gel, and there are only five of them, and if you need two per manicure, that's only two full manis you have wipes for.  And, of course, there is the fact that your manicure won't last quite as long as a full gel manicure, either.  After a few months of using this, I can get a manicure to last ten days if I apply very (VERY) carefully, but a week is more usual. 

That said, a week is usually more than enough for me, I get bored of wearing the same colour for longer, anyway, and I can cope with only painting once a week, instead of two or three times as with normal nail varnish. 

I've used it a lot over the last couple of months (after buying myself some alcohol to use as a cleanser) and like it very much.  If you're expecting full-gel manicure wear, you're going to be a little disappointed, but if you're a lazy article, like myself, it'll save you a manicure a week.

Available from the United Beauty website. 

The Fine Print: PR Sample

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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Omorovicza Moor Mud Set

Yes, I'm back to Christmas gift sets!  What?  I love them!  And this Moor Mud Set from Omorovicza  is not just a brilliant way to try what is, frankly, one of the best skincare products on the planet, it's a bargain, too.

Containing a full-size Thermal Cleansing Balm (which normally retails at £46), a third-size Refining Facial Polisher (100ml full size retails at £65) and a third-size jar of Deep Cleansing Mask (50ml full-size retails at £57) alongside a mini-cleansing mitt, the entire kit sells for £46, which is the cost of the Thermal Cleansing balm alone!  I've reviewed both the cleansing balm and the facial polisher previously (see the links above), and I've been dying to try the cleansing mask - I've read really good things about it - so to get two good-size samples, alongside an excellent full-size product to boot brings me real joy*.  You can find this (alongside some other kits which look great) on the Omorovicza website, and in Liberty, or wherever stocks Omorovicza near you.

*And isn't that the real meaning of Christmas?** 

The Fine Print: PR Sample 


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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

L'Oreal Steampod Review

I don't actually remember the last time I straightened my hair on a regular basis.  There was a time when my (naturally) curly hair was kept such a secret that it frequently came as a huge surprise to people that my hair was anything more than just slightly bouncy. I went through straighteners like no one's business!  For the last year or so though, I've been embracing my inner curly-girl, and occasionally cursing the fact that, actually, curls are a lot more work than straight hair!   And don't even talk to me about frizz ...

Anyhoo, I've about reached the end of my tether with my curls at the moment, so when the chance to review a Steampod Straightener from L'Oreal came up, I kind of leapt at it. Well, not kind of, actually leapt! The system - for it is a system - use both steam and keratin-enriched styling creams to infuse conditioning ingredients into the hair, before the ceramic plates seal the cuticles and straighten your hair.

Inside the rather imposing box are one pair of straighteners (which come complete with a comb attachment, which I love), one steam pod itself, one replenishing styling cream, and one smoothing serum.   The straightener and steam pod are attached to each other by a very sturdy wire, and the pod (which you must keep on a flat surface when in use, as it is full of water - the water chamber itself is removable for easy filling and emptying) comes complete with sucker pads to keep it in one place. 

You do NOT use this on wet hair.  You apply the styling cream to damp hair, and either blow- or air-dry until your hair is 100% dry, then, after applying a little of the protective serum to the ends, you then use the straighteners as you would any others.  Well, almost.  They're a little wider than normal straighteners and this is to encompass the row of steam nozzles (which only activate when the plates are pressed together), and the comb attachment below the heated ceramic plates.  You have to ensure that at all times the steam-holes are below the ceramic plates, so the steam infuses the creams first.  This can mean a bit of manouvering (especially around the back), but the set has arrows to show where the steam holes are - after a bit of practice, it's quite easy to remember.

The Steampod promises mirror-like shine at a lower temperature than a normal straightener, so does it deliver on that promise?  The first time I used these, no it didn't, actually.  I initially used mine at 180 degrees (I usually use my traditional straighteners at the highest  temperature, having learned the hard way that whilst my curls aren't the tightest, they are incredibly tenacious) and tried out the "normal" hair styling cream alongside the low temperature.  I found that my hair needed several passes with the straighteners to get straight, and even with a liberal application of the protective serum, the ends were still a bit frizzled, and, I admit, I was disappointed. Frizzy bits and hard work?  No thanks.

Nonetheless, I tried again (for it is not only my hair that is tenacious, at times), this time pushing the temperature up to maximum, as I am ordinarily wont to do, and this time using the replenishing cream for thick hair. I used it over wavy, air-dried hair, and the difference was amazing.  I won't go so far as to say my hair was mirror-shiny, but it was soft, shiny and straight, and best of all, felt like natural hair.  Sometimes I find that straightening my hair with a styling cream leaves my hair feeling slightly plastic-ky afterwards, and without an ability to bend naturally.  I didn't have this problem this time. Hair felt natural, and looked like naturally straight hair, rather than "ironed" hair. I loved the results, second time around.

Plus, it lasts.  The publicity for this states that it "can last up to three days" (emphasis mine) I've found that it does last at least that, and it has survived several bouts of rain this week too, both drizzle and proper stormy wind and rain without any permanent damage.  I'm impressed.   

So yes, there's a bit of a learning curve with this one, taking time to figure out the best positions to straighten your hair in, and figuring out which temperature works best for your hair (personally, I never put much stock in anything that says "styles at a lower temperature", because, frankly, my hair doesn't work that way) and making your choice of styling cream correctly in the first place - my hair isn't particularly thick, but there is a hell of a lot of it, and the ends of mine are bleached, to boot. I'd recommend anyone with anything but the very thinnest/finest of hair avoids the "fine/normal hair" cream, and just goes straight for the "thick/very sensitised" version.

All of which brings me around to the price.  It's £170 (though I have seen it for £143 on LookFantastic this weekend), which is a heck of a lot of moolah.  And then there are the creams/serums at £15 each to boot.  I can't deny that it's a lot of money.  A lot of money.  Do I think it's value for the money?  I'm  not sure, actually.  Yes, it's quicker than traditional straighteners (the combination of the steam, the comb, and the plates mean you can straighten more hair in each "grab" than with just ceramic plates), and yes, hair feels healthy and conditioned - once you get the balance right - afterwards, but £170?  I just don't know.  £143 (even though it is on offer), feels like a better price to me.  Mind, Cloud 9s retail at £130, and even GHDs cost over £100 these days, and I do feel like any of them would be an investment purchase, to be honest.

I tell what though, I have just bought backups of the creams and serums, because I can tell there's going to be a lot straighter hair in my future ... make of that what you will.  My GHDs were binned long ago, and my Cloud9s have been quietly gathering dust under the bed for over a year now. Has the Steampod replaced them?  Only time will tell, but I will be using it again this very evening ... 

The Fine Print: PR Sample

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Monday, 16 November 2015

Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette

Yawn, celebrity collaborations are so ovah, amirite?  Well, no, actually, I was so happy when this appeared on my doorstep last week that I actually did a little clap in the hallway.  I need to get out more, I know.  Now, I have to admit, that I'm not, particularly, a fan of Gwen Stefani (and I could name two, maybe, No Doubt songs, if I was pressed), but I do know her makeup style quite well, and I like it a lot.  Well, I would, as it is based on my own, being mostly neutral eyes, and a strong, bright lipcolour.  This palette encompasses that look beautifully - though you'll have to supply your own lipstick ...

The packaging is a great - strong graphic black and white, with antique gold edging, it's actually rather misleading in terms of the contents, for they are not as "in your face" as the box leads you to expect:

It's a palette of neutrals with a couple of pops of bright colours and a few deeps for lining.  It's skewed very pale, however, and, whilst this made my heart sing (all the Urban Decay Naked palettes have been either too warm, and/or dark for me - so I don't use any of them), it'll be a huge problem for a lot of warmer-toned, and darker-skinned people than me, I think.

There are mattes, shimmers, satins and glitters, nine neutrals (yay!), three deeps, three "pop" shades and if you're as pale as me, it'll make you very happy indeed.  I've seen a lot of talk on other websites complaining that it is "boring", but I think it's actually hugely versatile - and, it looks exactly how I would have expected, though I'd have thought there would have been more contour shades.  But, if you're pale, which I am, it's great.

Shades are:

Top Row (l-r)
Blonde - a very pale matte gold
Bathwater - pale shimmering wheat
Skimp - extremely pale peach
Steady - shimmering cool peach
Punk - matte blackened burgundy
Middle Row (l-r)
Baby - warm pale taupe
Anaheim - matte slightly-greyed flesh tone (my favourite!)
Stark - Matte peach
Zone - warm matte taupe
Serious - glittery dark grey

Bottom row (l-r)
Pop - glittery peach

Harajuku - cool baby-pink satin
Danger - dark blue satin

1987 - glittering green-gold

Blackout - soft black.

My sample came complete with a little card with four bubbles of "UD Gwen Stefani Lipstick" samples on, which I am - possibly - even more excited about than I am the eyeshadows!  There's no information re the lipsticks available, but the eyeshadow palette will be released on November 22nd, and will cost £40.  There's a waiting list you can put your name on for it on the Urban Decay website - I predict a sell-out very quickly.

The Fine Print: PR Sample

This post: Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette originated at: Get Lippie All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post at Get Lippie, then this content has been stolen by a scraper

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