Sunday, 2 August 2009

EOTD - yellow eyeshadow

Letting men have a say in makeup can result in some interesting outcomes - Specktra's Miss Pumpkin is one of the luckier ones. Wonky eyeliner, clown cheeks and Herman Munster brows are common results of amateur males let loose with traincases, if the livejournal communities I've browsed are anything to go by.

So when I asked my boyfriend what colour eyeshadow I should put on yesterday, I wasn't totally surprised when he pulled a mischevious face and said "Yellow!".

I'm not a piker though - it took about 10 minutes but I finally dug out my one yellow eyeshadow and got to work with it.


Here's what I used:

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
Ruby and Millie Eye Colour Yellow 220M
Illamasqua Yearn eyeshadow
MAC Fluidline (Blacktrack)
Maybelline Full'n'Soft mascara

Yellow eyeshadow - closeup of open eyes

I'm actually really pleased with this. (Apart from the wonky-looking eyeliner in the second picture - it was alright IRL.) The yellow brings out the green colour in my eyes, which I hoped it would. The green accent on the crease helps too.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Boots offer free store collection for online orders

EDIT - it seems that Boots have seen the error of their ways and are now offering collect in store free whatever size your order! Go to the Boots main page to see the new details.

Here's a thing - spend £25 on and you can have your bits and bobs delivered to your local store. Free of charge.

This is a definite improvement on their old system, where you had to pay the regular delivery charge for this service, however much you spent.

This is a good way of getting your Urban Decay, Clarins, Clinique, Too Faced etc. delivered to you locally for free if you don't have a counter nearby.

They could have lowered the minimum charge, but let's be honest, it's not difficult to think up ways to spend £25 in Boots now, is it?

Thursday, 23 July 2009

DIY Stila eyeshadow palette

[caption id="attachment_224" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="DIY Stila palette with pans"]DIY Stila palette with pans[/caption]

I found myself in the position of having more Stila shadows than I did slots in my Stila palettes. That's a pretty luxurious dilemma, I think you'll agree.

The reason is that I availed myself of the amazing £2.95 Stila Eyeshadow offer at BeautySpotCosmetics. They're selling Stila pans at £2.95 each, and you will receive a free palette when you order 6 or more shades. A lot of the colours are sold out now. I'm afraid that's partly my fault. Sorry.

In order to store my new bounty of shadows without displacing my existing ones from their palettes (I got greedy and ordered more than 6 at a time from BeautySpot), I decided to DIY my own palette using an old Boots 17 freebie one that had long been sitting disused at the bottom of my stash.

Read on to find out how I did it. (NB, it's not using magic.)

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Slap Happy - a common-sense UK beauty blog

Visit Slap Happy at

Modest MAC Haul - Seedy Pearl and Sumptuous Olive

[caption id="attachment_215" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Seedy Pearl and Sumptuous Olive eyeshadow pans"]Seedy Pearl and Sumptuous Olive eyeshadow pans[/caption]

Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat this week, falling victim to a more urgent but far less enjoyable demand on my time - huge numbers of job applications. However, a trip to MAC yesterday has put me back in touch with what is truly important in my life: Eyeshadow.

With the last of my store credit (left over from Christmas 2008 - never let it be said that I'm not thrifty sometimes), I picked up two permanent-line eyeshadows that have been softly purring my name.

Limited Editions have come and gone, but I remain convinced that most of MAC's best work resides in its permanent collection. That's why it's permanent I guess (although it's the LE stuff that tends to grab headlines). Passing over the warm shadows from Naked Honey and the Mineralize quads from Colour Craft (is it just me, or are these really sheer?), I picked out Sumptuous Olive, and Seedy Pearl. Two shadows that appeal to my long-standing love of all things duochrome.

Click through for swatches and descriptions.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Curl products: Tigi Catwalk Curls Rock, reviewed

bedhead-bottlesA few days ago I announced my intention to use and review some of the curly hair specific products gathering dust in my drawer. Summer's a good time to do this, since walking around with naturally-drying wet hair doesn't necessarily result in instant pneumonia and icicles hanging from one's forelock.

So - Curls Rock Shampoo, Conditioner and Curl Amplifier. There are more products in the range (Curl Booster and Leave-in Moisturiser, I believe) but this trio is what I'll be assessing for you today. Click through for a firm but fair appraisal - and a picture of my "rocked" curls.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The scent of yesterderday - Discontinued product nostalgia


I'll be frank with you - there is no stone I leave unturned when I'm looking for a bargain, and never more so than when it's a bargain of a beauty-product nature. I was thirsty the other day, and rather than pay £1 for a bottle of Evian, I nipped into nearby LIDL to get a 19p no-name-brand spring water instead. And while I was there, I thought I'd see if they had any beauty items worth nabbing.

Lo and behold, I found 400ml bottles of Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner at just £1.45 each. They had a mixture of new and old versions, so I picked up the "2nd gen" conditioner in "Hello Hydration" (that's the blue coconutty one), and for old times's sake, a bottle of the old pink rose-scented "Silk'n'Shine" shampoo.

A journey back in time was soon to commence...

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Wowza! Model's Own Neon PM trio, reviewed


When these neon bottles tumbled out of their jiffy bag onto the garden table, my housemate looked up from his laptop and said "What is that?? Is it makeup?"

Yes, it most definitely is!

Neon PM is one of several nail polish trio collections assembled by stylish new British cosmetics brand Models Own. The pink, green and highlighter-yellow shades are all available to buy individually for £5, while the trio together costs £12.

I'm reviewing all three of these brighter-than-bright polishes. Read on to find out if the result is dazzling or simply extreme...

Friday, 10 July 2009

Illamasqua in motion

I went across to Selfridges yesterday for a browse and paid a visit to beautiful Mika at the Illamasqua counter. He mentioned that the Youtube video I posted of my Illamasqua makeover has been getting a lot of notice, and so I thought I'd give it an official home on the blog.

This was a Makeup Lesson, one of Illamasqua's counter services. It's an hour long session with an Illamasqua artist, and it's all filmed on a DVD for you to take away at the end. What you see here is an hour's worth of footage, edited into a few minutes.

The Makeup Lesson costs £30, which is redeemable on products at the end of the session. There is also a Transformation session, which is a full-on makeover ideal for big nights out.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Juliette Has a Gun - a tale of two testers

On my left forearm - Juliette Has a Gun's fragrance "Miss Charming". A rosey-powdery confection of lacy subtlety and gentle blossom. Maybe a little cloying? Drying down, it gathers warmth, and a kind of bright, cheerful optimism. It's not quite right for me, but with skin chemistry to complement it this would be a sweet daytime scent for work and days out.

On my right forearm - Juliette Has a Gun's "Lady Vengeance". I should confess that it's already in the lead after one look at the label thanks to my fondness for Park Chan Wook's sophisticated and gritty thriller of the same name. Like the leading lady of this flick, the fragrance is dark and complex, with a spicy topnote peppering a cedary, burnished base with trailing tendrils of musk. It's ever so slightly rosey-sweet, too, like a distant cousin of "Miss Charming" perhaps, but definitely not a daytime scent. This is one for the evening, a scent to take out on the tiles.

Juliette Has a Gun is a niche perfume house that has been running since 2006, with an international following. There is a third "sister" to the two fragrances I mention here, "Citizen Queen". Find out more at juliettehasagun.comJuliette Has a Gun - Miss Charming and Lady Vengeance bottles

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Curls - a haircare challenge.


My hair is naturally curly, although many people I know would be surprised to hear it. Most days I straighten or blow-dry my hair into more-or-less straight submission. It's not that I don't like my curls, it's just that I've never been able to make them look presentable.

If I leave my hair to dry naturally, I get ringlets, but also frizz. And if I go to sleep, the next day I wake up with a matted mane of kinks and fluff.

It could be that I need to invest a bit more time and effort in styling my hair in order for it to form happy curls. Hairdressers have suggested mousse, serum and even gel spray... none of which I ever remember to bother with when I come out of the shower.

As a result, I've amassed a drawer full of curl-powering unguents that have been hardly touched. I decided that it was time to "choose or lose" among these languishing bottles and cans. Join me as I decimate my curling product collection and sort the good from the not-so-good... stay tuned.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

MAC Colour Craft is coming! (And they spelled it British style!)

Colourcraft lipglasses

Amid confused reports, it seems like the release date for MAC's limited edition Colour Craft collection in the UK will be JULY 13 according to VexInTheCity, who got it from the horse's mouth by calling her counter.

There's often a bit of fuzz around the exact time we'll be graced with the presence of new collections at different counters, so best to call your intended target up before you make any journeys. I'd call on Friday, as you never know your luck, it could be there early...

The pic above (reposted with thanks from shows the visually stunning lipglasses from the collection. We'll also see a new batch of Mineralize Blushes, 6 Mineralize Skinfinishes including the return of the much-coveted Porcelain Pink, and the first ever Mineralize eyeshadow quads.

The buzz around this collection is big, and I'm guessing the sell-out will happen within a few days.

Me though, I'm hanging on for Love Your Look, which will be released around autumn time. That collection has a repromote of Smoke and Diamonds eyeshadow, which I much regretted missing out on last time it was released. Obviously if I was richer I'd be picking up some of the swirling loveliness of Colour Craft too, but unfortunately for us (and fortunately for MAC perhaps), a person could go bankrupt keeping up with every desirable product this brand conceives.

Thursday, 2 July 2009



Are you warm enough there?

I don't think I've experienced heat like this in the UK since I was a little kid running under sprinklers in the heatwaves of the 1980s. It's truly Mediterranean, especially here in London where parks and streets are full of the sunburned, the shirtless and the be-shaded. 23 degrees feels like a distant idyllic memory.

If you're struggling to keep your cool, here are a few tips -

- Keep a spray bottle of water at your desk. A plant spray will do, or you could pick up a travel refill bottle from Boots or Superdrug. Spritz over your face and neck during the day to keep fresh. The water will evaporate, taking the heat with it.

- Do away with face powder and heavy foundation if you can. It'll simply slide off your face thanks to the extra sweating you'll do in the heat. Instead, use a light tinted moisturiser and make your concealer do the work. A solid creamy pencil format like Urban Decay 24/7 or Jelly Pong Pong's Nude and Improved will provide a long-lasting coverage.

- Invest in a fan. No, not an electric fan, but a simple cloth or paper fan that will slip into your handbag. It's an age-old way of providing relief from hot, humid conditions, helping to displace air and create a breeze around your face. Sweat evaporates faster, and your body heat is carried with it. It really does work. If you can find some acolytes to fan you with large palm leaves, even better.

- Drink water! The temptation is to head straight for the Magnums when the mercury reaches these heights, but a glass of water will do a better job of keeping you cool and comfortable, and is a more effective way to stay hydrated. Healthier too (although I'm in no way suggesting that Magnums don't have an important place in a balanced diet).

Stay cool, and enjoy the sunshine. Chances are it'll soon be grey again and we'll be longing for more golden rays.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Review and verdict - Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick.


Twelve hours have elapsed, and I am still wearing the Liquid Lipstick. I have eaten (including rich and oily Iranian pulauo, cinema popcorn, ice lollies), kissed, talked, and done quite a lot of checking in the mirror.

As you can see, the stuff is still here, 12 hours on, and Revlon are good as their word in this regard. It's looking a bit sparse in the centre of the lips, giving a hint of that charming end-of-evening "lip liner" effect. The colour is still pink, but has become matte and lost its sheen and shimmer. It's nice enough, but it's not quite the same as what I put on this morning.

The good news is that the tackiness went after the first couple of hours. During this initial period it was very sticky, and adhered quite keenly to my teeth a few times too. The lesson - apply this sparingly, because it is very slow to dry. Now that it has, it still feels kind of *there* on my lips, but it's not distracting or unpleasant.

All in all, I'd say this product is a great investment if you want a bold lip colour for a night out and don't want to risk smudging or having to reapply. One of the more vibrant shades like Top Tomato would be a good addition to your "once in a while" makeup shades. For more natural everyday shades, the plastickyness, tackiness and tooth-adherence mean that a regular gloss or lipstick would probably be easier and more enjoyable to wear.

Verdict - hard-working and good value, but stopping short of miraculous

On trial - Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick

Full Web 2.0 marks to Revlon for their integrated approach to product launching. The new Ultimate Liquid Lipstick is being offered free of charge to site visitors, in return for an online text or video review. The best reviewer wins the chance to blog exclusively for Revlon.


The product is worth £6.80, and claims to last for a full 12 hours, offering food-proof wear (I guess this means eating-proof) and a one-step application. It's the next step from those double-ended last-forever lipsticks that comprised one part plastic lacquer and one part clear gloss. I received "Premium Pink" (shade 010).

What's it like? Well, i'm wearing it now (see above). It's bright, shiny, feels slightly tacky on the lips (that'll be the "built in ultra-conditioning top coat"). Application is easy and quite satisfying - the high-pigment liquid just kind of slicks on and stays put after a moment's wait for drying. The formula is very "slippy", and has a vaguely plasticky smell to it.

My twelve hours has only just begun, and already I keep licking my lips and pressing them together to feel the tackiness. I've a feeling it's going to irritate me. We shall see...

Check back this evening to see my final verdict.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Review - Barry M Nail paint in Mint Green 304

Barry M Mint Green 304

Barry M's cool, kitsch mint green nail polish was a love at first sight thing for me. The colour brings to mind summer sundaes and sugary treats, but with a novel twist on the pinky-purply pastel norm. It set my sights on it when it was released a couple of months back. My covetousness was helped by the fact that it costs a mere £2.95, and that I got it as part of a 2 for £5 deal.

Application is a pretty average experience. The consistency is a little watery, although for this price, I'm not going to complain. With three coats, the colour achieves a satisfactorily opaque finish.

This is a shade that definitely needs a base coat - otherwise you risk a post-removal yellowy tint from the green dyes, and which looks anything but lovely. My solution is to put a coat of a pure white polish underneath. This protects your fingertips from staining and also adds a more opaque dimension, cutting down on the number of coats you need.

The end result is bright, but not garish, and pretty true to the shade you see in the bottle. Drying time is a bit of a drag - best to add a couple of coats of quick drying solution such as Sally Hansen's Insta-Dri topcoat over the finished nails.

Wear is good - I clocked up five days before I started seeing chips. Maybe due to the number of coats?

All in all, it's a great shade at a great price, with watery consistency being the only let-down. I'm happy with it for now, but if a more expensive brand released this shade in a more creamy, opaque consistency, I'd definitely trade up.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Lady Vengeance rocks red eyeshadow

Sorry for the lack of updates everyone. I've suddenly got an interview for an amazing job and I've been preparing like Billy-oh (whatever that means). It's been distracting me from the very important matter of writing about makeup. As of Monday, normal service will be absolutely resumed.

Here to keep you inspired is Lee Yeong-Ae, star of Park Chan Wook's Korean drama "Lady Vengeance". It's a great film, and wearing strong red eyeshadow without looking a) conjuncitval b) ill or c) like a zombie is a remarkable achievement too.

If you want to recreate this look, try a nude lip, defined brows, subtle blush, plenty of mascara and some kohl on the inner rim to set off your matte red shadow (Stargazer, H&M, Illamasqua and MAC all do one, choice depends on your budget). Amazing for green or blue eyes!


Monday, 15 June 2009

Cheaper high end makeup on the way?

Just a quick bulletin from the news desk (i.e. the picnic table in my garden, shaded by billowing Ikea sheets on the washing line). Colin aka Beauty Scientist flagged up this article on Twitter this morning -

Estee Lauder and other mega-corporations are looking to shift their buyer targets and incorporate cheaper items to their ranges

Estee Lauder owns Clinique, and also MAC, so this could be very good news indeed! Apparently this is a strategic move rather than a sale, so it won't be a dramatic thing. But we might expect products in smaller, more affordable package sizes, as well as more basic products being added to high end ranges.

Tesco Value Luxury French Moisturiser, anyone?

Sunday, 14 June 2009

My latest adventures in Superdrug - and this time, Boots too


Darting between raindrops, I found myself in the shelter of Superdrug the other day. It serves well as a haven from weather, but of course I quickly forgot about my reason for entering and started prowling the shelves. When I was done, I went next door and scoured Boots too. Here are my top finds from the highstreet's Big Two:

Sleek cosmetics have released another of their Divine eye palettes. My first experience with these was mixed, when the first one was released last year. Their shades are intense and vibrant, but also very prone to staining and smudging. I suspect the creaminess of the formulation has something to do with a heavy hand with the mineral oil or petrolatum at some stage of the production. Anyway, this new palette is called Acid, and it packs an unbelievable neon punch - the four colours in the centre are the real stars - yellow, green, orange and pink with a vibrancy to match any highlighter in your stationery cabinet. At £4.88, this has to be worth a look!

Another gratifying Superdrug 3 for £9.99 deal from Barry M is made all the sweeter by a selection of new Dazzle Dusts to choose from. Teal, Parrot Green, Gold, Dark Chocolate are just a few of the new intense, deep shades on offer. The star of the show for me has to be Petrol Black. A black base with a blue/green/violet iridescent top note. It's like the old version of Urban Decay's Oil Slick has come back from the grave but with even better payoff. I'd love to wear this one packed on over primer for a recklessly OTT going-out look.

Meanwhile over in Boots, the 17 revamp continues apace with some eye-catching new false lashes. Pictured is "Punk" - a black/purple combo that I can imagine looking fantastic paired with the Petrol Black eye look I just described. I don't know how these wear or what the build quality is like, but again they cost less than £5, so I wouldn't begrudge them if they lasted just one evening.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Cult items and LE value - the "Parrot" phenomenon


Do you remember the eyeshadow that cost more than your monthly Council Tax? It was called Parrot, by MAC. And it wasn't released costing outrageous sums... in fact when it came out it cost a pretty standard price for a high-end eyeshadow - the same as the rest of the MAC line. It was buyers who were willing to pay £50 or more for it that set the bar so high.

Mineralized Skinfinishes Petticoat and Shooting Star experienced similar hype, as did taupe/mauve/silver eyeshadow Moth Brown. It's not just MAC products that achieve cult status, although the MAC propensity for LE collections certainly lends itself to the phenomenon. This summer's radiant Brights eyeshadow palette by Bobbi Brown sold out at lightning speed and now changes hands for substanial sums on eBay.

These are lovely and versatile products, and their value as beauty tools is without question. However, sheeny cheekbones and jewelled lids can be achieved without them. In fact, the benefits of all the products mentioned above can be replicated for less money using products or combinations of products with lower prices that are readily available on the high street.

There's a deeper phenomenon at play: Kudos. Cachet. Exclusivity. These products are not just prized for their ability to make you look lovely - in fact, they're more highly valued when they've never even been opened. They're coveted because of the edge of kudos they carry with them. Collectors of LE items aren't just buying a beauty product. They're buying membership into an exclusive club with limited membership, allying themselves to the glamour and fascination that has amassed around products and brands.

Some people choose their products because they want to be unique, to have tools to express their artistry and to be bold in conveying their own personality. Then, at the other end of the scale are the extreme collectors, those who want to adopt a piece of someone else's vision of what is lovely, charismatic and bold. They seek to follow, not to lead.

I'm not sure which of these categories I fall into. Like most beauty junkies, I think I'm a bit of both. The urge to collect is natural, especially when you gain so much enjoyment and satisfaction from using the products. You want more of the same. But I think the huge prices and the tendency to preserve items "BNIB" is a shame. If you don't use the products, you're not doing them, or yourself justice. You're simply following the crowd.

It's interesting that the product at the most extreme point of this phenomenon has the name "Parrot" - following the hype to that extent is a kind of mimicry not often seen outside the jungle.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Read all about it!


This month's women's magazines bring a bumper crop of high-end beauty freebies.

July's Glamour magazine (from June 4th - why do magazines do that?) comes with a 4g sample of BadGAL mascara by Benefit. The sample is worth £9, but the magazine costs just £2. And you get something to read on the bus. Nice.

This month's Harper's Bazaar (£3.99) comes with three samples of cult (and extremely expensive) Nude skin products. Once you've sampled, take the backing card from the sachets to SpaceNK to claim a free Nude skin oil vial worth £15.

Finally, Red magazine are offering a free black and white makeup bag by Cowshed to tempt you.

(tip-offs from, with many thanks!)

Monday, 8 June 2009

Alli - the mechanics of fat elimination are less than beautiful


"And what happens to the fat?" I ask.

"Well, it's naturally... it..." says the Alli rep, looking a bit uncomfortable.

"It's eliminated from the body in the usual way" I finish for her, rolling my hands and nodding complicitly. She smiles, relieved.

I'm in Boots, and I'm at the Alli promotional stand chatting to the rep there about the mechanics of the latest word in weight-loss. And we just got down to the crux of the matter.

Alli is an over-the-counter diet drug that stops some of the fat from your diet being absorbed into your body tissue. It can result in 50% extra weight-loss when combined with a recommended low-fat diet. You knew that, didn't you, because it's been marketed all over the UK with massive campaigns and in-store sales drives.

What you might not have known is that Alli is actually a weaker dose of a prescription drug, Orlistat (Xenical), that has been available from GPs as a treatment for obesity for several years.

Orlistat/Alli causes some of the fat you eat to be bypassed by the body and deposited by the digestive system - "in the usual way". It might make "the usual way" a bit
unusual, without going into details, but it should be manageable, provided you stick rigidly to your low-fat diet.

If you don't stick to your low-fat diet, you might experience some very unpleasant changes to your "usual way", including diarrhoea, uncontrollable flatulence, and in worst cases, incontinence.. Some users have even reported these horrifying effects when using Alli correctly, especially at the start of treatment. If you want more details, here's a link to Liv from's account of the Alli "treatment effects" (not recommended for the squeamish).

I had another question for my rep - "Is Alli selective about the type of fats it blocks? Is it only saturated fats? What about oil-soluble vitamins, Omega 3's and the like?"

For that we had to consult the pharmacist, who advised that no, Alli is not selective. Your good fats, your bad fats - the blocking effect applies to everything fatty, so if you're taking a lipid-based supplement like Evening Primrose or Cod Liver Oil, you might well be flushing some of the beneficial effects of that down the pan too.

It's clear that Alli could help you if you're sticking religiously to a low-fat diet and want an extra helping hand to cut down the amount of fat going into your body (or a hell of a motivation not to stray from your diet). But do be aware - it's not a magic pill, and it needs serious commitment, otherwise your results could be dramatic - in all the wrong ways.

Alli is available from chemists nationwide.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Review - Illamasqua Sirens nail polish in "Muse"

Illamasqua's Muse nail polish

Now normally, nail polish isn't something I splash out on. Polish is polish, I tend to think, and I buy Barry M, Boots 17, or Bourjois. I expect them to chip in a couple of days. That's OK, then I get to try a new colour.

I'm colour-driven. I'm only lured out of my budget habits by the most exquisite shades or unusual duochrome finishes. (More about my love of duochrome in another post). Muse leapt out at me from Illamasqua's display for its totally unique hue - it's a pure, solid petrol blue/teal. Deep turquoise. A very warm toned blue, if you like. A kind of faded, but vivid teal, like the flank of a gorgeous old car. I've never seen anything quite like it in a nail polish - so I pounced.

The picture above doesn't really do the exact hue justice - for a truer representation, here's Illamasqua's own depiction of the shade.

The bottle is square glass with a glossy black plastic lid, and the brush is pretty typical - it's not a flattened brush or anything, it's pretty old-school, but it works. The colour inside is a medium consistency, smooth, not runny and not goopy. It goes on easily, and the pigment is very intense. Total, opaque glossy coverage in two coats. Drying time is quick as a result.

The lasting power is positively other-wordly (as is fitting for the Sirens theme). A week later, I still have glossy, perfect petrol-blue nails that look great with a surprising number of different outfits.

This is nail polish in another class - and I will be more than happy to invest in other Illamasqua shades, for colour, but also for the divine finish and application and the phenomenal lasting power.

Muse is limited edition with Sirens, which is the first ever Illamasqua LE collection (there will be 2 collections each year). It costs £12.50 from Illamasqua

Friday, 5 June 2009

Primark has the style, but how's the substance?


Whew - welcome to the new domain. I've been so busy fiddling with it I almost forgot to post. I think I thought I was a web designer. A really really bad web designer.

So - The mighty Primark, "cheap and cheerful" as my mum calls it. Maybe not so cheerful if you've been keeping up with media coverage. (Worker exploitation and child labour allegations. A big problem, by no means exclusive to Primark, the whole high street is full of unethically sourced clothing. But I'm here to talk about the makeup today.)

Primark has stocked a line of makeup called "Opia" for a few years now. It's very cheap, naturally. It's not the greatest quality, but there are a lot of colours available so it's probably an attractive option for teens and the budget-conscious. They also have some bath and body products with packaging that's very similar to the infinitely-more-lovely (and more expensive) Philosophy range.

Now it seems, Penneys (Primark's parent company) are driving further into the cosmetic market with a new range of funky-looking slap bearing a kind of 50s pop-art theme reminiscent of Benefit's look and feel.

There's concealer, eyeshadow, liner, mascara, blush, compacts and lipgloss, all with a kind of Lichtenstein look to them. They have cute tongue-in-cheek names too, like many of the expensive cult brands.

I got as far as the till with a handsome looking "9 and a half winks" black mascara, before checking the product information on the back. There's something missing - and it's a line that goes something like "Product and ingredient not testing on animals".

If that information is missing from the product information, it's probably because animal testing has gone on. I don't know for sure, but I don't want to risk it. I put the mascara back. It was £2.

They did have some nice handbag-sized mirrors though, which (unless I'm missing something) are pretty certain to be cruelty free.

EDIT - I've done a little research on Beautiful Colour Cosmetics there, and found the policy documents of Swallowfield, who produce the range. There's a clause in their Ethical Policy - well, here:
"b) There must not be any testing or commissioning of tests of finished products or raw
materials on animals."

So it seems they don't test the products or the ingredients on animals after all, which is a happy result. Still, glad I checked!

Friday, 29 May 2009

Stila - the next generation! Indian Summer is released

stila indian summer 2009

Cosmetistas (and fashionistas) everywhere shed a tear when it looked like Stila would be joining the great train-case in the sky. Earlier in the year, there were ominous rumblings that the brand was going into administration. Franchises were shut and stock was liquidated world-wide – it looked like the bell had well and truly tolled for this chic, fresh, flirty brand.

But in a dramatic reversal of fortunes, Stila and its cartoon damsels were rescued by Patriarch Partners LLC, an investment company who will hopefully help continue the Stila success story for many more chapters. Malaysian blogger plusizekitten has done her homework – she tells the full story here.

In the meantime, the first collection since the takeover has been released in the USA, and it looks absolutely delectable. Named Indian Summer, the collection's theme is gold – real gold, Au, that one really heavy shiny element. The 24k golden noir smudgepot, 24k lipgloss, charmed eyeshadow quad and tinted moisturiser are all infused with genuine 24 carat gold. There's also a brand new shade of old Stila favourite Convertible Colour in – continuing the floral theme of yore – Marigold. The look for the collection is jewel tones, warm shimmer and smouldering nude lips.

Bring it to Britain Stila!

Bargain of the day! Stila cheek colour £2.95

stila blush

Stila's recent brush with death has led to a lot of bargains appearing online. It's like when Pout went kaput, only with a happy ending. Aww. Whatever the story, the quality of the items is undisputed, so it's definitely worth keeping your weather eye out for Stila treasure.

Today, BeautySpot Cosmetics have a limited number of Stila cheek colour pans on sale. They are being offered at the extraordinary price of £2.95 each. AND - if you buy 4 or more, you get a free silver 4-pan palette to house them in.

There are only a handful in stock, so get there quick to avoid disappointment!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Illamasqua Selfridges gift set - a future collector's piece?

centenary nail polish set

For Selfridges' 100th anniversary, limited edition items in the signature yellow hue have been produced by everyone from Moleskine to Coca-Cola. As the newest and brightest addition to Selfridges' Beauty Hall, it figures that Illamasqua would be joining the party. They have created a limited edition gift box containing both the black shade "Boosh", and a centenary special edition yellow called "Self".

It costs £25 - the same price as two nailpolishes from the regular line. Only 200 sets have been made. With Illamasqua's reputation rapidly climbing, and the added prestige of the Selfridges' connection, this is probably a wise investment for collectors.

However, I doubt if many people could manage to stop themselves from using the vivid yellow before it matured to collectible status!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Protect and Perfect Intense vs. Ben Goldacre

protect and perfect intense

Clinically proven Protect and Perfect Intense serum is the product of the moment at Boots. An aggressive marketing drive and the claim of scientific proof has piqued the interest of the media and the public, with customers queueing outside stores to get to the goods. I'm pleased to see that it's also caught the interest of seasoned science-bullshit-eradicator Ben Goldacre, of the Guardian.

Ben points out that the exceptional nature of the trial isn't the results - which prove only that P&PI works better than placebo, but rather the fact that a cosmetics company has trialled their product under lab conditions. Most don't. Here's the article at Bad Science, Ben Goldacre's blog.

We spend millions on skincare products with exotic ingredients, often on the strength of marketing alone. With creams costing £100 and over, it does seem kind of strange that intelligent, otherwise shrewd people will buy into pure marketing without a shred of proof.

Should we be demanding more from our skincare?

The sad fact is that if every product were lab tested, we'd probably come up with a truth that nobody wants to face: They don't really work very well. I.e. you ARE going to get old, and you ARE going to lose your looks.

The myth of miracle creams is one that we'd all like to buy into - the promise of a magical loophole that will keep us young forever. If cold hard science is there to tell us that isn't true, we kind of lose our hope. Perhaps we'd rather spend huge amounts of money and keep the possibility that just maybe, there's a product that can grant us a little bit of immortality.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Illamasqua again - and some naked guys.

I was back at the Illamasqua counter in Selfridges today. (I am lured there like a dizzy bumblebee.) I happened to choose one of the evenings this month where Selfridges stages their "Beauty 100" event. This seemed to involve DJs, people with champagne flutes, a brief appearance by celebtritress Rachel Stevens, and the startling descent of several male models clad only in yellow underpants from the upper escalator. Lucky I had my camera.


This is by the by, of course.

It reminded me that I hadn't written up my last visit to Illamasqua, and my ongoing fascination with this rather wonderful newborn brand.

Read my account of an Illamasqua close encounter...

Get Baked by Urban Decay - when do we get it??

Get Baked - mmm.

It's a new Urban Decay palette! It's out in the States, and has been for about 2 months! It has ALL the Baked shades - Baked, Twice Baked, Half Baked! And... it has a baby-sized version of the new Sin Primer Potion. That's UDPP, friends, but with shimmer. Goodness me.

OK, calm. This palette has not yet been released in the UK as far as I know, but no doubt it will be with us soon enough. It's the same 4-pan format as the Foreshadow palette from last year, but in place of the brush it contains a mini 24/7 liner in Bourbon. Interestingly, it also has a shade in common with Foreshadow - the sublime electric teal Flipside.

For those unable to wait to have their curiosity sated, Christine at Temptalia brings us a characteristically thorough review. With swatches. Yum.

Click for more images.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

M&S Penny Bazaar invites consumer frenzy!

Apologies for the break in posting guys. Here's a brief update with some breaking news. It's not strictly beauty related but I reckon you might be interested. Instore tomorrow and until the end of this week, Marks and Spencer will be staging their 125th anniversary celebrations with a remarkable promotion. It's called "Penny Bazaar", in homage to their roots as a penny-goods stall. As the name suggests - goods for a penny.

For three days only, you can pick up items for just 1p each from the special anniversary display. Sadly we're not talking dresses, coats and bottles of champagne, but there are some sweet-looking items on the list including jewellery sets, knickers, luggage tags and men's ties. Customers will be limited to 5 items each, and I believe they're expecting some mighty queues and throngs! Stake out your store early and you'll also receive entry into a prize draw to win £12,500.

"This is money" has the full list of goods. Marks and Sparks haven't publicised this on their site, but an email announcement went out this evening to their mailing list.

Friday, 15 May 2009

The talons of fantasy - Nfu-Oh

Enfu-Oh is a Korean nail artist on a mission. Her mission is to make the most remarkable, unusual, exceptional and downright weird nail art the world has ever seen. Or at least that's what you might conclude after a visit to her site.

nfu-oh front page

Claws filed to pinprick points, exquisitely hand-painted and appliquéd in the most baroque detail. Forget opening a can with these nails - you could stop traffic just by lifting a finger.

There's small but growing buzz around the web about Enfu's brand, Nfu-Oh, in particular the multi-faceting sparkling polish she makes. It's not directly available to us in the UK, though if you were near her Seoul-based salon it would certainly be worth a visit. The polish can be ordered from overseas at the moment, and sometimes filters through onto UK eBay.

nfu bottles

Nfu-Oh's work is global and spans the whole discipline of nail art, but it's those kaleidoscopic polishes in their cute corset-shaped bottles that I've got my eye on. Some shades are a translucent base colour with fine leaf foil and glitter, some are holographic metallics that mesmerise in bright light.

I'm planning to track a couple of shades down through eBay. You'll hear more if I do. In the meantime, why not visit the blog of Nfu-Oh's main distributor in Asia for a bit of inspiration?

Thursday, 14 May 2009


I just learned that Johnson and Johnson, who make my much-loved Aveeno body lotion (which I mentioned here in my Oatmeal Post), still test on animals.

Their US site issues a statement that they treat their animals as humanely as possible and test only to comply with FDA regulations for the testing of new ingredients. However I feel that there are plenty of non-new ingredients they could be using in their beauty products. That don't need to be tested on animals.

I present to you a more expensive but also more ethical oaty alternative - Neal's Yard Remedies Calendula and Oat lotion. I think this is the one I'll be using in future.

Fill your Boots! 17's rebrand freebies

17 freebie

You may have seen my previous post about the Boots 17 rebrand. The high street favourite has been vamping up its look of late.

It's also been having one of its wonderful spend-£5-get-a-gift promotions. These are run every few months, with generous gifts usually including at least one full size product. Not only are the promotions amazing value, the freebies often come in fantastic limited edition packaging. In the past they have tied in with designer collaborations like the Eley Kishimoto and Antoni and Allison collections.

The latest is something of a rush job in comparison to past gifts - it's a wildlife-print box filled with pink tissue and containing 3 items from the 17 range - nail polish, lip gloss and loose power eyeshadow.


Each gift contains different, random shades of the three products, meaning that you can do this deal as many times as you like and still get new and different gifts each time.

Doesn't take a genius to work out that this might have something to do with getting the stock from before the rebrand out of the way - all the items in the gift are in the old packaging.

Still, can't look a gift horse in the mouth when you're looking at a buy 2 get 3 free deal!

If you're in store (you might be having a nose at the fanfared new Protect and Perfect Intense serum, for example), you could do worse than pick one of these deals up.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

My latest adventures in Superdrug


Field-notes from my latest prowl around the pink-bannered aisles.

  • Revlon are looking to revive the matte colour trend with a range of matte eyeshadows, lipsticks and blush. However, I'm reminded that Urban Decay's matte shadow range is now doing the rounds on eBay for pennies, and MAC's Matte2 collection didn't really make waves either. It's hard to work this look on eyes without perfect priming and a total lack of wrinkles. My money would be on the lipsticks, which come in several very wearable-looking shades. The four that I tested are still clinging happily to the back of my hand. The items cost between £5 and £10 each.

  • Barry M release new shades of nail polish including acid yellow, block orange and a gorgeous pastel mint green. The latter is the one on my shopping list - I haven't found a good one since my dear old Agnes B "Mint Milk" dried up into a goopy ooze years ago. Nail paints are £2.95 each, and there are frequent multi-buy deals here and at Boots.

  • Bourjois finally get with the programme and bring us Coup de Theatre in a single-wand version. I.e. a fibre-enriched lengthening mascara that doesn't take the sort of chicanery guaranteed to make you late for work if you attempt it in the mornings. The tube looks pretty good - an elegantly tapered vial with eye-catching stripes, and at £9-ish is at least £1 cheaper (RRP) than the original double-ended version. The brush has been upgraded to a rubber flexi-type one as used in Maxfactor's Masterpiece. It's not online at the moment, but it's right there on the shelf I promise. I'll be buying and bringing you a review of this once I finish my much-loved Liner Effect mascara, also by Bourjois.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Mmm, oatmeal!


A great product for dry skin should be moisturising, but not too oily. It should soften the skin but not smother it.

I've had real trouble finding a product that delivered the right level of skin-nurturing without turning my bod into an uncomfortable oil-slick.

*drumroll*... Until now!

The value of oatmeal was first revealed to me when I started using Lush's Ceridwen's Cauldron bath melt. it's a solid chunk of oatmeal and shea butter (among a cornucopia of other fragrant Lush-typical naturals) that slowly melts in the bath, releasing beautiful scent and turning the water into a softening milky soup of dematological joy. It comes wrapped in a muslin cloth that by the end of your bath has become, well, a bag of porage.

You rub this over your skin for mild exfoliation and extra moisture - the oats themselves release a smooth, proteiny substance that sits on the skin and reinforces the moisturising effect of the bathe.

Noticing how much nicer my skin felt after one of these, I began to use Aveeno body lotion - a very reasonably priced high street line with colloidal oatmeal as the active ingredient. It's the non-sticky, effective body lotion I'd been looking for, and so much the better for costing less than £5 per tube!

It's early days, but I'm already feeling much more confident in revealing my erstwhile flaky bits come summer thanks to the two products above. Less confident about the weather, but hey, can't have everything, right?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

A note on the bigger picture

A question niggles. Do I fly in the faces of my feminist foremothers by writing about girly facepaint?

Makeup is a girly pursuit. Maybe the girliest there is. It's about pretty colours and packaging, and it's about let's pretend and make-believe. Sparkle and shimmer. It's about having your own special box of magic tricks that transform you into someone else.

Someone with bigger eyes and more flawless skin and brighter softer lips - i.e. someone who fits very properly into the shackled and neutered sexist horror-show that culminates in crap like "Mow The Lawn" (which incidentally has now caused Wilkinson Sword products to be banned from my bathroom).

Wait though, no. I come from enlightened liberal stock, don't it? My radar is well-tuned to the plight of the downtrodden and the throb of the bleeding heart. I've read my "Female Eunuch" and "Our Bodies Ourselves". I know that shaving my legs (plucking my eyebrows, concealing my pustules and indeed wearing a bra rather than burning it) is a matter of choice. I have a relationship with a man whose appreciation doesn't fluctuate if they (the legs) are shaved or not and I know that's the way it should be.

Does that mean I can't appreciate the lure of a beautifully packaged palette of eyeshadows, and the escapist glamour of a new colour collection? Is this some Girl Power hypocrisy, a vacuous denial of everything that went before?

I know it's make-believe. I know it's just a game, dressing up, making pretty fantasy out of the kind of reality that hasn't eaten or slept as well as she should have and is looking a little jowly there after too many takeaways maybe.

I know it's not ME. I know it's not who I am. I know it comes off with cotton wool and cold cream. It's a hobby, not a measure of self-worth. If it's a mask, it's a temporary masquerade - and the real face behind it is no secret, and has nothing to hide.

Just so you know who you're talking to here.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Illamasqua brings dark seduction to the UK scene

A new brand with a new style has blown in on the winds of economic change. Brushing aside the vintage cute, the clinical minimalist and the edgy urban styles that currently populate the department store counters, Illamasqua draws on something much more timeless and dramatic - themes of sex, death, theatre, myth and fantasy. It's not quite Goth, it's not quite burlesque and it's not quite special effects.

What it is without doubt is a beautiful range of high-quality cosmetics from a new UK brand bursting with character and innovation.

With the four doctrines of Bite (lips), Scratch (nails), Pierce (eyes) and Lure (face), Illamasqua creates a world of colour and texture to help you express "your alter ego".

Illamasqua is currently being rolled out at counters across the UK, including Selfridges in Oxford Street and Manchester, and BTs in Dublin.

You can call your nearest counter to book an hour long makeup lesson or "Transformation" makeover at the hands of an Illamasqua artist. The cost is redeemable against products from the range. If you're tempted to take a walk on the wild side and discover your inner desires, Illamasqua might be a good place to start exploring.

Friday, 10 April 2009

A breather - new packaging and shades for Boots 17

I've started a hectic new job, and though there has been little time to update, I have been making a little corner of me-time here and there by scouting for beauty treasures when I go to buy my lunch.

Imagine my delight at seeing that national treasure of a beauty stalwart Boots 17 reincarnated with new packaging and shades.

A primary rainbow punch has been added to the Fast Finish and Lasting Fix nail polish ranges. Grey, azure, royal blue, sunshine yellow, bright white - think Barry M or Rimmel's latest offerings.

There are also some additions to the lip and eye colour ranges, with new shade names like Socialite and Chilli Fire.

Rounded sans-serif font has taken a back seat in favour of a more glam, Too-Faced style typesetting on the packaging. There's also a bold, modern look to the small-print on the bottom of lipstick tubes and the back of bottles.

The new look has taken 17 a step further from its workaday teenage roots and into the more edgy/glamorous frame set by some of the more funky premium beauty brands. I sense the benign influence of Too Faced, Urban Decay and Hard Candy at work here.

My little brain registered these details and impressions during a ten-minute snatched tryst with the beauty aisles in Boots yesterday. You can find out more for yourself at your local branch. Unfortunately the new styling hasn't made an appearance online yet, but if Piccadilly Circus is anything to go by, the products are right there on the shelves now.

What's more, you can try one of the new nail polish shades gratis when you buy any other product.

Go go, look look, and enjoy!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

A beautiful Seoul


Last summer I visited South Korea. Aside from the many amazing sights and sounds in Seoul, Busan, Andong and on the road between, one of the things I found most intriguing was the beauty culture.

In the centre of Seoul is a shopping district called Myeongdong - something akin to Japan's Harajuku or London's Covent Garden or Brick Lane - a handful of downtown blocks brimming with youth, fashion, crowds, energy and style. It's not the only place of note for beauty locations, but it has everything that characterises the Korean beauty scene, and has it in spades. It's here I went to explore inside the storefronts that had been tempting me ever since I stepped out of the airport.

There are several large beauty chains in Korea, and they are clearly big business, with stores in all major malls and high streets. They're frequented by women of all ages, clustering like happy bees around the amazing variety of shades and finishes available for eyes, lips, face and nails. A good example is Etude House. It's a beauty brand that unreservedly embraces the Asian trend of CUTE.

Packaging that's baby pink and adorned with sparkle and curlicued styling, store fittings to match. Their locations are more like scaled-up Barbie houses than shops, each a garish profusion of pink, sugary cuteness. And most remarkably of all to my English eyes, used to comparatively staid and traditional Boots and Superdrug, are the staff, dressed in pink frills with candy-striped stockings, cheeks lurid with blusher. They stand at the door holding out baskets lined with sample sachets and freebies to tempt you in. You have to make a minimum spend to keep the treats, of course.

There's also Skin Food, something like Lush or the Body Shop but with the usual Korean rainbow of nail polish and eyeshadow shades. On buying a few things to bring home, I received an amazing fistful of samples from the sales assistant who maybe took pity on my lack of Korean language skills. My windfall included a baffling array of "natural" unguents - broccoli sun cream with SPF 42? Peach Saké Pore Serum? Mmm.

Another big player is The Face Shop, which has a slightly more clinical, grown-up aura to it but still puts on an impressive show of cosmetics, face and body care, nail polish, masks and treatments. Going by the folks I visited, there seem to be few women in Korea without a few Face Shop products on their bathroom or bedroom counters.

The best thing about Korean beauty shopping, apart from the amazing variety of new brands, colours and trends, was the price. It's no wonder Korean women are so gorgeously groomed, with big chains providing quality cosmetics at pocket-money prices. A high-quality, well pigmented eyeshadow costs just a few thousand won (1000W= about 50p), with nail polish from as little as 2000W.

It's part of a bigger theme I sensed during my visit - a strong interest in looking good and making a statement through that. Women can often be seen unselfconsciously checking their appearance in the full-length mirrors near the ticket barriers in the underground. Men too, seem to be part of this climate of aesthetics, and are happy to join their female contemporaries in the Sephora-like beauty emporiums found throughout the capital. My Korean friend and host, a 24 year old guy, was able to direct me to the makeup shops and even browse with me, advising on shades and trying the testers on his hand.

I left Korea with a lot of new ideas, memories, and additions to my makeup bag. There's infinitely more to the place than makeup, but if you do visit, be sure to give at least an afternoon over to some serious cosmetic browsing.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Sights (that should be) unseen

Spotted in Tottenham Court Road Boots - a girl using the tester mascara at the Too Faced fixture to make up her eyes.

Surely everyone knows by now that you should NEVER share mascara, let alone use one that is avilable to all and sundry?

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Cor! Branded train cases by Urban Decay.

Browsing the US Urban Decay website's "New" section, I noticed something exciting - a metal-framed traincase with UD logo and two choices of skull patterning. I can't see any pictures of the interior, but presumably there are shelves and trays like in your regular train case (or if you're me, in your makeshift LIDL fishing tackle box). I like the grey one best.

Here they are.

Presumably these will also come to the UK. I will post again if I hear more.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Review - MAC Studio Sculpt

[caption id="attachment_15" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Studio Sculpt lines up for inspection"]Studio Sculpt lines up for inspection[/caption]

This was the week I finally bit the bullet and spent my Christmas MAC voucher. I elected to visit the Covent Garden branch (NB - MAC's gift vouchers are only redeemable in free-standing stores, not in department store concessions or online). One of the items in my sights was the new Studio Sculpt foundation from the Well Defined collection.

The general noises made online are that Studio Sculpt is a love it or hate it product. Some find it cakey, heavy and comedogenic. Others love the gel-based formula and medium buildable coverage. I was attracted by the addition of SPF 15, the easy application, and the packaging - a squeezable toothpaste-type tube with a wide screw cap and a precise nozzle. (At £22 a go, it's nice to know you won't be wasting any product.)

Isn't there something about the light in MAC stores? Something at once halogen-bright and candlelight deep. Maybe it's tungsten bulbs or maybe just the aura of cosmetic prestige. I don't know. But it makes everything look just a little more intense and perfect than it actually appears on the grey British street outside.

For this reason I enlisted the help of one of the makeup artists in choosing my shade of Studio Sculpt. There's a great range to choose from - the usual gamut from porcelain to espresso, with warm, cool and neutral casts catered for. My shade was NC15, and it was applied deftly by my makeup artist with a foundation brush. Out on the street, a hand mirror confirmed that the shade was spot on and the coverage thorough but happily natural-looking.

At home, I replicated the matte, smooth effect easily enough with fingertips, and was pleased to find that it lasted all day and wasn't too prone to transferring onto collar, gloves and other nearby fabric items. As a not-at-all-morning person I'm not a great wearer of foundation, preferring to just conceal and run out of the door. However with coverage good enough to stand alone without powder or concealer, I could definitely see this becoming a habit.

Verdict - a versatile foundation with plenty of coverage and easy wear

See and buy at

High Street beats MAC - liquidlast-style eyeliners.

[caption id="attachment_6" align="alignnone" width="421" caption="It's OK, it comes off with oil-based cleanser!"]It's OK, it comes off with oil-based cleanser![/caption]

Anyone who's ever tried MAC's Liquidlast eyeliners will know exactly what I mean when I say that you CAN have such a thing as too much staying power.

The range was released in the summer of 2006, with the flagship shade Aqualine, a stunning gold-pearled bright teal, featuring prominently on advertising and in magazine pages.

Liquidlasts are eyeliner with a psychotic degree of staying power. They cling to your lids (and oh yes - lashes, fingertips, and anywhere else you accidentally get them) with the tenacity of a desperate ex-girlfriend. They are bright, beautiful, steadfastly reliable, and on the other side of the coin, pretty much impossible to remove without surgery.

The nub of the matter appears to be in the formula. The Fluidlines are not water soluble like regular liquid liners, nor oily or waxy like pencil liners. They aren't vulnerable to tears or body heat. Instead, the pigments are suspended in some kind of acrylic polymer, in the same vein as Blinc mascara with its little non-smudge tubes. Unlike Blinc, however, they're not removable with warm water and a little pressure. Instead, you need a lot of oil or oil-based remover, cotton wool and patience.

So MAC went in on the polymer-liner attack with all guns blazing, to mixed acclaim. Since then, however, the high street brands appear to have been getting their chemists on the case, and both good old Boots No. 7 and Superdrug-franchised Danish colour-fiends GOSH have developed Liquidlast-a-like products at very modest prices.

Best of all, they both seem to have toned the formula down for ease of use. Having tried both brands' offerings, I can confirm that both GOSH Extreme Artliner(not yet online) and No. 7 Stay Perfect Eyeliner are smoother and less goopy to use than Liquidlast, dry out less quickly in the tube, and best of all, offer a window of opportunity for tidying up application errors with a cotton bud before they set into the rock-hard steadfastness you bought them for. You can take them off with any oil-based remover, and they take a lot less work than Liquidlasts to eradicate when you've finished your Amy Winehouse impression.

Colour-wise, No.7 are offering a range of five shades in metallic colours from white-gold to royal blue (no black however - they missed a trick there). GOSH have a broader range with a spectrum of brights, basic black, browns and bronze shades. Both have produced a dupe of blazing teal Aqualine, and pretty convincingly too.

GOSH currently have a 3 for 2 offer across the range at Superdrug. And Boots are currently offering one of their lovely free gifts when you spend £18 on No. 7.

So if you've ever fancied having eyeliner that stays on without smudging, creasing, running, or generally misbehaving, or if you've tried Liquidlast and found it a little too zealous, give these babies a go.