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.

nakers!

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 appliqu├ęd 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

Huh

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.

But!

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

Mascaratest-Coup-de-Theatre-2-in-1_groot

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!

ist2_325481-container-of-spilt-raw-oats-on-table

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.