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 www.moneysavingexpert.com, 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 greenisboring.com'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!