Sunday, 31 July 2011

It Shouldn't Happen to a Beauty Blogger

This is a cautionary tale and if you're squeamish you probably won't want to read on! There's nothing beautiful here and there are a lot of naked face pictures.....

I know why it isn't sensible to pick spots. I really do but when faced with a large and painful cystic spot it can be hard to do the right thing. The particular spot in question was just to side of my eyebrow. I put treatments on it but couldn't resist a fiddle. I soon regretted it when I woke up to a swollen face!

Initially, I hoped it was just fluid that would drain away. It looked a bit like an extreme version of puffy morning eyes. When it didn't disappear after a couple of hours, I knew I was deluding myself and that I had actually forced the infection from the spot down in to the tear duct and racing around my face. I rang the doctors, got an appointment with the nurse and when the she brought in the doctor, I had to answer yes to the "have you been picking" question. Not my finest moment!

orbital cellulitis2

orbital cellulitis1

orbital cellulitis3
I really do look like I've been boxing in this one!

I was given a course of antibiotics and promised not to do it again (which met with some titters). It actually took a while for the antibiotics to rein in the infection and my face had swollen down to my jaw before they caught up. I'm pleased to report that they sorted it out within a couple of days and my face is completely back to normal now. It probably took longer to recover from the embarrassment of doing the school run looking like I'd had a bout in the ring!!

I share these pictures not to make you feel ill but to remind you the next time that you consider fiddling that it might not be such a good idea. Picking spots is bad, m'kay?

Saturday, 30 July 2011

What's in my (Holiday) Makeup Bag

Mystery MU bag1

It's my turn to share my makeup bag for the Beauty Spotlight Team Mystery Makeup Bag series. Rather than just showing you my ordinary bag, I thought I do something a bit different and show you what I'm going to be taking on holiday with me. I'm going away for 10 days and will spend a week camping. As the tent takes up most of the car boot and the children take up most of the car, there's going to be very little space for my 'extras'. Sob! So I'm challenging myself to take one bag, including brushes and makeup to see me through the week.

Mystery MU bag7

Mystery MU bag2

Day to day, it's unusual for me to carry foundation with me. I picked LMdB Peau Vierge* to take with me as it's a great colour match for my summer skin and it contains an SPF too. The other advantage is it doubles up as skin care. I won't have much for space for skin care either.

The RMK Super Basic Liquid concealer is always in my makeup bag. I've mentioned before that it'll double up for covering blemishes as well as being a great undereye concealer. I picked the BECCA concealer* as well in case of any breakouts and for concealing redness.

Mystery MU bag14

I've probably gone a bit overboard on the cheek products but you never know, I might need them all! The NARS Laguna bronzer is another staple of my daily makeup bag. I find it perks up my face and adds more definition to my face when wearing foundation. I' hoping it will enhance any colour I might get whilst on holiday.

I've picked a variety of blusher colours. The Benefit Posetint is a light, almost neon pink in the tube but blends to a subtle flush of colour. The Kevyn Aucoin liquifuchsia* is one I haven't used yet but I had to add it as soon as I saw how lovely it was on Grace (see Londonmakeugirl's post here). I showed the RBR Decadent Duo in Flamenco Duende before and this is a great product to stash in your makeup bad as it's a gloss and blusher in one. The blusher is a tawny, tan sort of colour and looks nice and summery so I thought this would be ideal for my holiday bag.

Mystery Bag

I'm cheating a little here re-using the picture from my Which Palette? post but I haven't had chance to take a new one. BECCA Enigma got the most votes, closely followed by the ArtDeco palette, so that's what I will be taking with me. Thank you to all of you that voted. It'll almost be like taking along my own UD Naked palette with this combination. I'm resisting the urge to take the new NARS eyeshadows along as I really don't think they'll be as helpful for speedy looks. I've also had my head slightly turned by a naughty person sending me a link to the Stila Holiday Palettes. Tsk! They're only £10, so I'm going to pop along to Boots tomorrow to have a little look. What harm could a keep trip to Boots possibly do?!

Mystery MU bag10

I received this mini Film Noir mascara as a GWP. As well as being one of my favourite mascaras it's the perfect size for carrying around. RBR Atlas Swallowtail* is perfect for a quick eye look on it's own and also as a base for other colour so I thought it was another good holiday makeup choice. I choose the MAC Dirty greasepaint stick for similar reasons. It's good for a quick smoky eye, should I get the opportunity to do more than hang about on the campsite!

I'm planning to try and tint my brows before we go but I've got my trusty Shu Uemura pencil with me in case I don't get chance. As for eyeliner, I thought I'd take my two favourites: GOSH Truly Brown and YSL Waterproof eye pencil in #5. Both are really easy to apply and long lasting. I just need to make sure I take some waterproof eye makeup remover with me!

Mystery MU bag12

Now here comes my real nod to this being holiday, rather than everyday makeup. I've banned myself from the mid-toned pinks and instead chosen some nice juicy watermelon shades. Chantecaille Lip Chic in Zinnia was an obvious choice as this is a lovely, sheer, glossy balm which wears as a bright on my lips. The RBR gloss in Coy* is similar colourwise and one of the few glosses that I wear regularly. I thought a gloss might be a nice, low maintenance choice too. I don't suppose I'll want to visit the toilet block too often to check my lipstick!

NARS Mayflower was a gift from a very kind friend and I think it's another lovely summery colour. I have pictures ready to review this one on my return.
Mystery MU bag11
L- NARS Mayflower, R - Chantecaille Lip Chic in Zinnia

Mystery MU bag8

Looking at a couple of these brushes makes me feel very nostaligic. The 129, 244 and 213 are part of a MAC holiday set that started out my brush collection. They're still going strong though my 129 sheds like a beast (isn't that right Get Lippie?). They really are the perfect size for a makeup bag. I'm actually tempted to pay a visit to Bicester Village to see if I can find another set with short handle 217 and 219 but shhh.....don't tell my husband.

The dual ended brush is from an old and much loved Ruby + Millie neutrals palette. This one is always in my makeup bag and it's not half bad. The little slanted eyeliner brush is also Ruby + Millie and the second one of these I've purchased. I'm glad I snapped it up whilst I still could. The R+M brushes were a mixed bag but this one is a real gem.

The small pot in the top of the picture is a sample of RBR primer which I've packed in case I need to tackle a case of the shinies.

Mystery MU bag5

I just thought I'd give you a final quick peak at what my regular, everyday makeup bag looks like. Though the products change regularly, I do try to keep it to a minimum.

Thanks for reading, if you got this far! Do you manage to pack light when it comes to holiday makeup? Or do you find it hard not to take everything, just in care?

*Products marked with an asterisk were received at some point as PR samples.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Is Claire a Good Girl?!

Claire writes the blog Ask Claire McDonnell. As a professional makeup artist I wouldn't expect there to be too much in the way of naughty confessions. It might not be a confession but one of my favourite discoveries recently about Claire is that she used to do makeup for the Cbeebies presenters and has worked with Chris and Pui. This probably means nothing to you if children's TV isn't a regular feature in your home but I've spend the last five years with Cbeebies on in the background. Chis and Pui are legends! Anyway, let's see what Claire has to get of her chest...

Confession is good for the soul, go ahead and unburden yourself! I promise I won’t judge.

I have an unhealthy obsession with squeezing ingrown hairs on my legs and bikini area – totally gross I know but I just can’t stop and I get a strange satisfaction out of it!

My second obsession is beauty products. Every time I visit a new town or city I go to the local pharmacy and spend ages staring at every single product on the shelves in a kind of trance. Even though I’ve probably seen them all before I still do it and get lost in my own world. My absolute beauty junkie heaven was when I went to the USA where they have massive pharmacies – I spent hours and hours wandering around, much to the annoyance of my husband. This obsession has been life-long, my mum said I used to play with her beauty products when I was 2!

Monster in the making
Another monster in the making!

There, don’t you feel better now?

Aunty Brown has a few more questions though; it’s true that I’m the nosy type.

When was the last time you visited the hairdresser?
I’m a weirdo – I love going to the hairdresser! I have a short bob and definitely cannot sport the casual, tousled, boho look unfortunately, so I have to get my hair cut regularly so that it looks presentable. I also have a fabulous hairdresser so visiting him is not a chore.

Which bit of beauty trickery couldn’t you live without?
It’s all related to taming hair and I have to chose 3 because they are all of equal importance and I couldn’t choose between them! Dyeing my hair, regular waxing including brazillian (ouch), chemically straightening the naturally wavy hair on my head.

You’ve overslept and have 5 minutes to get out of the house. Are you going out with dirty hair or no makeup?
I have such dark circles under my eyes that I scare small children if I don’t apply concealer, however, dirty hair on me does not look cool or Kate Mossish, I look mad, so it would have to be no makeup.

Which trend still makes you cringe?
I look back at pictures of me in the 80’s and NOOOO is all I can say. Everything about how I looked was awful - blue eyeshadow, super pale pinky foundation, over contoured cheeks, oversprayed, crunchy, hair, the works.

At the moment, lots of girls seem to be sporting pale, lilac, concealer type lips – stop it, you do not look like Bridget Bardot and it makes you look dead! Along with this, many of them also wear the type of flash eyelashes that should only be worn by drag queens.

Even Nana Knickerbocker knows it's good to have some colour in your cheeks!


Your confession about pharmacy lurking sounds like me! It was a running joke at University that if you couldn't find me, better go look in Boots! Thanks you so much for sharing Claire. If you would like to take a turn and unburden yourself in the Friday Confessional you can email me at It's open to everyone: if you have something to confess, I'm happy to hear it!

Image credit for Nana Knickerbocker -

Thursday, 28 July 2011

First look and Swatches of NARS Grand Palais and Delphes

My apologies in advance as this is probably going to be picture heavy and text weak! The NARS Autumn collection is out as an online exclusive to the NARS website and, unable to contain my excitement, I immediately put an order in for the Grand Palais duo and Delphes trio. Although I haven't applied either yet, I thought sharing my first impressions and swatches could be useful for anyone unable to get to a counter and wondering what these eyeshadows look like.

NARS+Grand Palais+Delphes

NARS+Grand Palais+Delphes1

NARS+Grand Palais+Delphes3

Delphes is my first NARS trio. I was actually a little surprised to see that the packaging is the same size for both duo and trio. For some reason I had expected the trio to be a little bigger. My first impression is that this is definitely shimmery! The light peachy pink shade is very sheer, I struggled to get it to show up as a swatch. It also contains some quite sizeable flecks of glitter. I will be interested to see how this behaves on my eye over a primer. I don't think it's going to work well as a base colour but we'll see!

The grey contains the least shimmer of the three but it does have a tiny bit as you can see from the picture with flash. It's a blue toned grey and actually makes me think of shark skin. Well, if a prosthetic Jaws counts? The green of the trio has a frosty finish and looks quite mossy coloured to my eye. It's actually a very pretty colour and I used to wear a similar one from an Urban Decay palette years ago.

For me, the biggest question is how these colours are going to work together. I'm hopeful that I will be able to create something as pretty as Makeup Magpie.



Grand Palais - Shimmering Pinky Taupe paired with Matte Dusky Pink
You'll be unsurprised that I bought this for the draw of another taupe! The taupe is a shimmering pinky toned taupe. I don't think I have any similar singles but hopefully I can manage a comparison in the not too distant future. The other colour is a matte dusty pink. It's surprisingly smooth and has good pigmentation. I confess I'm a little scared of pink on my eyes. I'll give it a go though for research purposes. I'm also tempted to see how it works as a blush.

NARS+Grand Palais2

NARS+Grand Palais7

Again, apologies for the picture overload. I wanted to show the colours in a variety of different lighting conditions and also show them side by side, as well as separately. Hopefully the swatches help demonstrate exactly how sheer the Delphes pink is and also how blue toned the grey colour is.

Left - Grand Palais, Right - Delphes
Swatches+Grand Palais+Delphes3
Bright outdoor light

Swatches+Grand Palais+Delphes6

Swatches+Grand Palais+Delphes1
Outdoor shade


Swatches+Grand Palais1
Grand Palais

I bought these from the NARS website, the Grand Palais duo cost £23.50 and the Delphes trio cost £33.00. I'm not sure of the release date for counters but I think it's soon. I'm looking forward to looking at some of the other items in person. If I was a little bolder, I'd be after that stunning blue!


Perilously Pale wondered about whether the texture of the taupe of Grand Palais is similar to the taupe of Dogon. I thought it might be useful to add a picture of the duos side by side and also swatches. It's surprising how similar they are when swatched. To answer PP's question, both taupes are quite sheer and need to be built up. I have a feeling if you were disappointed with Dogon, you could happily miss that one. I hope that helps!

Grand Palais+Dogon1

Grand Palais+Dogon2

My Facial and Foot Scrub at the Baglioni Spa

I recently visited the Baglioni Spa at the Baglioni Hotel in Kensington for a facial and foot scrub. I bought the treatment via Wahanda and the deal is still currently available and costs £50. You can see details of all of the packages available through Wahanda here. If you don't already know about Wahanda, it's a website that lists spas, salons and fitness centres in the UK and Europe with many great exclusive offers available. They also have daily Mob Deals for a number of major cities in the UK. The deals are based on a certain number of people booking together to get a really discounted price. They have great customer services too as I experienced first hand, having messed up my order on the first go!

Back to the Baglioni Spa. The Hotel was very easy to find and the concierge was kind enough to show me the entrance to the Spa. A golden door no less! I turned up quite early for my appointment but was still made to feel very welcome and in fact turning up early allowed me to fill in the health questionnaire and still have enough time to go and make use of the steam room. That was actually an unexpectedly enjoyable part of my visit. It's rare for me to have such peace and quiet and be still at the same time. It's hard to explain what luxury that is!


In the general Spa area there was a changing area and I was allocated a locker where my robe, towel and slippers were stored. The changing area was also fully serviced with a sink area with large mirrors, products and a large shower area should you wish to freshen up after using the steam room or after your treatments. There was even a hairdryer and straighteners in the changing area which I thought was very thoughtful.

The treatment that I booked allowed you to select from two of three possible treatments; a Deep Cleansing Facial, Back, Neck & Shoulder Massage and a Foot Scrub. I chose the facial and foot scrub as my two options. Rather than having these as two separate treatments they actually ran side by side. Also the foot scrub was more of a facial for your feet treatment than a scrub as the therapist explained. First of all my feet were soaked, dried and then in was time to jump on the therapy bed. A deep conditioning treatment was applied to my feet, then they were wrapped up and tucked in with a warm towel. Cosy! Then we moved on to the facial. The facial involved various stages; cleansing, exfoliation, a mask, eye treatment etc. It also included a lot of massage and my favourite bit, the hot flannels. Once the facial was over it was back to my feet for very similar to the facial. Once the treatments were finished I was allowed several minutes to lie still before making my way back to the changing area.


The Best Bits
My time in the treatment room was really blissfully relaxing. The room was dimly lit and with soothing music playing in the background. It wasn't the least bit intrusive as it sometimes can be. My therapist was lovely. She chatted to me during the foot treatment but allowed me to be quiet during the facial as drifted in to deep relaxation through the deep breathing and massage. I really appreciated this and it was such a comfortable silence. The facilities in the changing area, use of the steam room and the lovely herbal tea were also highlights for me.

Other Points of Note
The products used were the Spa's own products. Whilst they did smell lovely, I think they're probably of average quality rather than premium branded products. However, I think the expert hand of the therapist and atmosphere made up for this. For those of you that are unsophisticated like me, it's also worth knowing that the facial goes quite low in the decolletage area. I was a little taken aback but I know from discussions with friends that this is quite normal practice. I obviously need to become more European in my attitude to the entire facial area!

My trip to the Spa was a really enjoyable experience. I'm not going to leave it so long between treatments from now on as it was good to be reminded of how relaxing it really is. It was so relaxing in fact that I completely forgot to take any pictures whilst I was there so those shown are from the Bagilioni Hotel website. I will certainly be looking out for Spa offers through Wahanda in future.

Disclosure: I received the Wahanda voucher from a PR Company without cost and was free to choose from any of the offers available. The links included are for information only and are not affiliate links.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Help me decide!!

I'm just sorting out my makeup bag for my holiday (yes, there's a reason I'm doing it in advance and all will be revealed!). I'm having a dither-y moment and really can't decide which eyeshadow palette to take. Rather than struggle with this complex decision making process on my own* I thought I'd enlist the help of my wise readers!

Which palette

Which palette

The shortlist is an ArtDeco palette with a selection of shimmery neutrals, the BECCA Enigma palette, and NARS duos in Brousse and Dogon. Ideally I suppose I should just pick one as I limited with space but we all know that's not going to happen. So, I'm happy to settle for a combination of the two. Which do you think would make the most versatile pairing? I won't be going out in the evenings so this will just be for everyday wear.

You can share your thoughts in the comments or make your selection in the poll in the sidebar to the right. You've got until Friday to decide!

* Tongue most definitely in cheek, I promise.

Looking Forward to......Chanel Illusions d'Ombres Collection

I mentioned recently that I was feeling a little uninspired of late and already looking forward to the Autumn collections. I thought I'd share with you some of the particular collections and pieces I'm interested in. One that I am especially looking forward to is the Illusions d'Ombres de Chanel collection. I have been admiring all of the swatches popping up on the US blogs and texture of the Luminous eyeshadows is really talking to me. They have a whipped gel like texture rather than a cream or cream/powder hybrid. The colours look divine and even as someone that is scared of shimmer, I am really drawn to these.

Illusion d'Ombres

Illusion d'Ombres2

Illusoire (a complex mauve-grey taupe) and Épatant (shimmering grey-khaki) went straight on my list. I think the reasons are probably obvious enough! Though neither Émerveillé (peach) nor Fantasme (iridescent white) are my usual sorts of colours I have seen some great reviews that have made me wonder. I can blame Cafe Makeup for my interest in Fantasme and Pink Sith for Émerveillé. The other two colours Mirifique (sparkling black) and Ébloui (a red toned brown) are stunning but probably a little too dramatic for me.


Le Vernis in Quartz

The nail varnishes also look amazing. I expect these to sell out quickly in true Chanel style. I think Peridot, Quartz and Graphite are a shift away from the usual Chanel releases. Quartz is a shimmery taupe, Peridot is a complex beetle green that changes colour shifts according to the light and Graphite is a glittery metallic grey. For excellent nail swatches of all three colours I recommend checking out The Beauty Look Books post. I posted a link comparing Quartz to Illamasqua's Bacterium not long ago which is also worth a look.

Prelude Quadra

Rose Ecrin
Rose Écrin blusher

The Prélude quadra looks interesting and very much my usual colour palette. In this case it's a little harder to make a decision based on the reviews from the States as Europe will have the baked eyeshadow version. I will need to check the texture and pigmentation in person to know if this is a palette for me. The Khaki Platine eyeliner is a very soft khaki and I'll be interested to see how well this would define the eye area. I think the Rose Écrin blusher looks very pretty as do all the lip products but these aren't grabbing me as much as the Illusion d'Ombres eyeshadows or the nail colours.

Here's a quick run down of the prices for the collection:

ILLUSION D’OMBRE (Long Wear Luminous Eyeshadow) £22.50

LES 4 OMBRES (Quadra Eyeshadow) in Prélude £37.00

LE CRAYON YEUX (Precision Eye Definer) in Khaki-Platine £17.00

ROUGE COCO (Hydrating Crème Lip Colour) £23.00

LÈVRES SCINTILLANTES (Glossimer For Lips) £20.00

LE CRAYON LÈVRES (Précision Lip Definer) £17.50

JOUES CONTRASTE (Powder Blush) in Rose Écrin £31.00

LE VERNIS (Nail Colour) £18.00

The collection is due for release on 19th August in the UK. Is there anything grabbing you?

Images courtesy of Chanel. Please do not copy.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Guest review of Le Metier de Beaute Nail Colour in Hera

Once again I've enlisted the help of Helen of Just Nice Things to give you a nail bloggers thoughts on nail colour from one of my favourite brands. I'm especially appreciative as Helen took on this task in the midst of moving house. I don't think you can get more dedicated than that! Let's see what she has to say about Le Metier de Beaute's Hera nail colour.


Le Métier de Beaute isn’t really a brand that had registered much on my radar. Of course, I have read about it on a number of blogs, nodded sagely as Jane waxed lyrical about it (more than once!) but still for some reason I hadn’t been tempted to explore the brand further. However, this might all be about to change, as Jane obviously couldn’t cope with my ignorance any longer, and generously lent me her bottle of Hera to test out.

Le Metier+Hera+Nail1

First things first, the bottle is tiny. Like tiny weeeeeeny. The kind of size you might expect to find in a dolls house. A bit odd really. Its only 4ml and will set you back the best part of £6.50. Erm, that’s kind of ludicrous. So you’d expect a sample sized bottle to contain polish that covers in one coat, right? Nope. This was two. Ok, so two isn’t bad, but it won’t take you long to use this up. Not long at all. Are they having a little joke with us? I mean, it’s one thing to be an aspirational and exclusive brand, but another to expect people to pay £1.62 for 1ml of nail varnish. Even Chanel (the most expensive nail varnish around, although Nails Inc are giving them a run for their money…but that’s a whole other blog post) only charges £1.38 per 1ml of polish.

Gods+Goddesses+Le Metier1

Gods+Goddesses+Le Metier2

Anyway, all that aside, what’s the stuff actually like?

It’s very nice. However, Hera, a metallic shade, absolutely loathed being applied over a base coat. It went on ok, but dried totally bumpy and strange. So I had to remove my first application and start again, on bare and dry nails with no base coat, not even matte Nail Envy. This annoyed me as that was £1.62 down the drain straight away! But once I’d realized that this was no friend to base coat, it applied absolutely beautifully. Two easy coats, applied with a great brush that didn’t cause pooling or dragging at all. Marvellous. I was left with burnished gold nails that looked totally smooth and flawless. Usually, metallics highlight every ridge and lump and bump and I was pleased to say that Hera was an exception to the rule. I thought that Hera was going to be a gold foil, but it wasn’t. The finish is unlike any I’ve seen before and I really like it.

Le Metier+Hera+Nail2

Le Metier+Hera+Nail3

The ultimate test was moving house. How did it stand up to a few days of packing boxes, messing around with tape, moving and shunting things around? Well, the answer is very well. Hera looked great for a couple of days before starting to chip, but I must point out that my nails were under a lot of stress during this time (as was I – moving house is HELL). I would imagine that it would fare perfectly well using it in a normal week where the most strain you’ll be putting on your hands is doing some typing or washing up.

So, what’s my feeling? It’s a nice polish. The finish is different and it is a lovely shade. It applies perfectly and seems to go the distance. But they’d have to come up with a really original colour to get me to part with £6.50 for such a tiny bottle. OK so storage would be less of an issue than it is with my larger 15ml polishes, but I’m still not convinced.

On a side note, I always felt really sorry for Hera, having to stay at home and be all gracious and ladylike whilst her husband was off misbehaving in the form of a swan or a golden shower (look it up if you don’t believe me). At least she’s had a nice nail varnish named after her now though, hey?


Thank you so much again to Helen for giving lending her hands and of course sharing some illuminating facts about poor Hera!

Le Metier de Beaute's nail colours cost $10 (they reduced the prices earlier this year). The Gods and Goddesses nail collection is still available on the Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom websites. Nordstrom also ships internationally. Since my last LMdB post, I learned that you actually pay the customs fees as part of the shipping costs from Nordstrom. This does add a significant amount to the cost of course but at least there are no nasty surprises this end! 

Disclosure: The nail varnish was sent to me without cost for review purposes.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

FoTD with Annabelle eyeliner and Kevyn Aucoin lipstick

Here's my face of the day with the Annabelle eyeliner and Kevyn Aucoin lipstick that I reviewed recently. I also used the new Illamasqua Skin Base. The jury is out for me on this one. I've become used to wearing sheer coverage foundations and tinted moisturiser and this is a much heavier base. However, I think it photographs well. I need more of a play with the samples before I write a review.

I've used two of my favourite MAC eyeshadows in this look: Vex and Club are both duochrome eyeshadows and I think they pair well. I had hoped that wearing with the Jade eyeliner would pull out the green in both eyeshadows but I think they look very neutral here.




*Illamasqua Skin Base in 04
MAC NC20 Moisture cover concealer
MAC Cubic blusher
Shu Uemura H9 Seal Brown brow pencil

Annabelle eyeliner7

MAC Brule all over as a base
MAC Vex on the mobile lid to just beyond the crease
MAC Club in the crease
Annabelle Smoothliner in Jade to line
Rimmel Extra Super Lash Curved mascara


*Kevyn Aucoin lipstick in Thelma Dora

* Products marked with an asterisk were PR Samples.


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