Fun freebies - Eyeko Skinny Mini Liquid Eyeliner

I'm not a religious magazine reader by any means, preferring to get my fix of fashion, beauty and oh-so glossy adverts online. However, a fabulous freebie will often sway me, and when I saw the Eyeko Skinny Mini Liquid Eyeliner included in the Marie Claire August issue, I was sold.

Diane Kruger features as the cover star for this month's issue rocking a seriously smokey eye, while the editorial sees her modelling some stunning Chanel Haute Couture dresses, among others. What a lucky lady. Anyway, on to the eyeliner...

The box is deceiving, housing a slimline pen that could have come in one-third of the packaging, but alas. The pen itself is very sleek looking, with a secure lid which makes a reassuring click to let you know it's on properly and which should keep it from drying out. As the name suggests, the nib is very thin, tapering to an ultra-fine point which allows you to create a thin and precise line. Pigmentation is impressive and it dries to a slightly glossy finish, while the smudgeability – or rather lack of it – is its star quality. Once dry, it does not budge. I did some very scientific experiments (read: drew it on, counted aloud and tried to smudge it with my finger) and it takes just 10 seconds to set completely. Granted it doesn't give you much time for faffing, or room for error, but if you're looking for something that you know will still be there after a day at the office and beyond, this is the one for you. My only irk is that it feels slightly tightening as it dries on the skin. For removal, I've found Bioderma to be more than suffice, although it does require a few goings over, so gently does it.


What's your favourite way to wear liquid eyeliner? Do you prefer big and bold, or understated lines?

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Dotty digits - Maybelline Color Show Polka Dots

I've never tried Maybelline nail varnishes and it's not a brand I think of when I go on the hunt for new polishes, but when I spotted these dotty numbers, I had to give them a go. These remind me a little of the Illamasqua Imperfection nail varnishes which I drooled over (a lot!), although the glitter in these is chunkier and the colours less subtle.

200 Rain Forest Canopy: A dark teal colour with black and white matte hex glitters in various sizes. The base is very sheer so two+ coats are a must - below you can see one coat on the left and two on the right. Adding a white base underneath would also help the colour pack a punch. I'm not 100% sure I like this on my nails... I would prefer a more earthy, forest green (y'know, rainforest canopy...)


201 Speckled Pink: A deceptive pink-based polish shot through with the same black and white hex glitters. This applies to the nails a completely different colour to how it looks in the bottle, although it's still lovely. Again, the base is very sheer and you can see one coat (L) and two coats (R) below. I really love this colour and think it will make for a gorgeous summer manicure.


The glitter has a tendency to clump together, so it's worth taking a bit of time to spread it out in some random fashion on the nails. For both, wear time isn't that impressive - I noticed a lot of chipping after 1-2 days, so the rest came off pretty sharpish. As with all glitter polishes, removal is an absolute pain. The things we do for beautiful fingertips, eh.

Priced at £2.99, Boots is currently running a buy-one-get-one-half-price deal on all make up items. The Polka Dot range also includes a dark blue (Shooting Stars) and clear base version (Chalk Dust), but these didn't really tickle my fancy. (Ha, what a fun phrase!)

Are you a fan of Maybelline nail varnishes? Do you have any colour recommendations?


I was very pleased to find these sunglasses on a recent jolly to H+M and was even happier when I looked at price - £4.99! I've been on the hunt for some sunnies for a while, but couldn't justify splurging on a pricey pair owing to the seemingly permanent grey skies we're under in the UK. The price means I don't have to be too careful with them as well, which is good as my current sunglasses case is a sock (don't worry, it's clean...).

I love that the frames are green and don't contrast as starkly with my pale skin and blonde hair as black frames would. The shape of the frame is lovely too, although the actual lenses are pretty much round, the elongation in the top corners gives a nice cat eye effect, while the small studs add a bit of detail without looking obnoxious. These remind me a lot of a gorgeous Céline pair, but come in marginally cheaper. UV protection levels aren't specified, so it could be that these aren't the most effective sunglasses for that, however.

These are sold out on the H+M website (although they are still available online in a tortoiseshell pattern), but you may be able to find the green frames lurking in stores.

All I need now is some sun...

NYX goodies

Swatches; Raisin, Spice, Burgundy and Rose

NYX isn't a brand I often come by, but I hear great things about it on YouTube / the blogosphere. When I passed a local beauty shop and saw they were having a 30% sale on the brand, I couldn't resist having a peek.

I picked up the powder blushes in Raisin (left) and Spice (right). Raisin is a light taupe colour which has a lot of brown in it. The pigmentation of it is good and the powder applies very nicely to the skin. I bought this to use as a contour colour as I'd heard it's good for pale skin. I find it looks very natural and works better than the bronzer I was using. Spice is a dusty rose colour which is very pigmented; it's very easy to over-do it with this blush! It has a very faint silver shimmer running through it, but this barely shows up on the cheeks.

I've been really enjoying wearing lip pencils recently, skipping the lipstick altogether and creating a long-lasting stain with a pencil. I did want to pick up a red colour, but they didn't have any. Instead I opted for Burgundy (bottom) and Rose (top). I'm not quite as impressed with these as I am the blushes, although they're not horrible by any means. They both have a very dry texture (Rose more so than Burgundy), but as long as you apply them to nicely moisturised lips, I find they go on ok. The rubbish weather we have at the minute means my lips are dry a lot of the time, but when spring finally rolls around, I'm sure I'll get more use out of these.

Have you tried any NYX products before? What are your favourites?

Belated Birchbox - February 2013

Box number two finally arrived after a pretty long delay. The contents were as follows:

Vichy Eau Thermale, 50ml. Although I've heard of the benefits of thermal water, I've never found a use for it or a place for it in my skincare routine. Perhaps this will come in handy when the warmer months roll around though.

Korres guava shower gel, 50ml. I've been curious to try more Korres products since my first foray into their lip butters a while ago (Quince, if you were wondering). The smell of this is lovely, very invigorating, and it lathers nicely. Not sure I'd pay for the full size version however, that seems excessive for a shower gel.

Nick Chavez Beverly Hills Plump 'N Thick, 59ml. This is a nice product, smells very zesty and does manage to add some volume to my hair. As with last month's KMS California Volumizing Spray, it should be applied to towel-dried hair before blow drying. Unfortunately, I'm too lazy to do this often, but I'm going to hang on to this for those special occasions that call for big hair.

EBOOST. Meh, not bothered by this.

Gerda Spillmann Bio-Fond cream make-up, 4.5g. I'd never heard of this Swiss brand, so it was nice to see it included in the box. The packaging says 01 / Praline... 01 leading me to think it's the lightest shade in the range, Praline, not so much. I can't even see this colour listed on the brand website, so I'm not sure if it is the lightest colour available, but it's much too dark for me. I would hope future boxes are better tailored to customer's beauty profiles as I won't be able to get any use out of this sample at all.

Eyelash curler. Perhaps my favourite from this month's box, this Birchbox branded eyelash curler has made a welcome addition to my makeup bag, where my old curler was looking a bit worse for wear.

As with last month, I'm left feeling a bit let down by the samples. Unless March's box is really impressive, I think I'll cancel my subscription. It seems like at the minute I'm paying £10 a month (plus P&P!) for samples which, while nice, I'm not overly excited about. I'd rather save up my pennies and splurge on a full-size item every now and then after doing some thorough research online. Are you subscribed to Birchbox in the UK? If so, what do you think of it so far?

NOTD: Primark floral nail wraps

I've eyed up nail wraps before from brands such as Essie but I'm always put off by the price. For only one application, anything over a couple of pounds seems excessive. I was therefore very happy to find these floral print wraps for only £1. Good old Primark. The application was a bit fiddly, granted, but I was impressed with the finished result. I applied these last Sunday and have only just removed them today - not out of necessity I might add, just because I wanted to paint my nails. A few nails were showing slight signs of wear and tear, with some chipping and wrinkling of the sticker. The floral pattern helped to hide this though, so it was pretty hard to spot. I'm definitely going to check out more of these; £1 for 7+ days wear, fingers crossed they have other nice patterns!


NOTD: Nails Inc. 'Belgrave Mews'

I got this as part of the lucky dip which Nails Inc. runs every now and then. You receive five random full size nail varnishes for £15, which isn't at all bad considering that one bottle normally costs £11. Belgrave Mews is the standout of the five for me and I've worn it loads since it dropped through the letterbox. As you can see, it's a rich forest green with a subtle copper shimmer running through it. As with other Nails Inc. polishes I've tried, the application is great and it's opaque enough to get away with just one coat if you're feeling lazy or rushed.

I think this colour was part of the spring 2012 collection, and I can't see it listed on the Nails Inc. website so assume it's no longer available. However, if you happen across it while you're out and about, I'd definitely recommend picking it up.



Birchbox - January 2013

I’ve been tempted by beauty boxes for ages but have always talked myself out of it, reasoning that £10 a month could be spent on a nice nail varnish or two, rather than taking a risk on samples. However, I’ve been feeling in a bit of a beauty rut lately, so am keen to find new products without having to splash out on full-size versions which may not work for my skin - Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, I’m looking at you. I thought the rebranding of JolieBox as Birchbox was the perfect time to subscribe to one of these beauty services and see if they live up to the hype, so here goes...


KMS California ADD VOLUME Volumizing Spray, 30ml. I was intrigued to try this as I have very fine hair which tends to look lifeless and boring unless I make an actual effort with it. This is applied to towel-dried hair before blow drying, with the heat working its magic to amp up volume. I think perhaps I was expecting a little too much from this product. I can't say I noticed any real extra volume after use, no more than blow drying normally gives anyway. The full size costs £14.85.

Fresh Sugar Rosé Lip Treatment, 2.2g. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Fresh so was excited to see this included. I really like the feel of this on the lips and it does a pretty decent job of hydrating them. The colour pay-off is minimal, but pretty nonetheless. I also really like the light citrus smell of it, and the fact that it contains SPF15. Bonus. A really nice product, but pretty pricey at around £15.

WEI White Lotus Moisture Rich Eye Blend, 2ml. WEI is a new brand to me and seems pretty exclusive, available only in Space NK and now on Birchbox. This eye cream is quite thick but blends easily into the skin, leaving a slight powdery feel. It's claimed to diminish the appearance of crow's feet, lines and wrinkles, so would suit more mature skin. Full size costs £60.

Taaj Crème Mains Délhicates Hand Cream, 30ml. Hand creams are something which normally never go unused with me. However, the smell of this means that I'll be shipping it off to my mum or sister. Why anyone would want cinnamon included in a hand cream is a mystery to me. The cream itself does an ok job of hydrating dry hands, but I have found equally good creams which are less offensive on the nose, and the purse. The full size costs £10.

Teapigs, super fruit. This is included as the 'lifestyle extra' in the box. Firstly, I love that these are called 'tea temples', it really adds a sense of divinity to tea drinking. I'm a huge tea fan, but just can't get into fruit varieties. Smells delicious though. A pack of 15 'tea temples' costs £3.99.

Overall, I'm not wowed by Birchbox's January offering. The Fresh lip treatment is the highlight, while the rest of the products are a little underwhelming. Fingers crossed the February box is more appealing.

NOTD: Essie 'Eternal Optimist' + Look Beauty Nail Pop 'Bling'

This weekend's manicure is a very pretty and unashamedly girly one. Using my all-time favourite colour, Essie's 'Eternal Optimist', I added a coat of Look Beauty's Nail Pop in 'Bling' for a little sparkly interest. This is one of the best glitter polishes I've found in terms of opacity, and it's not too pricey either, currently on sale in Superdrug for £2.50. Bargain!


NOTD: Space nails

I can’t get enough of glitter nails and love this dark variation, with Rimmel Lasting Finish Pro in ‘Midnight Blue’ as a base. I created a similar thing when I uncovered Ciaté’s ‘Glass Slipper’ in the Mini Mani Month calendar (post on that here), but wanted to add more depth to the nails, cue Nina Ultra Pro in ‘Puple-Xing’. This is a glitter-heavy purple polish, with purple, silver and halo chunks throughout. It applies almost opaque, so I dabbed it on with a cosmetic sponge to get a lighter distribution. I then painted on a coat of ‘Glass Slipper’, although again dabbed the sponge over my nails to take some of it off and make it a little less harsh.

I keep staring down at my nails and wiggling them so the different glitters catch the light. I must look a right oddbod.

Empties #1

A round-up of the products I've finished over the past few months.

1. Bioderma Créaline H20 Solution Micellaire. By far the best make-up remover I've found and something I always feel sad about when reaching the end of a bottle. It's very gentle on the skin (no burning eyes) and takes make-up off so easily. Plus, a 500ml bottle lasts me ages. I wish it was easier to get hold of in the UK, but I stocked up when I went to Paris last year so should be set for most of 2013, phew.

2. Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser. This is my second or third bottle of this; testament to how much I love it. I use it with a hot muslin cloth, which helps to leave my skin soft and smooth. I don't see dramatic improvements using this cleanser, but it is a great everyday one which can be used on the eyes (massive plus for me) and doesn't dry my skin out. Definitely a product I'll keep on repurchasing.

3. Oilatum cream. Another of my skin care favourites and one which I'll be adding back into my routine as soon as I run out of my current face creams (Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré and Avène TriXéra+ Selectiose emollient cream). Oilatum is a rich, thick cream which I like to use all year round. I'm interested to try the bath formula version, that could make for a nice, pampering Sunday treat.

4. Nivea Smooth Nourishing hand cream. I've gone through several hand creams in an effort to ward off dry and cracked skin in the colder months and this is my favourite of the bunch. The smell is very inoffensive (unlike a lot of other hand creams) and it sinks into the skin pretty quickly, leaving no greasy or oily residue. Definitely going to add the full size 100ml version to my basket next time I'm in Boots.

5. Clinique All About Eyes Rich. This was my first foray into eye creams and now my skin care routine feels incomplete without one. While I did enjoy using this and would repurchase, I'm interested to see if I can find an even richer (and possibly cheaper) eye cream. If you have any recommendations, please let me know.

6. Blistex Medplus for Lips. My lips are always dry, so I'm forever applying lip balms, sticks and creams and have been through my fair share. This one didn't stand out as being amazing, but it was ok. I liked the mild mint smell and the feel of it on the lips, but wasn't entirely sold so probably wont pick it up again.

7. Kate Moss eau de toilette. This brings back memories of my late teenage years and smells lovely. My (poor) attempt to describe the scent: youthful and musky, with floral hints (rose perhaps..?). I can't believe how cheap this is (£13.30 in Boots atm!), definitely an incentive to buy it again... and again.

8. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle eau de parfum. I was so sad to finish this up as it's been my favourite perfume since I got it for Christmas a few years ago. The smell is a delicate floral and fruity mix which is feminine but not overpowering. As lovely as it is, the hefty price means I won't be buying it again in a hurry, but it'd make a nice indulgent purchase.