In need of a cool down – Essie’s ‘Find me an Oasis’

Ah, summer. You bring with you such gorgeous pastel colors for nails. And so much frustration when it comes to a smooth application of the aforementioned beauties. Last summer’s nemesis was the perfect shade of creamy buttercup yellow, and this year’s successor to that title is the ice cool blue I’ve seen looking so cute in flip-flops around the city. It’s such a perfect hot weather shade – more interesting than plain white and with a bit more edge than the usual pastels.

The shade I really liked and ended up buying in the end was Essie’s Find me an Oasis. Blue is my favorite color anyway, and this icy tone seemed perfect. But man, it’s such a headache to apply. This particular polish still has Essie’s old thin brush, which has me confused – the color is part of the current Resort 2014 collection and I was under the impression that all of Essie’s brushes are now wider and fan-shaped? Oh well.

I found the formula to be quite runny, so first impressions weren’t great. The first coat is a streaky mess and halfway through it had me wondering whether I had wasted my money. Oh, and this is a sneaky formula…even though it is runny, it still manages to dry quickly, so you better have a steady hand applying this one as you can forget about running the brush over the same area twice.

Now to the second coat to cover up the results of the first one. Honestly, I have found it so difficult to even get close to something that resembles an even finish. I had to load the brush with product and sort of  hover just above the nail to distribute it. Imagine a drop of oil or something. The minute I pushed the brush down to properly ‘drag’ the polish across the nail, it just looked awful. So it definitely takes a certain technique to get it just right.

Needless to say, the results were not fantastic. Not as bad as expected, but not great if you want to be picky like me. I finished off with a coat of the superb Butter London Hardwear P.D. Quick top coat. If you have never come across this top coat before, it’s definitely worth checking out (Sephora stock it). I used to love the Seche Vite Dry Fast top coat, but have now converted to this one, as I don’t get the ‘shrinkage’ I used to get with Seche Vite. Hardwear applies like a dream, has a glossy finish and lasts for days. I have worn it for up to seven days chip-free.

Essie find me an Oasis

The color in itself is very pretty and two coats will provide a fairly opaque finish. However, I noticed on closer inspection that the polish on most of my nails was peppered with tiny holes, which are visible on the first picture (second nail from left). I have never had that happen before, and as I have been using the Butter London top coat for over a year I doubt that it’s the culprit. I know, I know…I’m now kicking the Essie one whilst it’s down. I’m such a meanie.

Essie Find me an Oasis

So to sum up, I really like the color (it’s spot on for summer) and I could live with the bubbly finish if I absolutely had to, but I’m just not convinced the application is worth the effort. Yes, you could probably take the polish to a nail salon and see what results the experts get, but I like doing my own nails and if the finish is still uneven, you will have paid good money for results that are not immaculate. I know the perfect pastel formula is out there. I just need to find it 🙂

love, lou x




A beautiful Way to organise Makeup – Paul & Joe floral Print Cosmetic Bag

I hold Twitter responsible for many of my impromptu splurges. Before Twitter I was (mostly) blissfully unaware of limited edition beauty products and must-have statement necklaces. Before Twitter, I would have also (definitely) been unaware of Paul & Joe’s pretty floral makeup organiser.  As soon as this ingenious makeup ‘binder’ showed up in one of my feeds, I was stress-testing Google. I really liked the look of it, but when I realised that this coveted makeup bag is notoriously difficult to get hold of due to its popularity, I made it my mission to get my hands on one.

Selfridges had them in stock, but every time I clicked ‘buy now’, nothing happened. After long hours of waiting and endless ‘refresh’ actions, I managed to put one in my basket. Success! At £26 it was probably more than I needed/wanted to spend on a makeup bag, but hey ho. And best not mention the £4.95 delivery cost. To be fair, Selfridges usually dispatch their items at the speed of light, and this was no exception. So I guess one could justify the cost. Sort of.

Effortlessly cool clothes aside, French brand Paul &  Joe are known for their super cute and fun take on makeup, with a playful mix of art deco and boudoir chic. And with its pretty pale green colour and floral design, it is easy to see why this product is such a hit. The bag itself is very lightweight, measuring approximately 20cm x 14cm x 6cm. It comprises of two inner pockets, brush holders and two removable pouches (one in mesh, one the same colour as the bag).

How could anybody not want this as part of their luggage?!

How could anybody not want this as part of their luggage?!

Paul & Joe floral Cosmetics Bag

Organisation at its prettiest

I loved the print of this bag, and once I started using it I decided that it was probably the best makeup bag I have ever purchased. The two removable pouches are very handy and there’s enough room in there for all your makeup essentials whilst travelling. The ‘Filofax’ style is quite funky and makes compartmentalising your various makeup items a piece of cake. I was also very pleased that it’s long enough to fit in my brushes. I managed to get a few smudges on the material on the first day, but they just wiped away. No sweat.

To give you an idea of how roomy this bag actually is, here’s a photograph with everything I have managed to fit inside (with a bit of room to spare):

Now you see it...

Just missing the Kitchen Sink

This is a fabulous little bag, and I can’t wait to take it with me on my next trip. Selfridges have now sold out (might have snatched up the last one…sorry!) but keep checking their website so you can strike as soon as it’s available. Another website to get this from is asos. Sadly, the official Paul & Joe website does not stock this particular design. Happy hunting, and good luck! It’s worth the effort 🙂

love, lou x

Fresh, Fruity, Fun – Essie’s Peach Daiquiri

Honestly, you try and save some money and then Boots hit you with a ‘Buy One get One half Price’ offer on all of Essie’s colourful delights. How can I possibly resist that?!

Essie always have such bright, fun and trendy colours, which means I could easily walk away with ten bottles at a time! One of my favourite polishes is Essie’s Cute as a Button, a pretty coral pink. Since I’m almost through the bottle (which rarely happens with nail polishes) I was going to take advantage of the offer and replace it, but then two other colours caught my eye – Peach Daiquiri and Too Too Hot (both £7.99 each excluding the offer). Peach Daiquiri is somewhat similar to Cute as a Button, but not as pink. Too Too Hot is a bright coral red. Evidently I’m more into coral nails than I thought! I can’t get enough of them.

So far I have only tried Peach Daiquiri, and I think it’s fabulous! It gives me the same enjoyment as Cute as a Button, meaning I keep looking at my nails as the colour is so eye-catching and pretty. I really can’t see any peach in this one, though. I would describe the colour more as coral with muted pink undertones.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of huge brushes. Essie have upsized theirs and I’ve had a few application struggles since then. Peach Daiquiri has the new, wider brush but for some reason application was a doddle. I’m not sure whether they have changed the design again, whether I’m getting used to wider brushes or whether the consistency of this colour worked particularly well with the brush, but…it just worked.

The polish is quite creamy and thick, but still has a very good flow to it. The brush is slightly tapered at the end, and I barely had to push down to distribute the colour. Two sweeps is all I needed on each nail to get perfect coverage. As the polish isn’t too runny, I didn’t have any colour bleeding into my cuticles, which can be a real pain. I suggest two coats – the result is a glossy and even colour.

When is a Peach not a Peach?

When is a Peach not a Peach?

Essie Brush

A Close up of the Brush

I finished off with a coat of….ha!! Bet you thought I’d say Seche Vite, as I always say that. But no – this time I finished off with a coat of Butter London Hardwear (£16 for 17.5 ml). I have road tested this new top coat a couple of times now, and I have to say that I’ve been very impressed.

Hardwear is not as thick as Seche Vite, but distributes quickly and evenly, dries super fast and keeps nails chip free for days. It doesn’t quite give Seche Vite’s mega watt shine, but is still gorgeously glossy. I also think there is less shrinkage with the Butter topcoat. I keep switching between the two and I would be hard pushed at the moment to pick a winner. But the fact that I’m willing to even use something other than Seche Vite to finish off my manicures says a lot!

So, Peach Daiquiri has been a real hit with me. It’s just incredibly pretty and flattering. The colour pops, but is not so stupidly bright that you can only wear it with a deep tan. It’s just the right balance. By the way, the offer is still on at Boots. Think I might have to check out a few more colours myself. It’s a way of saving money, after all 🙂

love, lou x

Summer Glow in the pouring Rain – Soleil Tan de Chanel Sheer Illuminating Fluid

I’m all set for summer – bright nail polishes, sandals and t-shirts are spilling out of my wardrobe, the fridge is stocked with seasonal English fruit (so I can enjoy a Pimm’s when I’m in the mood) and I can’t wait to use my new beach bag. There is only one problem. The weather isn’t playing ball. Instead of grabbing my sunglasses before heading out, I need to make sure I have my umbrella. When I look out of the window I am not greeted by inviting sunshine, but by uninviting gray skies and rain. It’s enough to make a girl miserable.

I hit a particular weather induced low a couple of days ago and really needed to be in a happy place, so I headed to the Chanel counter. Since there has been no sun this year to give my face a bit of colour, I decided to check out what bronzer options Chanel had for me. As I’m a fan of all things shimmery, I instantly fell in love with Soleil Tan de Chanel Sheer Illuminating Fluid (£31 for 30ml available from Boots) in ‘Sunkissed’, which is the only shade available.

This light, champagne golden liquid can be mixed into foundation, worn under makeup or used as highlighter to add radiance and a hint of summer colour. I have been mixing it into my Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser (£33 for 40 ml and available from SpaceNK) and I’m absolutely thrilled with the results. It’s a sheer, buildable colour and so flattering on my medium-fair skin.

Bring it on, Rain. Bring it on.

Bring it on, Rain. Bring it on.

For obvious reasons, bronzers and fake tans are hugely popular here but they are not really my thing. I have yet to see somebody with a fake tan that looks like the real thing. A lot of them tend to be quite orange, so more subtle options like this illuminating fluid are right down my street. I absolutely adore how the gold catches the light and gives iridescence without any sparkles. The effect is polished and grown up, yet still playful.

The glass bottle with its black screw-top lid looks gorgeous (it’s Chanel, how could it not) and the liquid can be directly poured out. A word of caution: it’s a lot runnier than you might think, so careful when you tip the bottle to dispense the product. To be perfectly honest, a pump would work so much better and I’m really surprised it doesn’t have one. It’s still a great product, but if you are not careful, it can be a bit messy.

Decanting issues aside, I’m really happy with my purchase. It doesn’t feel heavy on my skin, blends effortlessly and gives me a healthy glow. In my opinion, the shimmer is so delicate and the colour so sheer that this would work beautifully even on very pale skin. If you need more colour, just build it up. Ah, Chanel. I knew you’d make me feel better 🙂

love, lou x

Blushing Rose – By Terry Rose de Rose Sheer Liquid Blush

I’m not very good at exercising restraint when it comes to makeup (and a few other things, but let’s focus on the makeup). If I see something I like, I tend to buy it. Unless it really is stupid money. And let’s be honest, at £40 the By Terry Liquid blush (available from SpaceNK) does fall into that category. I fell in love with this blush when I first tried it last summer, but the hefty price tag kept me wanting and not buying.

I absolutely adore blush – in my opinion it’s one of the most transformative beauty products and can instantly freshen, lift and brighten your face. After countless hours spent prowling around the By Terry counter in SpaceNK, I finally decided that my recent birthday was the best excuse to splurge. I finally bought the blush I had been lusting after for ages! There was a brief reality check ‘did I really just spend £40 on a blush’ moment, but luckily my birthday euphoria prevented too much guilt.

Let me say a quick word about Terry de Gunzburg, the founder of this brand. Terry used to be the creative director for YSL Beauté and is responsible for the ultimate cult product that is Touche Éclat. She left YSL in 2000 (after it had been sold to Gucci the previous year) and launched her own line of beauty products. If you have a few minutes, look her up. She’s a very talented lady and her career path makes for interesting reading.

The Rose de Rose blush comes in three shades: Fresh Rose, Coral Rose and Amber Rose.  All three are very pretty shades, but I have a thing for pink blush, so I opted for the Fresh Rose shade. It looks very bright and metallic to start with, but settles into a sheer and shimmering light pink after blending.

The rose scent was evident as soon as I dispensed the product. Even though I’m not a huge fan of rosy smells, this scent was actually quite pleasant and whilst I could detect it during application, it didn’t linger. I liked that it was a very natural rose smell, as opposed to something synthetic. Although having scent on a blush does take a bit of getting used to.

The object of my year long Desire

The object of my year-long Desire

The finish is quite shimmery, so if you are one for matte, then this will definitely be a bit OTT for you. I love shimmer, but even for me the shimmer is a tad too obvious in bright daylight, and can look a bit too frosted and shiny, especially around the highest parts on the apples of the cheeks. I also think it doesn’t suit an unmade face. I have blush I can just pop onto my cheeks without foundation, but this didn’t work so well on a bare face. For a night out, however, this is fabulous stuff indeed!

The amount and technique take a few attempts to get right. Start with the tiniest amount possible, dot it on your cheeks and blend – quickly! Start blending as soon as the product hits the skin, as it settles very quickly.

A word of warning. Actually, two. Firstly, do not push the pump all the way down. If you do, you will end up with enough product to make up an entire runway show’s worth of models. You only require a super tiny amount, so be very careful and controlled when you use the pump. I’m surprised it was designed this way, to be honest. One full pump is wayyyyy too much. I have been using this product for about three weeks now, and there’s already some clogging in the pump. I guess that’s a problem with the majority of pump dispensers. Secondly, if you have large pores on your cheeks, this will definitely highlight them. If you are unsure, try the product on your cheeks, rather than your wrist, before buying it.

In bright Daylight, to demonstrate the Shimmer

In bright Daylight, to demonstrate the Shimmer

In summary, this is a great blush – under the right circumstances. I enjoy it most when my skin is dewy and even and the sun is setting. It looks fresh and gives me a beautiful ‘glow from within’. It’s pretty in daylight too, but once I had seen it close up under a bright light, it just seemed slightly off. From a distance, however, I loved the overall look. Maybe I should just leave the close ups to Gloria Swanson.

If you are considering this blush my advice would be to try it on your cheeks and then step outside into the bright daylight. Light definitely amps up the shimmer, so try before you buy. I do really like the product, but I have to be honest and say that I like it as an addition to my makeup kit, not a replacement for my other blushes. I don’t think I would choose this as the only cheek colour to use, and it’s good to have a variety of shades, anyway. Have I regretted buying it? Absolutely not. I’m glad I did.

Having used this, I can really appreciate why it is such a divisive product on makeup forums. Some people love it and others hate it. The thing is, you have to get used to it and adapt it to your liking. Once you have found the perfect combination of application technique (I just use my fingers) and blending that works for you, I’m sure you will get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

The price. Well, the price is steep. But, once you get over the shock of spending £40 on blush, you realise that you actually get a lot of product for your money. According to the label on the bottle, the 15ml should ideally be used up within twelve months, but I can see this easily lasting much longer. It also occurred to me that I didn’t flinch about spending £29 for YSL‘s cream blush, weighing in at a mere 5.5g. Which makes Terry’s blush positively look like a bargain 🙂

love, lou x

The One – Urban Decay Naked Palette

If you are crazy busy today and just quickly stopping by, I’m going to do you a favour and post a super fast review on Urban Decay’s Naked Palette. Here it is:

Go and buy it. It’s the most gorgeous neutral collection out there and superb quality. You absolutely have to own this. Now.

For those of you holding a cup of coffee and with a few more minutes at your disposal, here’s the full review:

The Urban Decay Naked Palette was another one of those ‘must haves’ that came up repeatedly during my makeup course.  I was dutifully taking notes and by the end of my course had a ‘must have’ shopping list a mile long. That’s the thing, you see. There are now so many beauty products being billed as ‘must have’ items that it’s difficult to keep levelheaded and not blow the rent money (again).

Palettes of any sort are usually hit and miss with me (and pretty much every friend I have spoken to). For every shade I love and use frequently, there will be two I barely touch. All in all, in my experience they tend to be a waste of money. So I didn’t make a beeline for the Naked palette straight away. I also had serious doubts whether I really needed another twelve eye shadows.

The palette had been on my shopping list for about a year when I finally decided to check it out in Sephora a couple of weeks ago – and instantly parted with $50 to make this coveted product mine. Once I had seen and felt these gorgeously silky eye shadows there was no way I could walk away. In the UK the palette costs £36 and is available from House of Fraser.

Wow. What a fantastic beauty buy that was! The eye shadows come in perfectly edited colours that include soft pearl, rose quartz, bronze, gold, plum, copper, shimmery black and a beautiful shade of gunmetal.  There’s enough there (matt and shimmer) to take you from low key daytime to a dramatic smokey eye. The palette itself is sleek, easy to hold and includes a mirror as well as a surprisingly good brush.

It's the Holy Grail of Eye Palettes. Seriously.

It’s the Holy Grail of Eye Palettes. Trust me.

In the two weeks I have owned this palette I have used every single shade, which is a first for me. I can’t get enough of the colours – they are so flattering, easy to blend and work perfectly together. I have experimented with various combinations and have loved every single one.

Just as impressive as the perfect range of colours is the quality. The highly pigmented shadows offer superb colour pay off. A soft sweep picks up the right amount of product and it glides on like a dream.  The shadows give a soft, velvety finish and have great staying power. There is not a single shade I don’t love, which makes it fantastic value for money.

There are tons of tutorials on YouTube on the looks you can create with this palette. The possibilities are endless! It’s the sort of product that makes you fall in love with makeup all over again. I can’t get enough and have so much fun playing with it.

I really wish I had bought this a long time ago as it would have saved me so much money. This really is a ‘must have’, people. No kidding 🙂

love, lou x

The yellow Half of a Pair – Nars Pierre Hardy Nail Duo in Sharks

You would have thought that finding a decent yellow polish at this time of year would be easy. As it turns out, finding one that doesn’t streak has proven to be a bit of a headache. I’m not sure what it is about this particular colour, but I have tried a variety of brands and none of them have quite hit the spot.

I reviewed Max Factor’s ‘Mellow Yellow’ before, and although I was taken by the colour, I wasn’t too thrilled with the quality. Essentially I was after the same soft yellow, but in a better quality. I know neons are all the rage, but I did neon on my nails once twenty years ago and I’m not going back there.

I have now returned from a week of Vegas fun with a bag full of beauty bounty and a yellow Nars polish amongst my variety of goodies. The polish is part of the Pierre Hardy Nail Duo in ‘Sharks’, which also includes a lavender colour and comes in a glossy white box, including a little pouch for storage. I’m not sure about the lavender (although they look great next to each other), and really wish they sold the yellow one separately, but there you go. It was a choice of letting the polish go (no way) or forking out $29 and using only half of the products I paid for. Easy.

As with all the other yellow polishes, this one also requires two coats. Honestly, if anybody out there knows of a yellow nail polish that delivers opaque cover in one coat, please let me know! I found the lid slightly chunky and awkward to hold. It wouldn’t stop me from buying another polish from Nars, but it really is not the easiest brush to handle. The redeeming factor was the velvety feel of the lid, which had a good grip to it.

The polish had a nice creamy consistency, but settled a tad too quickly for my liking, which meant that going over the same area twice to correct a mistake became a bit messy.  On the plus side, drying time was pretty fast.

After the second coat I had the fresh, pretty yellow I was after. Okay, if I have to be honest, there are some areas that are not completely opaque, but unless you want to be very picky, these are barely noticeable. Overall, this polish delivered a good manicure and I liked its consistency. The colour is a little bit softer than the Max Factor one, and I think it’s great.

Let there be Sunshine. And Sparkle.

Let there be Sunshine. And Sparkle.

I finished off the manicure with Barry M’s Jewel Glitter Nail Paint in Yellow Topaz on my ring fingers and, for a change, a coat of Essie’s Good to Go (available from Boots for £8.99). I have to say that at £2.99 a pop, Barry M’s sparkly polishes are absolutely brilliant! The size of the gold flecks makes this particular one very eye catching and there’s a bit of a pearly shine to it. Beautiful.

Sooo…was it worth the $29? Well, even if I end up using the lavender one (which I think I probably won’t but should), we are still talking $14.50 for one bottle of polish. And let’s not forget the tax, which still catches me out a few times on my holidays in the US! Sneaky thing. Had I not been in holiday spirits and high on a huge Haagen Dazs sundae, I would have probably not gone for it. But hey, I love the colour, it is a decent polish and enjoy wearing it. And who doesn’t spend a bit extra on holiday? So I refuse to feel guilty about this one 🙂

love, lou x