Beauty Without Fuss

Thursday 29 October 2009

And now for something entirely different ...

I have some male readers, it appears.  Hello boys!

And Neville ;)

Here, for your gentlemanly delight and delectation, is a makeover featuring a gent man.  Boys can wear make up too, I'm currently trying to convince MrLippie to try guyliner, with no success, alas.

Anyway, meet "M":

He's not bad, but look at that wistful look on his face.  He knows what he's missing: makeup. Yes, makeup. You can see it in his eyes, this guy needs  ....

A couple of passes with the blusher brush, some eyeshadow, and a touch of eyeliner.  Oh yes.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Organic Wednesday - John Masters Organics

Today I'm going to review two John Masters products: Sea Mist Sea Salt Spray with Lavender and John Masters Organics Hibiscus & Honey Hair Reconstructor

The Background:

John Masters is a NY hair stylist, famous for his colouring abilities and commitment to natural products. He's been experimenting with organic products for nearly 20 years, and is pioneering "clean air" salons, meaning that his salons only offer herbal and ammonia-free treatments, thereby avoiding those terrible chemical smells.

The Blurb

All John Masters Organics products must meet the following guidelines:

No SLS, parabens, No GMO's, no petrochemicals, no animal testing, no artificial colour, fragrances or fillers, all plant extracts and oils must be organic, fairtrade, proven to be beneficial, and  packaging is to be biodegradeable.

All of which is pretty impressive, no?  Very admirable but by gosh, it makes the JMO experience a pretty expensive one ...

Review 1 - Sea Mist Sea Salt Spray with Lavender

The product says:
"Spray on and get that extra body and wave that you love at the ocean.  Essential oil of lavender helps protect the hair from natural drying effects of sea salt. Spray desired amount on wet or dry hair.  Style as desired".

Lippie says:
I found that a bit vague (and there's at least one too many "desired"s there, let's face it). What is the "desired" amount? I realise everyone's hair is different, but the first time you use a product, it's at least slightly helpful for a product to make some suggestions as to how to use the product properly.

Anyhoo, I spritzed my hair liberally (I can do vague too) and left my hair to air dry.  I do like how my hair looks at the beach, that kind of wavy and slightly matte texture, so I was really looking forward to using this.  However, I'd overlooked the word BODY in the blurb.  Those of you who read my Cloud Nine review may already have figured out how this review is going to end ...

Oh man.  My hair already expands to fill any available space at any opportunity unless it's regularly beaten into submission styled with straighteners, so using this product was a massive - and I mean that literally - mistake.  The bouffant candyfloss confection I ended up with would have made Barbara Cartlands heart skip a beat.  I got complaints from the neighbours about blocking out the sunshine.  On the plus side, I didn't need a crash helmet for a few days, so it wasn't all bad.

Would I buy it again?  Heck no!  Smells lovely, but it's hellishly expensive for what is basically a bottle of salty water with some essential oil in it (mine cost £16 from Debenhams).  Might work wonderfully on someone with finer hair than mine though, and it would be great for someone with oily hair to help keep that under control, but for me, it's a big fat zero.

Review 2 - Honey and Hibiscus Hair Reconstructor.

The product says:
"A super-intense conditioning treatment that helps revitalise and restore hair.  Using the same essential fatty acids found naturally in younger hair, it's the perfect conditioner for the very dry or damaged hair.  May be used after each shampoo, or as a weekly treatment as needed.  Apply to wet hair.  Leave in 2-4 minutes (or longer). Rinse"

Lippie says:
This is a gloriously-smelling product that's just a delight to use.  I was convinced this was going to be rubbish, but I've used this three or four times since I bought it and it leaves my hair shiny, sleek and lovely.  I hesitate to say it's worth every penny of the £28 I paid for it, but it is a very good product indeed.  I'd recommend it for anyone with coloured, dry or damaged hair.

Monday 26 October 2009

RIP GHD? or How I Found Cloud Nine Straighteners...

*Warning, this post contains images that some people may find hilarious disturbing.

You do have to be careful what you say in public these days.  A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned on Twitter that you'd have to prise my GHD's from my cold, dead hands before I could be parted from them, and the next thing you know, Cloud Nine are offering to help me change my mind!  From the people who invented the original GHD Straightener, Cloud Nine claim that their irons can get a beautiful natural finish on your style at lower temperatures than other straighteners, so avoiding heat damage on your hair. 

Now, I don't just have hair.  I have BIG hair.  I have a LOT of hair.  I have hair that is not only wavy, but wavy, fuzzy and wonky, in that one side is curlier than the other.  My hair hasn't been seen in it's natural state in many years, and all due to the invention of GHDs.  A lot of my friends don't even know I have curly hair! I've tried many brands of straightener over the years, and the GHDs are the only ones that have been able to cope with the beast my hair so far.  It was with this knowledge in mind that I accepted Cloud Nine's offer, knowing full well what the result was going to be.

Boy, was I wrong.

A couple of days ago, a (beautifully packaged) pair of straighteners arrived at Lippie HQ, and, not being into delayed gratification, the first thing I did when I got home from work was to start beating my hair into submission styling my hair with them.  They don't, in all honesty, look that different to GHD's, but they are lighter, and I love the nifty (heatproof) cover that slips over the plates when you're done with them to keep them closed, and stop them burning your surfaces.

Here was the challenge:

This is my hair in it's natural state, after a backbreaking attempt to blowdry it straight - and after using straightening shampoo, conditioner, serum and balm. Bouff!

First impressions were good, the plates really do glide over the hair in a silky fashion, so much smoother than the GHDs I was amazed. Plus, the tips don't get as hot as my GHD's do, both these things making them a lot easier to use.  The lighteness of them is also a bonus in this regard, as I have a lot of hair, so straightening with my GHD's usually takes around 20 minutes minimum, and tend to get sore arms from it all.

After following the enclosed instructions for smoothing out a blowdry, I set to work, and this was the final result:

Still a fair bit of volume there, which is exactly what I wanted! I used the straighteners on 150 degrees - a lower temperature than I've ever used before - and  was delighted with the results.  I was even more delighted with the results when I checked my watch.  From start to finish, the whole thing had taken twelve minutes!  Nearly half the time of my GHDs! I was, I have to say, flabbergasted.  Very little gasts my flabber these days, but these babies managed it.

Cloud Nine say that their straighteners contain a "secret ingredient" to make your hair supershiny when you use them, I have no idea what it is - they've refused to tell me! - but lookit this shine:

Just glorious. I found them a delight to use, they turned a hair chore I hate into something approching pleasurable, and I loved the results. I'm going to try making waves with them later on in the week, and I'll show you the results then.  Go track down a pair, you'll love them too.  In the meantime, do you know anyone who wants a pair of GHDs?  Cheap?

Sunday 25 October 2009

Makeover: Sarah C

Something a little different this week.  Meet Sarah:

Today we're replicating a makeup we designed for Sarah a couple of months ago for a fancy dress party, and my inspiration for the look was Theda Bara. As always, we start with the base:

We've used a mixture of foundations to match Sarah's skin tone, then powdered it down with a smattering of Benefit Bluffdust.  Then it was onto the eyes, and we decided to use MAC Paint in Artifact, which is a lovely burgundy shade:

I applied this in an almond shape on the eyelid, then drew out the outer edges into a pointed shape.  After that, I added lashings of MAC Feline eyeliner to make it even darker:


After that, of course, time for mascara:

And then lips, we needed something dark, but still flattering, so we chose Gash by Urban Decay, as it's a really good dark red.  Sarah has lovely shaped lips for the bee-stung look, so I just exaggerated her cupid's bow a little, and drew the colour slightly inside her natural lipshape. There was no need for blush with this look:

And here's how the whole thing looked when we put it together:

I love how this looks, dramatic, different, yet still wearable for a night-time special event.

Here's the before'n'after:



Saturday 24 October 2009

Be Stila My Beating Heart ...

I believe Stila is exiting as a beauty brand from the UK, I'm not sure I'm surprised at this news, I've always liked the looks of their products, but have never really been grabbed enough by them to make them a regular purchase.  This wasn't helped by the discovery that I'm allergic to their lipglosses, which really are their star product. But Brandalley had a sale of Stila products recently, and the prices were waaaaay too good to resist, so caved in and bought their Marrakesh eye palette.

Look how pretty these colours are:

Pictures with flash and without

Two lovely pinks, a gold and a rich brown. Brandalley's shipping times can be a bit slow, so by the time they arrived, I'd been waiting for several weeks, and I was desperate to try them.  But ... look at the swatch:

All shades were swatched once with a humongous amount of shadow on the applicator. Hmn, I thought,  not very pigmented, and exceptionally sparkly.  So I set to work creating an FOTD from them:

I'm wearing four different shades of eyeshadow in this picture, which is not something I do often, but I was trying to build up something besides sparkle on my eye. The gold is in the inner corner, the pinks are over the lid, and the brown in the crease and as an eyeliner.  This is also applied over a primer, and with a not particularly light hand.

Very disappointed, both with the pigmentation, and the sparkliness that verges on glittery, I couldn't build up any depth of colour no matter how much I applied, and when some of the powder got into my eye (not something that bothers me too much ordinarily) my eyes were stinging for hours.

Sorry, Stila. I wanted to love you, I really did.


Thursday 22 October 2009

Scents of Winter

I don't know about you, but I spent the summer drenched in sunshine! Not literally, but I did wear a lot of  Clarins Sunshine fragrance.  When I first smelled it, I had an instant sense-memory of my first ever foreign holiday, it was so redolent of Ambre Solaire, the beach, and bubblegum, that I was instantly ten years old again, right there on the shop floor. For me, its instant summer in a bottle, no matter what the weather!

Sadly, I can't keep deluding myself that it's not winter any more, and the changing season seems to call for deeper and darker scents.  My usual winter perfume of choice is Aromatics Elixir by Clinique, I love the depth and unusualness of it, and the fact that it doesn't simply smell of fruit and/or ozone like so many modern perfumes.

This year however, instead of going back to an old faithful, I wanted to try something different.  I've been wearing a lot of Kesu by Tsi-La recently, it's a lovely spicy blend of woods and incense, and  it smells like a sexy church according to those I know who've smelled it on me.  But much as I love Kesu, I think I'm going to be alternating it with Jo Malone's latest: Vanilla & Anise.  I smelled it last night, and despite being somewhat leery of vanilla scents, I fell for it.  It's not at all sweet, unlike so many vanilla-based perfumes, and it's very spicy.  It has a powdery top-note from the vanilla and has notes of cinnamon and cloves underneath it, I love it  (I may have tweeted something about a dentist covered in custard at the time, but let's keep that under our hats, shall we?)  It's just that little bit different to my more incense-y favourites, and I think it's going to become a new staple.

Do you change your perfumes with the seasons?

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Organic Wednesday - Plant Love II: The Review

I already said a fair bit about Plant Love during the makeover part of Organic Wednesday, so this won't be a long post!  I've tried a few ranges of organic colour cosmetics recently, and I have to say that Plant Love is definitely a cut above as far as I'm concerned.  The colours in the eyeshadows are strongly pigmented, they're easy to apply and blend plus the colour selection is wider than the usual round of sludge colours you get in some organic/natural ranges. Genna has stated that the Parakeet e/s is one that she's going to use on a regular basis, she liked it so much!

I like the easy to apply lipsticks too, the one we had  (Joshua Tree) was shimmery without being frosted which is spectacularly difficult to pull off, staying power seemed about average, it had to be reapplied after a couple of hours, but we didn't have any issues with dryness.

For me though, the stand out product has to the Natural Baked Illuminator.  There are three of these in the range: Earth, Wind and Fire.  Earth is a selection of bronzing shades, Wind has a hint of subtle pink blush with the bronze and Fire has a gorgeous bright pink blush in there.  I have Wind (if you'll pardon the pun) and I've used it every single day since it arrived, it's perfectly pigmented, and makes your skin just glow, I adore it, and it's now a makeup staple of my very own.  Just swirl your blusher brush over the marbled powder and either use it as you would your blusher, or use as you would a bronzer (for Earth and Wind) for a brightening effect.

I do have to say that I think the packaging is a bit of a misfire, I love the fact that it's all vegetable based and compostable, but these are actually serious cosmetic products, and whilst the pink packaging is pretty, it's a little too "girly" and makes the items look cheap.  That said, I'll be investing in at least the other two illuminators, and a couple more of the lipsticks, pretty soon.  I've discovered that blusher is a lot more important to my make up bag than I ever previously suspected!  The range starts from £10 and is exclusively available from Puresha

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Organic Wednesday - Makeover Special!

So, something a little different this week.  As promised, every Wednesday I'll be seeking out and reviewing organic beauty goodies, but this week I'm bringing you a makeover first, and a full review later.

I've heard a fair bit about Plant Love over the last few weeks, and when Puresha offered to send me some of their range of cosmetics to try in a makeover, I jumped at the chance!  Plant Love is vegan, free from paraben, phthalates, petro-chemicals, and synthetic dyes and fragrances.  I love the fact that all the packaging is compostable, and is manufactured under carbon-neutral conditions, it makes my inner hippy happy.  I don't let my inner hippy out much, she tends to disagree with my inner control freak, but I'm digressing a bit here.  So, on with the makeover!

Meet Genna:

Genna's been offering to sit for a makeover session for weeks, but as she's a vegan I've been waiting for the right opportunity to come along, Plant Love seemed like an ideal fit.  Genna already has an excellent beauty regime of her own, but when we were planning this session one idea kept coming up: "California Beach Babe", and as that's what she wanted, that's what she got ...

First off, we used Genna's normal foundation as a base - looking tanned and glowing doesn't necessarily mean looking like a tangerine, then started straight in using PL's eyeshadow in Parakeet:

It's a lovely coppery shade, that makes Genna's blue eyes a lot brighter.


Once that was in place, we defined Genna's top lid with PL's eyeshadow in Sparrow:


Then we added a layer of eyeliner in bronze to her lower lids:

A layer of Genna's usual mascara (sadly, the Plant Love line doesn't carry a mascara, which is a real shame judging by the quality of the rest of the products), and we also added a little definition to Genna's eyebrows:

Genna's eyes were now finished, and we were ready to add more colour.  Using Plant Love's Natural Baked Illuminator in "Wind", which is a bronzer, blush and highlighter in one, I used it on Genna's cheekbones and temples, then added just a touch to her nose and chin for a bronzed effect:

Naturally, no look is complete without lipstick so we added a (very light) layer.  For this look we had chosen Joshua Tree which is a lovely shimmery pinky-brown:

And we're done!  Here's the finished look:

Subtle, simple, and softly glowing, I think it looks great.  Have a look at the before'n'after:

If you click on any of the pictures, you can see an enlarged version of them, please do! I'd like to thank Genna for being so patient, Puresha for being so generous, and the lovely Neville Fenn for taking today's wonderful pictures.

Full reviews of the products used will appear tomorrow, but I can let slip that both Genna and I have adopted at least one of these products as new daily staples, they're great!


Monday 19 October 2009

Makeover - Bizarre Ball Revisited

Remember Sharon? She was going to a Bizarre Ball, and we tested a makeup look for her a few weeks ago.  Well, the ball was on Saturday, and we redid the makeup for it. 

Taking into account what we did last time, I didn't take the black as far up the browbone this time, and gave it a more pronounced winged shape at the edges.  Oh, and I used MAC Greasespaint for the black, much, much easier than a powder.  Still love that green!

Sunday 18 October 2009

Makeover: Sarah

I love doing makeovers, I love seeing the transformation you can make in someone's deportment and demeanour just by giving them a little colour, even with a relatively simple transformation like this week's:

Meet Sarah:

Sarah's gorgeous.  I love her cheeky freckles, and she has beautiful grey-blue eyes.  Talking to Sarah before her makeover, she wanted a quick, simple, easy, and above all GLAM look from her makeover today.  Always happy to oblige, this is what we created.

First off, creating the base.  Sarah is worried about patches of uneven colouration, so we used her MAC foundation, and applied it with a sponge, using a rolling motion evenly all over her face, then followed with a light layer of MAC Blot to set it.  Sarah had wanted to cover up her freckles completely, but I suggested that we leave them showing as they're a) very attractive and b) very difficult to cover up without turning your face into one big freckle!

I wanted to play up the colours in Sarah's skintone, and accentuate her eyes, so I thought a golden peach shade was in order.  I used Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow in Gabbi, and applied that all over her lids. In the centre of each lid,  I used a small amount of golden shimmer powder just to accentuate the colour, and add a little highlight. :

Then, I added a small touch of dark navy liner, just to further accentuate her eyes:

I smudged that out a little, and added the finishing touches.  Blush (MAC Mocha)

And a little lipgloss (MAC Strobe)

And here's the finished look:

So there you go, quick, simple, and hopefully, GLAM!


Saturday 17 October 2009

Nail of the Day - Zoya Coco

I don't do these often, as I'm completely cackhanded at applying nail varnish, but I had to post about this colour, I love it so much.  It's a lovely, velvety, chocolatey-purple shade, not too warm, and not too brown. It's a cream finish, with no shimmer or glitter.  It's rather unusual, and reminds me a great deal of the colour of proper, old-fashioned cocoa powder in the tin.

Zoya's varnish is a massive cult in the US, and should really be better known in the UK. Their formulas are  toluene and formaldehyde free (and vegan friendly!),  and though the the varnish itself s a bit thin and runny  (I found it very streaky after one layer) but I was very pleasantly surprised at how rich the colour was after two coats. The above pic is of two coats and is finished with a layer of seche vite top coat.

I got my polish from Organic Pharmacy, but you can buy it online in the UK from Nail Care Club for £9.29 a bottle.

Have just realised the colour matches my blog (nearly!) maybe that's why it was calling to me in the shop ...

Friday 16 October 2009

Organic Wednesday - Organic Surge

The Background:

A couple of weeks ago, I was one of the lucky winners of a competition run by the lovely people at Organic Surge.  The prize was a girly night out at an exclusive screening of Sex and the City, and, alongside plying us with wine and popcorn, we also all received a goody bag filled with their range of skincare treats.

The Blurb:

I had a great time, it was lovely to meet some of the people behind the brand, and chat to them about how excited and positive they are about the company and what they're trying to do.  The competition was to celebrate Organic Surge's nationwide launch at Boots, which they're very happy about, rather unsurprisingly!   Founder Alan McKenzie told us that it was his dream to produce a range of ethical skincare products untouched by "harmful" chemicals at an affordable price, and that for every product sold a proportion of the proceeds are used to support the Kenya Children's Home and Watoto charities.

What really interested me was that this is a budget range, and yet every product is free of
  • Parabens, SLS, sulphates
  • Synthetic perfume
  • Chemical antioxidants mineral oils, petroleum, propylene glycol
  • Aggressive foaming agents
All of which is more than good enough for me to introduce them as my first review for my Organic Wednesday review!  And yes, I know it's not Wednesday, but there have been some refurbishment issues here at Lippie HQ ...


The Review:

In my goody bag, I received (full size!) samples of their Eye Gel and Daily Cleansing Wash alongside a jar of their Blissful Daily Moisturiser for Normal skin, which is what I'll be reviewing today.

For what is basically a cheaper brand, the packing of all their products is surprisingly sturdy, the moisturiser comes in a decent size glass jar, which was a pleasant surprise.  Once you open it up, you're greeted with the cheery and uplifting smells of rosemary and lemon oils which is a nice way to start your day.

The cream, in the pot, appears thick and rich, but on application it's actually pleasantly light and is very easily absorbed (in my case, possibly a little too easily absorbed, about which more later).  It disappears readily into the skin, and doesn't leave an oily residue, which is nice.  I also found it had a slight mattifying effect on my skin which I think will be welcomed by some oilier skinned people.  The scent doesn't linger too long after application, which is good, there's not a lot worse than being able to smell your skin care products all day.

The Rating: 7/10 

It's cheap (currently £7.99 at Boots), does what it says it will, and smells lovely.  As a basic moisturiser, albeit one without SPF, it's a very nice one.  I have quite dry and sensitive skin, so I found that it wasn't quite moisturising enough for me, but I'd very happily buy the Super-Intensive Daily Moisturiser version of it instead.  I've been using it now for three weeks, and haven't had any issues with sensitivity or spots, so I'm sold!


Tuesday 13 October 2009

Lip of the Day - Studio Secrets 411

Today, I wore my new L'Oreal Studio Secrets 411 lipstick.  It's a lightly pink "nude" shade, and I bought it as part of my ongoing quest to find the perfect nude lipstick.  What I want is a lipstick that'll make it not look too obvious that I'm wearing it, yet give me a polished look.

Here's how it looked on:

L'Oreal have arranged their Studio secrets by hair and eye colour, which is a fad I thought went out in the late eighties.  I'm also bemused by the blurb on the stand that says "light brunettes" should go crazy with colour on the lips, then provide a selection of all nude shades to "go crazy" with.  It's a nice lipstick though, gave a good coverage after just one coat, and didn't wear off too quickly.  It lasted till lunchtime without really needing touching up, even though the transfer onto cups was dreadful. It feels moisturising when you're applying it, but I think after a few hours of it totally wearing off, my lips feel slightly drier than they did this morning.  The colour doesn't quite work for me, I don't think, but it doesn't make me look dead, which is a nice change for a nude.

But we really have to talk about the packaging.  I like the idea of the clear central section - so you can see what colour the lipstick is without taking the lid off- but this packaging just doesn't work for me.  It looks cheap.  In fact, it's beyond cheap-looking, it is cheap.  The plastic feels flimsy and brittle in the hand, and the top just barely snaps into place, so it doesn't feel very secure.  It's a shame, as this isn't cheap lipstick, it's currently £8.99 at Boots, many of the budget ranges do better packaging than this, it's the sort of plastic that will shatter if it gets left at the bottom of your handbag.

All in all, I give it 6 out of 10.  Nice lippie, shame the packaging belies the price.

Monday 12 October 2009

Makeover: Seona - The Return

This is Seona:

Some of you will have seen Seona on the blog before from when I did her wedding makeup.  Seona's a good friend, and was one of the first to volunteer for another makeover when I had the idea for this series a couple of months ago.

After sitting down and discussing what Seona wanted from this session, it was hard to decide, Seona wanted both a lesson on how to do a smokey eye, but ... wanted to use some "exotic" colours.  She's been using a lot of browns and bronzes lately, and thinks she's been stuck in a bit of a makeup rut.  In the end, we decided to do a bit of both.

Browns and bronzes really suit Seona, but we decided to use purple as an accent colour today, but first, we need to sort out the base:

Seona doesn't need much coverage at all, so we just smoothed in a light layer of Bobbi Brown Tinted Moisturising balm in Light, then followed that with a dusting of MAC Blot to remove shine.  Then, to even out the colour on Seona's eyelids, we added a thin layer of my (recently depotted) Urban Decay Primer potion to her eyelids:

Then, we applied a colourwash of Trish McEvoy eyeshadow in Cashmere (a lovely pinky-purply brown shade) all over the lid:

Then, to accentuate the crease, and add some definition, we added Trish McEvoy eyeshadow in Sugar Plum in a v-shape to the outer corners of her lids:

Once this was blended out, we added Trish McEvoy Definer shadow in Deep Amethyst as a liner to her upper lid:

And went back to Cashmere for her lower:

Again, we smudged that out, and added a layer of Max Factor Masterpiece Mascara, then added blush (MAC Blushbaby) and finished off the look with a slick of Bare Escentuals Buxom Lipgloss in Dolly:

And here's the finished look:

However, when we were finished, I didn't think this was "exotic" enough - it was a lovely daytime smokey eye, but I realised we could take it to a nighttime look very easily by adding a brightly coloured eyeliner, so out came my trusty bottle of Urban Decay liquid liner in Ecstasy:

And presto, the day look became a night-time one!  Here's the obligatory (and specifically requested by Seona) soft focus "glamour shot":

We had great fun, and I'd like to say a massive thank you to Sarah for acting as my photographer.
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