Beauty Without Fuss

Tuesday 31 December 2013

Best of 2013

For me, 2013 has been a really good year, the happiest one I've had in a while, luckily there have been some products released this year that have really measured up too ... here's my pick of what I have used most or discovered over the last twelve months:

An unsung hero of mine, This Makeup Forever Aqua Pencil in 19 (light brown) is something I use on a daily basis, particularly for under-eye lining.  A slightly rosy taupe, it's hugely versatile, being as it is actually the colour of shadows on skin, and is perfect for a very natural look without being too "done". You can buy Makeup Forever from PAM Cosmetics.  I picked mine (and the backup) up in Paris, but I can't recommend that for everyone ...

I've featured these three before, but this has been a good skin year, and I mainly have these three products to thank.  The Clarins Gentle Exfoliator is by far my product of the year (and, I might add, that Clarins has definitely been my brand of the year), but the Hydraluron and the Chantecaille - which is a perennial on these lists of mine - run it a very, very close second.

New additions to my favourites of the year are from Cargo, namely the Magic Brush, and Waterproof Blush in Bali:

 I've really embraced pink blusher this year, and I love this soft rose with a hint of blue micro-shimmer.  Applied with the hugely versatile "magic" brush, it really is a facelift in a tin! These came from Debenhams, and look out for a fuller review of both in the new year ... 

Speaking of Debenhams, the new Beauty Hall at the Oxford Street branch is a sight to behold, with a whole bunch of brand-new to the UK brands, of which Tromborg is a definite must-try.  I adore the organic lipstick in Sitara:

Look at that beautiful packaging! A soft tomato-red, which a hint of silver microshimmer, Sitara is a perfect everyday red lipstick that looks very natural, here's how it looks on my (rather tanned at present) mush:

The products are available at Debenhams, and are soon to be available on QVC.  You can find out more about Tromborg here, and I'll have more products from the range to show you in the New Year too.  

This Bodhi Luce Revitalising Face Oil is beautiful stuff.  Run, don't walk, and go get yourself some. I'm almost at the end of this tiny bottle, and I'm torn between reinvesting in this, or in the Desert Rose oil instead.  Oh, such a tough decision! 

My lipstick of the year is Lipstick Queen Saint Wine.  I don't have much to say here aside from the fact that I'm now on my third tube, which I think tells you everything.

Hourglass Luminizing Powders have become a BIG obsession this year.  I now have five of them.  Six if you include the back up of Diffused I have around somewhere.  Perfect for a finishing glow without adding pigment, these are amazing.  And so is the brush. 

Every single morning, without fail, I apply lipbalm, and my lipbalm of choice this year has been this one:

 Hurraw Balm in Chai Spice.  It's delicious, and does a perfect job of prepping my lips for even the most drying of lipsticks.I got mine from Content, one of my favourite shops in London.

Speaking of dry, Z Matrix Energy & Moisture Infusion is the perfect remedy for dry, dehydrated or stressed skin.  It even makes a wonderful moisturiser.  It's a rare favourites list of mine that doesn't feature a Zelens product in it somewhere and this one is no exception.  Of all the ultra-luxe skin care brands I try, Zelens is the one that delivers every single time, no matter what the product.  To say I love Zelens would be a mild understatement.  

And finally ... I struggled with including this as it was limited edition product but the Tom Ford Skin Illuminator in Fire Lust has been an astonishingly versatile product, and it's become much-loved as a result.

A peachy pearlescent liquid, it's a great - subtle - highlighter, but where it really comes into its own is as an addition to foundations.  It adds a wonderful "glow" to them, and leaves you with a beautiful dewy finish.  If it comes around again (and, knowing Lauder, it's rather likely), it's a good one to pick up. 

So there you have it, my favourite cosmetics and skincare of 2013, I'll showcase perfume and haircare products very soon ...

 The Fine Print: A mixture of PR samples, purchases and repurchases/  My credit card aches.  ACHES, I tell you.

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Wednesday 11 December 2013

Review: K West Hotel & Spa

Mr Lippie and I decided to start our honeymoon early, so the day before our flight to the Maldives we popped along to the K West Hotel and Spa in Shepherd's Bush for an afternoon of last minute shopping, and an evening of pure relaxation.  We're so glad we did!

Around 11 years old, the K West is based in an old BBC office building (as you'll be able to tell when you're wandering down the corridors, in a good way, I promise you!), and the hotel is literally a five minute walk away from Westfield, and the tube/overground rail stations.  It's ideally situated for an afternoon of shopping, and it's easy to get to Central London from here too, making it a great base for either tourist-stays, or in our case, a base for locals to see London a little bit differently.

K West has an amazing wet-spa, and we spent several hours in there, utilising the steam rooms, the bubble beds (in the pool above), the sauna, the "kuddles" (below):

And, our favourite, the snow room, which has real snow!

It's London's only snow room in a spa, and it's a real experience.  I loved running from the sanarium into the snow room, and back again, over and over!  The bubble beds were such fun too, once you got the hang of not floating off them!

All the bedrooms feature king-size beds, and our room had a California Super-King bed, which is, it must be said, the biggest bed I've ever seen!  Big enough for us both to starfish, and still have room for at least two more people in there ... well, in theory ...

A great, comfortable (more important to me than trends these days), well-stocked bar rounds out their offering, they have a great selection of cocktails, and, even though MrLippie and I found ourselves too relaxed to hit the bar after an hour or two in the spa, it definitely looked like a great place to hunker down with a drink and a snack for the evening.  It's a friendly and welcoming place, literally every staff member we met during our stay was smiley, and took the time to wish us good morning or afternoon - NOT service we're used to in Central London!

Breakfasts at the K West are hearty and delicious, there's a selection of pastries to get you started (I still dream of their mini-Pain au Raisin!), then you can have the cooked breakfast of your choice to follow, which features such delights as American-style pancake stacks, smoked salmon with scrambled eggs or the old favourite, the full English.  The sausages are *excellent*, by the way. 

All in all, K West Hotel & Spa gave us the best possible start to our honeymoon, and we're very grateful for the opportunity to go visit and find out more about them.  They're holding a couple of open evenings, one on 12th and one on 19th December, if you want to pop along and find out more for yourself (and grab a drink and a canape or three, whilst you're about it, too!).  I can't recommend the place highly enough, we've both said that if we had the cash, we'd try and stay here a lot more often!  Visiting a hotel on your doorstep might be a little odd, but when it's a great hotel, then it's real treat ...
The Fine Print: The Lippies were guests of K West Hotel & Spa. 

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Monday 9 December 2013

I'm back!

You'll have to bear with me whilst I deal with the post-honeymoon blues, but in the meantime, here are some holiday photos ...

The Maldives is one of the most beautiful places on earth, if you get a chance to go, take it.  This was, without doubt, the best holiday I've ever had.

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Monday 11 November 2013

So ...

The sharp-eyed amongst you might have noticed that I've been having a bit of an unexpected break from blogging recently.  Truth be told, it's been an extremely long, and busy year.  A (very) happy one in the main, but frankly, I'm completely, totally and utterly exhausted.  I've had no time off for six months bar one day last month, and I'm in the middle of the busiest period of the year at work so blogging has had to take a little backseat for a while. I've been keeping my weekends free for my tiny nervous breakdowns!  Seriously, I'm that knackered, I can't even bring myself to do my usual drunk-tweets during X Factor ...

However, I do still have lots of things to write about, I'm still full of ideas for the blog, I'm just a little short on time and sleep right now, but I will be back!

Next month. 

In the meantime, in a few days time I'll be here:

Finally taking my long-delayed honeymoon!  Hard to believe I've been married the best part of a year already, and I'm only just getting my holiday!  So forgive the radio silence for a week or two, and I'll be back, bigger, brighter and bossier than ever.  Soon. 


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Sunday 27 October 2013

Merry Christmas!

Shurrup, the clocks have gone back, haven't they?  That means Christmas is right around the corner, in my world.

A few weeks ago, I innocently tweeted about my "Christmas cupboard", and it was picked up on by Tesco Mobile.  We had a little twitter conversation, about the holiday season, and, whilst I fairly quickly figured out they were up to something, I couldn't figure out what. Turns out they had a big surprise up their sleeves!  To find out more, click and watch the video below (it's pretty amusing):

We're still picking the glitter out of the soft furnishings ... but you can see what else Tesco have up their sleeves by following their #AnytimeUpgrade hashtag on Twitter ...

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Friday 25 October 2013

Lulu's Time Bomb Complexion Cocktail

I've ignored Lulu's skincare up until now.  I don't really know why, but I just find celebrity tie-ins rather gimmicky, and ordinarily I'd prefer to buy my skincare from certified skincare professionals rather than ex-popstars, but that's me being a snob, I guess.

Complexion cocktail is a lightly viscous pale pink liquid, which is packed full of hydraluronic acid and vitamin B12, it's designed for tired, dehydrated skins (which has been a bit of a theme this week if you've been paying attention) and I think it's a bit more of a treatment than a daily toner.  I think it would be excellent for sorting out hungover skin.  Which I never have, of course. EVER.

I use this after my Clarins Gentle Exfoliating toner, and it soothes cools and refreshes whilst adding a shot of moisture before I follow it with Hydraluron, Aquarysta  and my normal moisturiser.  I really like it.  It's great for adding a shot of moisture when you need it, and if I could change one thing about it (besides the pea-green container, which is rather hideous), I'd put it in a spray bottle to make it easier to refresh your skin with the product during the day.

Lulu's Time Bomb Complexion Cocktail costs £24 for 100ml from the Timebomb website, or you can get kits containing a full size of the product from £35 on QVC.  I might even investigate the range further, myself.

The Fine Print: PR Sample.

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Thursday 24 October 2013

Lipstick Queen Metals - Wine


It's always a thrill when Lipstick Queen releases a new range, and this is a slightly interesting departure for the brand: a frosted "metallic" finish.  Three shades will be available when the lipsticks are released in November, a nude, a red and a wine.  I'm a HUGE fan of LQ's wine shades (having worn both Saint and Sinner Wine to a nubbin this year), so this was a nice lipstick for me to get hold of.  Let's take a look:


Metal wine is a deep and cool, but bright burgundy shade, packed with tonnes and tonnes of metallic particles.  It's not really a shimmer, and it's definitely not glitter, it's also not a chrome finish either.  It IS quite metallic though, look:

I was a bit worried that the colour would look "frosted" on the skin, and therefore instantly transport me back to 1986, but I needed have worried.  The lipstick is pigmented and rich (and unscented), and it is slightly more sophisticated than I would have expected from a metallic formulation:

Wear time is good, a full three or four hours or so before needing a touch up, but you will get the red ring of doom from this shade though.  A bit, so it's slightly high-maintenance.  I also find it slightly more drying than the regular Lipstick Queen formulation, so do make sure you prep with plenty of balm first.  As you can probably tell from these shots, I didn't:

Metallics by Lipstick Queen will be on counter from early November.  

The Fine Print: PR Sample

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Wednesday 23 October 2013

Astalift Aquarysta and Indeed Labs Hydraluron

I went through a phase recently of extremely dehydrated skin thanks to a product that will remain unnamed. Once I'd identified (a moisturiser with built-in sunscreen - NEVER again) and eliminated the culprit, I needed to get my skin back to full hydration, but I wanted to try and avoid greasiness if at all possible.  I'd been trying - and failing - with Hydraluron for a few months, but decided to give it another go, layered with another product that I've tried in the past, and quite liked, but didn't love.

It turns out, however, that if your skin is dehydrated to the point of feeling like pebbled leather, then your skin will LOVE these two products, especially if you layer them one over the other for a double whammy of hydrating gel-based goodness. 

Astalift Aquarysta is based around collagen, and Hydraluron is chockfull of hydraluronic acid.  Both are gels, a texture that normally gives me the heebie jeebies, but I can't deny that that for dehydrated skin - and not, I must make clear, dry skin,  my skin is on the oily side, albeit sensitive - gels are fabulous.  Easily absorbed, and not leaving a residue on the skin, I found that my "pebbly" problem cleared up in a couple of days, and I've kept up using this duo of products ever since.  My skin is smoother and more evenly textured than it has been in a long time as a result.  I'm happy!

I love how the Aquarysta jelly self-levels in the jar after you scoop some out (there are, quite literally, whole minutes of fun you can have chopping up the jelly with the tiny scoop included then watching the product right itself), and both the Aquarysta and Hydraluron leave skin in great condition, and ready for your moisturiser over the top. Just a quick word for people who don't like scented products though, the Astalift range is rather heavily scented with a slightly old-fashioned tea-rose scent, and some people might find this offputting.  

 Hydraluron is unscented, and is usually included in those 3-4-2 offers at Boots. I highly recommend that you pick up a tube or two, just in case.

Personally, I think that if your skin is in good condition, then you might not notice these products making any difference - I certainly didn't! - but when your skin is totally out of condition, or tired, or lacking some glow, then both (or either, I realise not everyone is as lucky as I am with my magic blogger cupboard), of these could make all the difference in the world.  I'm off to purchase backups of both for my honeymoon next month, when I fear the sun and the salt and the sunscreen is going to wreak havoc with my complexion ...

The Fine Print: PR Samples.

This post: Astalift Aquarysta and Indeed Labs Hydraluron originated at: Get Lippie All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post at Get Lippie, then this content has been stolen by a scraper

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Top Five Favourite Blushers

Since I had my colour-draping back in June, I've been looking to replace my not-quite-right golden coral blushes with something a little cooler and pinker. For a long time, I never wore blusher at all, fearing I'd look like a clown, or Aunt Sally or something, but I realise these days that my makeup simply isn't complete without blusher, and finding the right shade is deeply important.  I've been building up this tiny blusher wardrobe for the last few months, and here are my current favourites:

Clockwise from bottom left, we have:

Cargo - Bali
Art Deco - Blush Couture
Illamasqua Velvet Blusher - Peaked
Smashbox Halo Longwear Blush - In Bloom
Laura Geller Blush'n'Brighten - Ethereal Rose/Sateen Subtle Berry

All are pinks or plums of varying intensities, except Smashbox In Bloom, which is a rather pinked coral, which is probably the brightest shade here.  Swatches:

 Swatched in the same order, you can see Cargo Bali has a slight hint of blue microshimmer, giving the pinkish coral a cooler overtone.  Art Deco Blush Couture is a lovely soft plum with a smooth satin finish.  Illamasqua Peaked (in the centre) is a very cool raspberry purple, which is a glorious shade, but I find it rather hard to apply naturalistically, it definitely needs a duo-fibre brush and an extremely light hand.  Smashbox In Bloom is a pretty pink-coral that is great with an extremely natural look for lightening and brightening my face.  I love it.  And then there is the Laura Geller Ethereal Rose, which is the one I've had the most use out of recently. It's probably the most subtle of the five here, but it still gives a great subtle glow, and a fabulous highlight effect.

Here's how they photograph with a flash:

As you can see, only Peaked and In Bloom have a matte finish.

What's your favourite blusher at the moment? 

The Fine Print: Mixture of PR Samples and purchases.

This post: Top Five Favourite Blushers  originated at: Get Lippie All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post at Get Lippie, then this content has been stolen by a scraper
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