Beauty Without Fuss

Saturday 28 September 2013

Estee Lauder Amber Mystique Eau de Parfum

Did you know Estee Lauder had a couple of unisex fragrances these days?  No?  Me neither.  But they do.  In 2011 they released Wood Mystique, which has been generally well received by those in the know, and this year, they're following it up with Amber Mystique, which is currently exclusively available in Harrods in the UK.

Both Wood and Amber Mystique are quite firmly targeted at a middle eastern audience, being deep rich fragrances, and both utilising oud wood in their compositions.  I however, am a sucker for amber fragrances at all times, like on a cold day, when I want a hug in a bottle, I instinctively turn to Amber Sultan by Serge Lutens, which smells like a spice market, and I dragged my new husband all over Paris on our mini-moon back in February purely so I could track down a particular supermarket brand of amber-fraganced deodorant that I'm addicted to.  Yes, I like amber.  A lot.

And I do like this fragrance.  It begins with a rose-oud combination, smelling slightly medicinal, and a tiny bit fruity, there's a hint of blackcurrant leaves in the top, with their slightly herbal-soapy scent, then it's rose and pink peppercorns adding a hint of flora and spice to the mix, and then in the drydown there's a woody amber which is a little spiky, smelling more like pencil or cedar-wood shavings than the smooth, lacquered woods I think I was expecting from such an expensive entry from the Estee Lauder line.  It's not a criticism, more an acknowledgement that there actually is something a little unexpected in the heart of what could be a strictly middle-eastern-fragrance-by-numbers, if you were feeling a little cynical about the whole enterprise. 

After spending a couple of years smelling a lot of niche fragrances, I don't think this one from Estee Lauder is particularly original, but I do enjoy it's deep, dark richness, and if you're looking for something a little bit different to the recent releases from Estee Lauder (personally, I've found the recent rash of "Nude" fragrances to be rather underwhelming. Although, by "rather", I do in fact mean "totally"), then this might totally be in your ballpark.
The Fine Print - PR Sample.

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Thursday 26 September 2013

Tom Ford Aftelier d'Orient - Plum Japonais and Rive d'Ambre

The Aftelier d'Orient collection from Tom Ford has been on counters for a little while now.  Based on both oriental fragrance types and utilising ingredients from the east, it's an interesting collection, which I personally prefer over last year's "Dark Daffodils" or whatever it was called.  After sniffing all four fragrances, I was most interested in Plum Japonais and Rive d'Ambre.  Whilst I liked Fleur de Chine, it was a little too flowery for me, and Shanghai Lily couldn't - in my opinion at least - hold a candle to the divine Lily & Spice by Penhaligons, so I passed it by.

Plum Japonais is based around an accord of Japanese Ume plum.  I was expecting it to be tart, sharp, and fruity, but what you get is actually a surprisingly smoky scent, redolent with a tiny hit of stewed fruit behind it.  It is similar in feel to Serge Lutens Feminite du Bois, but it lacks a little of the spice that the Lutens contains in spades (and that always reminds me a little of Christmas), making it a little softer and rounder than its Lutens counterpart.  It lasts gloriously well, and this might well be my least sarcastic Tom Ford fragrance review as a result.  It's nice, and I like it a great deal, however, I'm not sure it's original enough for the price tag. It's sophisticated, and gently wearable, whilst being different enough from most things on the high street, but ... you could wear Feminite du Bois for £80 less a bottle ...

Rive d'Ambre I simply fell in love with, in spite of (or perhaps because of) its lack of originality.  It's a cologne, essentially, albeit one that opens with fruity, juicy almost photo-realistic orange juice.  It's bright, fresh and (oddly) adorable.  It's almost the scent of those orange juice ice-lollies you remember from being a little kid.  It's not quite as fresh or green or as bitter as a traditional cologne, remaining fresh, bright and cheerful more or less to the end.  When you do get to the end, there's a cuddlesome amber at the bottom, which is as friendly and lovely as the top notes.  Again, I'm not entirely convinced it's £140's worth of bright friendliness, but it is lovely, and it makes me smile whenever I wear it.

My favourite way to wear these fragrances is layered.  I spritz with Plum Japonais first, then a slight spray of Rive d'Ambre over the top.  Rive just seems to add a little brightness to the rather smoky plum fragrance, and layering extends the wear of both.

Still, at least none of them are called "Daffodil of the Night", I guess ....

The Fine Print: PR Samples
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Wednesday 25 September 2013

Reiss Grey Flower Eau de Parfum

I don't go to Reiss very often.  Well, ever, let's face it, but now they've released a fragrance, at least there will be something in the shop that'll fit me these days ... anyhoo, I was very surprised when I first sniffed Grey Flower released by the brand in association with Azi Glasser, I'd been expecting some fizzy, flowery, sugary syrup designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator with the simple aim of being as innoffensive as possible in order to maximise sales.

I was wrong.

Grey Flower is an amazing fragrance to be launched by a high street store, and from the slightly medicinal (almost oud-like) opening, to the challengingly prickly and spicy wood base, it feels decidedly "niche" to the nose, and I was expecting a higher price point than £49 after I smelled it, too.  This smells expensive and intriguing, and not like anything else for the money.  The formulation also contains pimento berry, frankincense and amber, and the nose-tinglingly spicy woody base is sequoia wood. There is not a flower, or a stewed fruit nor a even the slightest hint of candyfloss in sight. It's a deep golden-seeming fragrance, making the perfume rather peculiarly named ...

It's dry, spicy, and rather unusual, I genuinely can't think of anything else (that I've experienced) that it smells like, and it's rather marvellous for that.  Whether the average perfume customer will appreciate it is another matter, however, and I look forward to finding out the first set of sales figures.  Oh, and I bet the first flanker is a whole bunch more conventional ...

The Fine Print: PR Sample

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Tuesday 24 September 2013

Ellie Saab Le Parfum - Eau de Parfum Intense

This is the second flanker to the original Ellie Saab le Parfum, which was released in 2011, the original was, I found, a rather sweet and diaphanous orange blossom and honey fragrance.  I liked it, but it always felt rather "thin" to me, and whilst I do wear it once in a while, I don't adore it as some people do.

In 2012, they released an Eau de Toilette version (which I haven't smelled in all honesty), and that was supposed to evoke a fresh Meditterannean morning to the original's warm midday, and in 2013 they've finally released an "evening" version of the fragrance which is deeper, richer and more intense in almost every conceivable way.

Where the original fizzes on first spraying with bright light citrus, Intense sets its stall out early with an intriguing and heady - intensely heady - burst of orange blossom and rather animalistic honey, letting you know right away that this isn't some flighty little wisp of a fragrance that'll disappear after an hour or so.  Whereas the original finally settles into a powdery blossom fragrance, there's a meaty and distinct amber at the bottom of Intense, which is warmer and more intimate than the EDP.  

I find it a fragrance perfectly designed for the evenings, and I think it'd be a great "date night" fragrance, it seems designed almost to make people want to get closer to you to smell it more. It lasts well, and surprisingly for such a deep fragrance, it sticks close to the skin, having only a rather modest sillage. It's a thick and intense scent, but it also has a hint of playfulness not usually seen in "intense" fragrances, and I think that's down to sparkle of the blossoms used.  It's also, of course, down to the talents of Francis Kurkdjan, who is fast becoming the favourite perfumer of this particular blogger. 

30mls of Ellie Saab le Parfum Eau de Parfum Intense will cost around £40, which is a bargain. 

The Fine Print: PR Sample 

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Monday 23 September 2013

Mugler Cologne by Thierry Mugler

I'm in a funny kind of limbo at the moment, summer is most definitely over, autumn is well under way, winter is approaching on the horizon, and yet here I am preparing for my "summer" holidays.  We delayed our honeymoon quite considerably (the wedding was in February), and there's still the best part of two months before we go away, so I  have a kind of odd reluctance to part with my summer scents, not to mention the clothes!  Mugler Cologne, like so many cologne-scents is perfect for summer, (and it's the fragrance I'm taking with me on my honeymoon as a result) but how insane is that ad above?  I keep looking it and screaming "WHY ARE THERE ONLY THREE ARMS? WHERE'S THE OTHER ARM, THIERRY????", only, you know, inside my head, I'm not insane.

Mugler Cologne is fresh and slightly bitter, clean-scented with hints of laundry-musks, orange blossoms and herbs, it's about the most mainstream fragrance from the Mugler line (if you ignore Angel, that is.  Let's face it, Angel is, essentially, in a league of its own, let's face it). Certainly, it's the easiest Mugler fragrance to wear, no candyfloss (Angel), no space-jasmine (Alien), no caviar and creamy grapefruit (Womanity) and no strange hallucinations of giant Twixes wandering around your flat as on those occasions when MrLippie wears A*men.  Mugler Cologne is simple, free and easy almost.

It is very, very green-smelling, and it's quite difficult to pull out the different scents on the skin whilst you're wearing it, but there are hints of grassy vetiver, and lots of beautiful orange blossom, and I think I can detect something a little creamy, and possibly salty deep down, close to the skin.  It's crisply refreshing, and I'm hoping it'll be the perfect accompaniment to my tropical winter holiday.  It lasts about as long as you'd expect an eau de toilette to, which isn't very long at all, but it's a big bottle and constant reapplications aren't the worst thing in the world.  Sillage is moderate, so you won't be gassing anyone by reapplying, either.

Best of all, it's only £31 per 100ml in Debenhams, and the matching hair & shower gel is £17.  That's about half the price of a similar cologne from Guerlain and - get this - it's a seventh of the price of the same size bottle of Tom Ford Neroli Portofino ...

The Fine Print: The fragrance was a PR sample, but I've been and bought the bathing products as a result of the sample ...

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Friday 20 September 2013

Guest Post by Kitty at Not A Nose - Home Keratin Treatment 2

A month ago I tested this kit that I purchased on Amazon and wrote about it for Get Lippie. So how is it now?
Well, the super-straight wore off after a week, so I’m left with hair that looks more like ‘my’ hair, but more under control. This photo is my hair the day after I left it to dry naturally. As you can see the wave has returned but it isn’t as frizzy.

I’ve noticed lots of positives about the treatment:-
  • My hair does not frizz up as quickly, normally the day after washing my hair just starts getting bigger and fuzzier (see the last picture on this post for an example
  • I don’t suffer from terrible helmet hair after I’ve been horseriding, and I now dare return to the office after sneaking off for a lunchtime lesson, rather than having to hide my bad, sweaty hair shame at home.
  • When I can be bothered to straighten it, the process feels a lot quicker.
  • It seems to suffer from humidity based frizzing less. So I went on a drizzly night after straightening my hair, and it stayed straight the whole night.

Negatives of the treatment:-
  • It slightly limits your choice of shampoo and conditioner, as you have to avoid Sodium Chloride.
  • It takes quite a while to apply, but in some ways you’re spending 1.5 hours on one night to save you lots of little bits of time over the subsequent month.

Will I be doing this kit again? Hell yes! (and not just because I’ve got half a jar left!) I’ve liked having better than normal hair for a month, and I can only hope it keeps going for another month.

You can find more writing by Kitty at

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Thursday 19 September 2013

Guest Post By Hair Advice and All Things Nice - How To be Victorious in Voluminous Hair

Getting volume in our hair that stays put and doesn’t fall flat is something most of us struggle with. Too much backcombing and you look like a birds nest, too little and you’re left with limp locks. Read on for some hair-boosting advice and a few product recommendations.

Good volume is all about the prep. Go for a volumising shampoo (Redken Body Full is great!) and avoid using conditioner on roots; this tends to weigh hair down. Concentrate on the ends to help hair look big without sacrificing the condition. Using a mousse or spray pre blowdry will with styling and avoid using too much product to finish as this can weigh hair down. A light spritz of hairspray should do the trick.
If you can’t give yourself a salon quality blow dry yourself without getting in a tangle, use Velcro rollers to give hair added lift. Simply blow dry as normal then pop some large rollers in the top section of hair (crown and parting) and blow dry on a low setting for a couple of minutes. Leave to cool completely and don’t take out until you are just about to walk out there door. 

There are tons of hair products on the market that promise to boost our hair but luckily I’ve tested and trailed most of them and have found a couple of gems that will hopefully make your hair look so big, people will ask if it’s full of secrets.
  1. Lee Stafford Double Blow Mousse – this stuff is great for creating volume and comes with the signature scent
  2. Oribe Dry Texturising Spray – whilst a little pricey, this stuff delivers volume without the product feel to hair, great for those with fine tresses
  3. Indola Innova Volumising Powder – this little tub of hair texturising powder works wonders sprinkled along roots.
  4. Ojon Volume Advance Shampoo & Conditioner – this will give hair a volume kick and can also help make it stronger and thicker thanks to high protein ingredients.
  5. Boar Bristle Backcombing Brush – you can pick these up from any good salon supply store. Use the fine point end to section hair, and tease from underneath to get instant volume.
You can read more from the lovely Kelly at

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Wednesday 18 September 2013

Guest Post by Kitty at Not A Nose - Home Keratin Treatment

My dream is to have low-maintenance hair, and I’ve tried other straightening treatments to achieve this ( with limited success. This is my hair on a good hair day – it’s wavy, thick and quite coarse. It only looks this good in the photo thanks to the conditioning spray that I liberally applied before letting it air dry. The waves will turn into frizz by the next morning, and no amount of spray or scrunching will get them back. If I straighten it, it pretty much inhales humidity and becomes really big and scruffy within a day.

[picture 1]

I’m trying this Brazilian Keratin kit that I purchased on Amazon . It contains everything you need to carry out the treatment apart from a hair dryer and straighteners. Unfortunately it did come with those horrible disposable gloves that are stuck onto the paper. These always remind me of lobster claws and they always end up letting stuff run down your arm into the glove.

The instructions supplied were pretty clear with the step by step process described, and a page of FAQ. The instructions advise a patch test for 48 hours before applying the kit. You MUST do this. In the Amazon reviews there are people complaining about reactions to the product, and as the product will be left on your hair for 48 hours you do need to be certain it won’t cause you any problems.

So – down to the process. All in all this took me about 1.5 hours, if you have a friend to help it probably will take less time.

Step 1: Wash your hair with the supplied clarifying shampoo. Comb your hair first as this shampoo left my hair quite tangled and hard to comb.

Step 2: Blow dry your hair on medium heat.

Step 3: Put on the gloves, section up your hair and use the brush to apply the product. I wasn’t actually sure how much product I should use, in the end I’d used half of pot on my relatively short hair. The product doesn’t smell too bad at this stage, a bit sugary sweet. Help from a friend at this stage would be useful, I had to use 2 mirrors and a lot of uncoordinated hand waving to apply it to the back. Comb through the product just in case you’ve missed a bit.

Step 4: Blow dry your hair straight on medium heat. Hooooo boy! Now the product smells like I’ve fallen into a vat of toxic crème caramel. This stage really has to be done in a well ventilated room, by the end of it my eyes were streaming. It also seemed to take a lot of drying, at one point I was really thinking it wasn’t going to dry at all. At the end of this stage my hair felt a bit ‘claggy’ as if I’d applied too much mousse/product.

Step 5: Straighten your hair with hot irons, going over each section up to 7 times. Use a comb to hold your hair while you do this as the hair will get mighty hot. The smell was still there, but not as eye-wateringly powerful, and my hair didn’t feel sticky any more.

And here is the finished result. It looks pretty flat and straight doesn’t it?

Now I am into the RULES

Rules for first 48 hours until you can wash your hair for the first time (you can leave it longer if you want and if you’re a dirty mare like me)
  • Keep your hair dry, if it does get wet, blow dry and straighten.
  • do not tie your hair up, push it behind your ears or kink it in any way.
  • Re-straighten your hair if any kinks develop .
  • don’t feed it after midnight.
  • Avoid hair products that contain salt (sodium chloride) as it shortens the lifespan of the treatment. It can be found in shampoo, conditioner and non-obvious products like heat protection spray.

I used Tresemme Naturals shampoo and conditioner, but you can buy specialist salt free shampoos on Amazon.

I ended up leaving it 72 hours before washing my hair due to general laziness, I didn’t find the treatment left it greasy. I washed it, did a very quick blast dry with a hair dryer just running it through with my fingers, and here is the result.

I’ll be back in a couple of days to to let you know how the treatment held up.

Kitty talks too much on social media, and is trying to keep her essay writing mojo alive in the summer vacation by writing about perfume

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Tuesday 17 September 2013

Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick & Liner in Manic

I am SO glad Urban Decay have got rid of their old, deeply tacky, lipstick packaging.  Whilst I like skulls and that, having a SWORD as a handle just made me too embarrassed to use the damn things.  Oh, and I regularly used to impale myself on the damn things in my makeup bag, too. 

However, if you coat something in pewter, I've discovered I'm pretty much powerless to resist.  And a hammered finish? I'm in! Luckily for my lips, the contents of the new range of Revolution Lipsticks from Urban Decay is pretty damn fine too.  I picked out Manic as my choice, a lovely wine shade:

It's autumn, and I'm really getting my deep cool shades at the ready for the cooler months to come. Manic is a nice transitional shade from summer to autumn, being rich, but not really very dark, as you can see here:

It's a slightly browned wine, glossy in finish, and the matching liner is just a little more pink, and matte.  They're a good match though - if your lips are on the more pigmented side, the liner will give a nice "My Lips But Better" finish, if you use it to fill the lips in entirely, as I've done below:

The liner is creamy, smooth and velvety soft, and I've found that it applies nicely without any dragging.  However, it does wear down very quickly, so if you want a sharp line (as you will with some of the deeper shades in the range), you'll need to sharpen extremely regularly.  It definitely forms a good base for the lipstick though, you can see both here:

Revolution Lipstick has a lovely soft texture, and feels creamy on the lips (rather than slippery), and they're extremely well pigmented.  The above pic shows one pass of the lipstick (over the liner) on my lips.  I find they last quite well too, taking at least three or four hours before needing a touch up.  They're also nicely pigmented without the liner too:

As you can see, the finish is a little less creamy without the liner, but it's no less pigmented for all that.  It's rather more translucent, but that's about the only difference using it without liner. There are 22 shades in all, ranging from the palest of nudes to the darkest of deep purple-browns, with a lot of really nice reds in between, I have a couple of the other shades too, and I'll show you those soon.

Personally, I don't bother with lipliner much, so I don't really go a bundle on this one (plus, it's so soft I estimate you'd only really get two applications per sharpening, so I'm not sure they're entirely cost-effective), but the new lipsticks are a definite winner ...

Have you tried them?

The Fine Print: Press samples.

This post: Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick & Liner in Manic 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

Monday 16 September 2013

Raspberry Pie, Red Velvet and Backstage by Revlon

I *may* have done a little lipstick shopping last week ... I've had the Red Velvet Lip Butter from Revlon for a while now, and I really like the texture and opacity, so I thought I'd splash out on Raspberry Pie too.  Then, well, a hand swatch showed backstage was the exact same shade as the handbag I was carrying so, well, you know ... anyhoo, let's take a closer look:

The Lip Butter phenomenon completely passed me by then they first launched, being a rather under-pigmented (to me) collection of pale shades, I dismissed them as little better than lip balms.  When they launched a few darker shades recently, I was intrigued.  Raspberry Pie and Red Velvet are  bpth glossy and moisturising, and are pigmented enough to cover up my rather unevenly pigmented lips:

The lasting power isn't the greatest, but they're more than adequate given the price (and they're practically permanently on 3-4-2  in either Boots or Superdrug these days), and I really like both of these shades.  Well, I like all of them, really.

Raspberry Pie is a cool, bright blue-based pink.  In the bullet there's a hint of blue micro-sparkle but that's not visible on the lips.  Red Velvet is a lightly browned red, on my lips, it's a rather neutral shade, perfect for every day.  Backstage is a cool burgundy that dries to a matte-velvet finish.

It is, quite frankly, terrifying in the tube, but on the lips, it's a bright and pretty shade, with great lasting power.  I do find my lips need to be in absolute tip-top condition before using the Ultimate Suedes, as they can be a bit drying if you've not prepped your lips with balm beforehand.

  For me, this is a great collection of nice, everyday, easy-to-wear shades.  What say you?

The Fine Print: Red Velvet was a press sample, but the other two were purchases.

This post: Raspberry Pie, Red Velvet and Backstage by Revlon 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

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Selena Gomez Collection from Nicole by OPI

I don't even know who Selena Gomez is, aside from some kind of Disney poppet, so I have no idea what I was expecting from this collection.  Certainly what I was expecting was a collection of uber-brights!

From left to right here we have: Love Song, Spring Break, Pretty in Plum and Hit The Lights. 

Love Song is a saturated lilac with a white-ish base.  Spring Break is a pretty cool bright pink.  Pretty in Plum is a shimmering royal purple (not quite enough red in the formula to be a real plum-shade), and Hit the Lights is YELLOW.

The colours are rich, glossy and deeply saturated with pigment, and whilst I'll realistically only wear the pink and plum shades from this collection, I was surprised at how much I like the colours! 

So, um yeah.  Selena Who? 

The Fine Print: PR Samples.

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Tuesday 3 September 2013

Sally Hansen Autumn Collections

This collection doesn't scream autumn to me, but it's an unusual collection of lovely shades and some fashionably "ugly" shades ...  It's actually a couple of collaborations in conjunction with several fashion designers, but, as I am a bad, bad, blogger, I have to admit that I care more about the colours than the designers involved.  I am so NOT fashion, dahlinks.

 From left to right we have 
Stocking Nude
Coat of Arms
Loden Green
New Wave Blue and 
Night Watch 

Stocking Nude is a lightly greyed pink.  Coat of Arms is a platinum with slight hints of gold, Loden Green is a deeply browned khaki, New Wave Blue is a gorgeous blue with a greenish tinge, and Night Watch is a medium navy, which isn't quite dark enough to appear black on the nail.

The Sally Hansen Salon Manicure is said to have a lot of nail benefits (currently my nails are far too raggedy for public display, hence the nail wheels), has anyone tried these formulas?

Any of the shades catch your eye? I'm thinking New Wave Blue might make a great holiday pedicure ...

The Fine Print: PR Samples.

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Monday 2 September 2013

Comparison: Black Sugar by Tom Ford, Sulfurous by Guerlain and Facet by Illamasqua

I was picking out my favourite polishes for autumn, and when I had  made my list, I realised that Black Sugar by Tom Ford, Sulfurous by Guerlain, and Illamasqua's Facet are quite similar, so I thought a comparison might be in order. 

When I got the bottles together, I realised that they were quite different, but possibly not *that* different.  

First up, Bottle impressions:

Tom Ford Black Sugar.  This is a browned-taupe, with a quite beautiful red shimmer visible in the bottle which is almost impossible to photograph, in my experience.  Not the end of the world though, as it's impossible to see on the nail too, as it turns out.
Guerlain's Sulfurous is more of a shimmering charcoal in comparison to the other two, and is much, much darker than either. 
Illamasqua's Facet is a softened medium dove-grey, enlivened with lots and lots of bronze shimmer.

On the nails:

Black Sugar has the thinnest formula and is a little prone to dragging.  This isn't helped by the super-long brush handle, which is required because of the super-tall bottle.  If you're a cack-handed muppet like myself, it's the least easy polish to apply in the bunch.  That said though, the Tom Ford nail polish formula is a good one, and the shades tend to wear very well indeed.  It's a nice, slightly flat, browned taupe on the nails, a cooler version of Chanel's Particuliere, in fact, and none the worse for that. It dries a little darker than it appears in the bottle.

I've reviewed Guerlain Sulfurous before, and it's clear I really like the deeply complex shimmering charcoal of it.  I notice in macro-mode, however, that it's a little brush-strokey, but this isn't visible in real life.  It has a wide brush which makes application easier. 

Facet by Illamasqua is an unusual colour on the nail, being not quite grey, and not quite bronze, whilst appearing also not quite khaki too. Whilst it lacks some of the complexity, and (in my eyes) beauty of Sulfurous, it has its own unique loveliness, which I really like.  The brush is a standard round brush, and the formulation is a little thinner than the Guerlain, but spreads really nicely over the nail.  Illamasqua polishes also tend to be extremely hard wearing.

So, all very similar, and all rather different too.  Personally, if I could only have one, it'd be Sulfurous by Guerlain, but the other two are very beautiful too.  Which would be your choice? 

The Fine Print: PR Samples.

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Sunday 1 September 2013

Silent Sunday ...

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