Beauty Without Fuss

Sunday 20 December 2015

LipsNspritz of the Week 20.12.15

Perfumes from Terry de Gunzberg, L'Artisan Perfumer, Caron, Alaia, Robert Piguet, Bella Freud.  Lipsticks from Estee Lauder, Givenchy, Pixibeauty, ByTerry, Art Deco and Revlon

Well, unlike last week, there were no hugely stunning nasal revelations, alas, but there was still a lot to love about LipsNspritz this time around, and one nice discovery, which is good.  If you're wondering what LipsNspritz actually is, it's my way of smelling something different every day in an attempt to cure my parosmia, and a way to force myself to actually wear ALL of my something like 6/700 different lipsticks.  I'm documenting them daily over on Instagram, where you can join in with the hashtag if you like! As well as lipstick and perfume, there's also generally gin, handbags, candles, the occasional sweary makeup bag, and very rarely (don't panic) a glimpse of my face.  

Anyhoo, this is how this week went:

Monday: Mercure Ombre by Terry De Gunzberg and Estee Lauder Empowered.  Mercure Ombre is a warm and rich blend of violet and orris with hints of a very lipstick-y rose, and powdery ambre-sandalwood base.  It's really rather lovely indeed, and I liked wearing it a lot. Empowered is a sheer warm tomato red, which is really nice to wear. 

Tuesday was L'Artisan Perfumer Nuit de Tuberose, alongside Givenchy Interdit Vinyl in Rouge Rebelle. I love Nuit de Tuberose, and it was a definite contender for my wedding fragrance back when I was searching for "the one".  It's an unusual take on tuberose, starting off with a bright but sour (and slightly green) mango, which also has something a little damp and bosky (even ... swampy?) alongside.  Then the chewy bubblegum confection of tuberose arrives, and it's fun from that point on.  I love the unusual mango-opening (I love sour things generally), and this is a great fragrance.  Givenchy Interdit Vinyl lipsticks aren't actually in-store yet, but they're sheer and lovely, and have some of the most pleasing packaging it has been my pleasure to photograph!  Full review on this (I have a couple of other shades to wear yet) coming up soon.

Wednesday was my work Christmas party, so I dug out my bottle of Nuit de Noel by Caron and paired it with a fab red, Raspberry Blush by Pixibeauty.  I love Nuit de Noel, and always save it for this time of year, it's gently spicy, and doesn't fall prey to any of the orange-pomander-cliches you expect.  It's soft and lovely, and a real skin scent.  Raspberry Blush is a great example of the slightly pinked-reds I love, and the texture on this soft matte shade is great too.

Thursday I wore Alaia by Alaia for a full day for the first time, and wore it with ByTerry Rouge Terrybly lipstick in Cherry Cherry.  Alaia by Alaia is a difficult fragrance to pin down, it has hints of suede, of rose, of apricot, but it also has a strangely addictive creamy quality (it smells like perfumed and well-lotioned skin after wearing suede gloves, I think) that reminds me slightly of the now sadly-discontinued Amaranthine by Penhaligons. All in all, rather lovely, but it'll take me a couple more wears before I can really pin it down, I think.  Cherry Cherry is a really matte red, that wears very well.

Friday saw me back in tuberose, but this time in a classic version, Fracas by Robert Piguet.  I first heard about Fracas in Rivals by Jilly Cooper, and I've been a bit obsessed with it ever since.  Jilly described it as a "sharp, dry scent", and it was worn constantly by Cameron Cook.  Jilly is sadly wrong about the fragrance, it's neither sharp nor dry, but it's a loud, strident, neon pink confection of hefty tuberose, and ... just a hint of sex.  And bubblegum (all tuberoses eventually smell like bubblegum to me, I have no idea why, luckily, I rather like the smell).  I love wearing this.  Almost as much as I love Jilly Cooper, now I come to think of it. Worn with my other Art Deco Dita von Teese (I have two, the other one is pinker), lipstick, which is blood red and hot.

Saturday was me in 1970 by Bella Freud (composed by Azzi Glasser), and Revlon Balm lipstain in Crush.  My parosmia has caused 1970 to be troublesome to me since it arrived chez Lippie, as it opens with both vetiver and patchouli - both of which my post-parosmic nose still struggles with and registers as burned - but on Saturday something clicked and the smell finally registered properly for me.  A happy occasion, as 1970 is really rather nice. Alongside the aforementioned patchouli and vetiver, there is saffron and rose, and after a rather full-on inital hippy-chick vibe, the rose and saffron take over, from that point on it's a lovely and warm and slightly spicy rose.  Happy to have discovered this one at very long last!  I do seem to default to tinted balms at the weekend though, it's too much effort to put on a full face of slap on a Saturday ...

There's one more LipsNspritz of the week to come, featuring all my favourite Christmas fragrances, and my brightest reddest shiniest lipsticks of the year, but that'll be my final post of the year ...

The Fine Print: PR Samples and purchases.

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Skincare of the Week 20.12.15

Skincare featuring Serozinc, Zelens, Pixibeauty, Dr Dennis Gross, Bioderma

I got a bit obsessed with a couple of products this week, namely the Pixibeauty Skintreats H20 Skindrink serum and Glowtion Day Dew moisturiser.  Mixing them together, and using in place of my regular moisturiser has lead to a lovely, fresh glow that's rather addictive.  I find the cream just a little too glow-y on it's own, but mixed with the H20, it's ideal.  I used it four times this week, and I'll be wearing it  a lot over Christmas too ... Definitely back-up worthy, these two products! 

Zelens was back in my routine in a rather big way this week too - my prep for my  Christmas party involved PHA+ pads, antioxidant serum, and the balm cleanser, a great mix with the Pixi combo mentioned above over the top!  I've also been giving Dr Dennis Gross Retinol Eye Cream a thorough workout this week too, and results are still yet to be decided on.  My cough is nearly gone, but my skin still needs some TLC, so it needs a couple of weeks more before I decide if it's a miracle product or not.

This is the last Skincare of the Week for 2015, because next week I'll be travelling.  In the meantime, Merry Christmas! 

The Fine Print: PR Samples and purchases.

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Friday 18 December 2015

Pixi Books of Beauty

Currently available as limited editions at Marks and Spencer you need to rush to pick these up for Christmas presents this year!  I love a bit of Pixi Beauty and they do great kits.  This year they're in book form, and I have three of them to show you.  Minimal Makeup, Brow Know How, and Touch of Blush.

Each book comes with six large pans of colours, some of which are split, so you get 6, 8 or 12 shades in each book.  Let's take a closer look.

Minimal Makeup

Comes with two highlighters (top), a blush and a bronzer (middle) and four eyeshadow shades (bottom), all in beautifully neutral shades.

A Touch of Blush

Six shades of blush, three warm, and three cooler, there are infinite mixing and matching possibilities for this one.

And finally, Brow Know How:

More of a pro-palette this one, it contains six split pans of eyebrow powders to suit every single eyebrow eventuality.  I love this one, and none of them are maroon, either ...

Run, don't walk, to your nearest branch of M&S beauty to pick one of these up for the makeup obsessed friend of yours this Christmas!

The Fine Print: PR Samples

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Thursday 17 December 2015

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil

I was so bummed when I missed out on the original, limited edition release of the Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil earlier this year, I love lip oils - don't think enough brands do them - and these ones literally sold out in seconds. 

Available in two flavours, Honey (on the left up there) and Raspberry (right), the Instant Light Lip Oils don't really add much in the way of colour to the lips, but they do feel both light and nourishing in wear, and I think at this time of year, they're nicer to wear on your lips than many normal balms.  They've a really glossy finish, and I like the big sponge does foot applicator.  The flavours are nice too, and my favourite is the raspberry.

Now available in Clarins permanent line,  the Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil cost £18 each.

The Fine Print: PR Sample

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Wednesday 16 December 2015

Desert Island Skincare

I was wondering, briefly, what I would take if I had to pare down my skincare routine right down to its very, very basics.   I get lots of people mentioning that I use a wide range of products on my skin, and if I think that's a good idea, bearing in mind that my skin is quite sensitive.  My reply is usually that whilst I do rotate products quite a bit, I tend to stick to tried and trusted favourites, and just swap in one new product into my routine at a time.  If you follow me on Instagram at all, you'll see my morning face routines on the day, and there's usually a core of products that I use, and only swap one product or so a day.

Picking my core, desert island skincare was difficult.  Very, very, very the end, I narrowed it down to these nine items, and I made them mostly old favourites, because, whilst I've trialled some amazing skincare - some that I'm convinced will be future classics, I haven't been using them long enough to see if they make the "repurchase" hall of fame.  All of the products featured here, with the exception of one, have passed that particular hurdle, and in spades

First things first, cleansing.  I picked two cleansers, one a basic no frills, no scents, no luxury cleanser, which is perfect for sensitive skin, and also makes a great makeup remover, and that is Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Oil.  I've not reviewed this yet (but I will), but I love it for days when my skin is acting up, and I want something that my skin won't - can't - react to.  For a cleanser that is the exact opposite, that is luxurious in every single way, smells divine, beautifully textured, and fantastic for a second cleanse, I chose Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm.  Follow the link for a full review.

Toner.  There was only ever one "toner" on this list, and that was, of course, La Roche Posay Serozinc.  I play with others, but the zinc in Serozinc makes all the difference to my skin.  For an acid tone, however, I chose Zelens PHA+ Bio Peel Facial Resurfacing Pads because they are glycolic-free, and my skin tolerates them better than any other acid toner on the planet.  There is a rumour going around that I only bought the Caroline Hirons Beauty Box recently because I needed to stock up on these, and I only wish I could deny that ...

Serum-wise, I went with Artemis by Sunday Riley.  This was an incredibly difficult choice, and I uhmmed and ahhhed about putting Hydraluron in its place instead. In the end I went with Artemis because it is more of a multi-purpose product, which you can use as an oil or a serum, and it's anti-inflammatory qualities make it a great product for skin prone to sensitivity or redness, like mine. I'd miss Hydraluron though.

I guess you could also call  May Lindstrom's Blue Cocoon a serum, but it's a balm that turns into an oil, and it's fantastic for sensitive skin.  I use it whenever my skin is flaring up, or when it needs a little extra protection, either from products or from the weather.  It's truly a desert island product in that I can't imagine life without it.

Speaking of balms, the Nuxe Reve de Miel never ever makes it onto my skincare of the day posts, but it is a product I use every single day without fail. It softens the lips beautifully and prepares them for lipstick perfectly.  I love the matte texture, and this version, "Love" has a lovely orange flavour, which I like more than the original honey version.

For eyes, I chose Omorovicza Blue Diamond Eye Cream, which I have enjoyed using a great deal this year.  Whilst I wouldn't describe it as my holy grail eyecream - which I'm not sure exists, tbh - it is a very, very good eyecream.  Except the price will make your eyes water ... 

And finally, moisturiser.  Now, I'm pretty much of the opinion that if you get everything else right, you can use pretty much anything as a moisturiser, to be honest, but I make an exception for this, Kate Somerville Goat Cream.   Moisturising, soothing, and also gently exfoliating (it's packed with lactic acid) this is a moisturiser beyond compare.  I can't wait for Kate Somerville skincare to come back to the UK.  I hear rumours that it's on the horizon, and, as soon as I hear anything confirmable, I'll let you know.

So there you go.  If I could only use a few products, these would be the ones I would choose. I think. What skincare products couldn't you live without?

The Fine Print: PR Samples and purchases

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Tuesday 15 December 2015

Annick Goutal Noel Candle

We don't actually have that many Christmas traditions at Lippie Mansions, now I come to think of it (stuffing your face, drinking booze for breakfast and watching too much telly are pretty much universal, aren't they?  AREN'T THEY?) and we don't really go in for Christmas decorations that much - we have a couple of muji Christmas trees, but that's about as far as it goes - but one thing we do go in for is Christmas candles, and we go in big.

For my money - and even for yours, for that matter - the Annick Goutal Noel candle is one of the best.  It smells of orange, pine and balsamic resins and is the nearest thing to spending your Christmas Eve in the forest you'll ever get in the comfort of your own home.   It burns cleanly, and will scent out the whole house in just a few hours. 

Christmas isn't Christmas until we've lit the Annick Goutal Noel in our house ... 

The Fine Print: PR Sample

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Monday 14 December 2015

New CiD i-Glow and i-Bronze Minis

There is little more pleasing than a giant version of something small, or a mini-version of something rather larger.  When New CiD sent me a taster of their mini-versions of their really rather superb face powders last week, I was utterly delighted.  I'm a big fan of New CiD powders, I think they're hugely underrated for blushes, and it must be said that their i-Glow in Coral Crush is probably my favourite blusher ever - certainly it's the only one I've hit pan on twice!

They sent me i-Glows (which work as blushes or highlighters, or in the case of Coral Crush, both) in Sirocco and Ice Pop and an i-Bronze in Rio, which, if you've ever read this post, you'll know I own full-sizes in these already:

Coupled with their dinky powder brush, these are an ideal stocking filler, and a perfect addition to any makeup bag.  I'll be carrying Ice Pop around with me for blush emergencies from now on!

So, how do they measure up to the full-size versions?  Full size i-Glows and i-Bronzes are 8gms of product, and the mini-size contain 1.8g, so just less than a quarter size.  That said, these powders last and last and last though, in daily use, 1.8gms would probably last you at least 6 months, if the two year lasting power of a full-size powder is anything to measure by ...

They're just as pretty and as pigmented as the full-size powders, and cost £14 each, as opposed to the £25 for a full-size one.  The brush, also a handy makeup bag size also costs £14.  Now, I'm just off to pick up a mini Coral Crush, and I'm all set ...

You can find New CiD makeup at their website, or at Look Fantastic.

The Fine Print: PR Samples

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Sunday 13 December 2015

LipsNspritz 13 December 2015

I really enjoyed this week's #LipsNspritz, thanks to making a stupendous discovery about Shalimar that I've always missed before.  Sometimes having a "before" nose and an "after" nose thanks to my anosmia and my parosmia has it's blessings!  Anyway, more about that when I get to the Thursday part of today's post.

Monday was Aesop Marrakech Intense with Lanolips Apples.  I love the peppery-spicy rose of the original Aesop Marrakech a huge amount, without at all falling into the Christmassy spice trap, it's a true treat for spice lovers.  Ironically, Marrakech Intense drops a little of the peppery-tickly spiciness in favour of a brighter, greener, altogether fresher (without actually turning into a "fresh" scent) take on the spice market, but it's still lovely, nonetheless.  It's rosier too, and slightly easier to wear as a result, I guess.  Lanolips Apples is a lovely red balm that nourishes a treat on the lips, and never looks fuchsia when you're wearing it, which is something I really appreciate.

Tuesday brought DSquared2's She Wood and Givenchy Le Rouge Givenchy in Rose Dressing.  Sadly, something in the formulation of She Wood smells "burned" to my parosmic nose, and I wasn't able to get past that to smell anything else in there, but I'm given to understand that She Wood is a pleasant woody fragrance, designed to smell good to women who like to wear men's fragrances - it has vetiver in the base, which is, I suspect what my nose is reacting too.  I'll smell this one again in a few months, I think and see what happens then.  Givenchy le Rouge Givenchy  in Rose Dressing is a lovely neutral rose-pink, perfect for unthreatening days in the office.

Wednesday was YSL Black Opium and Lipstick Queen Rat Pack.  I'd not smelled Black Opium before, and it's a nice fragrance, but it's about as far removed from the original Opium as, say, the smell of freshly brewed coffee is.  Inoffensive, and packaged in a gorgeously sparkly bottle, it's a great perfume for people who don't remember the original, and just want to smell "nice".  Lipstick Queen Rat Pack, from the Velvet Rope collection is a fabulous red lipstick though, feather light, and with a HUGE punch of pigment, it's one of my favourites.  

On Thursday, I thought I'd wear Guerlain.  For some reason, in spite of not, actually, liking it very much, I have acquired at least five bottles of Shalimar, of differing strengths, formulations and vintages, but the old classic and I have never really gotten along that well.  I've always found it a thick, rather oily and smoky perfume, like an old fur jacket that's spent too long around cigar smokers, and I've found the vanilla overpowers literally everything else in the fragrance. I've read myriad reviews of Shalimar that rave about the bright and sparkling bergamot opening, but for some reason, my nose has always gone straight to the base, and not found it lovely.  However, this week, after having not worn Shalimar at all for a couple of years I sprayed it with some trepidation and presto!  Bright and sparkling bergamot ahoy!  It was a glorious revelation, all the more precious because I've literally never smelled it before.  Best of all, the bergamot beat the vanilla into submission so this was infinitely more wearable for me than ever before, parosmia or no parosmia. A happy discovery, and I'm looking forward to trying more of my Shalimar wardrobe as a result.  Lipstick was Guerlain Rouge G in Madame Flirte, a lovely soft red.

I was interviewing candidates for a job on Friday morning, so nothing too unusual or outrĂ© was required and this Eau des Minimes from Couvent Des Minimes was just what the doctor ordered.  A clean and classic herbaceous-citrus cologne, it was bright and lively, and not too long-lived.  And can I just say how much I love the packaging?  It's really rather lovely.  I wore Lipstick Queen Saint Wine, which may just be my favourite lipstick of all time with it.  Didn't want to scare the poor accountants!

Saturday was a pyjama day - still trying to shake this hideous cold off - but I dug out my bottle of Guerlain Teazzurra, which is one of their Aqua Allegorica collection (and, I believe, soon to be discontinued, so if you've been interested in it at all, then you might want to snap one up now).  Teazzurra is based around citrus and black tea accords, and it smells like nothing more than sweet, sift and lovely lemon tea.  Not the most sophisticated fragrance, possibly, and definitely not very complex, it doesn't last at all long, but it's lovely whilst it does.  I wore it with a Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Plushest Punch, because even when you're ill, sometimes you want to look (and smell) nice, don't you?

What've you been wearing this week?
The Fine Print: PR Samples and purchases.

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Skincare of the Week - 13 December 2015

Not a hugely exciting week skincare-wise, admittedly - I'm still ill and still look like death warmed up (if death was into the fourth week of a cough that makes them puke at regular intervals, that is) - but I did get my Caroline Hirons Skincare box this week, so from Tuesday onwards you can see the Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum, and the Dr Dennis Gross Retinol Eye Cream have been added to my regular rotation.   I can't judge their results yet - indeed, it would be unfair to do so, seeing how grotty I look generally at the moment, to be honest - but they're a nice addition to my routine and I'm looking forward to seeing how they work generally once I recover.  The box was a good one though, especially as I got back ups of some longtime faves, the May Lindstrom Blue Cocoon Balm, alongside the Zelens PHA+ Bio Peel Resurfacing Pads, in the box too.  But more about those products in particular later this week.

I also added some Hydraluron back into my routine, both in the serum and the moisturising jelly formulation. I do like a bit of hyaluronic acid in my routine, and I like Hydraluron very much - I especially like the moisturising jelly as a great hydrating moisturiser for oily/combination skin that doesn't need an oily cream over the top as well.  They were on offer at Boots recently, £30 for the serum, the jelly and a box of sheet masks for £30, which is a humongous bargain!  I may have bought a couple of them!

I think my dreadful cough is on the wane now, hopefully I'll be back to looking like a human by Christmas ...

The Fine Print: Stuff and things from my cupboard and that.

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Wednesday 9 December 2015

Votary Cleansing Oil

I love discovering new brands, and browsing around Liberty a good few weeks ago, I was intrigued by Votary Cleansing Oil.  From the colour of the bottle - a pleasing bright green, that stands out so beautifully from the white and pastels of many other skincare brands - the gorgeous rose-gold label, Votary looks different to many other skincare brands, and it has a slightly different ethos too.

Designed by makeup artist Arabella Preston, the Votary website has this to say about cleansing (and I quote it here in full because I couldn't agree with it any more if I'd actually written it myself):

‘You’ve been told that clean skin should feel stretched and tight. That’s simply not true. Massage this natural oil into your skin, and follow it with a hot flannel for a fantastic way to cleanse your face and remove make-up. It leaves your skin feeling clean, soft and plumped."

Skin should not feel taut, or squeaky after cleansing.  Ever.  It's a hard habit to break though, and initial trials of oil-based cleansing are often abandoned by people who claim that their skin feels "coated" or "unclean" afterwards, when in fact they're actually so used to having their skin stripped and dehydrated by (usually) foaming cleansers, that they no longer know what healthy and hydrated skin really feels like!  I spent years thinking my skin was both dry and acne-prone when in fact what was happening was that I was stripping my skin so much that it was flaking off because the foaming cleansers I favoured were just removing the oils my skin needed, and spots were just being caused by the inflammation caused by the harsh chemicals.

Discovering oil cleansers - my first was Origins Liquid Crystal, long discontinued now, but held in high esteem here, even now - was the saviour of my skin.  So I am delighted to have Votary in my rotation now.  It's a slightly viscous oil that spreads easily over the skin, and is particularly suited to massage. It smells delightful (lovely when you have a hot flannel over your face, and are inhaling the steam before you start to remove it), and has an exceptionally short ingredient list; Sunflower, Apricot, Jojoba, Grape Seed, Rose Geranium, and Chamomile oil, essentially.

It does remove makeup, but I like it as a second cleanse for it's nourishing and massage-worthy qualities.  One thing you do need to know about the formula is that it absolutely, postively, totally does not emulsify, and so can only really be properly removed with a cloth.  Luckily, Votary Cleansing Oil provides a generously sized and luxurious cloth in the box. It costs £45, which I'm aware is a high price, but with such a clean ingredient list, it's not really a surprise that it's on the expensive side.  The bottle is a generous one, and you don't need much to cleanse your whole face and neck - I've been using mine 5-6 times a week (mostly as a night cleanse, which is why you don't see it so much on my weekly skincare posts - I'm too lazy to document my skincare twice a day) and I've probably used about an eighth of the bottle so far, if that, so it lasts and lasts.  I think I've probably got at least another 5 months or so usage in there, anyway.

An investment purchase then.  But if you don't invest in your skin, no one else will.  You can find Votary in Liberty Beauty Hall, or at their online shop.  If you care about your skin, Votary will care for your skin.

The Fine Print: Personal purchase.

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Monday 7 December 2015

Clinique Deep Comfort Body Oil


First things first; I don't have dry skin. Secondly, I don't use body lotion, as a rule.  These two facts may be related.  I do, however, occasionally get dry shins in winter.  I wear trousers a lot, don't wear a full-length coat for fear of looking like a hobbit, and so my shins, protected only by my trousers and the tights I usually wear beneath are the bits of my body most exposed to the weather, really.  There's always a week, every winter where my shins get so dry and flaky that they ITCH like nothing on earth and it drives me bananas.

And still body lotion seems like too much of a faff, frankly.  They're always too scented, or too thick, or just take too damn long to rub in, and I just can't be bothered.  Enter Clinique Deep Comfort Body Oil, a light spray that has just enough heft to be able to hydrate even the most crocodilesque of shins, yet is light enough to barely need any rubbing in whasoever.  It literally sinks into skin almost as soon as it is sprayed on, and soothes the itchiest of limbs.  I love it.

At £21 or so for quite a small 125ml bottle, however, I suspect my drier-skinned friends (of whom I have many) will be cursing at the price.  Admittedly you don't need very much at all, I found one spray per shin plenty to go around. For me, based on two weeks a year usage, and two sprays per shin per day, whilst I doubt I'll ever finish the bottle in this lifetime, as an emergency itch-relief product, it can't be beaten.

The Fine Print: PR Sample

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Sunday 6 December 2015

LipsNspritz of the Week 06.12.15

After spending last weekend doused in Tom Ford's finest Black Orchid (albeit in the new Eau de Toilette version rather than the EdP), I was obviously stuck in a rather Tom Ford kind of groove for the early part of this week.  

Monday brought Tom Ford Black Violet, a scent which I have always preferred to Black Orchid, for some reason (but it's now discontinued), a gloriously rich and decadent fragrance, one which reminds me of the glory days of women's cinema in the forties.  It's a fragrance with shoulder pads and red lipstick, which I subverted by not wearing shoulder pads, and wearing with MAC Hot Tahiti, which is a slightly browned wine-shade, which reads like a neutral on my lips.  I did wear black leather though ...

Tuesday was Tom Ford Tuscan Leather, long one of my favourite fragrances.  I was surprised on wearing it this time, however (the first since I lost my sense of smell last year) that I can now pick up the raspberry notes that, in other writers descriptions, have always mystified me somewhat.  A nice discovery!  It still smells leathery to me - which I love - but now it has an extra dimension that I never noticed previously, a great thing. I wore it with Bare Minerals Call The Shots which is a great red lipstick.

Wednesday brought a neglected gem from my perfume collection, which was Maison Francis Kurkdjian Amyris Femme.  This had been shuffled to the back of one of my drawers, and I confess that I'd completely forgotten about it as a result.  I'm completely kicking myself about that now, as it is incredibly beautiful.  I described it on Instagram as luminous and sheer, bright with citrus in the opening, and warm with woods and resins in the base.  Classy and expensive-smelling, it's radiant and gorgeous, and I can't wait, actually, to wear it again.  So I'm wearing it again today as I write this ... I paired it with Laura Mercier Cherries Jubilee Lip Parfait, which is a sheer natural red, which I like a great deal too.

I spent some of Thursday talking to various government bods (like you do) so I thought I'd wear something classic.  Naturally, when I opened the box, I was a bit hacked off that my bottle of Chanel No 5 was actually a bottle of Chanel No5 Eau Premiere. Not the end of the world, admittedly, but annoying, especially when it turns out that Eau Premiere is just a little too restrained for my damaged nose to pick up in any detail.  It's very nice, I'm sure, but it's no No5.  Now I'm wondering where my bottle of No5 has got to, I know I have one!  I wore it with Revlon ColorStay Moisture Stain in India Intrigue, which is one of my favourite pinks, as it lasts and lasts.  It does dry a bit though.

On Friday, I was planning to meet some friends for dinner, so an old favourite fragrance was in order, and I picked Guerlain Pamplune Aqua Allegorica.  Grapefruit scents have been tricky for me for a while, thanks to their sulphurous qualities (I struggle with vetiver as well for the same reason), but I think it's coming back now.  Either way, Pamplune smelled good, well as good as a sweaty grapefruit (and I mean that in a good way) can, let's put it like that.  I wore it with Smashbox Lip Lacquer in Legendary Red, which is a smashing red - I'm ashamed it's taken me so long to wear it.

Saturday I was ill, again, I'm totally fed up with it now, but  it's becoming a way of life at the moment, it appears. Anyhoo, I still wanted to smell good, so I picked up my bottle of Balmain Ivoire, which is soapy-fabulous (even though rather thin in comparison to its 80's-tastic fabulousness before reformulations and re-releases happened to it) and classy and very, very clean.  Still lovely.  I had been planning to wear it with a revlon lipstain, but as I spent the day in my pyjamas, that didn't actually happen ... 

What've you been wearing?

The Fine Print: PR Samples and purchases, all combined.

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Skincare of the Week 06.12.15

Having sensitive skin whilst the seasons are changing can be awkward, certainly I find that I have to be extra careful with the active ingredients in skincare when the weather is at its least predictable.  Still being ill with a cough really isn't helping, either. My skin has been on the verge of being really reactive this week (I can usually tell as tiny bumps start appearing on my temples), so I've swapped my routines around a bit, to be a bit kinder to my skin.

I have dropped the acids from my daytime routines and I'm now only using them a couple of times a week - at night.  This gives my skin time to recover from using them whilst I sleep, and stops my skin getting irritated by the weather so much during the day.  I'm going to avoid using glycolic all over for a while until my skin settles down again.

In other news, I've re-introduced one of my all-time favourite skincare brands back into my routine - namely Kate Somerville.  I'm so happy to have Goat Cream (you can see it in my Thursday PM pic above) back in my routine.  It's gentle and soothing, and thanks to the lactic acid, it's also ever so slightly exfoliating.  I've been using the Pixi Skintreats Glow Peel Pads to exfoliate my chin separately, however, as I have a semi-permanent build up of sebum there, and I'm hoping the 20% glycolic on those pads will help deal with that.

Now, if only these things helped with cold sores ...

The Fine Print: PR Sample

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Tuesday 1 December 2015

LipsNspritz of the Fortnight, Pt II

 This week, I basically took a "lucky dip" approach to my perfume and lipstick choices.  After three months and nearly 80 lipstick and perfume pictures, I realise I'm probably something like a quarter of the way through my fragrance collection, and possibly, maybe, a tenth (perhaps?) of the way through my lipsticks.  There's a few months of this to go, yet, I think!

Monday was Miller Harris Cassis en Feuille, which bears a passing resemblance to Jo Malone London's Blackberry & Bay (a perennial autumn favourite), but just has a little more grassy vetiver in the mix, so has a little more ... oomph. I wore it with MAC All Out Gorgeous, which is rather aply named.

Tuesday was Etat Libre d'Orange's Antiheros, which is the lavenderiest lavender there ever was.  Luca Turin described it as "cheap lavender soap, but strong", and so it proves to be.  I've missed lavender a lot whilst I've been parosmic (up until recently, it has smelled burned and awful), and to have it back is wonderful.  Lavender contains such a variety of scents, it's herbal and floral, and has a hint of balsam, and mints in there too.  That it is maligned as a "granny scent" is an eternal mystery to me.  I wore it with Charlotte Tilbury's Red Carpet Red which is one of the best red lipsticks ever.  

Wednesday had me in something just a little more ladylike, the musky prettiness of Sarah Jessica Parker's Lovely.  I only like a couple of celebrity fragrances, and this is a good one. It reminds me of Narciso Rodriguez, only at a much more acceptable price-point.  I wore it with Illamasqua Stark, which I also like very much, though it's a little patchier than I recall it being on application.

Thursday brought a board meeting and Lancome's Climat - a little-known fragrance from Lancome's back-catalogue.  It's a sweet and powdery ladylike little whisper of a thing, a proper "Grown-Up" fragrance so I rarely wear it, for that reason.  Paired with Stila Long-last Lipgloss in Firey (I think, the label has worn off), it saw me through a board meeting where I managed not to kill anyone, so a winner, I think.

Friday I wore Boucheron by Boucheron, which is a big heavy-hitter of a floral fragrance, in a beautiful bottle, designed like a piece of jewellery, which always delights when I spray it.  Paired with Estee Lauder lipstick in Dominant, which is a very fine pink indeed.

On Saturday I was heading to a party in Soho, so I wore the ultimate party-girl fragrance: Tom Ford Black Orchid, in the new eau de toilette formulation, still loud, and one of the happiest fragrances around, it's a joy.  I paired it with the Matte Balm from Revlon in Striking, which is the loudest red I own, and wore them both with sequins.  A jolly good time was had by all.

The Fine Print: PR Samples and purchases.

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Monday 30 November 2015

LipsNspritz of the ... er ... Fortnight.

I hate being ill, and I really hate being ill to the extent that it interferes with my posting schedule.  Nonetheless, here's a double-dose (whether you wanted it or not, frankly) of my weekly diary of lipstick and perfume-wearing.  The above pic is from the week ending 22/11/15.

Monday was Etat Libre d'Orange Like This, alongside Chantecaille Lip Chic in Wild Rose.  Like This is probably my favourite "gourmand" fragrance, being a blend of pumpkin, mandarin, ginger and immortelle.  It should smell like a pumpkin pie - which it does, to an extent - but it also smells warm, sophisticated and slightly tweedy from the prickle of ginger.  Perfect for autumn, and just plain delicious at any time.  

Tuesday was continuing the gourmand theme with Laura Mercier Ambre Vanille, alongside Laura Mercier Lip Glace in Rose.  Both are easy and simple to wear, without being too challenging.  Ambre Vanille is sweet and warm, and Rose is a beautiful neutral, which will work on many colourings.

Wednesday brought Hermes Eau d'Orange Vert which is one of my favourite citrus fragrances of all time - I go a little insane for mint in fragrances, and this combination of bitter orange, sweet orange, and just a hint of peppermint oil makes me a little weak at the knees.  I only wish it lasted longer.  I wore it with the rosy mauve of Shiseido Lacquer Rouge in RD529, which is quite an opaque liquid lipstick.

Thursday I wanted to wear a classic, so I did.  Guerlain L'Heure Bleue, a beautiful dance of orange blossom and iris, coupled with vanilla and a little spicy carnation, I adore this fragrance.  It feels blue all the way through, so I wore a blue-toned lipstick too, which was Illamasqua Magnetism.  I got several compliments on the fragrance, as I always do when I wear it, and resolved to wear it more often.  Which I will when this project is over.

I fully intended to wear Tuberose Criminelle by Serge Lutens on Friday, but I was too ill to cope with the rubbery camphoraceousness (TOTALLY a word - if possibly not the spelling).  I spent the day feeling sorry for myself in pyjamas instead.

Saturday I was attempting to  make myself feel better, so a hot shower and a thorough dowsing in DKNY Drop of Rose, which I love for its soft and rosy approximation of baby powder, and a slight resemblance to Ombre Rose by Jean Jacques Brosseau.  It is pure comfort in a bottle, and I love it.  I paired it with Becca lipgloss in Palm Breeze, a bubblegum pink that wasn't too challenging.

 Part two tomorrow ...

The Fine Print: PR Samples, purchases, random stuff from the back of the perfume cabinet ...

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Sunday 29 November 2015

Skincare of the week 29.11.15

I've been ill for a fortnight now - why there weren't any posts on the blog last week, sorry! And this is the skincare I've been using to help myself look approximately normal again.  It's not working, I still look like death warmed up, but at least my skin isn't blotchy and flaking.  For now ...

Monday brought Biologique Recherche Lait, with PixiBeauty Glow Tonic, Murad Eye Cream, Medik8 Red Skin serum (something I'm starting to truly love and rely on), and SkinCeuticals moisturiser - of which there is a full review coming up, because it's a great product on my sensitive oily-combination skin. Oh, and Serozinc, which is an all-time favourite!

Tuesday was the same,  only I swapped in Bioderma Crealine spray for the Serozinc (and in all honesty, I use them both interchangably - if you have one, you probably don't need the other), plus I added in Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic, for more hydration.  Tuesday was a long day at the office, and I knew I'd need a boost of hydration to get through the day, but I needed a bit of exfoliation first to make it sink in well, so the morning also brought in my much-loved Clarins Gentle Exfoliating Toner.

Wednesday was one of those days where I woke up super exhausted, and it was showing on my face, so I wanted some lovely, buffering, comforting skincare, so I dug out my beloved (truly beloved) May Lindstrom Blue Cocoon Balm, which is an amazing skincare product for sensitised slightly reactive skin like mine.  A rich balm that melts into an oil, and contains natural anti-histamines in the form of blue tansy oil, I use it as a night treatment mostly, but it's superb at protecting from the weather, on occasion.

Thursday - I'm experimenting with the Kiehls' Ultra Facial moisturiser at the moment, which I really liked in conjunction with the Blue Cocoon Balm, and, just because I could, I did a double-cleanse with PixiBeauty Nourishing Cleansing Balm, and Bioessense Miracle Cleansing Water Cleansing Jelly (about which more soon).  I don't normally double-cleanse in the morning , but sometimes you just want to kick things up a bit.

FridayKATE SOMERVILLE is back in my routine! I received a little package of the products a while ago, and I've been holding onto them (along with the KS products I've been keeping in my fridge for a good few months now too - thanks to kind friends and family who have been to the US this year, and dragged some back for me) till now.  You're going to be seeing a lot of KS in the coming weeks, but it's always a joy to use them.  I'm currently using the Kate Somerville Nourish Moisturiser, and the Age Arrest Eye Cream, but I'll be rotating a couple of other products in and out of my routine for a couple of weeks.  I also have a couple of pots of Goat Cream, but I'm keeping those mainly as night creams right now.

Saturday - I wanted to do a routine composed entirely of favourite products, both old and new ones, and this was the result.  Zelens Balm Cleanser, which I left on my face for a good five or ten minutes as a mask before removing (not deliberate, but it felt really nice, actually!) Clarins Gentle Exfoliating Toner, Serozinc, Zelens Antioxidant Serum, and three (count them!) Kate Somerville products, the aforementioned Nourish and Age Arrest eyecream, alongside Quench Hydrating Serum, which is one of my favourite products ever.  I probably need the oil-free version for every day use, to be honest, but I do like to use this on days where I'm in no rush to apply my makeup afterwards.

How has your week in skincare been? 

The Fine Print: PR Samples, purchases, and gifts which were  until recently kept in the back of the fridge ...

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Friday 20 November 2015

Library of Fragrance - Cardamom

Spicy fragrances have been one of my saviours this year.  For some reason that's not quite clear (but which is possibly related to trigeminal rather than olfactory nerve stimulation) my parosmic nose can register spicy scents (and tastes) really quite well.  So, when I discovered Library of Fragrance were bringing out a Cardamom perfume, I was super-excited.  

Cardamom is one of my favourite smells (and tastes) anyway, so I was always destined to love this, but even so, I was a bit surprised by it.  Expecting a sharp and pungent hit of hot perfumed spice, I was greeted with a soft fluffy cloud of warm cardamom-scented powder.  Creamy and gently perfumed with cardamom, this is really lovely.  It smells a lot more expensive than any £15 perfume has any right to, frankly.

Library of Fragrance perfumes aren't particularly known for their lasting power, but this seems to last quite well on my skin, having a 3-4 hour wear time (which, compared to the 30-minutes to an hour I get from Clean Laundry, is nothing short of miraculous).  I was hoping for a sharp punch of spice to use for layering over other fragrances that I have trouble interpreting, but what I got was actually a lovely fragrance in its own right, perfect for wearing alone.  Can't argue with that.

It'll be in-store soon.

The Fine Print: PR Sample

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Thursday 19 November 2015

United Beauty Gel Touch Top Coat

I'd love to be able to do a complete gel manicure at home, but sadly, I remain the cack-handed muppet I always was, and the thought of having to do all that cuticle-work and tidy-up and preparation makes me a little light-headed.  Luckily, one of my good friends is Nails by Miss Merx, so whenever I fancy a full-on gel manicure, it is to her I go.  Times being what they are, however, I can't afford permanent gel manicures, and my nose being as problematic as it is (I can no longer bear the smell of nail polish) I can't be doing with painting my own nails too often either, so what is a girl to do?

Enter United Beauty Gel Touch Top Coat, which claims to turn any nail polish into a gel manicure.  All you do is apply your nail varnish as usual, wait until dry (incredibly important, this step), cure with the included UV lamp and boom!  You're ready to go!

Costing £49.99, the kit includes a UV lamp, a bottle of topcoat and five cleansing wipes (which you use before and after applying the top coat, initially to remove grease, and then afterwards to remove any residual gel left over after curing).  I really like this, with some caveats - the cleansing wipes are on the dry side, so once you've used them pre-manicure, they're too dry to use to wipe off excess gel, and there are only five of them, and if you need two per manicure, that's only two full manis you have wipes for.  And, of course, there is the fact that your manicure won't last quite as long as a full gel manicure, either.  After a few months of using this, I can get a manicure to last ten days if I apply very (VERY) carefully, but a week is more usual. 

That said, a week is usually more than enough for me, I get bored of wearing the same colour for longer, anyway, and I can cope with only painting once a week, instead of two or three times as with normal nail varnish. 

I've used it a lot over the last couple of months (after buying myself some alcohol to use as a cleanser) and like it very much.  If you're expecting full-gel manicure wear, you're going to be a little disappointed, but if you're a lazy article, like myself, it'll save you a manicure a week.

Available from the United Beauty website. 

The Fine Print: PR Sample

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Wednesday 18 November 2015

Omorovicza Moor Mud Set

Yes, I'm back to Christmas gift sets!  What?  I love them!  And this Moor Mud Set from Omorovicza  is not just a brilliant way to try what is, frankly, one of the best skincare products on the planet, it's a bargain, too.

Containing a full-size Thermal Cleansing Balm (which normally retails at £46), a third-size Refining Facial Polisher (100ml full size retails at £65) and a third-size jar of Deep Cleansing Mask (50ml full-size retails at £57) alongside a mini-cleansing mitt, the entire kit sells for £46, which is the cost of the Thermal Cleansing balm alone!  I've reviewed both the cleansing balm and the facial polisher previously (see the links above), and I've been dying to try the cleansing mask - I've read really good things about it - so to get two good-size samples, alongside an excellent full-size product to boot brings me real joy*.  You can find this (alongside some other kits which look great) on the Omorovicza website, and in Liberty, or wherever stocks Omorovicza near you.

*And isn't that the real meaning of Christmas?** 

The Fine Print: PR Sample 


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Tuesday 17 November 2015

L'Oreal Steampod Review

I don't actually remember the last time I straightened my hair on a regular basis.  There was a time when my (naturally) curly hair was kept such a secret that it frequently came as a huge surprise to people that my hair was anything more than just slightly bouncy. I went through straighteners like no one's business!  For the last year or so though, I've been embracing my inner curly-girl, and occasionally cursing the fact that, actually, curls are a lot more work than straight hair!   And don't even talk to me about frizz ...

Anyhoo, I've about reached the end of my tether with my curls at the moment, so when the chance to review a Steampod Straightener from L'Oreal came up, I kind of leapt at it. Well, not kind of, actually leapt! The system - for it is a system - use both steam and keratin-enriched styling creams to infuse conditioning ingredients into the hair, before the ceramic plates seal the cuticles and straighten your hair.

Inside the rather imposing box are one pair of straighteners (which come complete with a comb attachment, which I love), one steam pod itself, one replenishing styling cream, and one smoothing serum.   The straightener and steam pod are attached to each other by a very sturdy wire, and the pod (which you must keep on a flat surface when in use, as it is full of water - the water chamber itself is removable for easy filling and emptying) comes complete with sucker pads to keep it in one place. 

You do NOT use this on wet hair.  You apply the styling cream to damp hair, and either blow- or air-dry until your hair is 100% dry, then, after applying a little of the protective serum to the ends, you then use the straighteners as you would any others.  Well, almost.  They're a little wider than normal straighteners and this is to encompass the row of steam nozzles (which only activate when the plates are pressed together), and the comb attachment below the heated ceramic plates.  You have to ensure that at all times the steam-holes are below the ceramic plates, so the steam infuses the creams first.  This can mean a bit of manouvering (especially around the back), but the set has arrows to show where the steam holes are - after a bit of practice, it's quite easy to remember.

The Steampod promises mirror-like shine at a lower temperature than a normal straightener, so does it deliver on that promise?  The first time I used these, no it didn't, actually.  I initially used mine at 180 degrees (I usually use my traditional straighteners at the highest  temperature, having learned the hard way that whilst my curls aren't the tightest, they are incredibly tenacious) and tried out the "normal" hair styling cream alongside the low temperature.  I found that my hair needed several passes with the straighteners to get straight, and even with a liberal application of the protective serum, the ends were still a bit frizzled, and, I admit, I was disappointed. Frizzy bits and hard work?  No thanks.

Nonetheless, I tried again (for it is not only my hair that is tenacious, at times), this time pushing the temperature up to maximum, as I am ordinarily wont to do, and this time using the replenishing cream for thick hair. I used it over wavy, air-dried hair, and the difference was amazing.  I won't go so far as to say my hair was mirror-shiny, but it was soft, shiny and straight, and best of all, felt like natural hair.  Sometimes I find that straightening my hair with a styling cream leaves my hair feeling slightly plastic-ky afterwards, and without an ability to bend naturally.  I didn't have this problem this time. Hair felt natural, and looked like naturally straight hair, rather than "ironed" hair. I loved the results, second time around.

Plus, it lasts.  The publicity for this states that it "can last up to three days" (emphasis mine) I've found that it does last at least that, and it has survived several bouts of rain this week too, both drizzle and proper stormy wind and rain without any permanent damage.  I'm impressed.   

So yes, there's a bit of a learning curve with this one, taking time to figure out the best positions to straighten your hair in, and figuring out which temperature works best for your hair (personally, I never put much stock in anything that says "styles at a lower temperature", because, frankly, my hair doesn't work that way) and making your choice of styling cream correctly in the first place - my hair isn't particularly thick, but there is a hell of a lot of it, and the ends of mine are bleached, to boot. I'd recommend anyone with anything but the very thinnest/finest of hair avoids the "fine/normal hair" cream, and just goes straight for the "thick/very sensitised" version.

All of which brings me around to the price.  It's £170 (though I have seen it for £143 on LookFantastic this weekend), which is a heck of a lot of moolah.  And then there are the creams/serums at £15 each to boot.  I can't deny that it's a lot of money.  A lot of money.  Do I think it's value for the money?  I'm  not sure, actually.  Yes, it's quicker than traditional straighteners (the combination of the steam, the comb, and the plates mean you can straighten more hair in each "grab" than with just ceramic plates), and yes, hair feels healthy and conditioned - once you get the balance right - afterwards, but £170?  I just don't know.  £143 (even though it is on offer), feels like a better price to me.  Mind, Cloud 9s retail at £130, and even GHDs cost over £100 these days, and I do feel like any of them would be an investment purchase, to be honest.

I tell what though, I have just bought backups of the creams and serums, because I can tell there's going to be a lot straighter hair in my future ... make of that what you will.  My GHDs were binned long ago, and my Cloud9s have been quietly gathering dust under the bed for over a year now. Has the Steampod replaced them?  Only time will tell, but I will be using it again this very evening ... 

The Fine Print: PR Sample

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Monday 16 November 2015

Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette

Yawn, celebrity collaborations are so ovah, amirite?  Well, no, actually, I was so happy when this appeared on my doorstep last week that I actually did a little clap in the hallway.  I need to get out more, I know.  Now, I have to admit, that I'm not, particularly, a fan of Gwen Stefani (and I could name two, maybe, No Doubt songs, if I was pressed), but I do know her makeup style quite well, and I like it a lot.  Well, I would, as it is based on my own, being mostly neutral eyes, and a strong, bright lipcolour.  This palette encompasses that look beautifully - though you'll have to supply your own lipstick ...

The packaging is a great - strong graphic black and white, with antique gold edging, it's actually rather misleading in terms of the contents, for they are not as "in your face" as the box leads you to expect:

It's a palette of neutrals with a couple of pops of bright colours and a few deeps for lining.  It's skewed very pale, however, and, whilst this made my heart sing (all the Urban Decay Naked palettes have been either too warm, and/or dark for me - so I don't use any of them), it'll be a huge problem for a lot of warmer-toned, and darker-skinned people than me, I think.

There are mattes, shimmers, satins and glitters, nine neutrals (yay!), three deeps, three "pop" shades and if you're as pale as me, it'll make you very happy indeed.  I've seen a lot of talk on other websites complaining that it is "boring", but I think it's actually hugely versatile - and, it looks exactly how I would have expected, though I'd have thought there would have been more contour shades.  But, if you're pale, which I am, it's great.

Shades are:

Top Row (l-r)
Blonde - a very pale matte gold
Bathwater - pale shimmering wheat
Skimp - extremely pale peach
Steady - shimmering cool peach
Punk - matte blackened burgundy
Middle Row (l-r)
Baby - warm pale taupe
Anaheim - matte slightly-greyed flesh tone (my favourite!)
Stark - Matte peach
Zone - warm matte taupe
Serious - glittery dark grey

Bottom row (l-r)
Pop - glittery peach

Harajuku - cool baby-pink satin
Danger - dark blue satin

1987 - glittering green-gold

Blackout - soft black.

My sample came complete with a little card with four bubbles of "UD Gwen Stefani Lipstick" samples on, which I am - possibly - even more excited about than I am the eyeshadows!  There's no information re the lipsticks available, but the eyeshadow palette will be released on November 22nd, and will cost £40.  There's a waiting list you can put your name on for it on the Urban Decay website - I predict a sell-out very quickly.

The Fine Print: PR Sample

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