Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sweet Treat from Nip+Fab

Evening girlies!!
I've finally made a dent in the MAHOOSIVE Goody bag i brought home from the LIVEBloggers event i attended the other week. I've just about come to the end of my Dove Spa body cream so i decided to give this yummy Pistachio Sundae body butter by Nip+Fab a test drive. 


This is a butter which aims to tackle dry skin and contains avocado oil, honey and Aquaxyl (for 24hr moisturisation) amongst other ingredients. My skin, on the whole, is pretty normal but i do suffer from rough patches on my arms and legs. Especially so when the weather starts getting colder. 


The first thing that struck me about this product was the scent. It smells like CAKE! I think, for anyone who is not a fan of strong, sweet scents, this product may not be your cup of tea. I'm not the biggest fan of sickly sweet smells myself but, i have to say, this smells YUMMY!! 
The best thing, for me, about this product so far is that it isn't greasy at all. The consistency is very thick and it glides on easily, but it sinks in really quickly and i don't feel sticky like i do after using some body butters (particularly cocoa butter for some reason). You can still feel that you've used it and you'll smell like a bakery but it leaves very little residue on the skin.


Nip+Fab is from the same family behind Rodial skincare and was created to bring the price down on products that offer real results including eye-brightening and skin plumping. I have browsed their full range online and am VERY keen to try their Upper Arm Fix. I cannot believe i'd never heard of them before! Eating humble (pistachio flavoured) pie now! I can see them becoming an addiction.

These body butters retail for £9.95, which is roughly the same as you'd pay for a Body Shop butter (even a little bit cheaper) and are available from nipandfab.com/shop/ 



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Saturday, 29 September 2012

French Connection/Sure Giveaway WINNER!!

Hello lovelies, I'm here tonight to announce the WINNER of my recent Giveaway with French Connection and Sure....


Here's a Reminder of the Prizes up For Grabs....
£50 Voucher to Spend at French Connection
&
A Year's Supply of Sure Linen Dry

Sooooo without further ado i'll get on and tell you who's won!!
As a said, i have chosen the winner totally at random from the 19 entries i received, which were numbered and fed into Random.Org who came up with the winning number.

So the WINNER is......
Lola's Lounge

Congratulations lovely! You will be receiving an email from me very shortly telling you what details i need to pass on in order to get your prize sent out to you as quickly as possible. Once i have heard back i will pass these details onto sure and your prize will be sent out to you directly!! 

Thanks to EVERYONE who entered. It's a shame all of you couldn't win something BUT i have my next Giveaway lined up and it's going to be SOON!! I've been stashing goodies away for you left, right and centre lately so it should be a good one!!
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Monday, 17 September 2012

Illamasqua: Beauty School Drop In and Generation Q

Today is another 2 post day for me!! I'm so inspired just lately! 
Yesterday i got to do something i've been dying to do for a long time. Before i moved to London i lived almost in the middle of nowhere and had little or no access to the resources and brands that my London peers were raving about. I've been gasping to do makeup courses for what seems like forever and a brand that has been getting me excited for a very long time now is Illamasqua. When i heard about their 'Beauty School Drop In' classes at their flagship Beak St store, held every couple of weeks, which ANYBODY can attend i almost fell over myself to get there!


Illamasqua inspire me for many reasons. Their mission to make great makeup accessible to EVERYONE just puts a great big smile on my face. They genuinely want their products to be used and enjoyed by women of all ages and backgrounds. Another reason is the stunning products and images created by their talented artists. Alex Box is someone who i have followed ever since i started getting REALLY into makeup a couple of years ago. Her work is simply STUNNING! 
I don't own too many of their products yet (trust me, as soon as my bank lets me, this will change) but every item that i do own has gained favourite status! Cream blush in Dixie and Skinbase Shade 9 (review coming VERY soon on that one) are brought out almost every day and their Freak Eau de Parfum is one of my all time favourite smells. 



 Whilst we waited around between classes i got my first chance to REALLY investigate everything they have to offer and i was bowled over by their most recent Generation Q collection. Carrying on the theme of ageless beauty, this collection of products was born with women of all ages in mind. All the models used in the promotional mix are real women who had been nominated by their families or friends on Illamasqua's website and all look stunning in the images.


 My favourites from the collection which were used on the day were:

Limited Edition Skinbase in shade Au which is a genius little product which, on paler skins can be used to bronze, but also can be underneath or mixed in with other shades to add a beautiful touch of gold sheen.
Eyeshadow palette in Complement which is an amazing palette comprising of matte, shimmer, powder and cream shades. It is visually stunning and it was a pleasure to watch artist Clare Lille create a beautiful smokey eye. Not gonna lie, i would KILL for this palette!! 
Precision Ink liner in Wisdom. A gorgeous dark green shade with gold fleck that shimmers beautifully in the light. 

Illamasqua Complement Palette (To. Die. For)

Unfortunately i didn't manage to capture any quality images of the actual demonstrations. I only took my iphone camera and they all just came up dark. Clare was brilliant though! The theme of the days' classes was all about makeup on more mature clients and working with those sorts of skin types and eye shapes. She demonstrated how to contour a mature eye as well as brighten and lift the skin. 






















Even though i wouldn't class my skin as 'mature' i picked up some great hints from the day. I often do makeup on my mum for special occasions and always try and advise her on how to apply it as she likes makeup but is very often unsure. Clare also stuck around and listened to my questions about my awkward foldy eyelids and gave me some great hints on how to contour my crease and apply winged eyeliner. I couldn't be more grateful and can't wait to put all of this into practise. 

The next Beauty School Drop In classes are on 30th September and i will definitely be attending. Students from the classes are also entitled to 10% off classes at the Illamasqua School of Makeup which i am now DESPERATE to attend. I haven't been content with just being a hairstylist for quite some time now and one day i will have enough pennies to add makeup artistry to my list of qualifications. 

Thank you so much Illamasqua for having me. I came away with both knowledge and inspiration.

What inspires you when it comes to makeup?? What are your favourite Illamasqua products?? Are you a Beauty School Drop In?? 
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Perfect Ombre with Halo Hair...

Afternoon ladies!
This is such a late post!! In among all the carnage of me moving to London I'd only gotten round to taking half of the photos, and then once i actually GOT here i just never got the excuse or time to style myself up all nice and take the rest! So i'm writing this post with the previous Instagram images i took of the style! The product in the spotlight is, of course, my beloved Halo Hair Halo....



I have posted about the Halo before. However, due to hair colour changes and a little growth spurt, it was just no longer suitable. As my hair has been ombre for quite a while now i opted for the 20" Halo in Dark Blonde (#18). The Halo is made up of 100g of Indian Remy Human Hair. And NOTHING else. 
There is another major difference between this Halo and my previous Halo other than the longer length. And that is that Halo have come out with the FABULOUS idea of making the wire adjustable to fit any wearer like a glove. It works very similar to the way you would adjust a handbag strap. I must admit i am a total clutz and managed to snap off the very end of mine so i have a random piece of wire that i now have to carefully tuck away each time i wear it. 


Above is the mini instructional you get on how to fit the Halo. It really couldn't be simpler and, once you've adjusted it to your perfect size, takes less than a couple of minutes to put in and take out. 
The colour match between my hair and this Halo wasn't exact. As a hairdresser i am well aware of the tonal NIGHTMARES that come with lightening hair. Naturally, as is often the case, my ombre ends were slightly darker and brassier in tone than the Halo which, although warm in tone, was lighter than i had expected it to be. It really wasn't that much of an issue though, and it only took a careful ombre with a medium/dark blonde semi permanent tint to get them blending. Once my hair was curled (in the photos below i used my Diva Hot Tong) it produced a really lovely tonal blend!! 


These photos are merely Instagram snaps as, every time i have done my hair recently (for weddings etc) there has just never been time to take proper photos. The photo above was the Halo as i received it and the one below was after i had darkened it down just a little. Please note that the filter used below may effect how well you can see the different tones.
If you would like to know how to ombre hair extensions i will be doing a post VERY soon on how to do this, as i have just dyed over my own ombre with a golden brown and, therefore, need to darken down the Halo ombre too. I like the idea of ombre that i can put in and take out whenever i like, so will be doing a step by step tutorial-style post on the best way to get this effect with hair extensions. 


I was a little nervous on how hair extensions would work with my ombre. I thought i would have to pay big bucks to get fancy pre-dipped extensions, but luckily i was able to stick to my beloved Halo! I really do love Halo for their service as well as their products. They are super nice and take every opportunity to help. This has always been my experience of them. You can keep up with them on Facebook or keep an eye out for their next Giveaway on Twitter (they have them often). 

You can also get 10% off your own Halo by using code HALOLOVESLISA at the online checkout. Just because i love you all so much!!


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Thursday, 13 September 2012

My Current Top 5 Blushes

2nd post of the day for me....
It's recently dawned on me that a definitely favour certain shades in my blush collection lately so i thought i'd do a post and tell you what they are and why i keep reaching for them again and again. This post is in no particular order, they are just the top 5 that i never fail to reach for. 


I don't tend to favour a particular brand when it comes to blushes. Don't get me wrong, I have brands that i prefer, but i won't judge a product on the brand. I prefer to try the product and then judge it on shade and formulation. Obviously if it's a range i know i like, then that's going to be a major factor. Like i just ADORE the Sheertone blushes from MAC for the fact that they are amazing shades but don't flood the cheeks with colour, which means that i can build to the intensity that i want. It also makes them more versatile for day to night wear. I have included two of these in my Top 5.


MAC Sheertone Blush in Pink Swoon
This is the first MAC blush i've had that i've actually had to repurchase so far. I used all of my first one and i went back for more. It's just the prettiest pink which can be used as a subtle flush or built to achieve a POP of pink. I've worn this to work as well as on a night out and i love how versatile it is. I'd totally recommend it for anyone who likes the idea of a vivid pink blush, but is a little hesitant to just slap it on. It's hard to go wrong with this shade in my opinion. 


MAC Sheertone Shimmer Blush in Sunbasque
This is a new find of mine but i've been obsessed with it ever since. I spotted this in a blog sale last month and just had to have it. In the last month, especially as the weather in London has been so stunning, i have gone for gold/bronze shades in a big way. This is going to be a firm favourite of mine for some time to come i think. I love it for the same reasons as i love Pink Swoon. Just a sweep gives a lovely sheer glow to the cheeks, or you can concentrate it on the cheekbones for a more dramatic effect. And the shimmer is stunning. 




Illamasqua Cream Blush in Dixie
I featured this blush in my August favourites, but it's a permanent favourite in my collection. I tend to try and rotate my blushes but this one is almost permanently in my everyday makeup bag. i absolutely adore the shade, which is a slightly reddened, warm pink and the cream formula means that you hardly need any on the brush to give a decent colour. This is one that looks vivid when you first apply it but then buffs out like a dream and gives a perfect colour. I can't wait to purchase 'Rude' next. I'm totally sold on Illamasqua blushes.  



BeneFit Coralista
This is an old school favourite of mine and i've made no secret throughout my time on this blog of the fact that i love it. Amazingly, I'm still on my first one and haven't even hit pan yet. I put this down to the fact that i go through phases of not being able to put it down, but then i'll put it away and use other products for a while. Currently, it's not top of my list but it holds a special place in my heart and it will probably be making a reappearance very soon. It's a perfect pinky coral that works all year round. I find BeneFit blushes to be VERY pricey, but the packaging is as beautifull as the blush itself and these little boxes look amazing sat on my vanity.



Fashionista Blush in Shade 10 (Butterscotch)
This is a blush that i had previously written off. I have this in a palette of 4 with other blushes and a highlighter and, to look at it, this is the least visually eye-catching of the 4. I did initially doubt that it would show up on me (it looks a lot lighter in the flesh than in these photos), but when i did finally develop the curiosity and swatched it i was amazed at how pigmented it is! I actually find it quite similar to MAC Melba. It's a similar matte formula and very similar in shade, but slightly more pink. It gives a lovely glow to the cheeks and i think i will be loving it even more for A/W 2012. The pigmentation of Fashionista blushes also means that you need very little on the brush, which makes a drugstore product even better value for money in my opinion!! 


So those are the blushes that are currently floating my boat. One or two of these are probably have 'all-time favourite' status, but as i said before, my favourites tend to switch around from season to season and depending on what i want from them at any given time. For now though, these 5 are my dream team.

What are your go-to blushes of the moment?? Which shades can't you live without?? What formulas get you going??
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Serious Beauty Talk at LIVEBloggers

Afternoon lovelies!
This week i'd been invited by the gorgeous ladies Ewa and Grace to attend the #LIVEBloggers event on Tuesday at the Piccadilly Institute. They organised the whole thing themselves and i was excited to attend to meet a few new bloggers for some HARDCORE beauty and makeup chat. I was just as excited to finally meet up with one of my favourite Twitter girlies Laura and we went along together. 


We had been instructed to take along our blogging kit so that we could report our discussions Live whilst the event was going on. Of course, i failed at the first hurdle when i picked up my iPad to take with me and it was flat as a pancake. Just typical of me!! So i went armed with just my iPhone and trusty little Nikon camera (which didn't get used either, funnily enough). However, i tweeted and instagrammed my way through the evening. 


We were treated to some delightful munchies (including the above mini-muffins, modelled here by Laura) whilst we got down to the serious task of discussing our favourite budget brands, best splurge items and Holy Grail products. The star product of the night turned out to be Rapid Lash, as Ewa revealed (to our disbelief) that she was NOT wearing falsies and her beautiful, long lashes were the result of using the product. Other honourable mentions were MUA Cosmetics for best bargain brand and Illamasqua for best Splurge. The conversation, inevitably, took twists and turns and we covered everything from HG foundations, to best drugstore mascara. 


There was a table laid out with beauty goodies galore, and the best part was that we got to take them all home with us at the end! So many amazing products that i cannot wait to share with you. Brands included Bumble & Bumble, Xen-Tan, Nip + Fab, Area H20, Elizabeth Arden and Orla Kiely and many more. 


 MASSIVE thank yous again to Ewa and Grace for inviting me. I met loads of lovely blogging girlies and went home with some amazing products to review. Think this little lot will keep me going for a good while! It was nice to have the atmosphere of a Bbloggers chat, without the negativity, repetition and general trouble that you get with the online version. In my experience, when you give people a computer to hide behind, they tend to be a lot more negative. But get a group of blogging girlies in a room with some lovely products, nibbles and a little drinkie or two and it flows beautifully!! Hope to do it again in the very near future!!




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Sunday, 9 September 2012

Japonesque Goes Exotic!

Good evening my lovely readers!! 
I was so so so lucky to receive yet ANOTHER parcel from the lovely people at Japonesque last week. They really do spoil me! This is one i was super excited about because i'd read all about their new special Safari Chic collection and, as i'm not known for my patience when it comes to parcels, had been on the edge of my seat waiting for it! I didn't receive the whole collection BUT i opened the box to reveal THIS little beauty....


Safari Chic Bronzer Brush
Of course, the first thing that strikes you about these brushes is the funky animal print design. It really is stunning! I love it when i can get excited about a product before i've even whipped it out of the box. However, this is a functional product, not an ornament so i'll shut up about how pretty it is because you can see that for yourself.  


The collection, which consists of a a 3-piece brush set as well as this kabuki-style bronzing brush, is all handmade using synthetic hair and are super soft to the touch. This brush glides over the face smoothly and, once i'd got over my little wobble over not wanting to ruin it's beauty with product, i have REALLY enjoyed using it. It's a slightly rounded kabuki and i have found it to be great for applying products such as my baked bronzers, MSFs and shimmer powders. It's a great size too. Not too small and not too big so you can apply product with precision, without it being concentrated too much in one area. 


As i'm a little impaired when it comes to makeup brushes (i can safely say that non of the brushes i own actually match and that i don't own nearly enough), i've been having to double up with some of them. I've been applying my bronzers and MSF with my powder brush which is far from ideal, but this little beauty is perfect and now my powder brush remains firmly relegated to powder. 


I'd highly recommend this brush, as well as the other Japonesque brushes i own (i own the Travel Blush Brush and the Travel Angled Foundation Brush - read my review HERE) and am so grateful to Japonesque again for letting me write about them. The brush set which accompanies this brush consists of a Powder Brush, Shadow Brush and Crease Brush, and is now at the TOP of my wishlist. All 3 have the same stunning markings as the bronzer brush. I need to mend my ways and stop making do with mismatched brushes. It just won't do. 

You can purchase these brushes and other Japonesque products from hqhair.com or at some larger Boots stores. This brush retails for £19.50, while the brush set retails for £28. You need them in your life. Just looking at this brush makes me feel warm n fuzzy inside haha. 

What are your Japonesque Must-Haves?? Have you tried the other brushes from the range?? I'd love to read your posts! 
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Saturday, 8 September 2012

(Late) August 2012 Favourites

Hello beauty seekers!!
This is a belated post dedicated to a few (and it only is a few this month) things that i've really been enjoying in the month of August. I have only made subtle changes with my product choices this month. Nothing has really drastically changed in my routine, however there are a handful of products and colours that i really have been enjoying so i thought i'd share them with you all..


August has been a BIG nail polish month for me! Up until now i've hardly been able to wear it due to working in a kitchen. Constant pot washing and suchlike meant that my nails were weak, splitting and generally AWFUL and any nail polish i did wear was chipped away to nothing in a matter of hours! But since finishing that job my nails have really sprung out again so i've taken full advantage of being able to wear nail polishes again. 
My favourites this month have been OPI Barefoot in Barcelona, which i have mentioned before on this blog, and H&M Nail Polish in Blue My Mind. 


I've done a bit of a tanning u-turn in the last month. I mentioned in my July favourites that i was loving my St Moriz spray tan, but this month i have REALLY gone off any kind of tan with a guide colour. Maybe it's because i've been wearing paler colours since the weather has warmed up again, i don't know, but i've really turned to my Bronze Ambition Deep & Dark tanning cream. You have to be careful applying it, as there is no guide colour at all, but the colour you get is fantastic and it's a great price!! Only a couple of pounds!! It also smells like holidays.


 I reviewed Twisted Sista 'Different Strokes' serum last month (for the full post on this product click HERE) and it is really impressing me! It's another total bargain at only £1.99 from Superdrug but, for what you get, i'd be happy to pay a fiver or perhaps even more for it! It's just a great all round serum for any hair type, with no sulphates, parabens or icky things in it at all. It also has a UV filter which is perfect for the weather we are having lately! I've been using this on damp hair before drying, then adding a bit extra to the ends before heat styling.



This was a little bit of an impulse buy i made just before i moved to London but i think i've worn it almost every day since. I've fallen completely in love with Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in the shade Cherish. It's just such a wearable shade of pink that lasts really well. I want to do a full post on this product soon so i won't say too much about it here but i'm thinking i want to purchase more of these in September! 


Excuse the brush hairs in this photo haha.... Illamasqua Cream Blush in Dixie has been in my top 5 all time favourite shades ever since i bought it but, this month, its hardly been off my face. It's just perfect in every way and i love it! I love the Illamasqua cream formula and really had to restrain myself in Selfridges the other day when i walked past them. I kept telling myself i don't need any more blushers but i have a feeling i will be going back to purchase Rude very soon. 

So that was a very brief favourites for August. Nothing else really stood out for me. That could all change in September though you never know!! I'll let you know next month.

What have you been loving in August?? What are your favourite summer products??
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Friday, 7 September 2012

Birthday Shopping, Instagramming and HAUL!!

Afternoon lovelies!!
For some bizarre reason there's been a massive gap in my posting again. I've actually got no excuse this time but I've since done a Virgo and gotten myself organised and written a list of all the posts i want to do so hopefully September will be a great month for Brunette Beauty Banter! 
September is also my BIRTHDAY month! And the big 3-0 landed on me yesterday so i took the opportunity to shop my ass off and eat lots of naughty food! So i am going to post today about all of the things that made my day so AMAZING! Expect it to be picture heavy... 


Clockwise from Top Left:
1) Started my day with Choc Chip PopTarts from my lovely housemate Sharon. 
2) Woke up to a package full of family birthday cards that my mum had forwarded to London for me.
3) AMAZING Blue Cheese burger and Sweet Potato fries at Ed's Diner with the gorgeous Yu from lets-makeyuup.com
4) My birthday present to myself was a new iPhone 4s. I decided to upgrade early as my 3GS really wasn't performing for me anymore. I also treated myself to two new phone cases including this super-cute Penguin case from eBay (complete BARGAIN).


 The biggest surprise of the day was my present from my housemate/landlord. In the next couple of weeks or so we will both be going off to The Ink Parlour in Shepherd's Bush to get new tattoos! It was totally unexpected but i'm so excited because it's given me a kick up the backside. I've been wanting another tattoo for about 5yrs now but never done anything about it. I know exactly what i'm going to have and where i want it so i can't wait to finally go and get it on me! I'm not telling yet though so you'll have to keep an eye on Twitter and Instagram to see what i get!


These were technically pre-birthday treats (i popped up to Streatham High Rd the day before and couldn't resist). I picked up two tops from New Look as well as my first ever purchase from Look Beauty. I got their lipstick in the shade Toffee Cup. Can't wait to post about it!! It was also the first time i've ever seen Batiste XXL in stock ANYWHERE so i grabbed the last one on the shelf and made for the till!! 


So after we'd finished feeding out faces with burgery goodness, Yu and i went for a mooch around Selfridges. I didn't go mad, buying everything i laid eyes on, but i had a good idea of what i wanted before i went in. The names floating around in my head were MAC and Illamasqua and here's what i picked up!!


I FINALLY picked up some MAC Fix+. It's been on my list forever and i've heard so much about it so i knew i wanted to get some while we were in there. I can't wait to use it and i'll probably tell you my thoughts on it at some point, but i think most of us have probably read about it and/or tried it at some point already. I had intended to pick up some eyeshadow pans for my empty MAC palette as well, but decided that that was a mission best left for another day. 


Favourite Birthday purchase by FAR has to be Illamasqua Freak Eau de Parfum. It's been my favourite smell ever since i got my first sample of it in a Glossybox but, until now, i've been surviving from sample to sample and couldn't justify buying the full size bottle. 


 This perfume is stunning in every way. I adore the bottle. It's so dark, yet there's a little snail making his way up to the top. The scent itself is everything i like in a fragrance. It's a blend of what Illamasqua calls 'Forbidden Flowers' including Poison Hemlock and Datura. It's a floral scent but it's definitely 'of the night'. 


Yup, so i had to make a little trip to Primani didn't i. Even though i seem to have spent FOREVER in there lately for various bits and pieces i needed. I wanted to go in to pick up these lush velvet wedge ankle boots i'd spied whilst in there for other things. At £20 they're on the pricier side for Primark i guess, but totally worth it! I had a totter around in them last night and they seem really comfy. I hadn't intended to pick up anything else but i saw a gorgeous baroque-style printed top/dress for £11 and snatched that up as well. 


Last purchase of the day was my first EVER Essie polish. I've seen Essie all over blogs and Instagram but it just doesn't exist where i'm from in Derbyshire. You just CANNOT get it! So when i spotted the Essie display whilst skulking around Superdrug with Yu, i got a little bit giddy! The shade i chose was Fiji as i've admired it for a while and i can't wait to do a NOTD with it!! 

So i hope this post hasn't been too long winded and photo-heavy for you, but i'm really pleased with my purchases, and really wanted to show them all to you. I was trying to go for quality, rather than quantity. The only thing i'd planned to buy, but didn't was the Origins VitaZing and i'm majorly regretting that now. Think a cheeky online purchase may be in order somewhere down the line. 

I had an absolutely AMAZING 30th Birthday and thank you to all of you that Tweeted me, commented on Instagram or wrote to me on Facebook. I felt EXTREMELY loved!!

What have YOU been hauling lately??


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