Thursday, 31 July 2008

Top Products 2007-8

Best Shampoo: L'Oreal Re-Nutrition/Vive Pro Hydra Gloss Moisturising Shampoo
Top marks for restoring silkiness and enhancing hair's natural tones.

Best Conditioner: Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Intensive Conditioner
Brings hair back from the brink of dryness.

Best Heat Protection Hair Product: Tresemme Heat Protection Spray
Whether drying, curling, or straightening your hair, this will protect it from damage.

Best Deodorant Brand: Mitchum
The only brand guaranteed to keep the sweat at bay.

Best Skincare Regime: Clinique Anti-Blemish 3-Step
Sends even the most stubborn spots packing. The results have to be seen to be believed.

Best Exfoliator: Lush Ocean Salt
Helps to clear complexions and give you that real squeaky-clean feeling.

Best Face Mask: Lush Catastrophe Cosmetic
Improves skin complaints and brings super-soft smoothness to boot.

Best Intensive Moisturiser: Liz Earle Intensive Nourishing Treatment Mask
For babysoft smoothness and protection against the elements in no time.

Best Suncare Brand: Vichy
Excellent care for your whole body at a reasonable price.

Best Primer: No7 Shine Free Makeup Base
So good at busting shine that it can even be used on its own.

Best Eye Primer: Lola Refine Eye Mousse Base and Primer
Adapts cleverly to your skin tone to provide a long-lasting base for eyeshadow as well as covering dark under-eye circles.

Best Concealer: L'Oreal Touche Magique
Excellent coverage, great number of shades available, great price. What's not to like?

Best Tinted Moisturiser: Avon Personal Match Barely There Makeup
Starts out colourless, then cleverly adapts to your skintone. Excellent coverage for a tinted moisturiser, suiting even those with quite poor complexion.

Best Foundation: it's a tie! Lily Lolo Mineral Foundation and No7 Intelligent Moisture foundation
The latter has a texture to die for and gives a wonderful dewy glow without clogging pores. The former is perfect for the summer and those suffering from breakouts, providing light, perfect coverage without sliding off.

Best Face Powder: L'Oreal True Match powder
Lots of shades available and perfect for that flawless finish.

Best Eye Colour: MAC Pigments
While Prescriptives' Moonbeam comes highly commended, this wins for its sheer dexterity: apply sheer for daytime or vamp up for night.

Best Mascara: yet another tie! between Avon Daring Curves and Phenomen'Eyes by Givenchy for Sephora
Avon's mascara is excellent as an all-rounder, but this mildly pricey limited edition from Givenchy, in association with Sephora, maximises the use of its mini brush to bring every tiny lash to perfection.

Best Kohl Eyeliner: Avon Color Trend Kajal Stick
Smooth enough for use on the lid, but tough enough for use on the waterline, and doesn't move an inch on either.

Best Blusher: Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush
Nothing could topple the age-old classic this year.

Best Lipstick: L'Oreal Made For Me Naturals Lipstick
Makes the process of choosing your perfect lipstick idiot-proof.

Best Lip Balm: Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Lip Protectant Stick
This is what the gods use on their lips for instant winter protection.

Best Lip Gloss: Too Faced Lip Injection
Visibly plumps lips and has a real long-lasting quality at a very good price.

Best Makeup Compact: Too Faced Little Pink Book
Provides everything a girl could need on the go.

Best Brand: Prescriptives
I don't believe any other company provides such a personalised service at such a reasonable price. Hats off.
*runners-up: L'Oreal and Avon, for consistently high quality

Avon Personal Match Barely There Tinted Moisturiser

RRP: £7 for 30ml
no. of shades available: 3 (light, medium, and medium deep)

--What does the promo say?--
"No ordinary tinted moisturiser. It starts out colourless then magically adapts to your skin tone as the encapsulated colour beads blend onto skin. Contains exclusive Personal Match technology to match over 98% of skin tones."

It looks suspiciously slim, in a 'is there REALLY 30ml in there?' way, and the nozzle is quite slim too, which helps with controlled application. The plastic squeezy tube is flesh-coloured, and the lid is black, to match the simplistic black lettering on the front of the tube. A nice, sophisticated-looking thing.

Just untwist the lid and you're away. The consistency of the tinted moisturiser, combined with the tapered applicator nozzle, allows just the right amount to be dispensed, minimising wastage. Apply to the face after concealer using your fingers or a brush.

Wonderfully creamy without being too rich. It's fabulously light on the skin.

The tinted moisturiser itself is actually white, and tiny skin-coloured particles can be seen dotted around in it. When applied to the face, it stays white for a few seconds before gradually adapting to the skintone, and it does excellent work: I was really impressed with the flawless look that it gave to even my troubled skin, and while the number of shades available seems initially really poor, it adapts so well that there's really no need to worry.

Really excellent. Obviously not as heavy as a normal foundation, but I found that it was certainly more than adequate even on less than perfect skin.

--How does your face feel?--
Moisturised, but not overloaded, although of course it doesn't have the effect of a more intensive moisturiser.

Also great. No complaints here. You may have to reapply once if you want to carry this from day to night, but that's it.

--Value for money--
Given that it's the same price as other high street products (or even cheaper!), there's not really much to argue about. It's a really high-quality, impressive product suitable for all skin types.

perfect partner
Personal Match Smooth Mineral Makeup, £7 for 15g

Mascara Phenomen'Eyes by Givenchy

RRP: 26 euros/$27/£17.50
no. of shades available: 2

--What does the promo say?--
"What it is:
A revolutionary new mascara designed to grip at lashes starting at the roots.

What it does:
Givenchy Phenomen'eyes Mascara perfectly curls and separates lashes. It has a high-tech, patented round sphere at the tip of the precision wand that reaches every lash and adapts to all eye shapes. It's a Sephora exclusive.

What else you need to know:
The result? A beautifully fanned-out panoramic effect, holding the curve of your lashes perfectly in place."

A chunky, edgy, black and silver package with an Aztec-style square design adorning the lid.

The Sephora website recommends the following:
"-Holding the brush horizontally, draw the lashes from the outer corner of the eye outward.
-Holding the brush diagonally, catch hold of the lashes at the root and push them upward and outward.
-With the wand upright and brush downward, gently draw the upper lashes upward.
-Holding the brush diagonally, push the lashes from the inner corner of the eye toward the nose.
-Without overloading the brush with mascara, gently brush the lower lashes.
-You can also make the same movement on the upper lashes.
-With the brush upright, catch hold of the upper lashes at the root and push them upward."
Despite the tiny thistly brush just looking like it's about to poke you in the eye, it's surprisingly easy to use. Top stuff.

There is an immediately noticeable difference in curve, length and separation after using this. Even the boyfriend noticed. It really does provide a faultless appearance. I'm starting to think that there is such thing as a perfect mascara (even if it does only come in 2 colours...).

Smooth, with no clots or clumps, and no irritation to the eyes.

Comes off easily - but only when you want it to.

--Value for money--
This is about as much as I'd be prepared to pay for a mascara, but it's worth every penny (or cent). However, you'd better be quick - for the Europeans and Americans, this is available exclusively at Sephora, but only until September Britain, it's coming exclusively to Harrods on September 5th.

perfect partners
Givenchy Shadow Show Mono Eyeshadow, from 17 euros 10
Givenchy Parad'Eyes Liner, 27 euros 10

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Intensive Conditioner

RRP: £3.25 for 250ml at Wilkinson's
*smaller sample sizes also available at some stores

--What does the promo say?--
"There's more to life than hair, but it's a good place to start. Your hair's gone a long way for's only polite to repay it. So here's a great way to turn your pride and joy into silky swathes, in 3 minutes. Our intensive treatment formula, with Australian Eucalyptus natural extract and Avocado Oil, penetrates and nourishes each shaft. From root to tip. In a nutshell, it cares for dry and damaged long hair by helping to reduce breakage associated with combing."

Aussie have achieved a nice effect here, with the bottle being white, and the label being yellow, with orange and blue embellishments. Because the bottle is mostly white, the label actually doesn't look over the top, and the label design itself is simple too. It seems authentic, using real Aussie ingredients and expertise. However, the lack of a proper lid is concerning: instead there's just a weird peel-on/peel-off label over a hole drilled into the base. The label sticks back on OK, but it just seems a little lacking in thought.

After shampooing, slick over hair as an emergency rescue treatment. Leave on the hair for 3 minutes before rinsing.

A lumpy, thick, golden lotion, that despite the lumpiness actually smooths onto the hair very nicely.

The eucalyptus is not really discernible, but there is a softer, oilier scent, which is probably the avocado oil kicking in. Not strong or overpowering, though.

--Washing it out--
The conditioner comes out of the hair easily while still making the hair feel 'different', like the conditioner has done its job.

--How does your hair look and feel afterwards?--
Volume and smoothness are restored without any frizzy or flyaway qualities, and hair feels smooth and stroky.

--Value for money--
While this is perhaps a little on the expensive side, it's still most definitely affordable, with one bottle lasting ages (especially if you don't use it every day). Its smoothness-restoring qualities are also definitely noticeable, which makes this product worth every penny of its price tag.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

philosophy amazing grace perfumed shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath

RRP: from £18/$22 for 475ml/16oz

--What does the promo say?--
"amazing grace was selected as one of Oprah's favorite things® for 2005! amazing grace perfumed shampoo and shower gel is philosophy's best selling, uniquely feminine, moisturizing shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath created for the most gracious bodies. Because it is formulated with nourishing milk proteins, it calms even the most sensitive skin and nourishes the driest hair. Clean skin and hair never smelled so amazing.

You need this product if...
# you are looking for a moisturizing shampoo, bath, and shower gel for dry skin and hair
# you want hair that looks and feels terrific
# you like multi-tasking products
# you like a gentle formulation
# you need a moisturizing formula "

This has a nice design (transparent plastic bottle, with black simple lettering and a black plastic lid), but the plastic is really hard and so it's a real struggle to squeeze the stuff out of the bottle.

The lotion is a pale, dusky rose pink, with a nacreous shimmer to it, and it's a perfect consistency too - not too runny, not too viscous, not at all lumpy. It lathers nicely too, with a 50p-size piece lathering up all over your body. The lather is white and no visible or tangible residue is left on the body afterwards.

Really, really tricky. Nothing is specified on the bottle label, even in the small print of the ingredients, and there's no discernible overriding scent. My best guess was rose. While the scent (whatever it is) personifies the concept of 'grace' quite well (it's delicate and feminine), I think it's a pretty poor showing to not list any specific scent on the label at all.

Smooth. Oh so very smooth.

--How does it make your skin and hair feel?--
It makes your skin feel very soft, and there's no irritation, but then I do have quite normal/oily skin anyway, so I didn't expect to see much difference anyway as I don't have any body skin problems that need repairing. I must admit I haven't tested it on my hair - partly because I'm currently trialling a new Pantene shampoo (ooh the excitement!) and am expressly forbidden to use any other shampoos concurrently; and partly because I didn't trust it enough to put it on my hair (mainly because my hair is quite sensitive to new products, but the fact that the contents of the shampoo were quite dubious also didn't exactly help). Perhaps when the Pantene trial is up I'll give it a go, but I'm not holding out much hope.

Certainly the scent doesn't really linger.

--Value for money--
Not fantastic - I wouldn't pay the RRP for this (although one bottle lasts plenty long enough). I just don't think the minimal effects are worth paying for.

perfect partners
amazing grace perfumed daily hair conditioner, £10 for 8oz
amazing grace fragrance, £32 for 60ml
amazing grace firming body emulsion, £27 for 475ml
amazing grace hot tub scrub, £24 for 650g
amazing grace hand cream, £9 for 28.5g
amazing grace foot cream, £18
amazing grace body butter, £22 for 5oz
amazing grace candle, £24 for 10oz

*available from John Lewis, HQ Hair, and

Monday, 21 July 2008

Bath and Body Works Cherry Blossom Eau de Toilette

RRP: $18.50 for 50ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Enjoy the light, alluring fragrance of spring's first blossoms, warmed with a hint of delicate musk.
* Sophisticated: fine fragrance inspired by your favorite Bath & Body Works scent
* Fragrance Top Notes: Dewy Watermelon, Green Lush Accord, Wisteria Petal, Red Plum
* Fragrance Mid Notes: Cherry Blossom, Sheer Freesia
* Fragrance Base Notes: Musk, Sandalwood, Heliotrope."

Pretty standard stuff - an elegant, modern squareish bottle, with minimal white writing on the front and a matt silver lid.

Spritz wherever required. As well as the wrists and near the ears, try putting some near your cleavage or spritzing lightly through your hair too.

A clear liquid that dries invisibly with no residue.

I don't find this scent especially fruity, but it evolves nicely from flowery to musky, and thus suits the young modern woman really well. It's not overpowering or too 'old' for the wearer. Best suits young women aged 18-30.

Not bad at all, especially for the price: should need reapplying approximately every 6-8 hours, which is a lot better than some more expensive fragrances.

--Value for money--
This is an affordable yet high quality scent, in a very 'now' fragrance and presented in a feminine yet modern way. A bargain buy to see you through the summer.

perfect partners
Cherry Blossom Shower Gel, $9.50 for 295ml
Cherry Blossom Body Lotion, $9.50 for 236ml
Cherry Blossom Body Cream, $9.50 for 226g
Cherry Blossom Body Butter, $14 for 7oz
Cherry Blossom Hand Cream, $12 for 113g
Cherry Blossom Moisturising Shampoo, $7.50 for 355ml
Cherry Blossom Moisturising Conditioner, $7.50 for 355ml
Cherry Blossom Volumising Shampoo, $7.50 for 355ml
Cherry Blossom Volumising Conditioner, $7.50 for 355ml (2 for $10 on all haircare)

Friday, 18 July 2008

Body Shop Strawberry Body Polish

RRP: £4 for 75ml, £8 for 200ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Have good, clean fun and smooth skin at the same time thanks to this fragrance foaming gel-based scrub that's gentle enough to use everyday. Dead skin cells are removed in no time, revealing brighter, healthy-looking skin thanks to natural exfoliators. Containing Community Trade organic honey."

Simple squeezy tube that can stand up on its base. Is transparent so that you can see the rich red gel within, and the Body Shop logo and product information is displayed simply and clearly. The lid is a plastic flip-top. Beautiful and very sturdy.

Squeeze out a small amount and lather all over the chest and arms while bathing or showering, and then wash off shortly afterwards.

Moderate. Not seriously bubbly, but definitely works up a good lather that's easily washed off while still leaving the skin smelling lovely.

Really strong, non-sickly, natural strawberry smell.

The gel provides smoothness while the kiwi seeds and walnut shells add gentle scrubbiness. Not itchy or rough.

--Long-term effects on the skin--
It sloughs off dry skin well and provides long-lasting softness, as well as the beautiful scent on your skin. However, the one thing I was really hoping for was an improvement in the acne on my body, since on the Body Shop website they claim that the strawberry juice in the product is "rich in salicylic acid, which has good pore-cleansing properties." Sadly, I noticed absolutely no difference, which is a shame.

Excellent - one tube lasts ages.

--Value for money--
Not bad overall, but if you're looking for any specific acne-clearing qualities, you'll be better off looking elsewhere.

perfect partners
Round Body Brush, £7
Strawberry Puree Body Lotion, £8 for 250ml or £3 for 60ml

Saturday, 12 July 2008

L'Oreal Re-Nutrition/Vive Pro Hydra Gloss Moisturising Shampoo

RRP: $4.99 for 13oz; €4.60/£3.29 for 250ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Omega-moisture complex infuses deep moisture & shine. Before Using Hydra Gloss Shampoo: Hair may feel very dry or dull from the distressing effects of the weather and over-processing. After Using Hydra Gloss Shampoo: Hair is deeply conditioned with essential nutrients and shines with a high gloss finish. Recommended by the hair experts at L'Oreal, Hydra Gloss with omega-moisture complex containing omega 3 & 6, royal jelly and olive oil, adds advanced moisturizers and essential nutrients to intensely condition hair. Gently cleanses while injecting intensive moisturizers. Deeply penetrates hair for lasting moisturization. Leaves hair soft, shiny and touchable."

I only tried this on a trial basis, but what I can say is that the packaging is the same as the European one (white and gold, with the royal jelly motif), which I quite like. The package being sold Stateside is the one my boyfriend preferred when asked: it's a simpler, more modern design. Ipoddy. Hmm. Must be a boy thing.

Lather into wet hair, rinse, and repeat as necessary.

The shampoo itself is very yellow (though not neon, thank God), viscous, and gloopy, but not unpleasant. Equally thankfully, the lather is white and no residue is visible in the hair after use.

Strangely, this smells of coconut, despite there being nothing whatsoever coconutty or coconut-related in the ingredients list. Slightly sweet too. I like the smell, but find it slightly disconcerting that it doesn't smell more of honey, especially given the lack of coconut in this product generally.

Excellent, and not very much of this product is needed to achieve that, though perhaps more than with a more expensive brand. The size of the circle made when you curl your index finger round to meet your thumb on the same hand probably about covers it.

--Washing it out--
Easy as. No problems here.

--How does your hair look and feel afterwards?--
The smoothness is back! And since that's definitely the main aim of this shampoo, it gets a thumbs up from me purely on that basis. Does make it frizzy or flyaway either, and a small bonus is that it really seems to bring out the best of my natural blonde hair colour. These effects are consistent throughout the day: definitely no crazy flyawayness by evening.

--Value for money--
At less than £5, this is really quite ingenious considering the effectiveness of the product. And good news - it's out in the UK!

perfect partners
L'Oreal Re-Nutrition/Vive Pro Hydra Gloss Moisturising Conditioner, prices as above
L'Oreal Re-Nutrition/Vive Pro Hydra Gloss Night Serum, £7.49 for 150ml
L'Oreal Re-Nutrition/Vive Pro Hydra Gloss Day Fluid, £4.99 for 200ml
L'Oreal Re-Nutrition/Vive Pro Hydra Gloss Replenishing Masque, £3.99

*sold under the Elsève range in France.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Chloé Eau de Parfum

RRP: from £35 for 30ml (also available in 50ml and 75ml)

--What does the promo say?--
"Feminine, elegant, natural, sexy, with heart notes of magnolia, lily of the valley and rose petals. Chloé Eau de Parfum is created with a mix of natural and couture materials. The bottle is made with genuine silver plating and graced with a finishing touch - a hand-tied ribbon. This unique example of craftsmanship and sublime rose scent perfectly capture the house of Chloé spirit, effortless chic and femininity."

The extent to which I can comment is limited, having tried this product on a sample basis. However, I will say this: I don't think the bottle really gives the impression of a young, fresh, modern company. The design and materials also seem heavy, obtrusive, and to make the bottle look overembellished, which surely only adds to the price of this perfume. If it's any consolation, though, it looks pretty easy to operate, though the weight of the bottle (that's a lot of glass and silver plating there) would perhaps hinder how well you can travel with it.

Spritz into hair as well as onto body for a particularly beguiling effect.

At first sniff, this doesn't seem much different to a lot of other perfumes on the market, particularly resembling the Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel, which is perhaps actually nicer than this product. But then again, the Chanel is more expensive, so this is perhaps fair! However, as time goes on, a fruitier smell emerges from all the musky stuff, though I can't quite pinpoint what that is. It's nice that it seems to become more unique and individual as the base notes kick in.

Sadly quite poor given both the price tag and the fact that this is an eau de parfum rather than an eau de toilette. I refuse to layer with the other products in the range - with an eau de parfum you shouldn't have to do that anyway, and to recommend that particular course of action just seems like a cheap ploy from the company (who, let's remember, ARE trying to extort money from you...). Be prepared to reapply this frequently.

--Value for money--
Overall a disappointment, given the bulky packaging and the fact that the scent doesn't really last. You may be able to find this cheaper if you shop around, but if I were you, I would just find a different perfume.

perfect partners
Chloé Perfumed Body Lotion, £25 for 200ml
Chloé Perfumed Shower Gel, £22 for 200ml

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Kiehl's Lavender Foaming Relaxing Bath with Sea Salts and Aloe

RRP: from $18.50/£25.50.

--What does the promo say?--
"Soothing and relaxing
Contains moisturizing and conditioning ingredients
Not tested on animals
Historically, Lavender and Dead Sea Salts have been used because of their soothing and relaxing properties. This foaming-relaxing bath also contains moisturizing and conditioning ingredients that are beneficial in maintaining optimal skin condition."

My boyfriend and I had already ascertained from previous use of Kiehl's products that their packaging is useless - it may look pretty but it leaks when in transit too - awful if you want to take the stuff on holiday, and this stuff is far too expensive to waste. Sadly, this product also didn't fail to disappoint - I accidentally knocked it over (not from a great height, and onto carpet, not tiles), and the lid shattered into a million tiny pieces. And it's only made of plastic (i.e. not of a usually breakable material such as glass). Needless to say, I was not really impressed when this happened.

--Usage instructions--
Run a small amount under running bathwater for bubbles galore. Lie back, relax, and enjoy the softness of the bubbles and the aromatherapeutic properties of their ingredients.

Good to start with, but the bubbles seem to disappear quite quickly, meaning topups may be needed to prolong the luxuriousness of your bath.

The foam bath liquid is quite watery and a sort of pale yellow colour. The bubbles, however, are white.

The lavender is definitely more discernible than the aloe, so don't go for this if you prefer the latter scent. The scent is also quite strong, although not in a negative way, and smells very natural rather than synthetic.

--Longevity of effects on the skin--
Uber-softness will result, although the scent doesn't linger for as long as I'd like. Interestingly, though, this has the added bonus of being extremely soothing on bad sunburn (yes, I realised this from experience...).

--Value for money--
With the current exchange rate I would certainly be seeking to buy this in the US, rather than going to my nearest SpaceNK store in the UK. However, even then I'm not sure I'd buy this again, mainly because of the packaging. It really is so brittle and lacks durability - I like to be able to take any of my products anywhere with me, and with this, I don't feel I'd be able to do that.

perfect partner
Kiehl's Creme de Corps, from £14.50/$16.50

Jillian Dempsey for Avon Professional Eyeshadow

RRP: £6
no. of shades available: 3

--What does the promo say?--
"A clever 3-in-1 for an expert finish. The soft blending formula can be worn alone or layered under the powder shadow for long-lasting colour."

Pretty boring, if we're honest. The container is a black flip-top plastic thing, with the Avon logo embossed onto the lid. And that's IT. No mention of Jillian Dempsey until you open the thing - perhaps it's a mistake to not have it more in keeping with the Jillian Dempsey for Avon mascara, which makes the association with the designer more obvious? It does come with a nice double-ended brush though: sponge applicator at one end, actual brush at the other.

Apply the palest shade first all over your eyelid, until it just touches the brow bone. This base shade is more of a cream than a shadow, so you may want to apply it with your fingers rather than mucking up the brush and wasting it (as it will soak into the sponge for certain). Use the brush to then apply the middle shade all over the eyelid without going up as far as the brow bone, then finally use the darkest shade as a liner to follow your upper lashes.

The three shades in this product are very well chosen and complement each other perfectly for effortless and sophisticated smoky eyes that are easy to create.

I found this quite strange: it doesn't crease, but the colour definitely fades over the course of the day, so you may want to retouch/reapply just to keep up the vibrancy/depth of the colour. I've never used an eyeshadow that fades but doesn't crease. Hmm. Anyway, one reapplication, or two at the most, should do it.

--Value for money--
It is inexpensive and allows us as amateurs to recreate professional effects easily. However, the range of colours available is limited (brown, copper/greenish, and purple compacts are the only ones available at present) and it's a shame that the depth of colour fades as it does. By all means buy this product if you're a bit intimidated by the thought of creating successful smoky eyes without help; however, if you consider yourself more advanced, go forth with your products of choice and smoke away.

perfect partner
Jillian Dempsey for Avon Professional Kohl Eyeliner, £5
Jillian Dempsey for Avon Professional Mascara, £7

Lancome Color Focus Wet and Dry Eyeshadow

RRP: £12.50 for 2.5g
no. of shades available: 24

--What does the promo say?--
"The exceptionally fine texture of COLOR FOCUS glides over your lids for easy application and blending, leaving an even, luminous film of colour. This long-wear shadow remains immaculate for hours and won't settle into creases. Available in a wide range of pearly, matte or iridescent shades. You’ll want them all!"

A small, circular, round compact made from black plastic, with a see-through window and the Lancome flower decorating the bottom of the lid delicately in gold. Seems pretty secure and generally unbreakable and spillage-proof, unlike certain lower-priced high-street brands, whose packaging doesn't seem as sturdy.

The brush they give you with this is really weird and only complicates application. I know they've only curved it so that it fits into the shape of the compact better, rather than to offer users of this product any direct benefit. The best way to hold it is so that it looks like a smile shape, rather than like a sad face shape, in order to ensure the most even and least complicated of applications. Like most eyeshadows, this can be applied wet or dry. Have only tried it dry so far, but will report back prontissimo on the minutiae of wet application.

The colour in the compact is quite strong, even with the more subtle colours (I have 103, Moonlight). It's shimmery without being blinding. On the eye, it blends well with other colours and can take you from daytime to nighttime with ease.

Frankly useless. Despite using my trusty Lola eye primer before application, this had creased by lunchtime. Seems it just couldn't cope with the commute. Don't expect to go from day to night with this - several reapplications will be needed, which is a shame. Odd, too, seeing as the eyeshadows in my Lancome travel set are quite robust.

--Value for money--
At this price, you're better off with MAC or Prescriptives.

perfect partners
Lancome Hypnose mascara, £19.50
Lancome Le Rouge Absolu lipstick, £17
Lancome Flash Retouche, £22.50

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Lily Lolo Mineral Foundation

RRP: 99p for a 1g sample; £12 for 10g full-size pot
no. of shades available: 21

Just a simple screw-top plastic see-through pot, with white lid and swirly logo. Very nice to look at, but with plenty of potential for spillage during usage, so concentrate!

Swirl a small amount of powder foundation inside the lid with a kabuki brush (or blusher/powder brush, well cleaned of course). Less is more - you can always come back for more if you need. Brush gently onto the face - the minerals will soon start to work with your skin's natural oils to create light, even and effective coverage. Build up as needed. Apply concealer before and/or finishing powder afterwards if necessary (mineral or normal - this foundation works well with both mineral and non-mineral products).

At first glance the powder doesn't seem especially fine, with quite large particles. However, these break down beautifully when swirled inside the lid and on the face, the foundation doesn't appear patchy. The sample I have - Blondie - suits me perfectly, but at 99p a go, you can easily afford to buy a few samples and mix your own to create the perfect combination for your skin tone if unsure.

Really excellent - although saying that, I haven't tried it without a concealer underneath yet. Strangely, though, I'm starting to feel like I would be confident enough to do so.

Again, despite the large particles in the powder, this is surprisingly smooth and soft. Not gritty, and doesn't irritate the skin.

Amazing - it withstands 12-hour days at work, including the sweaty commute, and survives midday temperatures of 30C without so much as even a hint of sliding off. Good stuff. I was thoroughly impressed.

--Does it do what it says it will?--
The main quality of mineral makeup that is perhaps the most famous/of note is probably the idea that it's actually good for your skin, and having been using this during a major breakout, the spots do seem to be clearing up promisingly quickly. My skin also feels smooth and non-sticky during use.

--Value for money--
Even if you have bad skin you barely need to use any of this at a time. Touchups are minimal (assuming they are required at all) and when compared to what people pay for high street foundations (mineral or not), the value for money of this product only becomes clearer. I've been using my 1.5g sample pot for a week and supplies barely seem to have diminished. This is a good sign. It's also made by minerals specialists, which would be worth paying extra money for - but instead, the price is kept modest so that it's able to compete realistically with high-street foundations. I implore girls everywhere to buy this: it's an absolute golden product to keep your skin tip-top all year round.

perfect partners
Lily Lolo Cover Up Mineral Concealer, £7 for 4.5g or 49p for a 1/4 teaspoon sample
Lily Lolo Blush Pot, prices as above
Lily Lolo Super Kabuki Brush, £14
Lily Lolo Mineral Makeup Basics Kit, £34