Saturday, 31 January 2009

Cosmetics & Beauty News January 2009

Jean Paul Coveted
Thanks to a tip-off from a fellow beauty blogger, I can also reveal this fabulous limited edition item from Jean Paul Gaultier, which combines the on-trend fashion accessory with a gorgeous solid version of the JPG perfume 'Classique'. Out now in Sephora in the US at $56, it's sure to make it over here soon enough too.

Neal's Yard makes its department store debut
Once the unique preserve of its own exclusive stores, organic beauty brand Neal's Yard is now available at Boots.

Launch pad
My biggest piece of news this month has obviously been the chance to attend Lancôme's launch of their latest product, Génifique. However, new products are coming out all the time, and this month's newest offerings includes Issey Miyake's launch into the skincare market with the introduction of a water-based anti-ageing cream, La Crème de l'Eau. The water that it uses comes from the Kirishima spring, which produces such pure water that it allegedly healed a 17th-century soldier's war wounds. As a result, this cream will (with a bit of luck anyway) reduce wrinkles, firm up the skin, hydrate the skin, and illuminate the complexion. Priced at €220, this will be available from March 16 2009. Additionally, after being made available in France, Switzerland, Spain and the UAE in 2008, Bulgari's skincare range will finally be made available in the US in the first half of 2009. The range includes eye makeup remover, a toner, and various cleansers, all in peaceful pink bottles.

Now something for the male of the species..
Ahead of my review of a men's shampoo this February, it seems that men's grooming is gaining momentum and a generally positive press elsewhere. In this vein, ShortList magazine has announced the winners of its annual Grooming Awards. The winners range from budget brands like Nivea to luxury goods such as Hermès. Good work! The full list can be viewed here.

Dermalogica opens Manhattan concept store
I wish I were in New York to see this open in February, having already seen this week the wow-factor that Lancôme's concept store was able to provide in Paris. As well as being able to play with products, Dermalogica's new store will also provide fast-acting MicroZone skin treatments, affordable massages, and their patented FaceMapping analysis. Nice.

Flower and herb cosmetics from the Baltic meadows and forests
Latvian skincare brand MADARA is about to make its UK debut, having just signed a 4-year distribution deal. I initially panicked when the only available information seemed to be in Latvian. However, with a little help from my good friend Google I soon found two online retailers from which it is available: Feel Karma, and Love Lula. Thanks to MADARA's UK PR people, I also found their website in English ( There are also physical retailers in Nottingham (Little London Herbal Store), Canterbury (Ecorium), Glasgow (EnBeauty) and London (Triyoga; Spitalfields Organics; and So Organic). And, digging deeper, all seems encouraging: Madara is all about ecology, believing that natural ingredients are best for our bodies and minds, and it's reasonably priced too, with the cheapest product in the range being just £4.85. It combines breadth with expertise, and was recently held up by the WWF as an example of an ecological brand to follow. It offers skincare, body care, and makeup items too. I can't wait to get my mitts on some (luckily for me it's coming to France too), and it's great to see our Eastern European friends offering their expertise in a West-dominated market.

Scarlett Johansson the inaugural face of Dolce and Gabbana's new makeup line
The release of D&G's makeup line being undoubtedly the event of the makeup world's year to date, the inclusion of Scarlett the starlet (disguised as Marilyn Monroe) as its face is just the icing on the cake. The range itself will be available in February in the US, and will hit France and the UK in late summer. The brand looks sumptuous, and prices will range from $20 for nail lacquer to $59 for powder foundation.

Daily Fashion Monitor

L'Occitane Repairing Serum for Dry and Damaged Hair

RRP: £15.65 for 100ml

--What does the promo say?--
"This leave-on serum smoothes and nourishes hair. It repairs split ends and prevents frizz. The non-greasy formula protects against the damaging effects of environmental stresses and preserves the hair shine. This product is free from: parabens, SLES, silicone, synthetic colorants, formol or formaldehyde, animal ingredients, triclosan, BHA."

While I only tried this on a sample basis, my sample packet is much the same as the real thing: strangely calming combination of dark orange and dark green, with occasional use of silver to highlight the important bits. The real thing has this same label design adorning a pump-action opaque glass bottle. All very nice to look at and very in keeping with Occitane's usual brand.

Unfortunately, because of this, I ran into problems from the very beginning. The sample sachet I have states: "Apply to dry or towel-dry hair. Do not rinse." This, to me, is not enough detail - what do you mean, dry or towel dry? And how much to apply? I went for applying the whole 2ml sachet onto damp/towel dry hair. It's easy to apply beyond this at least - just smooth from root to tip, and leave on.

Creamy and light on the fingers. However, as time goes on, it unfortunately feels heavier on the hair.

I was expecting a clear or slightly orange-tinted light oil, but what I got was a rich-looking pale yellow cream. Instead of leaving your hair bouncy, light, and smooth, however, it left my hair bogged down and oily, meaning it was simply impossible for me to wear my hair down and still look nice.

--Overall effects--
It turned my normally straw-like hair ridiculously oily, and even after I'd washed it out the following morning, I saw no positive difference, although at least by washing it I got rid of the oiliness. So, overall effects: no positive effects at all, long or short-term.

--Value for money--
If this is what it does to my hair then I wouldn't pay a penny for it, let alone £15. How frustrating to have a potentially great product ruined by a lack of clear instructions, and to have my hair wrecked by yet another product that apparently only serves to take my hair from one extreme (straw) to the other (oil slick). I suppose that if it works on you, though, this is not a bad price for a product from an otherwise well-reputed brand. If you are only meant to use half the amount I used in one application, then the use of 1ml a day would mean this bottle lasted you 3.5 months, assuming you used it every day. I'm just disappointed that after the positive impression I got from L'Occitane's shower oil, they now need to redeem themselves so much after my experience of this.

perfect partner
Repairing Shampoo for Dry and Damaged Hair, £11.75 for 300ml/£18 for 500ml
Repairing Conditioner for Dry and Damaged Hair, £11.75 for 250ml/£18 for 500ml
Control Mist for Dry and Damaged Hair, £13.20 for 100ml
Repairing Mask for Dry and Damaged Hair, £18.10 for 250ml

Friday, 30 January 2009

Lancôme launch - new skincare revolution Génifique

Today Lancôme revealed their latest innovation under the gaze of many, many cameras at their store in Paris. Génifique is based on the science of genes (genomics) and the science of skin proteins (proteomics - collagen, keratin etc), allowing these two sciences to come together in a translucent white liquid that turns invisible on the skin. It scentlessly penetrates your skin cells to allow them, over time, to maintain and regain a maximal level of cellular jeunesse, using research into the protein structures of different ages of skin and research into how cells deteriorate over time in order to help. This not only emphasises repair of older skins, but also damage limitation of younger skins.

The whole promotional operation was very slick and lavish, with a Powerpoint presentation and short film presented to us by Lancôme's scientific director, Véronique Delvigne. The science seemed relatively well explained, although I could see one or two around me looking a little lost. As far as I can tell without actually being a scientist, it seemed like real science too, not all that pseudoscience so often associated with companies who put out a new anti-ageing product every minute. However, I will be checking up with my sister, who's a medical student, to get the real lowdown.

There were plenty of opportunities to try the new cream on our hands, ask questions, and take pictures of the bottles, even if my lack of update wire for my camera prevents me from uploading them, before we were given a full professional facial with the stuff and given a free bottle to take home. Other freebies included gloss, lipstick, and Lancôme's equally innovative Ôscillation mascara, a vibrating electric mascara rivalled only at present by an Estée Lauder equivalent. We were also met by the lovely German Moyano, Lancôme's chief makeup artist, and given full makeup treatment by him and his team. Add to this copious amounts of wine and macaroons, a professional photoshoot with photoblogger Benjamin Boccas, and a fully laid-on lunch at L'Eclaireur, and you have several happy bloggers. It was fun to finally meet some of my European colleagues, obsess over makeup with them, and not be looked at strangely for geeky conversations about HTML, choice of blogging platform, and even daft throwaway remarks about how much time we spend blogging and how we would all be straight onto our computers when we got home.

The icing on the cake, however, was the hospitality and charm that was oozed by Lancôme's personnel and the PR agency Balistikart. All were friendly, warm, and informative, and the interview I was granted with the scientific director was another bonus. While I lack a verbatim transcript owing to my lack of dictaphone, I can give a gist below of the interview questions and answers.

Interview with Lancôme's Scientific Director, Véronique Delvigne
What was your specialism during your doctoral studies, and how do you apply this to your work at Lancôme?

"I am a doctor of pharmacy, and have always specialised in the biology of the skin. I have always found the skin structures fascinating, including how the cellular structures work together with the body's circulation and defence systems. Skin is so simple and vital and yet so extraordinary."

Speaking of skin, I understand Lancôme uses the 'fake skin' technology in its labs. How does Lancôme plan to go beyond this already impressive level of technology?
"Génifique is us going beyond it. In its ten years of development, we researched even further into the skin's structure, going right down to cell nuclei, and these techniques will inform our later work in the laboratories."

Given the large amount of scientific evidence that UVA has a significant impact on the incidence of skin cancer, and the recent EC directives in the EU, is Lancôme planning to roll out a UVA rating protection system globally on its suncare and related products?
"Lancôme is already doing everything it can to conform to these regulations. Our skincare and suncare both protects the skin and fights against any potentially damaging external factors, and we already have a three-point system in place that not only indicates the level of UVB protection but is also intended for everyday use."

Moving to makeup, the growing popularity of mineral makeup is something that Lancôme surely cannot ignore. Is this something that Lancôme will also be expanding on in future?
"Yes - we have been developing a mineral makeup collection, which will also come with a gloss and will be launched in March."

The Spring 09 Pink Irreverence collection is an unusual departure from Lancôme's usual audience, spectrum of colours, and general makeup image. Will we be seeing more of this in the future?
"We have just appointed a new designer, Aaron de Mey, who designed this collection. He has great modernity and contemporary vision for the company and this is something that will inevitably influence future collections."

And finally, Lancôme has held onto its success for nearly 75 years. Who would you say the company's biggest competitor is?
"It depends on the market, the culture, the people, and people's needs; the market is a very faceted place. However, I would say that Lancôme is still the world leader in the provision of makeup and skincare."

Lancôme's expertise grew very obvious throughout the day, and allowed us all to form a more rounded impression of the company. Lancôme's reputation is primarily formed through its anti-ageing products, but on closer inspection, it also provides innovative and modern mascaras, lip colour, and eyeshadows across the whole spectrum, allowing you to buy for anyone from your sister to your gran. And with my truckload of free products, including Génifique itself, I'm sure I'll soon be back here to give you the 411.

Génifique is out in Europe and the USA in March, and in Asia in September, retailing at roughly $70/€87.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

A Lancôme exclusive - coming soon to Bianca's Beauty Blog

Nivea Visage Refreshing Cleansing Lotion

RRP: £2.99

--What does the promo say?--
"Normal and combination skin needs intensive moisturisation, even during cleansing: its natural moisture balance should be respected to keep skin supple all day long. NIVEA VISAGE ® Refreshing Cleansing Lotion has been especially developed by the NIVEA Laboratories to meet the specific needs of normal and combination skin.

NIVEA VISAGE REFRESHING CLEANSING LOTION effectively yet gently cleanses normal and combination skin. Enriched with lotus extract & vitamins, the skin is optimally hydrated, keeping its natural moisture balance while make-up and daily impurities are removed. The gentle formula is so soft that it is even suitable for the delicate eye area.

The skin is effectively cleansed and hydrated for a fresh skin feeling."

They've changed it lately, but it doesn't look that different: it's kept the same unisex blue and white colour scheme, and although the Nivea Visage logo has also changed slightly, it still has the silver edging for a bit more zing. They've also kept the flat plastic flip-top lid, which looks fragile, but is in fact rather durable, with a strong hinge.

Squeeze a 10p-sized amount onto a cotton disc, and then sweep over face, leaving the eyes to last. Repeat once more to ensure that no traces of makeup remain.
Alternatively, you can spread a similar amount all over your face, creating a light film. Leave for a few minutes and then remove with a clean cotton disc or with a flannel.

My boyfriend thinks this smells lovely - very fresh, homely and clean - and he's all over me after I've used it. The cucumber smell comes through too, but not too strongly.

Creamy, and yet simultaneously light and non-comedogenic, which bodes well for Nivea's moisturisers for this skin type (even though I had bad experiences with their night cream, which made me break out). Not too runny either - nice!

This both cleanses and removes makeup effectively, leaving face feeling clean, matte, balanced, and non-greasy. Not a bad performance for something not specifically aimed at oily skin like mine (it's aimed at normal to combination skin). You also almost don't need to moisturise afterwards either, as it leaves skin feeling smooth and soft too.

--Value for money--
You certainly can't argue with £2.99, even if the toner and moisturiser in the range are slightly more expensive. This cleanser/makeup remover, even with its 'normal/combination skin' label, should suit the vast majority of skin types, even if you normally go straight for the 'oily' or 'dry' skin products. One bottle lasts ages (perhaps even over six months), even with everyday use, and the product itself certainly delivers on its promises.

perfect partners
Refreshing Toner, £4.07 from
Light Moisturising Day Cream, £5.99

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Calvin Klein Euphoria

RRP: from £21; available in 30ml, 50ml and 100ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Euphoria is about sexiness, fantasy, and being captivating. Sexy and sensual, euphoria speaks to the woman who has the urge to break free from everyday life - to provocatively be part of an exciting world filled with pleasure, surprise, and temptation. Her fragrance is a contrast between exotic fruits and seductive florals, for a rich, creamy, seductive signature.
Notes: Pomegranate, Persimmon, Green Notes, Black Orchid, Lotus Blossom, Champaca Flower, Liquid Amber, Mahogany Wood, Black Violet, Cream Accord.
Style: Confident. Sexy. Chic."

An unusual sexy curved slope concept is what characterises this bottle, allowing light to reflect through the gutsy dark purple/grey glass intriguingly.

As usual: spritz onto wrists and décolleté, as well as behind the ears.

The start is very positive, with the intense but not sickly fruitiness from the pomegranate and persimmon being the immediate first impression. However, this quickly fades into something subtler and creamier. It is certainly alluring, attracting positive comments from the opposite sex, and very individual: with it being only a little girly, but not overly so, it is undoubtedly an ideal scent for modern young women.

However, contrary to other reports that I have read, I did not find that this perfume lingered encouragingly on the skin.

--Value for money--
Starting at a reasonable price, especially from such a high-profile designer, this fragrance should certainly hold its own in the current market, especially when twinned with its equally unique packaging and combination of fragrances. However, its longevity is disappointing, and if CK can improve this, I will certainly rush out for it, and in the meantime, would be more than happy to road-test the accompanying body and shower products.

perfect partners
Euphoria Shower Gel, £19.49/200ml from
Euphoria Lustre Body Balm, £24.64/90ml from

Saturday, 17 January 2009

L'Occitane Red Rice Exfoliating Powder

RRP: £17.60

--What does the promo say?--
"A fun and innovative way to exfoliate! These flakes transform into an exfoliating cream when combined with water. It eliminates excess sebum, impurities and dead skin cells that can clog pores."

A recyclable plastic canister the colour of brown rice, jazzed up with the shiny red 'Red Rice' logo. It has a plastic 'dial' at the top which you can turn to reveal small dotty apertures, one large aperture, or to close all apertures completely. It closes securely, and this system allows you to dispense as much or as little powder as you desire. The only bad news is that if your bathroom is small, the damp from the steam can cause these holes to become a little clogged, but that is easily solved with the help of a pin or some nail scissors.

--Usage instructions--
The versatility of this is really quite ingenious. The powder can be mixed, as you so desire, with water or with your usual cleanser. When mixed with your chosen liquid, the powder becomes a fine exfoliating paste. If you choose to mix with cleanser, err on the side of caution with the amount of powder you use, as the powder does thicken your chosen liquid and you don't want to end up with more than you need. Once you are past the trial and error stage, there should be little or no wastage. You definitely need to do this over the sink - in-shower exfoliating is sadly not an option with this product for obvious reasons. After spreading the mixture onto your face, rinse off using warm water.

An off-white, slightly brown, coarse powder. When mixed with your chosen liquid, it becomes a translucent white colour (or invisible, if your cleanser is white). No visible residue is left on the face.

I am used to rougher exfoliators than this, so this felt a little too smooth to me, but I suspect it would be perfect for most people, particularly those with sensitive skin, as the scrubbiness does its job without 'overdoing' the sensation. The powder formula means that particles are of a minimal size.

Pleasant and clean, reminiscent of fresh laundry and (of course) freshly-cooked rice.

--How does your skin feel afterwards?--
I initially still had one or two infuriating dry patches when I first started using this, but with regular use it sends them all packing in no time, with skin feeling refreshed and smooth.

--Value for money--
The individuality and innovation embodied in this product is impressive, and its versatility should appeal to many. The price is perhaps a little more than some people would pay for an exfoliator, but you're getting a product that really mattifies and balances your skin, as well as a product that adapts to your beauty routine and can work with any other products you're using. Nice.

perfect partners
Red Rice Foaming Rice Cleanser, £12.25
Red Rice Purifying Rice Toner, £12.25
Red Rice Ultra Matte Face Fluid, £19.55
Red Rice Mattifying Papers, £6.35 for 50 sheets

Friday, 16 January 2009

Marimekko for Avon Eyeshadow Palette

RRP: £8
# of shades available: 2 (Poppy Bloom - grey/green/pink/peach - and Poppy Bouquet - blue/purple/pink/green)

--What does the promo say?--
"A stunning collection of four beautiful toning shades of silky soft eyeshadow in designer packaging. Glowing ultra-blendable shadow glides on effortlessly and lasts for hours."

--About the brands--
Noted for their simple styles and printed coloured fabrics, Finnish brand Marimekko has been around since the 1950s but became especially prominent after featuring in the series Sex and the City when Carrie Bradshaw wore some of their clothes and swimwear. It began opening concept stores worldwide in 2007 and collaborated with Avon in 2008. Avon has been selling high-quality and affordable cosmetics for 50 years across Europe, and as the new millennium draws to the end of its first decade, Avon now sells lingerie, accessories, children's ranges and homeware products as well as its more famous cosmetics and fragrances.

The eyeshadow box reflects what you'll find inside: bold, flower-print eyeshadows encased in black. The flip-top lid is transparent so that this design is constantly visible, and the container seems durable overall. However, you get very little eyeshadow for your money, as half the tray is taken up by the black plastic, and because of the flower design, you don't get equal amounts of each colour either, though this hasn't proved problematic so far.

You can easily and adequately apply this using your fingers, though a brush may be needed for the smaller parts of the eyeshadow setting (e.g. the centre of the flower design). It would have also been advantageous if Avon had included an instruction leaflet similar to the handy instructions given for application in the brochure.

Very fine, smooth eyeshadow that isn't too powdery. Glides over the skin easily.

The colours mix and match harmoniously, though since I have the Poppy Bouquet version of this palette, I'm doubtful about the inclusion of the peach in Poppy Bloom and am not sure how well it would sit with the other palette colours. However, as previously mentioned, some sort of application leaflet would be helpful in making maximal use of and impact with the colours provided. In any case, a young fresh look is achieved almost effortlessly, no matter what combination you use the colours in.

These shadows seem pretty durable, only creasing a little towards the end of the day.

--Value for money--
This is sadly reduced by the fact that you only get half the amount of eyeshadow that the box size leads you to believe, and by the fact that £8 is frankly pushing it for what you do get (though if you buy strategically during one of Avon's sales you can get a much better deal). However, what you do get is good: a versatile, easy-to-use eyeshadow in durable and pretty packaging, which lasts almost all day on your eyelids too. Further to this, it is a promising output from Marimekko, apart from one or two packaging improvements, and once the brand becomes better known, its products could become much more expensive. So perhaps, on the face of it, this is a pretty good deal after all.

perfect partners
Marimekko for Avon Supershock Mascara, £8
Marimekko for Avon All Over Face Palette, £8

Rimmel 100% Waterproof Mascara

RRP: £4.50
# of shades available: 2

--What does the promo say?--
"A truly waterproof formulation, 100% Waterproof Mascara provides lashes with a natural looking, long-lasting coverage. This formulation is fast drying with a waterproof and run resistant finish. The combination of brush and formulation also helps to volumise, lengthen and separate the lashes."

Rimmel is known for its brightly-coloured packaging and this is no exception: the bright blue tube with its silver writing is bound to stand out from the crowd, and I'm sure it looks particularly good on the shelf next to Rimmel's newest offering, the bright purple tube of Sexy Curves mascara.

As usual - gently zigzag the brush through your lashes, building up layers for desired impact.

A really delicate, natural look initially, which can be built up with more layers for something bolder. The two colours available are also very natural-looking and are sure to match most people's colouring, unless you are very pale.

One or two clumps are present, but not many. It's also quick-drying, meaning no smudges on your eyelids while you proceed with the rest of your makeup routine.

This is most definitely waterproof, protecting your face against any wetness, from rain to swimming pools to tears, meaning no more panda eyes. Saying this, however, it is a little difficult to remove, so make sure you use a gentle eye makeup remover while persevering (try Liz Earle's Eyebright).

--Value for money--
At less than £5, who can possibly argue? Its value is added to not only by its sheer fulfilment of its advertising but also by the fact that this mascara is usable for so long without the risk of infection (I've had mine for longer than I care to admit), while still retaining its waterproof quality. This is a Rimmel mainstay, and deservedly so. Hats off.

perfect partners
Colour Loose Eyeshadow, £4.99
Exaggerate Automatic Waterproof Eye Definer

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Dermalogica Oil Control Lotion

RRP: £23.40/€28/$36.75

--What does the promo say?--
"Dermalogica MediBac Oil Control Lotion is recommended for blemished and breakout-prone skin, or for areas of excess oil production. A feather-light lotion containing microsponges to absorb oil on the skin's surface, helping to combat shine and maintain an all-day matte finish. Niacinamide, zinc gluconate, yeast extract, caffeine and biotin purify and inhibit overactive sebaceous gland activity while soothing aggravation. Salicylic acid clears congested follicles to minimise future breakout activity, while enantia chlorantha bark extract controls over active oil glands, helping to reduce oily shine on skin's surface. Naturally-soothing camphor, balm mint and cornflower cool and calm aggravation."

Classic Dermalogica: white, with their usual logo in a cool, unisex, professional dark grey. The green band is, I think, a recent addition, but it works well, emphasising the natural element of the product's ingredients list. Has a tapered nozzle for more controlled application.

After cleansing and toning, use this to moisturise face and neck twice a day. Simply squeeze onto fingers, and then rub into skin and allow to absorb.

Citrusy, medical, and clean, though it's difficult to tell what specific ingredient this is down to. Certainly pleasant and nothing that the boys would be embarrassed to use.

Smooth and without lumps. However, it is VERY runny and this often also hinders application, as it can consequently spill through your fingers/eject too much moisturiser in one go. This is a shame, as this is the only thing rendering its use more difficult.

--How does your skin feel afterwards?--
OK, but not as moisturised as with some other moisturisers I've tried, such as Liz Earle's. It does, however, keep skin feeling and looking matte and non-greasy.

--Value for money--
While this is a rare being - a moisturiser intended specifically for acneic skin - it's a little bit more than I would normally spend on a moisturiser, and I just didn't feel it improved my skin enough to put up with the runniness. Value for money is certainly down to the individual, and everyone's skin is different, so if you think you can put up with the in-desperate-need-of-improvement consistency, give this a try; it may be the miracle your skin's been begging for.

perfect partner
Dermalogica Clearing Kit, £35/€42/$54.75

Benefit Primpcess

RRP: £24.50/$34/$34.50
- 0.04 oz Boi-ing concealer in 02 Medium
- 0.04 Eye Bright
- 0.11 oz Creaseless Cream Shadow Liner in R.S.V.P. (sparkling champagne)
- 3 Powder Shadows (for contouring, accenting, and lining)
- 0.14 oz BADgal Lash Mascara mini mascara
- Dual ended Fluff Shadow & Talent Brush
- Concealer Brush

--What does the promo say?--
"Benefit Primpcess gives you the tools and skills to conceal, contour, accent, line, shadow, and brighten your eyes. Take the guesswork out of loathe-worthy eyes with a step-by-step primping lesson. With your lesson plan in hand, and the perfect products at your fingertips, you'll have a sexy stare in no time!"

Available at:, Sephora, Debenhams

This packaging combines country girl and showgirl with bold colours and fringe styling, all packed into one box. Benefit manage to fit an impressive amount of products into this box, though it's a pretty big box for something that only covers the eyes (though if you want something to include products for other parts of your face too, I guess you'd go for Benefit's Justine Case, or, from another brand, any of Lancôme's travel cases). It also has a mirror, and a magnetic mechanism, which allows the box to be opened easily when you need it, but stay securely shut when you don't. It's lightweight enough to carry around with you, and despite my previous comment on the size, it will still fit into most handbags and is also slender enough for briefcases and carry-cases for the city slickers among you.

Included in the box is a small leaflet providing step-by-step instructions for each product, from the commonplace eyeshadows to the more obscure Eye Bright. Brushes are also provided, and you're told in the leaflet how and when to use them. An excellent touch and very helpful when on the move. The Boi-ing concealer can also double up as a general face concealer if you have nothing else with you.

The eyeshadows are generic shades of brown and cream, allowing them to be suited to any complexion. The mascara is black and the shade of concealer provided is a far more inspired choice than the shade of Boi-ing provided in the Realness of Concealness kit. The Eye Bright is a surprising shade of pale pink, which seems at odds with the yellowy concealer and brown eyeshadows/liners, but works well on the skin to provide brightening and highlighting effects. On the face, the overall look is natural, though as pointed out in my previous reviews, there are still some blending problems with Boi-ing, so make sure you are thorough in your application to avoid any patchiness. Bad Gal separates and lengthens lashes well, though doesn't provide the wow-factor that the extollers of Benefit's virtues all seem to swear it to possess.

Boi-ing, as previously mentioned, has some blending problems, but is easily helped along with water. It's of a slightly stiff, slightly slidy consistency that is normal with most compact products of this type. The eyeshadows are slightly too powdery, with some being left loose in the box even with most careful manipulation of the brush, although the shadow liner is better. They are all versatile and easily manipulated. Eye Bright is of a similar consistency to Boi-ing, but far exceeds it in quality when it comes to blending.

I was disappointed that Boi-ing's effects on my blemishes seemed to degenerate throughout the day, despite its heavy-duty reputation, but apart from this, all of the products last very well.

Only Boi-ing is designed for coverage, and it fares averagely, both under the eyes and on facial blemishes.

--Value for money--
Shopping in the UK is becoming more and more interesting with its near-parity with the Euro. However, our American friends marginally have an even better deal, with $34.50 being equal to £23.64, although shopping in the US is not currently as profitable as it once was for Brits. You get many products for the money paid, although its overall 'value' is perhaps diminished by the fact that it's for the eyes only, not for the whole face. Saying this, this is perhaps offset by the fact that this set is limited edition only, so may well shoot up in monetary value and yield profitable resale prices on auction sites when it is no longer available in the commercial mainstream.

--Which products would I buy?--
I was distinctly underwhelmed by Boi-ing and by Bad Gal, even though the latter in particular is something that Benefit fans rave about. The eyeshadows are of solid quality, but you can get better ones for the same price or less from MAC or Prescriptives. The one at the top of my list from this set, however, would be Eye Bright: it's innovative, easy to use, and adds a new dimension to making up your eyes.

perfect partners
Benetint Lip Balm, $20/£14.50
Get Even Compact Powder, $30/€30.50/£21.25
Posie Tint, $28/€31.50/£22.25

Friday, 2 January 2009

Coming soon in January...

Rimmel 100% Waterproof Mascara (done!)
L'Occitane Red Rice Exfoliating Powder (done!)
Dermalogica Oil Control Lotion (done!)
Clarins Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm (done!)
Calvin Klein Euphoria (done!)
Nivea Visage Refreshing Cleansing Lotion (done!)
Benefit Primpcess (done!)
Benefit Her Glossiness (done!)
Avon Shimmer Swirls
Marimekko for Avon Eyeshadow Palette (done!)