April 17, 2016

Dupes | Kat Von D's Lolita VS Jeffree Star's Angrogyny

In the now over saturated market of liquid lipsticks, both Jeffree Star and Kat Von D are my favourites. When visiting Sephora in the middle east I came across the ever so raved about Lolita liquid lipstick and bought it without thought. Once I got around to wearing it though, I felt like I had made a mistake and basically just repurchased Jeffree Star's Androgyny.

Left - Kat Von D's Lolita
Right - Jeffree Star's Androgyny 

After a direct comparison, you can tell colour wise they aren't exact dupes. Androgyny is a plum mauve while Lolita is a chestnut rose. However, when you try either of the two on, you will be caught off guard by how dark they are on the lips. Sure neither of them are obvious vampy shades like burgundy or plums but as far as everyday nude lip colours go, they're very dark. 

So quality wise, which is best? While both aren't extremely drying like some brands can be, Kat Von D's is definitely rougher on the lips than Jeffree Star's. Usually the less drying the liquid lipstick the less long lasting the product, I find Jeffree Star's liquid lipsticks to be the exception. Somehow they just seem to last longer than Kat Von D's in my opinion. All though, I do find the quality can vary per shade in both lines.

Both Jeffree Star's and Kat Von D's liquid lipsticks can be a bit tricky to purchase in the UK. Jeffree Star's stuff is prone to selling out very fast online, even with UK stockists. Luckily, as I live in the Midlands, I can literally just take a train down to Cocktail Cosmetics where they always have a decent stock in store even if they're unavailable on their online site. Kat Von D's stuff is much more readily available at Sephora but gets pricey very quickly once you take shipping and customs into account.

While they're not exact dupes, they're pretty close. I personally prefer the formula of Jeffree Star's liquid lipstick but the colour of Kat Von D's Lolita. 
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March 27, 2016

Beauty | Makeup Revolution Mermaids VS Unicorns Palette

If you hadn't heard about Makeup Revolution when it first launched, that would be quite the accomplishment. I don't think there was a single beauty blogger or makeup addict that wasn't talking about it. The brand had so many dupes for so many cult beauty products at drugstore prices. It was so tempting to pick up a good 20+ items on my first order but in the end, the one item I picked up by them wasn't even a dupe of a well known makeup item (as far as I'm aware).

The palette has 12 pans with one half of them filled with mermaid blues and greens and the other half is filled with what is meant to be unicorn shades. While the blues and greens are what sold the palette to me, I find some of the mermaid shadows to be a bit too similar to each other. Aside from the pinky purple shadows I find the selection of 'unicorn' shadows a bit odd, especially as they're generally quite dark shadows but I find they make the palette more wearable than more bright shadows would have done. 

The shadows are surprisingly pigmented for a drugstore palette. I was genuinely impressed by the quality when I first swatched the palette. It even translates reasonably well on the lids as long as you use an eye primer and are patient enough to build the colour on to the lids. To really make the colours pop, I'd reccomend using a white base like NYX's Jumbo pencil in white or Urban Decay's Eden eye primer.

I'm surprised by how much I actually liked this palette. It's not perfect but because it's so affordable at £4, I can't fault it. It's been a real struggle not to buy a ton more Makeup Revolution palettes (especially their chocolate palette range) but until I use up a few palettes, I will have to resist for now. 
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March 22, 2016

Holy Grail Beauty | An Apology To Kat Von D's Tattoo Liner

Almost a year ago I compared my drugstore, midrange and luxury eyeliners against each other. In that review I may have bashed my Kat Von D Tattoo Liner. I couldn't get it to work. Fast forward a few months later and  after finishing up all of my liquid liners, I ended up picking up the one eyeliner I was so sure I would never purchase again!

When I first used the eyeliner, it was a big watery mess. Instead of a black line, I would get clear liquid with random clouds of black. Needless to say, it was impossible for me to use. My frustration with the liner grew with each raving review that I read.

What was I missing? After turning to the almighty Google, I found my fix that changed everything. Instead of storing the liquid liner felt tip side upwards, it needed to be stored downward. A simple solution that I wouldn't have ever thought of. The result, one of the blackest liquid liners I've ever used.

So what made it Holy Grail worthy? The eyeliner isn't just a felt tip eyeliner, it's actually a brush. Which means that the liner doesn't dry up as quickly and lasts longer. Out of all the different eyeliners I used up, Kat Von D's the trooper liner lasted months longer than the rest. The brush also allows you to do very fine and precise lines which is great for those less daring who just want a thin line of liner or those of us who prefer to experiment with different styles of graphic eyeliner.

The major drawbacks to the liner is the price and lack of availability. Originally Kat Von D's range was only available in the US Sephora but is slowly becoming more available in other countries like Australia, UAE and Spain. At $19 it's not the most affordable but it's still cheaper than some midrange and high end alternatives. Personally, eyeliner is that one part of my makeup routine that I feel somewhat naked without and am happy to spend that extra bit of money on. 
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March 20, 2016

Makeup Rehab | Pan That Palette Tips

I genuinely have no idea how we're already a quarter of the way through 2016. I'm in the middle of my most successful no buy and have managed to not make any makeup purchases this year. Instead of keeping my eye out on the beauty industry's latest offering, my eye is on my own clutter with hopes of downsizing the collection via ebay and finishing up a few products.

The biggest hurdle is the mountain of eyeshadow that'll take another lifetime to finish. Currently it's one of the most difficult things to part with so I've been taking part in r/makeuprehab's pan that palette challenge instead. I'm currently working on my 2nd palette and I've been making progress a lot faster than my first. So here are a few tips on successfully completing your first pan that palette challenge.

1. Start small
Try to start with a palette that has less product. It might seem easier to start off with a quad. Personally it drove me insane and I found it limiting and moved to a palette with more shadows but smaller eyeshadow pans. While panning you'll realise that just because it's better value for money paying for 2g of shadow per pan instead of 1g, doesn't mean you should as it takes a lifetime to use up.

2. One eyeshadow at a time
Instead of randomly choosing different eyeshadows each day, focus on an eyeshadow you want to use up and try to incorporate that shadow in all your looks for a certain period of time. You'll be making a dent in the shadow faster and seeing the progress will motivate you to carry on.

3. Set Goals
The main hurdle with pan that palette challenges is the idea of using the same palette for so long. Especially when you have so many others that need to be used. Instead of limiting yourself, set a goal of using it just 3/4 times a week.

4. Think Outside The Box
Just because it's eyeshadow doesn't mean you have to use it on the eyes. Pinks and peaches can double up as blushers. White shimmery shadows could be used to highlight your cheek, not just your brow bone. It is possible to use bright shadows as Dark shadows pair well with eyeliner, particularly on the lower lashline area and even make decent eyeliner replacements. If you have dark hair you could use them on your brows. I've managed to use a dark plummy shadow on my brows in the past as the purple tones didn't show at all once actually on the skin.

5. Layer eyeshadows
The one drawback of eyeshadow palettes is that there'll be at least that one eyeshadow you can't stand. There is no palette out there where every eyeshadow complements every skin tone. When in doubt, finish the offending shadow by layering it with others. 

6. Take photos!
It seems over the top but photos are the best way to record your progress. Whenever you're feeling cynical and feel that it's not going anywhere, refer back to your photos to compare the palette to back when you started off.

7. Lacking inspiration? Lookup reviews & tutorials specific to your palette
Instead of checking out that new palette every beauty blogger ever is currently raving about, research the palette you already have. Create a pinterest board for that palette so you can refer to it whenever you lack inspiration. Even if a look wasn't created using a specific palette, you could still pin looks with very similar colours to the palette in question.

Hopefully that was helpful to some, happy panning!
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March 08, 2016

Beauty | LA Splash Studioshine Lip Lustre in Tiana

Some time last year LA Splash went viral for their Disney and Harry Potter liquid lipstick lines and of course, I couldn't help but get reeled right in. Eventually, they gained enough attention that they were forced to change the names of the liquid lipsticks as they weren't officially licensed with Disney and Warner Bros. Luckily, I managed to come across some of the liquid lipsticks that still had the original names during my US travels and picked two, Belle and Tiana.

From online swatches, I can't say Tiana, now called Selene, interested me at all. However when I got to play with it in store I couldn't help myself. I'm guilty of having way too many purple lipsticks but Tiana is one of the more unique purples out there. Although it seems like a pinky purple in the tube, it's very plum when applied on the lips. Once it dries down and mattifies, you're left with a slight sheen to it.

LA Splash's packaging isn't particularly inspiring. There are a lot of liquid lipsticks out there that seem to be sold in the same tube. The doe foot applicator feels cheaper compared to some of the other liquid lipsticks I own. It's too thin/weak and feels ready to snap when applying.

To make sure this sits well on the lips without flaking off, avoid layering and applying too much. As far as liquid lipstick formulas go, this is definitely on the drier side but I think these may be the most long wearing liquid lipsticks I've yet to try. They're so durable and budge proof you need something oil based to remove them from your lips. Naturally, you'll want to avoid and oil based food if you didn't want to retouch. 

LA Splash liquid lipsticks are £9.99 in the UK or $14 in the US
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February 28, 2016

Brand Roundup | Best of Illamasqua

We're almost at the end of February and I've managed to kick my zombie like spending habits. Instead of rushing out and buying the current most raved about makeup item, I'm focusing on what I have. As someone who was a tomboy growing up, Illamasqua's Art of Darkness collection lured me into the makeup and beauty world. With one of my favourite artists, Alex Box, leaving Illamasqua earlier this year I'm expecting a possible rebrand. So, I'm sharing 7 products that made me fall in love with the brand, while they're all still relevant.

Powder Blushes | If you were take a peak at my blush collection, you'll notice over half of it is Illamasqua. Despite branching out and trying different brands, I still consider these to be the most pigmented ones I own. You only need a little for the colour to show up and they blend out easily.

Illamasqua Nail Varnishes | There are three shades I personally consider worth splurging on. Melange, the most unique of the three, is an antique teal with flecks of burnished gold. Viridian, described as peacock green but I don't personally see the blue tones and find it to be more of a emerald green. Last but not least we have Jo'mina which is described as an electric lilac because I just had to include a purple.

Skin Base Foundation | Despite branching out and trying out a mixture of different foundations, Illamasqua's Skin Base foundation is the only one I keep coming back to. It covers my pigmentation marks well without also breaking me out, something plenty of high coverage foundations seem to be guilty of. Admittedly, what works for me, won't necessarily work for everyone else. I found that in winter, when my skin becomes dry, that the foundation doesn't sit well on my skin and even separates a bit. Definitely best to avoid this one if you have dry skin but if you have oily skin, definitely give it a go!

Vintage Metallix | I've never been sold on cream based makeup products. Vintage Metallix showed me how wrong I was. If you want to look like you've done a full face of makeup but are lazy or simply don't have the time then these are for you! Just apply a little on the eye and rub it until it covers the entire lid. The formula is super long lasting and packed with sparkle. Bibelot (green) and Embellish (brown) are my favourites. Illamasqua products have definitely become a lot more expensive over the last 7/8 years, but these are definitely worth the price tag. 

Matte Lipsticks | Illamasqua matte lipsticks are very hit or miss. Their biggest criticism is how drying and hard they are. However, this doesn't apply to all of their lipsticks and some of the matte range have a creamy feel to them. Those shades are the ones that are worth picking up. My all time favourite has now become Maneater. Other favourites include Resist and Kontrol. They are the most long wearing, non liquid lipsticks I own and back in the day, they were one of the only brands on the high street that had an unusual range of colours.

Top to Bottom of Arm Swatches : Sealing Gel as primer, Sealing Gel as liner, No Base

Pure Pigments | I had to include some form of eyeshadow of course. While Illamasqua do a range of matte shadows, it's their pure pigments that stand out the most. There are a few easily dupable ones but some like Static's iridescent pink and silver sparkle along with Android's shimmering charcoal which are so stunning, it's difficult to capture their magic on camera.

Sealing Gel | Last but not least, one of my holy grails, which is now regrettably discontinued. I'm sure there are plenty of mixing mediums available on the market. However, this tiny gel is the handiest tool to have. I personally love using it to create custom coloured eyeliner but it can also be used to seal brows, lips or even as an ee

There are a lot of raved products by Illamasqua that I've missed out (gleam cream in Aurora comes to mind). This is only because I've never actually tried them out myself. 
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February 23, 2016

Travel | 5 Places I Want To Visit In 2016

My goals and plans for 2016 are fuzzy at best. I definitely want to continue travelling, but this year I want to focus on exploring cities I've never visited rather than rediscovering places I've been to before. Despite not spending any money on makeup this year, I've been terrible at saving money so far this year. So in the meanwhile, here's my current wanderlust list for the year. 

1. Istanbul, Turkey (Source)
Oh Istanbul, even back when I didn't care for travel, it was one of those cities I was desperate to visit. Shopping for baklava, visiting the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. Turkish food has always been a favourite too! Sadly, I've had a lot of family discouraging me from visiting as there's been too many incidents in the last year or so. Personally, I worry that if I don't just go for it this year, things may end up becoming worse. It makes me sad to say but it feels like a now or never situation.

2. Amsterdam, Netherlands (Source)
I had the opportunity to visit Amsterdam during my university days but wasn't interested due to my own ignorance. All I knew about the place was the infamous red light district and their "speciality" cafes, of which neither of these things still hold any interest to me. I'd love to discover the city beyond it's raunchy reputation. 

3. Brighton, UK (Source)
I've not explored much of the UK and while I've made a bit of an effort to stop visiting London each time I fancy a city escape, I've not made as much progress as I'd like. Brighton's been one of those places that gets raved about so much both in and out of the blogging world, it'd be interesting to see how it holds up. A swim at the beach followed by a day at the fair and checking out the Royal Pavillion does appeal.

4. Reykjavik, Iceland (Source)
I don't consider myself to be sporty, anything of the sort is outside my comfort zone. Iceland is the only place on this planet that's convinced me to break out of my comfort zone. I'd love to experience both a winter and summer there. Exploring ice caves, witnessing the northern lights in winter and diving into waterfalls and 24 hours of sunshine in summer. Naturally, I'd love to explore the golden circle and visit the blue lagoon too. It seems very otherworldly and unlike any country I've visited already.

5. Barcelona, Spain (Source)
There's a 50/50 chance this will/won't be happening over Easter. Between a day exploring Gaudi's architecture and a day with ice cream at the beach, Barcelona is both a city and beach break rolled into one. Fingers crossed, I'll be able to actually visit this amazing city.

Ultimately, it's unlikely that I'll be able to visit all 5 of these places this year. I'm hoping to cross off 2/3 of these places from the list. In the meanwhile, I'll carry on planning my dream holidays to each of these places.
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