Friday, 18 April 2014

April Birchbox & Reader offer!

This month's beauty box from Birchbox* see's a 'Good Enough To Eat' theme which showcases lots of beauty goodies inspired by foodie elements and smells one way or another:

TheBalm cosmetics cheek and lip cream. This is a really nicely packaged lip and cheek colour and the shade is 'How Bout them apples?' ....what a mouthful. Clearly a makeup brand with a quirky sense of humour as the name and packaging suggests and the colour is really beautiful. Reminds me of something Benefit would bring out?! Easy to blend and a nice multi-use product. First time I've seen or used this brand.

Lord & Berry kajal eyeliner. I keep seeing this brand I *think* in Sally's beauty shops? Never tried until now so getting this weeny one is really good. Really beautiful and soft and has ridiculous payoff. No problem in getting the inner rims of the eyes blacker than black. The full-size pencil is just £10 and just from trying out this min-version I would defeinately consider buying it.

Color Club - Nail polish. Candy inspired colours which are pearlescent pastel shades, ideal for spring. I'm not a huge fanof pearlescent polishes but I did try this shade (Aquamarine Azulino) on and it's actually a lot nice than I expected. Would also look lovely on tanned feet.
Yes to Cucumbers - facial wipes. These couldn't come at a better time, my box arrived the day before my long weekend away so these went straight into my suitcase. A perfect size pack for a week away. I am already a fan of these, not to replace your cleanser, but just to give a quick freshen and mini-cleanse or for when all that eye makeup just doesnt come off from the night before - super soothing for an AM mask. Oil-free and packed with organic cucumber, aloe and green tea to soothe and brighten.

Laura Mercier - Ambre Vanilla body soufflĂ©. This is my favourite scent of all of the delicious Laura Mercier bath & body range... Ambre Vanilla. Yummmmm. Not overly sweet like some of them can be (not for me) but this has a perfect balance of sweet and musk, therefore not awfully overpowering. Super hydrating and one of the best beauty gifts money can buy!

Propercorn - Sweet coconut & vanilla. A sweet new guilt-free flavour from Propercorn, a strangely tasty combination too & I like to have something to graze on whilst I explore and open my Birchbox.

Beauty boxes are great for when you [A] like a suprise parcel / bday present style EVERY month [B] like trying new/ unique and some kitsch/lesser-known brands [C] like to sample before you buy your skincare /bodycare / fragrance and makeup. I think Birchbox always have a really nice and generous selection of products and 'future favourites'. There is always a good few bits that I've never heard of or used before, which for a beauty junkie like myself, is quite impressive! It's not just full of smaller, lesser well known brands either, the big boys are in there too from Dr.Brandt, Laura Mercier, Stila and Benefit! Something, I think, for all tastes and preferences.

I have collaborated with Birchbox to give all my readers a special offer when you sign up for a Birchbox - even if you just want to try it out for a one off 1-month, there are lots of different options, obviously if you sign up for 6 months to a year, it ends up cheaper, but if you just want to give it a try you can just order one which ends up costing £12.95 including P&P. PLUS you get any extra THREE free deluxe products with my code.

If you choose to do this then simply enter BBXLAURALOU on the bag page and as well as the Birchbox you will also get a TRIO of three suprise deluxe size samples...for free. This code will be active until the 30th April, so make sure to use this offer before then. Note: The extra three products will be sent in a separate box.

Let me know what you think. Do you already receive Birchbox, or any other beauty boxes?

Go to the BirchBox UK website to see what it's all about.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Beauty Assistant Snobbery.

...It's happened a few times to me, but never to the extent of me feeling really upset leaving a department store, and never wanting to go back again. Beauty store snobbery is pretty common, and we are all very familiar with the snooty looks the overly made up counter assistants can give you if play around with their testers or shock horror even want a sample before you try! (Then they just go back to chatting with so-and-so from Dior...)
Today I experienced something totally different, I went into a department store in my home island of Jersey, a beauty hall that I have been shopping in for literally years, and have spent obscene amounts of money in here. Like ridiculous amounts. It's easily in the thousands, and on 4/5 occasions I've spent in excess of £300-£400. I used to always go back this particular dept store/beauty hall (there are 2 others in jersey)  because a couple of the assistants knew me and looked after me when I used to go. I was never a *nuisance* customer, I have never asked for samples, as a makeup artist and beauty blogger, always know what I want, I choose a foundation in about 0.003 seconds by swatching it on my hand and I don't make a fuss.

My experience. Today, I went in and was probably the only customer in the beauty hall. There were probably 50% of the counters staffed and I did my usual of just approaching counters and picking and getting a product. Stop 1 = Lancome mascara. I know I'm getting more products, so I just say to assistant and she gives me the mascara and I walk about. Next stop = Dior, where two assistants from another counter are trying out and looking at products and the Dior assistant is just talking to them, doing her thing and does not even greet me or acknowledge I am there. I pick a mascara, she gives me the product and I move on again. I then walk past another counter, Creme De La Mer, and see the Dior lady whispering something to CDLM lady and they look at me, I believe it to be something about me having 2 mascara's in my hands and maybe to watch me, I honestly felt like they thought I was a thief / shoplifter at this point, so obviously started to feel really upset and uncomfortable.
Ignored. I asked the CDLM lady for a lip balm, she half ignored me so I had to ask her again, she didn't even offer any more help or say anything more to me, she just handed it to me and turned her back on me. By this point, I'm feeling like I should give it back to her and all the other products and leave but I really wanted a YSL foundation so I waved across for someone to help me as YSL had no staff either. 

Fortunately this lady was absolutely lovely and she saved the situation from me walking out and making a formal complaint to me still buying a bunch of beauty products. She offered to take my products whilst I walked around, as she went to her counter, the CDLM lady walked straight over to her, and you know when you KNOW she was talking to her about me. I felt I didn't want to be there anymore so I went to her to pay. She was so lovely and I could tell she already knew I was unhappy, so I told her how uncomfortable I was made to feel by that particular assistant, and how I have been a very good customer of theirs for a long time, and I wanted my comments passed on to her manager. She was apologetic and couldn't have been nicer, but I just left feeling shakey, upset, embarrassed and really furious. Every single brand in there is sold in a department store 50m away so my business has gone there and I will never, ever shop in this department store ever again. Will they care? Absolutely not, but that is probably why their beauty hall was depressingly vacant on the brink of a bank holiday weekend, and I am left with a really bad taste in my mouth.

I am not alone....I am clueless to why this appears to be such a common occurrence too. Beauty store/ Department store snobbery:  Maybe I have been lucky that I haven't been made to feel like this before? I was a enraged imminently after this so I tweeted about it and the response I got clearly suggests I'm not on my own. A few men said that it's impossible for them to shop in beauty halls as they get totally ignored too. It's really sad. It extends from old-school beauty assistants being snooty into people you don't know judging you on what you appear to look them. I don't wear labels all over my clothes, I wear trainers, jeans and I often look dishevelled and I really don't care: this is me. If the assistants had looked a bit closer, maybe they would have noticed my expensive bag, My expensive sunglasses, my bags brimming with beauty products from the store I had just been to and the fact that my dirty trainers were Isabel Marant? (irrelevant but just underlining the irony here) I am just astounded by their ignorance and how little things like this can make you feel a bit.... worthless. I have sometimes had the whole bad service and ignorant assistant at MAC counters but I don't get offended to the point of wanting to complain or vent like I have just now. #BeautyShoppingDrama  OVER & OUT.
Have you ever been made to feel like this? Literally the first time for me, and hopefully never again. Share your beauty shopping horror stories! Who are the worst offenders?!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


A makeup question I am always asked is how I do my brows. They are the one thing I constantly get complimented on, and I take a little bit more pride in them than I probably should...but I am hiding a deep, dark and awful secret.....they are completely faked

 The reality of it is, my brows without makeup on, are patchy, sparse and just awful. I look like a boiled egg without any brows on, and due to this I have become a bit of a master at faking them. I used to have terrible brows.....TERRIBLE, a lot worse than what they are now, I overplucked them, plucked them from the top, and they were these little sad , uneven things. I then decided to stop ALL plucking for a painful few months and this allowed me to see what I naturally had and how I could work with them. *Life-changing moment right there*. I then took my bushy-ass brows down to my local threaders and they made the perfect shape and then I could see where I had been going wrong. I think sometimes you are so used to doing your brows a certain way that you need someone else to look and tell you where they are unueven.

There are lots of shapes and ways you can have your brows, I am just sticking with the typical 'ideal' brow , which is slightly arched, elongated and has a nice bit of volume. See Below. As you can see I don't naturally have this shape and you may not either, but as we can see, with the use of a wax, tweeze and knowledge we can all fake beautiful looking brows. If your brows are really ungroomed and you have never done anything with them, the first thing to do is go to a salon and get them threaded. They will give you the perfect shape to work with and get rid of unecessary hairs, then from here you can maintain and tweezer that shape yourself at home. I rarely get my threaded or waxed - I just shape them myself and the rest is down to makeup & you can see what a difference it makes.
Follow these 3 guide points..The main things to look at to get a nice brow shape (1) Your inner brow should come into where the bottom of your nose would be if you drew an imaginary line up. An easy way to check this is just with a pen or anything straight you can hold up against the brow. (2) The arch of the brow should be roughly 3/4 of the way across, just outside of the far side of your iris. Mine is quite a bit further out than the below photo suggests, so don't be too regimental! (3) Get a pen again from the bottom of your nose and bring it so it hits the bottom of the eye and sweeps out : the end of your brow should be where the pen crosses your brow line (mine don't come out this far so I elongate them).
As it's my makeup obession, I have a huge pile of brow products - tried tested and loved. I am quite picky with the tone of brown I use and sometimes this can make it hard to find it and definately not all brands will have my perfect brow colour. I like a really dark cool brown, so no red tone at all, but a lot tend to have a warm tone to them which doesn't work for me. I switch between quite a few products and here is a pick of my favourites:
My go-to brow product . I think pencils are only really for you if you have patchy / sparse brows (like me in my no makep brow photo). They will be pretty useless if you already have even hairs along your brow and don't need much filling, so only get a pencil if you need to really need to fake that brow!

Laura Mercier 'Brunette' OLD STYLE, no longer available. Meh. I have been mourning the loss of these triangular brow pencils since Laura Mercier replaced them with the newer, less impressive version over a year ago. The old formulas had nice hard lead to get perfect precision and the colour 'Brunette' is the best I have found for me. I have run down every single one I have owned and luckily a makeup artist friend of mine had a spare old one and now I am onto my last pencil which slightly terrifies me. I have heard rumours that Laura Mercier herself is not happy with these new, overly waxy, rubbish formulas, so I am hoping to see a reincarnation of the triangular brow pencils. ASAP.

Clinique superfine liner for brows I really like the formula of this pencil, the colour (04 brown/black) is pretty good too for me. It is a twist up, no-sharpen pencil which is handy, as I am forever sharpening my LM one. The only bad thing about pencils you twist up rather than sharpen is that it can quickly lose it's sharpness as it becomes more rounded at the end. To overcome this, I often snap off the end so it's flat-topped again and once used at an angle you get perfect hair-like strokes. 

BareMinereals Frame & Define* This has a slightly waxier formula than the others, I just wish the colour was a touch less warm, it's not perfect for me. An all-round good brow pencil though and I know these have been popular with makeup-artists.

L'Oreal Brow Artist I may be being dumb but I cannot seem to find, for the life of me, the colour of this pencil, and I'm pretty sure it's not just the one shade as this is dark that it pleases me. No red tones, and actually THE BEST high street brow pencil I have purchased. The shade is near perfect and it has a clear wax on the other end for grooming and finishing.

Kevyn Aucoin This is looking likely to take over the spot of my LM Brunette pencil when this last one runs out. The brunette tone is great, but they have just launched 'Dark Brunette' which is even greater (I haven't bought yet). The great thing about these is that these are probably the HARDEST lead in a brow pencil I have used = superfine perfect hair-like strokes. Really easy to use as they are just a twist-up pencil (no lid) and is really up tthere in the best for me. HOWEVER, they do run out quickly which is the only drawback. I think one lasts me 2 months using it daily. So an expensive habit for me to get lured into.

By this I basically mean the ONLY brow product I am seeing scattered all over Instagram on these frustratingly perfect brow photos. These are photoshopped to HELL so please don't believe the perfectness you see. I digress... Anastasia Beverly Hills have a best-selling 'Brow Pomade' that is a bit of a brow must-have at the moment. On further snooping and investigation, I am assuming these formulas are basically like your typical longwear gel eyeliner. So I tried using my Shu Uemura M brown painting liner on my brows, and it's pretty good. I haven't jumped on the Anastacia bandwagon quite yet, but I would be interested to hear your thoughts. I still think they are just glorified gel liners and in that case I don't need to indulge!
Brow inks
I only started using brow inks when I got introduced to the Cosmetics A La Carte ones around a year ago. I instantly fell in love with it, the colour Sable (swatched below) it's absolutely perfect for me, again, no red tone in it at all. The thing with brow inks are that if you use them just on their own you have to be careful to just do gentle strokes with the super fine nib, otherwise you can get a heavy looking/ unuatural finish on the brow. I used my CALC one religiously for like a month or teo but I did find that it ran out relatively quickly - maybe 2 months max, which was the only disadvantage of it. I haven't re-purchased it yet (around £21) as I am on the hunt for a budget alternative. 

 Hourglass Calligraphy eyeliner This is obviously not a brow ink as such, but I just started using it as an alternative when my CALC one dried up. It's not perfect because the applicator is a typical liquid eyeliner rather than a fine brow ink nib, so mistakes are easily made! 

GOSH brow pen I purchased this last week after I heard they did a nice budget brow ink, it's around £6. I opted for the darkest shade 004 and unfortunately it's just not quite dark enough and has too much red in it, so I cannot really wear it. It's a shame as quality of the ink/nib etc is great and it's very similar to the CALC one. If anyone has any other recs for brow inks then please leave suggestions below!

PS I have also used the By Terry one which dried out really quick, not happy with that one. I have just spotted that KIKO do brow markers - I am really interested to try this as it looks like they do a really dark brow/black and only cost £5.90.
**Update - Just purchased this today, will let you know once I have used, the nib looks quite thick though, colour is amazing!**
Brow Gels
A must-have for all-day neat brows. Brow gels literally act as your hairspray and keep the hairs all groomed in the same direction and then it dries slightly hard so everthing stays in place. 

Eyeko Brow Gel This is my go-to and I use this daily. It has a brownish tint to it and also a bit of a sheen / glisten which I like and haven't seen in any other brow gels. The wand is nice and small, so you don't get goop all over the place.

W7 brow gel This is just a simple clear gel that you can use on both your eyes and lashes. It's a typical mascaca-size wand so bigger than my other 2 selections, but it has no pigment so even if you hit the skin, you aren't going to mess anything up. A great budget buy!

Benefit Speed Brow  Have used this on and off for many years, and it's a close second behind my Eyeko brow gel. The tint on this is slightly lighter (Eyeko may be too dark for many FYI) and will suit all brow colours. Nice and small wand for precision, and a teeny tube so good for small makeup-bags and your first brow gel if Eyeko seems a bit dark for you.
Brow Kits & Compacts
I think these are best for you if you don't need a helluva lotta fill to do (I do!) in your brows. If you already have a reasonable shape and the hairs aren't too sparse, then these are perfect for you. The wax will tame unruly brows and hairs to perfect the shape and then I always follow with a powder after - this gives something for the powder to adhere too also. The reason why I cannot use these for filling patchy areas, is because you will be applying this in essence, straight onto skin, and it's very hard to build up a brow hair look onto skin if with powder. HOWEVER, some people like a soft, even colour, and in that case this would work for you, whereas I like the 'brow hair' look. I'm babbling. My favs :

Kiko Eyebrow Expert* This is a very neat and handy compact. This contains a brown coloured wax and then two coloured powders. One is very pale, so could probably be used on dark blondes. the other is a medium brown so will work for most brunettes. Also contains mini tweezers, a small angle brush and a mini spoolie which I love!

Urban Decay Brow Box* This has two coloured matte powders and a colourless wax and all the utensils you need for application, plus mini tweezers. The shade I have/use is 'Brown sugar' which is just dark enough for me, and the two shades allow for a custom blend, so will work for most brunettes. I use this when I want a really natural finish in my brows.
Brow Highlighters
The only one I use religiously is Benefit 'High Brow'. This is officially the makeup product that I have used the most EVER! Literally I have used it since it launched maybe 8 years ago, I use it every single day without fail and every time I run down, I top up. One pencil usually lasts me over a year too, so it's not an expensive addiction. High brow, for me, is just the perfect finish and colour, it is has a matte finish, it's quick to use and the off-white/pinkish tone is perfect to give that barely there lift. I'm not a fan of shimmery bright, under brow highlighters. If you like a bit more sheen then they do a 'glow' version which is still subtle, but has more a gold shimmery finish. It's the original one for me though - everytime! The only downside to this pencil is that it's quite an unusal size so only one sharpener that I have found actaully sharpens it . It's larger than your typical eyeliner but smaller than say NARS lip pencils, so not many sharperners cater for it.
I am asked quite often how I makeup my brows, so here is my way. I often use different products depending on how hard or soft I want my brows to look, but this is the typical everyday way for me. I like a strong brow, without it looking 'Scouse brow' or like it been drawn on with a marker.
I think with the popularity of the whole HD brows things has seen some really bad imitations and walking round town or beauty counters you can see some real horror shows (meow, sorry), but my advice would be to draw on your brow softly and build it up - you DON'T want one block of colour across the brows as this will look fake, you need a mix of tones, texture and a bit of graduation to make them look natural and beautiful.
1. Bare Brow eek quick we need to get to work..
2. I fill in the desired shape with Laura Mercier 'Brunette' brow pencil (old triangular one)
3. Draw on fake hairs with a brow ink , or at the moment I have just been using the hourglass liquid liner in 'Cognac' a beautiful deep brown with no red.
4. Highlight under the brow to give lift. My failsafe, every day go-to is Benefit 'High Brow'. I just literally draw a line under my brow.
5. Blend that shit! So it just leaves a naturally slighter paler tone under the brow
6. Finish and perfect the brow with a sweep through of brow gel.

Coloured Brows
I go through phases of putting colour through my brows and have done this for many years - pink, red, blue and purple, whatever takes my fancy. The way I do this, is to lightly shape my brow with a pencil first (step 1) and then literally just go over the top with a colour, usually a cream eyeliner, eyeshadow or even lipliner for the pinks/reds. youy can have fun with colours, and it's a cute makeup addition for parties and festivals or just everyday, depending on your makeup-style and bravery.
This is a really long post as there is so much to talk about when it comes to brows. There are a vast selection of products you can use and methods you can try to get the look you want. I hope this makes a bit of sense and I hope I've explained my brow application easily? Please let me know what you think, your thought, and obviously.... YOUR FAVOURITE BROW PRODUCTS!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Models Own | NEON polishes

I haven't been this excited about nail polishes maybe since Essie 'Mint Candy Apple', or Illamasqua 'Jo'Mima'. These shockingly bright nail shades from Models Own have literally just launched and I am absolutely obsessing over these garish, un-shamefully full-on neon colours. 5 shades in total, and have all been designed to enhance a tanned skin and are the ultimate nail collection for beach babes. For some paler-skinned ladies (and gents) this may be like 'ewww but I don't have a tan' ..but you are allowed to wear these, nothing bad will happen to you except other girls on the tube will be totally jelly of DEM nails.

As soon as I got these, within about 10 minutes I already had 'Shades' on my nails and 'Flip Flops' on my toes. The look really nice and bright as I had hoped and I haven't taken either off since. I kind of wish I had the longer pointed nails to wear these brights but I think they look ok on my shorter nails too. I have my hen-do in Ibiza this summer and I'm already deliberating which shades to wear, they are nail-on-the-head holiday shades. I have 3 of the 5 shades and I am trotting to Superdrug as we speak to buy the other 2, I like them THAT much. [UPDATE: I drove all the way, my local Superdrug doesn't stock them gaaaaaa] The other two shades look like a pink coral and then a more barbie blue/pink tone - swatches can be seen on London Beauty Queen.

The textures and finish of the polishes are a little bit different, with the pinks being a usual semi-gloss finish, but the yellows and greens are quite a matte formula. This doesn't bother me as if you want more of a shine then just add a topcoat, alternatively if you want the pink ones to have more of a matte finish then Rimmel do a great clear mattifying topcoat.

As with all Models Own polishes I have tried, they last really well on the nails and just need a little top-up every few days. What do you think if these shades? Too bright and bold for you, or are you as excited and gibberish about these polishes as me?!

 Available from Superdrug and the Models Own website NOW and in Boots from around the 17th of April.

Friday, 11 April 2014

B. skincare & Makeup.

B. is a beauty brand that is relatively new on my radar and it is a full skincare and makeup range exclusively available at Superdrug. It is a premium skincare and makeup line, but made accessible for women who want effective and fuss-free quality products. It has a high street price point but offers quality and natural ingredients: the whole range is paraben-free, vegan-friendly, not tested on animals and of course, dermatologist-tested and approved.

 I was recently invited along to a masterclass with B.Embassador and celebrity makeup artist Cassie Lomas which was really exciting and even as a makeup artist myself, I always learn new things from watching others as everyone has their individual techniques & tips (Especially someone as experienced as Cassie!). She showed us step-by-step one of the signature looks which we could practice on ourselves or just watch her in action. We also got a selection of B. Makeup products to use and play around with.

Spring looks & products
B. have launched new Spring/summer products and alongside this 4 signature 'Looks' that Cassie designed. A look I think for everyone. I was immediately drawn to the Graphic liner look that Cassie demonstrated above as it's something I would wear and I wear liquid/gel liner pretty much everyday. All of the looks somehow incorporate the new shades and colours too, and I'm loving the minty green theme running through these new colours - the vibrant eye shimmer is absolutely stunning.

The Brow palette
This is coming in May and what a welcome introduction to the range. It is a quad of mini products all to prep, preen, fill and perfect the brows. I have used it in the makeup look below so you can see the effectiveness. I used the dark quad but it also comes in a lighter version.  

It has a colourless wax that you prep the brows with initially, and you just groom the wax through the brows, this gets them looking more neat and also allows something for the powder to adhere to in the next step. In each quad you get 2 matte pressed powder shadows with you can custom blend to your brow colour, and literally just apply this over the wax with the brush applicator. To finish you then apply the cream highlighter on the browbone to give lift and open up the eyes. Job done.

I got gifted a 'look' which I thought was a really nice idea. The look I was given was the 'sunshine lip' and in the bag we got all the products to create this look, which I have done below. It is a very soft grey smokey eye just using the kohl eyeliner and focus on a pretty fresh lip colour. I think the colour I got in my bag may have been the wrong one as on the card it's quite a berry-looking lip but my shade is a red/coral. Either way it's a very fresh and pretty look, and very fuss-free.

Products used:
B.Prepared makeup primer, B.B cream beauty balm , B.Sun kissed bronzer (dark), B.Defined EyeBrow kit (dark), B.Smokey kohl line, B.Longer lenghtening and defining mascara (used with lash curlers), B.Vibrant lip & cheek colour
(shade Alecia)

Have you tried any B. Products yet? I think the most well-known product could be the B.Pure micellar water, well this is the one that I instantly recognised. Also Cassie has her own renowned makeup academy based in Manchester if you wanted to do any makeup courses or training - I have heard really good things & it's nice to see a good quality school based outside of London.

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