Monday, 29 June 2015

Brand Review: Kiko Milano



For the past few months I've been on a total high-end makeup kick but that doesn't mean I don't still love a bargain, so today I wanted to highlight a more affordable beauty brand: Kiko Milano.

Founded in Italy in 1997, Kiko specialises in bringing a wide range of products to the mass market, with the majority of their products retailing at around £7. Choice is definitely something Kiko does well, with eyeshadows, lipsticks, foundations & nail polishes all coming in a wide range of formulas & finishes. This can make the website a bit overwhelming so I tend to start of either in the sale section, or with a recommendation from a fellow blogger.


For a more affordable brand, the packaging certainly doesn't look cheap & is actually really similar in style to NARS, with plain matte black & white text.


The first product I picked out was this Soft Touch Blush in shade Light Plum (RRP £7.50). I've been trying to mix up my cheek products a bit more, & I love the soft flush this gives. The texture is also super silky & it wears for up to 12 hours on a well-prepped base - impressive considering I can't say the same for some of the high-end blushes I own.


The next product was less of a success. I picked up the Double Touch Lipstick in shade Rhododendron Pink (RRP £6.90) because it looked super similar to a now discontinued Body Shop lip product which I used to love, with a liquid lipstick base & gloss topcoat. However I had multiple issues with this product: 1. the colour was significantly different to what was shown online, 2. the product looked really patchy when applied, & didn't seem to set, meaning that adding the gloss just resulted in more streaks, & 3. the gloss portion of the packaging leaked. This gets a big thumbs down from me.


Next up is a product which I've actually already talked about on my blog (in my holiday round-up post) & it's the Velvet Mat Lipstick in Rosy Brown (RRP £6.90). This is probably the product I've got the most wear out of since purchasing, as it's the perfect brown-nude (think Kylie Jenner), plus it wears like a dream with no smudging & minimal fading. My only complaint is that the flat tip can make it a little tricky to get a really crisp cupid's bow, but whatever.


Next up is the Luscious Cream Lipstick in shade Taupe (RRP £6.90) which I unashamedly bought after seeing Danielle rock it in an OOTD. I love this colour & the creamy texture makes it super easy to apply. At least it would if this lipstick hadn't snapped in half while I was swatching it. I was super unimpressed & thought about contacting them for a replacement, but I never got round to it. Unfortunately the texture doesn't work with a lip brush, but I can just about just manage to use it if I'm gentle.


The final product is the "bestselling" Smart Lipstick in shade Amaranth (RRP £3.90). Despite its name, this seems to be their most basic lipstick formula, which is great news because there's a really wide range of colours & the pigmentation levels are fantastic. I'd definitely recommend checking this range out if you're looking for affordable lipsticks, & I'm already eyeing up Lilac, Golden Beige, & Rosewood.

Like a lot of more affordable makeup lines I found Kiko to be a bit hit-or-miss, but there are some real gems in there & I'm definitely keen to try more of their products, especially the new Water Eyeshadows. Have you tried Kiko yet, & if so, what did you think?

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Review: Coloured Raine Liquid Lipsticks



After my less than glowing review of NYX's Soft Matte Lip Colours (which you can read here) I wanted to share with you some great alternatives if you love that matte, liquid lipstick look & first up is the brand Coloured Raine.

One of the most common complaints I've seen is that liquid lipsticks in fun colours can be hard to come by outside of brands like NYX or Lime Crime (which you should definitely be avoiding at all costs), but that's where Coloured Raine comes in: the shade range isn't huge yet, but there are already some really unusual shades available that you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.


Another plus is that all Coloured Raine's products are cruelty-free & vegan-friendly which I know can be a deal-breaker for some people.


In terms of packaging, there's nothing to really write home about & honestly I think it looks a little cheap. That being said, the clear tube does make it really easy to pick out the shade you want & it all feels solid, so there's no need to worry about leakage. I've also found the applicator super easy to use & even with the darker shade it's still possible to get a crisp look without using a lip brush.

Each lipstick costs around £10 which is a pretty good deal (although shipping to the UK is around £6, so it's worth picking up a few products at once to make it worthwhile).


The two shades I picked up were Raine Fever (L) & Soul (R), both of which I chose because they were unique colours I hadn't seen elsewhere while still being wearable.


Raine Fever is a cool-toned purple & super opaque. I've stashed it away for now but I think I'll get a lot of use out of it come Autumn because I love the witchy vibes it gives off.

Follow my Instagram for more grumpy morning selfies

Soul is an incredible taupe shade which despite being really unusual actually works really well as a slight twist on a nude lip.

Unlike the NYX Lip Creams these are true liquid lipsticks which means your lips will need TLC (scrub & balm) to get the best out of them. They also dry rock solid meaning all-day wear is possible (especially if you keep talking & eating to a minimum) but you do need to keep an eye out for fading in the centre of your mouth & may need touch-ups to keep the colour looking fresh.

These are definitely more labour-intensive than the NYX liquid lipsticks but a little bit of effort can yield incredible, dramatic looks which are long-wearing & original.

Review: Zoeva Classic Face Brush Set



I've been making heart eyes at Zoeva's brush sets for months now, but with a limited budget, spending £50 on brushes was just never top of my priority list.

Fast forward to last week & I noticed by normal rotation of Real Techniques brushes were looking a little worse for wear - fair enough, since I've had most of them for a couple of years - & now seemed like the time to invest in some better quality tools.

Zoeva sell a variety of sets, with prices ranging from £30 for an eye or travel set to £85 for their full collection. They also sell individual brushes for between £5-£20. Slightly pricier than most high street brands but definitely not prohibitive & the quality is definitely there to justify the cost. 

In the end I went for the Classic Face Brush Set (£53) since I tend to keep my eye looks pretty basic so don't really need any more eye brushes, & I'm beyond happy with it.


The set comes with a great little makeup bag, in faux leather with a hot pink interior, and the Zoeva logo subtly placed on one side. The best thing about this bag is without a doubt the size; in the past I've had carry cases which left brushes crushed & misshapen because they were just too small for the brushes, but this bag is super roomy with plenty of space to ensure no squished bristles.


In the past, I had eyed up the rose gold set from Zoeva but in the end I settled on the classic black finish (which has a subtle glitter), mainly because the rose gold set just didn't have the brushes I wanted in it (plus, I didn't want to be stuck with the world's most dated brush set in 6 months' time).

The brushes themselves are made from a combination of natural & synthetic bristles, so if vegan-friendly tools are what you're looking for it's worth double checking the ingredients for the individual brushes before you buy (thankfully Beauty Bay make this super simple).


The Classic Face Brush Set contains six brushes, all of which have become instant must-haves in my collection.

1. Concealer & Buffer Brush  //  This small, round brush is perfect for applying concealer in delicate areas like around the eyes & nose, plus its density means it can buff product out for a flawless finish. I've recently been testing out the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer & that plus this brush is a winning combo.

2. Luxe Highlight Brush  //  This is definitely my favourite brush out of the collection & I'm honestly confused as to how I lived without it for so long. It's a medium-sized, tapered brush which is perfect for applying highlight on cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, & the cupid's bow. If you only buy one of these brushes, pick this one.

3. Petit Stippling Brush  //  This small stippling brush is designed for cream products & although I tend to prefer powders, it's great knowing that when I do want to dip into a cream blush I don't need to worry about contaminate it with a powder brush.

4. Luxe Sheer Cheek Brush  //  Speaking of blush, this fluffy, angled cheek brush is another favourite. Not only does it apply product beautifully, but there's also something really satisfying about seeing the white brush turn a rosy pink as you swirl it in a product.

5. Silk Finish Brush  //  I've always sworn by the Real Techniques foundation brushes but the Silk Finish Brush just feels like a whole new level. It's super dense, so product goes on flawlessly with no streaking, & the rounded shape makes it easy to buff in even thicker foundations like Estée Lauder's Double Wear.

6. Powder Brush  //  Last but not least is the super dense & super fluffy powder brush. It's pretty big meaning that it applies setting powder like a dream, although it may be too large for something like bronzer.

This is a fantastic kit & I think it would make a lovely gift for someone who loves makeup but is still using high street brushes (or for yourself, there's no judgement here).

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Review: NARSissist Blush, Contour & Lips Palette



When SpaceNK emailed me a discount code just before I went away I'd already started worrying about fitting all my makeup necessities into the strict luggage allowance, so I immediately started checking out the palettes looking for something that could do some serious multitasking & the NARSissist seemed perfect.

Now when it first arrived, I was a little disappointed in how small it was - especially considering the hefty £35 pricetag - but trust me when I say they've managed to pack a lot in there. The packaging is also lovely, with a mirrored front, perfect for sitting on your dressing table even if you're not using it every day.

 

The palette is split into two levels. The top one contains a mini lip gloss in shade Lstria (a super sheer nude) as well as three blushes.


The blush shades are (L-R) Enthralled (toasted rose with a hint of shimmer), Enrapture (pink terracotta), & Roman Holiday (neon pastel pink). It's a great range of colours, giving you lots of options, although the pigmentation isn't the best

 
On the lower level are a highlighter (Albatross) & a bronzer (Laguna). I'm not a massive fan of either of these shades: they both run very warm & lack pigmentation, just like the blushes, but they're definitely usable.

I'm wearing Albatross as a highlight, Laguna as a bronzer, & Enrapture as a blush.

I know this review doesn't sound exactly glowing but I promise it's not all bad. 

This is a really great palette if you're pushed for space. Will Albatross ever replace my trusty Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector? Nope. Would I choose to use Laguna over the Too Faced Milk Chocolate Bronzer? Nah. But those products are bulky, & this palette has everything you would need for a weekend away. It's also great for touching up during the day, or even transforming a daytime look into something more special for a night out. Plus, I can imagine that if the highlight & bronzer shades were well-suited to your skin tone, this could easily become an everyday palette.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Holiday NYX Haul



It was the second-to-last day of our holiday when I spotted a beauty store with a NYX sign outside, & there was no way I was leaving Malta without checking it out. You can buy NYX online in the UK but I've found that a lot of the popular products are often out of stock, & buying online means no chance to test out products.

The main products I wanted to test out were the soft matte lip creams as I've heard great things, & since they're only £7, I figured that - if I liked them - I could easily order more shades online. I swatched a couple of shades on my hand & was pretty impressed, but there weren't testers for all the shades so I ended up just choosing by eye, which obviously isn't ideal.

In the end I went for (L-R) Milan (cool, mid-tone pink), Addis Ababa (bright fuschia), Morocco (classic coral), & Amsterdam (pure red). 

1. Milan // 2. Addis Ababa // 3. Morocco // 4. Amsterdam

I didn't get a chance to swatch them until I got home, but when I did I was a little disappointed. When swatched side-by-side the colours definitely weren't as distinct as they are in the tube (probably most noticeable are the similarities between Milan & Addis Ababa) & the same holds true on the lips. I think a lot of that is because the pigmentation isn't super strong meaning the colour get muddied by my natural lip colour.

I've also noticed that although the formula isn't at all dry, that means it doesn't set like a true liquid lipstick would & therefore the wear times aren't fantastic - I need to reapply at least every couple of hours to keep the colour looking fresh & that's without eating, drinking etc.

Honestly, I just don't think these are worth the hype. I can understand why - when they first launched - people were impressed, but now there are so many affordable options for liquid lipsticks that I just don't think they compete. For reference, my favourite high street liquid lipsticks are Rimmel's Apolocalips Lip Lacquers which are only £5.99.

This next product was a total impulse purchase, but I have no regrets. The texture of NYX's Extra Creamy Round Lipsticks is super smooth, & Pandora is an incredible opalescent violet - it's a match made in heaven. It's not the sort of shade you'll wear everyday, & it doesn't have the longest wear time, but it is beautiful.


The final product is a must-have blush, & I'm so glad I picked it up. Mocha is described online as a matte mid-tone pink but I definitely think it has some peachy undertones - super natural but also pigmented enough that you can effortlessly build up colour, not bad for £6.

Overall, it was a bit of a hit & miss haul, but honestly when you're paying under £10 for each product, it's not a huge loss if some things don't work out. Plus, it's definitely not like any of these items are unusable - I've actually worn the Morocco lip cream a couple of times already - it's just that they can't compete with other products on the market.

OOTD: '70s Suede


Cardigan - Primark  //  Top - Boohoo  //  Necklace - ASOS  //  Belt - ASOS  //  Skirt - New Look  //  Bag - ASOS  //  Tights - New Look  //  Shoes - New Look

When I tweeted about this faux suede skater skirt last week, opinion was pretty divided but after a couple of days weighing it up I knew I'd end up regretting it if I didn't snap it up. A couple of people suggested I wait until after the Summer since it's more of an Autumn/Winter piece, but unusual items like this come up so rarely in plus sizes - especially on the high street - that I just couldn't risk it.

I went for a size 20 since I was pretty worried about the lack of stretch in the "suede", but I could have easily sized down to an 18 without any problems.


With the skirt being such a statement (I love the '70s vibe it gives off) I've been mainly pairing it with all black outfits to keep it looking sleek. It's definitely a versatile piece & I know I'll get a lot of wear out of it (even if it means having to crack out the ironing board every so often to keep it looking its best).
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