Wednesday, 29 July 2015

How To: Contour and Highlight Like a Pro

Ah the elusive art of contouring. Something that has been around for many, many years behind the scenes at fashion shows but has only really become popular in the wider mainstream of beauty in the last few years. Though its difficult to know exactly where the makeup technique started, it is generally credited to Kevyn Aucion, an American makeup artist to the stars who worked with nearly every A-lister imaginable. He was described as having "invented cheekbones" after he started using his revolutionary makeup technique and the art of defining features seems to have continued from there on.

Fast forward to recent years and everyone is all about contouring, from your little sister to your gran. But how on earth do you do it?! In this guide, I'm going to teach you how to contour and also show just how it can change the shape of your face and enhance your bone structure. In order to do that, I'm afraid I'm going to have to provide you all with some rather questionable and at some times downright scary pictures of my face so...bear with me!

First things first, what do you need? There are so many contour palettes these days as well as contour sticks, highlighter pens, bronzer / highlighter duos etc that it can be hard to know what to choose. In simple terms, all you need is a product that is a couple of shades darker than your natural skin tone and another that is a couple of shades lighter. Personally I prefer products that are matte and have a more ash tone as these tend to look more natural on me but it's really up to you what colours you choose.

One thing I will say is that if you aren't really familiar with contouring but want to give it a go, there is absolutely no need to spend huge amounts of money on the contour specific products. In fact, if you have a matte brown eyeshadow and a light creamy eyeshadow, you don't have to spend any money at all to give it a try.

My palette of choice was a cheeky eBay bargain that I bought to initially try contouring. I've since tried other various contouring tools but genuinely find this one the easiest to use plus the price keeps my bank balance happy so it's a win-win! There's a range of colours for contouring as well as a couple of colour correctors which is an added bonus. In this tutorial I'm going to use the cream highlighter (top row, 2nd in from the left) and the darkest shade in the bottom right corner. I then use a Cargo Bronzer and Rimmel Stay Matte powder to set it.

Here's where the scary stuff starts! Below is a slightly terrifying close up of my face to show my starting point. We can use these as a reference to compare with the ones after I have contoured to help see the difference it can make.
Next up is knowing exactly where to contour. Below is a picture of where I place my contour and highlight which you can use as a general guide. Please excuse the ridiculous face I am pulling but I was trying to show where all of the makeup was added! 

As you can see, I place the darker colour at my temples, either side of my chin and nose, along the bottom of my jaw and in the hollow of my cheeks. To find the right part of your cheeks, do your best trout pout impression and tap the colour from your hairline outwards, following the dip underneath your cheekbone. However, be sure to not bring your contour any further than the middle of your pupil.

The highlighter is then placed under the eyes, across the top of your cheekbones, the center of the chin, nose and forehead and above the centre of your lips.

The next step is blending and this might actually be one of the most important parts! Leave an unblended line across your face and you look less like you have the bone structure of a goddess and more like someone playing army dress up. So...yeah...get blending!

Since I use cream based contour products I like to use a fairly sturdy brush to blend such as the Real Techniques Stippling brush but if you use powders, you can use a softer blending brush. Again this is personal preference so see what tools make it easiest for you and roll with it. I tend to blend in the highlighted areas, then the contoured areas and then a general blend between each section to ease the transition between the colours. Finish off by gently brushing over a little bronzer on the contoured areas and a translucent (or skin toned) powder across the highlighted areas to set.

And here is the finished product!
When comparing to the previous image, you can see that my cheekbones look much more defined, as is my jaw line which gives the impression of being a little thinner (thank the lord!) and my nose has been slimmed down. The highlighted areas around my eyes gives a brighter and healthier look to my face and my top lip looks fuller.

The wonderful thing about contouring is that it can be adapted to any face shape and for any features. Once you've mastered the basics, there is nothing stopping you from using contouring and highlighting in different ways till you find what you like best. All you have to remember is that contouring can be used to reduce features and highlighting makes them more prominent. So if, like me you would like to give the illusion of a slimmer nose, add a little more contouring along the sides. Or if you feel you have quite a rounded face and would like to make it appear more angular, use more countouring along the sides of your face and really accentuate your cheekbones. To give you an idea of how it works, below is a handy little image of different ways to tweak contouring based on your face shape.

While it's certianly not something I would do every day, it's a great way to enhance your look for a big event and I am quite a fan! What do you think of contouring? Are you just getting on board or are you a contouring pro? What is your favourite contouring product to use? Leave me a comment to let me know!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

My Makeup Essentials

This may come as a surprise to you, but I LOVE new makeup. New lipsticks that make me feel I have suddenly become a sophisticated lady rather than an awkward frump. Fun eyeshadows that transform me into a sultry seductress (…Ha!). Finding a new blusher that suddenly makes you look like one of those healthy, outdoorsy, hiking types. Yes, I love it and especially when it is something a little different from the norm, variety is the spice of life and all that.

However, I always find myself coming back to a few staple products. Call them my makeup security blanket if you will and I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’m sure you all have a few items that, though occasionally you may stray from them, you eventually find yourselves turning to because they’ve always got your back. So I thought I’d tell you all about mine!

But first, I should confess something to you all. Although I really enjoy all things makeup and can often be found creating full evening looks on a quiet Saturday morning at home just for the hell of it, my dirty little secret is that in the war of makeup Vs sleep, a little shut eye will always win. So during the week, I am really not someone who will be fully made up at all times and changing their look on a daily basis. Instead, I have a nice little set routine that works perfectly for me and come rain or shine, I stick by it. So these are most definitely my every day essentials.

The Base

These are the little beauties that turn my mottled, pale self (wow I sound hot right?!) into something safe for work!

Smashbox Primer | RRP £25.00

The perfect primer to minimize pores, blur imperfections and increase the longevity of your foundation. It’s a really light, silky formula that blends like a dream and can even be worn on it’s own. It also contains a number of ingredients to keep your skin in tiptop condition such as vitamins A and E, Grape seed extract and green tea. It’s got a huge cult following, so much so that they have now brought out a whole range to target specific issues. If you don’t want to splash out on the full size, it has a handy travel size counterpart for £12. The full size product usually lasts a good 6 months for me so I’d say the travel size would be more than enough if you were only planning to use it sparingly.

Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow! | RRP £26.50

Come on, who doesn’t love a bit of Benefit? From their cheeky product names to their incredibly approachable staff, I love everything about this brand. If you haven’t had the Benefit experience yet, honestly get yourself down to one of their counters pronto as you are in for a treat! This is their bestselling foundation, an oil-free liquid that allows you to build a light to medium coverage while still maintaining a natural look. It comes in a range of 9 shades which may be a little on the small side but I’m always really impressed with how bright and even this makes my skin look, even if I am having a bit of a grey day.

Benefit Boi-ing Concealer | RRP £17.50

Another Benefit product, this is the bad boy of all concealers. They even describe it as “industrial-strength” which does make me envision builders with trowels of the stuff but it is surprisingly easy to apply. It’s definitely a multi-use concealer and can be used on anything from dark circles to a nasty lurker of a spot. It is a light and creamy formula which is best tapped on to the skin to apply and is really long lasting so you can rely on it to stay in place throughout the day. Everything oyu need ina  concealer really!

Bellapierre Cheek and Lip Stain in Coral | RRP £12.00

A quick day look is never complete without a two in one product in there somewhere and this is mine. I actually first discovered it when it was included in a Glossybox last year and since then it has become a daily staple. It’s a creamy stain that blends so easily and allows you to build up the colour as much (or as little) as you need. Because of this, it’s also really handy to create an evening look at short notice as you can build up a nice coral lip. This particular shade would suit a variety of skin tones and it gives such a lovely touch of colour. Bye bye sleepy pale face, hello healthy glow.

The Eyes 

These are my favourite products to perfectly frame my eyes for the day without looking too harsh

Urban Decay Primer Potion | RRP £16.00 

If you have read some of my other posts, you will probably have already picked up on my love for this product. Without fail, this primer makes my eyeshadow stay put for hours on end. In fact, this stuff is so good that I have even woken up the next morning with perfect eye makeup (yes I know it's a beauty sin, but hey it happens). It comes in a number of different shades but I personally like to use the original as it’s the perfect base for any look. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Mac Shroom Eyeshadow | RRP £13.00

A lovely little eyeshadow that lightens up the lids and highlights the inner corners of your eyes to make you look more awake (exactly what I need at 6am!). It’s a fairly neutral beige with a slight shimmer and a frost finish. Another that is multi-use as it is handy as a highlighter on other areas of your face too. Personally I’d only use it for an evening look as it has a touch too much shimmer for me but that completely depends on personal preference.

Me Me Me Eyeliner in Clay | RRP £4.00

I used to always be someone who’d automatically pick up black eyeliner until I came across this beauty. I find it to be much easier to smudge a little of this on the lower and upper lashes without it looking too heavy for daytime than I do with a black liner and this particular brand is so easy to apply. It’s a really soft kohl that glides on without any tugging and can blend out so well that you can use it as an eyeshadow if you want to change to a night time look. It’s also the perfect colour for me to touch up any little bare patches in my eyebrows (hangs head in over-plucked shame).

Benefit Roller Lash | £19.50 

This is a fairly new mascara that was big news when it launched. I was a dedicated They’re Real fan until this came into my life as it is much more suitable for a softer look. It defines the tiniest of lashes and lifts them up so they really look like they have been curled. It also never flakes or smudges so you can rely on it for the whole day. So long eyelash curlers, I won’t be missing you.

Model Co More Brows | £13.00

Everyone loves a good brow these days and this is my key product to keep them in shape. I’ve recently been going through the traumatic experience of growing out my brows and honestly could not have coped if it wasn’t for this product. It is an ingenious gel formula that contains small fibres which cling to your eyebrow, making them appear much fuller and even. Since it sets relatively quickly, it can also be used to style your brows and to push the hair into the ideal placement which is a godsend when you have straggly, outliers all over the place that don’t have a clue what they are doing.  

That’s everything! Annoyingly, there are 9 products and part of me really wishes there was a round 10 but I’m not going to throw something in willy nilly! These are definitely my essentials for a daily look but if I am feeling relatively awake, I do add in an occasional extra product or two to mix things up. Especially if my skin is deciding to be uncooperative, I might choose to incorporate a powder (my current choice is Nars Translucent powder, that stuff is dreamy) or a makeup setting spray like Urban Decay De-Slick. When the seasons change is also a time when I might swap things over, especially the cheek and lip stain as that’s an easy way to adapt to the changing weather, hello berry lip and cheeks.

What are your makeup essentials that you can’t live without? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Glossybox July 2015 Vive La France Review

So I am probably a little late on this review but given just how lovely this months edition of Glossybox was, I couldn't pass up the chance to share it with you all! If you aren't familiar with Glossybox, it is a subscription service that sends out a box full of lovely goodies (4-5 products) each month based on your beauty profile. They use a wide range of brands from those that are well established to brands that have only launched recently.

After the last couple of month's boxes being a tad disappointing, I was a little bit ambivalent when I found my Glossybox waiting for me when I got in to work. All of that changed though the moment I opened the outer packaging and was greeted by an absolutely stunning limited edition box. 

This month's edition is based around all things French and the box itself was designed by fashion illustrator Jamie Lee Reardin who has previously worked with the likes of Balmain and Dior. I'm sure you can agree from the pictures above that the artwork is really striking and has certainly made this box one to keep. Every inch of the box is covered in beautiful drawings in Jamie Lee's iconic style and there are even more lovely images inside on the product cards! 

The products themselves are also in line with the French theme and apart from the well known Yves Rocher, are all new and exciting discoveries for me! Glossybox have also mixed things up a little this month by including a very chic little makeup bag to use on your travels. While I wouldn't necessarily want "lifestyle" products every month, it was a nice little change up for the box in this case and really complimented the whole design.

Teoxane Cosmeceuticals Perfect Skin Refiner | Sample worth £14.34

This was the first product that caught my eye as it was recently featured in Vogue as one of their top hydrating formulas. It includes a number of wonder ingredients such as hyaluronic acid to moisturise and 10% glycolic acid to exfoliate. Glycolic acid is a powerful alpha hydroxy acid (read more about it in my previous post here) and I have had good results from products that contained it in the past. It also includes N-acetyl glucosamine that is known to stimulate the body's own production of hyaluronic acid. The brand itself is quite an interesting one to me as it is marketed as a "cosmeceutical", which essentially means "cosmetics with biologically active ingredients purported to have medicinal or drug-like properties". Supposedly they are able to do far more than traditional products so I'm pretty eager to see the long terms effects from using Teoxane's offering. There has been a lot of talk in the beauty world lately about these two ingredients so a combination of the two is something I'm really looking forward to trying. Double whammy? Yes please!


Lollipops Lip Balm Délicieuse | RRP £4.15

Ok, I will just come out and say it, lip balms are boring. Yes they are no doubt an absolute beauty staple but I'm never going to be found jumping up and down out of excitement for a new one. That said, I can appreciate a good one from a bad one and this is definitely the former. When I first saw the pink tube I initially thought it was my makeup nemesis, the lipgloss (I have a severe aversion to the sticky, overly shineyness that makes me feel like I'm reverting to a 12 year old). Luckily though, it was just a nice little inoffensive lip balm. To be fair, it is quite the treat for the lips with vitamin E to soothe and a number of antioxidants to keep my pout in tip top condition. It also seems to sink in quickly so I think it would be a handy base for matte lipstick if you were in a rush and didn't have that much time to wait between lip balm and lipstick. 


Yves Rocher Comme Une Evidence | Sample worth £6.13

Oh how I love a good perfume. Lots of people get the grumbles about perfume samples in beauty boxes but personally it's one of my favourite things. Anyone who knows me will be aware that my bag is usually filled with a handful of different sprays and perfumes and I love to change them up regularly. So for me this is perfect as we haven't had perfumes in a Glossybox for a while. This one in particular is an elegant, floral fragrance with notes of patchouli, bergamot, lily-of-the-valley, rose and jasmine. The scents of lily-of-the-valley and jasmine hit first with the smokeyness of patchouli in the background. The patchouli has obviously been added with a very light touch as it isn't overpowering at all, though the rose seems to have been lost which is a shame. It's certainly a perfume that I will enjoy wearing of an evening and since the sillage isn't overly strong, perhaps also to work.

 Noxidoxi Enhancing Serum Base | Sample worth £20.75

Last but not least for the beauty products was a serum from Noxidoxi containing a CRC6 moisturising complex which penetrates deep down to hydrate skin cells as well as looking after the surface of your skin. It combines anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants to create a barrier against the environment and keeps your skin looking fantastic no matter where you live.

Unfortunately my search for exactly how it protects the skin came up empty so I'm not entirely sure what to believe. I stumbled across a number of people stating it can even protect your skin from the effects of cigarette smoke. Considering that it is the very industry I work in, I am really curious to find out what the scientific backing is of that claim so I will persevere in my research! Granted though it doesn't explicitly state that on the brand website so perhaps it might be a result of information being taken out of context. In the meantime though, it has a nice light consistency, sinks in quickly and leaves skin feeling soft and smooth, so just from that view it seems like a pleasant product to use.

Glossybox Exclusive Travel Pouch | RRP £3.99

This unique offering from Glossybox will certainly come in handy to keep all of my many eyeshadows, eyeliners, mascaras, moisturisers, serums etc etc together and in a stylish way no less. I do wonder if they would actually allow this to be used through airport security but it is so pretty that I would certainly be willing to try!

This month's box has been a real pleasure and has made me fall in love with Glossybox all over again. I will use every single product in the selection and am excited to see what the long term benefits will be from using such high-end skincare. Perhaps I will suddenly transform into a trés chic Parisian with skin to die for can dream!

If you are tempted, the July Glossybox is still available from for £10 plus P&P but I can't imagine they will be hanging around for much longer!

What did you think of the July Glossybox? Is it tempting you to sign up? Did you get the same selection as me or something a little different? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

6 Bridal Makeup Looks and When to Wear Them

If you have made your way to my "About Me" page you will know that I'm currently in the process of planning my wedding. I'll try to refrain from babbling on and on about it to you all but suffice to say I am pretty darn excited! Naturally this has resulted in hours and hours of browsing different makeup styles for the big day so I thought it would be a good idea to put all of my new knowledge into a post for you lovelies! 

I have chosen 6 key looks that I think work really well as bridal makeup, spanning the classic to the utmost dramatic and have split them up into seasons for when each look is best. You'll also find that for each look I've identified a few key makeup products that will help you achieve that particular style. 

What makeup should I wear for a Spring/Summer wedding?

Nude makeup look - for a truly understated look (Image from the Hot Mess Handbook)
Now when I say nude, I’m not expecting you to stroll on out there with a completely bare face. Mind you, I have absolutely nothing against this, so if you want to embrace your natural beauty and don’t want to wear any makeup at all then all the power to you. But I suspect if you are here then you’re probably looking to use at least a couple of products. This look is most definitely “all about that base”. It is defined by flawless, natural looking skin without the smallest hint of obvious makeup so a great primer and foundation combination is number one on the list. Given this, if you have any concerns about your skin at all, in all honesty you may want to steer clear of this look. You certainly don’t want to be panicking on your wedding day about the handful of spots that have maliciously turned up and how you are going to keep them covered throughout the day.

A light wash of sheer colour over the eyelids particularly in the inner corners, tightlining the upper lashes at the outer corners, some fake single lashes and a great mascara is all that’s needed on the eyes. The new makeup trend of strobing is perfect for enhancing your bone structure without the heaviness of contouring.

Key products for this look:
1. Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk is a weightless, oil free formula that looks like a second skin.
2. Benefit’s Rollerlash is the perfect option as it’s genius design catches even the smallest of lashes to really enhance what you have, without being overly obvious. 
3. Mac Strobe Cream to luminize the skin and highlight.

Play with bright colours for a fresh look (Image from Around Makeup)
Bright & Colourful
There is nothing like a pop of colour to say Spring/Summer bride. It is such a fresh look and can really brighten your complexion. You can add colour in any number of ways, whether it’s with a bright pink lipstick, an aqua blue eyeshadow or any number of other combinations. The key here though is balance. Using a bright colour is great but too much and you could end up looking like you are off to the circus so bear that in mind if you are considering bright colours on your eyes AND lips. As a general rule, with bright colours I would probably choose either lips or eyes to be bright, with a counterbalance of the other being fairly neutral. Don’t get me wrong, your neutral choice doesn’t need to be completely devoid of colour but a tint is far better than a strong pigment. For the area that you choose to make colourful though, let your imagination run wild! Think gorgeous coral lips and a light brown smokey eye or the latest trend of pink eyeshadow with a neutral lip.

Key products for this look:
1. Tom Ford lipstick in Incorrigible, a bold, fuschia pink lipstick for a splash of colour
2. Cargo Vintage Escape Palette to keep the rest of the look fairly neutral

What makeup can I wear to an Autumn/Winter wedding?


Add some drama with a berry lip (Image from daily makeover)
Very Berry
When it comes to Autumn/Winter makeup, I think its pretty fair to say we can up the ante a little. Drop the light, fun colours and go for something more dramatic like a berry or purple lip. It really ties in with the richer, jewel tones that couples often choose for their wedding colours at this time of year, not to mention it looks absolutely fabulous on a variety of skin tones. Since heavier colours are often a little more high maintenance, make sure your lips are in tip top condition leading up to the big day with frequent exfoliation and moisturising. It's also best to go for a moisturising lipstick as they fade more evenly and are easier to top up. Balance this look with a lighter eye and natural but defined brows.

Key products for this look:
1. Dr Lipp Original Nipple Balm for lips will have your pout looking perfect.
2. Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy in Insolent Plum works well for a range of skin tones and is moisturising too.
3. Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wizz to touch up the brows without making them too heavy.

A smokey eye can work for weddings too! (Make-up by Lora Kelley, Photo by Mireia Cordomi)
The smokey eye is a look that many of us have spent some time (read as hours and hours of staring in frustration at my now panda-esque face...just me? oh...) trying to master, it's a pretty big deal. Now more than ever people are clamouring to get on the smokey eye train with the likes of Urban Decay and Too Faced even bringing out full palettes specifically for this glamourous look. But the smokey eye isn't just for a big night out, it can most certainly be used on your wedding day. You just have to work out exactly how to use it. 

For starters, it's probably best to stay away from the traditional matte black look, but outside of that is a world of opportunity. Use bronzes and browns or silvers and greys, you can even add in a slight touch of colour, the possibilities are endless. It's also best to use a good quality eyeshadow primer to keep that stunning look in place, because lets be honest, smokey eyes are gorgeous but aforementioned panda eyes...are not. Just remember the two cardinal rules: Use a highlighter on the inner corner to open up your eyes and for goodness sake, BLEND. Literally like your life depends on it. You think you are done? No...keep blending!

Key products for this look:
1. Urban Decay Naked Smoky Palette gives you a variety of looks in one, any palettes with shade variety will work well though.
2. Urban Decay Primer Potion, yes I know this is the second UD product in a row but this stuff is the holiest of all holy grails.
3. Benefit They're Real Mascara tops off the dramatic look perfectly.


Forget the seasons, what makeup can I wear all year round?!

Easy does it for this classic wedding look (Image from valentina d'angela)
Soft and sultry
This is probably the most commonly used look for weddings and is one that can definitely work all year round. Similar to the “Naked” look, it is based around neutral colours but with a little bit more going on. A slightly heavier eyeshadow for the eyes or a more tinted lip can give an edge to your look while still looking fresh faced and elegant. Once again, it is all about looking flawless so make sure you find the right kind of coverage for you. Also focus on finding the perfect highlighters and some soft contouring as this will really help define your features.

Essentially this is the “the best version of you” look, in that when it is done well, there is no part that is overly dramatic in any area of your face, yet your features will be enhanced to perfection. Love your eyes, make them the focus with a touch of extra colour. Extremely proud of your Kylie Jenner lips? Choose a shade that is just that little more colourful than neutral. But the key here is gently does it.

Key products for this look:
1. Mac 31 lashes to make the most of those peepers (no giant spidery lashes allowed here)
2. Laura Mercier Flawless Contouring Palette to define those lovely cheekbones (or slim down my enormous nose!)
3. Nars Orgasm Blush for a natural, healthy glow

Use your favourite red lipstick for a vintage look (Image from vintage makeup guide)
This is a look that has really grown in popularity recently with the revival of all things vintage. A glorious red lip and the perfect cat eye definitely hits the spot. Regardless of fashion trends, it is a timeless classic that oozes sophistication and suits any time of year. However, I do think the style of your wedding can influence whether this look is the ideal choice, as I couldn't really imagine a boho beach wedding with this kind of makeup so that's something to consider. 
This look demands attention and as such, it needs to be done right. A wobbly cat eye and feathered lipstick really won't do this look justice so if you are planning on doing it yourself, practice makes perfect...and practicing continously does not make you crazy, it makes you a makeup god, remember that. 

Key products for this look:
1. Benefit They're Real Push-Up Liner for easy application of the perfect cat eye.
2. Mac Ruby Woo Lipstick, possibly the most iconic red lipstick there is.

Rounding up, I think it's important to say that although I have limited certain looks to certain seasons, the thing I truly love about makeup is that at the end of the day, it is art. It's a freedom of expression that we don't always get in other areas of our lives and so sometimes, it's best to just say screw you to the rule book and rock the look you want. The world is your oyster and you have all the colours of the rainbow at your disposal. Plus lets be honest, if there is one day in your life when you should be able to choose exactly what makes you happy, it's your wedding day. So if your choices don't entirely match up to the many, many guides out there but you know that both you and your fiance will love it, that's all that matters.

If you are married, what makeup did you wear on your wedding day? If not, what would be your dream look? My wedding is in February with an Enchanted Forest theme which I think will go perfectly with a berry lip, what do you all think?

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Beauty and the budget - My E.L.F. Haul

My cheeky E.L.F haul
I think it's pretty safe to say that if you have stumbled across this blog, you and I probably have something in common. A number of things in fact, one of which might well be the temptation to buy new things when your bank account isn't in the healthiest of states. Now I'm not saying we are all irresponsible spenders, but sometimes it's good to look at brands that give us the best bang for our buck to take off the pressure. Lovely new products without the guilt? Yes. Please.

So that's exactly what lead me to Eyes Lips Face, or as it's more commonly known, e.l.f. In 2004, e.l.f. was founded by Joseph Shamah and Scott Vincent Borba who felt that an inexpensive, yet high quality cosmetics brand would fill a gap in the market. The brand started out with just a few items but has grown to a cosmetics line with more than 300 products. Needless to say, it has certainly been a resounding success in the beauty industry.

I think it's fair to say that quite often, seeing cosmetics at incredibly low prices immediately makes you think of unknown market stall makeup, those dodgy purchases we make on the spur of the moment and regret later. We expect it to be sub par and something that you would never end up actually using. So after spending a rather acceptable £25 on a whole bunch of products from e.l.f. I was interested to see just what quality I would be getting!

Liquid eyeliner in silver
Long-lasting Lustrous Eyeshadow
From left to right - Festivity, Celebration, Confetti and silver eyeliner above

First up to test were the "Long-lasting Lustrous Eyeshadows". They are shimmery, cream eyeshadows that come in a variety of colours. They have a really nice mousse like consistency and are wonderfully lightweight. What's even better, is that the colour pay off is also great. Although it takes a couple of applications to get a strong colour, if anything that is actually their charm because you can either go for a sheer wash of colour or build up to a more intense look. 

Confetti is a pearly white colour which would be great as a highlighter and celebration is a wonderfully bright silver that would be great for a strong evening look. The only colour I was a little disappointed with was Festivity. While in the pot it looks like a gorgeous, deep plum shade, once applied to the skin it is actually a fairly dull brown. I'm sure it will still get some use but it just wasn't quite what I expected. After a day's use, the eyeshadows did smudge a little but had lasted fairly well.

I was also pleasantly surprised with the silver liquid eyeliner. It has a fine applicator which makes it easy to create a nice line and a formula that is loaded with pigment. Sadly I did find that after a few hours of use, this had pretty much all but disappeared but it was lovely while it lasted.

e.l.f. Studio Pigment Eyeshadow

e.l.f Smudge Pot

From left to right - Pigments: Passionate Purple, Tropical Teal, Breezy Blue. Smudge Pots: Hit the Town, Ocean Bound
Next up were the pigment eyeshadows and smudge pots. I have to say I was really impressed with both. The pigment eyeshadows are soft, incredibly pigmented and last really well. Admittedly I paired them up with my Urban Decay Primer Potion (holy grail right there) which rarely fails me but hey, if it works, it works. There is a great selection of colours and the ones that I chose really showed a nice variety. While they might not have the multi-tonal colour combinations that you see in brands such as Mac, at £3 a piece they really do deliver. There was a little bit of fallout but again, using a primer did help limit it.

The smudge pots are also a welcome surprise. They are cream eyeshadows that come in a range of strong colours, with a good mix of both neutrals and brights. What I particularly like is that they can be used as both an eyeshadow or eyeliner which makes them really great value for money. Since they set well, they are also handy to use as a base for pigments. If they are blended out with a fluffy brush they do lose their pop a little but it's easy to pack in the colour and keep them bright so they truly are multi-use.

e.l.f. Eye Refresh - the perfect pick-me-up
This little wonder was something that I really wasn't expecting to love. Truth is I picked it up on a whim and didn't really expect much from it but it has become something that now, I am never without. The cooling sensation of the Eye Refresh rollerball is two-fold, firstly from the mechanism of the metal ball which gently massages the delicate skin around the eye area but also because of the formula. Infused with key ingredients including Pomegranate, Green Tea, Cucumber and Grape it really hydrates and nourishes.

Whether it's a lack of sleep or a bit of a crying session (lets be honest, it happens to all of us) that has caused the puffy eyes, Eye Refresh takes care of it within about 10 minutes of use. Previously I was using Benefit's Puff Off but I have to admit I haven't had any where near the results that I get from Eye Refresh, which considering the price difference, was quite a surprise. Definitely a product that I will be keeping on hand in the future!

HD Blush from left to right - Showstopper and Encore
I'm not quite sure what I expected when I chose these as I haven't really used cream based blushers much before. I've always preferred powders as I feel they give a more natural touch of colour and I must admit I'm still under the same impression. I was incredibly impressed with the strength of colour from these blushes as the little blobs of colour in the picture above were enough to make that whole swatch. It does however make it quite difficult to create a natural look. I really loved the colours though so was determined to find a way to use them. 

After a bit of experimenting I did find that if you put a tiny amount of the product on your hand first and then use a brush and an extremely light touch, after a decent amount of blending you can use them. This does waste some product but given how little you need to use, it would still last for a long ol' time. Alternatively, mixing them with a little lip balm results in a rather lovely tinted lip balm that can be built up as much as needed. Showstopper was particularly good to use this way considering how popular a berry lip is these days.

e.l.f. Moisturising Lipstick
From top to bottom  - Rosy-go-round and Cheeky
 Last on my list of items to try were two moisturising lipsticks. These have such a lovely formula, they glide on to the lips and add a subtle tint. While they aren't particularly long lasting and do require top ups throughout the day, they are still really nice to use. Rosy-go-round is a blue-toned, bright pink while Cheeky is a rose gold colour which are both spot on for summer. They wouldn't stop me from buying Mac lipstick but when you want a splash of colour without having to worry about your lips being in tip top condition, these are great to have on hand.
All in all, I am really happy with the selection of products I have purchased. I'm happy to say that yes, with a price point for most of their products at less than £5, they are indeed cheap. But for the quality that you are getting, they are certainly not sub par.You might need to accept that you have to work a little harder with some of these products to get them to work for you, but the results are pretty much always worth it.

Sadly since I bought this haul, e.l.f announced that they are now in the process of changing their current UK supplier which means that their products aren't currently available here. However a quick check of their website states that they are hoping to be back up and running by the end of summer 2015 so hopefully it won't be too long a wait! 

In the meantime, the co-founder of Distribeauty UK who was the previous supplier of e.l.f. cosmetics and the people behind Makeup Revolution have teamed up to launch a new brand called Freedom Makeup. Again, this is a low cost cosmetics line with good quality products but this time is aimed at professionals in the makeup business and is certainly worth a look!

Have you tried e.l.f. or the brand new Freedom makeup line? If you have, what did you think and what were your favourite products? Would love to hear what you all think! Also, don't forget that if you would like to hear more from me, you can sign up to get my posts sent directly to your email so you never miss a review!
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