Rocking THAT red lip: Mac Ruby Woo

As soon as the festive season rolls around, red lipsticks go straight up to the top of my must have list. Don't get me wrong. I'm one of those girls who refuses to let the season dictate what shade to go for. If I feel like sporting pastels in the middle of winter, then so be it. And the same goes for rocking bold, deep hues in the middle of scorching weather. But, come Christmas time, I like to abide by the rules and stick to the old tradition of rocking a red lip. Red lipstick. Such a classic. I'm not one for shying away from a fiery hue. The bolder it is, the better. And when you want a statement pout that packs a high impact punch, Mac's Ruby Woo is the one to turn to. I have other red lipsticks in my beauty arsenal, but this bad boy is the ONE.

I'm not the first person to openly gush about this offering from Mac and I certainly won't be the last. It has received countless raves and rightly so. Ruby Woo, a cool toned pillar box red with strong blue understones imparts a true matte velvety finish on the lips. I ADORE it. One swipe and you have an opaque coverage. It's a universal flattering red on any skin tones. I have yet to spot a girl who Ruby Woo didn't agree with. However, the intense colour payoff and impressive staying power (it lasts and lasts provided you don't eat/drink) come at a price.

As Ruby Woo is part of the Retro Matte clan, it is drying on the lips. Unsurprisingly, it becomes progressively drying as the hours go by. To minimise such dryness, good prep before application is compulsory. Exfoliation with a trusted lip scrub and a slick of lip balm are your essential best friends. Provided your lips are not already dry or chapped, prior to applying it, working with Ruby Woo should be fine. Quick heads up though: it's no easy feat. Due to the extremely matte finish, Ruby Woo has a dry texture, hence why I find that it tugs and drags on the lips when applied directly from the bullet. Thus, I personally prefer enlisting the help of a lip brush to apply it. This not only leads to easier application, but it also allows me to gain greater control and precision.

In a perfect world, Ruby Woo would be a breeze to apply, but seeing as it's the perfect true red and long-lasting, I think we can all look past the dryness that accompanies it. Just look at that thing of beauty. No wonder why it's been gracing my lips for the entire of December. Ain't she just beautiful? In fact, it's so beautiful, I've been known to be that girl who likes to slick this on whilst wearing my pyjamas with nowhere to go. Just because. To borrow the words of Iggy Azalea, 'I'm so fancy, you already know' or should I say 'I'm so glamorous, you already know'. Let's just leave it at that.


Braving the storm (self-doubt).... And surviving it

Over the past four months, I have learned an important life lesson. It's not exactly new per se. It's one that I quickly learned earlier on in life, but it's only within the last couple of months when it finally resonated with me. And that is to never ever give up. When that tiny inner demon starts filling your mind with nothing, but negative thoughts, it's important to brush it off and never lose sight of your goals.

This semester has been such an arduous journey. Seeing as it was my final semester, I knew I was in for an intense ride of emotions and never ending deadlines. But I never expected it to be that hard. With every essay I had to research and write, I lost a bit of my sanity along the way. The pressure to excel academically and maintain my GPA amounted to my increasing stress. The problem? I was the only one putting the enormous pressure on myself to succeed. To surpass all my previous achievements. My parents long instilled in me the importance of working hard, but also to never lose sight of myself in the process. You see, from as long as I can remember, I've always been my own worse enemy. While others had complete faith in me, I was always my worst critic. Instead of being my personal cheerleader, I would always find excuses and reasons why I wouldn't be able to succeed at something. I constantly doubted and undermine myself.  But time and time again, I was proven wrong. And each time that it happened, instead of congratulating myself and attributing it to my hard work, I was more inclined to attribute my success to luck.  It's been a long problem of mine and one I have yet to find the perfect solution to.  Trust me. I've been trying very hard. But sometimes you encounter those days when listening to your inner demon becomes second nature. Then all you're left with is self-doubt. And this thing called self-doubt? Not only is it emotionally draining, but it's detrimental to one's progression. It serves as a major catalyst for self-sabotage. For far too long, I allowed myself to become a victim of my own negativity. My life has always been a never ending roller coaster ride of feeling inadequate, constantly worrying about never being good enough and never believing in myself despite my past accomplishments that tells me I should.  And that is where the problem lies.

I've always been aware of this flaw of mine. But it was only in the last few months when I suddenly realised just how self-destructive I was being. The daily constant attack directed towards my self-confidence, brought on by my own insecurities did little to contribute to my personal development. I guess we all have those days when believing in ourselves prove to be a challenge. Be it due to self inflicted criticisms or a group of doubters, undermining your abilities, intelligence and talent. It's normal to doubt our own strengths, but when it's the only thing that occupies your mind, 24 hours, 7 days a week, you know you need to intervene.

Because truth of the matter is, as much as I tend to attribute my success to luck, that isn't the case at all. As the first photo rightly points out: there is no elevator to success. There are no clear short cuts one could take to achieve it. We need to earn it. We need to be proactive by putting in the hard work for luck can only get you so far in life. At a certain point, we need to plant the seeds, in order to reap the benefits. And from my personal experience, it starts with believing in yourself. Cliche I know, but it's true. You reach a point when you need to stand up to that inner critic and put a stop to all the negative thoughts it keeps spitting out.

I would like to draw an analogy between a storm and my never ending battle with self-doubt. I'm used to hard work. I'm not one for taking the easy route. I'm the type of person who always took the road less traveled. I'm no stranger to facing challenges head on. But amidst all the mounting workload this past semester, the emotional disturbance caused by my inability to believe in myself just made it that much difficult to handle. Overwhelmed with self-doubt and that inner crtic who continued to run its negative commentary, much to my dismay, I found myself wanting to give up, throw the towel and run to the nearest corner and cry. Gripped by the irrational fear of failing and insecurity, I found myself paralyzed, stripped off any confidence, logic and reason.

Just like being caught in the middle of the storm, I felt like there was no way out. I felt hopeless. Trapped. Reaching the end seemed impossible. But here we are now. I managed to get to the other side and come out a better person because of it. I braved the storm and I survived. How exactly did I manage to do it?

I have always thought that it is during difficult times, when you are presented with the perfect opportunity to undergo personal development. When called upon to face numerous obstacles, we can either wallow in self-pity and accept defeat or we can choose to put on our toughest armor and face it head on. Personally, I'd choose the latter. The road to success and overcoming self-doubt isn't easy. But there is a way to go about it. I find the key to addressing self-doubt is to refrain from fighting against it. I learned the hard way that the more you fight against it, the more it continues to fight back. Don't fight it by refusing to acknowledge its existence. Listen to it and from the moment you hear its negative taunts and insults, address it. Don't let your negative thoughts consume you. Whenever you find yourself saying you can't do something and the what ifs starts to float around, change your way of thinking. Instead of saying 'I can't' learn to say 'I can't, but I have the power to work on it' 

I have acknowledged the fact that a certain degree of self-doubt will always be present in my life. One of my favourite quotes reads ''You can't calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is to calm yourself. The storm will pass.'' - Timber Hawkeye. I don't have any control over the challenges life throws at me, but I can control how I respond to my self-doubt aka the barrier to overcoming those obstacles.  It's important to keep some things into perspective. No matter what obstacle you're facing right now, big or small, do remember that it will eventually pass.

Just like after any storm, we are presented with the opportunity to rebuild ourselves. A new beginning is bestowed upon us. Ultimately, our spirit and resilience is always going to be stronger that any storm that comes our way. It's just the matter of recognising that we are more than capable of rising above it. So next time self-doubt rear its ugly head in my life, I know I can silence it.

*Images all taken from google images.


Popping the MAC cherry (aka the haul made over a year ago)

Turning 21 has always been a milestone for a lot of people and I'm no exception. However, while others think of special and extravagant ways to mark the occasion, I only thought of one thing: it was time. Time for what? To pop my Mac cherry because despite being a beauty addict, I had yet to succumb to the lures of MAC. So way back in November of last year, I found myself taking the first step towards building my MAC collection.

Having never set foot in a Mac store before, how's a girl supposed to choose? Determined to not look like a lost puppy or a deer caught in the headlights, when faced with the extensive selection, I did my research. I wanted to purchase products that work double time, the ones that I know I'll have no regrets purchasing because they're so well -loved by fellow beauty bloggers, gaining a cult following among beauty addicts. Because nothing spells amazing product quite like a solid group of fangirling ladies, ready to sing high praises at every opportunity. MAC ain't cheap so this girl had to ensure the products purchased were going to perform without fail. After much debate, I settled on 4 products. Enough babbling, say hi to these beauties.

Mac Mineralize Skinfinish in Soft and Gentle was an extravagant purchase, in every sense of the word. Coming in at 29.50 euro, the purchase of this famous, highly coveted highlighter was a risky move. Why? A) I had no prior experience with highlighters before B) I didn't have a clue how to apply it. But, I went ahead and bought it anyway. Why not start with a bang? Lol.

Soft and Gentle  is a warm-toned, peach bronze highlighter. I can't say that it leaves the most natural looking glow on the skin because it has a frost metallic finish. However, that said, provided that I apply it carefully ( At the moment, I'm using my Real Techniques Contour Brush) with a swirl over the top of my cheekbones, I'm left with a beautiful glow. It's the sort of product you reach for when you start to resemble a zombie, running on zero hours of sleep. It perks up the skin and just makes you look healthier, as if you had the recommended 8 glasses of water a day (okay..not quite, but you get the idea). It has a lovely soft powder texture and despite the thousands of rose-gold shimmers that runs through it, I don't find it gritty in the slightest.

Mac Peaches Sheertone Blush was the blush that's been on my beauty wishlist for far too long before I finally decided to quit the waiting game and finally give in to my heart's desire. After all, the heart wants, what the heart wants, right? (Selena Gomez says so, okay?)  You know it's time to tick a product off the list when you've wanted it for 2 long years. And what can I say? It's so worth the wait. Why I waited this long is beyond me. 

Peaches is a classic light peach with a matte finish. Being a Sheertone blush, one might assume that it'll require some layering to achieve decent pigmentation, but one couldn't be more wrong. Two quick layers usually suffice, leaving me with a nice pop of peach on the cheeks to brighten up my complexion. It's a matte finish without feeling heavy or powdery and it blends easily into the cheeks, thanks to its silky smooth texture.

To complete my little MAC haul, I opted for two lipsticks. Because, let's be honest here: It's not a complete MAC haul until you purchase a vanilla scented lipstick. Am I right or am I right? ;) For building my MAC lipstick wardrobe, I wanted to begin by layering down a basic foundation with shades I know I can use on a daily basis, with just about any make-up look. I'm a devotee of bright bold lip shades, and while I always deemed light nude shades to be scary options due to my unfamiliarity with them, I chose Shy Girl and Patisserie. Shy Girl because I've long been under its spell and Patisserie because it reminded me of my beloved lipstick fave Seventeen Mirrorshine in Belle and because my favourite bloggers Anna and Emma have it too. #copycatalert 

Shy Girl. Ah Shy Girl. How I love and hate you in equal measure. This light nude peachy goodness with a subtle dash of pink shade pairs beautifully with just about any smokey eye look I create, hence why it's worthy of my love and adoration. But the formula majorly lets it down. Despite being a Cremesheen with a supposedly creamy texture that is easy to apply, I find it unforgiving and drying on my lips. It accentuates lip lines like there is no tomorrow, hence why Shy Girl only comes out to play when I have the time required to extensively prep my lips beforehand with a generous layer of lip balm underneath. While I'm not exactly a fan of the formula, the shade won me over.

In contrast, Patisserie is as good as its name. It's the definition of perfection. From the shade that's a perfect blend of peach/brown/salmon pink, right down to its Lustre formula that applies sheerly but buildable owing to its soft texture. It glides easily on the lips. So perfect, I think an appropriate alternative name for Patisserie is FAULTLESS (hmmm. This is why I don't work for Mac. It doesn't have quite the ring to it, but let's just roll with it.) A great everyday lip choice. A+ all around.

Swatches (left to right): Soft&Gentle, Peaches, Shy Girl and Patisserie

This mini haul was made over a year ago, but because I've been super busy the past year, I can only share it now. I simply have to celebrate this milestone and mark the occasion by documenting my first venture into the dangerous, dangerous world of MAC. While all my choices were predictable and not that exciting, I personally believe MAC and I are off to a good start. A start of a beautiful, long-lasting relationship? Steady on, girlfriend ;) 

As of writing, I already added to my collection. Apparently this girl doesn't mess about when it comes to new relationships. As per usual, when I fall in love, I fall hard. Damn my foolish heart. (More on this later)


Beautiful= Burberry Lip Glow in Pink Sweet Pea

If it were totally up to me, I would place Burberry Lip Glow in Pink Sweet Pea  right next to the definition of beautiful in the dictionary. Why? Because it pretty much sums it up. Seeing as Summer is finally upon us, I don't think there's a better time to dedicate an entire post to this beaut of a gloss. I'm a firm believer in wearing any lip shade during the summer season as long as it's  bright and bold. Pink Sweet Pea is IT.  I could write an entire essay about my love but I'll try not to ;)

Released as part of Burberry's Siren Red Spring 2013 Collection, Pink Sweet Pea is a cool toned, vibrant fuchsia pink that's beautiful as it's versatile. Its versatility lies with how I'm able to control its intensity. For a simple subtle pop of brightness, I can sheer it out by simply applying a single layer. On the other hand, I can easily intensify it by building the layers without compromising on comfort, for a pout that softly packs a punch and very poolside appropriate.

Enriched with a cocktail of nourishing oils and ceramides, it not only injects a fresh pop of colour, but the moisturizing formula leaves the lips feeling lightly hydrated and plump. The non-sticky formula caresses the lips, leaving a cushion-y feel to ensure that it remains comfortable throughout its 2-3 hours wear. Despite it being a rich saturated hue, Pink Sweet Pea remains a gloss and maintains its semi-opaque finish because regardless of how many coats I apply, it does appear more subdued on the lips compared to how it looks inside its packaging. It's pigmented enough to add a boost of color that brightens the complexion while still maintaining a certain degree of subtleness that allows my natural lip shade to peek through, amidst the vibrant fuchsia goodness.

The exquisite, luxurious packaging with Burberry's iconic and distinct tartan pattern embossed on the lid, overall sleek and sophisticated packaging softens the blow of the hefty price of 25 euro/£19.00/$27 . Sure, the thoughts of purchasing another shade makes my purse weep, but at least I can do so in the company of a beautifully formulated lipgloss right? (I was fortunate enough to have won Pink Sweet Pea in Nic's generous giveaway last year. I will be forever grateful and indebted to her. Nic, if you're reading this: THANK YOU so much. I hope beauty karma has been as kind to you. :))

While I have no major issues with its packaging, pigmentation, texture and longevity, I have a slight issue with application. As Pink Sweet Pea is a highly pigmented shade, it can be a bit tricky to apply evenly. It's certainly a shade that requires a mirror, in order to apply it evenly and prevent bleeding around the natural lip line. That said, the doe foot applicator makes application a breeze. Due to its relatively wide shape, it almost covers my lips with a single swipe. It's just a matter of swiping the applicator 2-3 times to even out the deposition of colour. One other thing that I'm not a fan of? The floral scent of the gloss, but thankful it doesn't linger around for too long post-application. A few mins in and it has dissipated.

Admittedly, the above swatch doesn't do it enough justice as it failed to capture the true vibrancy of the shade (I tried. I really tried but to no avail). However, while it's not entirely accurate, the above photo shows the gloss in action around the 1  hour mark. As the highly saturated fuchsia starts to wear off,  it leaves behind a delicate pink shade in its wake as shown above. For another swatch of Pink Sweet Pea in action click  here .

Fused with iridescent blue and purple toned micro shimmers that gives Pink Sweet Pea that quiet extra dimension, they are undetectable on the lips in normal conditions but once captured by the sun, the light reflects on the lips, revealing the micro shimmers that gives the illusion of a fuller pout ,adding radiance in the process, thanks to the high glossy shine mirror-like finish.

It's bright, it's bold, it's beautiful. Burberry, you're simply the BEST. Unsurprisingly, I'm now under the impression that my purchase of another Lip Glow is not a matter of if but only WHEN. My very first taste of Burberry and my oh my, what a taste it has been. Man, even I'm afraid for my bank account.

Pink Sweet Pea is a limited edition shade but you can still purchase it online at NordstromJohn Lewis and Burberry .


Rapunzel No More: Reasons why shorter hair ROCKS

At long last, I'm no longer Rapunzel. After weeks and months of feeling frustrated and annoyed with my long ass hair, constant cursing and moaning whenever the subject of washing my hair and styling came up and the thoughts of just taking a razor to my head and shaving it all off became too regular for my liking, I decided it was time to tame the beast that was my unruly mane. Because there's only so much hair fallouts and endless knots, a girl can take. While long hair provided me with much needed warmth during the winter, it needed to go. So off I went to the nearest salon and never looked back.

Verdict? While I'm not 100% happy with the outcome (the length was fine but I asked for my hair to be layered, but apparently the hairdresser and I have different understanding of the term 'layered'. Surprise. Suprise. #justmyluck ) I choose not to dwell on it and instead, I choose to look on the bright side by compiling all the reasons why having shorter hair ROCKS! Repeat after me, ladies: Short hair, don't care.

1.) The thought of a warm sunny day no longer fills me with dread. It used to make my skin crawl because long hair + hot, humid weather= hello, sweatville. Now? I can celebrate the sun, just like a normal person.

2.) The feeling of the wind against my neck? Priceless.

3.) I can actually wear a ponytail and have it stay that way.

4.) But if I want to wear my hair down, it feels great to know that I don't have to worry about accidentally eating my hair for breakfast, lunch and dinner, on a very windy day.

5.) Shower time is no longer a nightmare of a chore. No more sore arms trying to evenly distribute the shampoo, to ensure that every single strand is covered. No more hair clogging the drains. Praise the Hair Gods.

6.) Brushing my hair afterwards no longer leads to the never ending battle between hair knots and me, where knots always score 1 point and me 0, thereby resulting in a painful ordeal filled with tears and non-stop cries of ouch,ouch and some more ouch. You get the gist. Nothing and I mean absolutely nothing compares to the pain of trying to untangle knots. Am I right? (Clearly I need to invest in a Tangle Teezer.)  

7.) Hair dries faster. Need I say more? Because the feeling of wet hair against my back is one of my biggest pet peeves.

8) Lastly? I can whip my hair back and forth to my heart's content without worrying about the painful repercussions for my face. (Willow Smith would be so proud)

So while my new hair cut isn't exactly how I wanted it to be, I'm completely embracing it, for the reasons stated above. It's hair. It's going to grow back. No more negativity from me? What's this about? Does new hair= new attitude? I think so.


Savvy and pretty storage ideas to help Mother Nature

Who says we can't do our bit for the environment in style? I'd be the first one to disagree because not to go all Obama on you guys, but YES WE CAN! I think 2014 is shaping up to be the year that I run for the Ms Friendliest to Mother Nature title. Dude, where's my crown? I'd settle for a sash. If you know me at all, you'd know that I'm not exactly the most organised person in the world. Organised? Try disorganized. But when it comes to keeping my make-up stash tidy? That's a different story. Never one to have my beauty bits and bobs just lying around, I'm forever looking for practical, functional yet cheap but still pretty storage for my stash. And who would have thought it? I came up with 3 easy storage ideas and yet you don't even need to leave the house for them. Sort of. It's time to recycle, ladies and gents :)

Option 1: Jar of Glosses- Everyone needs their caffeine fix to function in the morning, right? While you're at it, why don't you recycle those coffee jars and store your favourite glosses inside? I was fortunate enough to have this beaut of a jar that's large enough to store some of my glosses. As the glass jar is transparent, it's really easy for me to see all the glosses, thereby increasing the chances of them being a contender for the daily lip choice. Now that they are completely visible, I no longer have an excuse for neglecting them.

Option 2: Tin of Polishes Who doesn't love cookies? This two tier, girly tins were originally meant to store cookies and cakes but due to the gorgeous, dainty floral and polka dot design, I felt it deserved a spot on top of my dressing table. Because I have a relatively small nail polish collection ( for now anyway), I decided to store them inside. This option is more suitable for small to medium bottles because anything bigger just won't fit, unless you plan on storing the polishes all lying down. However, that would seriously limit your storage space. I got these gorgeous tins during the Christmas sale at my local Boots. I can't remember the name of the brand but check out the homeware section of departments stores. They bound to have some similar items in stock. :)

Option 3: Box of Favourites Always fancied the look of acrylic storage? But can never seem to afford the likes of MUJI? Don't fret, pet because you can just pick up a box of Ferrero Rocher (alternatively, you can ask your boyfriend to buy a box for you. Even better*hint* *hint*) scoff the chocolates and hey presto, you'll have yourself some aesthetically pleasing storage solution for your daily favourite make-up items.  Whether you choose to share the yummy chocolates or not is completely up to you. I'm quite the selfish person especially when it comes to chocolates but the bitter phrase of a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips may help to put things into perspective. ;) Whilst on the subject of daily favourites, NARS Casino bronzer, Urban Decay Naked Palette, 17 Mirroshine in Belle and Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso all have permanent residency here. #forevermyfaves

Doesn't it feel great to know that we can help the environment while also benefiting along the way? Have a closer look around your own home. You never know what you might come across that can be recycled and be put to good use. These 3 options just happen to be the ones that I found in my own home. Feel free to call me the Queen of Recycling. See, I always knew being a caffeine, cookie and chocolate addict would eventually come in useful one day. Psychic? Kind of.


Meeting Mr Barry M: Spring 2014 Gelly Hi-Shine polishes

Barry M nail polish offerings have always caught my eye. Thanks to all the UK beauty blogs I read on a regular basis, the brand has always been on my radar. Known for producing nail polishes in all the colours of the rainbow and then some, with a wide variety of finishes and textures to satisfy one's nail polish addiction, it doesn't come much as a surprise that it's well loved by many. Beautiful shades aside, the price tag of £2.99-£3.99 per polish certainly makes it easy to build a Barry M collection in no time. As for me?  While I've uttered my 'umms' and 'ahhs' over certain shades, I never had the urge to hop it down to my local Boots and pick up a bottle. That's until I saw the Spring 2014 Gelly Hi-Shine collection. With 3 beautiful pastel shades to choose from, Barry M had my full attention. Those folks at Barry M definitely know how to pick up girls, eh? ;)

Now the shades aren't exactly unique. We've all seen them before but something about them just intrigued me. Huckleberry instantly captured my heart because it's such a pretty, light baby blue. I've been looking for a pastel blue, for the longest time as I had yet to venture into the world of blue polishes. As for Rosehip? While I already have quite a few pastel pinks lying around the place, I couldn't say no to such a delicate milky pink. Having been compared to Essie Fiji by a handful of bloggers, I needed it since despite the fact that I've lusted and continue to lust over Fiji for the last 2 years, I still can't stomach the thought of spending 12.99 euro for it. Rosehip deserves a spot in my collection because while it's nothing new, I'm digging its white undertone.

As with most pastel shades, there's a tendency to run into trouble when it comes to application. Pastels don't exactly have the best reputation for ease of application, now do they? From my experience with these 2 polishes, these aren't your I can paint my nails in less than 5 mins type of lacquers, more girl, you need to sit your ass down and prepare to work type of lacquers. Due to the relatively thick formula and the tendency of the brush to deposit too much polish, it's easy to overload the nail bed with polish if you're not careful. I found layering 3 thin coats to be the best solution for correcting such flaw. It's worth noting that since they've a thick consistency, they do reach opacity with 2 coats but I prefer layering another coat for even application and to ensure my manicure looks neat and smooth.

While the formula requires a bit of an effort to apply, it's not all doom and gloom because the gorgeous high shine finish at the end, more than compensates for it. These polishes leave such a glossy finish on the nails, hence why you could ditch the topcoat all together. So while they require extra time to get the application right, the resulting glossy finish means you could skip the last step of your manicure. #winning But wait. If I skip the top coat, surely my manicure won't last that long? I hear you ask. Don't fret because the formula of these polishes is surprisingly quite long wearing. I can easily wear these for 3-4 days sans top coat before I see minor chips at the tips of my nails. #definitelywinning

What else is there left for me to say? Barry M, it's lovely to finally get to know you. I can now see what all the other girls see in you. One date in and you've already captured my heart. I'm now set for our second date. In fact, the beauty blogger favourite Gelly Hi Shine polish in Lychee already caught my eye. As far as first dates go, this wasn't disappointing. Don't you just love that?


Learning to love glosses (once more): Benefit Ultra Plush lip gloss in Coralista

When it comes to the subject of lip products, it has always been about lipsticks for me. And that has remained unchanged, for the last 3 years or so. I barely touched lipglosses apart from 1 or 2. (Revlon Colorburst lipgloss in Sizzle, I still love you) I could rave about lipsticks until my last dying breath but as of late, I find myself giving lipglosses a second glance. What's going on?  I think the majority of it has got to do with the fact that most brands now are stepping up their game, releasing lipglosses with top notch, non-sticky formulas. A long answered prayer? You betcha. Brands have finally realized that us gals will not settle for less and sticky, tacky and gloopy formulas no longer have a room in our lives. Take Benefit for example.

Okay. So the Ultra Plush lipglosses  aren't exactly new. They have been around since 2012 (forever joining the party late, me)  I heard quite a few good things about them but never got the chance to try any shade until ELLE UK decided to give a free sample last year. Pretty soon, Coralista was mine.

Coralista is a beautiful sheer coral, housed in a squeeze tube with a slanted tip applicator which makes application a cinch. Not to mention, more hygienic compared to standard doe foot applicators. Coralista looks very vibrant and bold when swatched and in the tube but unfortunately, the same can't be said about its actual appearance on the lips. As it applies very sheer, it does require a few layers to coat my lips with a subtle, light orange-coral tint. However, while the lack of pigmentation is quite a turn off, the silky and smooth consistency feels really comfortable on the lips, injecting a healthy dose of shine that's never too much, always just right. Leaving the lips looking plump and healthier, living true to its name of being an ultra 'plush' gloss. Stickiness? There's none of that here. Hence, why it gives the lips a cushiony, luxurious and moisturizing feel.

The silky consistency offers an advantage in the sense that, not only does it feel great but it also ensures that when you find yourself, layering the gloss on your puckers, lips are not left feeling tacky in the slightest. The disadvantage of a non-sticky formula? It only lasts around the one and a half hour mark. But I'd always prefer to wear such formula that requires frequent reapplication rather than a lipgloss that refuses to budge because it feels like glue on the lips.

The jury is still out on whether I'm willing to purchase a full size version, once I get around to finishing this sample. Reason Number 1: While I adore the formula for the comfort that envelops my lips, parting ways with 21 euro is a bit out of my budget. If only Coralista had more pigmentation, then I'd certainly entertain the thought of a future purchase but for now, I'm holding it off. Reason Number 2: With the amount of lip products I have that are in rotation, the chance of me reaching the end of a product is 0. (Shaking my head)

So while my love affair with lipglosses has not been fully ignited to a bona fide obsession, I'm coming around to them, slowly but surely. What's the saying that people say about what makes for a great relationship? Taking it slow and steady is the only way to win the race and build a lasting relationship. Yes that's the one. Consider me told. Watch this space. ;)


Top Beauty Picks of 2013: 13 Products to Pretty

A new year brings new hopes, new opportunities and new beginnings. And along with it, the much awaited blog post of the year: The Best of Beauty. I don't know about you but I've spent the last two weeks reading blog posts after blog posts and watching all my favourite beauty vloggers, sharing and discussing their top beauty picks of 2013. And I can't get enough. It's partly down to my nosy nature but it's also due to my obsession with all things beauty. This is my third time compiling my favourite beauty finds of the past year and it is by far my favourite post to write.

Unlike other bloggers, I didn't have any difficulty narrowing down my choices and deciding which products truly deserved a spot on my list. I knew exactly what products to include and I think it's a clear testament to how much I love each and everyone of them. 2013 has been a great year for beauty. I tried my fair share of new beauty products, discovered and fell in love with several brands (mainly Bourjois) and I had such a blast while I was at it. But 13 products stood out among the pool of prettiness. (Three are repeats from last year and I counted the make-up brushes as one) So without further ado, here are the winners- the crème de la crème of my make-up stash.

To kick things off, we have Bourjois Happy Light Luminous Serum Primer. Prior to purchasing this, I only had one primer in my collection- the wonder that is the Benefit POREfessional. To be honest with you, I never understood the need for primers. With my current lifestyle right now, I don't need my foundation to last me more than 8 hours. The only reason why I use POREfessional is because it helps to minimize the appearance of my pores. But I completely understand the fuss with primers now and boy, it's all thanks to this offering from Bourjois. This skincare/make-up hybrid instantly hydrates my skin, leaving it looking and feeling a lot more smoother and softer. Although it's not the mattifying version, this complexion enhancing primer leaves a semi-matte finish while still delivering the most subtle natural looking radiant glow, without leaving my skin shimmery in the slightest. It creates the perfect smooth canvas for my foundation to adhere to, resulting in a smoother and easier application. Smooth, hydrated, radiant looking skin- for my dull dry skin, this has been a life-saver. 

When it came to nailing the no make-up I just woke up looking quite the bombshell with flawless skin look, I opted for light coverage foundations.When it comes to bases, I always prefer a light coverage because I don't have any major imperfections that requires covering up. (Not a day goes by when I don't thank my lucky stars). Apart from the occasional minimal redness, a few spots that are few and far between, I only have my terrible permanent under-eye circles to deal with. So with that said, the two foundations I relied on were: Revlon Nearly Naked Foundation in 150 Nude and Maybelline Fit Me Foundation in 210 Sandy Beige. I spent the majority of 2013 going back and forth between them. Why? They both offer a natural finish to the skin. Their coverage is light- just how I like it but still very buildable (especially the Fit Me foundation) without leaving me in a cakey mess. I can layer on their formula but they will still leave me with a second layer of perfect, natural looking skin. Their lightweight formulas blends seamlessly into the skin, blurring out my minimal imperfections and covers redness with great ease. As for the finish, it's a cross between matte and dewy. It sits perfectly in between, leaving me with a subtle natural luminous finish. They add a subtle dewy, glow-y veil without the unwanted shine. Flawless, fresh complexion with lightweight,easy to buff in formulas? Me gusta :)

The only face make-up product, lucky enough to appear twice in a row in my annual Best of Beauty post, Nars Casino Bronzer rightfully deserved the nickname I've given it The Bombshell Tool (quite creative no?) This highly pigmented chocolate brown bronzer with its soft, finely milled texture creates cheekbones like no other. While it consists of micro golden shimmers, they're subtle enough and it has more of a matte finish than shimmery, making it the ideal contour shade for my complexion. If I wanted to channel my inner Kardashian for a day, I called my trusted and ultimate bronzer BFF to lend me a helping hand. Swept under or on my cheekbones, it instantly slims down my round face and sculpts- giving my face the much needed definition. It made my dreams of having it's all down to genes chiseled cheekbones a reality. Lightly dusted all over my face where the sun naturally shines(forehead, cheeks, nose and chin), it warms up my complexion, offering the most natural looking sun kissed glow. Casino+Me= LOVE.

My most used (shall I say abused?) eyeshadow palette the Urban Decay Naked Palette was a favourite in 2012 and it was still a firm favourite in 2013. It has certainly earned its holy grail status because it served me well.... time and time again. What's not to love? Do I even need to elaborate? A beautiful palette with a wide selection of all needs are met shades from bronzes, golds and taupes- it's heaven. It has always been about Smog, Darkhorse and Toasted but the 2 buttery soft matte shades- Buck and Naked captured my heart last year. All shades are super blendable and incredibly pigmented. Surprise pick? Definitely not.

2013 has been quite the year for cream blushes. Cream blushes dominated my cheeks in full force. I developed a massive crush on them and rightly so. For a gal who considers dry skin as her annoying relative that she has to put up with on a regular basis, they are far more forgiving than powder blushes. As long as I prep my skin with plenty of hydration in the form of a moisturizer, they don't accentuate nor do they cling onto dry patches as much. Plus as long as I blend them correctly into my skin, they look a lot more natural. The cream blush that ignited my love and served as the catalyst for my newly found obsession with the stuff was Revlon PhotoReady Cream Blush in Pinched. I spent the first half of 2013 abusing this blush. Not a day went by without me layering this beaut of a blush. Then summer came and Bourjois released their line of cream blushes. Bourjois Cream Blush in 02 Healthy Glow quickly found a permanent residence inside my make-up bag. Pinched is a lovely light soft peach that I reached for when I wanted to add a pop of freshness to my cheeks. Its faint pinkish peach hue is beautiful and irresistible as it is softly and quietly pretty. Healthy Glow is a deep peachy coral. For a healthy flush, this was my blush of choice. Both shades are actually very similar in terms of their colour, once applied to my cheeks. Pinched is just a tad lighter and due to its thinner formula, I do need to layer it on to achieve the same colour payoff as Healthy Glow but it was  the perfect choice, on the days when all I wanted was a minimal color on my cheeks. Their silky soft consistency makes them a dream to apply. They're so easy to blend and once blended into the skin, they both transform to a semi-matte powder finish while still injecting such a beautiful, natural looking glow.

The Real Techniques Contour Brush with its densely packed but not rigid bristles is perfect for applying my cream blushes to the apples of my cheeks. The bristles always pick up just the right amount of product and blends them in beautifully. Its small size is so ideal for blush application.

To keep my lips nicely smooth and soft, all year round- Elemis Fresh Skin Loving Lips Quenching Lip Balm (phew! What a mouthful) stepped up to the challenge. Formulated with sweet almond oil, Vitamin E and passion flower oil, it moisturizes, soothes and softens my lips. It has such a nice, refreshing peppermint candy scent (think Polo and Mentos) It also leaves a noticeable subdued glossy finish which is similar to a lipgloss but it's non sticky and I love it.

Lipstick wise, one thing is crystal clear to me. I love me some glossy lipstick/lipgloss/lipbalm hybrids with plenty of shine. 2013 saw the addition of 2 beloved lipsticks to my everyday make-up bag. Maybelline Color Whisper in Orange Attitude and Bourjois Color Boost Glossy Lipstick/Lip Crayon in Orange Punch were the clear winners in their category. They both look quite a vibrant orange in their respective packaging but they apply less orange, more coral to the lips. In terms of their colour, texture and finish- they're so identical, in so many ways. Hydrating, sheer but buildable wash of juicy orange toned muted coral made them the perfect candidates for perking up my complexion. Once applied to the lips, I honestly cannot tell the difference between them. Swatched side by side, it's easy to spot the difference between the shades. Orange Attitude significantly pulls a little bit more orange, whereas Orange Punch has more of a pink undertone thus, making it a pink toned coral. Due to their glossy nature, they don't stick around for too long (1 1/2 hrs max). Do I wish for them to hang around a lot longer? Yes. Does it bother me that they don't? Not in the slightest.

For a subtle nod to the bold lip trend trend, I enlisted the help of my Burberry Lip Glow in Pink Sweet Pea during the latter part of 2013 (thanks to Nic for her very generous giveaway :) ) With its great I can't believe it's not a lipstick pigmentation, it fits the bill every.single.time. 1 swipe and you'll have yourself a semi-opaque coverage, double it up and you'll have yourself some serious pigmentation for a lipgloss. Pink Sweet Pea is a stunning rich, highly pigmented vibrant fuchsia pink. The nourishing oils and ceramides (with its excellent moisturizing properties) cushion the lips with impressive hydration. My lips look so hydrated and plump every time I've reached for it because the formula imparts such a lovely luscious shine to the lips. Longwearing (lasts up to 3 hours on me) but non-sticky formula that also feels cushion-y when worn? Give me some more shades please.

Dry patches didn't stand a chance with Origins Drink Up 10 min mask by my side. This is a skin care saviour in a tube. As mentioned above, I tend to suffer from dry patches especially on my cheeks. I tend to get them all year round, but they were particularly bad last year especially during the last couple of weeks. (In the run-up to Christmas, how typical) For a quick boost of hydration, I didn't have to look far. The cocktail of moisture boosting and thirst- quenching ingredients such as Algae Extracts and Apricot Kernel Oil truly helped with replenishing the needed moisture back into my skin. Prior to the onslaught of the dreaded evil, sadistic dry patches at the start of November last year, I used this once a week and it kept my dry patches at bay. Applied as a weekly treat, my skin just drinks it up. It sinks in really quickly. I find it incredibly hydrating and soothing, leaving my entire face feeling so smooth and soft. Leave it on for 10-15 mins then tissue/rinse off (I tend to use a soft face cloth to remove it) and hey presto, nourished, softer skin with no sign of greasiness is mine! Applied twice weekly, whenever my skin  required more hydration for example during November, it immediately solved my dry skin woes and showed my dry patches the door. Regular use results in fewer dry patches. Fewer dry patches= HAPPY DIANE. Did I mention that it also has such a nice peachy fruity scent?

For achieving a natural looking, my skin but a whole lot better, fresh faced finish and to achieve a seamless and flawless foundation application ( or any other liquid/cream products for that matter) the Real Techniques Buffing Brush was still THE ONE. This brush is to me, what Chuck is to Blair. A love pairing so powerful, they should always be inseparable. Match made in heaven? YES!

As for the Real Techniques Blush Brush , it's slightly too fluffy and large for applying blush onto the apples of my cheeks but where it fails in blush application, it makes it up during bronzer application. It contours and defines my cheeks perfectly. The tapered end makes it ideal for applying a contour shade into the hollows of my cheeks.

No 7 Blend and Contour Brush has been my partner in crime for the last 3 years. The love is still going strong. After countless washes, not once did it shed a single hair and it serves me well as far as blending is concerned. 

So there we have it, my beauty favourites of 2013. If my experience with beauty in 2013 is anything to go by, I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store for me. Needless to say, I'm going to take you on the journey with me. :)


Chic Caviar Manicure with Ciate

 How did you spend New Year's Eve? How did you welcome the next 365 days of our lives? Perhaps you attended a party? Wore your highest heels and headed to the hottest nightclub for a crazy night out with your closest girlfriends? A quiet dinner with your loved ones and maybe you even busted out the odd champagne? OR maybe you just decided to lounge around in your pyjamas and watch the firework display, right in the comfort of your own home? Hey, I'm not judging because I spent my night, exactly like that but with a beauty related activity added to the mix. With my beauty obsession in full gear, I couldn't think of a better way to ring in the new year than sporting a new nail design.

The mini Ciate nail polish and Caviar Kit which I got free with the July 2013 issue of Marie Claire UK, came out to play because it was perfect for creating the look that I had in mind. The kit contains two mini polishes: Cookies and Cream paint pot and the fabulous Shooting Star Caviar Pearls. I opted for a nude shade paired with an accent nail, done up with micro beads because is there an easier way to spice up a regular manicure than painting an accent nail? Now I know the whole accent and caviar manicure trends are certainly not new but for this nail art virgin and amateur (yup that's me), they certainly are.

Cookies and Cream  is a suits everyone light grey toned nude cream. It's such a gorgeous neutral shade. As for Shooting Star , it consists of tiny gold, silver, lilac and light blue micro beads. Perfect for adding the special touch to your manicure. Upon initial application of the first coat, Cookies and Cream has the tendency to apply slightly streaky and sheer but come the application of the second and third coat , all is forgotten as they apply smoothly and evenly. It requires 3 coats to achieve a full, smooth coverage and each coat dries within minutes. Pairing Cookies and Cream and Shooting Star Caviar Pearls together was pure genius. They complement each other so well and work so beautifully together to create such a sophisticated chic mannequin look with a nice pop of golden sparkle to liven up an otherwise quite boring shade.

Steps for creating the beautiful look: 
1.) Paint all the nails with the exception of the ring fingers using 3 coats of Cookies and Cream.
2.) Paint the ring fingers with 1 coat of polish then leave them to dry.
3.) One ring finger at a time, apply a second coat of polish and while still wet (don't let it dry- the beads won't stick) sprinkle the caviar pearls onto each nail above a deep rectangular acrylic box (this helps to control the mess as the box catches the excess beads. A paper plate will also suffice or any other deep container you have lying around your house. Because you've collected the remaining unattached beads, you can easily pour them back into the bottle using a paper funnel. I made my own. It's super easy to make.
4.) Straight after you've sprinkled the beads onto the nails, very gently press down on the beads. This helps to secure them firmly in place to the nail and it also removes the excess beads that are simply sitting on top of the other beads, unattached.
And say hello to glam nails, done oh so right!

 Isn't the finished look so pretty?The pearls won't stick around forever and a day, because they do start to fall off within a couple of hours but for a quick way to add a little somethin' somethin' to your manicure- look no further. The Ciate Caviar kits are quite expensive because they would normally set you back £18 each but right now they're only £5 here so if you want to give this trend a go, do it now. :) Alternatively, you can try to hunt down some micro beads at your local craft/supplies store. I bet they would be a lot cheaper too :)

Who knew nail art could be SO easy? And that by simply painting and designing my ring finger a different way, it can make such a massive difference without requiring too much effort? Accent nail trend? Consider me SOLD. I think it's best to save Caviar manicure for special occasions but I'm totally behind the accent nail. 

Now that my interest in nail art is alive and kicking, can you recommend some EASY designs for a newbie like me? Note the emphasis on easy. Those tiny polka dots look rather nice eh? Guess I just need to get my hands on some nail dotting tools. Here's to 2014 and trying out new beauty trends.