Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Product review: L'Oreal Color Riche Quad (Nude Lingerie)

Holla, Beauty Addicts!!

Hope your Hump-day is going gloriously and you're able to see more sunshine than I can manage out the back end of our lovely building. Even if you can't, my latest High Street find will give you eyelids that glimmer and glisten as if you're sunbathing in St Tropez.
L'Oreal Paris Color Riche Quad Eyeshadow
E2 Nude Lingerie

I picked this little beauty up in an emergency on the weekend (I had forgotten to bring my make-up bag on an overnight with me...unheard of!) So had to make an emergency pit-stop at Boots, Euston Station for some eye products. I'd got a bunch of skin stuff knocking around my handbag...I can feel any admiration for my make-up organising skills draining fast.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Latest in Beauty: The Glamour Beauty Edit (Review)

Good morning kittens!

What have you got planned on this super sunny Saturday? Hopefully if you're chilling the park you're keeping up the SPF and hydration levels…I'm off to a BBQ and will be urgently seeking out a shady spot so as not to overheat the Irish skin ;)

Anyhoo, as promised a couple of weeks ago here's the review of the Glamour Beauty Box from LiB. The box cost £17 - it's still on sale and you can pick it up here - and comes with £86 worth of product which is a great deal. I predominantly bought it for the Illamasqua Glamore lippie and the Magnifibres lash extender.

So, what did I get….

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Problem solver…Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover - Hands & Feet

Bonjour Guys and Dolls

I don't know about you but I end up changing my fingernail polish a lot more often than that on my tootsies due to wear. However sometimes I want to change my toe colour but don't yet need to take off my fingers…and often am feeling too lazy to paint those as well. Don't judge.

How glad I was to find this little miracle in a pot, no more worrying about avoiding touching the cotton wool pad and smudging my fingernail polish. I love the dip and twist removers anyway as they're super effective and so easy to use. This one has a sponge in the lid (it'd be challenging to get your toe into the usual format!)

Main caveat is that these aren't great for glitter polishes. This way you can keep your Friday manicure intact when you decide you need to change your pedi for your Saturday night dancing shoes.

Any marvellous mani / pedi tips you want to share? Pop them in the comments below

xx Josephine xx

Twitter: @JojoSparklesNI

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Getting started series #10 lips, lips, lips!

Hallo, there my beauties!

The final instalment in our Valiant Quest of the Make-up Bag. I'm at once sad and also a bit relieved that we can move on to other topics - and also that I've actually finished a series I've started on the blog!

My Bobbi Brown "nude"

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Getting started series #9 Blusher

Good morning Ladies and Gents…

We're nearing the end of our quest through the "bare minimum" make-up bag according to Yours Truly - with the noted exception of eyeshadow, which I'm still contemplating how to cover off in a single page post given my unnatural obsession with seemingly identikit taupes (inspiration for the title has just now struck like a beautimous lightning bolt hitting the Chrysler building, or something similarly and inappropriately dramatic - allow me this moment, dear readers).
Soft pink - v blendable, easy to use cream

Today's topic is blusher - a lovely girlie little whirl around the barest whisper of pink, through cotton candy and Barbie® pink before hop-skip-jumping through plums, corals and kinda dirty looking browny colours.

Why is blusher important? Well, after you've slicked on your foundation (or lighter Denier base coverage) you've created a lovely blank canvas for yourself. Covering all manner of ills and real (or imagined) flaws. That's great! We've added our Rachel Weisz brows, highlighted our cheek and brow bones, and sculpted the planes of our face with some bronzer to add a glow and some definition. GREAT STUFF! However, we don't have any colour on our faces yet and we don't want to walking around like the Undead - general objective of my face painting.

So, let's add a pop of colour to give us that peaches and cream / healthy flush / naughty afterglow as desired.
Buildable, light pink from BeneFit

As ever, you've got a variety of textures you can use - powder is probably the most common but creams provide a subtle wash of colour and a natural finish, stains can be lovely but a note of caution - work quickly, and less is more easily remedied than too much to start with. Powders and stains last longer than creams.

My favourite shades are:

- Palest pink - BeneFit's Dandelion. Reportedly worn by SJP as Carrie Bradshaw, this pink is beautifully light and bright, but can be built if you'd like a darker colour. Not going to be great on darker skin tones in all honesty.

Cool Pink blush from No7 - super pretty
- Brighter pink - Illamasqua's Tremble blush (pictured) has been my "go to" since I got it in their January sale. Hellah pigmented, it should show on all skin tones - but a light hand is required, plus blend, blend, blend. No7's Cool Pink is a good alternative, or for a cream finish I adore MaxFactor's cream blush in Soft Pink.

BeneFit's Coralista (not mine!)
- Coral - It appears to be a theme I didn't actually realise before writing this post but BeneFit's Coralista is a gorgeous, suits all shade. For cream finish I use Bobbi Brown's Cabo Coral, but Maybelline's Apricot blush is adorable and much more affordable - less pigmented than the BB version though. NARS Orgasm is cult fave.

- Red - not necessarily something which you'd wear every day but can look super on darker skin tones, I've got Ruby & Millie's Face Gloss which I think is now discontinued (it wasn't easy to work with anyway). A true red blush looks amazing on darker skin tones, but hasn't been something which has worked for me in the past.
Maybelline's cream blush - Apricot

You can also get more out there shades like lavender and purple, but I confess I tend to experiment more on lips and eyes than cheeks. What's your favourite blush and why - let me know what I'm missing out on!

'Til next time kitty cats,

xx Josephine xx

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Twitter: @JojoSparklesNI

Friday, 11 July 2014

Getting started series #8 Bronzer

This is where I realise I should have held back on my "Aloha", so Aloha again beauty addicts and explorers…

Since it's summer time, let's get our tan on. But safely - and all being well, without streaking non-tinted lotions across our face and body. I guess to start off here one lesson it's important to acknowledge is that make-up can be applied "off-face" to great effect. 

I had no idea quite how lopsided my face was! Anyhoo, hopefully
you can see from the "end" photo above how the left side (as
you look at it) looks more defined - particularly the nose and chin.
Bronzer is a key tool for all girls - I include pale and pasty varieties such as myself - in that it can make you look alive, blend in your foundation - handy for photos and not looking like a bad drag queen in real life where you (I) elect to cover a WHITE face with some actual skin coloured foundation - and just generally make you look healthier. On dark skin tones it can add a warmth that may otherwise be lacking in the bleak midwinter / pre-sunshine.

A non-orangey bronzer can also be used to do slight Kardashian-style contouring which has become quite the trend, but if you had shimmer in it there's a danger you'd edge towards C3-PO territory in direct sunlight.

However, things to avoid (in my mind) when looking for a bronzer are 1) orangeness, 2) excessive shimmer and 3) a heavy hand.  If I want shimmer I still tend to use a matte bronzer to add colour and separately use a highlighter to add shimmer where I want it. 

There are several formulations you can use;

- Powder - I like a powder bronzer but I use it on a powdered base (to avoid blotches as the liquid catches the colour). Bourjois have some good versions - not too orange and their chocolate bar version is matte - while for higher end I like Smashbox's Halo Bronzer. L'Oreal do Glam Bronze - I got the shimmery version free at Christmas but there are matte versions too and their colours come in several shades which is good for High Street.

- Cream - I've just bought the expensive (but seriously, seriously HUGE) Chanel Tan de Soleil which I really like, however Bourjois have a similar product for £10. It actually works out to be about the same price gram for gram but a £10 hit is easier to take in one go. I've not tried the Bourjois one, but they are reportedly made by the same factory so it might be worth an investigate.
This is swatched *very* heavily, it blends
out to a lovely, natural tan colour - I used
it in the pictorial on placement, above.

- Liquid - the Chanel cream has a highlighter / liquid sister, as does the Bourjois base - I plumped for the Bourjois one on this (it says it's a cream on the bottle but from the texture you can see it's very liquid). If you want a liquid with a little shimmer in it there are plenty of options on the High Street - matte is the more challenging version - or you can try the AU Skin Base from Ilamasqua. I also use this to mix into winter foundations for summer glow effect. Pretty sure I can do the same with the Bourjois version though I've not tested it yet.

Don't be afraid to walk around Boots swatching colours to test for ornateness etc in the meantime enjoy playing with safe tanning (and good luck on the mission to not look like an Oompah-loompah - unless that's your path, in which case I'll keep my nose out!)

'Til next time gorgeous guys and gals

xx Josephine xx

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Twitter: @JojoSparklesNI

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Getting started series #7 Highlighter

Aloha beauty addicts and explorers!

Today we shall be visiting all things shimmery and luminous (both with and without glitter depending on your preference…the name of the blog likely gives away my own preferences). Now, although I am hardly an exponent of subtle make-up - and harbour a glitter fetish to rival that of almost any drag queen living, I must confess for skin (and cheeks) I prefer the dewy, gleaming subtle finish of a highlighter which doesn't contain glitter. 

I don't even like an overly frosty highlighter, however as your intrepid beauty explorer I will try to guide you through the Seven* Steps of Make-up Disco Heaven…

- Step 1 "I'm So Excited" - this is a subtle, are-you-really-sure-you've-got-something-on, kind of highlight. I achieve this through using a light and slightly peachy toned concealer e.g. Illamasqua Skin Base Lift or YSL Touche Eclat - per Item #3 Concealer. 

- Step 2 "Rock the Boat" - here, we step into some gleam, but definitely no glitter, and a subtle lightening effect across your cheekbones, nose etc - e.g. No7 Instant Radiance chubby cheek crayon (2x shades) or you can use a subtle finishing powder with some radiance properties.

- Step 3 "Get Down Tonight" - on this little step up to discovering our total inner disco diva we've retained some subtlety as to overall effect but have stepped towards the light which is glitter, here I like something like Bourjois Poudre de Riz (limited edition).

- Step 4 "I Feel Love" - this offers a more pronounced glimmer but we're back off the glitter. Generally I find that liquid products such as NARS highlighter (assuming you don't opt for the glitter Super Orgasm variant) or BeneFit HighBeam work well here - we're after clear pearlescence here but no standalone glitter particles. 

- Step 5 "Hot Stuff" - for a more intense version of Step 3 you can use a light eyeshadow to precision highlight (whether you have a s**t ton of glitter raining down on your face will, I guess therefore depend on your brand of choice - Bourjois or Urban Decay….wow Nelly!).

- Step 6 "That's the Way (uh-huh uh-huh) I Like It" - Upping our glimmer quotient I'd head to the serious powder highlighters - we're talking packed full of pigment with a danger of making you look like the Tin Man if applied incorrectly (translation: my favourite products - to be fair you can get a subtle result with a light hand and a fan brush) e.g. Bobbi Brown shimmer brick - see also the Body Shop's high street dupe version - or MAC mineralise skinfinish powders. 

- Step 7 "I [Disco] Will Survive" - The ultimate in disco highlight - some Vaseline (or similar) and actual glitter. Why the eff not, eh? Naturally this should be reserved for Halloween, fancy dress parties and gay bars, but let's face it what girl doesn't want to re-live the '90s with some iridescent purple / blue / white glitter adhered to the high planes of her face? 

Live it, love it, own it - or as this clever lady has done, use it to replace under eye concealer (cunning)

For a daytime subtle look a further trick I employ is to apply my blush over my highlight - it can tone down any excess frostiness from heavy handed applications or as you learn and gives a "glowing from within" finish to a matte blush.

Enjoy playing chick-a-dees, and remember as Dolly says "I enjoy the way I look, but it's a joke"

'Til next time, love, bubbles and happy kittens

xx Josephine xx

{*} Note: I have a slight confession here, I just wanted there to be seven steps to the disco heaven which was pure glitter cheekbones. In all honesty I'm not sure I believe that Step 5 should exist - the technique does however, just not sure it stands alone from Step 3. Pray forgive me reader, I couldn't have an even number of steps plus seven rhymes with heaven?!?!

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Twitter: @JojoSparklesNI

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Getting started series #6 Mascara

Good morrow, Beauty Addicts and Explorers

Today is a day I've kind of been dreading. I think that mascara seems to be one of those things which just ends up so differently from person to person. For me, I've got almost poker straight eyelashes, but there's quite a few of them and they're long - so I'm always questing after volume and curl. I know for others it's going to be length which they're after most of all, so apologies if I'm not as complete as I should be, but please leave your HG / recommendations in the comments below and let's start the debate!!!

My favourites are:

- YSL Effet Faux Cils (courtes of a very generous Santa Friend last year!)
- Mally volumising mascara (from
- 2000 Calories from MaxFactor

Note: I have a personal dislike for silicone type wands, preferring huge bristled wands instead. L'Oreal do have certain versions of Volume Collagen with silicone wands - which are also oversized as with the rest of the range's applicators. I'm sorry for the incompleteness of this posting for those amongst you who are silicone wand fans, but I've never gotten along with one of them and I didn't want to include them in the fails purely on that basis.

I have tried and did not get on with:

No7 Lash Impact (red sparkly tube - right) - amazing write-ups, bought on the strength of reviews only to be underwhelmed by a wet product that didn't really seem volume focused. 
Jemma Kidd mascara - again, too wet which didn't lend itself to volume boosting in the way I'm accustomed to!
L'Oreal telescopic - I think you'll pick up a theme to those I don't enjoy using!

For me, the L'Oreal Volume Collagen only marginally pips the YSL to the post because it's so much cheaper and doesn't tend to dry out so quickly - however it is harder to remove than the YSL (as in, total pain in the touckas even after Bioderma applied with a cotton bud). 

If you can afford it, mascara is one of those things which I think really does perform better when you spend a little more on it but I think the list above really shows that there are some great options available on the High Street. Do bear in mind (before falling in love with a  super expensive version) that mascara should be replaced ideally every 3 months or so - but on the other hand £20 for 90 days of luscious lashes may not seem too high a price to pay ;)

Much love and lash boosting fun 'til next time kitty cats,

xx Josephine xx

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Twitter: @JojoSparklesNI

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Getting started series #5 Eyeliner

Hieeeeee Beauty Addicts (and Enthusiasts!)

Now we're onto one of my most favourite-est ever make-up topics. If in doubt, slap some black lines around your eyes must be a secret life mantra for me…not necessarily something which will sit well with just anyone ;)

The full spectrum of my eyeliner
based life choices - winged,
wannabe drag queen and subtle
summer natural vibe.
Much like eyebrows, eyeliner (in conjunction with mascara….next up!) is crucial in really framing your face, emphasising your peepers and giving the illusion of lovely, long lashes that you can bat at the nearest Mr Darcy a-like to your heart's content. Or just so that when you check yourself out in unexpected reflective surfaces you don't suddenly want to yelp and hide yourself under a rock mid-afternoon (we all do it, right…don't we…?)

For those dipping a toe in the make-up water I'd suggest that colour and formulation are going to be really important. A cream / matte grey or brown will feel a lot more wearable than the black to which we make-up mavens are automatically drawn. At least as you start to venture out during daylight hours with lines around your eyes. Additionally, pencil is usually an easy start - I've listed the various formulations in order of ease of use and you can link back to my smoked out liner look for placement ideas.

- Pencil - to get a good line you'll want a relatively soft pencil so you don't have to drag your lids to get decent colour pay-off. If in doubt, apply little dots and use a sponge tipped smudger to blend them out. Pencils now come in gel and kohl formula options, I've included recs for both:

Kohl - MAC's teddy is fairly iconic and friendly to all, otherwise I like Rimmel, L'Oreal or Illamasqua.
Gel - these are softer pencils, with a more intense pay off. I like Avon, Rimmel or Sleek (not strictly gel). MAC Powerpoint pencils are a great option if you want to play with some glittery shades.

- Powder - you can either buy a powder liner (try No7 or Smashbox) or just use an eyeshadow over a lightly blended pencil line. Easy smokey liner look.

- Gel - although the pot plus brush is intimidating to look at, it's surprisingly easy to work with. Bobbi Brown, MAC and Illamasqua all do versions but I also love L'Oreal's on the High Street - longer lasting than Maybelline's offering in my experience. High Street has more limited colour selections.

- Liquid - the hardest formulation to work with (marginally better in one of the felt tip formats) so not one for beginners. Great for the pin-up '50s look with red lips - but achievable with gel if you've not got a steady hand. Illamasqua's precision ink is lovely but if you want to stick to classic colours save pennies and opt for L'Oreal's Superliner. Eyeko do a nice felt-tippy version - but the High Street is awash with those at the moment so have a play.

Lots of love 'til next time kitty cats

xx Josephine xx

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Twitter: @JojoSparklesNI
Instagram: @josephinesparkles_ni

Monday, 7 July 2014

Getting started series #4 EYEBROWS!!!!

Holla Beauty Addicts and Explorers, alike

Today, the Good Ship Sparkles sails into what may be uncharted (for some) and terrifying (for most) waters….eyebrows. If the eyes are the window to the soul, the brows are definitely the frames to your face. However in the face of the WAG-tastic Scouse Brow and just general overuse of many, many products I feel an important public service announcement coming on…


If I play with 14 colours, bronzer, black liner, fake lashes and blue lippie and you sashay through delicate waterlilies on a springtime dawn, you should use a lighter hand - and probably shade - to frame your pretty as a picture lil' face than I do. However, regardless of your style do try to remember that make-up is just art and it's all personal choice* - try not to judge, and instead pray for your friend to ask for advice rather than dispensing unsolicited advice. 

Firstly - your product choices:

- Pencil - great for drawing on individual hairs, don't use a soft liner or it won't be subtle enough - potential pitfall is that pencil drawn on brows can look fake. (Rimmel, BeneFit - although the latter was a little soft for me - you could always pop it in the fridge before using!)

- Powder - great for giving a blended result, can use with something like Illamasqua's sealing gel to give a more defined finish e.g. for night time. Can break and with too heavy a hand become akin to a pencil. (Illamasqua, Smashbox)

- Gel / pomade - well loved in the make-up artist arena, the wax texture can mean you get lots of control along with your colour. (MAC, Anastasia)

Regardless of what formulation you use some important rules of thumb for those starting out:

For a natural look go for a shade lighter than your natural hair colour. Spend time on your shade selection and don't just go for the most popular shade - for example, I love Illamasqua's brow cake however my original match was Thunder (a rich brown shade) while actually my best match is Motto (ashy, dark grey) because although I am a brunette I am not actually warm in hair or skin tone. 

You don't need to use brow specific products, but it'll help if you buy a decent angled brow brush to apply your product -  I love my ancient Smashbox Angled Brow brush but check out Ecotools and Real Techniques for more affordable brush ranges which offer good performing options. Online I like's Studio brush line. 

Enjoy your new Rachel Weisz / Cara Delevingne type self ;)

Til next time kitty cats

xx Josephine xx

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Twitter: @JojoSparklesNI

*I must ask for further forgiveness at this point, while I fully reserve the right to mentally hate on anyone sporting sperm brows - male or female. I realise I'm a hypocrite, but they really, really hurt my eyes and brain.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Getting started series #3 Concealer

Oh hai there, my lil' Beauty Addicts and Explorers alike

Today's letter is C and the word is CONCEALER! Definitely a must have in any gal or guy's beauty arsenal - certainly on a Sunday which can tend to be the morning after the night before for most of us. However, this is the step in my painting which I struggle with the most. 

What do I need to buy to get me some photoshopped, drag queen, modelista, diva perfection realness under dem eyes?! 

I've been using concealer ever since the Rimmel spot zapping version I first got in my local chemist's at age 10 (early developer in many ways - the worse of which was the Pizza Face spotty forehead department). Thankfully I've managed to move on a little from the slightly too dark / too orange / not blended enough version of concealing of 1994 :)

I do really believe that concealer is something which gets better as you spend a little more money on it - both in terms of the shades available, the undertones included and the lasting power. But that's not to say there aren't some wonderful little finds on the High Street which I've also included here for your perusal ;)

There are four basic formulations which I use, each for different things:

- Mineral - great for blemish concealing - I've only used Bare Minerals, great but the shade selection is a bit dire. Pale girls take note, you will be told to buy Bisque. RESIST THIS. I guarantee you, if you are not the soft pink colour of a marshmallow, summer bisque will be a better match. Also - note that Well Rested is not a concealer. 

- Cream (left) - high coverage needs e.g. redness or BAAAD eye bags / shadows - Bobbi Brown and Eve Pearl do great salmon-undertones correctors, but use sparingly as they crease. Becca and Laura Mercier have duo pots (medium and high coverage) but I've not tried the LM as yet.

- Liquid (right) - for me, everyday under eye and some highlighting - I love MAC's Moisturecover and Bourjois Healthy FX - maybe slightly too yellow for me. Rimmel's Wake Me Up concealer is nice, but lighter coverage and there's a Collection (formerly Collection 2000) version which is super dooper according to the 'Net.

- Illuminating pens - I use these more for highlighting than coverage - YSL's Touche Eclat is the ultimate, Liz Earle does a nice version and Well Rested by Bare Minerals is a powder version of the same. No7 and L'Oreal do some nice High Street versions you can play with too - watch the pinkness in the L'Oreal version.

My current HG concealer is Illamasqua's Skin Base Lift (Light 1 for me - left ) which can help with highlighting and concealing. Love, love, LOVE this baby! 

This has been comprehensive, but as I mentioned I do think getting the right concealer is something worth working at, given the wonders it can then do for your face. Hopefully it's been a little helpful…good luck with your search - let me know if the above has been helpful, or if I've missed off your HG, in the comments below. 

Thanks for reading, love til next time kitty cats

xx Josephine xx

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Twitter: @JojoSparklesNI

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Getting Started Series - #2 Base / Foundation

Greetings, Beauty Addicts & Explorers alike and welcome to the weekend, proper!!!

A declaration to make first of all - my name is Josephine and I am obsessed with full coverage, at all times of year - but I recognise that others are not so obsessed with 100 Denier foundations. So, in the interests of being a helpful soul I've listed below a range of bases you might want to try (high end and affordable, too) in a range of coverages. 

For those on either extremity of the skin tone scale, apologies in advance for the deficiencies in some of the brands listed below, as they're not always the friendliest to any of us non-medium skin tones (I get away with it when I wear bronzer and want to make my skin darker without fake tanning). 

Ok, let's step through the various coverages, one by one...

10 Denier: probably best to try a BB cream or a tinted moisturiser. I like No7 BB cream (although I use as a base with powder over it) and Garnier also have quite a nice one - beware pale ladies, of "fit all" shades. 
15 Denier: I like the Liz Earle sheer skin tint, which is a tinted moisturiser but has slightly more coverage then the BB creams I've tried. 
20 Denier: Bourjois Healthy Mix serum foundation is lovely. You can also try powder foundations - applied dry - which will generally give a lighter coverage
30 Denier: L'Oreal True Match foundation, or alternatively Bare Minerals Original formula (there's also a matte version available for oily skin types) which comes in a great range of colours.
45 Denier: Rimmel Wake Me Up foundation - I really like this for a dewy finish with a decent coverage. I think it's quite natural which can require additional concealer on bad skin days. 

60 Denier: Rather than use a single foundation I like to use the Bare Minerals (or other mineral) as a base colour and then tap on liquid foundation e.g. Bourjois healthy mix to give additional "dew" to the finish, while retaining fullness of coverage with the mineral make-up. Thanks Wayne Goss for that tip - and others.
100 Denier: Vichy Dermablend (liquid) - I have to say I love this foundation for FULL coverage with a  dewy and relatively natural finish. Can look slightly cakey with the powder in the morning, but this disappears in an hour or two as the foundation wears in. 

Illamasqua is a brand with a FAB range of colours on their skin products, I like their cream foundation but think it might not be for everyone, while skin base might be more accessible to a greater number of people - however my issue with Skin Base is that regardless of how great I think my skin is looking in a given day it just seems to find flakies on my cheeks and nose. Sad times as it does give an otherwise lovely finish.

Hope that helps - do let me know any questions, queries, comments or tips you have in the comments section below. 

Til next time lovelies!

xx Josephine xx

Friday, 4 July 2014

Getting started series - #1 Primer

Beauty addicts (and explorers alike), Happy 4th of July!!!

As the Constitution was to America, so is primer to base, if you want to get really great make-up then this is non-negotiable unless you have skin literally made of alabaster, which let's be honest ladies of the late twenties onwards, few of us do. If you do, I guess I hate you but I also want to spend hours studying your poreless perfection ;)

Smashbox Photo Finish
(oil-free, travel size)
My love affair with primer started with a QVC Smashbox kit where their photo finish primer was included. I loved it (and discovered that I was fortunate to be able to use silicone based primers without fear of a massive spot flair up as some of my more sensitive skinned friends find). I'm currently using Charlotte Tilbury's Wonder Glow, but it's not a favourite - it's just really, really expensive so I'm determined to finish it!

Why would/should you wear it? A good primer will smooth fine lines, blur large pores, give an even canvas for your base - and a great one will mean you need to use less base good news for expensive foundation junkies!! Your foundation / base should also be able to last longer.

So, here goes… (in no particular order)

1) Garnier 5-second blur: this is affordable, readily available in Boots and Superdrug and gives a really smooth finish onto which to apply your base.  
2) L'Oreal Professional Secrets Primer: really similar to the above, less hygienic glass pot (v plastic tube) but lovely finish.
3) Laura Mercier: more expensive, I like the radiance version I got in a sale kit but probably wouldn't re-buy. Popularly loved but not Holy Grail ('HG') for me.
4) Smashbox Photo Finish Primer (above): my first, my last….not quite my everything because it doesn't super outperform my cheapies. However, they do have an impressive range of versions including oil free, colour correcting, radiance and travel sizes. Find in the UK at Boots beauty halls. 
5) Laura Gellar Spackle: tried in the original, bronzing and champagne radiance. Not a fan - too wet. Might be an option for those who react to silicone.
6) Clarins Beauty Flash Balm: never really understood the obsession with this until I hit 27. Love it - but leave a little extra drying time to avoid annoying flakies of excess product. 
7) Illamasqua HydraVeil (below and now also available in a Matte version for oily skinned lovelies): liked it, didn't love it - pretty cool how it self levels in the tub, but not cool enough to have me running to the counter to get it ahead of other products they make which definitely have HG status.

You can also use a BB cream as a primer, though I don't personally do this much where I have a silicone option available. Next on my wish list is the expensive but beautiful Guerlain Les Meteroites primer - a gel like formula with lovely little pearls of beautifulness suspended in it - and Stila's colour correcting primer - like a lollipop suspended in silicone.

Top tip: where you are considering plumping for a high end product go find a friendly counter lady who can decant you a trial amount so that you sample for a couple of days to confirm it works for your skin before going for it with your actual pennies. 

Hopefully that de-mystifies primer a little and gives an honest verdict on some widely raved about products. 

Happy hunting in the aisles…!

xx Josephine xx

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Nails Inc set offer from QVC UK

Evening (UK) Beauty Addicts and Enthusiasts

I've been super happy with my coral nails courtesy of Nails Inc Gel Manicure formulation over the past couple of days - barely any chips, which is unheard of for me short of a full Shellac manicure.

I used a base coat to apply the coral shade (Kensington Passage) but didn't use a topcoat. Even on my non-adjusted iPhone picture - left - you can see how glossy the finish on these polishes are. This is with two medium-thick coats of polish applied.

I therefore thought I'd share with you the Nails Inc Be GELous collection currently on offer on QVC UK. All my pals will know of my addiction to QVC - this is not a sponsored post, a little too early on for that!! Some reviews said the lid shape was unwieldy - but if you pull the rectangular lid off there's an easier-to grip ridged version underneath - a la Chanel bottles.

Since these polishes retail at £14 a pop on the High Street, five of them for £30 (exc P&P) is a pretty great deal. I also think the colours are great and will be able to easily take you into autumn.

If your budget doesn't stretch to this kit then you can always sashay to Superdrug and check out the Barry M Gelly nail paints which offers cute colours all at a reasonable £4 per bottle.

'Til next time chums!

xx Josephine xx

Twitter: @JojoSparklesNI
Instagram: @josephinesparkles_ni

Make-up: Getting Started series

Hello and happy Thursday, Beauty Addicts & Enthusiasts!

Some of my pals have been asking for tips or recommendations for what's worth the money, where you really "must have" something and when you can just short cut it. So if I had to work out of one make-up bag for the rest of the year (*shudder*) I guess these would be my picks:
  1. Primer
  2. Base
  3. Concealer
  4. Eyebrows!!!
  5. Eyeliner
  6. Mascara
  7. Highlighter
  8. Bronzer
  9. Blush
  10. Lips
This would be the absolute minimum bag for me - and to be honest I'd probably have to stuff at least six different eyeshadows in there too, but I'm trying really hard to keep this as back to basics. 

The piccie above is my current make-up bag, but I've left my bronzer in my mum's car and included some eyeshadows (anyone who knows me simply wouldn't believe I wasn't carting around 12 shadows)!

So I guess the next question is where you should spend your money and where you can economise - or indeed just find excellent little bargains on the high street rather than having to go to high end brands for everything. Note: it's not always a case of more is more when it comes to price tags! :)

I'd say spend money on your skin care, concealer, mascara and bronzer. Note: darker skin toned lovelies, do not assume that bronzer isn't going to be really great on your skin tone too, more likely you'll just have very similar issues to us pale and interesting types when it comes to finding the right colour. We. Do. Not. Want. ORANGE!!!!
Chanel Tan de Soleil (birthday treat to myself on Boots points - £31, but HUUUGE!!)
Over the course of the next week or so I'll be publishing guides to all the above items, with high end and budget buys that are currently in circulation within my make-up bag so you'll know I'm putting my money where my mouth is. I hope you find it helpful, pop any questions below!!

'Til next time kitty cats

xx Josephine xx

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Faves and Fails: June 2014

Good evening Beauty Addicts (and explorers)!

Apologies for the long absence - things have been very hectic with the day job but I have decided, as part of my "Second Half of the Year" resolutions that I shall re-double efforts on the blog. I hope you forgive freely and read captively… xx 

I tried a few new products in June, with varying degrees of success. I thought I'd share a few of them with you. For information my skin type is classic combination with occasional dryness on the cheeks, dry skin on the body and my hair is greasy roots (dry ends prior to the chop due to heat and dye abuse). 

PRAI Pure Prai Wrinkle Concentrate 30mlFave (skincare) - Prai wrinkle concentrate - available on 
While I don't actually use this as an anti-wrinkle treatment I have found it's excellent as a face oil. Previously I hadn't really found one I could get into bed with, so to speak, but this one is delicious. I use it every day or two pre-morning moisturiser or when I'm feeling a bit drier in the winter it can get daily use in the week. Easily light enough for daily use.

Fave (body care) Diptyque Satin Oil for body and hair - available online and at John Lewis & Space NK
Beautiful, jasmine scented oil that absorbs almost instantly. This was definitely a splurge - but worthwhile as the scent lingers so beautifully. If your budget won't stretch to the Diptyque prices do check out the beauty oils at the Body Shop. They're lovely to use (I heart Moringa) and very reasonably priced. 

Buy Diptyque Satin Oil for Body and Hair, 100ml Online at johnlewis.comClick for enlarged view

"Fail" (hair care) - Neal's Yard Organics Shampoo (Geranium for oily hair)
As with my skin, I have combination hair. Deep fried ends and grease ball roots are a daily battle for me - delicious little thing, aren't I? 
Anyhoo, adoring geranium oil as I do this seemed heaven scent (bad pun!) and I was delighted on the first use. However the efficacy dwindled over the month so I'm reverting back to the usual stuff and a niggling suspicion that now it *must* be ok for me to add the geranium oil to the other stuff…? This may well work for you and if so, I'm super jealous because it scents your bathroom and hair beautifully :)

What are you addicted to at the moment? What's let you down despite all the hype and/or expectations? Let me know in the comments section.

Love and hugs


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