Category Archives: Beauty

NARS Digital World Lip Pencil Coffret review + swatches

NARS Digital World Lip Coffret When I saw the NARS Digital World lip pencil coffret in Space NK last November, I wasn’t intending to buy it. Sure it had some great shades but I thought they were a little too orange/coral toned for me, plus I did already own last year’s Guy Bourdin lip coffret so, ya know, not exactly at a loss for lip crayons/pencils over here.

But the limited edition holiday gem lingered in the back of my mind for a couple of months and when I was in need of a little pick-me-up last week I decided to see if it was still in stock on the Sephora website…

No spoilers required – it so was, I snapped one up and as there are still a few left on sale I figured I’d write a review here.

Notable differences between the sets are that last year there were four Velvet Matte Lip Pencils and only one Satin Lip Pencil, and this time the favour has fallen on the side of satin, with three pencils in this formula and only two matte pencils. The other difference is the packaging – last year the pencils came in a beautiful little make-up bag and this year they were house in a plastic case which seems less practical to me.

Three out of the five shades are also limited edition, which could be a downside if you get through lip pencils quickly, but as I don’t this doesn’t bother me too much. So, onto the reviews and swatches…

NARS Digital World Lip Pencil Coffret review and swatchesTorres del Paine

Starting with my least favourite – Torres del Paine is a satin formula and one of the limited edition shades and, although it’s nice and hydrating, the colour just doesn’t work that well on me. It’s a very pale, peachy shade and if you have a tan or darker skin then I think this would work incredibly well for you, but I think I’ll need to wait for summer before I can pull this one off.


The ‘your lips but better’ shade of the set, Descanso is another limited edition shade that would look good with a tan and would suit most skin tones. It’s a dusky nude with pink undertones (also known as ‘tea rose’, according the packaging) and the satin finish makes it a great neutral shade that I think I’ll get a lot of wear out of.


I have a lot of love for this shade, as I already own a full size version (full review here) plus a travel-size version that appeared in last year’s Guy Bourdin Lip Coffret. It’s a beautiful, deep red that makes my teeth look whiter and is incredibly long lasting. Despite this, it would have been nice to see a different red matte included in this year’s set, such as Dragon Girl or Red Square.


The second matte pencil of the bunch (and third limited edition shade) and this one’s a good ‘un. NARS describe it as an intense coral but I’d say it sits more in the reddish orange camp. It’s a long lasting, look at me colour and my second favourite pencil of the set after…


I must have taken 30-odd pictures of this swatch with every white balance option on my camera (hence the blue tinge to my skin in the swatch) and it still doesn’t do this colour justice, so take a peek at the main photo for your cue of just how intense this shade is. An incredibly bold pink fuchsia, it is a stunner and the only permanent lip pencil colour in the set, aside from Cruella.

Have you tried any of the NARS lip pencils before? Let me know if you own this set or any of the shades featured in it – which one is your favourite?

NARS Digital World lip pencil set

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Beauty Advice I’d Give My Teenage Self

Beauty advice for my teenage selfIt’s my birthday soon (ok, well, it’s not until April, but I’m already excited) and as it’s a bit of a biggie I’ve been reflecting on my approach to beauty and how it’s changed over time. I had a little rant about the ageing process last month but today I have some beauty advice for my teenage self of yesteryear. If only I could find Doc Brown and his DeLorean…

Don’t over pluck your eyebrows – I know you hate that epic black monobrow that Helga from Hey Arnold! would be proud of, but one day big brows will be back in fashion and you’ll spend ages trying to grow most of it back
Taking the time to remove make-up before bed is just common sense – it’s much better for the skin around your eyes than waking up to a glitter and kohl stained pillowcase every morning
DIY waxing of any kind will end in tears
Embrace your freckles – one day make-up companies will be selling freckles in pencil form
SPF is your friend – freckles are one thing but burnt red skin from that holiday to France won’t do you any good in the long run, even if it does give you a slight tan for the next 10 days
You are tool pale for lilac eyeshadow
Don’t be afraid of the fringe you had when you were five – it looked great then and it will look great now. Don’t wait until your 20s to have it cut back in
Lining your entire waterline in black will make your eyes look smaller, not bigger
Say no to frosted lipstick, especially that icy blue one from Boots’ 17 range – it will make you look like the lead singer of Babylon Zoo circa their Spaceman single
Accept yourself as much as possible (which is hard when you have the whole lilac eyeshadow/frosted lipstick combo going on, granted) because there’s only one of you

Those are a few beauty snippets I’d give the teenage me – what advice would you give yourself?

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My Favourite Red Lipsticks for Every Occasion

my favourite red lip coloursA red lipstick (or lip crayon, lip pencil or liquid lipstick – let’s not discriminate here) is probably my favourite make-up item of choice. While it may not be as useful as concealer or as subtle as a good mascara, it has impact; meaning, history, and glamour. Wearing a red lip is a ‘look at me’ statement, though it can also look understated, depending on how you work it.

One of my favourite ways to wear a red lip is with bare skin and just a little bit of a brow touch-up – maybe with a layer of mascara, if I want to push the boat out.

While my choice of formula or colour undertones (blue, pink, orange) may sway from time to time, there are a few reds that I always go back to. Here are the five reds I reach for every time:

For subtlety: Revlon’s Lip Butter in Candy Apple

If I want to wear a red lip that’s a little more low-key and won’t require constant reapplying, I turn to this trusty Lip Butter. I wrote a full review here when I first bought it, but suffice to say that Candy Apple is perfect for when you want a subtle hint of colour that isn’t drying on the lips.

For staying power: Sephora’s Cream Lip Stain in 01 Always Red

A recent purchase for me, Sephora’s 01 lip stain is legendary and one of the best liquid lipsticks I’ve tried. Not only is it a beautiful true, vintage pin-up red, it also doesn’t budge once applied. Bonus points for the fact that it doesn’t feel like you’re even wearing anything on your lips. Oh, and unlike some lip stains, it has staying power but also comes off easily with make-up remover (I like MERUMAYA’s Bi-Phase Plus Eye Make-Up Remover for removing liquid lipstick).

For ‘look at me’ lips: MAC’s matte finish lipstick in Ruby Woo

Does this lipstick need any introduction? It’s a blue-toned red that just makes the day that little bit better. Yes it can be drying (due to the super matte formula) but if you prep your lips ahead of time this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. I like to apply two coats of this, blotting off the excess with a tissue between layers for extra staying power. Guaranteed to turn heads and garner compliments.

For an easy to wear red: NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Monte Carlo

This liquid lipstick might look intimidating in the tube but trust me when I say it’s one of the easiest to wear reds I’ve ever tried. The colour is lighter and brighter than first impressions might suggest and the formula is soft and powdery, without feeling drying. I’ve tried several NYX Lip Creams and all of them do have a tendency to smudge easily, but it’s worth it for the intense colour and smooth application.

For fool-proof application: Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella

What is it that’s so satisfying about drawing on colour, particularly bold colour, with a lip crayon? The Velvet Matte Lip Pencils from Nars glide across the skin, pack a punch with pigmentation and are long lasting, too – what’s not to love? The shade Cruella is one of my favourites and is a deep, blood red shade that borders on burgundy. Perfect for nights out and for easy-peasy application.

Top 5 red lipsticksThose are some of my favourite red lipsticks – what are yours? I’m always looking to try new shades so let me know what I should try next!

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Let’s Talk About Ageing

Lets talk about AgeingCan you keep a secret? I have a pretty big birthday coming up, and I’m a little bit scared of it. Well, not so much the day itself but what it signifies, not to mention what this looming date has done to my make-up bag…

I never used to use what I would consider to be, for want of a better word, ‘corrective’ make-up – foundations, primers, concealer, CC cream etc – give me a slick of mascara and a bold lip and I’m done. But now I’m staring down the barrel of the big 3-0, I’ve noticed it creeping into my routine more and more.

I’m still a firm believer in no make-up days and despite my love for lipstick, more often than not you’ll find me fresh faced without a stitch of make-up on during the day. But when it comes to nights out, taking blog photos and meeting new people, I’ve started to feel like my age is beginning to show.

In the last two years or so I’ve noticed fine lines appearing around my eyes, under eye bags and the more than occasional grey hair around my temples. I’d love to blame it on stress, poor diet or not getting enough shut-eye, but ultimately it comes down to one simple thing: ageing. Last summer I bought my first concealer – Collection’s Lasting Perfection concealer in the shade 01, a godsend on particularly early mornings – and Benefit’s POREfessional has become my new best friend on days when I need a pick me up. I’m still resisting the urge to wear foundation, but I always prick my ears up when it’s mentioned by the beauty bloggers and vloggers I follow.

I stand firmly in the ‘make-up should be fun’ camp, and I’ve never felt like I can’t leave the house without it on, but I’m bothered by the fact I feel the need to correct part of me in the first place. I was lucky enough to have pretty clear skin growing up (what can I say, I love drinking water), which has definitely helped shape my attitude to make-up, so why bother now you might ask?

Perhaps it’s because the majority of adverts aimed at my gender focus on youth – not just the fashion and beauty industries, but in food, fitness and lifestyle, too. Perhaps it’s because, according to one Vagenda contributor, your employer still expects you to wear make-up in the workplace or that beauty brands feel the need to infantilise us with the offer of ‘Baby Skin’ – a product that I just can’t bring myself to try, despite the hype.

The visible signs of ageing bother me and they seem to bother movie moguls and news broadcasters, too. The lack of female representation in the media is worrying, particularly when it’s reported that (female) news anchors are given the heave-ho once they reach a certain age – something that their male counterparts don’t have to worry about. And, like Caitlin Moran says, if the men aren’t worrying about it, then it’s probably a little bit sexist.

For the record, I’m not dissing make-up or anyone who choses to wear it, I’m simply a little frustrated that A) I’m ageing and B) that I care about it.

As always I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – are you worried about ageing (or worried about worrying about it)? Embracing the visible changes? Perhaps you’re a fan of a full base and always have been – let me know what you think in the comments below.

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A Peek Inside the Sephora Give Me More Lip Ultimate Lip Sampler

Sephora Give Me More Lip samplerSephora Give Me More Lip Sampler 2014Remember when I wrote about my little pre-Christmas trip to Sephora? As something of a lipstick addict, I couldn’t let the Sephora Give Me More Lip sampler pass me by – to me this is the ultimate beauty buffet, and lets not get started on how ridiculously cute the miniature lipsticks look.

It’s taken several weeks and quite a lot of make-up remover to road-test the 17 shades included in this set but I’ve just about done it, so here are some bite-sized reviews of Sephora’s favourite lip products…

Sephora Give Me More Lip Nude lip productsNudes

Too Faced La Creme Colour Drenched Lipstick in ‘Naked Dolly’ // Make Up Forever Waterproof Lipliner in 3C // Laura Mercier Lip Glace in Blush // bareMinerals Marvellous Moxie Lipstick in ‘Speak Your Mind’ // Stila Stay All Day Vinyl Lipgloss in ‘Nude Vinyl’ 

First up, lets start with the basics of the bunch. I’m not big on nude lips as mine are quite pigmented naturally, and if I’m going to sacrifice eating or kissing then it’s got to be for an in-your-face red or bold pink, thank you very much. However there as some great brands in this category that I was itching to try.

I was immediately put off by Too Faced’s offering to the Nudes as it smells a bit like PlayDough. Unfortunately the colour is also way too pale for me and makes me look like an extra in Ferris Buller’s Day Off, so I won’t be getting much use out of this one.
Make Up Forever provide the only lip pencil in the set, however it’s a little too dark for me. Points for being smooth and not dragging on the lips though.
I’m not usually a fan of lipgloss but I have a set of Lip Glazes by Stila so I was intrigued by their Stay All Day Vinyl Lipgloss. Unfortunately this quite heavy and sticky, so I prefer to apply a layer then pat the excess off – it’s a subtler way to wear it.
By comparison, the Laura Mercier Lip Glace smells like sugary deliciousness (possibly butterscotch) and offers a clear wash of subtle pinky-nude colour which isn’t at all sticky – the ideal lipgloss formula, IMO.
Peppermint scent aside, bareMinerals Marvellous Moxie is definitely my favourite nude in this sampler. The colour leans towards the pink side of the nude spectrum, making it perfect for ‘my lips but better’ days.

Sephora Give Me More Lip Pink SamplersPinks

Benefit Posiebalm Tinted Lip Balm //Tarte LipSurgence Power Pigment in ‘Flush’ // Too Faced Melted Liquid Long Wear Lipstick in Fuchsia // Bite Beauty Luminous Creme Lipstick in ‘Palomino’ 

Now we’re talking. Pink shades are so easy to wear and there is a wide range of hues within this category. There are some stunning shades in this small but perfectly formed colour family and I know I’ll get a lot of wear out of each of them.

Benefit’s Posiebalm was the sheerest of the bunch, and also the smallest, with a teeny tiny amount of product inside. It’s a shame as it’s a gentle, hydrating balm, but then this kit is about sampling different products so perhaps the small size is understandable, it just seems like a waste of packaging.
The full-size product in Sephora’s lip sampler is Tarte’s LipSurgence Power Pigment in Flush. It’s another minty scented one (I’m I the only one that doesn’t like this kind of smell in a lip product?) that comes in a twist-up pencil. A raspberry shade that is great for daytime wear.
The surprise of this colour family was Too Faced’s Melted Liquid Lipstick. It’s a cool-toned long wear liquid lipstick in an eye-popping fuchsia shade. I love the colour but I was expecting it to have a bit more staying power like the matte liquid lipsticks I’ve sampled in the past – I wouldn’t call it long wearing but the colour is stunning.
Bite’s cream lipstick in ‘Palomino’ is another fuchsia shade that applies like a dream. It’s the boldest of the bunch which makes it more of an evening shade for me.

Sephora Give Me More Lip berry shadesBerries

Tarte LipSurgence Lip Tint in ‘Moody’ // Buxom Full-Bodied Lipstick in ‘Menace’ // Fresh Sugar Berry Tinted Lip Treatment // Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in ‘Black Dahlia’ 

Just like the Pinks, there is a balm, lipstick, liquid lipstick and crayon formula in the selection of berry shades on offer in this set. I’m normally a pink or red kind of gal all year round, but I’m looking forward to making the most of these shades before winter disappears.

Combine sugar and lemons and you have the scent of Fresh’s dinky berry tinted lip balm. it offers the sheerest hint of colour and the screw top container means it’s ideal handbag material (unlike the lip crayons that manage to self-open and melt all over my camera…)
The second Tarte product in this sampler is a mini LipSurgence lip tint in a reddish, almost wine-coloured shade. A nice colour but it didn’t have the ‘wow’ factor for me.
OCC’s Black Dahlia is a shade I would never normally give a second glance as it looks so dark in the tube, but it’s stunning. Very purple, very vampy and surprisingly matte, given how it applies as a watery liquid.
I think Buxom’s offering might just be my favourite of the berries – it’s merlot distilled in lipstick form. Very creamy, very comfortable to wear and an excellent way to dip a toe into the berry trend.

Sephora Give Me More Lip Set redsReds

Laura Mercier Creme Smooth Lip Colour in ‘Red Amour’ // Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in ‘Outlaw’ // Sephora Rouge Infusion in 10 // Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in ‘Icon’

Finally we have my favourite hue of the bunch. I think a slick of red on the lips can completely change a whole look and, as Mad Men-brainwashed as it sounds, I always feel like I could conquer the world when I wear red. Staying power was my biggest concern with this category because as much as I like a bold lip, there is nothing worse that constantly having to reapply it.

Hourglass kicked off this category with a dinky Opaque Rouge. In my quest to find the perfect long wear liquid lipstick I’ve been eager to try this for a while. The deep, plumy red shade is so flattering, but the only downside is the flimsy doe foot applicator – it feels like it could snap and has to be yanked out of the tube.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Sephora’s own line Rouge Infusion lip stain, as I’ve only ever tried their Cream Lip Stain before. Think Kirsten Dunst circa Interview with the Vampire and surprisingly long-lasting.
Laura Mercier’s second product in this set is a thing of red beauty – despite it’s small stature it doesn’t feel like a miniature at all, and the formula is creamy and not at all drying.
Completing the reds is Kat Von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipstick – another product I’d heard great things about. ‘Outlaw’ is a bright red that demands attention and will not budge once applied, even surviving several slices of pizza, which makes it a big thumbs up from me.

There you have it, a bite-size rundown of Sephora’s Give Me More Lip Ultimate Lip Sampler! Have you tried any of the lip products in this set? Let me know your favourites in the comments below…

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