Category Archives: Beauty

The Difference Between US Drugstores vs UK Pharmacies

Difference between US drugstores vs UK pharmaciesReading beauty blogs over the years has taught me a lot – from how to fill in my eyebrows without looking like a caterpillar, to the joy that MAC’s Ruby Woo can bring. One other thing that crops up a lot in UK blogs is the mythical American ‘drugstore’. From what to buy in the States to holiday hauls, drugstores are considered to be far to superior to the likes of humble old Boots.

I refuse to call Boots and Superdrug ‘drugstores’ (they’re pharmacies, ok?) but now I live in the land of Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid, and I’ve noticed a lot of differences between US drugstores and British pharmacies. Some are good, some are bad, and some are downright distressing – here are a few of the most noticeable differences…

New brands to try – CoverGirl, Wet ’n’ Wild, NYX… there are so many brands to try that aren’t available in UK pharmacies.
American drugstores don’t have testers – this is my number one bugbear, especially when it comes to trying out concealers or foundation. Tester sections in the UK can get pretty grim pretty quickly (I’m picturing the make-up aisles of Superdrug on a Saturday afternoon) but it’s nice to have to option of colour matching if you want to.
Dupes for the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders – the Milani baked blushes are so good and a fraction of the price of the Hourglass ones.
Dry shampoo is hard to find – forget Batiste and the like, dry shampoo seems to be really hard to track down in drugstores over here. I’ll definitely be stocking up when I’m back in the UK.
Cheaper cosmetics – mascara for five dollars? Don’t mind if I do…
There’s no Boujours stand – ‘nuff said.
I can get a side of sushi with my skincare – most drugstores are more like large convenience stores and many of the larger ones sell as much fresh food and coffee as they do make-up and medicine, which kind of blows that £3 Boots meal deal out of the water.
Lack of premium brands – in the UK you can find Benefit, Clarins and even Chanel in some corners of Boots. In the US, drugstores cater for beauty on a budget and while higher-end brands stick to selling in the likes of Sephora.

Now it’s over to you – regardless of which side of the pond you’re on, are there any differences you’ve noticed between US drugstores vs UK pharmacies? And, if you had to choose, are you a drugstore or pharmacy kinda gal (or guy)?

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My Miniature Carry-On Beauty Essentials

carry on beauty essentials1Today’s the day! We fly to New York later this evening and right now I’m standing in front of my wardrobe debating which outfits to pack. I probably should have started this process a little earlier, but, believe it or not, this birthday break has really snuck up on me.

One thing I don’t need to worry about is the beauty supplies I’ll be bringing along. We’re flying carry-on luggage only which means I get to dig into my supply of minatures. From blogger events to magazine freebies, I always hoard those dinky little miniatures to take away on breaks like this one.

Here are the miniatures that made the cut to come to the Big Apple…

Neal’s Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm

A huge tub of cleansing balm isn’t going to make it past airport security, so a little sachet of  the stuff is a much better option. I’m a huge Neal’s Yard Remedies fan (it’s one of the brands that I can’t seem to find over here) and this balm is such a multitasker that it would be rude not to pack it.

Sarah Chapmen Overnight Facial

There’s no need for a facial oil and a serum when this tiny bottle can do the job of both. I think I picked up a couple of these samples at a Harvey Nics beauty event, and the formula is so soothing, hydrating and nourishing that I’m contemplating splashing out on a full-size bottle when these run out.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream

Another product that has multiple uses, this tube of mini Eight Hour Cream is a dry skin saviour that’s always in my travel bag. I’ll be using it on dry skin, as a hand moisturiser during the flight and to keep my unruly eyebrows in check.

Benefit Cosmetics POREfessional

I’m not that big on foundation – I certainly wouldn’t waste precious suitcase space bringing a whole bottle on holiday – so this dinky primer (plus my Collection Lasting Perfection concealer) is just the ticket for a short haul trip.

Rodial Glam Lip

How cute is this teeny tiny lip balm? Technically it’s a lip ‘treatment’ but given that New York will be a little chillier than San Francisco, it’s worth packing something a little more high duty for those cold evening walks up tall buildings. 30 Rockefeller Center, I’m looking at you…

Batiste Dry Shampoo in ‘Blush’

I only wash my hair once every three or four days, so I don’t want to devote space to unnecessary shampoo and conditioner. As a result I’m having a ‘blowout’ (which I’m pretty sure is American for a wash ‘n’ blow dry) today so that my hair is super fresh for the weekend. However, if it needs a helping hand then a spritz of dry shampoo should help bring it back to life.

Origins Modern Friction 

The final skincare miniature that makes the cut, finding its way into one of those super-sexy clear sandwich bags. I wouldn’t normally bring a facial scrub on such a short trip, but my skin has been feeling a little dry recently, so this should perk it up.

Those are my favourite carry-on beauty essentials – what are yours? Don’t forget to leave me your tips for NYC sight-seeing, too!

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21 Beauty Trends for the 90s Kids

Teen Beauty Trends from the 90sFrom magazines like Allure to beauty blogs and video tutorials, I feel like there are so many more resources available today for teenagers who want to experiment with make-up. Alas, when I was a teen my friends and I had to go it alone, with only copies of J-17 and Sugar magazine to guide us.

Whenever I went back to my parents’ home I’d always have a peek at the contents of my old chest of drawers, one drawer of which contained some choice teen make-up, including a frosted silvery blue lipstick from Boots’ 17 range, worn in homage to the lead singer of Babylon Zoo. Fortunately I only wore it a few times (probably while rocking the skirt over trousers + asymmetric sleeved top look) before I came to my senses.

So to all my fellow 20-30 somethings, if you shopped at Tammy Girl or spent your pocket money on anything with glitter in it, here are 21 beauty trends from the 90s that I’m glad are (mostly) in the past.

1. Butterfly hair clips
2. Metallic cream eyeshadow stackers from Miss Selfridge
3. Impulse body spray
4. Lilac eyeshadow
5. A ‘neutral’ palette including baby pink, purple glitter or powder blue shades
6. Crimpers – ’nuff said
7. Lip liner darker than your lipstick
8. Scrunchies
9. Anything vanilla scented from The Body Shop
10. Glitter hairspray*
11. Orange hair mascara
12. Using Sun-In and because you weren’t allowed highlights
13. Glitter eyeliner
14. Rimmel make-up packaged in burgundy and gold
15. Frosted lipstick
16. OTT black kohl eyeliner – waterline? What waterline…
17. Hard Candy nail polish
18. Wearing multiple mini buns/top knots à la Gwen Stefani
19. Body glitter
20. Woven plastic chokers
21. Chokers in general, actually

*Actually, I think I’d be ok with this now. I think it was four cans of the stuff being sprayed at any one time in the girl’s bathroom pre-school disco that put me off…

Now it’s your turn – what other 90s beauty faux pas would you add to this list?

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Shopping My Stash: The Spring Edition

Shop my stash – The Spring EditionFor a girl who doesn’t wear that much make-up, I sure seem to have accumulated quite a bit of it in recent years. Part of that is almost certainly down to reading beauty blogs but part of it is that I’m a magpie with a hoarder complex – I love shopping and I hate to throw anything away.

Obviously make-up and skincare items have a certain shelf life, but that hasn’t stopped me amassing a drawer full of lipsticks, blushers and the like. That’s why I wanted to borrow from the ‘shop my stash’ beauty blogger mantra and unearth some old favourites rather than rush out to buy new make-up that I don’t need.

And since it’s March, it’s now basically spring (hurrah!) so what better way to shop my stash than for a springtime look? Here’s what will be on my face this season…

Shopping My Stash – The Spring EditionBenefit That Gal Brightening Face Primer

I’ve been working my way through several of Benefit’s POREfessional samples recently and completely forgot all about their other primer, That Gal. It doesn’t have the same coverage as POREfessional but the flip-side is that it gives a gentle glow to the skin. I prefer to wear this on its own or mixed with a little foundation rather than underneath foundation though.

Benefit Eye Bright Pencil

Another forgotten gem from Benefit – this pale pink eye pencil is great for applying at the inner corners of the eyes and also along the waterline to give the appearance of slightly larger peepers.

MAC Pigment Pot in ‘Naked’

I’m not really an eyeshadow kind of girl but it’s something I want to experiment with more. I thought I needed to go out and by a palette or some starter shades when I remembered the MAC gift set I was given a few years ago, which I don’t think *gasp* I’ve ever used. ‘Naked’ is a neutral beige colour with a hint of shimmer, so it’s not only perfect for a subtle spring look but also for helping to ease me in to wearing eyeshadow again.

Tory Birch Beauty Lip & Cheek Tint in ‘Cat’s Meow’

I tend to stick to powder blushes so in the past I’ve mostly used this tint on my lips, but I figured since I’m going for a dewy, radiant look I should dip my toes back in the water that is cream blush. This is a tint though, so the colour pigmentation isn’t quite as strong, however it’s perfect for offering a subtle flush and negates the need for a separate highlighter.

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in ‘Sex Machine’

A pinkish nude with a hint of mauve, I bought this shade last year as part of NARS’ Guy Bourdin Promiscuous Lip Pencil Coffret, a set I’ve been neglecting a little since I got my hands on the follow-up Digital World lip pencil collection last month.

Have you ever tried shopping your make-up stash? What are your forgotten favourites?

Shopping my stash spring lookBloglovin |Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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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