ABH Renaissance Palette

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“Don’t be a sheep Reena, be a shepherd” – that’s what I tell myself each and every time I’m faced with a purchasing decision. I consider myself an independent person who rarely follows the crowd, yet at the same time, I’m a completely self-indulgent fool. When it comes to shopping, I lose all sense of control. The mere mention of a ‘cult item’ from a complete stranger sends me into irrational, almost senseless thinking (almost the same sentiments when I order a pizza) and I will stop at nothing until it is mine.

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When I first witnessed swatches of the new Anastasia Beverly Hills Renaissance palette I fell head over heels. I’ve not felt this strongly about an eyeshadow palette since the release of the Carli Bybel collaboration; which I unashamedly spent nine long hours trying to purchase. Perhaps it’s greed or my insatiable need for excess, but this palette practically screamed out to me and of course, I wasted no time in placing that order.

Let me paint a little picture for you. It’s 6:15am, I’ve just woken from my usual 8 hour slumber and I do what most red blooded individuals do when they’re in bed – check my email. After a few minutes of superficial email scanning, there it appeared at exactly 6:23am – Cult Beauty’s announcement that the Anastasia Beverly Hills Renaissance palette had arrived in the UK and were offering free shipping on all ABH products. Without any rational thought or consideration for my credit card bill that was due two days later, it was purchased, paid for, boxed, shipped and practically at my door at exactly 6:29am. Damn those subscription emails!

So what makes this palette so special? Well aside from the fact that every beauty blogger/vlogger has practically wet themselves with excitement over its hype, this palette promises an endless list of possible looks with the same quality and luxury as most ABH products. Created by ABH President Claudia Soare, aka Norvina, the hues are all based on shades used in Renaissance paintings. To top it all off, this is the first ABH palette to be made permanent; which makes me feel slightly stupid for acting like deranged, makeup hungry fiend at 6:30 in the morning, but it’s great for those who actual value their sleep and have yet to get their hands on the palette.

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The palette is encased in a light pink velvet compact with embossed writing on the front and an external cardboard box to protect the product, much like the original Urban Decay Naked palette. If I’m honest, I’m not a huge fan of the packaging. The velvet texture collects a lot of dirt and is not very easy to clean (you should see the state of my Naked palette). The cardboard box is a pro point if you’re worried about storage, but I find the secondary cardboard boxes that most high end products come in a hindrance when getting ready in a rush, not to mention the additional room they take in your makeup storage. The palette also contains a mirror and a dual ended blending brush, like many other palettes on the market. The brush is not exactly life changing, but it does a mediocre job and does eire some resemblance to the ABH makeup brushes that they have available.

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What gets me is the price. At £41.00, I was a little shocked considering the Self Made palette was pretty much half the price. The eyeshadows bare a weight of 9.8g in total; which isn’t a huge amount, but in comparison to MAC shadows (which are 1.5g for £13.00), they’re a lot more value for money and just as good, if not better.

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When it comes to eyeshadow, consistency is key. There’s nothing worse than a patchy, powder-y mess. You certainly don’t get that with ABH shadows and this palette certainly lives up to that expectation. In fact, the matte shadows feel slightly creamier than usual, very similar to Lorac shadows. Due to the incredibly creamy texture, the shadows blend out very very well; which is perfect for creating that blown-out smokey eye. The formula is so buttery that fallout is expected as you swipe your brush into the pans. It doesn’t falter the blend ability, unless of course, you don’t tap the excess off your brush.

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In terms of lasting power, these shadows hold their own. The pigmentation is so strong that the shadows last a very long time without the need of a primer (obviously that’s madness, but I thought I would throw that out there). The pigmentation isn’t as strong as Lorac shadows, however, and don’t stain your lids; which is great when it comes to makeup removal, but I would definitely go in with a light hand with your brush.

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The colour range is obviously what sells the palette and with great reason. Being a warm-toned lover myself, this palette is a dream. There’s a total of 14 individual pans; which consist of matte and shimmer shades. All of the shades are very neutral and wearable with the exception of Venetian Red (a deep, berry toned red), Love Letter (bright pink with purple undertones) and Realgar (a burnt, almost toffee apple hued orange). In all honesty, these shades stand out more than the others and give you the option of creating some very fun, yet cranberry-esque looks. What I love most about the colour selection is that transition colours, highlighting shades and pops of colour all co-exist without the need for dipping into another palette; which is my biggest gripe. However, if I really wanted to push the boat out and add some dramatic black into my look, I would need to look elsewhere.

If someone were to ask if I think this palette is worth it I would say yes…provided that you can pay the price tag and you don’t have something similar (Violet Voss Holy Grail has very similar shades, but less indulgent). I am slightly confused, however, why ABH would choose to release a palette of this nature at this time of the year as I would consider this more of a fall time selection, but regardless the possibilities are endless. My personal favourite is a deep, and seductive cranberry look as demonstrated below.

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You can purchase the Anastasia Beverly Hills Renaissance palette from Cult Beauty here.

Current Obsession | Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Stick Foundation

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So you’ve purchased a new foundation. It’s encased in a heavy duty glass bottle complete with fancy logo. You’ve remortgaged your home just to pay off the hefty price tag and then…it drops! I’m not talking a slight crack, I’m talking foundation, glass and a little bit of your soul splattered all over the bathroom floor. Rational minded people would clear away the mess, shrug their shoulders and move on. I am most certainly not a rational person. I resumed a squatting position and tried salvaging as much foundation as possible whilst picking out shards of glass from my finger tips. After realising that my face could one day resemble that of Freddy Krueger if I chose to apply the foundation, I threw away the remnants and wallowed in self pity with the help of my friend, vodka.

My love for stick foundations began many moons ago with Estee Lauder’s Minute Makeup Creme Stick. The sleek, beautiful gold casing and promise of quick, mess-free application made this a permanent staple in my makeup collection. However like many great things in life, the end drew close for this iconic product and it was discounted from the shelves.

Bobbi Brown’s Skin Foundation Sticks came along and, if I may be slightly controversial, I didn’t like it as much. Perhaps I was in mourning for my first love, but the coverage wasn’t as great. I almost gave up hope on the idea of stick foundations and settled for the fact that I must live in fear when transporting my liquid jars. That was until Makeup Forever (MUFE) came into my life…

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Designed with high-definition technologies of the film and TV industry in mind, the ULTRA HD Stick Foundation (£29.00) is the direct descendant of their ULTRA HD Fluid Foundation. The ULTRA HD formula promises to give skin-like texture with buildable coverage, whilst maintaining complete comfort on the face. The ULTRA HD advanced formula looks invisible on 4K cameras and to the naked eye; which makes this perfect for both professionals and selfie connoisseurs like me.

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Priced at £29.00 for 45g, you actually get slightly more product for your money with the stick version as opposed to the liquid (30g). Despite this, the stick compact is very light compared to its predecessor. The weightless plastic casing makes this foundation perfect for travel or for those who like to carry their foundation with them for touch ups during the day. The lid has a click and close functionality, along with an additional cap which sits directly over the foundation. This ensures that no accidents happen whilst the foundation is swimming around your handbag and also ensures that the product doesn’t get squashed in the lid. Of course, the packaging cannot be mentioned without pointing out the ease of use with this foundation. Grubby foundation marks on your fingers and spillages are pretty much eliminated with this ingenious stick formulation and makes the application as absolute joy.

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What I love most about this foundation is how comfortable it feels on the skin. My skin leans towards the drier side and doesn’t normally agree with stick foundations or concealers. However, the incredibly creamy texture of this foundation makes it not only comfortable, but very moisturising on the skin.

The coverage can be varied depending on how much of the product you apply to your skin. I normally apply two stripes on each of the cheeks, one on the forehead and a dot on the chin; which gives me full face coverage. If I want to sheer out the foundation and give it a more glow-y appearance, I would pop a drop of facial oil onto my beauty blender before blending out the foundation. No matter the choice of coverage, this foundation works well at covering any imperfections on the skin to give a flawless base.

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There’s 15 shades to choose from; which gives a great range of options for women of colour. My shade is Y405 (Golden Honey); which translates to 153 for the liquid formula. The colour matches my skin tone perfectly and doesn’t oxidise throughout the day; which is always a bonus point for me.

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Makeup Forever, like many great makeup brands, are based in the USA, but the full range can be found at Debenhams online and in many retail stores.

You can purchase the ULTRA HD Stick Foundation here

Have you tried the MUFE ULTRA HD Foundation Stick? What are your thoughts?

Egg-cellent Brush Cleaners

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As much as I love makeup, there are a few aspects of getting glam that I absolutely despise. The obligatory ‘how long are you going to be?’ question that always rolls off my husband’s tongue the second I open my eyes in the morning. The mass explosion of makeup products sprawled across the bedroom after scrambling to get ready on time (which never happens). The stray falsie that finds itself at the bottom of my feet days later. Not forgetting, the fear that bestows upon me when attempting to slay my winged liner. However, there’s one aspect of makeup application that I despise the most. That is of course, cleaning my makeup brushes.

Like many women, I continuously vow to myself to make more of an effort with deep cleaning my brushes. Since discovering the Vera Mona Colour Switch Solo I’ve fallen into a comfort zone of simply swirling my eye brushes clean. This, unfortunately, bares no use for my face brushes and beauty blenders. I’ve dabbled a little with the Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner, but couldn’t justify the price tag for a simple spot clean. Then came the Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Glove. Whilst the concept of a silicone, multi-textured surface to thoroughly deep clean foundation packed brushes seemed ingenious, paying £30.00 for essentially what looks like an oven glove seemed pretty indulgent and not very travel friendly. Surely there was an alternative on the market; which could deliver the same amount of results for a fraction of the price?!

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The Brushegg is an egg-shaped silicone device which has changed my brush cleaning game forever. Much like the Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Glove, this little gem works hard at extracting makeup from the deep dark crevices of your brushes; which is hard to achieve with just soap and water. The ‘glove’ is designed to fit snugly over your index and middle finger, leaving the rest of your hand free to squeeze out the remaining water. Although it can be used with just water, I can’t bring myself to not use a cleansing solution on my makeup saturated brushes. I love using the Freedom Pro Studio Brush Bath together with my Brushegg as I hate having to faff about with liquid solutions (particularly when travelling) and the sulfate-free formula ensures that my brushes aren’t damaged in the process.

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I have a ton of makeup brushes, far more than required for one face which means that deep cleaning rituals take longer than I have patience for. The Brushegg has literally cut my time in half. Not to mention, my fingers don’t go wrinkly and prune-like. Unfortunately instructions aren’t included with the Brushegg, but it’s not exactly rocket science. After dousing your brushes under a stream of lukewarm water, swirl your brush into the cleansing solid or squirt a liquid solution into the Brushegg directly. The top end of the egg contains miniature bumps, perfect for delicate eye or highlight brushes. The deep set ridges on the remainder of the egg are used for more robust face brushes and beauty blenders. As you begin to swirl your brush into the egg you’ll notice the lather changes colour as more and more product breaks free. If you’re as odd as I am, you will find this utterly satisfying, particularly when tackling foundation brushes.

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In terms of price point, there’s really no comparison. At £6.95 an egg you really can afford to have a selection of these to pop in your travel bag, makeup bag and your bathroom. The lightweight feel and compact size make them very practical for travel. The silicone material allows for them to dry quite quickly after use so you’re not having to dry them on a window ledge as you would do with the Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Glove. They come pastel hues of pink, green and purple and look super cute in anyone’s beauty collection.

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You can find the entire range of Brusheggs here and on Amazon.

Travel Diary: Barbados

Oh how time flies! Feels just like yesterday when my husband and I were sunning ourselves on the beautiful white sandy beaches of Barbados. In fact, it’s been just over a month and the holiday blues are still very much apparent.

Turning the dirty thirty wasn’t a welcomed transition for me. So much so that my husband decided that the only way to soften the blow was to whisk me away to an island far far away from the barrage of questions as to why I haven’t bore a child yet (my fellow Indians will understand the annoyance of such questions). I couldn’t have picked a better destination for putting my reproductive clock on the back burner.

This was our first visit to a Caribbean island; which is quite shocking considering that we both thoroughly enjoy travelling, particularly to unknown destinations. When booking our honeymoon, we had considered a Caribbean island, but settled on the Maldives simply for the isolated beaches. I must say, there’s no comparison between the two. Although the beaches in Maldives are far better than the Caribbean, there was a lot more to do in Barbados.

Slightly different to my regular posts, I’ve decided to take you all on a trip down memory lane and perhaps inspire if you are looking to visit in the near future.

Welcome to the colourful island of Barbados…

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We visited many of the beaches along the west and south coast of Barbados. The north and east coasts tend to be reserved for hardcore water sport enthusiasts due to the wide wind-blown beaches. The west and south coasts are far more popular for holiday makers looking for gentle shores.

Barbados has more than 70 miles of pink and white sand beaches; all of which are accessible to the public. Great for those who like to beach-hop around the island, but terrible for those who are looking for exclusivity.

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With much reservation I managed to conquer my fear of open water. There were a lot of tears and tantrums, but the water was so warm and inviting I couldn’t back down!

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Straw sun hat : Primark £4

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Baroque Sunglasses : Prada £207

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We’ve all seen the tv ads and we’ve all envisioned ourselves as one of the beautiful models running in slow motion across crisp white sandy beaches. Sandals is the Caribbean and the Caribbean is Sandals. My husband has always known that it’s been a dream of mine to reside within a Sandals resort and he made my dream come true. The Sandals resort in Barbados was exactly what I had seen on the tv. Daily entertainment, wonderful beach parties, incredible food and over-the-top pretentiousness that only someone as superficial as I am would truly appreciate.

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There were 11 dining options in the resort, including this chic Parisian cafe right outside of our suite. From lattes to freshly baked crepes, there was a daily rotation of fresh goodies to enjoy through out the day. Around 5pm, on a daily basis, we would grab a cold coffee and the world’s best red velvet cupcake whilst taking in the beautiful scenery around us.

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If there’s anything that the Bajans and I have in common it would be our love for hot sauce. A meal isn’t complete without a bottle of the hot stuff and I made sure to stock up on plenty of different flavours. Thankfully I wasn’t stopped by customs on the way back home, because the potency of this stuff could easily contribute to an atomic bomb.

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When we were looking to cool down, there was always a local nearby selling fresh aloe vera juice cut straight from the cactus. Aloe vera has high levels of hydration and cooling properties which is perfect under the blazing sun. Now I would rather skin myself alive than drink neat aloe vera juice so I opted for a topical use instead. This guy was kind enough to give me an amazingly refreshing foot massage using freshly cut stems.

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Miami Vice cocktail : recipe found here

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The Sandy Lane hotel. Vacation home to the rich and famous. You unfortunately cannot even breathe upon this hotel without a reservation; which thankfully we had. However, if you’re not a resident, you’re watched upon like a hawk throughout your entire visit. Completely understandable as Jay Z and Beyonce don’t particularly want any old riff raff around their dinner table. Be warned, this hotel is not for the faint hearted. The over the top marble fixtures and impeccable service makes this hotel as famous as its name. We had dinner at one of their beautiful adorned restaurants and despite its pretentiousness, the food was incredible good and VERY filling!

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Number one Sandy Lane; which resides next door to the famous hotel, houses 8 10,000 sq ft apartments. Rihanna calls one of them her home during her frequent visits back to her home town. Unfortunately we couldn’t go inside, but I imagine it is just as opulent as the hotel.

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One of the best ways to view the island in all its glory is by boat. There are many excursion agents around the island who can arrange this.

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The Atlantis Submarine is an absolute must for those closet Ariels out there looking to explore under the sea (sorry I had to). Travelling 150ft beneath the water’s surface, you can experience the busy reef life and encounter numerous discoveries which are normally reserved for experienced scuba divers. Considering that I can get claustrophobic, it was a fairly comfortable journey and definitely a tick off the bucket list.

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Coconut palms and tropical flowers are abundant all around the island. Barbados houses 700 species of indigenous plants, two of which are unique to the island. Phyllanthus andersonii and Metastelma barbadense bear small white flowers in vine-like plants.

 

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Beautifully perfumed Hibiscus flowers

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Last, but certainly not least is the private beach dinner that my thoughtful husband planned on the eve of my birthday. Listening to the waves crashing against the shores whilst enjoying copious amounts of champagne and freshly grilled food was most definitely the highlight of my trip. Of course, the company wasn’t too bad either.

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Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer vs Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer

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Justification. I have learnt the simple importance of this word since my makeup obsession has taken a life of it’s own. There have been many jusitfications over the years. Each time the doorbell strikes, my heart skips a beat with excitement. My husband, however, reacts quite differently. With every new wrinkle and grey hair that appears, he becomes increasingly worried about my never ending online purchases.

So what are my justifications? Well there’s the ever popular blogger’s fable of “but I need it for research” and of course the classic “this will make me so happy”. I’ve used these excuses so many times that even I struggle to believe them. Then YouTube happened. The land of powerful advertising and obsessive hoarding. One tutorial and I was hooked! I found myself powerless against the influence and before I knew it, I was uttering the words “YouTube made me buy it”. With my husband fully aware of YouTube’s powerful influences over my bank account, I wasted no time in succumbing to my tried and trusted justification when I was on the look-out for a new concealer. However, in this instance, YouTube actually made me buy it!

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Tutorial, haul or makeup collection, with each video watched it was hard not to notice the inclusion of two particular products. Urban Decay’s Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer and Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer are certainly the top dogs in the blogging world; which gave me no doubt in my mind that I needed to get my hands on them. However, at an average of £20 per product, non makeup hoarders in this world will want to know which is the better investment.

Let’s start with the most obvious comparison, the price. The Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer retails at £22.50 whereas the Urban Decay’s Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer comes in at £17.50. A slight, but insignificant price difference considering that neither claim to be an affordable option like the LA Girl concealers we all know and love.

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Both are encased in glass tubes with doe-foot applicators. Nars gives you 6ml of product, whereas Urban Decay only supplies 5ml; which again proves another instance of similarity between the two. The NARS concealer certainly looks more expensive, but that is to be expected with most NARS products. I do, however, much prefer the applicator on the Urban Decay concealer by a mile. The wand appears to be significantly more flexible and easier to adapt to the curves of your face. The ingenious sponge-like applicator also picks up a lot more product than the NARS concealer, therefore reducing the need to dip the applicator in the product more than once. I rarely use more than one application of the Urban Decay concealer for my entire face, wheres the NARS concealer generally needs a couple of dips in the pot. This seems to be the general consensus with the Urban Decay concealer for most consumers, making it a slightly more economical option in the long run.

The colour options seem to be on par with one another. Urban Decay offer a selection of 11 different shades, whereas Nars offer 10. Both brands cater for the fairest to the darkest of complexions and have many shades in between that offer solutions for women who are neither here nor there. I picked up the shade Ginger in the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer and the shade Medium Neutral in the Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer. Both shades appear to be extremely popular and work out quite well with my complexion.

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In terms of consistency and coverage, my heart slightly leans towards Urban Decay. However, not for every occasion. The Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer should have the word hydration in the title, because that is exactly what this concealer offers. I’ve yet to find a concealer that rivals this when it comes to adding moisture to my parched skin. The Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, however, doesn’t offer the same hydration and dries to a natural matte finish almost instantly upon contact making it less of a dream to blend out. As you can imagine, the coverage reflects the consistency of the concealers. Whilst, I love the feel of the Urban Decay concealer, I feel as though it is more suitable for day-time wear as the formula is quite transparent. The NARS concealer offers full and opaque coverage; which is perfect for full glam events.

Without colour-correction beforehand, your panda eyes will almost certainly show through the Urban Decay concealer by the end of the night. Not to say that the NARS concealer is the superior option here, but you most definitely need a helping hand in making the Urban Decay concealer last. Both offer creaseless and non-cakey texture; which is perfect for my fellow over 30s women. The lasting power is significantly higher with the NARS concealer making it more suitable for oily skin types and for covering scars and blemishes. This also goes hand in hand with the consistency of both, as the Urban Decay option seems more suitable for highlighting rather than actual coverage.

If you have the budget for both options I would certainly get the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer for coverage and the Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer for highlighting. However, for those who are not in a position to justify both purchases, I would suggest identifying your makeup needs and making your decision based upon what your skin requires.

You can purchase the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer here and the Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer here

Have you tried either of these products? Comment below with your experiences.