Compacts and Cosmetics: Beauty from Victorian Times to the Present Day – Madeleine Marsh

9 Apr

I wrote this review over on my book blog, Backlist Books, ages ago and it just occurred to me that y’all might be interested in it. So here ya go.

Back in the day (i.e. about 5 years ago) I took some Women’s Studies courses in college. One of the main things I learned that stuck with me was that the worse things are for society in general, the better they are for the relative status of women in that society. For example, during WWII men were overseas fighting and out of necessity, women took over many jobs that had previously been unavailable to them. This was a huge step in the history of women. Though after the war many women returned to the home and set about being wives and mothers, that experience wedged open a door that has since been flung open.

Madeleine Marsh is a historian, who specializes in antiques. She has an entire room that houses her vintage makeup collection – and she can tell you not only when each item was made and what it was used for, but how the cosmetics (or lack thereof) associated with each era reflected what society expected women to be during that time.

For me, it’s a fascinating read. I have been intrigued by cosmetics since I was quite young – not as a vain thing, more because of the artistic expression it allows, and the way it can transform someone’s appearance, and with it, who they are perceived to be.

The book itself is beautifully presented – it’s printed on glossy paper, and there are old advertisements and pictures of vintage cosmetics every page or two throughout the whole book so that readers can see what is being described.

It’s definitely a niche book that sits right on the intersection of history, Gender/Women’s Studies and an interest in cosmetics, so I certainly don’t think it’s for everyone. But if at least one of those topics is of interest to you (or all of them!) you won’t find a better read!

Bonus – here’s a video by Lisa Eldridge, makeup artist to the stars, in which she discusses the book – and has a tour of Madeleine Marsh’s collection! (It’s part one of two, so if you like it, click over to YouTube or her blog and watch the rest!)

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Makeup Academy (MUA) – Undressed Palette

8 Apr

Makeup Academy is a great brand.You might not have heard of them over here in North America, because they’re a UK drugstore brand, but trust me, you want to try them out. Because it’s a little tougher to get my hands on them over here in Canada, I have only tried certain products in the range – but so far everything I have tried has been much better than I expected from a drugstore product.

That said, their eyeshadows really are the stand-out product for me. In fact, my all-time favourite eyeshadow is the MUA #11 Pearl (review to come). So believe me when I say that their eyeshadow palettes need to go on your wishlist – right at the top.

This particular palette may look a bit familiar to you if you have checked out the first Urban Decay Naked palette, because it’s quite similar. It’s not an exact dupe, but it’s so close that if you have one, you really don’t need the other. And this one is so much cheaper! 

I swatched these without a base, so the matte shades didn’t show up well on my pale skin – but they do work much better with a primer under them. The shimmery shades have amazing colour payoff and it’s an amazing mix of neutral shades that can create pretty much any look you want – day, night, natural, smoky – on nearly any skintone.

If you’re in the UK or are into eBay shopping, I’d definitely check this one out – and they recently released a second palette that’s similar called “Undress Me Too” – stay tuned for a full review of that one shortly!

Are You a Goo Hoarder?

7 Apr

No, Jenna, you’re NOT alone. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have even more lip products in my bag than you. And I’d also like to know: what’s up with that? I have absolutely no logical explanation for the volume of products I have in my bag – let alone my bathroom.

I’m not only incapable of walking out of a store that sells lip gloss without buying one – I’m also incapable of walking out of a store that sells any kind of cosmetics without buying something. I’ve been trying to either use up or throw out old, half-empty products that I thought were going to be magical but turned out to be – as Jenna said – just like the 20 other variations I’d already tried. This isn’t easy for me. I hate throwing things out if they’re still good, even if I know I’m never going to use them.

But things are getting pretty out of hand, yo. I’m running out of space in the bathroom and it’s spilling over into the office, the dresser, my bedside table… even the living room has some hand lotion and lip balm kicking around. I think I need an intervention.

‘Fess up – are you a goo hoarder?

First Aid Beauty – Ultra Repair Cream

5 Apr

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream is that miracle cream I didn’t even dare dream about. In the words of FAB:



FAB Ultra Repair Cream is a thick, rich, emollient product that hydrates deep down with exceptional penetration. With the help of colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, soothing eucalyptus oil and ceramides, FAB Ultra Repair Cream provides immediate relief and visible improvement for distressed skin. FAB Antioxidant Booster is there to defend skin from free radical damage. Ultra Repair Cream can be used all over the body and on the face.”

That’s right, it’s a cream for the face AND body. Impossible, right? Wrong. This stuff is hydrating enough to moisturize my extremely chapped hands and make them soft, but light and non-greasy enough for me to use on my face without causing it to feel like an oil slick or break out. Which is pretty amazing if you think about it.

This one product has solved my biggest problem with hand creams. I need to put them on multiple times a day because I’ve got very dry skin (add to that that I’m a germaphobe and I wash my hands constantly) and they have to be pretty darn intense to make any difference at all. But I HATE when I put on hand cream, forget, and touch my face. Next thing you know, my face is covered in hand cream. Which ain’t good. Unless, of course, the cream on your hands is FAB Ultra Repair Cream.

On top of that, it has this amazing cooling effect – which I’m putting down to the oatmeal and eucalyptus. It’s like putting whipped, refrigerated air on your face (and hands and feet and body) that magically makes skin feel better, no matter what’s wrong with it – or even if there’s nothing wrong with it at all.

The smell isn’t overpowering – in fact, at first I thought it was unscented. It smells a bit like Noxzema (remember that stuff from high school?), but not as strong.

It comes in a big 6 oz tub, as you can see above, but it also comes in a convenient squeeze tube so you can throw it in your purse to use as a hand cream on the go. If you’re as big of a fan of it as I am, you can even grab it in the 12 oz tub – but this is a bit harder to find as most retailers (Feel Unique, ebeauty and Sephora included) don’t carry it for some strange reason!

I’m starting to become a bit obsessed with this brand. Between this and their amazing Ultra Repair Lip Therapy, I’m hooked. Stay tuned for a couple more FAB product reviews in the near future!

From the French Pharmacie: Nuxe – Huile Prodigieuse

4 Apr

I’ve always hated the feel of oil on my skin. Seriously, can’t stand it. Every time I try to even use an overly rich moisturizer that leaves oily residue I end up washing it off within half an hour. So to say I was skeptical about the whole ‘dry oil’ concept is an undersatement.

For those of you who haven’t heard of this fascinating product, it’s an oil that contains all the nourishment and benefits of regular oil, but that is formulated to absorb quickly into the skin rather than sitting on top of it.

According to the product website:

“With its unique concentration of 6 Precious Oils (Borage, St. John’s Wort, Sweet Almond, Camellia, Hazelnet Hazelnut and Macadamia) and Vitamin E, this easily-absorbed, multi-usage Dry Oil will leave your skin soft and silky in a single step, while your hair will be left with amazing softness and shine.No preservatives.”

This oil seriously does it all. You can add a drop or two to foundation for an easier application and more radiant finish, or to your moisturizer to make it a bit richer. You can run it through damp hair to leave it shiny and soft and apply to trouble spots for some extra moisture. You can use it instead of a serum under moisturizer if your skin needs a little something extra or dab it on for some subtle fragrance. You can even throw a few drops in your bath for an extra-luxuriant soak.

The fragrance is a bit floral, but with a deeper note that carries it and stops it smelling old-ladyish. It’s definitely noticeable, but not overwhelming, so even people like myself who aren’t big on fragrance will find it pleasant, while any perfume lover will want to just stand there breathing it in.

As you can see, there are three different sizes of the oil available – and all three have a different lid. The best option is the lid that comes on the 100 mL bottle – but of course, that’s the most expensive! The 50 mL is good if you’re using it on your face – it has a tiny hole and you have to turn the product upside down to get any to come out. I usually turn it upside down on my finger or tap it on my hand to get the oil out, but it can splatter a bit if shaken and not much comes out at a time. Not fantastic. With the tiniest 10 mL travel size, you can pour some into your hand which is okay for body application, but it’s easy to get too much. You can also turn it upside down onto a finger if you want just a bit, but like with the 50 mL bottle only a tiny bit comes out and it takes forever to cover your entire face, let alone body.

You can get a tiny 10 mL trial size in the Nuxe Travel Kit (available for USD 20.64 on Feel Unique), which gives you an opportunity to try it without investing in a big bottle, and a very little goes a long way, so it’ll still last you awhile. But trust me, after you try it, you’ll want to make that investment. This stuff is like liquid gold!

Beauty Blogger Crush: Vivianna Does Makeup

3 Apr

I only just discovered this girl and I honestly do not know how I didn’t find her earlier! She’s so cute, so pretty, so natural – both in appearance and on camera – and she just seems like someone you’d want to grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and girl talk with. Plus you know I love my Brits.

The video I posted above might seem like an odd place to start you on her channel, but there’s a reason I picked it. Though Vivianna knows what she’s talking about in any area of beauty, girl really knows her skincare and haircare. And, as you might have noticed, I’ve been on a real skincare kick of late.

She’s not just a YouTube guru, she also has a blog of the same name – Vivianna Does Makeup, which you can check out here

Of course, you can’t watch half her 2012 faves, so if you want to see part one, here it is. And, of course, go check out her channel, subscribe and check out all the great videos she’s already uploaded!

Sleek Eyeshadow Palette – 594 Original

2 Apr

Some of my most popular posts of all times were the ones I did about Sleek’s Pout Paints and Glossed lip glosses. This might just be because you guys love lip colours – but in case it’s Sleek you love, I’m going to be posting up reviews of some of their other products. Starting with their uber-popular eyeshadow palettes.

Let’s start, predictably enough, with the Original palette (number 594). Coincidentally, I think this was the first Sleek eyeshadow palette I ever bought.

It has a good range of shades for those of you who are looking for a palette that has a few neutrals for every day, but also a few more fun options to play around with.

They’re all shimmer finish except for the black one, which I don’t think is matte, but definitely not as shimmery as the others. I’m a neutral shadow girl, for the most part, so my favourites are mostly on the bottom row, though that navy is amazing as a liner for a smokey eye!

I swatched these without a primer, since I know a lot of you who are just getting into makeup might not yet have the hang of (or budget for) eye primers. As you can see, the colour payoff is still pretty darn good and the finish is beautiful. These blend very easily and last nearly as well as high-end shadows.

What I like about this particular palette is that it’s great value and gives a good range of options for all eye and skin colours without getting too wild and crazy, and you get a decent amount of each shadow. I think it’s a great one to give as a present, particularly to a younger makeup fan who’s just starting out with their makeup collection.

For drugstore eyeshadow palettes, you can’t beat it. Unfortunately you can’t find these in drugstores in North America, but you can get them online direct from Sleek for $9.99 – and shipping is only $2.77! Not too shabby for 12 shadows, I tell ya.