Monday, 15 December 2014

Review: Fun gifts from Toxic Fox

Evening festive friends! I hope you don't mind me posting yet another review, work has been keeping me super busy and I've not had a chance to write anything else in between. I wanted to get this particular post up sooner because the site I'm talking about today is a great source of Christmas gift ideas! Of course it's not too late to get your orders in, so if you like what I share below be sure to head over for a browse.

Toxic Fox contacted me on Twitter asking if I'd like to check out some of their products. I took a little look at the site and was impressed by the variety of gifts they had on offer, after sending them some of my favourite items I left it up to them to pick something to send me.

I was completely surprised to find a big box full of the goodies above which is super generous but they also got me down to a T, everything is right up my street...which says a lot about me I guess!

These shot glasses are so much fun, not only are they so festive and adorable but the screw tops mean they can double as little flasks. Perfect for spiking your cinema sodas over Christmas, or is that just me? These would make a great present for both sexes, a work secret Santa gift or that awkward family member you can never find something for.

BBQ Mealworms*
(Couldn't find these on the site but did find this massive variety box of edible bugs)

The Scorpion vodka and BBQ Mealworms are a little more niche, not everyone is going to enjoy these but I think they're good fun personally. They'd make good stocking fillers for fearless younger siblings or adventurous friends.

Saving the best til last are these awesome katana bookends which are magnetic to create the illusion of the books being pierced by the blade. I've gonna have to add a few more books between mine though, it's looking a little stumpy. I think these are a great price and really cool present, there's not many people I know that wouldn't love these. Who doesn't love a gimmick? 

I'm super impressed with everything I received from Toxic Fox and wanted to link to a few other favourites before you swoop off to check it all out for yourself.

I absolutely adore sites like this which actually do have something for everything and are brimming full of gift inspiration which can start to get hard to muster after the initial Christmas shopping flurry.

I'd love to know what your favourite things on the site are and if you've spotted anything you'll be ordering before Christmas? I'm getting straight back on the site as soon as this has gone live to see if I can get any more little bits for my own family.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Review: Karin Herzog face and eye creams

This post has been a very long time coming but has given me the opportunity to use these products for over a month before sharing my thoughts. It's always hard to review skincare because you need the time to get used to different formulas before you can give an informed opinion but I feel I've had the perfect amount of time with these products to be able to do so.

I wasn't particularly familiar with Karin Herzog before receiving these samples but after doing my research I learned KH is a Swiss brand created by Dr Paul Herzog with the encouragement of his wife and the brand's namesake, Karin. The products focus on using active oxygen for cosmetic application, which you can read more about here.

I was immediately impressed with the items I was sent because of the sleek, sophisticated packaging, they look luxurious from the outset which is a quality I would expect being that the products are on the higher end of the price scale.

Day & Night Face Cream: Despite this face cream being designed for day and night I have only been using it in the evenings. It's a lovely, creamy consistency but slightly too heavy for me to personally have on all day under makeup. £57 might seem a little steep but it is a big old tub and you only need roughly a pea-sized amount each time, it also comes with a handy scoop so you don't make a mess. I wasn't sure I liked the scent at first, which isn't overpowering but is slightly more mature than I'm used to, however it grew on me pretty fast and I actually really like it now. I've used this face cream every day for nearly a month and I've found it's been very good to my skin, particularly with the change in weather. I've avoided the dry skin sneak attack that usually happens when the temperature drops and actually reduced the amount of breakouts.

Eye cream: Since my last eye cream review I had been converted to this additional step in my beauty regime. I was eager to try out a different eye cream and see if it brought about the same results. This is a much lighter consistency from the face cream but once again, you only need a really tiny amount. I didn't see a huge difference in my dark circles which is an element it aims to reduce, however given that I'd been working 14 hour days with minimal sleep most of this time, I'm just happy they didn't get any worse. On the whole however the skin around my eyes looks brighter and hydrated so I'm definitely impressed. I'm not sure I'd be able to part with £42 however, but ask me again in another couple of months of using this!

Overall I'm really pleased with these Karin Herzog products and would definitely consider trying other products by the brand on the basis of the two I've been using. I'm so glad these are lasting a long time, I'm always preaching to others the importance of looking after your skin but I don't practice what I preach nearly enough and it makes a nice change to treat my skin with such luxurious products.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Review + Giveaway: Modern Vintage Style

You all know what a jewellery lover I am, having run my own handmade jewellery business for about 8 years until recently. I'm always on the internet looking at what adornments are on offer so I jumped at the chance to review a piece from the brand Modern Vintage Style.

MVS offer a gorgeous array of vintage and handmade gemstone jewellery with a range of different stones, colours and styles. I was lucky enough to be offered a piece of my choice and also sent an extra item to give away to one of you as an early Christmas present!

Now as gorgeous as all of MVS' jewellery is, I don't often wear dainty jewellery but I fell in love with the Yellow Quartz Necklace* which retails at £36. I'm very much in favour of gold tones these days and I thought this would be lovely over a sheer shirt or for a hint of colour with a smart, monochrome outfit. 

The piece I was sent for the giveaway is described in the note I received as a 'Blue topaz quartz gemstone 6 Swarovski crystal necklace, it's a striking shade of blue on a silver chain.

It's funny that I was so drawn to this piece as yellow isn't really a colour I usually go for but I think this particular shade, and the shape of the pendant combined with the gold gives it a really vintage feel and is quite unique. The chain is vermeil which is gold-plated sterling silver and therefore good quality and not going to turn my neck green.

As you can see it's bordering on a choker on me as I have quite a large neck but the chain is 16" so on anyone with a more slender neck it would hang nicely on the chest. I generally prefer my necklaces longer anyway so had already thought I might want to add a little extension chain on the end so it hangs lower. I love how it looks with this paisley patterned shirt though! It's going to be a lovely occasion piece when worn on it's own or a nice addition to a layered necklace look.


Here you can see the giveaway necklace a bit better, the faceted gems are so gorgeous and this also hangs on a 16" chain. This is actually a one of piece specially for this giveaway also priced at £36 which is quite exciting.

If you'd like to enter to win this one of a kind necklace in time for Christmas you can enter via Rafflecopter below. This will run for approximately three weeks and is open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As I mentioned previously Modern Vintage Style have a lovely range of different jewellery which would make wonderful gifts this Christmas, or a special treat for yourself perhaps. So make sure you head over to the website and check out what else they have to offer.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Halloween's been and gone, so what about YouTube?

I started my YouTube channel very reluctantly after my first few Halloween makeup tutorials had gone live on the blog. I had a lot of people asking if I did video tutorials as well and as much as I didn't want to get into YT, I could see how much easier it would be to follow a video than a written blog post.

Funnily enough it only took me one video to fall in love with it and I then continued to film my remaining 6 Halloween looks. There was never a plan for a proper channel, I just wanted to give my Halloween tutorials a little more oomph and make sure they could be recreated if anyone fancied. However I've since decided I want to continue making videos, it's just another fun activity I can do when I have the free time and yet another creative outlet to experiment with.

As far as the future of my channel, it will likely stay focussed on special effects and creative makeups. That's my passion and making tutorials gives me the perfect excuse to practice my art and hone my skills when I'm not on a job. Of course when I am working it can be weeks away at a time so my posting will probably be erratic.

I am going to continue with big, character makeups which is how my channel started, but also include quick and realistic effects for those interested in film/tv makeup. Since Halloween I have actually posted two of these types of tutorials already, one on making scabs and the other on how to create an aged black eye.

I'm filming away in Somerset for a couple of weeks soon so in amongst the extensive makeup prep for the film I'm going to try and fit in some blog writing and video filming time so there's stuff up while I'm away. In the meantime, do check out my channel if you haven't already, I'm only a beginner at this YouTube malarky so any pointers you have would be very welcome.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Review: Flint + Flint skincare

I'm a huge advocate on looking after your skin, always telling people in Twitter chats that the best makeup tip is working on a flawless canvas. Unfortunately I don't take my own advice nearly enough and although I always remove my makeup before bed and moisturise in the mornings, that is often where it stops. I've found myself working all waking hours and not taking the ten minutes morning and night for a skincare regime, I also don't wash my personal makeup brushes nearly often enough and I've basically got in a bit of a rut with it all.

Then I was offered some products to try from Flint + Flint, a brand I'd not yet heard of and one that boasted a full collection of skincare products that "ALL work". Their website states "We’re extremely particular. A product that doesn’t work, will never, ever make it into the Flint Plus Flint range." which is something I have a lot of respect for and  sparks great expectations of the products.

I was sent these three items to try which gives me a nice overall picture of their products. I always mention what a sucker for packaging I am so I'm sure you can imagine how pleased I was to unwrap these gorgeous boxes. The design is very slick indeed and I love that each product is colour coded by the vibrant pop in the plus signs.

The first thing I noticed about all three products was the smell, I'm not actually sure if it is a particular scent and I couldn't work out from the ingredients what it would be but I really like it. It also reminds me of some skincare I used to use a few years ago and I'm all for nostalgic smells.

Lip Hero £12: I have a trusty medicated lip balm that I use all year round to keep the cracked lips at bay but I'm always interested to try some more gentle products that don't just keep my lips from being dry but actively keep them feeling hydrated. I found that Lip Hero did just that and has become a mandatory morning and night product for me, it feels so moisturising to apply and leaves my lips everso soft. This product contains active ingredients that aid anti-ageing and promote fuller more defined lips. I can't say I've really noticed this too much but it would be a welcome result if this comes from continued use, my thin lips need all the help they can get.

Serum £48: The serum is to apply between your cleansing routine and moisturising, a step I very rarely ever take in my usual skin care regime, but I was glad that this forced me to get into the habit as I've been really loving this product. The serum has the consistency of a liquid gel and you really don't need much per application. It's a delight to massage into the skin and leaves me feeling wonderfully refreshed. Upon reading the benefits of this product I discovered it is specifically aimed to hydrate the skin and restore radiance which is something I am always looking for and I can say that after nearly three weeks of using this my skin looks a lot healthier and more nourished than it did before. 

Eye Hero £37: Lastly, Eye Hero aims to regenerate the skin and reduce fine lines whilst also easing signs fatigue. The latter is definitely the most immediate complaint I have but I've also used anti-ageing products as a preventative measure for years now. With my job and awkward schedule I often have terrible dark circles around my eyes though in general it's not a part of my face I necessarily think about too much. However using this product every day has definitely made a difference in both how the skin around my eyes looks but also how it feels. This glides onto the skin so nicely, it instantly has a cooling effect and is a really lovely product, you also only need a really tiny amount of this as well.

An all round glowing review pretty much. I'm always dubious when I see claims of products that "really work" but I can't find anything at fault here. It's been such a pleasure to use all three products and I would highly recommend them.

For me, the prices of the Serum and Eye Hero are steep, had I not had the chance to try the products out first I wouldn't have risked spending the money on them personally, however now I would definitely replace them once they've run out. I'm also now very intrigued by ALL of their other products which I trust would be just as great. Flint + Flint do offer a money back guarentee if you're not completely happy with their products which might reassure some of you contemplating whether to invest the money.

I would definitely recommend each of the three products I have tried but if like me you are worried about splashing out too much money on a brand you're unfamiliar with at first, maybe try the Lip Hero first. You can find out more info about each of the products and order them here

Friday, 31 October 2014

Halloween makeup: Fresh zombie with gouged out eye

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! It's finally my favourite day of the year and I saved my goriest tutorial til last. It has been so fun creating 9 different looks this month, especially as I am not able to go out for Halloween this year due to being completely booked up doing other people's makeup.

Today I'm sharing an effect I've actually created more times than I can remember as it's one I developed for a feature film I designed the makeup for last year. The most realistic way to achieve something like a gouged out eye would be with a prosthetic appliance, but this gives an alternative method that is much easier and much more affordable.

halloween makeup tutorial, gorey sfx horror zombie, bloody gouged out eye
I wanted this to be nice and bloody so opted for a fresh zombie. (Though I intend to do a healed version at some point for my YouTube channel) I kept the rest of the makeup quite minimal as you can see.

halloween makeup tutorial, gorey sfx horror zombie, bloody gouged out eye

- First port of call was to add some characteristic zombie shading, I kept my base natural because I don't want to look too long dead. Using taupe, grey and black powder eyeshadows in turn I shaded in the hollows of my cheeks, my temples and forehead, around my eyes, chin and laughter lines. Think of the way we contour our skin with beauty makeup, start with those areas but create a more gaunt effect.

- Then around the eye that wouldn't be gouged out I used red, purple and black greasepaints to create some zombie intensity, make sure you soften the edges with a fluffy brush. I also used these colours on my lips, smudging it out roughly. This looked pretty cool but is now entirely covered in blood in these pictures, but it does give a bit more depth to that area.

- To create the hollow look to the eye socket I used a piece of gauze which I cut out of some black tights. This means you can still see out of the eye because it's not solid, but people can't see in. Clever eh! I applied surgical adhesive (basically eyelash glue) around my eye where the the gauze would sit, then putting it in place I applied more glue over the edge to hold it in place.

- Whilst this is drying I used alcohol activated paints with a really thin brush to draw on the veins. To get these realistic you want them really faint. If you don't have have these particular paints then you can mix some Isopropyl alcohol or even moisturiser in with your greasepaints and failing that, if they're still too strong - powder over them.

- Once dry I used Sculpt Gel silicone which I used all over the edge with a spatula then scraped outwards to create the ripped flesh effect.

- With alcohol activated paints again I started colouring the silicone. You don't need to match your skin like you would with a prosthetic piece because there will be so much blood. I used washes of different shades of red til it was the colour I wanted. Then with a toothbrush I used a splattering technique all around the area. If someone ripped your eye out you can guarantee there'd be a lot of blood flying about afterall.

- Then I started the fake blood. First I used a blood gel. I painted this on mainly around the edge of the gauze where I wanted it most gloopy, then with a thin brush I extended some of the scratch marks out. I also dotted some of the blood around the outside of the wound. I patted some over my mouth too.

- For the runny blood I dripped it on with a brush then let it run down my face the way it wanted to naturally. I've found most fake bloods bead up on the skin but you can easily fix that by mixing in a drop of washing up liquid to make it adhere better. Again I added some around my mouth to finish the look.

- Powder eyeshadows (Illamasqua 'Heroine', MAC 'Copperplate' + 'Carbon')
- Kryolan Supracolour greasepaints
- Duo surgical adhesive
- Gauze patch made from tights/stockings
- Mouldlife Sculpt Gel
- PPI Illustrator palettes 'American Horror Story' + 'FX'
- Make-UP International Abrasion Blood
- Pigs Might Fly Standard Blood

Other points to remember:
- If you are worried about protecting your eyebrow from the silicone, you can use a glue stick or gaffquat to stick it down first. However if you remove the makeup gently with warm water and soap it should not pull any hairs out.
- 3rd Degree is a slightly cheaper and more accessible alternative to Sculpt Gel if you are looking for something more affordable to experiment with.

I really hope you enjoyed this and all 9 of my Halloween makeup tutorials in fact. If you've not checked out the others you can find them all here. As with the majority of the looks I filmed a tutorial for YouTube which is much easier to follow than the written instructions believe me. I've embedded it below and if you like do check out my channel and subscribe becaaaaause I've had so much fun I'm going to keep doing sfx and creative makeup tutorials!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Halloween makeup: creepy cracked doll

I've seen loads of people trying their hand at cracked doll face paints this year and have contemplated the idea of creating a 3D version of this for a while, it seemed like the perfect time to give it a go.

Cracked doll halloween makeup tutorial, 3d effect, horror, sfx
I've done simple doll makeups in the past but this year I really wanted to up my game and bring something original to all my Halloween looks. Here I have gone for an aged, cracked porcelain doll.

Cracked doll halloween makeup tutorial, 3d effect, horror, sfx

Cracked doll halloween makeup tutorial, 3d effect, horror, sfx

- I started this look by sticking down my eyebrows with my trusty gluestick as I do for most of the tutorials.

- With some moisturiser on my fingertips to stop the wax sticking to them I spread it onto my face in the areas I want the cracks to be. I smooth this out with both my fingers and a metal spatula and also rub some more moisturiser over the area to aid smoothing it down. It doesn't have to be perfect because a few lumps and bumps will only contribute to the aged effect.

- I now applied my white base, being careful to pat it on gently when covering the areas with wax. To make sure my eyebrows were blocked out I took a peach coloured concealer to them to counteract the darkness showing through and then another coat of the white.

- For the eyes I did a cream base first then built up the intensity I wanted using powder eyeshadows over this. I made sure to soften the edges using a fluffy brush and some white eyeshadow.

- Also using powder eyeshadows I added some ageing to the cracks with brown and yellow tones. Then marked in where I wanted the eyebrows to be. Switching to cream makeup I drew in the brows for real and touched up around them with my white base.

- I chose some eyelashes and actually used two pairs on top and one underneath to give maximum volume. One of the pairs on the top actually have tiny diamantes on them which I thought was a nice detail.

- I painted in geisha style lips and dotted on some freckles with another cream makeup before it was time to finish up with the cracks.

- I first ran a grey eyeshadow roughly over the cracks to begin to build up the depth, none of the shading on this area needs to be too precise because natural ageing is rarely uniform. Then with a water-based eyeliner (but you could use any liquid paint) on a very thin brush I could fill in all the cracks with a strong black.

- I finished the look by plaiting my hair and there's a lot of scope for what you could do costume and accessory wise.

- Pritt Stick glue
- Ben Nye FX wax
- Illamasqua Rich Liquid foundation
- Le Maquillage Professional concealer
- Kryolan Shimmering Visions palette
- Sleek eyeshadows
- Le Maquillage Professional Dirt palette
- Kryolan lipstick
- Eyelashes from Technic and Ebay applied using Duo surgical adhesive
- Kryolan water-based eyeliner cake

I hope you like this look, for a better look at how I achieved it give the video tutorial below a watch.