24 April 2018

W7 MAKEUP HAUL SWATCH & REVIEW // DELICIOUS PALETTE & OTHER MAKEUP DUPES


When it comes to creating affordable budget makeup and dupes of premium makeup products, w7 cosmetics have it down. w7 are famed for creating 'in the style of' products based on bestsellers from the likes of MAC, Ben Nye, Benefit, Anastacia Beverley Hills, Urban Decay and many more. Now, i'm not under any illusions, I know that there is a fine line between inspired dupes and complete rip offs however, w7 have made the 'makeup of now' accessible to everyone. And whilst these days I am lucky enough to be in a position whereby I can afford to buy high-end makeup and beauty, I still absolutely love drugstore and budget makeup. 

So why a sudden penchant for w7 makeup? Well, I was inspired to give a selection of w7 products a whirl after another late night binge of 'makeup declutter' videos of which I am wholly obsessed with currently. By the time I got to video 109, it was apparent that the w7 cosmetics brand popped up time and time again as the brand to go to if you were looking for affordable high-end dupes.



w7 'Delicious Palette' - Anastasia Beverley Hills 'Modern Renaissance Palette' Dupe 
Like the look of the Anastasia Beverley Hills 'Modern Renaissance' palette but can't justify the price tag? w7 offer a dupe that is so unapologetically a dupe. For an as-near-as-dammit palette, I recommend trying the w7 Delicious palette. I must however start by caveating the fact that I've only ever swatched the iconic Anastasia Beverley Hills 'Modern Renaissance Palette' therefore it wouldn't be fair to write a full comparison on how they pit against each other, though I do have it on good authority that the w7 'Delicious' palette is a pretty good MR dupe. 

The Delicious palette is made from snap-shut cardboard packaging and comes with a double ended brush which is perfect for pressing and blending colour on the lids thanks to a duo comprising of one dense, flat brush and one fluffy brush. And whilst the shade range and pan formation of these two palettes are very, very similar, one thing that certainly sets these two palettes apart is the cost. The Delicious palette retails at £9.95 making it an ideal budget beauty option if you don't want to shell out the eye-watering £43 for the MR palette.


I've been road testing the Delicious palette for around 3/4 weeks now and I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed with how pigmented these colours are. My favourite shades are by far and away the two orange tones which in the MR palette are named: 'Red Ocre' and 'Realgar.' I also recommend not shying away from the deep red toned shades which are super easy to work with and again, pigmented so beautifully. If neutrals are however more your bag, the neutral shades including taupe browns, creams and biscuit tones are really wearable.

So what about formulation? Well, despite having talc as a lead ingredient as most budget cosmetics do, I didn't find these shadows to be at all overly powdery, unlike the MR palette of which unnecessary fall out is notorious. So even if you have zero interest in dupe hunting, if you're looking for an affordable warm toned palette with plenty of workable berry and neutral shades, this palette is definitely one to try.
w7 'Hollywood Bronze + Glow' Palette - Charlotte Tilbury 'Filmstar Bronze + Glow' Dupe


I really wanted to try the w7 Hollywood Bronze + Glow palette out of sheet interest on how it fared against its originator and inspiration, the famed Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze + Glow duo. It's with a heavy heart that I confess that I did once own this high-end contour and highlighter duo, however, it sadly met a brutal end on holiday in Portugal when the compact fell to the ground and shattered to smithereens all over a hard, marble floor. Weep. Instead of repurchasing and parting with yet another £49, I was curious to see how this £5.95 dupe worked out in comparison and of course on its own merit. w7 certainly haven't tried to be subtle with their take on this premium product, hello 1920s-esc fan effect powder press and obnoxiously similar product name. 

Though, in terms of how the w7 dupe stands up, it's pretty good. I'd say that the Charlotte Tilbury formulation is slightly more on the peachy side, but other than that, the w7 contour powder is a decent match, it applies smoothly and provides an even contour/cheek bronze. If you're interested in this duo, it's worth noting that I found the w7 highlighter a little chalky, it is also quite subtle and takes some working with a brush or fingers to see a noticeable result on the cheek.

w7 'Strobe Struck' - Cream Highlighter
If you're looking for a subtle, dewy highlight with a natural finish, then the w7 Strobe Struck Cream highlighter is a brilliant option for only £5.95. It's very similar in tone to the Jouer Cosmetics Crem Highlighter in the shade ' Champagne' . I like to pat the cream formula onto the top of my cheekbones and above the cupid bow for a nice, easy going glow, nothing OTT, nothing major.


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20 April 2018

5 OF MY FAVOURITES THINGS TO DO WHEN I'M NOT WORKING AND THE WEATHER IS GLOOMY


The day that these shots were taken, it was an extemley grey, rainy day and it felt like the bright, fresher days of Spring were never going to arrive. Of course, we've been treated to some glorious sunshine recently which has caused me to do nothing more than sit outside on my sun lounger - sometimes working on my laptop, sometimes doing absolutely nothing but listening to Audible. My audiobook of choice being the fabulous Grace Coddington's memoir. It is however on those rainy, gloomy days that we have all year round here in England that I feel the most hygge if you like. And so here are 5 of my favourite things to do when I'm not working (or writing) and the weather is gloomy.


1. Have a cup of tea and read a book
I always knew that someday I wanted an armchair of my own to sit and read in. I'm an introverted soul at heart and peace and quiet is something I crave in order for me to recharge my batteries. In recent times my armchair pipedream has come true and I love nothing more than sitting back in my rocking chair and reading my favourite books, glossy magazines, or whatever new title I have on the go. Of course, a cup of Yorkshire tea is usually by my side, sometimes Earl Grey depending on my mood.


2. Take a hot bath
When I lived in my flat, for the best part of 3 years I only had a shower cubicle and so getting a bath at my parent's house, or at my boyfriend's flat was a total luxury that I looked forward to as often as I could. Since moving into our new place, it's been pretty nice to be able to get a regular bath again. I like to run mine as hot as I can possibly bare, with lots of bubbles. Usually, I'll add some lavender baby bath (Because I'm really that extra) and a bath bomb from Lush - My favourite is Twilight. Bathtime is another of my much needed 'quiet' times. I like to light some candles and sometimes I'll catch up on my Youtube subscriptions by propping my iPad up on my wooden bath shelf. Bath time is a bit of me-time that helps me to wind down and feel centred again.

3. Reorganise my beauty drawers and clean my brushes


I find reorganising my makeup drawers really soothing and satisfying, especially if i'm feeling het up about a situation, or there's something nagging at my mind. Some of my favourite videos to watch on Youtube are the ones where people declutter their makeup collection. For some reason, the eyeshadow palette versions really help to lift my mood. Maybe it's the ASMR-y nature of them, after all, they are pretty visual and colourful. When the weather is grim, I tend to find myself reorganising, cleaning and tidying my beauty stash and brushes. I'm probably one of the few people who actually enjoy cleaning their makeup brushes. Weirdly it must be rubbing off because Adam saw me doing it one day and liked the look of it so much that he started joining in the swirling and rinsing process. 


4. Watch trash TV - the trashier the better
Back in the day, we're talking circa 2010 when I was around 17, I was the Queen of watching reality TV. You name it, I watched it. I religiously tuned into Big Brother, TOWIE, Made In Chelsea, everything - nobody got in the way of my rigid TV schedule. As I got older I stopped watching as many of these kinds of programmes on TV, though I'm not really sure why. However, in recent times I've really gone back on myself. Since we sorted our TV package out, I've become ADDICTED to coming home from work, throwing my bag down and watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I stopped watching the show as regularly around the time when Kim married Kris Humphries (lol) so I've had some MAJOR catching up to do. And I guess while we're sharing, I'm also partial to 'Can't Pay We'll Take It Away', 'Catfish' and 'Teen Mom'.


5. Organising + pressing reset

I've previously talked about the fact that I am anal about prioritising things and making lists of things that need doing. I must get through stacks and stacks of post-it notes every week. I like to actually spend my downtime writing to-do lists, planning meals and sorting my calendar out. I love it, I think it gives me a sense of control over what's happening in my life and I love having an overview of how my week is playing out. Of course, I also like to hit reset on my beauty routine too, making time to put a deep conditioning mask on my hair, de-fuzz and put a fresh layer of tan on. All of these little acts of self-care are perfect for not letting a gloomy day make me feel miserable.

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17 April 2018

HOW TO WEAR A FULL COVERAGE BASE WITHOUT LOOKING LIKE A CAKE FACE


Back in the day when 'Dream Matte Mousse' was the only foundation to be seen carrying in your Jane Norman PE bag, cake face was pretty unavoidable. This was especially the case when the Aero bar formula was paired with a translucent powder laden with talc from The Look or Bodycare. Ah, Dream Matte Mousse, concealer lips and pale face. A look so popular, I think that some girls in my year were actually nicknamed 'Cake face' by a typical group of spotty, gangly 14-year-old lads.

I haven't purchased a pot of DMM in years, these days, I'm about the less is more approach when it comes to my makeup, but one thing has not changed and that is my love of a full coverage base.

Avoiding cake face...


Over the years, I've tried and tested a few ways to try and stop my foundation from bobbling while avoiding dry patches for powder formulas to cling to. And whilst my method isn't always foolproof, cake face had been known to appear a few hours after applying what looks like perfectly applicated makeup, it's pretty reliable most of the time.

Exfoliating weekly 

Exfoliation is vital for buffing away those dead skin particles that cause your face to become dry which is often a primary cause of cake face. I use a chemical exfoliate on a daily basis and opt to give my face a good manual scrub on a weekly basis. Back in the day, my favourite exfoliator would be the St Ives invigorating scrub, it's much too harsh for my skin now but it's true to say that market wide exfoliators have come a long way since then. My current squeeze is the Bodyshop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion formula, it's pretty amazing how it works and I urge you to try it if you want to see skincare magic occur before your very eyes.


Keep on top of the moisture

Moisturising is my favourite step of my skincare routine, I like to really work the formula into my skin and feel it seeping in. My current favourite moisturiser is from Harley Street Skincare and it is a lightweight formula that sinks into the skin without leaving a greasy residue. Depending on your skin type, find a moisturiser that works for you and never skip using it! Not only will your skin feel more comfortable, but it will also make any makeup you apply stick around longer and apply more evenly as your skin won't be as thirsty and dry.


Choosing your base

To avoid cake face, a technique that has worked for me is to work with light layers. When working with a number of different products it can be easy for the different formulations to curdle and make a cake face situation occur. Lol. If you're using brushes for your base, try to use brushes that are specifically made with bristles that can do the best work for the job. For example, my Real Techniques Expert Face Brush is excellent for cream-based products thanks to its synthetic bristles, whereas the Younique Powder Puff brush is perfect for working with dense powder formulations.

Every morning I moisturise with an SPF (Currently Olay Complete Our Original BB) and then if it's a snazzy occasion I'll use a primer, to add extra moisture to my skin and even out my skin tone. My current primers of choice are Pixi Flawless + Poreless and the iconic Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

In the past, if you wanted to wear a more full coverage base, you'd often have to compromise on dewiness and glow - instead, more matte coverage formulations were positioned for us, full-coverage lovers. I'm currently wearing a mineral foundation and the Bare Minerals Original SPF Foundation is my pick of the crop. For a creamier and more full-throttle coverage, I use the Revlon Photo Ready InstaFix foundation which I raved about in my March monthly favourites so I won't repeat here, but its a goody.





* Post contains gifted items from Clarins + Younique

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13 April 2018

4 THINGS I'VE STOPPED TELLING MYSELF IN 2018 // WORKING TOWARDS A HEALTHY HAPPY MIND


When 2018 rolled around, which let's be honest was quite a while ago now as we've suddenly woken up and it's April?! I thought about the negative thoughts that I believe had been holding me back as I navigated life as a young woman going through college, university, career beginnings and life.

Before the end of last year, I made a point to write these thoughts down and study them in more depth to see how I could alter my thinking. Today i'm sharing these thoughts with you as they might help you to take stock and make a change about how you think about things. After-all, we're all striving for a healthy and happy mind.



1. "I'm just too busy..."

For me, it does often feel like there are simply not enough hours in the day to achieve everything on my to-do list. I am a master of organisation, prioritising and getting shit done, but there are a few things that perhaps i'm selectively saying that i'm too busy for. The main thing being, exercise. At the end of a long day at work followed by a traffic-laden commute, i'm hungry, drained and just want to flop on the sofa and watch telly. The very last thing I want to do is work out. I don't think it helps that my boyfriend lives by the mantra of always been 'too busy' as he builds and grows his business. We're a household of busy bee's. However, I'm now actively trying to plan my days to ensure I can slot in exercise and the time to cook a meal from scratch. It's not easy, but these days when it's fashionable to be seen to say you're 'soooo busy' - it's also okay to not be busy and make time for meaningful headspace to recalibrate yourself. You can't burn the candle at both ends!



2. "There's no point, it won't make a difference anyway..."

Guilty as charged with this one. I often struggle to see how my mere contribution can make a difference to the bigger picture. I remember one of my hardest struggles was to crack the back of my maths GCSE. Sure, I mastered it eventually after many, many, many hours of hard work, but at the time, my go to line would be: 'There's no point in doing these extra tuition lessons because it won't make a difference anyway, I still won't get that C" - What I needed to be telling myself was, after all this hard graft, i'm sure to see some improvement in my grade, no matter how small! And even if I didn't, I can add tenacity and sheer perseverance to my list of traits. It's better to try instead of counting myself out as a failure before i've even started.



3. "No, I can't do that because i'm too thick..."

In a similar vein to the point above, i've always had low self confidence when it comes to my ability. Anyone who knows me will tell you that. I would always shy away from going forward for opportunities in fear of being 'too thick' - I now understand that i'll never be good at maths, winged eyeliner, crosswords or dealing with lots of complicated data but that's alright because i'm kick ass at other things that are probably more important to my day to day functioning.



4. "I don't care..."

This is something I say to protect myself, It's easier for me to say: "I don't care" than to accept what may be happening. One thing to know about me, I bloody do care. I care about far too much about everything and anything and it drives me potty sometimes. I think it's really important to pick and choose what you do actually give your time to care about. I've dwelled on things so much in the past and what i've dwelled upon has never even happened. Let it go! Your mind will be clearer for it!





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11 April 2018

THE MINIMAL MOMENT // AFFORDABLE MINIMALIST GOLD JEWELLERY FAVOURITES


Dainty gold bracelets, chunky gold hoop earrings and the famed gold 'coin' pendant necklaces are certainly having their moment right now. I have to say, I am 100% all for this trend as the majority of my jewellery collection tends to be gold, rose gold or copper led in tone and colour. 

I'm currently really inspired by Stacey Dooley's style which definitely incapsulates the minimal gold jewellery trend teamed with a style direction of slouchy knits and basic denim. For anyone who doesn't know who Stacey is, she is a British television presenter, journalist and author who cut her broadcasting teeth making harrowing (and fantastic) documentaries on social/cultural issues for the BBC. 

Over the last month or so i've been on a Stacey Dooley binge because luckily for us, you can watch her documentaries on BBC iplayer. I think the most disturbing is the Japan episode where Stacey explores the law on child pornography and JK girls in Japan. If you're looking for something new to watch, I recommend giving Stacey's documentaries a watch if you haven't already.

Anyway...
Back to minimal accessories



I think that you can find the best minimalistic gold jewellery at antique fairs, or at markets/bazaars - each piece has character and a back story. I like my jewellery to have a little rough 'n' ready tarnish so for me, these are the places I normally look for new jewellery, but of course you can find nice pieces online on marketplaces like etsy or ofcourse on the high street.

My watch is from Daniel Wellington, it is the Classic Petite Melrose style. I really like how dainty the metal strap is and how it clicks into place with a really satisfying snap. I tend to only wear my watch on my left arm which is also home to some (non gold) bracelets, one of which you can read more about here and the other was a present from my boyfriend, which features a heart shaped locket and inside are two loose precious stones that represent our birth months, his being Sapphire and mine, Orange Topaz. CUTE!


On my right wrist I wear two bangles which are pretty much the same, just with different stones in them. One of them is from the Hippy Market in Ibiza and the other is from Alvor in Portugal. I also wear multiple hoops in each of my ear piercings, the ones featured here are from Weekday, but you can pick hoops up like this in packs for a few quid in Primark.

My rings are probably the most important pieces of jewellery that I own, they've all come to me from a family member in some capacity and each have different meanings and feelings attached to them. I wear a lot of rings on a daily basis, probably too many for my fingers to handle however, i'm never without my core staple rings. 

And finally, what gold jewellery jewellery round-up could be published without an ode to the 'gold coin pendant' necklace? I found mine in Topshop the duo is called the coin and horn two row necklace i've been wearing both pieces every day since I bought them. 


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7 April 2018

TRYING NEW SKINCARE // HARLEY STREET SKINCARE REVIEW MY HONEST THOUGHTS


In my bathroom I have a wire crate filled with different skincare products that I always believe will be the next big thing to revolutionise my skin. It's difficult with skincare, because you have to give it a few weeks to really see if it is having a positive impact. Of course, in the meantime if your face has broken out in angry red spots, or causes an itchy and dry reaction, stop using it straight away - but for the most part you have to give it a fair chance.


Over the years i've definitely found products that have worked better than others and it is nearly always individual, separate products from different brands that make up a sucessful skincare routine. It is for this reason that I was hugely interested in how my skin would get on with a three step skincare solution from a brand that to be quite honest, I hadn't heard a lot about.


Who is Harley Street Skincare?

The brand, Harley Street Skincare was created by Dr Aamer Khan who has spent the last 15 years working in cosmetic surgery and non-surgical procedures, and Lesley Reynolds a beauty writer and skincare professional working in anti ageing therapy on London's infamous Harley Street. You can read more about this dynamic duo and their career profiles here if you're interested. The brand aim to create high-performance skincare that is derived from natural and scientific ingredients to benefit all skin types and help tackle many skin issues and complaints. I have been testing out a trio of 'Try me size' products for the past couple of weeks to see how the formulas fare on my 'Normal' skin.

Step 1 - Stem Cellutions Hydro Cleanser - This creamy formulation is nice and light to apply to the skin and smells fresh and fruity. I apply it directly to dry skin before rubbing it in with a warm flannel to remove any makeup and grime. Harley Street Skincare say their cleanser contains Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-14 which is a kind of peptide that may increase collagen production as well Methylxanthines which stimulate microcirculation (blood vessels). It also contains vitamin C (excellent for the skin) Pomegranate, Goji berries and Camellia Sinensis (green tea) which acts as a calming and healing agent. I do like this product, when used alone it doesn't leave my skin tight or dry and removes stubborn makeup. The Hydro Cleanser retails on the Harley Street Skincare website for £35.



Step 2 - Stem Cellutions Miracle Serum - The brand mark this as their hero product from the Stem Ceillutations range and I must admit, it is a pleasure to apply to the skin post cleanse. The concentrated serum is gel like in texture and soaks into the skin quickly once applied. The serum contains Myristoyl Pentapeptide-11 which help to restore skin elasticity and reduce fine lines. It is effective for anti-aging, anti-wrinkle and skin-firming purposes and whilst my younger skin isn't so far gone to see a real difference in terms of 'anti ageing', I can say that it is firmer and plumper after use. This serum also contains,Malus Domestica which is a fancy name for apple, a natural antioxidant. Having used this serum daily, my skin is definitely more luminous, plump and hydrated following each use. The serum retails on the Harley Street Skincare website for £55. 

Step 3 - Stem Cellutions Hydro Moisturiser -  The moisturiser formulation is again, a nice light consistency that is non greasy and sinks into the skin quickly without feeling too thick and heavy. This product contains Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12, A lipopeptide which helps the product to form layers around and in between skin cells - this then creates a barrier that keeps natural moisture intact. Another key ingredient of this formula is Retinol Palmitate (Vitamin A) which stimulates cell turnover by penetrating down to the lower levels of the skin. The moisturiser retails for £65.


So what do I think of this skincare range? 

Yes, this skincare is expensive and is it worth it? Yes, i've had no problems with any of the formulations. My skin is looking luminous and hydrated, sure I still have the odd blemish but I think that's more down to my diet which lets face it is hardly in the Kourtney Kardashian remit.

My only question surrounding the brand and it is non performance related, is that there is what appears to be a similar company with the same name using a.co.uk domain and selling the same products just packaged slightly different. I'm not sure what the deal is there so that might be one to note if you want to shop with the same brand I have been testing. Otherwise I have been happy with how the products have performed. Harley Street Skincare cater to all skin types and you'll be sure to find products that best suit you on their site. I can't see a section which discloses their policy on testing so do check that out yourself if it's something you'd require to know more about.




* Post contains gifted items from Harley Street Skincare
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3 April 2018

4 MAKEUP AND SKINCARE PRODUCTS I BOUGHT IN SUPERDRUG THIS WEEK // TRIED + TESTED


I still get a little buzz when I walk through the doors of Superdrug. Sad but so true. This euphoric hit began when I was 14 and I got my first Saturday job. At the end of each day i'd get a little brown envelope with about £30 stashed in it. Naturally, this wouldn't last an hour as I walked past Primark and Superdrug on my way home. 

I still love drugstore beauty...

It has become unpopular to say you still get that buzz for beauty here in the blogger-sphere, instead it's all about 'How many faddy foods I eat in a day,' 'Which overpriced workout gear i'm wearing today' and preachy content that to me just isn't helpful such as: '10 ways to make your followers love you.' Well, i'm old school and I still get a buzz from browsing and buying drugstore makeup. I popped into Superdrug this week and found myself heading to the checkout with 4 new items.


Solait Face Sun Cream Fluid SPF 30

For as long as I can remember, every morning before applying my base, i've used the Olay 'Complete Moisturiser Fluid' as it contains SPF 15 and doesn't irritate my skin. When my last bottle ran out recently, I decided to up my SPF coverage to something a little more substantial for the stronger sun that I hope will be rearing it's head sometime soon. 

I remembered that I really got on with Solait 'Anti ageing E-fluid' last summer and so I threw a new bottle in my basket. This is sun cream, it's not a fancy lotion or potion it's simply an SPF 30 formula with Vitamin E. It doesn't apply to your face as thick as mud and it doesn't sink into your skin leaving you a shade of Casper white, it's a very sheer formula that applies nicely to provide a hydrated base for foundation.


Revlon Photoready Insta-Fix Foundation

For me, in my mid 20s my beauty regime has to be portable. My products need to be able to withstand travel and be easy to whip out and apply on the go. The Revlon Photoready InstaFix Foundation is the perfect solution for all of the above and for retouching your makeup whenever and wherever. The stick formula, not dissimilar to the iconic Bobbi Brown Foundation Sticks is easy to throw in your handbag to apply when needed.

This foundation is pretty heavy duty, the formula is for me, naturally a buildable medium coverage although it and can be applied sparingly where needed and blended with a brush to achieve the coverage level you desire. The formula sinks into the skin nicely and blends nicely with your natural skin tone. This SPF 20 foundation also includes sun protection which is an added bonus but i'm not sure that makes it 'photoready' as the name suggests - Er, hello ghost flash face! Due to the nature of the stick formula, you can be in danger of going overboard with this foundation and getting into cake face territory is possible. With this in mind, I don't think this would be a great product for anyone with overly dry skin unless a heavy duty moisturiser is used beforehand.

The shade breadth isn't the greatest with only 9 shades to choose from, I am currently wearing one of the lightest shades, 120 Vanilla. Depending what you're doing, if like me, you're usually found at a desk all day, coverage lasts up to 6 hours. 


Rimmel Volume Colourist Mascara

I'm so fickle when it comes to mascara, i'm rarely loyal and find myself constantly on the look out for 'the one' - I chucked the Rimmel Volume Colourist Mascara in my basket because it was on offer. I probably just state that i'm not entirely sure if this mascara actually tints your lashes darker as my lashes are really dark naturally anyway. I did however come across this article from Glamour that shows how it can naturally tint fairer lashes over time. I do however really like the brush which is bristled and thin. The formula is quite wet which could send you into the land of spidery clumps but i've been able to control the wand and create that definition and volume we all want from a mascara right?

Bourjois Ombre Smoky Eyeshadow + Liner

Ever since 'that' gel eyeliner from Avon circa 2011 i've been looking for an eyeliner that wears as well in the waterline and can also be smudged along the upper and lower lashlines. I think I may have found my new favourite by way of the Bourjois Ombre Smoky eyeliner, shadow and sharpener. This stuff sticks around ALL DAY without budging. I like to use the little blotter that comes on the end of the pencil to do some serious smudging. 





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