An Open And Shut Case

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Wanderlust; A great desire or impulse to travel and rove about.

I had just hit my teen years when I first discovered this term. I decided I had caught it: a terminal case of the ‘wanderlust’ bug.

As a child my mother had always made it a key priority to educate me not only in the safety of school classroom walls, but also out in the world, meeting new people and being faced first hand with different cultures and ways of living. I’ll always be thankful for this. By the time I was a teenager I had lived for two months in a village on a remote Fijian island where we witnessed rituals, sipped ‘Kava (a traditional herbal drink) with the locals and visited a school that had around fifteen students who’s classes often took place on benches in the dust outside. I had also stood at the top of an Australian mountain looking out over the peculiar ‘Blue Mountains’, scorched my feet on the burning sand of Dubai’s sand dunes and much more.

There are days when I’m stuck in dreary England, looking out of the window through the drizzle and will catch a glimpse of a plane flashing between a huddle of several grey clouds. All I want in the whole world right then is to be sat on that exact plane, and I don’t even care where it takes me – anywhere new with a different climate, different birds (it’s always something I notice when I’m in a new country for some reason) and a different culture. I want to sit on the plane and see where it takes me and then just explore and breathe in fresh air.

Bring Out the Caviar, Darling!

Caviar

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I have been experimenting with a little bit of nail effects for the last few days and I think my favourite has to be the caviar from Claire’s Accessories paired with MUA’s ‘Pistachio Ice Cream’ (yummy name right!?) nail varnish. The fresh minty-blue colour is perfect for summer and it works so well with the striking gold caviar on the middle finger, sealed in on the nail with a bit of Seche Vite top-coat. The quality of these products is surprisingly very good: the nail varnish is very long lasting and the caviar was extremely difficult to remove, which is a good thing in terms of longevity, but a can be bit of a pain if you’re in a hurry!

As a little extra I have also found the chunky gold ring from Primark looks amazing with these nails. Overall this look (the MUA nail varnish, Claire’s Accessories nail caviar and the Primark ring) could not have cost more than £5, which is fantastic since I’m already spending money on stocking up on loads of summer clothes!

Healthy Banana Ice Cream!

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When the sun starts making more and more appearances all I want to do is laze around on a sun-lounger, sipping lemonade and indulging in a refreshing ice cream. However, I have a little holiday just around the corner so I need to start getting my bikini body on, and it isn’t enough to just have ‘low-fat’ ice cream. So a couple of clicks on my laptop later I end up on blogilates and what I found was so exciting I just had to share it with you!

Introducing the healthiest, tastiest snack ever, that I know will be a staple this summer: banana ice cream, with only one ingredient: a banana!

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Step 1: Chop a banana into coin shapes. Obviously use the amount of bananas that you would require to make the amount of ice cream you would want (I have found that one average sized banana is equal to one portion).

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Step 2: Pop the banana coins in a bowl or Tupperware box and leave them in the freezer for a couple of hours until completely frozen solid.

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Step 3: Take them out to blend, blend and blend a bit more in a food processor/blender until you have achieved a thick, whipped-cream-like product.

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Step 4: Serve in a pretty little bowl either by itself or with a trickle of toffee sauce which, I know, kind of negates the whole ‘healthy’ thing, but come on, bananas and toffee… Hmmm…

Enjoy!

P.S. Let me know if you liked this post and I may put up more yummy recipes; suggestions are welcome!

A Lovely Little Lip ‘Crayon’ Assortment

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IMG_0196Ever since Clinique launched the new interesting, innovative and inspiring ‘Chubby Stick’ range highstreet brands have been shooting dupes at us from all directions, from Soap and Glory to Poundland’s own-brand ‘Chit Chat’. I have collected a little assortment of these lovely lip crayons (we already have lip pencils and lipsticks, so why not lip crayons?) over this past couple months and I am thoroughly enjoying each and every one of them!

Firstly, let’s start with the one that started it all off – Clinique’s ‘moisturizing lip colour balm’, otherwise known as the wonderfully, humorously named ‘Chubby Stick’. I have the shades ‘Woppin’ Watermelon’ and ‘Curvy Candy’, and out of the two I think I would have to label ‘Woppin’ Watermelon’ as my favourite. It was with this one that my collection first began; this past Christmas my best friend, Amy, told me that I would not have my present on Christmas Day because of jam-packed post office deliveries around that festive time of year. I was a little disappointed at first, however all these feelings were brushed aside as soon as I opened the door one day in early January and saw the little silver box tied up in ribbon attached to a tag that had the CLINIQUE logo on the front in her outstretched hands. Removing the lid I was euphoric to find the small packaging of the Chubby Stick I had been coveting for weeks snugly nestled in the puffs of white tissue paper. She informed me that she had tried the same one and loved it, and Amy, I would absolutely have to agree! The subtle pink is a your-lips-but-better shade that highlights your natural lip colour with a moisturising sheen to the lips that lasts hours. It is the perfect lip for a ‘no makeup makeup’ look and never leaves my handbag, so thank you so much to my beautiful bestfriend who couldn’t have picked a better prezzie! ‘Curvy Candy’ has the same moisturising longevity, however the pink is more intense and pigmented. In the department store I bought this crayon in, I was two-ticks away from purchasing the ‘Chunky Cherry’ shade, however, thinking of the immense amount of red lipstick I have in a drawer at home, I made a snap decision to snatch up this plush pink. They are rather expensive (£16) for the amount of product that you get, but totally worth it for the amount that I use mine! The only flaw the Chubby Sticks have, in my opinion, is the smell: they smell like wax or rubber, so Clinique, all we are waiting for now are watermelon, cherry and candy flavours to match their witty names! Don’t you agree?

The first ‘dupe’ I picked up was the highly raved about ‘Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains’ in the colour ‘Rendezvous’ for £8.99 (I think!). This shade is a bold orange, very similar to ‘Oversized Orange’ Chubby Stick, but a whole lot more pigmented. The intense colour matches that of a lipstick, yet the moisturising balm creates a glossy look and smooth-touch feel to your lips. And the bonus – it smells great! The strong mint scent that reminds me of After Eight mints (one of my favourites! Along with Jaffa Cakes – hmmm, Jaffa Cake flavoured lipstick…drool…) is very freshening to smell on your lips, just millimetres from your nose.

The last brand I have tried is a bit of an odd one – ‘Chit Chat’, which is Poundland’s (an English equivalent to the dollar store) own brand of makeup. I was very hesitant at first, but thought I would try it, seeing as it was only £1, but I am so impressed! The colour I chose is ‘Coral’ which is a subtle peachy colour which is something that I think the other two brands are missing; what ever happened to peachy tones? I know that the Revlon one looks peachy and the Chit Chat lip crayon looks orange in the photo, so sorry, but trust me on this one! This product is just as moisturising as the other two, the only drawbacks are that it is scentless and the packaging is very unimpressive.

So that’s it for my little collection of lip crayons…for now! If anyone knows of any other dupes or Clinique shades you would recommend, let me know below!

Let’s Get Naked!

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IMG_0194The recently raved about “Urban Decay Naked Palette’ is a collection of eye shadows that, I’m sure, you have all heard of! Tut, tut, if you haven’t! Out of the three available palettes – Naked Basics, Naked 1 and Naked 2, I chose to purchase Naked Basics, having spent about three hours scouring other beauty blogs and vlogs for information on this fabulous new addition to the much adored Urban Decay brand. I spent another twenty minutes in Debenhams testing each colour on my hand before easily coming to my conclusion: NAKED BASICS BABY!

I say ‘easily’, the reason behind my not-so-difficult-in-the-end decision is as follows; the other two palettes, although lovely, in my opinion have too many shimmering shades. Now, tones with this sparkling quality suit different people, and I unfortunately am not one who it suits; they highlight (and not in a good way) the lines and creases in my eyelids if applied across the whole lid making me appear to have the drooping eyelids of a forty year old woman. Not those of a young lady in her late teens! Also the size had a huge impact on which palette I would walk out of the doors clutching. The Naked Basics Palette is around half the size of the other two palettes. This makes it a whole lot easier to carry around in the inside pocket of my handbag should I need to touch up my makeup during the day: handy!

Anyway, on to the palette itself…

This beautifully compact and portable palette contains five gorgeous matte shades; Foxy (also featured in the Naked 2 palette), W.O.S, Naked 2 (obviously featured in the Naked 2 palette), Faint and Crave, as well as the only shimmer; Venus. One reason my love for this beauty product is so fierce stems from how very versatile it is; Venus is a shade I use everyday in the inner corners of the eyes to open up the eye area, and also use as a highlighter on the brow bone. Foxy is a yellowy – nude shade that can double up as a concealer setter. This palette is designed perfectly to be ideal for a calm, natural smoky eye look, which can be toned down for a subtler everyday eye. However, by layering the jet black Crave and striking Venus, you can ‘glam’ up for an outstanding night out.

I am completely head-over-heels in love with this product, using it on a daily basis and constantly raving about it to all I know personally, and now to all of you!

Five Ways To Get Your Five A Day…

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Cramming five fruit and vegetable’s worth of nutrients into day-to-day life can be really difficult if, like me, you have a busy, on the go lifestyle. Convenience when it comes to food is the only way to go when you have other priorities such as study, work or children, and that often means ready meals or oven chips. I’ve discovered five effective ways to get in all that juicy goodness into your day that will easily fit around your schedule:

 

  • The freezer is your friend – At the beginning of the week spend a little time cooking up a big meal you can easily freeze. For example, cook up a large soup with plenty of vegetables in it – leaks, carrots and sweet-corn are among my favourite to include, but there are so many variations it would be hard to go wrong! All you have to do is freeze portion sizes for each day you may be busy during lunchtime and then, when you’re ready to eat it, whack it in the microwave and you’re ready to go. Super nutritious, super tasty, and super quick – all round winner!

 

  • Infused water – Recently I have been carrying this around with me everywhere: my fruit infuser water bottle. My one is from Amazon, however they are available in pretty much all home-wear stores, and they are a fabulous way to get plenty of vitamins and minerals from fruit, without stopping and eating it – great if you’re not a big fan of the stuff! Just pop some segments of fruit in the bottle, add water, and leave over night in the fridge to let its juicy goodness transfer into a hydrating drink you can have on the go!

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  • Smoothies – Similar to the infused water, smoothies are a great way to pack away the fruit (and even vegetables) without eating it. The Breville blender I have is especially good for time-saving as it doesn’t need plenty of washing up time wasted as the top is removed to drink from, and then can be dish-washed! Ideal! There are so many recipes online for green smoothies, citrus smoothies, berry smoothies and so much more, so why not check it out? It’s a filling snack or breakfast, and a delicious way of fitting one or two of your five a day.

 

IMG_8549Side note: The ballet teacher that takes these smoothies to work every day has MS. She swears that having a healthy smoothie while she’s teaching and on-the-go everyday helps to improve her health and give her the strength she needs to fight her illness and carry on her life as normal. 

  • Prepare your meals in advance – Meal prep is so important for healthy 
    eating and there areplenty of meals you can prepare in advance to take with you wherever you may be jetting off to. See my ‘Salad In A Jar’ post for an idea of how to prepare a salad in advance. You could make it even healthier by adding some orange segments or apple cubes – sweet and tasty additions to a crunchy, savoury salad!

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  • Switch it about – Chop and change your normal meals and snacks to involve fruit and veg. For example, adding banana, blueberries or dried fruit to breakfast cereal is a yummy addition to an ordinarily boring bowl and slowly releases energy so it keeps you going for longer in a morning (who doesn’t need an extra energy boost when up early?) Taking snacks in your bag to work or college such as a fruit with a peal to protect from pen explosions or a book battering, or sticks of veg like carrots or pepper in a Tupperware (with humus – of course!) is a good way to keep you from munching on other things like chocolate or crisps when in a rush.

 

So there you have it, a few ways you can eat healthily without sacrificing time out a busy lifestyle. I hope some of these works for you. If they do, or even if you have any more tips to fit in your five a day, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Until next time!

 

 

Take The Time

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Some very wise authors of a very wise book called ‘How To Be Parisian’ once said:

“Take the time to listen and know yourself. Take the time to change, to grow, to rest. Take the time to be quiet. Take the time to say yes, take the time to say no. Take the time to look after your body, to eat well. Take the time to ask yourself who you are and what you want. Call your Grandmother on her birthday, and rinse your hair in cold water, breathe deeply, make fresh orange juice for breakfast, to go to a museum, to go for a stroll in the woods and listen to tiny creatures in the grass. In summer make a scrapbook of pressed flowers. And don’t forget to daydream in the bath like when you were a little girl.”

I know this sounds cliché, but this small paragraph really did change my life. As soon as I read it I did take the time to do all those things; every single one. I was part way through the book, lazing in bed, and suddenly jumped up, put on my most comfortable clothes and forgot about makeup and hair products. I got a bus to the nearest art gallery and spent a blissful afternoon enjoying my own company and drinking coffee and reading the rest of the book. What I have now come to realise is that these weren’t instructions, and though my Grandmother loved the phone call and I now have a kick-ass, flower filled scrapbook, I now understand that these are examples. I have started to come up with my own ways of ‘taking time’.      I take the time to paint like I used to.

I take the time to photograph flowers and moments and small creatures and friends and fantastic views.

I have taken the time to begin learning yoga, and always remember to take the time to breathe.

I take the time to fill jars with beautiful weeds and knit instead of watching TV.

I take the time to sit in warm water for a while in silence.

I don’t go home straight from work in an evening; I take the time to sit and enjoy the view or take a stroll before heading home to bed.

I take the time to enjoy a really great coffee with my mum and trawl through charity shops.

I teach myself about Buddhism and feminism and nudists and African tribes and Christianity and more, to figure out what type of person I want to be.

I have taken the time to sort through our shed full of old furniture and turned it into something beautiful for me to relax and listen to my favourite music in.

on what I eat and make sure to think about where it’s come from and the work gone behind it before I eat it.

And last but not least, I do now take the time to daydream in the bath like I did when I was a little girl.

Finding out what you need to make time for in your life is such an eye-opening experience – you have to work hard to figure out what your soul connects with and this really helps you settle into the person you really are when work and stressful responsibilities are stripped away. Mindfulness is so key to leading a happy and relaxed life so bear in mind what makes you happy and peaceful and take the time to do it.

A handful of my experiences that I have posted on Instagram:

Painting for fun is so relaxing...
Painting for fun is so relaxing…
Plant potting and getting my hands muddy...
Plant potting and getting my hands muddy…
The most relaxing afternoon sipping coffee, reading and wandering round galleries.
The most relaxing afternoon sipping coffee, reading and wandering round galleries.
Plain warm water, no fuss, perfect.
Plain warm water, no fuss, perfect.
My first go at yoga, and it was so lovely.
My first go at yoga, and it was so lovely.
My lil' scrapbook...
My lil’ scrapbook…
Such a beautiful view...
Such a beautiful view…

I’d love to hear what you take the time to do.

Ladies of Britain…

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So today is voting day in the UK and I wanted to send a very brief message out to all you lovely ladies of Britain. I have just arrived home from voting (for the first time since I have been the legal age) and suddenly felt inspired to grab my laptop and plea with you to VOTE! Thousands of women in the 1900s fought, sacrificed and starved themselves so that women today can have the dignified and important right to vote, so why would we let their sacrifice be in vain? It is very easy to spend an hour on the Internet and find out the general policies of the different parties, even to take short quizzes to match your morals and ethos to a party who feel similarly. Then all you need to do is pop to the poll station, which is usually in walking distance, and mark a cross next to someone’s name. So simple, right?

Many people aren’t bothered about what happens politically and therefore don’t bother voting, which is fine. However, if you’re one of those people who complain or grumble about policies that in place then you have the amazing power to help change and shape the society we live in to the way that you want! Politics does not need to cause arguments or fights between friends, families or lovers, it can be a personal choice that you choose not to publish all over Facebook, or rant about during dinner.

Give voting a go if you haven’t before, and if you already have – I salute you!

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‘Etherial Muse’ Selection

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I have always been a keen artist: my doodles and compositions over the years have ranged from five foot, oil-on-canvas extravaganzas, to tiny, intricate sketches on the back of a beer mat.

My newest style is inspired by many an Instagram stalk and Pintrest nosey into what other people are finding both exciting and therapeutic to create. As it is coming up to Summer, I feel a lot more happy and confident in myself (I guess a side effect of my self-diagnosed Seasonal Effective Disorder, who knows?) and therefore am focusing on mindfulness and emotional wellbeing, which, for some reason, is always reflected in my artistic musings.

I have found myself getting caught up in the odd, abstract worlds I place these little Etherial Muses in, as it is both visually wonderful but emotionally grounded.

So here’s a selection of my favourite pieces so far. If you are interested in buying any original watercolour paintings, or putting in a commission to see yourself or a pet painted as a Muse to put in a frame or perhaps have as a phone background, don’t hesitate to contact me on my ‘Contact Me’ page!

So, what do you think to the Etherial Muse selection? I’d love to hear feedback!FullSizeRender_1

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e.l.f St Lucia Contour Duo

e.l.f St Lucia Contour Duo

e.l.f St Lucia Contour Duo

It is such a shame that e.l.f is only available online in the UK (with a pretty large shipping fee, might I add) because a lot of their products are high in quality but very low in price and you know me, I’m a toucher shopper – I have to feel and test the products before I buy. I first saw Tanya Burr talking about this particular product on YouTube and quickly jotted ‘e.l.f. St Lucia Contour Duo’ down on my ‘list of things to buy in America’.  For $3 Target practically paid me to take it away, so a few minutes later I was taking this baby home with me ready to try her out for size, and months later I’m still loving it.

The bronze is a fairly good dupe for Nars’ ‘Laguna’ and is very pigmented. I would not recommend this for fair skin as it may be too orange toned, however, paired with my tan from spending the last two weeks of my American road trip in sunny Florida the product helps to warm up my face and create subtle shadows where appropriate.

(On a quick side note: does anyone else find that when they come back from holiday they have a lovely tanned body but their face has barely changed due to a combination of wearing SPF 15 makeup and face-exfoliator? It’s so frustrating, right!? So yeah, that’s why my face needed warming up!)

Anyway, back onto subject. The blush is a lot subtler and the minute gold flecks embedded in the powder create a healthy glow across the cheeks. I have found that the finish is actually better when this is applied with a firmer brush or even the pad at the base of your thumb, as opposed to the soft Real Techniques Blush Brush, which doesn’t quite pick up enough product.

The compact is the perfect size: small enough to fit in a little makeup bag for touching up throughout the day but large enough for a decent sized mirror in the lid – perfect for doing makeup on the way to wherever I may be jetting off to next!

Love At First Scent – Burberry ‘Body’

Burberry 'Body'

Burberry 'Body'

In my second ever GlossyBox a couple of years ago I received a small sample size of this particular eau de toilette and fell in love. It contained more than your usual amount of product for a sample, and, more notably, did not come presented in a tiny plastic case, but rather a chunky glass bullet – naturally setting the bar very high for future GlossyBox perfume samples and consequently fuelling my pet hate for typically tacky freebee tasters.

The musky, floral scent makes me feel very grown up when sporting it, and it has a quality that I have never before experienced in a perfume before: the scents have layers that become increasingly noticeable throughout the day. I often find with other fragrances that I have to reapply a few sprays every couple of hours in order for the scent to not fade too much and therefore become completely unnoticeable. However, I have found that with each passing hour the scent appears to relax into my skin and begins to smell better as the day goes on! Ideal for a night out, a no-handbag-day and naturally perfect for extending the life of a particularly expensive product.

So after quite a while of the sample sitting on my perfume rack being ‘saved’ yet often thought about, I finally sucked it up and…asked Santa for the full size for Christmas! Santa may not have delivered but the BoyF certainly did and I swear it hasn’t left my wrists since I unboxed it!

 

P.S. I still haven’t used up the sample: I think I may keep it as a memento of my one true love-at-first-scent!

My MAC Palette

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In the last few months I have aquired a fair few of these coveted shadows: the good, the bad and the ugly (I could never say ugly about a MAC shade, maybe disappointing is more appropriate!) and I thought I could share them with you in case you’re looking for advice for a purchase or even just as a quick read with your morning coffee on a Sunday much like today. So enjoy, as I have just as much fun rambling about my little pride and joys!

‘Phloof’ (top left of the palette) – I am obsessed with inner corner eye highlighting and therefore own a silly amount of shimmery white eyeshadows, so naturally when I was browsing the MAC counter I gravitated to the lighter shades on the shadow rainbow rack. ‘Phloof’ caught my eye as a perfect highlighting shade for both the contour areas on the face such as the top of the cheekbones, bridge of the nose and the dip on the cupid’s-bow, and also as an inner-eye-corner brightener. The champagney silver tone is not sparkly but rather it holds a natural looking sheen making it much easier to use as a highlighter – a favourite in my collection!

‘Espresso’ (top right of the palette) – I first heard about this matte, chocolate shadow from viviannadoesmakeup as she often boasts it’s multiple uses as both an eyeshadow but also brow filler. I agree that it’s a gorgeous shade that is multi-functional, highly pigmented and very flattering on all eye colours – an all round winner!

‘Bronze’ (bottom left of the palette) – I have to admit I was a little disappointed, just a little. I had had my eye on it for a while but tried to find alternatives in the drugstores like the Loreal Infallible Pressed Eyeshadow, the Maybelline Colour Tattoo and the Rimmel liquid shadow dupes, but nothing beats a bit a of luxury in the end does it? So I gave in to the craving and picked one up, however having tried it I have to admit that I actually prefer the drugstore’s alternatives as, unlike other MAC Eyeshadows, I found this one to have a particularly light pigment coverage requiring a good amount of work packing the product on to get a good colour payoff. Once a good amount of pigment is applied the shimmery colour pairs beautifully with the matte ‘Espresso’ and I find it makes blue eyes in particular really pop, but I wouldn’t say this is anything different to the cheaper alternatives.

‘Rule’ (bottom right of the palette) – This shadow is unlike anything else in my collection so it was a bit of a gamble purchasing it, however I used Christmas as a perfect opportunity to go outside my comfort zone and ask for it as a gift! I use this rusty orange colour mainly to warm the edges of an intense black smokey eye or to create interest with a pop of colour on the lower brow bone area when sporting nude shades. But it does also come in handy when while I’m messing around with over-the-top makeup looks that you can check out on my Instagram (there’s a link to the right of the page!). Like ‘Bronze’ it’s not the most pigmented eyeshadow, however I’m willing to let them off on this one as I only use a light hint of colour in the fear of ending up with umpa-lumpa eyes!

‘All That Glitters’ (bottom separate pan) – a favourite for many MAC lovers: a charmingly subtle shimmery pink champagne colour that is perfect to incorporate into a brown smokey eye or even by itself swept across the lid to add a little interest to an otherwise naked eyelid. It was the very first MAC eyeshadow I ever purchased, however it did take much debate. I found that the true quality and colour payoff can only be appreciated fully in real life: on photographs the colour appears a little darker and the tone comes out flatter, so it’s a shade to check out during your next peruse around your nearest MAC counter!

‘Club’ (top separate pan) – I was convinced by the ravings of Lily Pebbles’ love for this particular one, however I have only used it once in the six months I’ve had it in my collection. I find this a very difficult shade to work with – when applied with a brush barely any product is brushed on the skin, when applied with fingers more product is packed on but it is so poorly pigmented that the colour appears more as a dirty brown than a greeny-black. The man who sold me this shadow did show me a trick to make the colour stand out more though: he grabbed a black eyeliner pencil and coloured in a centimeter by centimeter square area of his hand and proceeded to push the shadow on top. The black base ensured that the muddy colour of the eyeshadow alone was not visible and only the interesting colour-changing quality was seen. This is therefore appropriate for a night out or even fancy dress but not wearable during the day in my opinion.