Talonted Lex

London beauty blogger.
Obsessed with make up, nail art & gin.

Talk to me - talontedlex@hotmail.co.uk


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Come have a nosey at April’s Birchbox*!

Last week I received an email from Birchbox asking if I would like to receive their April box to review and I was thrilled! I’ve done lots of research into Birchbox and am always tempted but then look at my piles of unused and unloved products and talk myself out of it. But this may have changed my mind…

There may be some of you thinking what the hell is a Birchbox?

It’s a beauty subscription box: you pay a monthly fee and every month they send you a beautiful box packed full of ‘high-end beauty and lifestyle samples’ for you to try. Then, if you like them, you can then buy full-size products on the Birchbox e-shop. Each box comes with a booklet giving you more information and tips for using each product; lifestyle recommendations (music, TV, films, food and beauty); as well as recipes (salted caramel cupcakes? Yes please).

So what did I get?

TheBalm Cosmetics ‘How ‘Bout Them Apples?’ Cheek & lip cream

Laura Mercier ‘Ambre Vanille’ souffle body creme (smells DIVINE)

Lord & Berry Couture Kohl Kajal eye pencil

Color Club Gala’s Gems nail polish (an exclusive from Birchbox’s collaboration with London-based Spanish blogger Gala Gonzalez)

Yes to Cucumbers facial wipes (which I’ll save for flights… you all know how I feel about face wipes)

ProperCorn sweet coconut & vanilla popcorn

And how much does it cost?

A monthly recurring subscription is £10. You can cancel at any time and even get a refund if you’re not happy and send back within 14 days (with products unused, OBV).

A six monthly subscription is £50 (one box free)

A year subscription is £90 (three boxes free)

You also earn reward points with every box bought which can be redeemed against items in the Birchbox e-shop.

Pretty good, right? I love the idea of being able to try lots of different products in sample size. Have you tried Birchbox? Are you tempted?

Lex

*This product was provided to me for review. I have put a lot of time, effort and (most importantly) love into this blog. I would not review something that did not fit with my blog and I will always be honest with my opinions :)

The Boyfriend Makeover Video!

Aaron and I filmed another YouTube video - this time I did *his* make up! He has so much patience…

Let me know what you think!

Lex

Escentual SALE: 1/3 off French Pharmacy products, ends 31st of March!

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you will know of my love for French skincare. My parents live in France and everytime I go over there I stock up on various products and rely on them to keep my skin happy and healthy. I don’t know what it is about French skincare but I find it so much better for my sensitive and picky skin.

Escentual are having a sale on French pharmacy products that ends on the 31st of March (Monday!) so here are my picks from the best.

(all photos taken from the Escentuals website)

AVENE

I LOVE Avene products. LOVE THEM. They are all made with Avene thermal spring water which is proven to be beneficial to all kinds of skin problems. Their products have transformed my rosacea and I couldn’t be without them. I’ve only picked a few products but, honestly, ANYTHING by them is brilliant so have a nosey.

Micellar lotion - a brilliant second to the famous Bioderma, I use micellar waters as my first cleanse. This is a fantastic make up remover that is also gentle and calming.

Antirougeurs Fort Relief - This is from their specialised anti-redness range. I apply this when I’m having a flare up and it soothes and protects my skin.

Extremely Gentle Cleanser - Great for sensitive skin, you apply the gel with your fingers and then gently remove with a cotton pad. Perfect if water makes your skin tight and sore.

LA ROCHE POSAY

Similar to Aven, LRP are another all singing, all dancing brand. I’ve never tried anything by them that I didn’t like. Have a look through all their products and try a few as you can’t really go wrong.

Cicaplast Baume B5 - This is my go to when my skin is throwing a tantrum. It’s a thick, creamy emollient-style cream that I pile on and keep massaging in for hours. It sits on the skin to soothe and strengthen so don’t put it on before you go out unless you want to go for the slimy look!

Effaclar Duo - This is famous in the blogosphere. It is a serum-style product that I put on my jaw, chin and nose to unclog those pesky pores that never turn into proper spots but just sit there looking bumpy. It is  brilliant step to add to your skincare routine.

Effaclar Mat - I bought this moisturiser last week (taking advantage of this offer!) and have only used it a few times but love it. Sinks in quickly and is mattifying so a great base for make up.

CAUDALIE

Huile Divine - This is a dry oil body spray that smells INCREDIBLE. It sinks in instantly and provides a lovely sheen to the skin with a lingering scent. Love this.

NUXE

Huile Prodigieuse - Another dry oil spray but this one is a multi-tasker. This is great for holidays and will be the first thing I pack for my honeymoon as it can be used as a body oil, a hair oil, on your cuticles, to put a bit of glow on your cheekbones… it’s a great all-rounder. You can also get a gold-tinted version if you want a bit of shine.

VICHY

LiftActiv Derm Source night cream - I bought these Vichy products last week as well and haven’t tried this moisturiser yet but have heard great things…

Neovadiol gf eye & lip contours - I tried this eye and lip cream this week and am so impressed. I am forever on the hunt for a plumping eye cream (and I’ve tried a lot!) and this one seems to be very good. Instant plumping, not irritating to the delicate eye area and doesn’t interfere with make up. I will keep you updated!

Let me know if you treat yourself to anything, it’s definitely a deal worth taking advantage of!

Lex

The massive Japan beauty haul!

My long-suffering fiancé went to Japan recently and obviously I couldn’t miss the chance to give him a huge list of things I wanted him to get me! He did an amazing job and got most of the things on the list (and some extras). I’m going to be doing reviews of the individual items once I’ve had chance to try them all out but here is a list of everything he got.

  1. Dolly Wink liquid eyeliner
  2. K-Palette eyebrow pen (I actually asked for eyeliner but I am SO PLEASED he got this wrong as I am IN LOVE with this eyebrow pen!)
  3. Fiberwig LX mascara by DJV Beautenizer
  4. Visee lash upswing long mascara
  5. Heroine Make mascara long & curl
  6. Shiseido Perfect Whip Foam Cleanser
  7. Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV spf50
  8. DHC cleansing oil
  9. Hada Labo Goku-jyun Light Lotion
  10. Kanebo kracie moisturising extra rich face mask
  11. Dariya Black soy milk face mask
  12. Mandom beauty barrier repair hyaluronic acid face mask
  13. Kose cosmeport clear turn white Q10 face mask box
  14. Kanebo kracie lotion face mask box
  15. Kose cosmeport clear turn hyaluronic essence face mask box
  16. Hello Kitty socks
  17. Harry Potter wand chopsticks
  18. KitKat green tea flavour

He did so well! Especially considering I gave him a list and he speaks no Japanese! I am desperate to go to Japan and have a feeling I would go even more crazy on beauty items.

Everything I’ve tried so far has been wonderful. I’m a bit scared to use some of it because I don’t want it to run out! (please tell me I’m not the only one who does this?)

Watch out for reviews on the individual items over the next few weeks!

Lex

Nail care
I get asked a lot of questions on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook about nail care and the problems people have, so I thought I’d do a blog post on it that I can direct people to if they need it.
Please remember I have never trained in anything to do with nails, I just have a passion for nails, have tried a lot of products and wanted to share my tips.
My tool kit
The items I could not do without when it comes to nail care:
A glass nail file - Never, ever, ever clip your nails. It encourages splitting and is too harsh. I always file my nails down if they need ‘trimming’ and yes, it takes ages but it is worth it. My nails are so much stronger since I threw my clippers away. A glass nail file is an investment as they last forever, can be washed and are much better for your nails.
A good base coat - I am always shocked when people don’t use a base coat: it strengthens and protects your nails, stops them staining and prevents chips. Who wouldn’t want to get involved with that? I use OPI Nail Envy as it is strengthening and has totally changed my nails. I also use ORLY Bonder if I want my manicure to last ages as it prevents chips better than anything else.
A good top coat - A brilliant manicure without a top coat is like a great outfit with no shoes. It makes no sense. Top coat makes your manicure super shiny, it prolongs the colour and lasting time of your polish. I use Seche Vite because I have never found anything better. It dries a manicure in under 5 minutes and is shiny like glass - I am an addict and I don’t care who knows it.

The other basics
Cuticles - Do not trim your cuticles. The cuticle is there to protect your nail bed and keep out dirt and infection, so trimming it can damage your nail. Also, it’s easy to trim too much and end up with a cut or sore spot which is no fun. Whenever I apply hand cream or cuticle oil, I gently push the cuticles back. If you do this regularly, the cuticle will stay neat and won’t grow out onto your nail.
Filing - When you file your nails, don’t see-saw backwards and forwards. It weakens the nails and encourages splits and breaks. File from the left edge to the centre and then from the right edge to the centre.
Buffing - I am not a fan of buffing the nails as it can weaken the nail. If you have ridges or bumps in your nails it is most likely that it’s from a lack of natural moisture in your body Ramp up your hand cream application and see if that helps. There are also ridge filling base coats that smooth out your nails so that your polish goes on smoothly. If you must buff them, try the 4-way buffer from Models Own and try to keep it to a once monthly (or less!) habit.
Peeling or chipping polish - This could be down to many things. Make sure you clean your nails with nail varnish remover before putting on nail varnish, even if you had no polish on before. Any oil, dirt or grease on your nails can form a barrier between the nail and the polish which encourages chips. Base coat and top coat, as mentioned above are vital. Thick, gloopy polish will encourage chipping. Also practice wrapping/capping your tips when you paint your nails: paint the outer edge of your nail (literally wrapping the polish over the end of your nail) to discourage water or oil getting under the nail and causing chips.
Splitting nails - A split in your nail can be very frustrating. The easiest thing to do is to file it and the others down to match. HOWEVER, if you want to save the nail or if the tear is too far down and is sore, there is a trick to save the nail or prolong it until you can file it down. I did a blog post on the tea-bag method HERE.
Staining - Staining sometimes occurs even if you religiously use base coat. Dark colours and greens seem to the worst culprits! If you have some staining there is a very easy remedy: coat your bare nails in whitening toothpaste, leave for 10 minutes and scrub off with a nail brush. Et voila! Perfect nails once again.
Water - Too much exposure to water is bad for your nails and your manicure. Washing up should always be done with gloves.
Bubbles in a manicure - Before you paint your nails, roll the bottle between your palms to mix it. If you shake the bottle you will get bubbles. Bubbles in your manicure can also be due to painting a coat before the previous one has dried so take your time.

Some myths, debunked
"Your nails need a break from polish" - Poppycock. Your nails are dead, the same as your hair. You can treat them and make them look better, but they are not alive. They get anything they need from your diet and care. They don’t need sunlight or a break from polish. In fact, having nail varnish on them actually makes them stronger if anything, so this is just nonsense. I have worn nail varnish every day for about 10 years and my nails are ridiculously strong.
"Keep your polishes in the fridge" - Piffle. Any extremes of temperature are bad for nail varnish. Keep them away from the fridge, radiators or windows. The only thing that can make your nail varnish go gloopy or separate is air, so make sure your tops are screwed on tightly.
"If your polish is gloopy, add nail varnish remover" - Utter tripe. This will destroy your polish. You can buy nail varnish THINNER for a few pounds and it lasts ages. You add one or two drops to the bottle, roll the bottle in between your hands and that should sort it out.
I hope these tips were helpful for you, if you have any questions or ever want to natter about beauty come chat to me on Twitter: @ LexingtonSteel.
Lex

Nail care

I get asked a lot of questions on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook about nail care and the problems people have, so I thought I’d do a blog post on it that I can direct people to if they need it.

Please remember I have never trained in anything to do with nails, I just have a passion for nails, have tried a lot of products and wanted to share my tips.

My tool kit

The items I could not do without when it comes to nail care:

A glass nail file - Never, ever, ever clip your nails. It encourages splitting and is too harsh. I always file my nails down if they need ‘trimming’ and yes, it takes ages but it is worth it. My nails are so much stronger since I threw my clippers away. A glass nail file is an investment as they last forever, can be washed and are much better for your nails.

A good base coat - I am always shocked when people don’t use a base coat: it strengthens and protects your nails, stops them staining and prevents chips. Who wouldn’t want to get involved with that? I use OPI Nail Envy as it is strengthening and has totally changed my nails. I also use ORLY Bonder if I want my manicure to last ages as it prevents chips better than anything else.

A good top coat - A brilliant manicure without a top coat is like a great outfit with no shoes. It makes no sense. Top coat makes your manicure super shiny, it prolongs the colour and lasting time of your polish. I use Seche Vite because I have never found anything better. It dries a manicure in under 5 minutes and is shiny like glass - I am an addict and I don’t care who knows it.

The other basics

Cuticles - Do not trim your cuticles. The cuticle is there to protect your nail bed and keep out dirt and infection, so trimming it can damage your nail. Also, it’s easy to trim too much and end up with a cut or sore spot which is no fun. Whenever I apply hand cream or cuticle oil, I gently push the cuticles back. If you do this regularly, the cuticle will stay neat and won’t grow out onto your nail.

Filing - When you file your nails, don’t see-saw backwards and forwards. It weakens the nails and encourages splits and breaks. File from the left edge to the centre and then from the right edge to the centre.

Buffing - I am not a fan of buffing the nails as it can weaken the nail. If you have ridges or bumps in your nails it is most likely that it’s from a lack of natural moisture in your body Ramp up your hand cream application and see if that helps. There are also ridge filling base coats that smooth out your nails so that your polish goes on smoothly. If you must buff them, try the 4-way buffer from Models Own and try to keep it to a once monthly (or less!) habit.

Peeling or chipping polish - This could be down to many things. Make sure you clean your nails with nail varnish remover before putting on nail varnish, even if you had no polish on before. Any oil, dirt or grease on your nails can form a barrier between the nail and the polish which encourages chips. Base coat and top coat, as mentioned above are vital. Thick, gloopy polish will encourage chipping. Also practice wrapping/capping your tips when you paint your nails: paint the outer edge of your nail (literally wrapping the polish over the end of your nail) to discourage water or oil getting under the nail and causing chips.

Splitting nails - A split in your nail can be very frustrating. The easiest thing to do is to file it and the others down to match. HOWEVER, if you want to save the nail or if the tear is too far down and is sore, there is a trick to save the nail or prolong it until you can file it down. I did a blog post on the tea-bag method HERE.

Staining - Staining sometimes occurs even if you religiously use base coat. Dark colours and greens seem to the worst culprits! If you have some staining there is a very easy remedy: coat your bare nails in whitening toothpaste, leave for 10 minutes and scrub off with a nail brush. Et voila! Perfect nails once again.

Water - Too much exposure to water is bad for your nails and your manicure. Washing up should always be done with gloves.

Bubbles in a manicure - Before you paint your nails, roll the bottle between your palms to mix it. If you shake the bottle you will get bubbles. Bubbles in your manicure can also be due to painting a coat before the previous one has dried so take your time.

Some myths, debunked

"Your nails need a break from polish" - Poppycock. Your nails are dead, the same as your hair. You can treat them and make them look better, but they are not alive. They get anything they need from your diet and care. They don’t need sunlight or a break from polish. In fact, having nail varnish on them actually makes them stronger if anything, so this is just nonsense. I have worn nail varnish every day for about 10 years and my nails are ridiculously strong.

"Keep your polishes in the fridge" - Piffle. Any extremes of temperature are bad for nail varnish. Keep them away from the fridge, radiators or windows. The only thing that can make your nail varnish go gloopy or separate is air, so make sure your tops are screwed on tightly.

"If your polish is gloopy, add nail varnish remover" - Utter tripe. This will destroy your polish. You can buy nail varnish THINNER for a few pounds and it lasts ages. You add one or two drops to the bottle, roll the bottle in between your hands and that should sort it out.

I hope these tips were helpful for you, if you have any questions or ever want to natter about beauty come chat to me on Twitter: @ LexingtonSteel.

Lex

Rimmel Moisture Renew lipstick ‘Dark Night Waterl-oops!’

I had heard good things about the new Rimmel Moisture Renew lipsticks and when I saw ‘Dark Night Waterl-oops!’ I knew I had to have it: a dark wine purple creamy lipstick that is perfect for this cold, miserable weather. It’s apparently a fairly good dupe for MAC’s ‘Rebel’… I do love a good dupe!

This is one of the softest lipsticks I have ever used, which is a good and a bad thing: good because it is so moisturising and I can comfortably wear it all day. Bad, because it almost applies itself. That sounds strange but you have to be so careful putting this one as it slips onto the lips so easily that it has the potential to go everywhere. I definitely recommend a lipliner with this one!

Have you tried any of these lipsticks? I’d quite like a nude…

Lex

I’m having a giveaway to celebrate 100 followers on Bloglovin!
Earlier this week I reached 100 followers on Bloglovin. This may not seem like a lot to some, but I am absolutely thrilled. I love writing this blog, have met some really amazing people in the past year, and feel very lucky that people want to read my ramblings about beauty!
In my last French pharmacy haul I asked my dad to get some extra bits with this giveaway in mind. The giveaway prize is a 500ml bottle of Bioderma Micellaire Water and a full size can of La Roche Posay Serozinc. Both cult products and both definite favourites in my skincare routine.
This is open to UK residents only, sorry guys!
Talonted Lex’s 100 Bloglovin followers giveaway
Good luck!
Lex

I’m having a giveaway to celebrate 100 followers on Bloglovin!

Earlier this week I reached 100 followers on Bloglovin. This may not seem like a lot to some, but I am absolutely thrilled. I love writing this blog, have met some really amazing people in the past year, and feel very lucky that people want to read my ramblings about beauty!

In my last French pharmacy haul I asked my dad to get some extra bits with this giveaway in mind. The giveaway prize is a 500ml bottle of Bioderma Micellaire Water and a full size can of La Roche Posay Serozinc. Both cult products and both definite favourites in my skincare routine.

This is open to UK residents only, sorry guys!

Talonted Lex’s 100 Bloglovin followers giveaway

Good luck!

Lex

French pharmacy beauty haul #2

Those who’ve followed me for a while will know that my parents live in France which means I take every opportunity to stock up on French beauty products. I posted my last big haul HERE if you want to see what I already have.

I didn’t have a chance to go over to France before Christmas because of work, but my dad kindly said he would pick some things up for me. He ended up traipsing round 8 pharmacies on his day off and roping countless shop assistants to help him. He’s so cute. I am so glad I stocked up on the essentials (Bioderma and LRP stuff) and also asked him to get some additional things for a small giveaway when I reach my first Bloglovin milestone…!)

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OPI ‘Make Him Mine’ review with swatches

This absolute beauty is from OPI’s holiday collection, the Mariah Carey Holiday 2013 range. And I am in love. I thought the red glitter polish ("Underneath The Mistletoe") was pretty, but this is a whole other kettle of glitter.

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OPI ‘Under The Mistletoe’ nail varnish review with swatches

I am seriously behind with my blogging. I present to you a Christmas themed nail polish…2 weeks into January. I am breaking alllll the rules. I see a boundary, I eat a boundary (if you get that reference, I love you).

So let’s ignore that this is OBVIOUSLY a Christmas nail varnish and just gaze lovingly at it. Isn’t it beautiful?

This is from the Mariah Carey 2013 Holiday Collection, which I had previously ignored because for some reason the Mariah connection turned me off a bit. But there are some really stunning polishes on offer. Boy, do I feel FOOLISH.

This is a dark red jelly polish with bright red glitter. This only needed two coats which is rare for a jelly, but it did dry a little bit matte so it definitely needs a top coat.

I wore this for the whole week over Christmas which is unusual for me and shows how much I love it.

Have you tried any polishes from the Mariah collections? Am I still allowed to wear this even though it isn’t Christmas?!

Lex

Essie ‘Merino Cool’ review with swatches

I love colours that are hard to describe. I’ve wanted this for ages and remember trying to find it in a massive Essie display in Dubai with Aaron helping me. “It’s kind of…purple-y…brown? Like a more purple taupe-y colour? No, more like a pastel-y plum? Like a mixture of grey and purple? It’s…ummm” *insert picture of Aaron looking confused and horrified*

And now I have it! I found it in TK Maxx in Kilburn for £4.99 (!!) and it has lived up to expectations. It’s such an unusual and pretty colour. It is somehow soft but also edgy.

Essie polishes have a lovely finish: this is 3 coats to get rid of any bald spots but Essie polishes are quick drying so that isn’t a problem. I used to hate Essie polish brushes as they were really thin and hard to use but they have made them a bit thicker now.

I’m so pleased that this polish is now in my collection. What your favourite Essie polish?

Lex

Barry M ultra moisturising lip paint ‘163 Little Vixen’ review with swatches

Barry M lipsticks are a definite favourite of mine: they’re affordable, have great colours and last really well on me. This one is called ‘163’ but the website says it’s called ‘Little Vixen’ (love that name) and is a lovely pinky-red that has a vibrant fuchsia tint to it in some lights.

Barry M have two lipstick ranges: Lip Paints and Ultra Moisturising Lip Paints. The original Lip Paint range is excellent, with really pigmented and opaque colour but unfortunately they are quite drying and I find I can’t wear them all day.

Little Vixen is from the Ultra Moisturising Lip Paint range and, as you would imagine from the name, It is made with cocoa butter which means they aren’t drying at all. However, that does mean that they are slightly less pigmented. But as you can see from the above, that isn’t really a big issue. This is one two coats, blotted in between. I find a lipliner helps to keep it looking neat all day, as the smooth balmy texture means the colour can sometimes bleed around the lip.

All Barry M lip paints are £4.49. BARGAIN.

Lex

Christmas pud nails for @jenniams :) #bbloggers #nbloggers

Christmas pud nails for @jenniams :) #bbloggers #nbloggers

Christmas nails for @doloreshaze :) #bbloggers #nbloggers

Christmas nails for @doloreshaze :) #bbloggers #nbloggers

Specspost review with photos and discount code*

Picture the scene: you go into an opticians and try on some glasses and become really self-conscious. You assume that everyone is staring at you thinking ‘those glasses look ridiculous’. Then the shop assistant comes up and tells you they look good and you don’t believe them because they’re PAID to say that. Then you try to do your hair in different hairstyles to see if they really DO suit you and then other customers really ARE looking at you thinking that you look ridiculous. So you leave the shop and don’t ever go back.

THIS IS MY LIFE. Yes, I am that socially awkward. I have needed glasses since I was about 14 but the whole process of getting glasses makes me feel so awkward and anxious so I have just worn contact lenses instead.

That’s where Specspost comes in! You go to their website, pick out the glasses you like, pay a deposit and have the glasses sent out to you to try at home. That way you can prance around your bedroom in them, get opinions from friends and family and stare into the mirror putting your hair up…then down…then up again… then down again (you know, to really check that you like them!)

If you don’t like them you send them back and they return your deposit. If you do like them you send them back, let them know your prescription, pay the full amount and they post them out to you.

Isn’t that wonderful? The prices are so much cheaper than high street opticians as they don’t have all the overheads and aren’t doing the tests themselves, which works out better for the customer!

On top of the low prices, I have also been given a discount code for my readers, so you can get 10% off - don’t say I never treat you :) Type in TALONTED10 at the checkout.

I have picked the above glasses and can’t wait to get them back with my prescription so I can finally give my contact lenses a rest.

Let me know your thoughts on Specspost!

Lex

*This product was provided to me for review. I have put a lot of time, effort and (most importantly) love into this blog. I would not review something that did not fit with my blog and I will always be honest with my opinions :)

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