Sunday 28 June 2015

Jōvan Intense Oud review: a blingy drugstore steal!

In blogger discussions on fragrance trends, there is much talk of people being heartily 'over' oud, even though oud-forward perfumes continue to be launched at a steady rate. Why, just this year the iconic Ralph Lauren Polo begat a Polo Supreme Oud flanker, for goodness's sake. Me, I am not 'over' oud, having never been remotely 'into', 'onto' - or even 'under' - it in the first place. That said, in my last Top Sniffs and Nasty Niffs round up (of 2013 releases), I did cite Exidolo's Thirty-Three as the best niche oud fragrance of that year, but very much along the lines of 'if you like that sort of thing'.

My issues with oud are partly to do with its austere scent - at its worst tipping over into Band-Aid / Germolene territory, as with some Montales - and partly the fact that oud is integral to that whole Arabian Nights-spice route school of perfumery, of which I am also a little weary, though my attachment to all things Taif rose-related remains as strong as ever. But oud I can take or leave.

Then the other day, completely unprompted, Liz Moores of Papillon Perfumery sent me a full bottle of Coty's Jōvan Intense Oud. I am familiar with Jōvan Musk, bottles of which may be seen languishing in plastic baskets by pharmacy tills up and down the land. Indeed, the forlorn and paltry range of scents in my local chemist prompted a blog post of its own a few years back. I had not come across this oud scent by Jōvan though, which was part of a trio of launches in 2012, along with Silky Rose and Secret Amber. Liz thought Jōvan Intense Oud such a bargain at £15 that she felt I had to try it. She considers me something of a bloggers' champion of budget fragrances, and figured I might be interested in another corner chemist coup from Coty!

Papillon-themed card from Liz on my new pinboard!

Given that I am actively trying to divest myself of perfume at the moment rather than acquire more bottles by any means, I was initially apprehensive about receiving a whole bottle of an oud fragrance, of all things. After all, when Matthew Zhuk of Exidolo offered me one of Thirty-Three on a blind basis I declined, explaining that I might not like it and I hated waste - and I'm pleased to say he did just send me a sample in the end.

But in the case of the Jōvan, my worries were unfounded. Okay, so the gold ribbed top is a trifle gaudy, but what can you expect for £15? Plus the perfume itself is a smooth, classy number all right, to the point where I have taken the trouble to add the horizontal bar accent over the 'o' - and as regular readers know, there are not many perfumes for which I will put myself out in that way, typographically speaking. And I am also embracing this new acquisition despite the bottle being a whopping 88ml! 88ml?? There's another thing to love right there - a blithe disregard for standard pack sizes.

Without further ado, here is the sales blurb about Jōvan Intense Oud, from NST:

"Delight in the darkly enigmatic Intense Oud, a powerfully alluring woody floral. The scent opens with a delicately spiced blend of saffron and lemongrass before building to an addictive heart of cistus labdanum and Turkish rose absolute. Combined with patchouli and sandalwood, Oud wood sensually embraces the whole fragrance, creating an overall experience of distinguished opulence."

So how does it smell to me? Well, in a nutshell - and this may be some reassurance to any other readers who are pretty indifferent to oud - Jōvan Intense Oud isn't particularly dark or powerful, opulent or intense. Rather, it smells like the 'comfy jogging pants' of the oud world, to quote Tara's masterly description of the drydown of Penhaligon's Tralala. Who knew such a thing even existed! Intense Oud is smoothed off and sanitised - that's 'sanitised' in the sense of 'toned down', rather than in the sense of Dettol wipes etc - it's just a gentle hum of oud on your skin. And because Intense Oud isn't intense at all, it needs frequent refreshing, which is no hardship given such a large bottle. Yes, just as Lidl Suddenly Madame Glamour is like a weaker version of Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle, so Jōvan Intense Oud is a watered down take on By Kilian Rose Oud, or something of that ilk.

One of the few reviewers of Intense Oud on Makeupalley exactly sums up my own thoughts on this scent, and its appeal:

"Jovan/Coty have done a very clever thing - they've taken fragrances that are often bagged for being too strong and diluted/twitched notes to make something really wearable. Jovan Intense Oud is a prime example....This is oud, unmistakable as the trendy note going around, but it's friendly, soft, warm. I very much liked this, not least because it makes oud so easy to wear."

They may mean 'oud' the instrument, but never mind ~ Source: Amazon

Now I am not sure I could say a lot more about Intense Oud, as it is well blended and doesn't really progress as such, apart from a fleeting sharpness on first application. I do detect some rose, a whiff of saffron and a generally resinous/woody/oud-y vibe, bolstered by occasional puffs of patchouli, but I wouldn't overegg my perception of the individual notes. And for a formulation that must have cost literally pence, this is not obviously cheap or 'chemically' at all. In a blind test I could well imagine it was at least high end designer, say.

Then I happened to be over at ex-Mr Bonkers' this morning (as in my old house), to pick up a couple of pieces of mail that had washed up there despite my having been gone three years. One was a pouch containing freeze-dried Neapolitan ice cream that you can keep - and eat! - at ambient temperature. Such was our combined curiosity that we ended up polishing most of it off while I was there. If anyone is interested, it had the texture of polystyrene, but if you let it melt in your mouth it tasted just like ice cream - or ice cream that is warmed by a hot sauce, say.

And I also took the opportunity to get ex-Mr B to sniff me wearing the Jōvan perfume, as he really doesn't care for perfume as a category - and has even been known to ask me to leave the room during some of the more febrile testing sessions at the start of my hobby. Intense Oud he described as 'inoffensive' and 'a bit like luxury soap'. Much like Sarah Jessica Parker's Lovely, then, and pretty much any perfume I put before him that doesn't precipitate instant recoil or outright gagging.

So yes, as ex-Mr Bonkers' response attests, this is a smooth, entry level oud, oud with training wheels, office-appropriate oud, jogging bottoms oud - however you want to term it. It won't break the bank and it won't smell of plasters. Nor will its bottle grace your dressing table, it must be said. Not that we should really be keeping our perfume there, as we all know...

As eaten by astronauts! Not bad, but I'll stick with Häagen-Dazs

Sunday 21 June 2015

'Boxing avant-garde': a bonkers men's focus group on the Bright Earth Parfums Eau de Earth edp packaging

In my recent review of Bright Earth Parfums Eau de Earth edp, I explained that I was disappointed by the look of the box, whose electric blue colour and bold graphics was to my mind a 'striking match' for a packet of cigarettes, and also reminded me to a lesser extent of a pack of playing cards or a boy's toy or game. It certainly didn't compute in my mind as packaging for a women's fragrance - let alone one that was supposed to exert an aphrodisiac effect on its wearers, as Undina reminded me in her comment:

"WARNING: possible side effects, aphrodisiac and 'parfum d'amour'!"

For the record, the sales copy on the Etsy site where the perfume is currently sold appears to have been toned down, and now reads:

"A subtle explosion of pleasure through the senses
Mysterious and Enchanting, EAU de EARTH
reimagining the power of Nature! and women!"

So no more references to "love elixir" or "taking you where no woman has gone before". Well, I am glad about that, but am still wrestling with the non-perfume-y connotations of the box.
In the comments to my previous post, a couple of (female) readers remarked that the Eau de Earth box looked like condom packaging, which I must say had not occurred to me, though I can see the resemblance now it has been brought to my attention.

I raised the issue of the masculine leaning packaging with Nicolas, the owner of Bright Earth Parfums and nose behind Eau de Earth. He said that it was too late to change the box now, and encouraged people to view its design with fresh eyes - his sister had described it as 'avant-garde'.

A classically stylish box for a scent called Avant-Garde! ~ Source: eBay

"How about you look at the box with your imagination turned around, you wake up and you say to your self, hum that box is indeed interesting, no more smoking playing video game, it is an unusual view, very home it is!!!"

I am afraid I remained unconvinced that people would be able to make this imaginative leap, and to gather further feedback I decided to host a mini-focus group amongst my 'civilian' friends on Facebook. I initially invited just men to take part, but a number of women piled in once the discussion had got underway:

"Okay, so this is for men only, and only for men who have NOT read my blog post about this perfume. Which I am confident will be most of you. You don't have to be particularly keen on cologne or anything, just an occasional user is fine. I am undertaking some genuine market research for the company behind this packaging, and the question is quite simply: 'If you saw this box, what would you think was in it?' Please assume you can't read the lettering, but can only make out the image / general design of it."

Well, I say that I asked people to pretend they couldn't read the lettering - one respondent helpfully went that bit further in terms of scientific rigour:

"Took the image, blurred the writing, printed a copy, and showed it to the four guys round to play a wargame today. So the sample is geeks aged 49 to 64."

Hmm, it may be that the demographic bias towards gaming geeks slightly offsets the conscientious anonymising of the box. I am still impressed by his attention to detail though. ;)

Respondent's chosen image ~ Source:

Right...I have since gone back and analysed the results - multiple answers were allowed - but from the men only. Views were either expressed directly on my Facebook wall, or in some cases were relayed by their womenfolk.

Condoms - 7
Cigarette packet (several specific mentions of menthol, although I note that many brands of menthol cigarette opt for shamrock green packaging) - 5
DVD (either sci-fi or scientific) - 4
Lavatory cleaner / disinfectant - 2
Electronic device (GPS, mobile phone) - 2
Others - 7 (one mention each for: air freshener / 'air and coal' / razor blades / cold patches / game / sci-fi card game / enormous chunks of elephant poo in space - WTF??!!)

Here are a few comments, to give you a flavour of the lively discussion that unfolded:

"It does look like a bad johnny packet...or some shocking fags, maybe imported from Russia to impress the vulnerable."

"...rubber johnnies...or if not them, definitely something very cheap and subpar. Sorry to your client but that is one ugly piece of packaging."

Source: Amazon

A couple of wags jumped in with additional concerns I hadn't anticipated:

"I would be worried if a packet of condoms had the word 'spray' on it."

"It's rather concerning that there is the potential to mix up razor blade and condom packets."
"Both are found in chemists..."
"Hmm, enormous potential for confusion."


Then the other weekend, I was visiting a friend who is a smoker, and noticed a packet of Pall Mall cigarettes on a table, and was instantly reminded of this exercise. Ironically, he didn't even think of cigarettes himself when I asked for his take on the box - his comment was:

"Mmm...something electronic...? GPS...?"

And of course no poll-type post would be complete without an Undina-style graphic. Not up to her standard of rich functionality, perhaps, but my best effort.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Papier d'Arménie, and a zig-zaggy, concertina fold tale of four cities

I am not sure if there are any current readers of Bonkers who might have caught this post from December, 2009, just a couple of months after I started the blog. It is an account of a snowy trip to Bruges with ex-Mr Bonkers' mother, whom my Facebook friends may also know as 'my elderly friend', noted for her random acts of largesse, 'random' being very much the operative word. Her 75th birthday fell while we were away, and I gave her a bottle of Coco Chanel at breakfast that morning. She had already expressed a liking for Coco, I hasten to add, which marked quite a stylistic departure from the only other scent she owned at the time, the inoffensively peachy Burberry Women. In my post I wrote:

"Her sillage was creamy and warm like a sable stole, cocooning her in this winter wonderland. Well, metaphorically anyway, as we both ended up buying hats."

Now obviously  I wouldn't compare a perfume to a cosy stole anymore, having set up the hoary trope equivalent of a swear box for it some time around 2013... ;) But I mention it because I was wafting an equally memorable trail of Guerlain Bois d'Arménie. I had recently acquired a decant and had fallen hard for its soothing blend of smoky incense and warm, sweet vanillic woods.

Notes: pink pepper, iris, rose, coriander, benzoin, Indonesian patchouli, incense, precious woods, musk and balsams

Back then, I was dimly aware that this 'Armenian paper' from which the Guerlain scent took its inspiration was a venerable form of room deodoriser: it came in booklets comprising strips of paper that you would fold into a concertina and light like joss sticks. I have since learnt that they were invented in 1885 in a suburb of Paris by one Auguste Poncot, and that the family still jealously guard the recipe to this day. The primary ingredient, benzoin, a resin from the styrax tree, is mixed with aromatic 'natural essences' and used to coat an absorbent paper.

Source: Nature et Decouvertes

Three years after the trip to Bruges, in June 2012, I received a card out of the blue from Woking - from my cousin Tim's wife, Sue, enclosing a book of Paper d'Arménie(!) and the following note:

"Now you are probably already familiar with these Papiers Arménie things, but they were new to me. One of my favourite blogs (Mr London Street, he's really very good) wrote about them so evocatively I had to try them for myself. And having eventually got hold of some through French eBay, I thought you might like them, as our resident scentaholic. Let me know what you think of them.

Much love,

PS Tim hates them, btw, says they're too much like joss sticks. But I'll wear him down eventually."

I was about to move house at the time, so I tucked the little booklet away in a safe place. Later that summer, it resurfaced in my shoe box of perfume paraphernalia, and I decided to take it with me to show Victoria Frolova of Boisdejasmin, along with the very few perfumes I owned that I thought she might not have tried. I was going to Brussels specially to meet her in fact, and also to visit the niche perfumery in Waregem, Place Vendôme (aka Birgit Heaven). During our time together - spent sniffing and eating the several delicious meals Victoria rustled up - we talked amongst other things about our shared love of Bois d'Arménie, and I passed across the booklet of papers for her perusal. Indeed, through an oversight I left it behind in Victoria's flat, and she confirmed to me in a message yesterday that she still has them, awaiting collection on a future visit.

Fast forward to last week, when I was in touch with my friend Jessica about an upcoming gig of hers I planned to attend, and also inquiring about the last stragglers she hopes to test in her ongoing rose perfume quest, one of which was A La Rose, by Francis Kurkdjian.

"I don't think I've tried the Francis K yet. (That sounds like a Kafka character, doesn't it?) I am addicted to 'papier d'arménie' which I buy by mail order from France - the best one by far is the limited-edition one by Kurkdjian. So I am sure I will like A la rose."

Well, well, up they had popped again! - we are clearly not out of the Armenian woods yet...;) Thus it was that I decided to take a sample of Bois d'Arménie with me to the Would-be-goods gig on Saturday, so that Jessica could compare the perfume to the papers she knew. The band were performing in an indiepop charity festival in Cheshire. To be more specific, they played in what looked for all the world like a shiipping container on its side in the car park of a family-friendly pub in Congleton. And the weather also caught me out. Heavy rain had been forecast, so I felt quite smug about my choice of wellies and hooded anorak. I was wearing a zip up hooded top under that (can't have too many hoods in a Glastonbury-type scenario), and had also brought an umbrella and waterproof overtrousers. I still had concerns that the toilet arrangements might involve a two day trek, as I was only going up for the afternoon. As a precaution, I popped into the ladies at the local Tesco superstore before heading for the festival site. In the event, there was just a bit of light spitting during the gig and ample toilet facilities in the pub. Outfitwise I felt a little cheated, to be honest, and I ended up leaving the wellies in the car. Andy, the bass player (the same one as in The Monochrome Set), admitted that he had rather expected 'a bit of a field'.

Not to worry - it was a most enjoyable afternoon regardless! After the band came off stage, Jessica and I sat on a bench by a table laden with raffle prizes, and I gave her the sample of Bois d'Arménie. She applied it immediately, and wrote back with her verdict later in an email, namely that she had enjoyed it, but it wasn't quite 'her', before adding:

"If I haven't said so already, the best Papier d'Armenie by a long way is the 'Armenie' version with the pale blue cover. I find the rose one (also by Francis Kurkdjian) a bit sickly and the original version somewhat harsh by comparison."


This is interesting, as I wasn't aware of the rose version by Francis Kurkdjian to which Jessica had referred earlier, and now here was yet another - blue, superior! - variant to consider. And even though Victoria has the booklet, I am pretty sure it is the original one that I had...

A bit of googling led me to this review of Papier d'Arménie by Robin of Now Smell This, in which she also nails her colours to the blue mast!

"This is the perfect Papier d'Arménie. It is even creamier and sweeter than La Rose — the powdery myrrh, incense, benzoin and vanilla scent of the unlit paper would be wonderful in a personal fragrance (or dusting powder) and would make a nice follow up to Guerlain's Bois d'Armenie."

So the smoky incense trail of Bois d'Arménie and its associated paper has led from a snow clad Bruges to Woking, to Congleton(!)....that's a fair few 'wegomleggings' along the way!

And then to Now Smell This, and now to Amazon. Because of course I am keen to try this ultimate blue version by Kurkdjian without delay...

UPDATE: In response to Sabine's inquiry below about the practicality / safety of burning these papers, I had a go today with one of two remaining two strips I found that didn't go to Brussels. All was well - it was over very quickly! - though the little concertina needed relighting twice, as my dining room is on the draughty side. ;)

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Pupating pixels: my new Bonkers 'business card' is born...!

As you may have gathered from my recent post on where my 'civilian' friends keep / display their perfume collections, I have a nice social circle in my adopted home town. After all, most of the photos were submitted voluntarily, and even the people whose bottles I covertly papped would probably have said yes if I had asked them. To further illustrate how friendly and giving Stafford folk are, only this morning a friend swung by - the one who curates his perfumes in a fridge, no less! - and gave me a knife sharpener, a Victorinox paring knife, and a creme brulee he had just made, recommending I eat it straight away.  So I did, and felt a wee bit queasy afterwards to be perfectly truthful, as it was a particularly rich one. But a kind thought, no question.

And it is thanks to friends that I am now the proud owner of a 'business card' for the blog - or should that just be a 'blog card', or a 'visiting card', I don't know? I suppose I might hand it out when I am not technically visiting someone. But you get the idea.

Work in progress - cake not illustrated

The process started with the help of my artist friend David - whose work I often share on Facebook, as well as featuring them in blog posts in the past - for it was he who created the design. David came round to the house one Sunday evening, bringing all his art materials with him, while I provided cake and biscuits, which was all he wanted in return. Within a couple of hours he had painted two different 'flittersniffer-themed' pictures - appropriately based on a butterfly of the Vanessa genus! - and both of which I liked a lot. However, a friend to whom I showed them both the next day observed that the sillage on one of the versions looked like the butterfly was having a p***, which it sort of did, now he mentioned it, so I duly plumped for the other one! It is also good to have friends who tell it like it is...;)

Soaring above sillage or taking a leak?
The next step was to turn the image into artwork, including the lettering on the reverse, and here another friend, Dawn, who is a photographer by profession - but also pretty knowledgeable about desktop publishing (is that the word?) - stepped up and offered to lay it all out for me.

So I went to meet her at the very aptly named Gainsborough Artworks(!), a rabbit warren of artists' studios housed in a converted shoe factory opposite the prison. As Dawn worked on my design, I had a good old nosey round her vintage artefacts, many of which are used as props for her photo shoots. I 'paid' Dawn in cake and vintage knitting patterns and women's magazines (of which I have loads, as it happens!), which she seemed to think a fair exchange for her time.

Armed with the digital artwork, I used a company called Moo to actually print the cards; they were very reasonably priced, with phenomenal customer service. I say 'phenomenal', because they did not one, but two reprints of the cards free of charge, as they kept coming out with a pink wash on them, even though the background was supposed to be white.

The 'Bonkers Blush' version

After each print run, Dawn sportingly took another look at the image, checking that the so-called 'CMYK values' were set to the all-important 'Coated FOGRA39' Moo had specified(!) - and to our delight the cards came out perfectly white on the third attempt. It was quite baffling though at the time, and at one point Dawn and I exchanged a series of emails entitled: 'Cow Bizarre!' I would heartily recommend Moo though if anyone is thinking of getting some business cards done, as they truly bent over backwards - at their expense - to get things absolutely spot on.

You can almost see Rolf Harris from here!

Oh, and there was another twist in the story, for after the initial 'pink' print run, I was down in London in March for the Jasmine Awards and met up with fellow blogger Sabine of Iridescents. She is a 'card carrying' graphic designer by profession - in every sense of the term indeed, as she also copped for one of mine, hehe. And over dinner Sabine suggested moving the blog title to the back of the card and creating more white space between the different text elements. I have to say that as soon as she mentioned these possible tweaks, I thought they made for a subtle, but definite improvement.

So when the second print run - which was in progress at the time - still came out a bit pink, Moo offered me not just another go, but another go with a different design(!). This gave me the perfect opportunity to introduce Sabine's changes, with a little more help from the ever-patient Dawn, whom I was still plying with cake.

Yes, all in all my Bonkers business card has had generous input from a painter, a photographer, a graphic designer, and a printing company named after a cow. Now I just need to go forth and meet people, to have an occasion to give it away!

PS Specially for Asali, here is a shot of the cards in their holder, nestling amongst my emergency tea bag stash.

Thursday 4 June 2015

Poundland make up - punching above its price tag (if it had one) - Part 2

Part 2 - eyeshadows and mascara

In the last post on my latest great discovery of Poundland 'everything for a quid' make up, I said I would come back and update it with the results of my eyeshadow testing. Then I remembered I had also bought a mascara there as well (doh!!), so I figured that my verdict on two products might merit a post of its own.


So yes, I have tested both eyeshadows now, on consecutive days, and having tried them on skin can give a more accurate description of their colour. The brown one, Mocha 8, isn't like any of the shades in the original NAKED palette when actually applied. Yes, it comes up quite bronze in tone, and reminds me very much of a MAC pot I used to own called Sable.

Despite appearances, I am not reviewing the phone

It is not too metallic-looking to be age-inappropriate (a worrying topic to which I plan to devote a whole post sometime!), and unlike the blusher, does not suffer so dramatically from the fall-out problem, though there is still a bit, if I am honest. That is my only quibble really - it's a good colour, stays put on my lids without primer (an adjunct to eyeshadow of which I am but dimly aware), and did I say it only cost a quid? Yes indeedy! Inquiring minds may also be wondering whatever happened to Mochas 1-7, but I am afraid I have no information on that.

Yes, that is an upside down map of the Czech Republic

So that was the brown eyeshadow, and then I tried the mauve one, Vintage Rose 6. I have long been on a quest to find a pink eyeshadow that might complement my hazel eyes without making me look like a hungover hamster, and so far I have only managed to find a good choice in mauve - MAC Shale. In the pan I thought the two looked quite similar, but on skin the difference is more marked. For Vintage Rose 6 comes up a very vivid pinky colour on my skin, veering to magenta(!), and looking like a hungover hamster would have been a distinct improvement. No, I looked much more like I've been in a fight, and not come off very well. I couldn't bear the sight of myself and promptly slapped some NAKED Dark Horse over the top - a darkish browny taupe I wouldn't normally wear on its own, as it is a bit too dark for my small, shallowly set eyes. Applied on top of this violent pinky mauve, however, I believe I created a new colour that - though I say it myself - was very sophisticated and could perhaps be mistaken for one of those wonderfully subtle shades from Dior or Chanel. I still looked like I'd been in a fight, mind, but in a sort of cool Goth kind of a way. I preferred the effect to Shale on its own in fact, because of the sheen factor again. I might also mention that the Vintage Rose 6 did not have much fall out, so maybe it is the luck of the draw there and YMMV too.


I also bought a mascara, as I say. Turns out it is the black volumising one, NOT the red lengthening one, though the choice was purely arbitrary on my part. From reading other reviews on the Net, it seems I picked the better of the two, and I must say I am beyond delighted with the mascara - I feel as strongly about it as the lipsticks in fact. I have tried dozens of mascaras in my time, and many of them - even high end brands like Chanel and Clarins - can be annoyingly clumpy right from the off. Then one brand I had been very pleased with until recently was Benefit 'They're Real!', precisedly because it didn't do that claggy thing, but lifted and separated the eyelashes in a startlingly natural and impressive way. I have been disappointed with my latest Benefit purchase - possibly a dodgy batch, I don't know - because it is as clumpy as the worst of the rest, and I may have to chuck it.

Enter Poundland mascara, which pretty much does what the Benefit one does - there isn't a whole lot of product on the wand when you take it out - a bit like a mascara you have owned for a while, say! - but it delivers just the right amount with zero mess and good separation and lengthening of lashes. Even if the whole thing ends up not lasting very long - because they haven't put much actual mascara in it in the first place - I would happily rebuy on a frequent basis, which is, after all, what we are encouraged to do for hygiene reasons, not that I have historically paid a blind bit of attention to that.

So in summary, I am a big convert to selected lippies and the Plump Up the volume mascara, and am moderately impressed with the eyeshadows. I might investigate the other shades too, as I picked those two out very quickly. My further reading on the Net has confirmed that the foundation and liquid eyeliner are also highly thought of - this range got the thumbs up from testers at both Vogue and Cosmopolitan(!), as I mentioned in the comments to my last post.

Also well worth a look is this photo of two (non-identical) twins of a certain age, one of whom is made up with Poundland cosmetics valued at £10 the lot, while the other is sporting £400's worth of high end slap! For copyright reasons, I shall just post a link to the whole article rather than the photo itself. Now I can actually tell which is which, but the difference is not worth £390, that's for sure. Think how many hero serums etc I could buy with what I'd saved...;)

Me, attempting to show off the mascara while looking like a loon

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Poundland make up - punching above its price tag (if it had one)

Part 1: blusher and lipstick

Well, yet again I find myself diverted from the post I intended to write, and compelled instead to report without delay on my latest beauty product find - Make Up Gallery from Poundland. This beyond bargainous cosmetics collection - where every item is an absolute steal at just a pound (obviously) - was reviewed in The Times ages ago, and for months I walked around with the torn out page from the supplement at the bottom of my shopping bag, to remind me to check the range out when I was next in town. I suspect I have actually been into Poundland a few times since, but was doubtless distracted by pyramids of Toblerones or PG Tips, because I never made it to the beauty aisle. But last Saturday - having been consumed recently by the hunt to find a replacement for my sadly discontinued Holy Grail blusher, NARS Penny Lane - I decided to pop in and check out the blusher range at the very least.

Well, colour me impressed. Not just by the blushers, which offered a couple in quite tasteful shades, but by the lipsticks in particular. I did buy a blusher in fact - Soft Blush 1 - which is not a million miles off my much lamented NARS, albeit powder rather than my preferred cream. Even in the absence of tester pans I thought to myself: 'For a quid, how bad can it be?' Okay, at that price you might wonder if it has been tested on migrant tulip pickers in Spalding (I jest!), or made from not very finely milled aggregates or arrestingly vivid pigments, but I was pleasantly surprised when I got it home. My only quibble - and it probably would stop me buying a Poundland blusher again - is the 'fall out' (as I believe it is technically known in the beauty biz), of which you get a goodly amount as soon as you take brush to pan. So yes, messy, but otherwise classy in its colour / effect.

I also bought a lipstick in 04, Choca Mocha. I have a few things to say about the lipsticks: firstly, how nice not to be cheated out of the 'u' in a Poundland makeup item - unlike a L'Oreal Color Riche lipstick, for example. Also, you could buy the entire lippy range in Poundland for pretty much the same price as a single shade from a high street brand such as L'Oreal. Then I have to say that the names of the shades bear absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to their actual colour: Choc Mocha is a pinky-nude that comes up quite dark with what I read as a hint of red? (which took me aback, though maybe that is just how it reacts with my quite strong natural lip colour).

Anyway, I was so excited about my purchases that I photographed them in the car park behind the shops, so eager was I to tell my friend Rachael (a former make up artist) about my mini-haul.

And today I went back and bought two eyeshadows, which I have yet to try, and another lipstick - No 3, Naked Brown - which is a bright, cheery pink, also on my lips!, hello??? They come in a case with a completely see through cover, so that is good at least for verifying what colour the blessed thing really is. ;)

No, it's not 'all about the pout', or not in my world

And I might also mention that some of the shades are very bright and garish indeed, but the fact that there were even these two in a more restrained colourway was most encouraging. (NB They are both more subtle looking shades than you might think from the photo.) And what I like best of all is that the feel of these Poundland lipsticks is incredibly hydrating and creamy - in a blind test I think you would mistake them for a brand costing twenty times as much. I was very, very impressed with the feel of them on application.

04 Choca Mocha on left, 03 Naked Brown on right(!!)
One thing to watch for is that the lipsticks twist up, but don't retract beyond a certain point, which means you need to replace the cap with care, as a fair bit of the bullet protrudes above the rim of the case. It's good for hand-to-eye coordination, mind, so I am not complaining.

The eyeshadows I scored today are in a browny taupe (Mocha 8 - they like their coffee imagery!) and a pinky mauve (Vintage Rose 6). In the pan, the former sits somewhere between Toast and Hustle in the original NAKED palette from Urban Decay, while the other is like a pinkier version of my MAC pot in Shale. I will try them this week and update this post with my verdict, but I wanted to get the word out about the lipsticks first!

And I must also add that no one at Poundland is paying me to write this review - and even if they did, it would only be a quid.

In other news, they have four packs of Topic bars on offer at the moment! Topics are very much the endangered species of the confectionery world, so if you are a fan, I would urge you to pick up a pack while the going is good. And maybe a lipstick with that?

There were other make up products which were also favourably reviewed in The Times, but because I chucked the article I can't rightly recall - it may have been the BB cream, I think - or the powder. Oh, and the concealer stick gets extra points for a fun name (Hide 'n' Chic).