Sunday, 15 January 2017

Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty by Laura Slater - book review

Hollywood Beauty by Laura Slater book review

So, I do have a bit of a thing for this kind of book - the coffee table types that tackle different aspects of vintage style. I’m always hoping I’ll learn something I didn’t know, while enjoying some pretty pictures along the way. So really, what I want from this kind of book is just that: interesting facts presented really well. And that is precisely what this book does! At this point, having read up on vintage style for a number of years, clearly there's going to be overlap in what a book can tell me vs what I already know, but actually I was pleasantly surprised at how much was new to me.

Hollywood Beauty by Laura Slater book review

I have to start by saying that I especially loved that the author began the book by mentioning how a joy of living today is being able to pick and choose and mix eras of vintage style in your look and how her aim was to give tips and tricks to do this. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen a book on vintage acknowledge the perks of mixing eras and it’s something I wholeheartedly support so big tick for that - and I was totally up for some tricks to factor into my current beauty routine.

I then became completely engrossed by the explanation of Westmore’s (a Hollywood makeup guru) Seven Face Shapes theory that appears early on in the book. We’ve all heard of the different face shapes (heart, square, round etc) and how you should and shouldn’t apply makeup to them, but this theory of ‘Ovalesence’ being the key to facial beauty was particularly intriguing - especially as the book includes a supporting diagram! The tips around how to apply make-up to flatter certain face-shapes and make them appear more like the oval ideal were really interesting - particularly as it was the first time I’d seen advice for applying blusher to the top of the cheek-bones of my heart-shaped face (something I’ve long thought suits me best but no guide ever agreed with - they always say it should go in the hollows instead!). However, I perhaps wasn’t so thrilled to realise my large, wonky nose and pointy chin meant I had a lot of work to do with the warpaint…! Anyway, this kind of thing in books really pleases the nerd in me - in fact, it was probably my favourite part.

Hollywood Beauty by Laura Slater book review

You’ll go on from this section to read lots of tips for your make-up bag and ways to perfect your beauty routine, many of them from the horses’ mouths of the Hollywood starlets. Some of them made me recoil in horror, such as the idea of Ginger Rogers regularly smearing egg whites on her face to tighten her skin! And I had to laugh at Elizabeth Taylor’s theory that doing all her hair and makeup and then getting into a hot bath straight afterwards before a date gave her an irresistible ‘inner glow’ - I think that’s called sweat, Liz. But I do genuinely find this kind of thing fascinating and it all flows really nicely, so I ate it up. It also seems completely in the ethos of what you’d expect from a Hollywood beauty book.

So, all of the information and facts about cosmetics and how the stars applied them were a big part of what I loved about this book. I wasn’t, however, quite so keen on the pages of very detailed information about recreating exact looks today. Generally, a) I’m not going to recreate a famous lady’s exact look because it wouldn’t look as great on me (I'll leave Jean Harlow's half moon eyebrows, thanks) and b) it felt a bit against the ethos that the author set out - aren’t we supposed to be taking tips away to build our own make-up routines, rather than trying to look like a clone of Audrey Hepburn? Plus there’s a lot of tutorials out there in the world doing just that (I’ve even written some myself on this blog back in the day!). But even more weirdly, the book concludes as it starts by saying that no one can carbon copy someone else’s look and be as good as the original, so you have to be your own form of beautiful… But hang on, you’ve just spent pages telling me how to look like Brigitte Bardot!

Hollywood Beauty by Laura Slater book review

There’s also quite a lot of information about hair and how to get certain starlets’ hairstyles etc, which I was a bit surprised to find in a beauty book actually. I’ve got so many books on vintage hair that it did make me glaze over a bit and again I’m not sure why so many instructions about how to look exactly like someone else… If you want two in one advice though you'll be more of a fan.

Anyway, these are minor gripes about a very informative and enjoyable book and as I say, I’m very glad I read it for the first part alone. If you haven’t read up on hairstyles as much as I have and do want to copy Marilyn’s make-up, even better! Now, if you excuse me while I try to make my face look like a perfect oval with a bit of well-placed blusher...

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Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Outfit: winter blue

Notice I didn't call this post 'winter blues'? Er, partly it's because I think I called a post this before (guilty), but also because this year I haven't felt as down about the cold as usual. I think it's because I don't have time to dwell on it as much and generally speaking, it's not been too bad here this winter either - thanks, global warming.

So, let's show you another Hell Bunny dress from this season, because they can do no wrong at the moment! I loved this plaid print the minute I saw it because it combines two of the easiest colours to style (and wear in the winter), black and navy. I was actually looking out for it in a swing style dress I saw in their catalogue, but that one doesn't seem to have made production as sometimes happens. No matter, it certainly doesn't hurt to have another great wiggle dress that's also work appropriate in my wardrobe!

I love the details on this one - the cute double peter pan colour and the little puff sleeves, not to mention the darts at the bust. The dress was a pretty good fit in my usual XS (I find Hell Bunny's sizing consistent usually), but I added the belt because my short proportions nearly always mean a fitted wiggle gaps a bit in the back. There's so many ways to style black and navy, but I was itching for an excuse to wear my £10 Lindy Bop shoe bargains, even though they're peep toes.

Peep toes and tights - that's probably a divisive one, right? I happen to think it can look cute sometimes. Which is partly because my slim feet mean I always get on better with this style because I can size down, so I want it to look cute :D Plus, you know, I'm not done matching this sparkly silver bag with absolutely everything yet.

Hamilton wiggle dress by Hell Bunny with Tippi silver bag

Hamilton wiggle dress by Hell Bunny with Tippi silver bag

Hamilton wiggle dress by Hell Bunny

Hamilton wiggle dress by Hell Bunny

Hamilton wiggle dress by Hell Bunny with Tippi silver bag

Hamilton wiggle dress by Hell Bunny

Hamilton wiggle dress by Hell Bunny

Hamilton wiggle dress by Hell Bunny with Tippi silver bag
Beret: ASOS
Belt: old
Bag: c/o Hell Bunny (use cicim20!% for 20% off)
Shoes: Lindy Bop

A note to say that this dress was courtesy of Blue Banana, who sell on a number of styles from repro brands like Hell Bunny, Voodoo Vixen and Banned and seem to have very affordable shipping options available internationally. Definitely one worth watching if you buy repro.

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Thursday, 5 January 2017

Outfit: cheeky Cheyenne (and how to take photos in the rain)

I'm getting right in there and starting the year with an outfit post! I thought about it, but actually I don't really have the headspace for resolutions right now. Not now the wedding is just over five months away. Five months!! That is, quite frankly, terrifying.

And yet, it's only one day of my life. Albeit it should be a great one, but I still have to, you know, dress myself in order to function as a sane human being, so the outfits aren't going anywhere. Apparently, I don't even spend less on them when I should be saving any penny I earn, so my financial chaos is your blog-reading gain, my friends...

Let's start things off with another one from my casual collection, featuring this charming checked Cheyenne jacket from Collectif. I've been looking for a short, vintage style jacket for a long time for those days I'm not as dressed up (which is more than you probably think) and this one is just the ticket because it's so comfy. It's not structured, so don't buy it if that's what you're after, it's kind of more of a 'blouson' style when done up. On me, it's not that fitted, but I quite like wearing it open as I have here mostly (although one photo does show you what I mean when it's done up). The only thing that makes me sad about this jacket is that I'm a bit too petite for it. If you've got short arms like me, you're going to find those sleeves ever so long too. I can get away with it because the cuffs are fitted, but it doesn't look like it should. Short girl problems.

Otherwise though, it's in two of my favourite colours so what's not to love?? It wasn't exactly difficult for me to style it, because I could basically fill an entire wardrobe with just items in blue and red :D I'm looking forward to getting some more wear out of it in the spring months! Oh and special mention for Porcelina's husband for these awesome boots. When I went to stay last year, he told me about how he thrifts shoes he sees just if he really likes them, even if they won't fit either him or Porcelina. Madness, I thought! And then I went home with a pair of red cowboy boots, something I've wanted for ages. Not so mad after all... 

Collectif Cheyenne jacket for a cute 50s style casual look with high-waisted jeans

Collectif Cheyenne jacket for a cute 50s style casual look with high-waisted jeans

Collectif Cheyenne jacket for a cute 50s style casual look with high-waisted jeans

Collectif Cheyenne jacket for a cute 50s style casual look with high-waisted jeans

Thrifted red cowboy boots

Collectif Cheyenne jacket for a cute 50s style casual look with high-waisted jeans

Collectif Cheyenne jacket for a cute 50s style casual look with high-waisted jeans

Collectif Cheyenne jacket for a cute 50s style casual look with high-waisted jeans

Red hairscarf and gold hoop earrings

Collectif Cheyenne jacket for a cute 50s style casual look with high-waisted jeans
Headscarf: eBay
Earrings: Bow & Crossbones
Jacket: c/o Collectif (get it half price today with FESTIVE50)
Jumper: Collectif (last season's)
Boots: vintage (via Porcelina's husband, the expert thrifter!)
Bag: eBay

Ok, so we've done the clothes, now to show you my top tip for taking photos outside in the rain... I had a narrow window of opportunity to get these shots this particular weekend, thanks to yet more wedding admin (the suit fitting this time), so when it started to drizzle as we left the house I had a bit of a strop. And then I continued to strop at our destination because I had visions of my hair being a fluff ball in approximately 1 minute standing around in it.

But never fear, B had the solution! Well, actually, first of all B had the rubbish solution of: let's stand you under a tree, the foliage will protect you! Yeah, that would have been great and everything but it's the middle of winter and not a single tree has any leaves left, genius. Top marks for trying and everything, but... no not really, it was just a dumb idea (sorry, B, but you know it was!). We went and stood under a tree that at least had a few more branches than most, this big ol' willow tree. Yeah, also a stupid idea, it made absolutely no difference... until...

B hung his umbrella upside down off of a low-hanging branch! And if don't believe me (because I'm such a genius airbrusher I've removed it from all of the above photos), here's the proof...

So now you know - all you need to do is find a tree to hang an umbrella off. I mean, it helps that I was short enough to fit under this one and B was tall enough to reach to hang it up... So some times being a short girl can actually be a help rather than a problem :D

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Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016: outfits of the year

It's that time of the year to shake my head about how much money I've spent on clothes... And know that I'll do it all again next year to make more beautiful outfits!

I actually think that this year my style hasn't changed that much - I feel like if anything it's probably been a refinement of what I already loved to wear. Maybe that's ok for the year I turned 30 - a sort of maturing of style... Or maybe it's because I've had other things to think about in a very busy year! Either way, I definitely had some favourites to share and like last year I've picked my top 10, 5 from the warmer months, 5 from the colder.


Bernie Dexter Paris Frenchie dress

Turning 30 in all my favourites - from this post

I had to lead with this one because I felt so great in it on my birthday and it involved my favourite light blue and red colour combination and a lot of Eiffel Towers. My birthday usually has very standard cold and rainy weather, but this year it was in the low 20s and beautifully sunny, so my outfit really got a chance to shine. Oh, and B proposed to me, so I must have looked alright, eh?

1950s style summer outfit

Did I mention red and blue is my favourite? from this post

It doesn't even have to be light blue, I just love blue with red. Taking inspiration from this cute Erstwilder necklace, the rest of this picnic-perfect outfit just fell into place. It's not really all that innovative, but I love how it all comes together.

Bernie Dexter dog print Chelsea dress

Oh, and dogs are also my favourite - from this post

I'd wanted this dress for so long and then one just happened to appear on eBay just after my birthday! I then wore it to death all summer, including to a dog show because... well that doesn't need an explanation does it? I also just really like the cute summer vibe of this outfit and the fact I finally worked out how to master my waving tongs!

Stripe bardot dress

Stripey chic in Paris - from this post

This outfit is again a pretty simple one - styling a monochrome dress isn't exactly original - but again it made me feel amazing wearing it so it joins my favourites. I wore it to saunter around Paris in and felt every bit the Parisian lady.

Strawberries and stripes

The unexpected winner - from this post

I really wasn't sure how well this outfit was going to work, but I had an idea of putting this strawberry print skirt with a top that wasn't plain (i.e the obvious choice) and I couldn't shake it. I think the whole look works because the colours are all tied in with each other and nothing is left out on its own, but really this was quite a 'complicated' outfit for me and I was quite pleased it didn't end up looking like I'd rolled around in my charity donations bag :D


Atomic swag beach themed tshirt

Who doesn't love a bit of mustard? from this post 

Another outfit with quite a few colours going on, but it's managing to come together pretty well. I adore this t-shirt; I wore it a lot this year but this was definitely my favourite way of styling it. - it's such a simple and uninspired (if I'm honest) idea to take colours from the image, but it really works. Those shoes manage to make a lot of my casual outfits that bit more cute too and are possibly my most worn pair of the year.

Golden autumn outfit

Gold as the leaves turn - from this post

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time you'll know I love a matching outfit, which is one of the reasons this one makes the list. Another reason is that this year I've been wearing a lot more gold and realising pretty belatedly it's a flattering colour for me and this was the outfit that really opened my eyes. 


The award for the best matched outfit of the year goes to... - from this post

The above outfit came close, but this one takes the Most Matching award because I managed to not only match colours, but also the snowflake pattern on my accessories :D Ah, the satisfaction. Not only that though, I really liked that this was a casual, everyday outfit but it still managed to look really put together. They're always among my favourite kinds.

Voodoo Vixen Andrea skirt

Furry, flocked and fabulous - from this post

I absolutely love this skirt and I knew I wanted to give it an outfit that really showed it off - job done with a furry hat and some more gold. It was a toss up between this outfit and the second way I styled it just this week, but as you've just seen that one... This hat makes any outfit a lot more fun and glamorous and was the perfect partner for some velvet flocking.

Vivien of Holloway check wiggle skirt

Fuschia tartan is the best kind of tartan - from this post

I didn't know I needed pink tartan in my life until this skirt - silly me, of course I did! Not least because I didn't have a single item in my wardrobe to wear this necklace with until then... But seriously, I love the colours of this pattern and how it looks with grey here - it's so easy to wear just black with an unusual colour palette, so I'm glad I didn't go the easy option.

And now onto 2017's style! Halfway through the year (in fact, now that I think about it, it's almost the exact halfway point!) there'll be a very special outfit indeed - my wedding outfit - so how much energy I'll be putting into my wardrobe I'm just not sure yet, but I don't think the part of me that loves pretty clothes will ever quite be pushed aside...

Hope everyone has wonderful New Year's celebrations and I'll see you in 2017!

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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Outfit: sparkle sparkle

Well hello! I hope everyone's having a lovely holiday so far. Do you know something I love about this time of year? It's totally acceptable to wear all the sparkles (and if you get the reference in the title, you have my respect!). Be it for Christmas, New Year's Eve or just because you feel like it because 'tis the season. So, it was a great time for my new necklace to arrive - you better believe I was cleaning the house on Christmas Eve in it. There's a part of me that's always a little sad about taking pictures of sparkly things because they never look as dazzling in 2D. Believe me though, this necklace is blingy, in the best possible, most festive way.

It was a gift from a shop I hadn't heard of before, Happiness Boutique, but the quality of this piece and the value for money so good that I'll definitely check them out when I next want a piece of jewellery. To be quite honest, I rarely buy jewellery, but when I do I'm always looking for something particular and I'd wanted a necklace with clear stones like this for a while (check out their other necklaces here - and they've tagged lots of pretties with 'vintage' as well). I love how much of a statement piece it is, while retaining that vintage 50s aesthetic. Beautiful. I promised I'd mention that Happiness Boutique offer free shipping to the UK, a customer reward programme and a bi-monthly giveaway, not to mention you can get 10% off any orders with my code cici-marie (for orders over a 19EUR value until 12th Jan) - what's not to love about those kind of incentives?

Anyway, you might also notice I have some very special shoes on here - finally got my hands on these Cinderella heels and my oh my they are so pretty. Unfortunately, I thought I was buying a size 37 and when they turned up they were a 38 (this is, believe it or not, the second time this has happened to me out of three attempts to buy secondhand shoes recently), so consequently they're a bit big for me. I love them to pieces and will probably hold onto them until that 37 comes up, but meanwhile they can at least feature in this outfit that I would totally be wearing out to a glitzy NYE party if I had one to go to this year! I am going round a friend's instead and I might just wear them anyway :D

The weather has been horrible here so doing these shots outside wasn't an option, thanks to incoming Storm Barbara (which makes me laugh every time because it's the name of my future mother-in-law). Our new house made things interesting because, well, it's not that big... but it has a lot of doors, so B was shooting me outside, through the open backdoor, which was kind of hilarious. I think it worked though and means I get to show you my new silver Christmas tree, ain't it cute? This is probably the only year it will have those blue decorations on because I've started collecting some kitschy glass baubles now - four dogs (of course), one Santa, one Eiffel Tower and a piƱata later, I'm well on my way to a pretty awesome tree next year :D

Festive party vintage inspired party outfit for Christmas and New Year's Eve featuring Happiness Boutique, Voodoo Vixen and Hell Bunny

Vintage 50s style statement diamante necklace from Happiness Boutique

Vintage 50s style statement diamante necklace from Happiness Boutique

Festive party vintage inspired party outfit for Christmas and New Year's Eve featuring Happiness Boutique, Voodoo Vixen and Hell Bunny

Vintage 50s style statement diamante necklace from Happiness Boutique

Vintage 50s style statement diamante necklace from Happiness Boutique

Festive party vintage inspired party outfit for Christmas and New Year's Eve featuring Happiness Boutique, Voodoo Vixen and Hell Bunny

Vintage 50s style statement diamante necklace from Happiness Boutique

Miss L Fire Cinderella shoes in clear silver

Festive party vintage inspired party outfit for Christmas and New Year's Eve featuring Happiness Boutique, Voodoo Vixen and Hell Bunny
Necklace: c/o Happiness Boutique (10% off with code cici-marie)
Skirt: c/o Voodoo Vixen (on sale for £25!)
Bag: c/o Hell Bunny (20% off with code cicim20?%)
Shoes: Miss L Fire (old season)

So there you go, it doesn't get a lot more glam than that, does it? I'm really glad I got to wear this skirt for some more photos because I really do rate it - it is great to roll up for partying on the go and doesn't need a petticoat really (although I have added a light one here to help it to keep the shape for photos). Voodoo Vixen currently have it in all sizes on their website for £25, which really is a bargain (fit is true to size, if ever so slightly on the more snug side).


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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The best new makeup products of 2016 - for that classic pin-up look

Reviews of 4 of the best new makeup products in 2016 - Benefit Ka-Brow! in 04, Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick in Bang Bang, Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation in 0.5 and Lancome Grandiose Extreme Mascara

It's quite unusual for me to love a product so much it usurps something else in my makeup bag these days - but this year I've replaced not one item, but four! All four are very key products that I think are essential for that red-lipped, flawless pin-up look - aka what I aim for with my everyday make-up, but you just can't argue with a classic!

All four are brand new products that launched this year, so I figured you might not yet have had chance to try them yourselves... So without further ado, let me tell you what you need to get your mitts on and why!

Reviews of 4 of the best new makeup products in 2016 - Benefit Ka-Brow! in 04, Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick in Bang Bang, Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation in 0.5 and Lancome Grandiose Extreme Mascara

Benefit Ka-Brow! (in 04-medium)

Let's start with that vital part of any pin-up's look - a well-defined brow. Brows are something I neglected for years - you don't have to look too far back on this blog to work out why I'm kicking myself about this now; they make all the difference to a made-up face. I've been experimenting with products ever since and to be honest, it's one area of my make-up where I'm not all that fussy. I used an Urban Decay powder for a while, then a Soap and Glory felt-tip and then I joined the big girls and invested in the famous Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow pomade. And while I did like the latter, I could only really seem to get it to apply as all or nothing. I quite like having a 'gradient' where the inner brow is a bit lighter, because I think it looks more natural, especially as I have naturally thick brows so I quite want to avoid the two-slugs-on-a-plate look.

And that's the first reason I love this product so much - it's got all the staying power and punch of the ABH, but it's a lot more buildable and you can get a nice gradient with it (as you can see in the top photo). The second reason I love it is the packaging - but not just because I'm superficial, because it has a mini brow brush in the lid! I hated applying my ABH - I bought an ABH brush to do this and I just didn't think a lot of it and it rolled around in my make-up bag picking up dirt and laughing at me (it did!). Not this one - the genius of a brush stored securely in a lid is it stays out of harm's way. If all this doesn't convince you, I've been using this daily for months and I can barely see that I've made a dent so I honestly think it's going to last well over a year by this point. It's not the cheapest, but it sure does offer value for money. In fact, I really don't have any down sides to this product other than the brush might not last as long as the product, but so far so good!

Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick (in Bang Bang)

Ah, the neverending (and, in my case, well documented) search for the perfect red lipstick. I recently came to the conclusion that the only way I was going to get a long-lasting, kiss-proof, completely matte lip was to go over to the liquid side. I've bought so many of these since that I'm going to be writing a whole post about them for you soon, but - spoiler alert - this one is one of my favourites. Every brand has been getting on board with liquid mattes recently, but very few are doing a great job of them as far as I'm concerned. There's nothing to worry about with Smashbox though - this is an excellent liquid lipstick.

It lasts, it doesn't bleed, it dries completely matte, it's comfortable and it's a perfect bright red shade. I wear this lipstick all the time now and I can't express my love for it enough. Now, my colouring is a little on the pale and yellow side, so it might be this specific shade isn't for you, but don't worry! There's a cooler, darker red called Bawse that's more along the lines of Russian Red and I'm sure would be up a lot of your streets'. So while I wouldn't drop this amount of money on just any old lipstick - for this one, please believe me, if you want a bold matte lip you just can't go wrong.

Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation (in 0.5)

If there's something I loathe, it's trying new foundations. I want to love it, really I do, but it's always an expensive waste of time for me. And yet, I'm constantly on the hunt for The One. What I'm always looking for is a matte finish, medium-full coverage formula that can slightly control my oily skin (I'm not unrealistic - I know I'll end up looking like a shine ball eventually). So if this isn't what you look for, feel free to skip to the next product! You wouldn't believe how difficult it has been to find a foundation that does these simple things, despite tonnes of them claiming to. Actually, I wore Estee Lauder's iconic Double Wear for years... and then they changed the formula and it was too dark for me and not as good coverage anymore. I was heartbroken and have been looking for its match ever since. Revlon's ColorStay was close - but it broke me out horrendously.

Years and lots of miserably shiny, spotty skin later, Urban Decay finally answered my prayers! I've never worn one of their foundations before, but when I heard their new one was going to be matte full coverage, I had to give it a try. I'm so glad I did because it's up there with the old Double Wear for me - it's easily as full coverage and it's actually pale too. It gives a lovely soft matte finish that actually does cover most of my blemishes pretty darn well without concealer - it's incredibly pigmented. In fact, in terms of coverage, I'd say it's better than Double Wear, without being cakey (on me at least). I had a bit of a struggle finding my shade so what I'll say is this: 1) this does oxidise about a shade on me (and on many others from what I've read), so you'll probably need the one a shade lighter than you think you do 2) totally ignore Urban Decay's colour advice (supposedly shades alternate between cool and warm tones) - technically, I'm wearing a pink toned shade, but I'm pretty warm toned and all my best foundations are yellow based, so I'm pretty confident this one is too and UD don't know what they're talking about.

Lancome Grandiose Extreme Mascara (in 01)

Lancome are hands down my favourite mascara brand, but for some reason I got totally suckered by a QVC ad for Benefit's Roller Lash and tried to convince myself I liked that one for a while. And then I finally realised it just wasn't a match for a good Lancome mascara, but especially not this one. This mascara is Epic. Photos aren't doing justice to what it's capable of and how good it looks in real life (but see below as I've tried to capture it a bit). In a few strokes your lashes can double in size and it doesn't go clumpy either. Not only that, it really holds a curl too.

There's a few make-up products I really believe you get what you pay for and mascara is definitely one of them. I've bought so many over the years, from the cheapest to the most pricey and the drugstore types just don't cut it for me. Compared to this mascara, you'll honestly wonder how they can get away with half the claims they make. Another expensive product, but another one totally worth the investment. My regular Grandiose lasted months too, so I'm hoping I'm going to get similar out of this tube...

Lancome Grandiose Extreme Mascara on lashes

So there you have it, my top makeup launches of the year! Have you tried and do you love any of these?

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