Sunday, 8 December 2013

Urban Decay Naked 2 Eyeshadow Palette

Good Day Everyone,

I’m following up my review of the Urban Decay Naked palette with my thoughts on the Naked 2 palette. I’ll also make comparisons along the way between the two palettes. If you’re not into makeup or rather eyeshadows, the way I am then you may be wondering why on Earth I bought two palettes from the same brand, that according to my mum look very similar, but to me the colours in Naked 2 were different enough from the original Naked palette to warrant it’s place in my collection. In addition, I think these palettes offer great value for money and makeup tends to be one of those things that last a very long time, with the exception of products such as mascara, which should be replaced every few months for hygiene reasons.
Value For Money
As I explained in my original Naked palette post I bought both of my palettes from Debenhams (in the UK) at Easter when they were having a 10% sale and my palettes cost me £32.40 each (reduced from £36 each). That’s about $66 SGD but I know at Sephora in Singapore the palettes retail for $80 SGD each (although I think the price may now have gone up to $83 SGD) so I made a bit of saving by buying them from back home. In the US the palettes retail for $52 USD.

Again if you've not seen my original Naked post I’ll explain why I think these palettes are such great value. Using the US for the purpose of comparison, a single Urban Decay eyeshadow with a fill weight of 1.5gr costs around $18 USD. With the palettes you get 12 eyeshadows with a fill weight of 1.3gr (so a smidge less per shadow) all for just $52 USD. That’s less than the cost of three individual eyeshadows! Plus you get a couple of little freebies thrown in too. I think that’s superb value for money, don’t you? :o)

The Freebies:
With my original Naked palette I got a sample size of the famous eyeshadow Primer Potion and a single ended Good Karma shadow brush.  With the Naked 2 palette I received a sample size of the Lip Junkie Lipgloss in the colour... Naked of course! The gloss has quite a minty and cooling sensation on the lips but not in a bad way and the colour would suit all skin tones.
The palette also came with a double ended Good Karma shadow and crease brush. Given that the shadow and crease brushes retail for $26 USD each, that’s your $52 USD right there so, in a way, it’s like getting the eyeshadow palette and lipgloss for free :o) Well that’s how I justified to my hubby ;o) The brush is actually very useful and if I’m travelling with either palette then I’ll pop the double ended brush in that palette and that one brush is enough for me to do an eye look.
In an ideal world, my freebie preference would have been for the eyeshadow Primer Potion from the first palette and the double ended Good Karma brush from the second as that would provide a more ‘complete’ package for the eyes. The addition of the lipgloss just felt a bit ‘random’ or perhaps it was some marketers idea of introducing customers to a different product... who knows?!

The Packaging:
I was pleased to see that Urban Decay had taken on board feedback from customers and improved the packaging for this second palette. The eyeshadows come in a taupey coloured metal tin case with darker embossed writing, reminiscent of an old school tin pencil case. The hinged lid snaps shut and the packaging feels a lot more secure and travel friendly compared to the original Naked palette which had a magnetic closure. On the inside of the palette improvements have also been made in that the mirror is much larger compared to the first palette.
The 12 shadows are neatly lined up but I must admit the order in which the colours are lined up does bug me a little. In the original palette the colour sequence seemed to move in a logical manner from light colours on the left to darker shaded on the right. In this palette, they colours seem a bit higgledy-piggledy and confused. There is no natural progression from light to dark or from matte to shimmery to sparkly. Do you get what I mean? Or perhaps it’s just the way my mind works ;o)
I definitely prefer the packaging of this second palette simply because it feels more secure when shut and therefore travel friendly, plus the mirror is much larger. In addition, the outside of the palette is much easier to clean with a simple wipe down and doesn't attract dust like the original.

The Eyeshadows:
Again the palette contains 12 neutral shades, like the original and I've inserted a photo of the swatches from the original Naked palette so you can see just how different / similar they are. Overall, the original palette leaned more towards the warm golden, orangey, brown, dark tones, whereas this palette has more lighter colours with a bit more icy-ness to it with the grey, oysters and whites, as well as some warm shades. Both palettes contain shades with purple / pink undertones and for some reason the shade Half Baked is included in both palettes - I guess it's just as well that it's one of my most used colours.
Original Naked Palette
Naked 2 Palette
On the one hand I can understand why some people would think that the two palettes are very similar, or rather, not different enough, to warrant the purchase of both but on the other hand, for me, the colours are different enough and I'm very happy to have both in my collection :o)

This time there are three matte shades (Foxy, Tease and Blackout versus two in the original). Whilst I didn't particularly miss having a matte black in the original palette I do appreciate it's inclusion as it means I can use it in place of my usual pencil eyeliner and so it's one less product to take with me when I travel. Foxy makes a great brow bone highlighter and I've actually used it to set my under eye concealer as the colour is more or less translucent on my skin. 
The shadows are very true to colour, as you can see from the photo above where I've matched up my swatch photo with the pan colours. Again just like the original palette, the texture of the shadows is very buttery and smooth. Whilst they’re not powdery and crumbly as such I have experienced a little fall out with Chopper and YDK. All of the other colours apply beautifully with no real fallout issues and the pigmentation is great. There is a mixture of textures / finishes within the palette ranging from matte to shimmery to sparkly / glittery. 

Below I've cited the way each of the colours have been described on the Sephora website followed by my own opinions based on my experience:
Foxy: described as a cream bisque with a matte finish. On me this is pretty much like a translucent powder. It has a very slight pale lemon undertone to it.
Half Baked: described as a golden bronze with a shimmery finish and I agree.
Bootycall: described as a shimmering cork but to me this is not what I would expect the colour cork to look like. I’d say this is a white satin with a very pale peach undertone.
Chopper: described as a copper shimmer with silver microglitter and I’d say it has quite a strong orangey peach undertone to it.
Tease: described as a creamy pale brown with a matte finish. This definitely has a mauvey (purple) undertone to it.
Snakebite: described as a dark bronze shimmer with a metallic base. I’d say it’s a dark bronze with a brown undertone to it.
Suspect: described as a pale golden beige with a shimmer finish and I agree.
Pistol: described as a light gray brown with a shimmer finish. I don’t see the brown in this shade and to me it’s just a light-medium grey with silver shimmer.
Verve: described as oyster with a shimmer finish and I agree. It has a very cool, almost icy-ness about it as it leans more to the white side rather than cream.
YDK: described as a cool bronze shimmer with a metallic base and I agree.
Busted: described as a deep brown with a shimmer finish. To me this brown definitely has a dark purple undertone and leans ever so slightly on the grey-brown side rather than the orange-brown side.
Blackout: described as blackest black with a matte finish and I would agree. It reminds me of a soot black – very pigmented and intense.

So there you have it, another gorgeous selection of neutral colours that I am very happy to own. You definitely don't need both of these palettes unless eyeshadows are your makeup thing in which case your 'want' will probably override your 'need', as it did with me. So really it comes down to which colours you think you are more likely to use. Having had both palettes for several month, I would say that I use the original palette slightly more than Naked 2, simply because if I'm ever in a rush then the middle four colours (Buck, Half Baked, Smog and Darkhorse) have become an easy go to look for me. Otherwise I tend to mix colours from both palettes to create a complete look. 

Do you have this palette? Is it one of your favourites? If you could only pick one, which would it be? The original or Naked 2?
Love Sheen xxx

My verdict: 5/5
For the UK: UD Website and you can purchase this palette from Debenhams and House of Fraser stores
For the US: UD Website
For Singapore you can find this product at Sephora
(Note: I purchased this product with my own money)

Friday, 6 December 2013

Living With Scalp Psoriasis

Good Day Everyone,

A quick disclaimer to say that I am not a medical professional and that you should not make any changes to your scalp psoriasis treatment without discussing it with your doctor first. Whilst I will be mentioning the treatments that I have tried, I am not recommending that you try them too. This is simply my personal experience of living with scalp psoriasis.

Today I wanted to follow up from my post about Living With (Body) Psoriasis and talk about my experience of living and dealing with scalp psoriasis. I have suffered from body psoriasis since the age of 17 and thankfully, even at its worst, it was never as bad as it could have been (although it felt really bad at the time) and I feel I got off pretty lightly compared to many people that suffer from this condition. However, scalp psoriasis was the complete opposite and I suffered extremely badly with this condition. I developed scalp psoriasis in my early 20s and it truly was the bane of my life! It totally ruled and dictated my life for way too many years and not in a good way!

Scalp psoriasis is the skin condition psoriasis but on your scalp (obviously). Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition in which the affected skin cells turnover at an abnormally high rate, resulting in the build up of skin plaques or scales which become very dry, itchy and crusty. Eventually these scales will peel / flake off, leaving behind very thin, red, sore layers of new skin the can easily break and bleed. It can be a very uncomfortable, even painful condition, which often leaves the sufferer feeling incredibly embarrassed and self conscious thus affecting sufferers emotionally, socially and psychologically, as well as physically.

For me, having this skin condition on my body was bad, but bearable as I could hide it with clothes, but when it spread to my scalp, it was so much worse because I have very dark brown / black hair. This means I constantly looked like I had severe dandruff. Every time I washed my hair, the scales of skin would soften and when I brushed my hair, the scales would start to peel and get caught in my long hair. I hardly ever went out after work as my evenings consisted of applying various smelly coal tar ointments and shampoos, leaving them on for a couple of hours, then washing them out. I would then spend the best part of an hour drying my hair and then picking each individual flake of skin out of my hair that had become loose. If there were any thick psoriasis patches on my scalp that felt like they were going to peel very soon, I would peel them using my nails (I know very gross!) just so that I could eliminate the possibility of them coming away from my scalp and sitting loosely in my hair whilst I was at work or out and about. By the time I finished, there would be so much skin on the floor that it looked like somebody had emptied a snow globe! I kid you not! But this was the price I was willing to pay to hide this embarrassing condition from as many people as I could. For years I never went on girly holidays or stayed over at a friend’s house because I didn't want them to find out about my scalp psoriasis.

Having scalp psoriasis was incredibly stressful because I found it much more difficult to conceal than my body psoriasis and it was much more time consuming to manage. Stress is known to make it worse and the worse it got the more stress it caused me - it became a vicious circle! . I felt incredibly embarrassed by the condition because I feared that if people could see flecks of skin in my hair they would think that I had dandruff, worst still, someone would realise that I have psoriasis. Whilst it’s not a contagious condition, not everybody knows that. I think I was also scared that people would think that my hair and scalp were not clean and that’s why I have this affliction. To avoid this embarrassment and humiliation I devoted most of my evenings toclearing my scalp and hair of any signs of flaky skin. I also didn't get my hair cut for many years as I avoided going to the hairdressers (again due to embarrassment), although I have to say having short hair definitely makes it easier to deal with this affliction. This avoiding the hairdresser thing meant that the process of clearing my scalp took a long time as I’d have to peel flakes of skin from my scalp and pull it through the length of my hair. Sometimes the flakes of skin would be as large as say the size of a pea or even a cherry!

At its worst approximately 85% of my scalp was covered in psoriasis. It also spread from my scalp to behind my ears and the edges of my hair line (luckily it never spread to my forehead or face). This was the main reason why I never liked to tie my hair up but wearing my hair loose meant I had to spend ages clearing it of any sign of this damn disease – it felt like a no win situation.  When the majority of my scalp was covered in psoriasis I would have this constant tight sensation, like a ball made completely of elastic bands, all around my head. It was incredibly uncomfortable. There were times when I felt complete and utter despair but yet I never talked to anyone, not even my doctor, about how this condition was ruling my life. That is one of my biggest regrets :o(

By the time I developed scalp psoriasis I was no longer under the care of a dermatologist (skin specialist) but was instead seeing my GP (family doctor) for repeat prescriptions of various skin ointments as my body psoriasis had improved following light therapy. So it was my GP who prescribed various treatments for my scalp psoriasis. These mainly consisted of smelly shampoos / ointments. However, none of them seemed to work. I went back and forth to my GP a few times, but because I was so embarrassed by it all, I never took active control of my treatment (another one of my regrets). Also, I felt like my GP never really cared about my condition because he didn't ever ask me how it was affecting me, my life or making me feel and he didn't refer me to a specialist, he would just simply refer to his MIMS (medical drug list) and churn out another prescription. In hindsight, I wish I had pushed for a referral to the dermatologist, instead of going back and forth to the GP trying various ointments. It got to the stage where I was so disheartened that I just started to get a repeat prescription for whatever treatment the GP had prescribed and didn't even bother going to see the GP when I felt it wasn't working. I guess I had kind of accepted defeat and come to the realisation that I was stuck with this condition for the rest of my life! What also didn't help was the fact that I moved towns every few years (due to work) and didn't really build much of a rapport with any of my GPs.

I tried sooo many different treatments both prescription and non-prescription to treat my scalp psoriasis. Treatments I tried included, Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo, Alphosyl shampoo, Elocon scalp lotion, Bettamousse, Diprosalic scalp application, various coal tar preparations and shampoos (these smell so bad), Dovonex... and the list continues. I've spent many nights sleeping with a towel on my pillow wearing a shower cap, hoping that this particular treatment will work, devoting all my time outside of work to trying to calm this disease down to a more manageable form. I even tried dandruff shampoos like Nizoral, even though it wasn't dandruff that I was suffering from, but I used them in the hope that they would relieve the itchiness

I've read lots of literature about how fish oils are thought to help with psoriasis, as well as eating a healthy diet, exercise and managing stress levels. For me, I've never been a big fish eater but I did start to take fish oil capsules. My diet has always been reasonably healthy being a lover of fruit and vegetables and not naturally having a sweet tooth. There are lots of theories about certain foods aggravating psoriasis and other foods which seem to be more beneficial and I will touch upon this in a future post that I plan to do. The part where I guess I struggled the most was managing my stress levels. When I look back at the times when my scalp psoriasis was at its worst these times typically correlated to stressful times in my life be it due to relationships, work, money worries, big life changes etc and I never used to be particularly good at managing my stress levels. The fact that I had a career which had me working long hours with lots of travel where I would often end up skipping meals and not getting time to relax and chill out didn't help either.

The turning point for me, came partly when I met my hubby and partly with age. With age came confidence and with confidence came inner strength that enabled me to take more control of my life and address the things that caused me stress. I changed jobs, I walked away from people and relationships that were doing me more harm than good. I also found ways to relax. I started to go for regular hot stone and Indian head massages that not only helped with my migraines but helped me to de-stress.  I started going for walks which I find mentally very calming and started replacing TV programmes with listening to relaxing music. I invested my time in relationships and friendships that I felt were more sincere and true, rather than trying to get along with everyone.

When my hubby and I first met, I never used to let him touch my hair (or come anywhere near it for that matter). I hid my affliction for as long as possible. When I did eventually tell him about my (scalp) psoriasis he was incredibly supportive and reassuring about it. Being in a positive, loving relationship did wonders for me. I finally felt like I had a best friend that was with me always, someone I could talk to about anything anytime. You see I’d never had that kind of closeness before. I've never been hugely close to my parents (as much as I love and respect them, I would rarely discuss my feelings with them), being the only girl, I never had that sisterly bond and I wasn't close to my brothers. Being with my hubby gave me immense peace of mind which in turn made a hugely positive difference to my stress levels and the way I dealt with stress. He was a much needed calming influence in my life.

The other thing that changed more recently (I’m talking the last 2-3yrs) was that I finally found a treatment regimen that seemed to work for my scalp psoriasis. Today, I still have scalp psoriasis, but only in about 10% of my scalp and it’s not particularly thick / built up - that I can live with!!! The treatment regimen that worked for me was using something called Cocois ointment which I apply to the affected areas of my scalp, leave it on for an hour or two and then wash it out using the medicated shampoo, Ceanel (followed by my regular shampoo and conditioner). Last year, once I’d given up work, I applied this treatment religiously almost every single day for about 5 months and it did wonders to calm and clear up a lot of my scalp psoriasis. Now I've got to the stage where I only need to apply 3-4 times a week. In Singapore I can buy the Cocois ointment without a prescription (in England it's a prescription treatment) but I've never been able to find the Ceanel shampoo so I always stock up when I go back home where I can buy it from Boots pharmacy without a prescription. I've never actually tried to wash out the Cocois ointment with just regular shampoo and if I'm honest I couldn't tell you whether it's the Cocois ointment that's working or the Ceanel shampoo or whether it's the combination of the two. I've always used the two together and that combination works for me.
In addition to the above combination, almost every Sunday I massage pure coconut oil onto my scalp and hair and leave it a for a few hours before washing it out. A lot of psoriasis treatments contain some form of coconut compound as it shown to help plus it’s a great natural treatment for your scalp and hair generally as it relieves itchy and flakiness. It’s also very nourishing for the hair and leaves mine very silky, shiny and smooth. I've also been going to the same hairdresser for the last ten years or so who knows that I suffer from scalp psoriasis and is incredibly reassuring about it so I never feel embarrassed. If a hairdresser makes you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about your scalp psoriasis then take your money and spend it elsewhere.  Call up a hairdresser and explain over the phone about your scalp psoriasis and if they are reassuring about it then go for it but if they don’t even know what it is then I’d recommend staying clear of them.

Whilst things are the best they've ever been on the scalp psoriasis side of things, I’m pretty convinced that this improvement isn't just down to finding the right treatment regime for me but also other aspects of my life. It maybe that previous treatments didn't work for me because I had so many other factors that were aggravating my scalp psoriasis, like working crazy hours, not getting enough rest, being stressed and always worrying about things. Perhaps those treatments never had a chance until all the other factors calmed down. Nowadays, if I get stressed my scalp psoriasis (more so than my body psoriasis) does start to spread and flare up again as I find new patches forming. When this happens I make a more concerted effort to manage my stress levels, eat and drink more healthily and follow the above treatment regimen more strictly and regularly.

If you suffer from scalp (or body) psoriasis then my advice to you would be not to suffer in silence like I did for I would never want anyone to feel that kind of complete and utter despair. Make sure you seek medical advice. Go and see your GP / specialists and talk to them about how it’s affecting your life and making you feel. If your treatment isn't working then go back to see your doctor again and again, as many times as you need to. As well as the medical side of things, try to evaluate and pinpoint what aspects of your life might be contributing to your psoriasis. Managing stress levels was a huge thing for me and stress is known to make psoriasis worse. Look at your diet, do you need to take fish oil supplements which are known to help, do you get enough sleep and time to rest and chill out. Do you have someone to talk to? Bottling things up will only cause you stress. Believe it or not, you can be stressed without actually realising you are stressed – I can’t remember which doctor told me this but he/she said that you may think you’re not stressed and that you have nothing to worry but you could actually be ‘subconsciously’ stressed where your mind is refusing to let you acknowledge or admit to yourself that there is in fact something worrying you because you will then have to deal with it. It’s sort of like mental denial.

Below are some links to websites and organisations that you could turn to for support and advice and you know that you are more than welcome to drop me an email if you just need to talk to somebody who understands what it’s like to live with this affliction. Whatever you do, please don’t suffer in silence because I’m sure there’s something out there that can help you in some way, even when you think nothing is ever going to work.

Love Sheen xxx

Online community of psoriasis sufferers:
In the UK, channel 4’s Embarrassing Illnesses series feature scalp psoriasis:

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Sephora Sales Shopping

Good Day Everyone,

Sephora had a 20% of all items sale last week for three days and naturally I had to pop in and have a gander at all the delightful things. I went in on the second day of the sale and it was crazy!  Despite all of the checkout tills being open the queue was about 30 customers long all the time I was there. However, I persevered and walk away with a few bargains although I must say I was most restrained and bought mainly Secret Santa presents for my hubby’s office. I didn't buy any makeup even though Sephora in Singapore have now started to stock Tarte cosmetics... finally! I was sooo tempted by their blushes and lipsticks but exerted some serious self control and did not succumb to the temptation but I did walk away with a few bits for myself... after all it was 20% off ;o)
I bought three Secret Santa gifts for my hubby’s office that I’m really pleased with and think the recipients will also like them. I bought a Stila Holiday Essential Kit. This contains their famous ‘Kitten’ eye shadow, a waterproof liquid liner in the colour Intense Black and a liquid lipstick in the colour Beso. As this is a gift I haven’t opened it and therefore have no colour swatches for you, but I did swatch the red liquid lipstick in store and the colour is amazing. You can never go wrong with a good red lip around Christmas time. It’s one of those reds that just lights up your entire face and all you need is swipe of some black eyeliner and a subtle sheen of shimmery shadow on your lids and you’re good to go. In that respect, this kit is perfect for creating a Christmassy look.
I bought a Soap & Glory gift set called Good, Butter, Best which contains their three best selling body butters in trial size. I always think miniatures / trial size packs are a great way to sample multiple products or scents from a brand. This way if there’s a product or scent that you don’t like then at least you didn't waste your money on a standard size which costs more. Whilst Soap & Glory isn't too difficult to come by in Singapore, I know that a lot of the people in my hubby’s office haven’t tried Soap & Glory products and so this will be a great gift for someone who’s new to the brand.
I picked up another Soap & Glory product. This is their A Wash Upon A Star gift set with a travel size of The Righteous Butter body butter and the Clean on Me shower gel. Soap & Glory products always smell amazing and so make the perfect little gift. They are also packaged in rectangular boxes making them nice and easy to wrap – a definite plus for those of us with less than perfect wrapping skills, like me! Both products also have a little red tag that you can use to hang the boxes onto the Christmas tree as they are not that heavy.
For myself, I bought a Caudalie makeup remover cleansing water with organic grape and camomile as I’m running seriously low on makeup remover. I recently purchased the Caudalie instant foaming cleanser with grape and sage which was my first ever purchase from the Caudalie brand. I think together these make a nice little duo and I’ll keep you posted on how I get on with these products.
For a while now, I've been looking for a convenient way of carrying my perfume around with me. As I’m living in a very hot humid climate it’s all the more important to have something portable for those moments when you just need to freshen up and smell better than... well sweat, if I’m being honest. So I bought this universal atomizer from Sephora hoping it would do the trick. It is supposed to be adaptable to all perfume bottles, even sprays and can be filled without needing a funnel. I just tried filling this today and have to admit it was not all that easy. I managed to get perfume all over my hands and the atomizer which in turn started to rub off the black Sephora branding. So I took it upon myself to complete the job and remove all of the black Sephora branding and now the atomizer is just plain silver which suits me fine. 

I guess I should also confess that I tried to fill the atomizer based on the drawing on the back of the box before I realised that there was an instruction leaflet tucked underneath the lid of the box. In my defense, the leaflet was folded into a tiny little piece and neatly tucked underneath the lid so when I opened the box from the bottom and pulled the atomizer out the instructions remained tucked under the lid – that’ll teach me to open things from the wrong end! Hopefully the filling experience will be better next time, when I actually pay attention to the instructions and in the meantime fingers crossed that the contents don’t leak into my handbag! Oh and FYI the atomizer is supposed to contain around 55 sprays, in case you’re interested :o)
Finally, as I’d bought a couple of Soap & Glory Secret Santa gifts, I realised that I’d never really tried much from the brand myself! Even when I was living in England and had Boots to indulge myself, I tended to opt for The Sanctuary Spa products over Soap & Glory on the Boots 3 for 2. I’m not sure why but I was always put off by the packaging, a bit like I have been with Benefit cosmetics. The packaging always looks too busy and I have a preference for the clean, minimal, sleek look. Anyway last week I decided it was about time I looked beyond the packaging! Sephora has several Soap & Glory gift sets and I picked up the Bubble Barrelled set. The set comes with a great selection of mini-sized products to try including hand cream, foot cream, body butter, body scrub, shower gel, shampoo and a headband which is actually really nice and soft and will come in handy when I do my face masks etc. 
All of these products come inside a lovely vanity case which has a black and white design with a red zip. The case is surprisingly large and will come in very handy for travelling. The only thing that I dislike about the vanity case is that the handle isn't at the top, but at the back which means if I pick the case up by the handle, the contents all tumble around inside. I haven’t got round to trying any of the products yet and so cannot comment on these but rest assured I’ll let you know my thoughts once I have.
So there you have it, my Sephora sales shopping. I think I was pretty well behaved, don’t you? Did you pick anything up from the Sephora sale where you are? What did you buy? Have you tried any of these products yourself? What did you think?

Love Sheen xxx

(Note: I purchased these products with my hubby's money)

Monday, 2 December 2013

Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette (Original)

Good Day Everyone,

Today I have a real treat for you, if you love eyeshadows the way I do... I've finally got round to photographing and swatching my two Urban Decay Naked Palettes – about time given that Naked 3 is about to hit the market very soon! So without further a do I'm going to jump right to it as this is quite a lengthy post.
Value For Money
I bought both the original and Naked 2 palettes from Debenhams (in the UK) at Easter when they were having a 10% sale and my palettes cost me £32.40 each (reduced from £36 each). That’s about $66 SGD but I know at Sephora in Singapore the palettes were retailing for $80 SGD each (but I think the price has recently gone up to $83 SGD) so I made a bit of saving by buying them from back home. In the US the palettes retail for $52 USD.

Using the US for the purpose of comparison, a single Urban Decay eyeshadow with a fill weight of 1.5gr costs $18 USD. With the palettes you get 12 eyeshadows with a fill weight of 1.3gr (so a smidge less per shadow) all for just $52 USD. That’s less than the cost of three individual eyeshadows! Plus you get a couple of little freebies thrown in too. I think that’s superb value for money, don’t you? :o)

The Freebies:
With my original Naked palette I got a sample size of the oh so famous eyeshadow Primer Potion which is a great way of sampling another product from the brand. The Primer Potion makes the eyeshadows last longer and delays creasing on my lids.
In addition, the palette also came with a single ended Good Karma shadow brush which actually retails for $26 USD . Normally I don’t tend to use the brushes that come with palettes as they don’t tend to be the best quality and it often feels they've just been included for the sake of it but this one isn't too bad for patting shadow on the lid. However, I do wish that it was double ended with a blending brush on the other side and I think Urban Decay caught onto this as the brush that comes with the Naked 2 palette is exactly that.
The Packaging:
The eyeshadows come in a beautiful rich chocolate brown sleek palette with a magnetic closure so it just snaps shut. I think the actual packaging is cardboard that’s covered in brown felt like material with gold foil lettering. I keep my palette within a makeup case as the felt fabric does attract dust and as you can see from the photos, the gold lettering chips pretty easily which is a bit disappointing.
Inside there is a mirror in the lid, which I do feel could have been larger and again Urban Decay seemed to have picked up on this as the mirror in the Naked 2 palette is much larger. The 12 shadows are neatly lined up going for light to dark with a slot for the eyeshadow brush.
Despite the magnetic closure, the palette doesn't feel all that secure when shut so whenever I travel with it I don’t simply throw it into my suitcase for fear of it opening and ruining the contents. I usually travel with the palette in a toiletries case or makeup bag.

The Eyeshadows:
The palette contains 12 ‘neutral’ shades and just because it’s a ‘neutral’ or ‘naked’ palette, doesn't mean that it doesn't contain any colour because it does. The colours are just not the bright bold colours that I would only wear occasionally, instead they are very wearable, everyday shades that can glam up an eye look as a well as being appropriate for day time wear.  Overall the palette is warm toned which suits my complexion very well but I think these colours would suit most skin tones. Having used the palette for several months now, I feel the range of colours is more extensive than what I first thought upon purchase. The colours range from very pale pink champagnes to gold and various brown tones through to brown toned pinky plums and blue toned grey.

I find the colours to be very complimentary and have no problems creating a day or night time look from this palette alone. The two matte shades are great blending colours. The colour Naked in particular just blends into my natural skin colour and Buck can be used lightly as a blending and transition colour.
The texture of the shadows is very buttery and smooth. Whilst they’re not powdery and crumbly as such, I have experienced a little fall out with some of the more sparkly shades. The pigmentation is great and to be honest I don’t think my swatching skills does the pigmentation much justice (I did a better job swatching the Naked 2 shadows). There is a mixture of textures / finishes within the palette ranging from matte, satin, shimmery to sparkly / glittery.

Below I've cited the way each of the colours have been described on the Sephora website followed by my own opinions based upon my experience:
Virgin: described as a nude satin. I’d say it’s a very pale pink satin that leaves a beautiful sheen on the lids rather than any sort of colour.
Sin: described as a champagne shimmer. Similar to Virgin but with a little bit more of the pink coming through. With it being a shimmer rather than a satin finish it does look more sparkly / bright and reflective. Both virgin and Sin make great inner corner highlighters.
Naked: described as a buff matte. This is one of the two matte colours in the palette. The colour doesn't really show up on my eyelids due to my skin tone, and so I use it to mattify my lids and as a blending colour just above my crease. On my photograph swatch I really had to build up and layer this shadow for the colour to show. It’s a nudey beigey brown with a slight pink undertone when I build the colour up.
Sidecar: described as a beige sparkle. Sidecar is a colour that seems to look different on different people. Swatched on my arm in the photo it’s a sparkly browny peach with a silver sheen to it. On my lids the peach undertone doesn't come through so much and it looks more like a browny beige with a silver sheen. It definitely has more brown to it than what ‘beige’ implies.
Buck: described as a brown matte this is the only other matte shade in the palette. I’d say it has an earthy orangey undertone to it – very autumnal.
Half Baked: described as a bronze but it’s definitely more golden shimmer. It didn't swatch that well on my photos but the colour is actually a lot more intense when I apply it on my eyelids.
Smog: described as a golden brown shimmer. Like Sidecar this is another colour that looks different on different people. On me it’s more of a coppery bronze colour.
Darkhorse: described as a bronze-plum shimmer but to me it’s more of a chocolatey brown with gold flecks – I’m definitely not seeing the ‘plum’ in this shade.
Toasted: described as taupe-bronze. This is a beautiful taupe with a pink undertone and a rose gold-esque sheen. 
Hustle: described as a mocha shimmer but it definitely has a plumy undertone to it.
Creep: described as a near-black metallic. It’s a dark charcoal grey with multi-coloured sparkle.
Gunmetal: described as a dark grey metallic. I’d say its a slate-grey with a blue undertone and silver sparkle.

In terms of fallout, Sin, Sidecar and Gunmetal are the only ones where I have to be particularly careful. All of the other colours apply beautifully with no real fallout issues.The shadows are very true to colour, as you can see from the photo below where I've matched up my swatch photo with the pan colours. Clearly the colour isn't going to look as 'intense' swatched on my arm as it does in the pan where the shadows are more densely packed and reflect the light differently compared to my skin. The good thing is that most of these colours can be built up to increase their intensity on my eyelids.
So there you have it, a gorgeous selection of neutral colours that would please any eyeshadow lover! Having had this palette for several months I think this is a truly amazing palette with a gorgeous range of shades and fantastic value for money. I would not hesitate to recommend this at all. The criticisms that I have are minor relative to the greatness of the palette and some of these have been addressed in the Naked 2 palette, such as, a larger mirror, double ended brush, and more secure packaging so it shows that Urban Decay have listened to their customer's feedback.

Regarding the shadows I love most of the colours, especially Sidecar, Buck, Half Baked, Smog, Darkhorse, Toasted and Hustle - I think I just named most of the colours- haa haa! Flipping it over, the colours I use least are Creep and Gunmetal just because of the sparkle factor, they get reserved mainly for night out looks. This is definitely my most used palette

Do you have this palette? Is it one of your favourites? What other eye palettes do you recommend?

Love Sheen xxx
P.S. My thoughts on Naked 2 are not too far behind :o)

My verdict: 5/5
For the UK: UD Website and you can purchase this palette from Debenhams and House of Fraser stores
For the US: UD Website
For Singapore you can find this product at Sephora
(Note: I purchased this product with my own money)

Friday, 29 November 2013

MAC Prep+Prime Eye Base

Good Day Everyone,

Last weekend I made a quick stop of at the MAC counter whilst at the airport and made a couple of purchases. I had gone with the intention of buying just the one product and whilst paying something else caught my eye, and I thought to myself, ‘Oooh I’ll try a bit of that too.’ Does that ever happen to you, where something catches your eye at the last minute and you just end up buying it? Be honest ;o)

I had gone to MAC to buy one of their paint pots because my dark circles don’t just limit themselves to under my eyes, they also extend onto and around my eyelids. I get orangey brown discolouration on my eyelids as well as some very fine red veins showing through my skin. I wanted something that would neutralise / cover up the darkness and minimise the red veins... a concealer for the eyelids, if you will. As you know eyeshadows are my thing and the dark circles on my eyelids were interfering with my lighter eyeshadows, preventing the colours from showing up as well as they could.

At the MAC counter I played around with the Painterly and Soft Ochre pain pots but I found the texture to be quite thick and a bit dry and difficult to work with. I also wanted a colour that was as close to my own skin as possible and I couldn't find one in the paint pot collection. Whilst I was going to be using eyeshadows on top of this product and therefore you may think that getting a close skin match is not really an issue, I nevertheless felt it would useful for days when I don’t wear any eyeshadow, but still want to neutralise and cover up my dark circles and red veins.

I got chatting with the MAC sales assistant and she recommended that I try the MAC Prep+Prime eye base. I did and walked away with my first ever MAC eye product. I will typically read online reviews of most products before I part with my money but as we were about to catch a flight I didn't have time and so I took the plunge and made my purchase. Later that day I went online and I have to say the reviews were pretty mixed about this product ...'mmm should I have not taken the plunge', I thought to myself, but the thing with makeup products (and most things) is that they do not work the same for everybody, we all have different skin types and body chemistry and so I decided not to despair but to try the product out for myself.
The product comes in three shades; light, medium and medium dark. I purchased the medium shade and it is very similar to my natural skin colour and tone. You get 5gr of product and mine cost me $27.10 SGD which is about £1 more than the UK retail price of £12.50 but given that the second MAC product I purchased cost $11 SGD (£5.50 approx) when it actually retails for £12.50 in the UK, I felt I got a good bargain across the two products... woohoo :o)
The product comes in a round, light weight, slim line, clear plastic pot with a black screw on lid. I don’t mind the packaging as its light weight and pretty secure which means I have no concerns travelling with it. I always make sure that I screw the lid on fairly tightly so that the product doesn't dry out.
Now on to the juicy bit, the product itself. I have been wearing this product for the last five days and I do not regret my purchase at all... hooray :o) According to MAC this product is;

‘A light textured cream to wear on the eyes as an undercoat to eye makeup. Primes the lids, smooths textures, neutralises lid colour. Use under eye shadow, pigments, paints and concealers.’

 I would agree with most of the above. I haven’t tried this product under concealer or pigments so can’t comment on how well it works under them. For me it does the key job that I wanted which is to neutralise the dark circles and red veins on my eyelids - yipppeeee! The product has a very creamy yet thin (thinner than the MAC paint pots), light weight texture. I apply this with my finger, all over my eyelid, taking it up to my brow bone and the inner corner of my eyes by the side of my nose. I only need the tiniest bit of product as a little goes a long way (I see this pot lasting me for a very very long time, providing it doesn't dry out). I can imagine this product creasing, if you put too much on and I think this might be a factor behind some of the less positive online reviews.
The product dries very quickly so there’s no hanging around before being able to apply my eyeshadows :o) It dries to a powder finish. I was impressed by how well it worked to neautralise the darkness and red veins on my eyelids. Whilst it doesn't completely eradicate the darkness 100% it does a brilliant job, as you can see from the photo below. I have no makeup on other than this eye base on my left eye. The product also has a mattifying effect and absorbs any oil on my lids, leaving me with a lovely, neutral canvass for my eyeshadows.
For me, this product works beautifully under powder eyeshadows and it also works well under my Maybelline Color Tattoo (reviewed here). It doesn't works as well under the crayon type eyeshadow as the colour looks a bit patchy and bitty, if that makes any sense. For me this is no big issue as I mainly use powder eyeshadows and use the crayon type eyeshadow as inner corner highlighters and they seem to work fine, even on top of this eye base there, just not as a larger wash of colour on my eyelid. When I apply this eye base on my eyelids I take the product all the way down to my lash line. Day to day, I typically wear pencil eyeliner on my top lash line and this eye base doesn't interfere with my liner in any way.

I have found that my eyeshadow lasts slightly longer without creasing when I wear this eye base versus without, but I’m not sure if it makes the colour of my shadows ‘pop’ or more intense, or make the colour last longer compared to not using this eye base, and versus my other eye primers like the Urban Decay Primer Potion. I will have to try a few little experiments to do a compare and contrast. Irrespective of these ‘primer’ qualities I love this product for what it does to reduce the dark circles on my eyelids and it just goes to show that just because a product doesn't work for others, it doesn't mean it’s not going to work for me :o)

Have you tried this product or any others from Mac’s Prep + Prime range? What was your experience? Are there any other products that you would recommend for neutralising eyelid darkness?

Love Sheen xxx

P.S. In case, you’re wondering what the other MAC product was that I purchased alongside this eye base, it was the travel size Strobe cream and yes there will be a review coming soon, as soon as I've played around with it a bit more :o)

My verdict: 5/5
For the UK: MAC website
For the US: MAC website
For Singapore you can find this product at MAC counters/stores
(Note: I purchased this product with my own money)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Living With Body Psoriasis

Good Day Everyone,

A quick disclaimer to say that I am not a medical professional and that you should not make any changes to your psoriasis treatment without discussing it with your doctor first. Whilst I will be talking about the treatments that I have tried, I am not recommending that you try them too. This is simply my personal experience of living with body psoriasis.

Apologies that I've been absent for the past week and missed a few blog posts. I typically try to post three times a week but lately Arthur (aka arthritis) has been getting the better of me. I’m right handed and the arthritis in my right wrist has flared up quite badly making it very difficult for me to type. So I’m now typing with my left hand, albeit very slowly, but I figured the more I type with my left hand the faster I’ll get with the practice :o)

Today’s post is about my experience of living with the skin condition psoriasis. I’m going to focus on body psoriasis in this post and cover scalp psoriasis in a separate post partly because I think this post would become very long if I covered both here, but primarily because my experience with body psoriasis has been different to that with scalp psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a skin condition which consists of raised, flaky, silvery scales of skin. These raised patches of very dry skin are as a result of an increased turnover of skin cells. In people without psoriasis normal skin cells shed and regenerate every 30 or so days but in psoriasis suffers, skin cells turnover every three days, so around 10 times faster than normal. This means that layers of skin build up creating plaques or raised patches of very thick, dry skin that can also be itchy. Eventually this thick layer of skin will peel off leaving behind very sore, tender, fresh layer of skin which is very red and thin. If you scratch this thin layer of skin it will inevitably break, bleed and it can even get infected.

Psoriasis is a chronic (long term), non-contagious condition for which there is no cure but the condition can go in to remission, stablise and flare up again. No one really knows what causes psoriasis. There are various theories involving abnormalities with the immune system which causes inflammation in the skin causing skin cells to turn over at a very fast rate. There are also theories suggesting genetic involvement. You are more likely to develop psoriasis if someone in your family has it. In my family, my aunt had it as a teenager but grew out of it (she’s now in her 40s and psoriasis free). Two of my female cousins also have it. It seems to run in my dad’s side of the family rather than my mums. Funnily enough none of the men in my dad’s family suffer from psoriasis, just the women.

When I was 17 I noticed a dry patch of skin on one of my elbows and within a few weeks this one dry patch had progressed to psoriasis patches the size of golf balls on both my elbows. I recall my mum taking me to see our GP (family doctor) who prescribed a topical ointment / cream (I don’t remember the name) but a few weeks later I had developed huge psoriasis patches, almost the size of tennis balls, on both my knees and the ointment / cream that I had been using hadn't had any real effect. The skin was so tight and dry on my knees that it became very  painful for me to bend my knees as the dry skin patches lacked the normal elasticity the skin over the knees has, resulting in the psoriasis patches cracking and bleeding.

Our GP realised that topical creams and ointments were not going to be strong enough given how quickly my psoriasis was spreading and so he referred me to a dermatologist (skin specialist). By the time I went to see the dermatologist the psoriasis patches from my knees had spread further down my legs. I’d also developed a few smaller patches on my back. I couldn't believe how in a matter of just a few months I’d gone from having normal skin to this scaly, itchy, painful and ugly skin condition.

The dermatologist initiated me on a phototherapy course. This involved a trip to the hospital three times a week, before college, to have light therapy on my body. I would have to stand in what can only be described as a vertical sun bed, with protective gear for my eyes, whilst my body was exposed to ultraviolet light. Whilst having light therapy I was also using topical ointments / creams as well.

Luckily for me the light therapy made a significant difference in slowing my skin turnover rate and greatly reduced my psoriasis patches. After the light therapy course I continued using various ointments and creams. Over the years I have used Dovonex, which contains a vitamin D derivative, to normalise and slow down the rate of skin cell turnover, Elocon, which contains a corticosteroid that reduces skin inflammation, as well as various coal tar treatments. I’m sure there were other treatments that I cannot remember the names of.

By the time I entered my 20s my psoriasis patches had cleared on my legs. The only reminder I have is some slight skin discolouration but it really isn't all that noticeable. The patches on my elbows took a few more years to ease. In my 20s I started using an ointment called Diprosalic which worked wonders. It contains two active ingredients, betamethasone a topical corticosteroid which reduces the skin inflammation and salicylic acid which breaks down the excessive keratin (a protein that forms part of the skin structure) to help reduce the thickness of the skin scales, thus allowing the betamethasone to penetrate through the skin and be effective.

Now as well as drug and light treatment, I was also told by my Dermatologist back when I was a teenager that a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, low in processed and sugary foods would also help with my skin condition. I was also recommended to eat fresh oily fish such as salmon and mackerel two-three times a week. As a teenager I did used to eat oily fish (my mum made sure I did!) but as I've gotten older I have started to find it more and more difficult to eat oily fish and have resorted to taking fish oil capsules instead. I don’t like seafood and do not eat any form of shell fish, I do however, on occasion eat white fish such as seabass or dover sole and I can eat fresh tuna but I really struggle with salmon and other forms of oily fish – I struggle even though I know it’s good for me.

Back when I was a teenager, I didn't take much interest in finding out about my psoriasis but as I got older and my scalp psoriasis got worse I did to turn to the internet for information. That’s when I came across psoriatic arthritis and realised that as a psoriasis sufferer, I was more likely to develop arthritis, which is also an inflammatory immune system condition, just like psoriasis. I've always had a niggle at the back of my mind that I would develop arthritis, I don’t know why I thought that, just a gut feeling I guess but what I didn't expect was to develop it at such a young age (31). I always thought (or hoped) that I would get when I was in my fifties and beyond as that way I’d have had children, worked on my career, travelled and basically done the things that one hopes of doing. However, such is life and you just have to deal with the cards you’re dealt and that’s what I’m (trying) to do :o)

I've always felt quite lucky with regards to my body psoriasis (scalp psoriasis is a whole other story and I was not so lucky!) as for the most part, it has always been on parts of my body that are easy to hide with clothing. I have cousins who have had psoriasis all over their hands, forearms, neck and even parts of their face. Now that must take a huge toll emotionally, as well as physically. For me, other than the physical discomfort of body psoriasis and not being able, or rather willing, to wear short sleeves in the summer I feel I have gotten off quite lightly, relatively speaking.

I think it would be fair to say that for the past five years at least, my body psoriasis has been in remission and stable. Whenever I discover the early signs of a new psoriasis patch forming I treat it with the Diprosalic ointment and so long as I apply it regularly I find that within a week or two the new patch psoriasis patch has disappeared.

I can appreciate that many other psoriasis sufferers many not have gotten off as lightly as I have. I have seen YouTube videos of people talking about how their psoriasis affects their lives and I can hear and sense the same despair that I once felt with my scalp psoriasis. My heart really goes out to other fellow sufferers because psoriasis is not a pretty condition to look at and we live in such a 'looks' orientated society plus you can't always 'hide' (and nor should you have to) your psoriasis if its on your face or hands. Luckily there are numerous different types of medications now available so if something doesn't work for you then usually there are other options to try. In addition, I also believe that taking a 'holistic' approach to health is the way to go where we don't just turn to drugs for answers and solutions but also look at food, drink, mental and emotional health as well as physical. I know first hand the beneficial effects a change in diet can have from my arthritis experience. Like arthritis, psoriasis is also an inflammatory condition and eating lots of anti-inflammatory foods whilst reducing / eliminating inflammation causing foods from your diet could have a beneficial effect but we must be realistic in our expectations from dietary changes. Its going to take more than a few months of eating the right healthy foods to undo decades of eating the not so healthy, wrong foods.

Stress is known to trigger flares and aggravate psoriasis and I believe it is really important to minimise the stress in one's life. Now I know that's not always easy to do but at the very least please make sure that you have someone that can provide some emotional support for the days when you are struggling or feeling fed up - it can make a huge difference, trust me I know. There are lots of support organisations and groups where you can talk to and interact with fellow sufferers and I've listed a few below. If you are struggling then please do not struggle in silence, do talk to your doctor or family member or friend or reach out for support from one the groups below. You can even reach out to me :o)

Love Sheen xxx

Online community of psoriasis sufferers: