Monday, 5 December 2011

BEST of the Christmas gift sets!

Well it's now December, so about time for the round-up of the very most tempting beauty gift ideas...

As always beauty enthusiasts are spoilt for choice. The best thing is, often these limited edition sets offer great value and mean you can try a range of products in one fell swoop.

I have recently reviewed one of Bare Escentuals' holiday sets, Brush With Fame brush set (£39.) It comes in a spectacular gold bag, with 5 short handled gold brushes: Full Coverage Kabuki Brush, Buffing Eye Brush, Long Tapered Crease Defining Brush, Soft Focus Tapered Liner Brush, and Soft Sweep Cheek Brush. They have two other sets: a £14 set, Flawless and Fearless, which contains a mini Flawless mascara and a mini Pretty Amazing Lip colour -

And, the best set ever, for £49, you get 9 pieces... And Away We Glow is next on my hitlist and I'll be picking it up this week for just under £40 thanks to the Fenwicks/Daily Telegraph evening. It has, Prime Time Primer Shadow in Dove Gray (a perfect taupe shade); Eyecolor in a shimmering moonlight sparkle shade (highlight shade for eyes); New "Round the Clock™ Waterproof Eyeliner in Midnight smoothes on creamy waterproof, long-wearing color loaded with antioxidant vitamin E for a sleek, stay-put line in the perfect midnight black shade"; Turn On Multi-Tasking Highlighter (amazing face highlighter!) "adds a touch of brightness and definition to cheeks, eyes and lips"; New Luxury Blusher "adds a pop of warm coral color to cheeks"; Flawless Definition Mascara in black; New Pretty Amazing™ Lipgloss in Flair (a lovely peachy nude.) And, a Wet/Dry Shadow Brush and Contour Blush Brush.

Murad have some excellent gift sets out called 'Celebrate You!' which offer a great way to save. My favourite is the Embrace Balance, £39.50 (worth £78.50) - this is pink and silver and contains: Energizing Pomegranate Cleanser 50ml, T Zone PoreRefining Gel 60ml (full size), Energizing Pomegranate Moisturiser SPF 15 30ml,Pomegranate Exfoliating Mask 2x 7.5ml.

There's also Get Glowing, £49.50 (worth £84) - this is green and silver and contains: Renewing Cleansing Cream 45ml, Age Diffusing Serum30ml (full size), Sheer Lustre Day Moisture SPF 15 7.5ml, Hydro DynamicUltimate Moisture 7.5ml.

Finally, Renew Radiance, £59.50 (worth £133) - this is orange and silver and contains: Essential-C Cleanser 45ml, Active Radiance Serum 30ml,Essential-C Day Moisture SPF 30 21ml, Hydro Dynamic Ultimate Moisture 7.5ml.

Origins have various skincare gift sets too, but most tempting is this Harrods exclusive Ginger Essence fragrance. It has been given some extra sparkle this year – the bottle is adorned with a mini crystal Christmas Tree Charm made with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS. "Exclusive to Harrods this limited edition bottle makes the perfect stocking filler for a loved one or friend. The Christmas Tree Charm is made with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS – the finest crystal elements manufactured by Swarovski and has been designed in an array of festive colours – Red, Green and Gold." This scent sounds fantastic and certainly looks the part. With top notes including Bergamot, Lemon, Lime, Orange and Grapefruit, middle notes including Ginger, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Clove Bud and Coriander and floral notes of Violet Leaves and Jasmine including Vanilla, Amber and Sandalwood, this sounds ideal for wearing on a cold Christmas Day. £39 for 100ml.

Next up, probably the most innovative and beautiful of all - trust Jo Malone if you need a gift to make a great impression. I recently received the famous Pomegranate Noir candle... it lives up to the hype!

I have often thought Jo Malone looks oddly intellectual, almost like legal briefs - but that is exactly what makes it so ideal to give to your most sober friend or relative. Having said that. Jo Malone has unveiled an unexpected frivolous side with this brilliant Christmas Cracker (£28) which contains a mini Grapefruit Cologne 9ml, a Lime Basil & Mandarin Body & Hand Wash 15ml and a Pomegranate Noir Body Crème 15ml.

Another great fail-safe choice is the Cologne Collection which contains Grapefruit Cologne, Pomegranate Noir Cologne, Wild Bluebell Cologne, Red Roses Cologne, Vanilla & Anise Cologne (9ml each) £62. These sets also break away from the cream theme by featuring a festive red background.

There's also a Travel candle collection (Pomegranate Noir Travel Candle, Roasted Chestnut Travel Candle, Pine & Eucalyptus Travel Candle, 60g each, £60); a pampering collection (Red Roses Bath Oil 30ml, Pomegranate Noir Scatter Candle 30g, English Pear & Freesia Body Crème 15ml. £38), or the popular Roasted Chestnut candle (400g, £80) - and even a 2.5kg Pine and Eucalyptus candle, £260. Jo Malone candles burn very evenly and really do scent a home - it might be a wise investment!? To check out all the products see this link or check out your local Jo Malone counter.

Another perfume which is worth checking out is Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude. I reviewed it here, but now there is a new Body Veil too. If you visit your local Estee Lauder counter, you can sample the scent via a ver innovative Sensuous Nude Tattoo! Simply press it on to release the scent. The perfume is £34 (30ml) and the Body Veil is £31 (200ml.) You simply peel it off to real a charming heart shape. An excellent idea and a lot more fun than a spritz, right?

MAC have their usual Holiday Sets but I am more taken by the Gareth Pugh collection. The packaging looks so modern and confident, yet still very sleek as opposed to brash. The eyelashes in the collection would be a perfect gift for a confident makeup fan. But otherwise, anything from the range is sure to hit the right note.

I will be keeping a keen eye out for any other Christmas treats, do share below if you have seen any...!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Origins Plantscription Anti-aging eye treatment: REVIEW!

I have been using this since it launched and I must say, it actually seems to be working! I had noticed with some alarm that my crow's feet were getting somewhat visible. Although I do not yet suffer from deep ingrained wrinkles, I did not like seeing the fine lines. I began to religiously apply this morning and night, and I now feel my skin is softer and the lines have plumped out to be vitually invisble. It costs £35 for 15ml so it is more than I would like to spend, but like their witches remedy/dragon tears marvel that is the tiny Spot Remover (have included it in my still accurate HG list here) I feel like now I will be relying on it. The only single reservation I would have is that I'd prefer a squeeze tube, but that is mainly down to the fear that with time and air exposure it might lose its potency...

After using it over a month now, this is what remains:


Origins have tested Plantscription Anti-aging eye treatment and claim in 8 weeks, people see clear results -

87% of panelists saw a reduction in the appearance of lines and wrinkles

83% of panelists saw an improvement in the appearance of firmness

83% of panelists saw a reduction in the appearance of under eye cross hatching

83% of panelists saw a reduction in the appearance of under eye troughs

It is formulated with Anogeissus Tree Bark as well as Kombucha (fermented Black Tea) and helps repair the appearance of lines and wrinkles, crepey lids, under eye cross hatching and saggy eye area skin while offering strong collagen-boosting benefits. This potent combination of ingredients helps restore elasticity to the age-hollowed, eye area for more youthful, looking skin.

Kombucha (fermented black tea)

Helps repair the appearance of saggy lids and cross hatching in skin around eye area.


Helps improve skin tone.


Potent anti-irritant that helps reduce the appearance of dark circles.



Mandarin Orange, with its high Vitamin C content, is native to southeast Asia and the Philippines. It is thought to have descended from oranges that grew in northeast India 3,000 years ago.

Star Anise

Known for its antioxidant benefits, Star Anise is grown almost exclusively in Asia. This star shaped fruit is harvested before ripening, then dried and used as a spice.

Pink Rose

Ancient Romans discovered Pink Rose’s ability to help soothe and calm skin; today it is proven as a topical anti-irritant. It takes approximately 60,000 petals to produce one ounce of its precious oil.


Lavender’s use has been documented for over 2,500 years as an herb known for its soothing, relaxing qualities and for being a potent anti-irritant.


Native to Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, Geranium oil is known to have anti-irritant properties.

This is packed full of ingredients, I had no idea how complex it was. What I like about it is it is very light and cooling, and I actually feel a tangible 'tightening' as it sets on my skin. Although I didn't take an official 'before' picture, this recent shot from my Illamasqua review made me pause. And here is the current, I think smoothed and softened, 'nude' shot:

...What do you think?

Origins Plantscription Anti aging eye treatment is available from all Origins counters or online at (£35 for 15ml.)

GlossyBox: REVIEW!

When I was very young, I remember I was subscribed to a monthly 'Tinkerbell' package; each package would be filled with delightful trinkets and always had a special letter, once it was written backwards and had to be read in the mirror. I loved those, and would hurry downstairs eager to seize my package. "When you grow up you'll dread the post," my father predicted, "It'll all be bills and Inland Revenue." When my subscription was cancelled he consoled me, "It's two fat men behind a desk."

Well, who knew that all these years later, the same thrill could be re-ignited! Imagine, your doorstep is host to a pile of bills... and then THIS:

I was very kindly sent the October and November GlossyBoxes and the very best thing about these is the immaculate presentation - it instantly brightens up your day. The concept is simple, each month you receive 5 samples, enough to try out a product and decide if you'll invest in the full size. Some months (you can check the archive here) feature amazing full size products, other months are heavily dominated by one brand (e.g my October box had 3 out of 5 products Dermalogica samples) but the general idea is that you are paying £12.95 a month for a surprise selection of 5 novel treats. The October box had a bonus 6th item to celebrate 6 months of GlossyBox but sadly this didn't mean they'd add one every month indefinitely! I am confident that in any given month, you will always get your £12.95 value back - and some months hopefully you will get a spectacular windfall. The boxes are sent Tracked, but you don't need to be in to sign for them, so the idea is that it'll be there waiting for you.

So, let's have a look at my October GlossyBox,

And now the November GlossyBox,

The Arbonne FC5 hand cream (£19 for the full size) is incredible stuff. That is a good example of a product I would never have even looked at, because I use any old hand cream and £19 is precious makeup money. But now I must buy it. And there's the rub... (so to speak) these GlossyBoxes, for us makeup and beauty addicts, are DANGEROUS! I also loved the Dermalogica lip complex (the extra product in October GlossyBox) but it's £22.50 for 1.75ml?! So, if I were to hestitate on my own personal subscription, it would be for fear that if I invite all this temptation into my life, it would be inevitable that I succumb. Of course this is where the brands' advantage lies, this is afterall a fantastic marketing strategy. I am sure that is no secret. In fact it's peculiar no one thought of it before - it seems to be taking off now though! The boxes each come with a card detailing your samples, and if you use your phone app it will take you to the brand website. I would suggest that it would be brilliant if these linked up directly to the product, and if there could always be a little discount to make it all the more appealing. There are often some products with a discount (the fantastic Dead Sea Magik Bath Salts is currently on offer with a code for 25% off, there's 15% off Nail Rock Wraps with a code, and 20% off Philip Kingsley with a code) but ideally it would be the standard and part of the incentive to sign up.

But these are minor gripes and all in all I would confidently recommend GlossyBox. I think it should be marketed to husbands as a painless way to get their wives to remember to treat themselves - you know the women who are so flustered that they have forgotten what it feels like to pamper themselves... I think it is a very good gift idea. Talking of husbands and men in general, GlossyBox for Men has just launched this month. It will be quarterly (i.e every 3 months) and will include 7 samples. With metrosexuals now the standard, I think this is a genius idea.

There are various ways to earn points, GlossyDots, once you are a subscriber - e.g, writing reviews or referring a friend. For every friend you refer you'll be awarded 200 GlossyDots, which go towards your 1000 needed to earn yourself a free GlossyBox.

There are subscription bundles available for 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months. As a Christmas present, it would be a very nice idea to perk up someone's day every month like that. Check out the GlossyBox website, YouTube, Twitter and blog for all the gloss. (squirm, did I really make that pun.)

...Let me know if you have tried GlossyBox?