Monday, 17 December 2012

My choice is Paula's Choice

Wowza... I have been using these products religiously for several weeks now - I initially mentioned them and reviewed the line here but I must say by this stage I am amazed. If you have any issues with uneven pigmentation, you had better get into this range pronto. My skin is unbelievably clear and unified - to the point where I actually don't need foundation (gasp!) although of course I do like to wear it anyway...

Annoyingly, Paula's Choice is only available online, but the postage is fairly swift and the customer service is on point. You can start by just ordering samples. I have been using the 8% AHA Perfecting Gel (£21.50) with incredible results on my face and even on legs after waxing. The consistency of the gel is ideal for clog-prone skin. I also went straight for the Resist range and have used the Daily Smoothing and Weekly Smoothing Treatments - you can buy both as a set for £52 at the moment. The Daily Smoothing treatment has an airtight pump and smells and looks just like Dermalogica's Age Smart Multivitamin recovery masque to me; it's a very siliconey feel but has not broken me out at all - it is marvellous under makeup (although don't forget your sunscreen!) and over time, used with the potent 10% Weekly Treatment, it seriously has made me look fresher and dare I say younger! Before trying this range I had been considering botox (although arguably that was a little premature) but after these Black Magic potions - for surely there has to have been a deal with the devil to get these formulas?!- I will never be without my Paula's Choice. This brand gets consistently high reviews and raves: I can only add yet another here. Believe the hype.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Bargain Murad Christmas kits and Facials!!!

If you ask me, the best thing about Christmas is: All the new Beauty and makeup sets!!! Suddenly, spending is utterly justified and everyone around you is jolly, the Christmas lights...ahhh. November is when it becomes ok to mention Christmas so here we go...

Murad is already one of my top fave brands, so it was very hard to select a kit. The kits include the Complete Renewal Christmas Kit, which is anti-ageing (£52 worth £107.45!); Shake-Up Your Makeup Christmas Kit (the Hybrids range - £36 worth £56); Hydration Sensation Christmas Kit (£73.50 worth £123.30); Radiance Rescue Christmas Kit (£58.50 worth £137.31 and contains the amazing Active Radiance Serum featuring Resilient-C Complex, 30ml. This really works to even out skin tone and radiance!) and finally the kit I went for, the Perfect Balance Christmas Kit. (£42.50 worth £89.70)

I almost chose a more moisturising anti-ageing kit - but the truth is that with Murad products, they are all inevitably anti-ageing due to the ingredients. The star product, T-Zone Pore Refining Gel, 60ml, retails for £50 alone and has single-handedly made my skin spectacular. At my facial (more on that to follow...), the lovely Marianna complemented my skin and I beamed with pride. Reviews on makeupalley praise the magic of this formulation and I would agree with the many who say that the promise of "smaller pores" never made sense until this product! It is almost like it 'dissolves' the skin and any blocked pores or enlarged pores just clear right up. Within a week my skin was looking markedly brighter and clearer. This contains the miracle Glycolic acid and also antioxidants and Salicylic Acid and zinc to kill off spots virtually on contact. The other
amazing product in the kit which is an instant Must Have for anyone who like me suffers from shiny skin, is the Oil-Control Mattifier. You get a small 10ml sample but it's been enough for me to use it several days consecutively and realise that now I just don't think I can cope without it! The full size is £37 but it should last a while. I just smoothed it over my T-Zone and it was a godsend. You also get a concealer - it's in shade Medium so it was slightly too dark for me - and although I tried it on spots to check if it did heal them, I didn't really fall for this product myself. The eye cream, Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture for eyes, comes in a little screw top sample pot with 3.5ml and I finished it very quickly. I did really like this product but I don't know if it is as unique as the other items. At my facial in fact I was recommended the Essential-C Eye Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 15 which does seem more my thing.
OK now onto my indulgent Murad facial...


We know Murad is high end and seen in luxury spas, but a little known secret haunt where you can get discounted facials is The London Esthetique Student Spa and Salon in the London Barbican area. Marianna gave me a very relaxing facial called the 'Resurgence Renewal': "Restore the Luminous glow you used to know with our most indulgent facial. Luxurious and lasting hydration restores suppleness, texture and tone. After one treatment, you’ll instantly unveil a more youthful, luminous skin." I enjoyed the consultation and the expert recommendations. The facial lasted around an hour and a half and even included a shoulder massage! Very soothing after a long day. The prices are much lower than the typical rates as treatments are carried out by students - but if my experience is anything to go by, the students are incredibly professional and learned! Facials start from only £19 for an hour and 15mins! Great value. They also offer in salon waxing, hair appointments, laser hair removal, nails etc. Check out the price list here.

My skin was glowing - I hadn't seen it look so bright and smooth in a while. It was a sad fact that this weekend rather than showing off my rosey and luminous face, I had to go to a fancy dress party as a deathly pale zombie... I aim to continue with regular facials and Marianna's advice to "avoid stress" (would that it were so simple!) and of course the Murad belief that you should 'eat your water' (Dr Murad famously suggests that water is best absorbed via fruit and vegetables.) I definitely believe diet and exrcise and emotional well-being is key to looking younger, but with Murad facials and a few carefully selected key products, I feel hopeful that I will see my skin maintain the best condition it can. I would highly recommend a visit, if only for the chance to forget your woes and indulge yourself - the wonderful skin will be a bonus! My facial included a glycolic peel, a pineapple mask and a rich moisturiser. For possibly the first time, I travelled back on the tube make-up free - and didn't have a panic attack thinking I might be spotted bare faced by someone I know!!!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Round up Beauty thoughts

I have several ideas but usually they are not enough to justify a post in themselves, so I thought I would try out a round-up post and see how it goes...?

First up, those Chanel ads - how odd to have a man (ok no not "a man", I mean, Brad Pitt) fronting a women's fragrance. It has always been obvious that women could be used in adverts to sell a man's fragrance (or anything else) but it seemed clear that to sell to women we want to be enticed by a woman promising us an equal beauty to hers', if only we were to whip our credit card out for said item. But now, I guess in a classic case of post feminism, we too have the experience of being seduced for our purchase. These clips are the closest most of us will ever get to being chatted up by Brad Pitt, and I have to say I think it's a great ploy. Well worth his reputed $7M fee. It doesn't matter that what he's saying makes no sense, he is mesmerising, who is listening to him anyway?? Chanel No.5 really is legendary (in large part thanks to Marilyn Monroe's famous quip when asked what she wore to bed.) Chanel have made a video, somewhat bombastic and garish but describing its history (watch it here.) Personally I would probably still prefer Chanel's green bottle fragrance but I think it's ingenious to have the tagline "Inevitable" as there are plenty of clueless men buying their women fragrance or even women who don't know what they're supposed to like, so I am pretty sure Chanel No5 will indeed become an inevitable purchase and the campaign is bound to do amazingly well.

Seeing as I mentioned Marilyn Monroe, and seeing as MAC currently has their Marilyn Monroe collection out, I thought I would recommend a biography I just read - highly recommended if you are besotted with Marilyn Monroe as so many are. It is by Sarah Churchwell and called 'The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe.' It is very academically written and examines the various theories surrounding her. It also goes some way to explaining why Marilyn Monroe still to this day, more than half a century after her death, seems so modern and fresh and is still used as the benchmark for confident alluring females from Madonna to Gwen Stefani and various Hollywood actresses in between, who would all hope to be today's equivalent. In her day Marilyn Monroe was a subject for ridicule: her wobbly walk lent itself to comedies and the real seductive actress du jour was Liz Taylor. But when Hugh Hefner launched his career and sealed his future by buying and exposing Marilyn Monroe's nude photographs (she had posed nude whilst still a 'struggling actress') Marilyn Monroe refused to deny they were of her as her studio would have preferred, and instead admitted they were and simply absorbed the extra attention without allowing it to provoke shame. On the other hand, many feminists argue that by adopting the pre-war persona of humble, hapless and doting hourglass woman, she plunged women back into their former place. She had a very bizarre mix of naive openness and cunning wit. To take the Chanel quote above for instance, Marilyn Monroe explained that this was a way to avoid saying naked but that she didn't know why they would be asking her anyway. And the seemingly retrospective attitude of thinking of Marilyn Monroe as a tragic figure was already in place in her lifetime; every authorised biography made sure to reference her childhood in an orphanage and the studio loved her Cinderella tale. But the book is also objective enough to recount her flaws and ultimately it seems more than likely that her drug taking and overdose was all a part of her disorganised state rather than a murder or even a deliberate cry for help let alone suicide. We will never know the truth and that is one part of why her image never tires. Even her mole has become a cypher to her legend. As such, let me say that MAC'S hideous packaging really is an insult! It is good that they found a photograph not gernerally known as it does escape pastiche, but the black and red looks lazy and we all know Marilyn Monroe would never have carried that gaudy packaging around... However the colours did seem pretty accurate. Personally I hardly wear red lipstick (too ageing) so I found it an easy collection to resist. By the way, the unbelievably famous white dress (valued at £3M) from 'The Seven Year itch' film is going to be on show in London for the first time.

And finally in my roundup, do you recall the slave earrings? Well the Guardian and Telegraph  say this time it is an Aunt Jemima looking print dress and earrings at Dolce & Gabbana (spring/summer 2013 collection) causing an outcry. The irony is that if this black image was a black woman with european features, i.e small nose and subtly plump lips, this would probably have gone unremarked. I see countless dresses and earrings featuring white women or ethnic women prints - but apparently having a typical black featured woman is racist. It is very sad that showing a black face and having it modelled by a white model is taken as derogatory. If it were a black model I am not sure if it would be attacked even more, or whether in that context it might be taken as celebratory?
 images:, PHOTO: Vladimir Potop; Rex Features.

My current favourite makeup purchase! Estee Lauder Violet Underground palette

As soon as I saw these beautiful jewel tones I knew resistance was futile. The limited edition Violet Underground palette has been out a little while - indeed, it is currently sold out on the Estee Lauder website. However, plenty of counters near me still had the odd one left, but hurry if you need this in your life! (Clue: you do.) Thankfully my EL counter girl knows me well and agreed to unofficially hold it for me until the gift with purchase at Boots (currently on, until 20th) so it is finally mine.

From the blue lid to the punk 80s lightning bolt and name, to the cool tone perfect shades - this really is spectacular. Very wearable - even the pink is surprisingly demure! I think this will be perfect for the winter months. And, I appreciate the unique consistency of the 'cyber' texture. It really resists creasing, and has a depth of colour that flat shadow falls short of. These can be used wet, but I prefer them dry. Swatches I took did not capture the vivid multi dimension that it achieves on the eyelid - but in person, these are very special indeed. There are also 2 limited edition lipsticks but I have MAC Candy Yum Yum (incidentally, another current fave) and the Estee Lauder Violet Crush seemed somewhat similar but less unique, i.e less blue toned more pink but same idea. Anyway I will let the pictures do the talking...

 Only one swatch (dry) so I know it looks a little underwhelming... but on the eye this is all you need and it transforms. These can be built up to be very intense but I prefer to use them more subtle. Here is the pink alone, just a light wash looks so pretty:

£40, Available at Estee Lauder counters where stocks last! I can't wait to see the Christmas sets coming up, as Estee Lauder really know how to impress. I know that I will be using this palette a lot, and unlike most palettes there isn't even one dud shade!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Bare Minerals NEW Concealers: REVIEW! Correcting concealer; Stroke of Light eye brightener

Well well well. The days of Bare Minerals solely coming in loose pigments and pots is slowly being pushed aside. Although no brands can beat their AMAZING loose blushers (fave shade: 'Flowers) and AMAZING loose bronzers (I adore Warmth and Faux Tan equally) - so I am not suggesting the brand turns its back on all that swirl tap and buff business. And yet, this is exciting news indeed. Two new concealer formulations are out. These launched in September 2012.

Firstly, the rather Bobbi Brownish pot concealer, SPF Correcting Concealer (£21.) I have shade Light 2. Now perhaps before I even begin my review I must extoll the magic virtues of the Bare Escentuals Maximum Coverage concealer brush (£14.) I have 2 of these and have loved it for years. In fact even when using my HG concealer Lancome Effacernes, it is not the same AT ALL without that brush. It is a must-have!!! So, oops a spolier there as my HG has not quite been trumped. But, this is an excellent concealer. I use this concealer for face as opposed to undereye and in fact today I went with no foundation, I just applied this to my blotchy problem areas and powdered on top. You get 3g and a little goes a long way. It is very blendable and covers very well. The shade is a great match for me but the real beauty of this is that it comes in 8 different shades so you can pick your undertone. For instance, Light 2 is yellow toned whereas Light 1 is pink toned. Apparently these concealers contain lemon peel extracts and botanicals, which promise to "decrease dark spots and discolouration over time"! I will update on that as that would definitely warrant HG status! Well worth checking out and I love the sleek packaging (matte black but not rubbery like NARS - it's like a more modern version of the Bobbi Brown pot really.) I set this as advised, with the Bare Minerals Well-Rested SPF Eye Brightener. (£19.) This combination was a little too yellowy for my liking - but, it didn't crease at all. My favourite powder to set concealer with though, is the Guerlain perles Meteorites in Mythic I must admit...

Stroke of Light Eye Brightener (£22) is a stroke of genius I love it!!!! It is like YSL Touche Eclat "on steroids". I have it in shade Luminous 1. It comes in 4 shades and they all appear to lean pink or apricot (as opposed to yellow) and are specifically designed to brighten the undereye. It is a bit like Clinique's version of Touche Eclat but unlike that and Maybelline Dream Lumi and all the other imitating 'concealing' light reflectors, this can never go thick and cakey: it has the same very very thin and light YSL Touche Eclat consistency. In other words this is not so much a concealer as a real light reflector - it makes me look beaming and joyful and yes, younger. YAY!!!! And again, this claims to treat the skin:"Enriched with Mineral Jade Powder to disguise imperfections[...]Amethyst enhances the appearance of skin for a flawless look, whilst finely milled Freshwater Pearls help to keep skin soft and supple. Saccharomyces Cerevisiae helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines, dark circles and under eye puffiness for a more youthful appearance." I am tentatively calling this a new found fave and who knows maybe in time will replace my beloved Touche Eclat. I even love the applicator, WAY better than that YSL stinky brush. Check out my 'tutorial' to see it in action. (around 13.43) Check out the images below to see the shades. As explained, my Correcting Concealer is thicker and more yellow toned, and the Stroke of Light is more pink and has a thinner consistency.

Let me know if you have tried these, or what your favourite concealers are? I find concealers are definitely something worth hunting down, and investing in! Arguably the most important bit of makeup in your kit!!!

Bare Minerals available from all Bare Minerals boutiques,, selected retailers, spas & salons and QVC.

InStyle Magazine: Benefit FREEBIES!

Just a quick heads-up! In case any UK readers don't know, the November issue of InStyle (out from 4th October) featuring Naomie Harris on the cover wearing a gorgeous Acne leather dress, has a selection of 4ml versions of Benefit Sun Beam, Cha Cha tint (love this now and must get more magazines asap but grrrr sold out already?!) and of course their trailblazer Benetint.

£3.80 a copy although in Tesco stores only £2.50. Far be it for me to trumpet the high street murderers but oh well consumer is king and I ain't sniffing at saving £1.30! But in any case it's a great deal and I'll be picking up more - you know my record...

Olympia Beauty 2012: Reporting back!

Apparently 23,479 people visited over the course of the two days the Olympia Beauty exhibition was on to check out the latest products, treatments and services in beauty, make up and nails. I attend every year and have seen it go from more of a niche professional show to more of a populist free for all... OK I will admit I miss the days when the Olympia Beauty and Professional Beauty exhibitions were more a hidden thing only beauty insiders knew about... especially before Professional Beauty was run by a magazine... in the old days I recall Make Up Forever exhibiting there with foundations £6 a pop and lipglosses £4. [mournful sigh]

Anyway, all this is not to say it wasn't worthwhile. I bought a load of wax and waxing accoutrements; some false eyelashes (the famous Ardell 'wispies'), some Duo eyelash glue (around £4 at the exhibition), some Royal & Langnickel brushes, some backups of my fave Clynol Look at Me smoothing serum (2 for £5!!) some nail polishes by OPI (around a fiver each) and some Seche Vite of course, and a base coat... etc... All just rather dreary basic stuff. There was not the buzz that earlier years' exhibitions have had, and I was rather disappointed by the supposed discounts - e.g New CID cosmetics were showing there, with a 5% discount - please!

Probably the most interesting aspect of the show was the talk I attended by Dr Jain (you might have seen my interview video with him afterwords, here.) The talk highlighted the crossover between the beauty industry and the medical one. Dr Jain very much sees cosmetic surgery as treating real problems: wrinkles, discolourations and sagging: all are as tangible as any other flawed organ of the body. The most interesting picture he showed was of a patient who had been given Botox to treat excessive teeth grinding. The constant clenching literally enlarged her jaw muscles and created a rather masculine square jaw - but post treatment her whole face shape had changed. He also revealed that if a patient's eyelids are drooping to the point where frowning occurs in order to actively open the eyes to see properly, then Botox can be prescribed on the NHS. He mentioned a treatment I'd not heard much about, Sculptra, which lasts around 3 years. He also spoke about his speciality, body contouring. Intriguingly, Dr Jain suggests that the more costly and invasive a treatment, the more seriously a patient will take it, and the more lifestyle changes they will make to maintain it. He seemed very wary of today's disposable pop fame society where cosmetic treatments are trivialised too far. However, he is not denying that modern technology and the prevalence of cosmetic treatments has helped business - he revealed that through Twitter alone he has generated an extra £50,000! As far as celebrity poster girls he chose the notorious Nicole Kidman. I spoke to another cosmetic surgeon recently who opined that Nicole Kidman is now more famous for being the cosmetic surgery warning than anything else! How sad. By contrast, a photo of Brigitte Bardot was shown. As mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, she is one of the very few celebrities who has said adieu to her youth and not fought tooth and claw to resurrect it. I think she should be applauded for that but Dr Jain did suggest several treatments she could have; it would admittedly be tempting to imagine her able to recapture her intense beauty to the fullest that she could... But, as my interview with Dr Jain revealed, he understands that primarily, these 'unnecessary' treatments are in the first place, for psychological reasons.

As in my previous post, I had this old version of the 'intelligent' camera on and it snapped indiscriminately. It's funny as no one has a clue you are taking pictures so I could have included a few with sales peoples' intense and nauseatingly sycophantic 'sales pitch face' but I won't. Instead, here's a brief idea of the show itself:

Saturday, 29 September 2012

A dim future for bright teeth?

I recently attended the Olympia Beauty exhibition and as I was leaving I was accosted by a teeth whitening sales lady from Megawhite or (as per my receipt.) £249.99 reduced to £89.99 reduced to £69.99 and now at the show, £49.99. I was vaguely temped but moved on. "OK, name your price" the manager tried. I said £30 and the deal was done. So, I thought I might as well review it here.

Teeth whitening used to be the preserve of dentists, and a real dentist's chair, in a real surgery. But nowadays it's just another aspect of beauty and has been absorbed into the high street. On the one hand the 1984 Dentists Act says that the practice of dentistry can only be legally carried out by dentists, or trained dental professionals who are supervised by a dentist. The General Dental Council insists that whitening teeth is a form of dentistry. On the other, a 2001 House of Lords judgement classed teeth whitening products as cosmetics, not medicines. Now the law is about to change but still seems rather cloudy, hinging on the strength of the peroxide. It is a bit odd that these sales people have no knowledge of dentistry at all (that I could discern.) I was put in a chair and had the protective goggles and the mouth tray but when it came to the blue light, which apparently makes no difference anyway to activating the solution... the sales people were unable to position it properly. "Make sure it's pushed right up," I would hear the manager hiss as he repositioned the light stands to rest right against the mouth tray. I don't know why it didn't occur to me, but sitting exposed to a UV lamp for 20 minutes must have been horrific for my skin and wrinkles, surely?! Although the poster exclaims: "No structure or enamel damage", we have no clue what is in the solution. It is so funny how casual one is to just putting a tray in and sitting in front of a lamp.

Anyway so after 20 minutes was up I checked my teeth and was horrified to see that I had tons of patchy calcium white spots all over my teeth, it was positively disfiguring in my view! I was assured this is normal and goes away within a day or two. I was convinced I had landed myself with a huge hassle of having to go to a professional dentist and spend a small fortune on covering them all up. Thankfully though they did indeed go away. I think my teeth went a little whiter but certainly not worth the stress and not worth the potential harm to skin that the UV light must surely cause.

I have some funny photos which unwittingly capture the scene of the staff rallying around me to comfort me that my teeth were not in fact scarred for life. I took them on an 'intelligent' camera that you wear around your neck and it takes photos at will. I used the Vicon revue, an old forerunner of the Autographer. (You forget you are wearing that thing and it takes pictures of your whole day.)

I will be posting a summary of my experience at Olympia Beauty in my next post....

My recommendations as far as teeth whitening are: Rembrandt toothpaste (£9.39 at Boots but definitely worth it as it actually works!) and an amazing Italian toothpaste, which I discovered via my US friend Proudchapina who pays over £12 to get it over there, but in fact in Italy I picked it up for around £3 or £4. It's called Marvis Whitening toothpaste and you can thankfully find it on ebay. I adore it and the packaging alone is so sophisticated.

White teeth are a great fast way to look younger. Sadly I have never known true white teeth but these 2 toothpastes have been brilliant. As for high street teeth whitening booths, I would give it a miss. I am glad I didn't invest anything much in it or I would have been very let down indeed. Perhaps a dentist professional whitening is worthwhile, but from my brief experiment I would conclude that the high street variety is a million miles wide of that mark.

Have you ever tried teeth whitening or have any great toothpastes to recommend? Please do share!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

FREE Ojon shampoo & Conditioner- Buy One get Two Free! (spend £20)

This is a fantastic deal, and it's time-limited so hurry!! Buy anything at Ojon and get two full size gifts: Volume Advance Volumizing Shampoo & Conditioner (worth £37.50) with any £20 purchase online (+Free delivery too!) Enter code VOLUME at checkout.

Features & Benefits of Ojon Volume Advance™ range:

· lifts hair up, fills it out

· cleanses and nourishes fine, flat hair

· provides texture, volume and body

· detangles and adds softness and shine

-Available while stocks last.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Get ready to be IMPRESSED! / BareMinerals 'Ready' Review

It has been SO long since I have been truly excited by new makeup, and even longer since I read a fantastic and alluring press release. But the BareMinerals 'Ready' collection really is very, very good indeed. It is exciting, and yet wearable. The names of the products have been livened up - and although in the past I have been exasperated by the innuendo fad - in this case - every compact has such a sweet, thoughtful theme that I just can't help being enchanted. My favourite duo is called 'The Honeymoon Phase', and the shades are named 'Giddy' and 'Do not Disturb'. There is another duo called 'The Grand Finale' - with those shades named, 'Standing O' and 'Climax'. But generally speaking, even the names are unusually philosophical: 'The Perfect Storm' contains 'Cumulus' and 'Tempest'; 'The Nick of Time' (which is firmly next on my wishlist!) contains 'Chance' and 'Kismet'; 'The Scenic Route', a calming earthy green duo, contains 'Breathtaking' and 'Spectacular.' OK, so top marks for the names.

And top marks for the marketing, which launches in ALL CAPS:

It's always the same old story. Pressed powders packed with fillers, binders, preservatives and synthetic chemicals. Promises of amazing colour by some hired celebrity. Attention-getting ads by attention-starved actresses telling you that you can be just like them: slathering on product that tugs on your eyes, toys with your emotions and burns through your money.

Hear, Hear! I love that: "tugs on your eyes, toys with your emotions!"

And, there is another nice touch, the plastic insert is printed with 'Hello' - so adorable! But now, let's assess the actual product...

BareMinerals eye shadows were formerly characterised by being loose in a pot, and usually shimmery. These will continue to be available (in over 500 shades!) and do offer the perfect option if you enjoy 'foiling' your eyeshadows. The new duos and quads, blushers, bronzers and pressed mineral veil - retain the trademark mineral content, but have nuances and a shade range not seen before. The main difference is, of course, their ease of use. Using a 'cold pressed method' the shadows contain 'SeaNutrive Complex' minerals, and 'powerful antioxidants' including borage oil, caffeine and cucumber. The blushers contain camellia oil, the bronzers contain carrot oil, and the new pressed SPF 15 Mineral Veil contains grapeseed oil. The powders are designed to 'look like a powder but feel like a cream.'

I am so impressed with the products I have tried so far; I might even go as far as saying that I can see myself getting many more and using these above all else!!! The Ready collection is permanent, and has launched exclusively in Selfridges from today (as well as online and in Bare Minerals boutiques) but will launch nationwide from next month (5th May.) The duos are 3g and very reasonably priced at £19. The quads are 5g and also a great price at £29. The blushers are £22 and the bronzer £24, finally, the pressed Mineral Veil is £22.

There are 4 quads, and each is just so wearable! I got 'The Soundtrack' - names: 'Rythm', 'Remix', 'Louder' and 'Speaker Box.' It seemed very warm toned and I wasn't sure I'd suit it, but on application the shadows are so immeasurably creamy and pigmented - a real joy to use! Also, not too metallic or shimmery - a good mix of smoky and natural options in this set.

(*no primer - and just one swipe each)

There are 22 duos. There are duochromes, metallics, or matte shades to choose from, and I really like the colour combinations - all of them look like they would actually make an excellent eye look worn together! The duo I have, 'The Honeymoon Phase', is absolutely the epitome of beauty and elegance - a soft, matte and very eye-brightening pale pink, and a softly sparkly charcoal blackened grey.

I wore this all day and it was a warm day outside with a lot of walking. I wore it over a MAC paintpot (Soft Ochre) and it still looked like this by evening, many hours later:

It had creased a little but in a very good, 'dry' and even way: no smeary greasy crease marks! I also had several compliments about looking 'fresh'. It makes a very simple and understated smokey everyday look. In fact, I daresay this will be my everyday go-to look now.... You just cannot go wrong with this duo. And the fact it is supposedly 'anti-aging' makes me even more inclined to jettison all my other eyeshadows!

And the blusher I have is called 'The Indecent Proposal'. There are 10 shades, all very natural and no garish ones at all. They range from innocent pink ('The French Kiss') to nude shades ('The One', or 'The Secret's Out', amongst others) or deeper plummy rusty shades like mine here - which reminds me a little of NARS Sin.

There are 3 bronzers, ranging from pale to mid-tone to deep: 'Skinny Dip', 'The High Dive', and 'The Deep End'. The pressed 'Ready SPF15 Touch Up Veil' comes in 2 shades, 'Translucent' and 'Tinted'.

I really have to furthermore compliment the packaging: the outer boxes are simple, sleek and modern. I even like the way there is a flap opening, not just a simple box.

The rubberised packaging is a curved square much like Chanel, but of course will inevitably mostly be compared to NARS for its rubber finish. There is a mirror of decent size and foam applicator. And of course that cute 'Hello' plastic protector inside, as well as a pamphlet to give you 'eye look' ideas.

All in all, I most heartily recommend this entire range and cannot in fact find anything at all to fault! Hmm well let me think, perhaps if the duos the paler shades were bigger than the contour shades - as I know my pink will run out before my charcoal... but that is a minor gripe. Racking my brain to think of anything else... no, nothing.

Available now from Selfridges, Bare Minerals boutiques, Nationwide at all Bareminerals counters and QVC from 5th April 2012.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Kleenex Skincare: 'Wipe the day off' Campaign and contest

This is such a great idea for a campaign!

Kleenex is always there to help wipe away your day. This spring, to mark the launch of its new Facial Cleansing Range, Kleenex is helping to wipe away embarrassing moments up and down the country. And if you share your ‘Wipe Me Away’ moment at or tweet it to @KleenexCleanse, you could win the chance to have it ‘wiped away’ with a personalised gift.

So if you’ve tripped up running for the bus, Kleenex could send you some trainers to improve your speed and stability; or if you’ve tried to take your jumper off on a hot date and got it caught on your new hoop earrings, Kleenex might just send you a sensible pair of studs for the future!

Jenny Beral, Kleenex, says: “It’s no surprise to hear that each evening women take off so much more than just their make-up. That downtime in front of the mirror is the perfect opportunity to reflect on everything that has happened, wipe away the day, and move on afresh.”

It is so true that when you wash your face off, it does herald the end of any embarrassing moments for that day.
I would share my excruciating memory of chatting up a man - right in front of his husband (of 12 years.) Actually I found it so hilarious and comforting to find out afterwards. In fact, in hindsight, his husband wore an expression of patient and knowing exasperation. So girls, if a guy looks completely unmoved when you flirt, that might be the reason...?

Kleenex Shine Absorbing Sheets are RRP** £2.99 for 50 sheets, Facial Cleansing Wipes and Eye Make- Up Removal Wipes are RRP** £2.99 for 24 wipes and Facial Cloths are RRP** £1.99 for 30 cloths. All products are available from most major retailers.

- Check out my original review of the range here.

Share your stories below - or enter the contest to win!

Earth Month with Origins / Free Origins moisturiser trade-in day coming soon!

Spring is finally here in earnest and April (Earth month) is approaching fast. If you want to help save the planet, get your elbows sharpened! Two great ways to show your support this April:

As part of their commitment to the planet, Origins has established a partnership with Global ReLeaf to plant trees to help restore areas damaged by wildfire and help clean our air and water. For every product purchased within the A Perfect World™ franchise between 15th – 28th April 2012, Origins will plant a tree on the customer’s behalf.


Also, for one day only on Saturday 21st April 2012, customers can bring in any empty skincare product (from any brand) and trade it in for a complimentary full size of either Starting Over™ Age-erasing Moisturizer with Mimosa value £36.00/€50.00 OR A Perfect World SPF25 Age-Defense Moisturizer with White Tea value £32.00/€45.00. Samples are on a first come, first serve basis with 5,000 available nationwide.

20% OFF Toni & Guy

Buy this month's Your Hair magazine (£2.99) and you can do what I did and get 20% off until 11th April. Actually, Your Hair magazine is one of my favourite reads! The hair magazines always tend to have the most interesting makeup looks, and the science and art of hair colour and cuts always inspires me too. The imagination and craft that goes into some of the images...

I had my hair highlighted but I might have it touched up a little as it looks funny when I put my hair up - to be honest I'm not sure I like it all that much... and it is very dry and damaged so will have to start using some good quality hair nourishment potions... I have yet to find a colourist I love - but anyway, I skimmed off a chunk of the cost using the voucher!

Here's a quick pic - but this is after I washed it so not looking too pretty sadly.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Collections decided by popular demand! (but hurry)

I love this, power to the people wooooo (Etc.) Bobbie Brown recently concluded her 'Bobbi Brings Back' lipstick initiative. Consumers, bereft of their favourite shades - that were so mercilessly axed - suddenly have a surge of hope. Votes were collected, and the deed is done. The 6 formerly moribund shades are now to be revived with a flourish. But hark, these shades will be available "for a limited time". Plus ça change, eh? Similarly, MAC have unveiled possibly one of their most exciting collections (unless you are an ebay seller specialising in hiked up priced LE fodder...) 'MAC By Request'. Here's the press release:

This time you decide! First time ever
M·A·C are producing a limited collection created for and by the M·A·C fans. A selection of eighteen most requested, cult classics and iconic shades, will be put up to vote on M·A·C’s Facebook page. Giving another chance for those fans out there to bring back and get their hands on the most wanted M·A·C shades!

The shades to vote on include:



First seen: launched in May 2000 and then made permanent. Discontinued in February 2011.


First seen: launched in Quite Cute collection in April 2011 and was the fastest selling shade in a collection in 2011


First seen: launched in September 1999 in the Retro Matte Lipsticks collection and then was made permanent. Discontinued in March 2011


First seen: launched in the Cuisine collection in March 2001 and was made permanent. It was discontinued in February 2011


First seen: launched in the Time Rocker collection in 1999


First seen: launched in the N collection in January 2008, then Warm and the Cozy collection and lastly in the Post-Holiday collection in 2009



First seen: launched in the Wonder Woman collection in February 2011


First seen: launched in the D’Bohemia collection in May 2005


First seen: launched in the Love Lace collection in December 2009


First seen: launched in the Lure collection in June 2006


First seen: launched in the Cult of Cherry collection in September 2008


First seen: launched in the N Collection in January 2008 and then the Warm and Cozy collection and the Post-Holiday collection in 2009



First seen: launched in the Madame B collection in March 2000


First seen: launched in the Salsabelle collection in May 2005


First seen: launched in the Cool Heat collection in June 2008


First seen: launched in the Cool Heat collection in June 2008


First seen: launched in the Danse collection in January 2006


First seen: launched in the Eden Rocks collection in May 2001

The three shades with the highest number of votes from the Lipstick, Lipglass, Eye shadow categories will form the M·A·C by Request collection that will be made available in October 2012 exclusively online,

Voting commences on the March 12th until March 30th

...Check out this very excellent comparison post for swatches to help you decide! I adore Moth Brown and Solar White eyeshadows, and I am desperate to see what the fuss about the N series was about - and definitely want to have Dita Von Teese's favourite, Moxie, back in stock! The only downside is that, once again, it will be limited edition - and only available online. Oh well, it's a start!

I must hand it to Illamasqua (again) though. Not only do they so far eschew this abhorrent practice of discontinuing items and of making L.E a point of principle, they have also launched a very impressive section of their website called 'Socialise'. I have to say, I loved that Illamasqua had a humble 'blogspot' and I always enjoyed the posts. But I admit that now, as part of the official website, it does look simultaneously extremely professional and fun. The absolute best thing about Illamasqua is how they keep up with their customers and react to each and every demand. Their new live swatching is nothing short of a revelation! Such an obvious idea, taking its cue from 'live catwalks' as per ASOS, and applying it for makeup! And I see they are also keen for swatch donations - send in your swatch pictures and even further enrich the virtual experience. Human Fundamentalism is the new Illamasqua collection, and although I've not tried it yet, I love the manic mash up of imagery - a huge dose of 90s bungled in with tribal african elements, and an ombre hen just to spice it up. They even have an old lady - with wrinkles! Shocking stuff. Taking its cue from normal people really has become Illamasqua's calling card.

Check out the collection here. They have even brought back their statement mission to make blue lips 'stick' (so to speak) but I remain for the time being unconvinced as ever... despite Alex Box claiming this particular teal tricks the eyes... I will be seeing it for myself and will report back....! The eponymous Fundamental palette, with its unusual mix of colour and texture, definitely is on my hit list.

In conclusion, I think it is great that modern consumerism means companies have to bow to The Peoples' Will, and I think it is ambitious but overwhelmingly admirable, that Illamasqua have in their latest collection, attempted to distill what modern cosmopolitan hybrids mean today. The only drawback is that Illamasqua campaigns are often so ambitious and complicated that they risk looking messy and intimidating for the average sorry 9 to 5er. All in all though, the collections all look very exciting - and that's the bottom line.

...What do you think of this sudden surge of trying to capture our favourites and let the dog have its day?

I've added a poll up there