Saturday, 28 September 2013

Murad Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator

I was recently invited to attend the unveiling of Murad's latest innovation, "RepleniCell", manifested in the form of their Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator [sic]. It was also a chance to meet Dr Howard Murad and his son Jeff, who masterminds product development. Murad is a family run company and has spearheaded many beauty innovations which we today take for granted. Indeed, their T Zone Pore Refining Gel is a major favourite of mine, and uses two of Murad's most famous breakthroughs: pomegranate, and glycolic acid.

The Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator claims to turn water into an active rather than passive ingredient by using osmolytes (small water attracting molecules). Someone in the crowd queried whether this meant all Murad products would be adapted to capitalise on the new RepleniCell technology, to which Jeff seemed hesitant. I certainly hope Murad does not tamper with either of my skincare stalwarts,  T Zone Pore Refining Gel or the amazing Oil Control Mattifier. I've tried the Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator and I've already used a sizeable amount, it is very light and gel like. I find it a bit silicone feeling, but my skin is very pernickety. Some Murad products seem to not work on my oily yet over stressed skin, such as the Hybrids primer. But, it is very early days and I - like the 1240 women surveyed by Murad - do worry about pores just as much as I worry about wrinkles. I remember the days when my skin really was poreless (sigh). Dr Murad spoke about the importance of diet and exercise and general physical and emotional health being inextricably connected to skin health, which is an all too often undermined fact. Indeed, he will be launching a new book called 'Creating a Healthy Life' (out around mid November). After all, beauty and clear skin at its most basic is a subconscious affirmation of good health and therefore being an attractive mate! We are but simple beasts.

For now I am inclined to say this will not replace my firm favourite, Murad Oil Control Mattifier, which I have noticed not only mattifies but also seems to make pores and blemishes smaller - But I will  continue to test the Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator and obviously if I notice dramatic and yearned  for results I will update....

Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator swatch

The Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator is £49.50 here

PS... Check out QVC this Sunday (29th) at noon for Murad's launch! Apparently there'll be some great deals so be sure to check it out, Jeff will be co-hosting with Alison Young. Oh and phone in if you've got a major Murad fave to brag about! QVC really are top trumps for skincare nowadays!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Salon Sin Camden: REVIEW!

I've been visiting Jamie, owner of Camden Town's Salon Sin, for many years. I have followed him throughout his career and via several salons. Because, he really is that good. Jamie combines real vision and artistry. He has given me some amazing haircuts over the years and I am so delighted to see he's now got his very own salon.

the finished result
Salon Sin is very carefully decorated, from the antique till ("120 years old!") at reception, to the vintage furniture (including old cinema seats), the neon sign outside, flashing jukebox, and hand painted walls - painted by Jamie himself. The staff dress as they wish (no uniform or colour coding, so long as they look presentable) so the salon has an easy going feel to it. It's virtually right opposite Camden Town tube station and once you're inside, it reminds you of how Camden used to be and truly embodies the spirit of Camden. It feels very different to the clinical blandness of Rush or Toni & Guy.

the stolid Toni & Guy environment, where I do get my colour done...

Salon Sin use Redken hair products and L'Oreal colour, and the staff really care about the individuality of each customer. Take a look at the Facebook page to see examples of their work!


Jamie hopes to turn Salon Sin into a cluster of salons, with the wall artwork being their calling card. I hugely recommend a visit. New customers get 30% off their first service and 10% off when re-booking.

Blurred lines

Arguably feminism's greatest victory is that it seems so unfashionable and embarrassing to be labelled a feminist. Adverts and pop culture in many ways set the aspirational blueprint, and makeup often becomes a tool by which to embolden the image. In the iconic Robert Palmer video, the women are stoic; their makeup is uniform smokey eyes and red lips. Yet their black turtle necks and guitars subvert the robbing of individuality and give them back their strength. In Robin Thicke's recent Blurred Lines video, the red lipstick remains - but the women are stripped whilst the men are fully suited. Robin Thicke looks a lot older than the models, and very slimy. It is undoubtedly grossly insulting (there is no irony) yet the jaunty lyrics make light of the spectacle. Check out this FT article for an interesting discussion. I've spoken before about how being jokey about being seductive is the new feminism, and the recent furore over Miley Cyrus desperately trying to look appealing is further entrenching this. Apparently red lipstick is the essential ingredient... how sad.

Benefit recently shared their advert for 'They're Real' mascara by trying to translate the objectification. This failed miserably. Ultimately, men and women are completely different and seeing men groping their bulging trousers is usually at best pathetic and creepy... But Benefit slathers on the 'it's a funny joke, lighten up!' patter. However, many wrongs go unchallenged by masquerading as light-hearted jibes. Well, it might all be forgiveable if the jokes were funny?!

Current FAVES

It's been a while since I gathered my favourites together so here is a current selection. I'll hopefully do in-depth swatches and comparison either by video or by blog post - so please feel free to comment with requests if this might be useful.

Firstly, toner!!! I recently booked myself in for a course of Diamond Microdermabrasion and my beautician asked whether I was using toner. I admitted I wasn't and she chastised me, claiming anyone with greasy skin should NEVER skip toner. For years I used Clinique's toner (the purple one) but I had decided toner was a gimmick and eliminated it. But after reading many positive reviews, I decided to buy Boots Botanic Rosewater toner. It smells divine and is so refreshing and uplifting. Best of all, adding toner to my regime seems to have helped my skin texture.

I may have mentioned Murad Oil Control Mattifier before; if not, I should have. It is wonderful for greasy skin and even seems to calm breakouts. It helps foundation stay on longer, too.

Makeup-wise, the crown must go to Guerlain: once again their collection dazzles. The Madame Rougit blusher is superb. It's pigmented, smells beautiful, and applies with a luminosity that only Guerlain have consistently perfected. It is pinker than Rouge G but very much in the same spirit. Their new eyeshadow duos are their best eyeshadow packaging yet - sleek, elegant, compact and sophisticated to the extreme. My favourite is Too Spicey. The brown is a matte, smooth neutral and the orange is surprisingly pigmented. Each duo has a glitter (sorry, "veil") and a solid shade. The glitters remind me of MAC Reflects Glitter (which I adore). Both work very well together and can be very sober or very glittery, depending on preference.

The L'Oreal Super Liner Brow Artist was reviewed with the rest of the collection here, so it comes as little surprise it is in my everyday rotation. Here it is, with my lashes - and no other makeup. It looks very natural and is a must-have for me!

The lashes are 100% real hair Red Cherry #523 (£2.99 from Bright Eyes Beauty) are rightly top-sellers. Incredibly flattering, natural, and easy to apply!

When MAC brought back their Style Black mineralised eyeshadows, I was ecstatic and bought backups of Young Punk and Gilt by Association. But I considered Cinderfella to be dupeable. Well, it actually is pretty original and I decided I did need it afterall. It is incredibly glittery (I am a magpie and addicted to glitter) but still very sultry as well. I find myself reaching for it on nights out.

Finally, after seeing countless positive reviews for Pixiwoo's Real Techniques brushes, I decided to try out the Expert Face Brush. And it does in fact put foundation on very smoothly. I prefer my Louise Young LY34 foundation brush, but this Real Techniques one is so much cheaper that for the price I think it gives it a real challenge.

Honourable mention and potential future fave alert: I have discovered a new skincare brand called Bochery... watch this space...

L'Oreal Super Liner collection REVIEW

L'Oreal have launched 4 products: Super Liner Perfect Slim (£6.99); Super Liner Blackbuster (£6.99); Super Liner GelMatic (£5.99), and Super Liner Brow Artist (£5.49). I have been putting them through my testing regime and I can say that two are heartily recommended and one is actually a new FAVE.

The new fave is L'Oreal's very first brow product, the Super Liner Brow Artist. This pencil is brown (shade 03 Brunette) but thankfully it's not a ridiculously warm reddish brown. It's not quite ashy but it's definitely a flat, neutral brown. I really enjoy using it, and the brush is perfect. Even the waxy side is proving exceptionally useful. It's very cleverly designed and depending on how heavily you swatch it, it'll work for a multitude of hair shades.

The next hugely recommended liner is the GelMatic. It is indeed a hybrid of gel and pencil. It's smooth, long lasting - gives a great retro pencil finish but with all the stubbornness of a gel liner. It does transfer without the use of an eyeshadow primer (I use Urban Decay Primer Potion) but with primer, it is a very good pencil and does feel different to a typical black pencil.

The pen liners look extremely elegant: the TV advert for Blackbuster is excellent, making the most of the chunky black marker pen image to give a graffiti style...

But to me, both the Blackbuster and the Perfect Slim were difficult to get right. For marker pen style liners, my absolute fave is Lancome Art Liner (which I was secretly hoping this would be, but no such luck!) or drugstore-wise, Jordana Fabu Liner works nicely. They have a good black pigment but the trouble with these L'Oreal versions is that it 'bled' into the fine lines around my eyes. It even bled into the fine lines of my hand as you might very slightly see from the swatch...

L-R: GelMatic, Perfect Slim, Brow Artist, Blackbuster

Ultimately, lining brows and eyes is certainly in style. The Brow Artist is fantastic, and makes me wish I hadn't spent so much on high end versions. The GelMatic is great if you are in the market for a long wearing pencil liner (it works very well in the waterline too) but I would personally skip the Blackbuster and the Perfect Slim liners (unless you are very smooth skinned.)

Available nationwide, stockists 0800 030 4032