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Saturday, 3 December 2011

Smells, smells, smells.

Smells; it's all about smells. Some women crave food, I crave smells. Notably the following:

LUSH - Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter. Mr OJ often rolls his eyes at the frequency I am found with my nose in a tub of LF. At £6 for a 50g it's a bargain nail treatment which really does work to keep cuticles nourished and dry bits at bay. I use this most nights and revel in the lovely lemony/lavender scent.

Liz Earle Nourishing Botanical Body Cream. I adore the fresh and uplifting scents in the body range. From the shower gels to this rich and gorgeous body cream. Really good for bumps and all over feel good factor. You can use it after dry body brushing (which did help keep cellulite at bay during the early months of pregnancy when exercising was difficult. Pregnancy doesn't require much of a circulation boost as your circulation is already pretty pumped up having to cope with a baby growing inside too. With prices starting from £4.75 for a travel size, it's a great treat for weekends away (or going in to hospital!).

Tisserand Intensive Hand and Nail Cream. This is my biggest addiction. However, I feel I should qualify this as whenever I use this (for example sitting in a doctors waiting room) everyone seems to like it and even look around to see where it is coming from. One receptionist asked what it was! Even Mr OJ says that when I use it in the car and he gets in, he notices and says that "something smells nice". Which is high praise indeed. I can often be found with my face in my hands (not crying) but inhaling deeply the gorgeous essential oils. There are far too many to mention. At around £7 for a generous handbag sized tube (75ml), it's an absolute bargain and a delight to use. It lasts months and I repurchase time and time again. But I warn you, it's highly addictive!

Jonathan Ward candles, I don't need to tell you how much I adore Jonathan's candles. I own more than my fair share but they have been marvellous. I wish I could take one with me to hospital (perhaps I shall sneak in some tea lights)

Since I have gestational diabetes I can't mention the normal cravings of chocolate, cake and icecream which I would love to indulge in! Although, I can have them sometimes, probably less than the average non-diabetic! I suspect that my other senses are trying to compensate as I also adore using bright and bold make up and nail wraps! I think pregnancy heightens all of your senses so it's been a great time to experiment with new products.

Do you have any weird addictions (to legal substances) or pregnancy cravings that you'd like to share?

Thursday, 24 November 2011

4 weeks to go and counting, plus a skincare review

Firstly, I am so sorry to have neglected by blog, YouTube is one thing to neglect through sheer lack of time and energy to film, edit and upload, but I am annoyed that I let my blog slip!

So as the title suggests, I have exactly four weeks to go to my due date. Which in reality means 2-6 weeks before our little girl arrives! Complications mean that if I don't go in to labour on my own, I will be induced around Christmas day! This is highly unappealing as I was hoping to be tucked up with baby on the sofa with a box of Roses on Christmas Day. However she arrives, it will be a blessing and I will soon forget the method of extraction!

Anyway, I have lots to review and tell you about in later posts. I will desperately try not to leave it so long next time.

In the mean time, I leave you with a little review of a skin care product I purchased a few months ago. NUDE skincare cleansing oil, 100ml. A link to the product range is here. I normally use a cleansing oil (Dermalogica Precleanse which I purchase from John and Ginger (it is about £5 cheaper and their UK shipping is fast). I have used Precleanse for about 3 years and thought I might see what else there was on offer.

Now I must first say that I am LAZY which is why I use cleansing oils. They are on the whole thorough, non messy and quick. I want a product which does not require a separate eye make up remover and emulsifies with water so that I don't get a dirty wash cloth covered in make up. Those are my two must haves.

NUDE skincare delivers on one of these criteria - namely that it turns to a milk when warm water is applied. However, I have found on a few occasions that eye make up is not removed and ends up all over my towels and bedlinen. I am no newbie when it comes to cleansing and I am thorough but this is too gentle to remove all make up. I am not even talking about waterproof make up, just run-of-the-mill mascara and liner. More than a few times I have woken in the night with streaming bloodshot eyes from recalcitrant eye make up!

At £19 for 100ml it is more expensive than Dermalogica Precleanse (approx £20 for 150ml), however, the added cost are associated with the organic nature of the ingredients. I hate this trend but I believe you get what you pay for and so I like to pay for good quality ingredients.

The NUDE skincare oil cleanser is certainly more portable in its pink rubbery secure bottle but you do have to use it twice to get a thorough cleanse. The scent is neither off putting or appealing, a kind of floral oily scent. So far it hasn't made me stop using it (even during pregnancy)

Other than not taking off eye make up properly in one go, I can't fault NUDE cleansing oil. My skin loves the slightly thicker feeling oil and doesn't feel dry once rinsed. It's a very good skin massage oil, so I like to combine a facial massage with my cleanse. My natural skin texture and oil level has not been affected and I no longer have dry spots or blocked pores around the nose. I really do believe in being gentle and kind with flare ups. Aggresive treatments are best left alone until all else has failed.

Will I repurchase though? Sadly I don't think so, the difference in price and performance is not significant enough to make me switch permanently. I am really glad I tried it and would recommend it if you weren't a make up wearer as it's gentle and will benefit all skin types.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Pregnancy Massage at Calcot Spa.

A welcome distraction from the impending birth of my first child and the news I had been given the day before that due to gestational diabetes I would need to be induced early, was a trip to Calcot Manor and the Spa. I was feeling low about this as I had really wanted a natural labour. One where I could potter about at home, my husband and I could work through the contractions until we were ready to go to the hospital. But alas it is not to be, having taken in the news I have decided to concentrate on the positive aspects of an induction. That is, if it works, a hopefully short labour and we will know the date of her arrival. We will have her home in time for Christmas where we can celebrate as a real family together.

So I'd like to say a big thank you to Aromatherapy Associates for providing me with the opportunity to experience Calcot Spa and a pregnancy massage. I have had several pregnancy massages prior to this one so it was lovely to compare them. I don't know if it's just the stage I am at, but this one was by far the best I've had so far.

Set in beautiful manicured grounds just outside of Tetbury, Gloucestershire, the Spa is nestled behind the main manor where guests and visitors can relax in a tranquil setting. For the adventurous there is an outside hot tub, but for the less inclined, a beautiful indoor pool awaits you. My advice is to use it before your treatment as you'll be far too snug and relaxed to want to swim about.

I arrived characteristically flustered and just on time (thank you to UK Mail who never turned up with my delivery of a sink - how glamorous) So I was taken straight to the treatment room (pictured below).

I had the pregnancy massage which was an hour of body massage and a mini facial using Aromatherapy Associates pregnancy safe products from the Rose collection. Having used these products during my pregnancy I felt happy that I wasn't going to have any reactions or worries about ingredients. I have most of these products already but it is 100 times better having someone else massage them in! At nearly 8 months pregnant I am in the stage whereby even bending over is a challenge for my poor back and knees! This massage was divine and specifically designed for pregnant ladies. The back massage was performed with me on my side with a bolster to cuddle and a heated under blanket meant I nearly drifted off to sleep. I had to wonder whether I could use this in labour to relax, if only I could teach Mr OJ to massage as well. I guess it's not too late to get him trained up?

The staff were all very friendly and helpful, not because I was a reviewer or because I am pregnant but I could see them interacting with others in the same way. After the massage I was taken to the chill out area (pictured below) where I could (if I were not pregnant) use the sauna and steam room. So instead I read magazines and sipped on cucumber water. Downstairs is a little restaurant where a group of mothers were chatting and breast feeding happily. It's definitely a child friendly place as it also has a crèche facility if you'd like to slip off for a treatment or meal during the day. But it does have a grown up feel about it, smart and spacious, which is nice for mums as I get sick of coffee house decor and high footfall grubbiness.

Find out more about Calcot Spa by visiting their website, there is also a downloadable treatment and price list. I also purchased a few products whilst there to stock up on Aromatherapy Associates Nourishing facial oil (£39 for 15ml - which lasts about 6 months with intensive use), which I am running low. I can't live without this facial oil! I would also recommend the Rose Body cream, my skin felt very soft but not greasy afterwards. It's perfect for expanding tummies and puffy ankles. I am also already planning my next visit with some non-pregnant and pregnant friends so that we can enjoy the relaxing and warm atmosphere of the Spa together.

Do you have a favourite place, doesn't have to be a spa, that relaxes and recharges you?

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Pregnancy skincare tips

This post has been asked for many times over the last few months so it is the least I can do. It seems I am not the only one who has suffered with insufferable skin over the first few months of pregnancy. Crossing fingers and toes that I have reached an agreement with my skin, I've prepared a few tips for you.

My skin became very dry so I switched to using a facial oil during the day and night (normally I just wore it at night). If your skin does the opposite and becomes oily, consider adding a toner to your routine (I don't use a toner as I don't use cream cleanser but a damp muslin cloth) which will help remove excess oil without increasing production. Also reduce the amount of moisturiser and keep it to areas which need it.

My skin also broke out a lot, but not in white heads but just painful bumps under the skin. These types of spots were generally reserved for pre-period spots. The only thing I could do to alleviate the pain was to use a cold compress to keep the swelling and itching down. I also applied copious amounts of aloe vera gel.

The other reason for naff skin was coping with stress. And it is stressful being pre-3 months pregnant and being advised not to tell everyone! So you're stuck with this wonderful news but too scared to tell anyone! I had to wait until I knew that the baby was viable and over the danger time for spontaneous abortion and that it was more likely to survive.

There is little you can do about reducing your stress levels when outside events cannot be ignored or controlled. My husband and family rallied around to help me. My sister would visit and cook healthy meals (I had been surviving on cereal and toast at this point) and to generally cheer me up. Don't go through it alone and don't be afraid to lean on people a bit, they won't mind.

Let's also not underestimate the power of morning sickness, which thankfully ebbed away at 4 and a half months. At this point I was literally on my knees, desperate for it to end. Three and a half months of feeling and looking like death was enough for me!

On the occasions I did have to venture out and socialise I have some tips for make up:

Concealer is your best friend - for those insomnia dark circles and hormone spots.

Radiance enhancers - contrary to popular belief, there is no pregnancy glow, just more redness on the cheeks to cover up. I used a foundation by Daniel Sandler which has shimmery pigments in the formulation. It makes for a subtle glow all day and evening.

Blusher is really good for warming up a sickened and wan complexion. Choose something subtle and a few shades deeper than your natural cheek blush. If you don't know what this is then pinch your cheeks to increase blood flow and note the type of colour you get.

If you're not up to wearing a lot of eye make up then a subtle sweeps of something shimmery and of the taupe variety does for all occasions. Then add mascara. I decided to make my own eye shadow from the various pigments I had lying around. Cold pressed with alcohol it resembles a shimmery cream/brown which suits everyone. I really should market it...

Avoid perfumed glosses, nothing is going to make you feel more ill. If you like menthol/minty lip glosses then these are good for staving off morning sickness (which lasts all day I might add).

I am now just over 7 months pregnant (where did the time go?) and after a few months of feeling relatively normal and forgetting half the time I was pregnant, I am definitely starting to slow down.

I hope these tips are useful to you, either to prepare you for your pregnancy or if you're in the early stages and wondering who switched your skin over whilst you were asleep!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Faux Snakeskin Nails

If you want something snazzier than greige this Autumn, I recently wore these grey snakeskin design instant manicure nail wraps. I've had them for a few months and always thought they were a bit too showy for every day wear. I am not brave enough for animal print nails for an every day look.

However, this Autumn I plucked up courage to wear them and now they have become a favourite. I feel a bit of a prude for overlooking them for so long, and a bit silly as they've received so many compliments.

The best thing I like about this design is that they just work with every outfit and occasion. I just prefer them to nail polish, which is why I haven't reviewed any nail polish for the longest time. I don't feel like wearing it and when I do it chips within a nanosecond or smudges!

So my advice this Autumn if you're not quite ready for bold colours, is to go with this sort of design, it speaks volumes in terms of style. It certainly beats the latest craze sweeping the US for using naturally shed snakes skin embedded in clear polish or gel nails.

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These nails were reviewed as a PR sample.

Friday, 9 September 2011

My stress-free make up choices for every day

I thought you might like to see my current day to day make up. If you have a collection of make up, it can be a daunting in the morning deciding which items to choose. I find it a bit paralysing and sometimes I just need to grab what I need and will perform well.

So let's start with the face!

Foundation versus tinted moisturiser? That depends on the weather, how my skin feels and where/what I am doing during the day. This Liz Earle Sheer Skin Tint is only used on days when my skin is super clear as it offers no coverage but used sparingly is a nice SPF15 moisturiser. My advice with this product is to figure out the threshold amount to use, because if you are generous with this product you will end up with, as GetLippie likes to call it and I agree, "sticky face" and no amount of powder will tamp it down. I went for the darkest colour which is still a little light for my skin tone but blends away easily enough.

The foundation is by Daniel Sandler and is the dark shade. It has a screw top and integrated spatula. The flip top is the concealer and mirror. I find the foundation works really well with my skin and moisturiser which is oil based. My sister cannot use this foundation as she uses a water based moisturiser. The two simply don't work together without using a primer to separate the two layers.

The yellow powder is a setting powder that I prefer to use instead of a translucent or skin coloured pressed powder. I find that it adds luminosity without draining my skin of its natural undertone. It is made by Lumiere cosmetics.

The blush is a current favourite by Sleek MakeUP and is the nude shade. It's pretty perfect in terms of colour and pigmentation. I am still hankering for a cream/gel version that will last throughout the day as this will fade as it is a powder.

I favour a lip stain, and this one is quite unusual because this range offers colours I can't find anywhere else. This one is called Tropic by Lipstains Gold and is an orange/spice shade. Perfect for day wear and it lasts and lasts for hours even through eating and drinking. It does not bleed so you don't need to use a barrier or lip pencil and looks great with gloss.

Finally on to eyes, I like to keep it simple. I don't use a primer as I use concealer and powder which, in my opinion and experience, works just as well if not better than an eye lid primer. It is also quicker

I am a big user and collector of "neutral" palettes, I think they are incredibly versatile if they are made up of mainly matte colours with a couple of shimmers. This is the Nude collection by Sleek MakeUP.

I use a cocoa coloured pencil, brown doesn't show up and black can be a little harsh so to find a mixture is really good. This one is by Inika and is called 02 Coco. I also brush a little through my brows and set with a dark brown eye shadow from the palette.

I then curl my lashes and apply a mascara. This has to be one of my favourite mascaras and is by Beauty Without Cruelty. It's simply perfect for me. No clumps or flakes, it gives great length, separation, a bit of volume and it is very black.

I use what I think is a minimum number of brushes; two for eyes, a foundation/stipple brush, powder brush and blush brush.

Some of the items have been purchased by me and others were sent as samples for my review. Nothing makes it into this box unless it performs well, I don't have time for tricky products these days!

I like to change my make up as I discover new loves and faves. I always make sure I keep day to day items in a separate box like this. I expect when baby is born, this will become my saviour in terms of time and brain capacity!

Where do you keep your favourite, every day make up items?

Friday, 26 August 2011

Lust-have must-have nails for Autumn/Winter

Rebel Nails have done it again with these new Duochrome aka Colour Flip purple & green/blue/gold nail wraps. I've placed this one on a nail stick as I am currently wearing some other Rebel Nails (translucent blue) and I am not ready to take them off yet!

I adore these and think they are perfect for Autumn and Winter. You can achieve this effect with some nail polishes, however this is a one coat wrap, they will last longer (especially on the toes) and I don't need to worry about smudging or chipping!

Buy online here £5.99 for and don't forget to check out the new 22 carat gold nails £14.99 -just released today!

These nail wraps were sent to me by Rebel Nails as part of my consultancy work. I am really lucky that I get to work with businesses and products I truly adore.

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Here are some of my other favourites alongside the Purple flip nails.

Do you have any nail lust-have effects for Autumn/Winter?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Haus of Gloi - Bubbling Scrub

A few of my friends on twitter have been praising Haus of Gloi products for a while now and I was delighted to be given a pot of Litchi Milk Tea Soft Bubbling Scrub by ModestyBrown. Just the name alone sounds wonderful but open the jar and use the product and it just gets better and better.

I'll start with my first impressions, pink fluffy paste consistency that is light and a bit like bubble gum. As you rub it between your fingers it appears to feel grainy which is the organic cane sugar scrub element. You can use this scrub anywhere on the body but I wouldn't use it on the face especially if your skin is on the sensitive side. The scent is described as "tart lychee fruit and black tea met with a splash of coconut milk". I wouldn't have known what this smelled like from the description and probably wouldn't have chosen it but it is fantastic. It makes me want to try more of the exciting products from the range.

When using this on feet I am left with soft and sweet smelling skin, the bubbling scrub disappears in to a lather which rinses away easily.

Haus of Gloi products are vegan and in my opinion of high quality. You can find bubbling scrubs and other scrumptious potions on their website for between $3 - $8 depending on size of pot. When ordering from the US from overseas, please see their shipping policies and bear in mind that Customs charges are likely to apply to orders over a certain value (check with your local post service for charges).

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Cover FX Skin Tint SPF30

Cover FX is a new brand to me, hailing from Canada and cruelty free, and you can now find it at the House of Fraser in the UK. I've had mixed feelings and experiences with mineral based liquid foundations and concealers. Often they are too dry for my dry skin and no matter how much moisturiser I use, there is irritating cling on to dry patches of skin. So I tend to stay away from mineral based foundations unless they are powders.

Pictured with the Skin Prep FX primer (top) which I use with other foundations, it's not necessary with Skin Tint FX

So I was sceptical that a sample sent to me would do much for me. After several weeks of use in many different conditions, I feel this is different, different enough to feel positive about. Skin Tint FX is not meant to be used as a foundation however it is good enough for me even on a not so clear skinned day. I quite like the hint of shimmer as it brings an added dimension. I've really enjoyed using this over the last few weeks, no irritation and a whopping SPF30 has made it to my "current make up box". More about that box in a later post I think! It's quick to smooth over the skin with fingers providing nice coverage with a sunkissed look which is effortless. I then pop a bit of concealer around areas still needing cover or colour correction.

I think the formula is excellent, so different to other tinted moisturisers I have used before. It's not dry or greasy but feels like you would expect a silicone-based primer (it contains dimethicone polymers), in that it is smooth and lightweight. It also doesn't melt in humid or sunny conditions. I find that I don't need to powder to set it either, probably due to the mattifying effect of the mineral pigments.

I get an excellent colour match with the C Light shade, so I am not sure whether to recommend it for all skin colours or whether if you are lighter skinned a lighter tone would be more suitable. I think that this would add a bit of a fake tan element if you are trying to extend your summery tan (of if you haven't been on holiday but want to look like it). I don't think it would be suitable for very pale complexions.

At £36 for 30ml it is at the pricey end of the scale however I would buy this as I've not found a tinted moisturiser with such a natural feel and finish. Also a very little amount goes a long way. Based on this experience I will probably explore the rest of the range either online or when I am near a stockist.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Aromatherapy Associates Nourishing Face Oil

Not even the books I have read about pregnancy prepared me for the changes to my skin. The books tell you to expect either oilier or drier skin as the levels of hormones change. In my case, my skin became as dry as the Sahara and scaly across the cheeks with rosacea. So to add to feeling sick and tired, I was also looking in the mirror feeling sorry for myself and wanting to hide under a balaclava.

I have tried many of my tried and tested products (several face oils and rich moisturisers to no effect). To my rescue came Aromatherapy Associates who sent me their new Nourishing Face Oil. Containing sandalwood (one of my all time favourite scents), rose, peach, jojoba oil and evening primrose oil, I slathered and massaged this over my face in an attempt to bring moisture to my parched and sore skin. It made my skin tingle slightly which was probably the rose oil boosting my circulation, it soon subsided as the oils soaked in and left me with a rosy glow.

After about 30 minutes the short term effects of softening dry skin and soothing sore bits were apparent. If it still feels oily at this point and you need to apply make up or go out then lightly dab with a thin single ply of tissue to remove the excess.

The next day my skin was less dry but I continued to use it for a few days until my skin began to rebalance itself. Then I used it just at night and halved the amount.

You can add this to your current skin routine, in between your serum (if you use one) and moisturiser. Alternatively, you can use this as your moisturiser and facial massage oil. Whether you use this daily or just if your skin suffers an episode, it smells incredible. I was very chilled out after my first use!

A 15ml bottle will probably last months and you can buy it from lots of stockists such as Space NK or their website for £37.

Do you have any must have skin products that have resurrected your skin in times of need?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Exfolia Cloth - An awesome find!

Have you ever considered microdermabrasion for stubborn dry patches, fine lines and deep exfoliation? I've had it and it was expensive, uncomfortable, time consuming (you have to book appointments) and didn't deliver any results.

On a random internet research mission I came across a microdermabrasion cloth and for £10 I thought I'd give it a go. The Exfolia cloth (distributed by Jica) is a light green lightweight woven cloth which feels like a chamois leather.

You can use it in several ways, but you must read the instructions or you will end up taking off too much skin which is quite sore! It is not for the faint hearted but it does deliver unparalleled results considering the price tag and the best thing is that you don't have to change your favourite cleansers or book appointments!

It is that effective that you don't need to go overboard with it. It's very easy to be seduced that more is better but with this cloth you must follow the instructions carefully or you'll be very sore. You may think I am over stating this point, but it's very important and not to be ignored. I use this once a week or fortnight. I wouldn't suggest using this every day.

The cloth can be used dry or wet with cleansing products or not, but make sure to use it on a clean face. I used it to take off make up and it's still got stains all over it that just won't come off!

If you are new to the cloth and microdermabrasion then use it dry and on a dry face. Gently sweep the cloth over the face (not eyes or lips) not more than 5 times in the same place.

If you're feeling braver the next time, use it dampened with warm water when it becomes soft and pliable with your cream or gel cleanser.

If you are completely hardcore and used to it like me then try using it after your cleanser with a dab of your usual cream exfoliator.

You may find that your skin is tingly and tight afterwards which is normal but it should not feel sore. If it is then you've gone a bit overboard - slather some aloe vera on and it should subside.

Afterwards rinse carefully and apply a nourishing and comforting moisturiser or oil. Your skin will drink this up and benefit the next day by being plump and soft.

I tend to use this in a bath and with a moisturising mask afterwards. It's advisable, like with any beauty treatment or facial, not to apply make up for at least 12 hours to get the best effect.

The cloth should last about 60 - 80 uses, which for me is about a year for me. I have two, one for my face and one for my body where it's great for bumpy arms, rough skin and ingrown hairs. It's a great way to exfoliate before applying fake tan (not that I do, it's just a suggestion).

I have already bought or recommended these cloths for friends and family and they love it too. Look out for it on special offer at beauty shows and trade events where you can pick them up half price sometimes.

Otherwise you can find it to order on the Jica website.

Monday, 18 July 2011

MuLondon - White Chocolate Truffle Moisturiser

This gorgeous creation was a present from the wonderful ModestyBrown. Nothing delights me more than a gift of something that I could really use and enjoy. ModestyBrown has wonderful taste in all thing cosmetic, I highly recommend that you head over to her blog and check out her thoughts.

With only six ingredients (shea butter, cocoa butter, vanilla, cocoa and rosemary extracts and Jojoba oil), it is sinfully rich and a pleasure to use. It is meant to be a face moisturiser but I prefer to use it on my growing bump. Since becoming pregnant, I have totally gone off chocolate, this is a serious matter, but I can't seem to get enough of this White Chocolate moisturiser. The scent is identical.

The range is cruelty free, vegan, organic and natural. It ticks a lot of boxes for a mum to be.

Texture-wise it is a white solid oil that you need to scrape out of the pot, it quickly melts into a rich oil which moisturises for about 24 hours. I tend to use it after an evening bath.

Available in two sizes (30 and 60ml jars) I think it's a reasonable price of £7 (or £13 for the 60ml). A small amount goes a long way so I have used nearly half of it in a few months.

You can find this and other MuLondon products from their website.
I don't think I will ever buy another body butter again I am so happy with this one.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Face Atelier Façade in Livid

Façade is a lip and cheek colour product, I received an email newsletter from and I was drawn to it immediately (credit card at the ready it was purchased that same day). I have two similar products by Varama in pink and peach but not one in a cherry red which is perfect for Indian skin tones. The handy lipgloss type tube is very portable so good for the handbag too.

Livid is in the middle of the colour spectrum of the five shades currently available (light peach to deep plum). If you've used a silicone based primer or foundation you'll know the silky blendable but light formula I'm talking about. I prefer it to a cream blush as it isn't oily or pore clogging. I also prefer it to a gel which tends to cling to any dry bits on my cheeks in that familiar bloom pattern. It's much easier to control and blend than a powder blush. Less is definitely more with this product so work quickly with very small amounts to build up colour intensity. Use a damp brush or sponge if you apply too much to blend away and remove excess.

As a longevity test, I've used Façade all day. I'm very pleased with the results. There is some fading but much less than a cream or powder. Most of the fading is due to me touching my skin but I didn't need to touch it up all day. It's also very effective in humid conditions (steamy club or holiday) It's a great cheek product.

I do like it used on the lips but it doesn't last as well as a lipstick, it's too dry because it isn't waxy . So I suggest using it with a touch of balm over the top. There is nothing as satisfying as getting an exact match between lip and cheek colour so it is worth pursuing (these small things make me happy).

You can find Façade lip and cheek colour from Cocobeau at £22.50 per tube. It seems like a lot however a small dot blended over the cheekbones and lips is all that is needed for long lasting lip or cheek colour. It's going to last me a very long time.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Jonathan Ward Verte Collection

Last week I popped in to Wholefoods in Kensington to buy my favourite candle, I truly was on a mission! I have tried several of Jonathan Ward's candles and so far my favourite is The Velvet Moss Rose. The main aromatic ingredients in this hand poured soy wax candle are Lavender, Vetiver, Patchouli and of course Rose. Jonathan may not thank me for this comparison but as soon as I smelled it, it reminded me of Coco by Chanel. Sorry Jonathan but it does and I love it for it.

As I mentioned this is a soy wax candle and so burns more softly and with little or no soot (so if you burn candles a lot then you won't get a sooty residue and it's better for your health). The burn time of the medium size (185g/ £20.50) is about 30 hours. I find it best to burn it for about an hour at a time so the top layer of wax is melted, this preserves the wick and by the time you get to the end all of the wax will have burned away - giving total value for money! The other reason I love it is that you don't even have to burn it for it to make a room smell wonderful. The intensity of the perfume is detectable even when the candle is boxed!

I have had many of Jonathan's extraordinary candles, and I don't see myself buying any others any time soon. I am equally excited to hear that Jonathan is expanding his wonderful artisan expertise in to other areas of fragrance such as diffusers.

I want to give special thanks and mention to three lovely ladies GetLippie, BritishBeautyBlogger and BeautyMouth for introducing me to both Jonathan and his artisan candles.

Monday, 13 June 2011

A refusal often offends - contacting brands, some pointers.

I've only ever contacted a handful of companies about my blog and YouTube. The first was e.l.f Cosmetics UK as I had watched a video about them but thought they were just in the US. A bit of investigation and I found a UK website had recently been launched.

In the early days I found it highly embarrassing to self promote and still do, so I don't contact brands anymore. Most of the time I evaluate whether I would purchase a brand first. If it is a brand I haven't heard of, is expensive or is only available via the Internet or Mail Order, I might contact them for a sample which is fairly normal for a customer to do. A lot of the time for very new or small companies, that is the first interaction with a blogger. So I feel I am carrying the mantle for the rest of us and want to make it a pleasant and meaningful experience for all.

Now I am the person who reads those emails from other bloggers, and I have to say that they are letting me down! Every day I receive emails from girls who are practically demanding products in return for reviews on their blogs. This is so embarrassing for me as a blogger, I just despair when I read some of the hastily scratched out demands for products with little insight in to what it is they are offering. To be successful in working with brands you have to have a professional attitude. The way I see it is that you only get one chance with a brand to make the right impression and to be taken seriously, just like a job interview.

So I've compiled a list of pointers based on my experience of contacting brands and being contacted by bloggers. If you are thinking of approaching a brand for review samples or information and you want to be taken seriously, consider these obvious but often missed points:

1. It's important to research the brand you are contacting. What are their latest products/shades and why do you want to try them, but are not prepared to buy them? Do not say that you "don't have any money" or "on a spending ban". If you are a prolific reviewer then it is acceptable that you simply don't have enough time/space to buy everything that interests you in your budget but there's no need to say it!

2. Do not write a blanket email (unless it's really good), put some effort in to your approach and cover email (just like you would for a job that you really wanted to get). To a brand, this is a business proposal for PR, so use language that is suitable. If you don't know what this language is, don't hit send, take some more time to think about what you are offering. A really good thing to do is think about what unique thing you are offering to a brand and proposing that before asking for products in return.

3. A refusal often offends but manners cost nothing. So don't be upset if you don't get an offer of products, it's a brave thing to approach a brand and start a dialogue. That's just what it is, the start, you never know what can happen in the future. A refusal now is not a closed door for your blog. It's not good manners to fire an email back to me asking for further reasons why I can't send you something! I will have looked at your blog and decided whether it is something we can take forward or not.

4. If you receive a lot of refusals or no replies, try to think what a brand wants to hear when being approached? Be proactive, business like and not too casual. Saying "contact me if you want to" at the end of your email says you're not too bothered, so why should I be? Equally crass is "please reply to my email as soon as possible", it makes the writer sound a bit desperate and actually won't speed me up at all.

5. Ask yourself honestly why you want these products. I can always tell when someone is simply sending me an email that they have sent to countless other brands. Phrases such as "I am a big fan of your products", "I have heard great things about your brand" are all too familiar. If you haven't heard of us, then don't worry, say so. By all means have a shopping list of items you'd like to review but don't include it in your email until the subject is broached by the brand.

6. Don't promise great reviews in return for products. Some brands may want this but I don't want exposure from a blogger who promises great reviews. We want honest and in depth reviews, not fluff pieces. Your readers will appreciate honest reviews, more so from a product which has been sent to you for review.

7. Be honest about your blog, in terms of viewership, followers and quality of your reviews. I read a lot of blogs and websites, I can spot a good writer, clear photographs, honesty, passion and commitment to blogging a mile away. Also understand the marketplace for blogs, there are many blogs out there reviewing products. What makes yours different? Do you have a unique view point or angle?

8. Obvious, but include a link to your posts about the brand (if you have any) or just your website. If you don't include it, I can't find it!

9. Know the demographic and geography of the brand you are targeting. If your blog is based in a country that the company doesn't cover (yet) then your email shows that you haven't done your research.

10. Be realistic please. The funniest email I ever received was from a person who hadn't even started their blog/YouTube channel because they didn't have any make up as their parents didn't let them buy it. Would I send them some to start their channel? Three emails later and she still didn't understand why I couldn't send her some make up.

My final piece of advice is this; if your blog is what a brand is looking for, they will find you eventually. If you are interested in a brand, then buy an item and review it before approaching. Don't look around and see what other bloggers have and think it's easy, it really isn't they have to work hard to build and maintain relationships and to be taken as seriously as journalists and celebrities.

I love hearing from new bloggers, so don't be put off writing to me about your blog, just be realistic about your chances of success. I also have a note about age, I personally don't work with bloggers under the age of 18. It's a moral grey area for me, I realise that teenagers have many valid opinions and are customers but I don't want the brand to be accused of taking advantage of young people to promote products.

Good luck with your blog! Be smart and safe when contacting companies, don't forget that we do talk to each other about you so try to take every experience as positive and build upon it for your next encounter!

Friday, 10 June 2011

2012 Eye Liner Trends

From a recent fact finding trip, I met with several make up development companies who were keen to show me their 2012 colours and textures.

Baroque - these colours are sumptuous and bold - conveying elegance and drama. Colours such as scarlet, old gold and purple.

Nostalgia - Soft and fresh colours such as peach, light teal and smoky brown.

Plastix - Vibrant and jungle inspired colours - I think a perfect interpretation for the Summer 2012 London Olympics.

I'm very excited about these two-tone pencils, I love iridescent jewel tone pencils and I have been looking for some more for a long time. I have the Bourjois duo chrome pencils which are adorable but these look even more exciting.

I am not sure I can wait until 2012! I only wonder now which make up company will be branding and selling these next year!?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Chatty Chick.

I work for e.l.f cosmetics UK, part of my role is to be responsible for our social media. It's been very successful for the company in building a customer base, which for an online only brand can be hard work. I have been a blogger and YouTuber for over three years. The landscape, technology and number of people involved has increased dramatically in that time. It is barely recognisable from where I started three years ago.

I like to think of myself as an all rounder in the world of social media, I've learned that the only way that works is to immerse yourself in it, learn from others and try new things. The great thing about social media is that you don't have to spend a lot to find out what works.

I manage a few facebook pages, the elfcosmeticsUK facebook page alone has nearly 200,000 fans, as well as the twitter and YouTube channels that are growing steadily. elfcosmeticsUK was voted #33 in the top 100 social brands in the UK earlier this year. We also scooped a fair amount of awards in the Latest in Beauty New Year's honours list, including Brand of the Year, thanks to our social media fans' votes. They are a force to be reckoned with and you can't buy that kind of loyalty and following, it has to be earned. I'm very proud of these achievements as it is mainly down to me and the interactions I have with fans on a daily basis.

Just like marketing, everyone thinks they can do it and with the right experience and mind set, they can! I found that it takes a while to get in to the flow of a community and its mood. It's not that hard really, if you're naturally chatty and have a lot of knowledge about the product range.

I will freely admit that a lot of money is wasted (by others I might add) on social media campaigns which fail to meet the mark in terms of awareness, conversion to sales and interacting on a human level with customers. I won't name names, I take no schadenfreude from these all too public gaffs, I just hope they have learned from their experiences. It's not something you undertake because everyone else is doing it and it seems to work for them.

I've had a lot of interaction with PR agencies, young companies and social media agencies on how best to grow their following. I tell them all the same thing, people won't join a page for a one sided conversation, that's just not social [media].

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Skincare Staples.

In times of skin woe I turn to two products which help to rebalance and heal my skin back to a happier state; Alva Cleansing Milk and Alva Lifting Cream. I often have bouts of Rosacea acne, painful red welts on my cheeks which lasts about 2 weeks if I do not treat it with the right products. Sometimes it is brought about by hormones, stress or food (such as red wine and refined sugars in my case).

I've been using these products nearly a year in every season with no ill effects. I like them because no matter how sore, upset or out of sorts my skin is feeling these do not aggravate but gently bring my skin back from the brink. If they don't help then I know it's time to see a Doctor for medical intervention! 90% of the time, these products resolve a flare up for me.

Both products are from the Sanddorn range of Anti-ageing products containing Sea Buckthorn extract. The Sea Buckthorn gives the range a distinctive natural scent and peach colour.

The Cleansing milk is very effective at removing dirt, oil and make up (even waterproof) but remains gentle and non-drying. I take a small amount and work it over the face and neck, then remove with a damp muslin cloth. You can find out more about this product (ingredients, reviews and prices) here. I will say that a 150ml tube has lasted me nearly a year and I intend to repurchase it as the thought of not having it should my skin flare up is not worth contemplating.

Alva Lifting Cream is my next beauty staple, a light but rich cream which is an excellent day moisturiser. It leaves my skin feeling plump and smooth without loading my skin with oil. I do notice the slight tightening effect around the eyes and nose (which is great if my eyes are a bit puffy). It is on the expensive side of reasonable but for such an excellent, no hassle product I am willing to pay it again rather than take my chances with another product.

Do you have products that you turn to in times of need as tried and tested favourites?

Friday, 20 May 2011

e.l.f Complete Coverage Concealer

New to e.l.f UK and Italia is the Complete Coverage Concealer quartet, available in three colours (light, medium and dark) and presented in sleek black plastic compacts with a small concealer brush and mirror.


I'll start by saying the obvious which is that the pale of pale will be disappointed by this product, the concealers are simply too dark for an English Rose complexion.

So if you're still reading this, as you are not pale, then here we go! Consistency wise it's not as creamy as the All Over Cover stick but a good concealer should be dryish and thin. This allows excellent and perfect coverage by building it up in layers. The heat from your fingers will melt the concealer allowing it to blend to a smooth finish.

I am impressed with this product, I didn't expect to be as concealers are incredibly tricky especially when they promise "complete coverage". I am a big fan of the e.l.f undereye concealer and highlighter and concealer pencil and brush. The concealer pencil and brush is not appropriate for large areas as it is too thick but just for small spots and hyper-pigmentation. The undereye concealer brightens but does not conceal very dark veins and circles. You can use this concealer palette all over the face and in larger areas. I use it to conceal red cheeks and undereye circles.

If your skin is on the drier side like mine, then make sure to use a primer or moisturiser first or it will dry quickly and settle in fine lines. You'll need a primer to ensure that it sits nicely on the skin and lasts well. Best applied with a small brush (included) then blended using the heat from your ring finger (preferred) or if you are in a hurry a small fluffy blender brush. Powder lightly to set and you are good to go for the day.

I can make use of all three of these palettes, the light I would use for highlighting and the dark for contouring. They make a really good palette and handy addition to any make up artist kit.

Complete Concealer palettes are available from e.l.f Cosmetics for £3.50 each. I work for e.l.f Cosmetics UK and these products were sent to me for review (and also as a customer product advisor).

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

e.l.f Conditioning Lipbalm SPF15 - all shades

My favourite every day shade from this range is Mellow Melon, the first three shades (top row) are sheer. None of the shades are shimmery. They smell of coconut (or pina colada to me), much like the essential range hypershine lip glosses.

These are sheer, non sticky but quite pigmented. For example, Mellow Melon on me gives me a coral pink colour which is great for spring/summer, it doesn't totally block out my skin tone underneath, so bear that in mind. These are not meant to be as pigmented as lipsticks but as you progress towards Romantic Rouge the pigment increases dramatically (as you can see from the swatches) so you get a lot more colour.

These are creamy and soft, leaving my lips plump and moisturised but not greasy or sticky. I really like these for days when I don't want to wear lipstick or gloss but fancy some colour, moisture and SPF.

The only downside for me is that the pots are rather bulky and there is a lot of product so it's going to last ages. It will fit in my bag but I am one of those people who prefer sticks or pens for on the go as it is more convenient (such as the luscious liquid lipstick in Strawberry). I think due to the colour and shine, I could be persuaded put this in my bag at least it won't be hard to find. I think there has to be a lot in the conditioner as you do go through it quickly, faster than a lip balm as you want the colour to last.

I've swatched these on white paper, I think it's easier than swatching them on my lips or skin as everyone is different. This way you can see the colour for how it is and make up your own mind if it fits in with your colour palette. I think Blissful Berry is a colour everyone could wear. CLICK ON THE PICTURE FOR A LARGER VERSION.

The pots look like the Studio range eye products, crystal plastic pots with black square lids. These are probably twice the size of the cream eye liners for example.

There aren't too many ingredients, I think e.l.f like to keep it simple and to tried and tested formulas which helps keep costs down. Vitamins A & E are present as well as SPF 15 so useful for summer.

The Conditioning Lip Balms recently went on sale for £3.50 at the e.l.f UK website. As I work for e.l.f in the UK, it's my pleasure to bring you my thoughts on this product.

Do you wear tinted lip conditioners, which would you choose?

Monday, 16 May 2011

When to think of others' needs ahead of your own.

This week has been very hard for my husband and I, we had the horrible decision to make on whether to put our pet cat Mewser through a painful and life threatening operation.

For those of you who don't know Mewser, she was quite old - we are not sure how old as I got her from a rescue centre. We think she was probably about 15 years old. I've had her for seven years. When she came to me she was so skinny, terrified and obviously had been abused. It took six months to earn her trust and she eventually blossomed in to the most affectionate and loyal friend.

Last year Mewser developed kidney disease, a common terminal disease in older cats with no treatment or cure. She also suffered a stroke earlier this year which left her legs weak and she was also blinded. Since then her life had gone downhill, every day was difficult for her. But she would still purr and loved our company. We were not ready to say goodbye.

This week when the vet said that we had to do something, there was no do nothing option, we decided that she had been brave enough and it was time to let her go to peace. It was one of the most distressing things I have ever had to do, it all happened so quickly that one moment she was there and the next she was gone forever.

What was good was that we bought her body home with us, I was able to talk to her and say goodbye. I asked for her forgiveness and understanding that we loved her so much that we had to put her welfare ahead of our feelings of loss.

It's hard when you lose someone close to you, the added guilt that I had made the decision to end her life weighs heavily on me. I don't feel like much of a cat momma for doing it. In time I know that I will feel that I did the responsible thing. Her life had degenerated so much that it was not fair to keep her alive just so I could have her presence in my life. I had always known that I would have to make this decision if she did not die naturally. I had hoped against hope that she would slip peacefully away in her sleep.

The little black furry void which has been left in my life is hard to bear at the moment, I keep thinking I hear her stirring behind me or calling me from the kitchen to feed her. I try not to think of her last moments in the vets but more of her happy moments and the love that we shared.

I am very glad that I made these videos about Mewser, you can see all her antics here.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Sleek MakeUP - Luminaire Highlighting Concealer

Available in five shades L01 - L05, I was sent L02 the second lightest shade to try. A click-pen type dispenser with a fibre brush tip combined with a dryish formula mean it's hard to overdose on the highlighter/concealer.

What makes this slightly different to other highlighter/concealer pens is the texture which is quite thick and very pigmented. On first use I found that it dries very quickly and becomes too dry to blend out. The trick is to use a damp brush or sponge so that you don't blend it away but you can manoeuvre the product to where you want it.

The effect is quite good though, decent coverage of dark circles and any redness. From a distance it looks flawless and I was impressed with how bright and clear my undereyes looked. However on closer inspection it does dry in to wrinkles and clings like a limpet to any dry patches on your skin.

My suggestion if you are going use this product for the brilliant highlighting and concealing properties (there is no shimmer which is good) then moisturise extra well to prevent it drying too quickly and settling in to fine lines/dry bits.

I like this product for highlighting too, bring it down the from the undereye area to a point on the middle of the cheek in a triangle and blend for really well defined and chiselled cheeks. Use above the jawline from ear to ear to add even more depth to sculpted cheek hollows.

Sleek MakeUP Luminaire Highlighting Concealer is a bit of a bargain at £6.49 from Superdrug and at Sleek MakeUP's online store from 11 May 2011.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Del Sol Colour Changing Nail Polish

Sunkissed is my favourite nail polish for the Summer. I decided to crack open this bottle early considering the beautiful weather we're experiencing in the UK at the moment. Watch the video below to see the real time colour change! It was very hard to film as it changes so quickly! There's also a free shipping code in the information box if you are tempted to try one of the 22 shades of photochromic nail polish from the R8Beauty website.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Tapered Blending Brush

I have several OCC brushes, they are synthetic (vegan and cruelty free) brushes. I use the large powder brush on brides to calm their nerves, it's very therapeutic, as well as for applying setting powders!

The tapered blending brush is primarily of the eye area but I often use it to blend away concealer lines from under the eyes and around the nose. Synthetic brushes are wholly more versatile than hair brushes, they also don't leach their dye, they dry more quickly and are a dream to use with wet and dry products. If you're thinking of buying a new set of brushes or a few new ones then you really can't go wrong with synthetic ones. They will last a lot longer too (as they can be treated more roughly for thorough cleansing and the hairs won't bend or splay out when drying).

I've enjoyed using this brush a lot, it comes with me on every outing as do the powder and small shader brushes! I think the prices are fairly reasonable for brushes which are going to last, you can use with wet and dry products, and deliver good results. I think these are better than a lot of synthetic brushes and I would expect that from this price range. I can't compare to cheaper brushes such as the Ecotools and e.l.f Bamboo - which are also brilliant brushes too for the price and ranges available.

You can find OCC brushes on Love-makeup in UK from their website, the tapered blending brush is £14.99.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

GOSH Velvet Touch Foundation Primer Cream and Bronzing Shimmer Powder

I'll admit that I was sceptical about the cream version of the GOSH velvet touch foundation primer. I had not liked the gel version, mainly because it is more suited to oilier skins and I found myself giving it away. I think it was the first time I had seen a primer available for a reasonable price and since then you can't move for primers on the High Street.

I was delighted to see the cream version when I was in Ireland over Christmas and I kicked myself for not buying it there and then (there was a huge queue and Euros were strong against Sterling blah blah blah).

I've been using it a bit lately as a base but it can be used as a moisturiser too, I have preferred moisturisers with SPF that I use during the day. But on a night out this would be great to keep my skin hydrated.

Did this work for me? Yes and very well indeed. Let's be honest, there isn't much of a wrinkle filling effect but what it did do was to lessen the settling in to fine lines that you can sometimes see after a few hours. A nice bonus, my make up did remain fresher for longer and resisted the need for powder later on in the day. So I like it and I would buy it again, I prefer it over silica based gels for my combination to dry skin type. Well done GOSH, this is a great little product for the price.

The Primer Cream is around £12.99 for a 30ml pump dispenser from Superdrug and other online stockists.

Now on to the Bronzing Shimmer Powder in 001 Bronze. In the picture you can see that the stripes are good for asian skin tones, not too much pink and plenty of brown. When you open up yours you will notice a lot of gold glitter on top, do not be put off by this, a couple of brushes and it's gone, leaving behind the gorgeous not overly glittery and subtle bronzer shades. I love all of the shades. Since I began using this, it has made it in to my everyday make up kit, it doubles as a blush/bronzer and eye palette. The colours are natural and harmonising with my Indian skin tone. I am delighted to have found a bronzer which works with my skin tones.

The Bronzing Shimmer Powder is £7.99 for a 9g compact from Superdrug in the UK.

Monday, 25 April 2011

L'Occitane Immortelle Brightening Moisture Mask

I have nothing but good things to say about this product.

Immortelle is a tiny yellow flower which grows in and around Mediterranean coastlines. They are so called as they last a long time, drying them even maintains their distinctive daisy-like scent. This product uses an essential oil derived from the flowers which is said to boost collagen synthesis and cell renewal. I know nothing of these aspects so I can only talk about how I have used it and the effects I have noticed immediately after use.

I now travel with a little pot of the mask as it has such powerful skin hydration properties. I take my make up off when the plane has taken off and apply a generous layer of the mask to help keep my skin content in the the dry air of the flight. Reapply if the flight is longer than 2 hours. I then arrive with plump and fresh skin, ready for the day or evening!

I have only ever experienced the plumping effects, like those I experience with this mask, after an expensive facial infusion treatment. So it indeed is worth the price tag! I was very pleasantly surprised also that this effect has not lessened with each use. Every time I use this mask (generally after exfoliating to calm and hydrate the skin once a week) my skin feels wonderfully plump, fine lines are less noticeable and my skin is brighter. The rest of the range is looking fairly attractive to me...

A note about how the skin brightening compounds work in this product, they lessen the effectiveness of melanin production in the skin. This is not advisable if you do not intend to use a high SPF when in sunlight as you are lessening the natural defence of your skin to sunlight. This mask is intensive and requires after care of your skin. I would advise using the Brightening Shield which has SPF40, which brightens and evens as well as protects at the same time. This advice must not be ignored.

Another note about brightening, it is not about lightening your skin shade, I do not endorse skin lightening. It's a form of internal racism in my mind and I don't approve of it at all. Instead I would like to see brown people celebrate and be proud of our gorgeous and individual skin tones! There are enough fools out there trying desperately to be brown and ending up orange, and we have it naturally! But if you suffer from uneven skin tones, pigmentation from acne or medication then that's different. I use this for the moisturising effects and to even out persistent and dark scars from occasional acne.

A 125ml tub is generous and should last you several months of weekly use, it is priced around £39 and available from L'Occitane stores and online.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Yes to... Cucumbers Soothing Eye Gel

Cucumbers are packed with vitamins A and C and have been captured in this light and smooth gel for the eye area. I found it to be refreshing and cooling especially as this is the start of hayfever season for so many people. As it's a gel it is also great for gentle tightening of the eye area without pulling or discomfort, so if you're eyes are puffy and could do with a lift then this might be for you.

Initially I was put off trying this cream as I have a pathological hatred of all things cucumber! I went to a natural products show and the lovely Yes to people were there so let me sniff them! Just as with the Yes to Tomatoes, I was pleasantly surprised that it doesn't really smell of cucumbers after all, bonus!

I often get asked about eye creams and are they really effective. My answer is that you need to major skin care items from any age, there is no cure only a way to slow down the march of wrinkles. A good sunscreen and an eye cream. Everything else is a bonus. In your 20s and 30s I suggest opting for a gel as it isn't as heavy as a full on eye cream. They are easily absorbed but offer more moisture without greasiness. It's a matter of trial and error in deciding on your perfect formula. Be careful just to use it sparingly, less is definitely more with eye creams, too much and you'll be puffy in the morning, or your concealer will crack and slip.

I tend to use an eye cream at night and during the day if my eyes are feeling sore or puffy.

What do you use around your eyes and how many have you tried before finding your perfect one?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

It's all coming up Roses!

It suddenly dawned on me that I have a lot of Rose products!

Here's a small selection from left to right

Neal's Yard Remedies Wild Rose Body Elixir
Sleek Blusher in Rose Gold
e.l.f Mineral Blush in Rose
The Body Shop Moroccan Rose Eau de Toilette
Tisserand Rose and Lemon Deodrant
Obsessed Minerals Eye Shadow in Kentucky Rose
Melvita Rose Shower Cream

The beautiful roses were part of a beautiful arrangement from my friend who recently married and I was honoured to be her make up artist for the day.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Argh forgotten my false lash case! A quick fix.

Have you ever done this? Gone out for the evening and misplaced your lash kit? Rather than having them hang around gathering dust and gunk, I found a quick solution using a Post-It note.

Turn the note over so that the sticky side is facing you, attach the lashes to the bottom of the sticky tab.

Fold in the outer edges and stick down at the top.

Fold up to the sticky tab and press to seal.

Just like an envelope, fold over the sticky tab to seal.

And now you have a safe and portable eye lash holder!

You can also use this method for storing smashed powders, albeit temporarily, to keep the rest of your makeup clean.

Do you have any emergency solutions you've used?

Friday, 15 April 2011

The 4 minute shower challenge - can you do it?

Recently I listened to Donnachadh McCarthy a leading eco-consultant, he gave a very interesting presentation about how to eco-audit your home and workplace. He also gave me a little 4 minute egg timer saying that if you can keep to this timer in your shower, you'll have used less than a bath of water! It now makes a lot more sense how much water and heat we waste by taking long showers. Thinking that these are actually more environmentally sustainable, but they aren't. We don't have a power shower, thankfully as a 10 minute power shower can use up to 3 baths of water.

Now don't get me wrong, I love to have a long hot shower but I realise that this isn't sustainable. What if everyone in the world decided to take a long hot shower, well we'd be in crisis, well more of a environmental crisis than we already are.

So over the last couple of weeks the egg timer has been in use in our shower at chez OxfordJasmine. Mr OJ takes forever in the shower so I wanted him to a) be quicker b) leave me some hot water and c) reduce our water and gas bills! We see it as a bit of a challenge and have been sharing tips on how to speed up the shower!

At first I went massively over 4 minutes so I have taken these steps

1. Cleanse face and neck separately before or after the shower
2. Stop the shower if I am using a body scrub or loofah to later up and clean myself
3. Not to use deep conditioners that require more than a minute on the scalp. I save those for the bath!
4. If I am not in a hurry or don't have to have a shower in the morning, I have a bath, and then Mr OJ steps in after me (I like my water really hot and he's more temperate so it works out for both of us). I get to relax and read a book, pop on that hair treatment or mask too.

If you're a bill payer and squirm anxiously when the bills arrive then you might be interested to read Donnachadh's book "Easy Eco Auditing", £7.99.

Do you think you can shower in under 4 minutes? What tips could you give?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Inika Certified Organic Eye Liner in 02 Coco Review

If you've ever wanted an eye liner which is not black but not brown either, then this is the colour for you. Forever mixing my brown and black cream liners to get that perfect colour is nearly a thing of the past.

Many brands are starting to see the light (or dark) of producing products that are in between black and brown, I find most browns don't show up and black is a little too harsh for day wear unless it is used very thinly.

When choosing a shade that is in between, look for names like Espresso, Coco or BlackCocoa (such as Pixi by Petra). It really will be the colour of very strong dark coffee.

Inika is an Australian brand and has been a favourite ever since becoming cruelty free, the brand is reassuringly inexpensive considering that the products are organic, vegan and of excellent quality. This pencil retails for between £7-11 depending on stockist. The liner itself is creamy with a dryish texture which allows it to last a long while even on the waterline. It doesn't irritate my sensitive eyes like others can; and when fixed with dark shadow it has all the staying powder of a gel or cream liner.

I have tried only a limited part of the range, but I would recommend you try their pigment shadows, there are some simply stunning colours and textures. I am testing out the Liquid Mineral Foundation at the moment so I shall report back to you in good time.

You can find Inika products at many websites, mainly those with an organic or natural focus. You can find out more about Inika as a company from their Australian website, which will also give you lots of information about their product range.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Compact and bijoux - travel make up

A quick picture from my recent travels showing that I can get all my make up and brushes in to a small wristlet (which doubles as an evening purse). As you know I like to decant large containers in to smaller ones that can either be disposed of or fit neatly in to a pouch.

Every time I travel I try take as little as possible, what I take is obviously dependent on where and what I'll be doing on my travels too. This time it was a trip to London for the day to give makeovers at a trade show.

NYX HD eyelid primer - this is a white, thin consistency which is a nice alternative to creamy, dry feeling primers. It doesn't have to be set with matte powder, but I use my face powder to as it makes the shadows last even longer. Available from Cocktail Cosmetics.

Bourjois Kohl and Contour 16 hour eye liner in brown

Coastal Scents compact eyelash curler - an excellent curler, not a frightening contraption and gives a nice natural curl, it is not possible to over curl the lashes using this curler.

e.l.f Studio Concealer pencil and brush
e.l.f Studio Undereye concealer and highlighter
Lily Lolo blush in Clementine (tester)
Face Atelier Ultra Foundation in #7 Tan from Cocobeau.
Face Atelier Loose Powder (which I then proceeded to drop all over the bathroom, pah!)

Alva Eye Shadow Duo (Gold) - an utterly amazing eye shadow duo which suits everyone. Creamy and multi-tonal means that it will look different according to skin tone but it works with rather than against. A definite must have!

Bourjois Lipstick in Sienne - a peachy lipstick, which I didn't think would work for me but it does. It has enough pigment to block out the undertone of my lips to lighten them and then I place a lipgloss over the top to tone the peachyness down a bit.

A selection of e.l.f brushes.

You're wondering where my mascara is? I was travelling down as well to look at a lot of mascara samples for a new project that we are working on, so naked lashes were required for me to test them out!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Pure Paw Paw Papaya Ointment by Phytocare

I love the smell of fermented Papaya, I didn't know this until I tried a tube of PURE Papaya Ointment. This light yellow soft buttery ointment really is my kind of product as it has 101 uses. PURE Papaya Ointment has soothed chapped lips and minor burns, moisturised dry elbows and knees and cared for eczema and dermatitis inflammations. It's pretty safe to use on anyone, so when friends forget their nappy rash cream they can use a bit of this too. I think it is a better and safer alternative to EA 8 hour cream, having never got on with this product as it is too strong for my sensitive skin (and nose).

Shea butter, Macadamia oil, Jojoba oil, Papaya ferment, Vitamin E, coconut derivatives, Beeswax, Olive derived emulsifier, Silica, Fragrance (naturally derived), Bark resin (Styrax), Marigold flower extract - As you can see all truly natural derived ingredients and no petrochemicals.

PURE Papaya Ointment is 100% petroleum jelly free and is available in 25g (around £10) and 100g (around £20) tubes from various stockists. I have found that used sparingly, as a little goes a long way, I am only half way through the 25g tube in 3 months.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Alva Coleur Lip Balm Review - Soft Rose

Another exit review for Alva Coleur Liquid Lip Balm in Soft Rose. The 8ml tube lasted me about 4 months of daily use.

The liquid balm is a soft non-shimmery translucent rose colour although it looks purple in the tube, do not fear. It adds a hint of colour and shine to the lips. It's liquid texture means that it's easy and quick to apply but not sticky and lasts a fair amount of time before reapplication. The packaging is a simple slim lip gloss tube with screw top and wand applicator. I don't have to worry about temperature drops solidifying or highs liquefying it in my bag (if you've ever had a lipbalm/lipstick melt in your bag, you'll appreciate this even more).

The thing I like the most about this product is the scent, I never get tired of it - it smells like Vanilla Cola - something I never drink as I value my teeth but I love the smell! Also being a braces wearer (for the time being) it doesn't end up all over the front of my clear step brace which looks worse than lipstick covered teeth...

The balm is also available in a soft peach colour which will be great for soft summer lips. I tend to use this all the time as a moisturising and hydrating lip balm or preparation for wearing lipstick. I find that it acts as a temporary lip plumper without resorting to stinging or menthol sensations, so perhaps more suitable for those with cinnamon/menthol sensitivity.

I already have my back up of this product (thank goodness). A definite repurchase.

You can find out about the Alva range and the Liquid Lip Balm ingredients/prices from the Alva website.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

5 new gift sets from L'Occitane

Just when you thought you had your Mother's day gift sorted, along comes L'Occitane with five gift sets! Available in Plum, Cherry, Shea Butter, Lavender (pictured) and Rose, each is £39 from their website.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

4 new pigments from e.l.f Studio

More alliteration from e.l.f Cosmetics UK, the four Studio Pigments. A small selection on colours which are trendy "biologically" inspired colours.

Innocent Ivory is a cream shade which when applied leaves a beautiful irridescent pink (as a highlight for smoky eyes it's lovely. On it's own or applied over another shadow, it provides warmth and shimmer without glitter.

Mystic Moss is a deep green with flecks of silver shimmer. Intense when packed on over a darker colour or an interesting alternative to a black smoky eye. Looks amazing on every eye colour.

Magical Maroon, which if you are blue eyed is going to look simply stunning. A deep plum shimmer.

Naughty Noire is a deep charcoal colour, very little shimmer so perfect for lining, blending and it has an intense colour pay off.

I don't think I can take much more alliteration, I bet you there will be a "teasing teal" before long!

Available now at £3.50 each from the e.l.f cosmetics website.

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