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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Just What The Pore Doctor Ordered


I’ve always been a bit of a flirt when it comes to skincare, never staying monogamous to one brand for too long. However, since discovering Alpha-H which I wrote about in this blog a few months ago, I’ve stayed true for at least 12 weeks, which for me, is a triumph. My resolve was only intensified when I saw a beauty journalist last week, who at 37 has a skin age of 25. Her secret when I asked? Alpha-H.


So, it was with a spring in my step I went to experience an Alpha-H facial at The Fern Skin Clinic. It takes a lot to get me out for facials surprisingly enough.  Over my beauty writing years, I’ve rubbed shoulders (or should that be noses?) with leading skin aficionados, so I’ve become quite an expert myself in terms of facial massage and product know-how. But, I have to say there’s no beating the pampering factor of a high-level professional one. Plus, I get to lie down for an hour. In the middle of the day!

I literally felt in safe hands when I met my skin therapist Jodie, who had healthy and radiant looking skin herself. Always my own personal barometer for a treatment. Unfortunately, she was camera shy for my blog so I can’t show and tell. But asking her about skin brands she was forthcoming – familiar with many, she said she loved Alpha-H as it gives results. Refined pores and plumped up collagen included. “A lot of self marketed ‘active’ brands don’t perform well and are just an excuse to push up the price,” she said. Placing her fingertips on my skin she pronounced it dry, so bearing in mind Alpha-H is glycolic acid driven, I may well be over doing it on the old exfoliating front. So, I’m going cold turkey at the weekends, as suggested by Jodie and using a nourishing facial oil – I’ve just discovered Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil which I will be talking about in another posting, but that’s a different skin story!

Back to the treatment in hand, I like facials that are up-tempo. By that I mean ones that never leave you lying on a couch feeling bored wondering what the next move is going to be. And this one ticked the boxes with plenty of massage and hot towel action. There was never a moment when some part of me wasn’t being attended to, whether it was my face/arms/hands/shoulders/neck/scalp. There was a seaweed mask too – even with eyes closed there was no mistaking the smell, whereby it was slicked right over the eyes. I have to confess, I did have a mini panic as I thought Jodie had forgotten the eye gauze, but, she assured me it set quick. And it did, peeling off easily with my eyes intact and able to see! And although I’m not a fan, extraction was included. Many therapists don’t do it, but although painful was necessary, and I’m happy to report my skin post facial didn’t look like it had been squeezed to death. In fact, Jodie said this was always her favourite bit of the facial. A masochistic facialist? Well, it certainly left my skin looking good!
The Alpha-H Facial costs from £70. I went to The Fern Skin Clinic, 18 Englands Lane, London NW3 4TG. Tel:
020 722 2002.
The facial is also available at David Lloyd Leisure Groups

Friday, 25 November 2011

No7 Brightens Up

The thing is, when you meet No7’s Creative Consultant, Lisa Eldridge she always looks so darn pretty, and you instantly want what she’s wearing!

I’ve highlighted three products from her Floral Brights Limited Edition collaboration with No7 as I truly believe they can prettify in nanoseconds. When I met Lisa she told me this is a collection to perk up the January beauty blues – where our grey complexion and mood is possibly still in rehab from New Year!

My go-to item in my make-up bag is always, always blusher. I have about four on the go at any one time. Once applied they give a youthful injection to the skin, and can help whisk away any dark circles under the eye, purely with their radiance. I always loved how Carrie Bradshaw wore her blusher in SATC. Bright and bang on the apples of the cheeks. No7’s Vital Brights Cream Blush in Blooming Pink and Blossoming Pink, £10 each are a brilliant buy. This really is a premium formulation for such a thrifty price, feeling like a silky textured cream on fingertips you would normally associate with a high-end brand. In the compacts the colours pop. Really pop. But far from leaving you looking like Aunt Sally, they blend in effortlessly, giving a very becoming rosy glow. It’s the kind of glow you get when you’ve been up to something you shouldn’t have!

The complimentary Vital Bright Lipsticks, again £10 each, both carry the same name shades as the cream blushes, but don’t look as bright. However, they really give energy to the lips and feel very comfortable on thanks to their moisture rich formulation. There’s nothing worse than a squeaky lipstick, right?  I like to layer these two colours, slicking the brighter shade, Blooming Pink on first, then adding depth with Blossoming Pink. Now I’m ready to smile in the face winter.

The Floral Brights Limited Edition Collection is available from 25th January to 6th March 2012

Scenta Claus is Coming to Town!


Wouldn’t this shot from Jo Malone’s Christmas press brochure be just dreamy to land on your doorstep? I am always amazed by the queues (or maybe not) that I witness every year outside their Brook Street shop in London the week before Christmas. Panicked partners, darling daughters and gifting girlfriends all want a piece of Jo Malone for their loved ones. And every time I’ve given a Jo Malone pressie I just know I’ve done the right thing. Satisfaction guaranteed!



Two of my favourites from their festive festoon this year are the Christmas Cracker (so popular there were no press samples to be had, hence press pic) which has a diddy, but very cute Grapefruit Cologne, Lime Basil & Mandarin Body & Hand Wash and a Pomegranate Noir Body Crème at £28, or for something or someone a bit special I love the Cologne Collection at £62. With five 9ml bottles you can pick and mix with Grapefruit, Pomegranate Noir, Wild Bluebell, Red Roses and Vanilla & Anise. It’s a smorgasbord of scent all boxed up and ready to delight. Both gifts are great as an introduction to JM as well as doubling up as mini travel delights over the Christmas season.

For Jo Malone Express Mail order tel: 0870 034 2411 or shop online at:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Rituals Irresistible Infusion

I don’t do lattes. I don’t do cappuccinos. I don’t do coffee. I do tea. But not any old tea, and never served in a mug, always a cup! As you can see I take my tea very seriously, so I was beyond delighted to discover Rituals Rose Wisdom. Creating a storm in a tea cup, they have spent 10 years perfecting their blends and have relaunched their eight most popular flavours.
Firstly, let me just say I was seduced by the packaging which is gorgeous, and the minute you open the box you’re hit with pure and delicate aromas of the tea. The tightly packed pyramid bags literally perform like room fragrance. Now for the all important slurp test. Surprisingly comforting, my rose and ginger infusion offered a nice balance between the two, neither too sweet, nor too sharp. The taste of the rose came through first, then the ginger kicked in. But the final act deserved an encore with its lovely perfumery after taste. A tea most definitely to be drunk if you have kissing in mind! 

Rituals teas are either available in a decorative tin of 50 tea bags, £11.90 or luxury boxes of 20, £4.50
Available at all Rituals stores or online

Monday, 14 November 2011

A Passion for Clarins

Ding, dong merrily on high, make-up is getting Christmassy!
Beauty halls are literally sparkling, dazzling and shimmering with festive make-up gems designed to tempt and tease. Casting an eye over seasonal limited editions, I would like to showcase Clarins who have certainly come up with some stand-out products.

Clarins just keeps surprising with their keen beauty eye and creativity, and their latest collection is inspired from lavish motifs of the art deco period. Passion Face Palette is a solid feeling compact that instantly gives it the luxe factor. It has a beautifully embossed graphic design that makes it, and you look very classy when powdering ones nose! Open it up, and it reveals an intricately designed silky light compact powder that mirrors the image on the lid. At first glance it looks a little too glittery to pull off, but the gold sparkle is very, very subtle once dusted on, blessing the complexion with a slight illumination – very much like it’s been lit by dozens of fairy lights. Very flattering, especially after daytime hours.

The second star performer is their Eye Quartet Mineral Palette in Smokey Passion. Usually with a quartet there is always one shadow that remains untouched, but all four of these shades complement each other so well, there’s little chance of one being a wallflower. A dark grey, silver grey, copper pink and silver gel highlighter or mingle sophisticatedly together and can be blended or layered as-you-please. Although Clarins do give a little direction by suggesting a wash of copper pink over the inner half of the eyelid, then blending outwards using silver. Add eye drama by sweeping the dark grey along the base of the top and bottom lashes, then blend out. Catch the light with a touch of silver highlighter on the inner corner of the eye. Here’s to everyone looking at you this party season!

Passion Face Palette, £35 and Eye Quartet Mineral Palette in Smokey Passion, £30

For stockist enquires call: 0800 036 3558 or online at

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Ho, Ho, Ho, it's L'Occitane's Santa Sleigh

Stepping into L’Occitane I always feel like a wide eyed kid in a sweet shop. What to look at first? All my senses are seemingly hit at once: colour, sight, smell, touch. And as for hearing, cries of, ‘oooh, I love this’ radiate around the shop floor. To stress my point, whilst I was being shown their latest gems from their delightful PR across a café table scoffing carrot cake  (yes, it’s a hard job all this research!) the waiter’s eyes actually popped out of his head, and asked if that was L’Occitane? It was obviously a brand his girlfriend had been dropping huge hints about, so let’s pray she gets a little sweet smelling deliciousness in her stocking this Christmas.

And talking about candy and Christmas, L’Occitane has been inspired by a traditional sweets factory from Provence for its two new Christmas collections. Namely, Delice des Fleurs (rose and violet) and Delice des Fruits (lemon and Clementine). This post is a bit of a L’Occitane bonanza, but I’m making no apologies. I feel all of the products mentioned here would solve many a festive frown. No my fretting what to get friends, mum, aunt, sister, mum-in-law, as I’m sure they would all love a little sprinkling of L’Occitane love.

For a drum roll gift box, their Limited Editions do not disappoint. Firstly, how amazing is this embossed print top left featured on the lid box? The detail on it is fabulous and had me happily looking at it for a good few minutes. I’ve photographed a small taster of boxed candy goodies above, but for the whole range, feast your eyes in store or online, prices start from £18.

The wonderfully printed Limited Edition Ultra Rich Body Cream, I kid you not looks like a pot of double cream and is exceptionally concentrated in shea butter. It smells absolutely delicious the minute you unscrew the lid, but once applied sinks in wonderfully. Perfect stocking fillers, £16.

I’m making my own Christmas crackers this year and will be popping these Limited Editions mini tube Shea Hand Cream, £7.50 and Organic Shea Lip Balms, £8 into tin foil wrapped cardboard rolls. I’ve no doubt there will be squeals around the table, and they will certainly beat a plastic puzzle or yo-yo!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The not-so-perfect Plait

Plaits have to be created in such a way they don’t look straight off the set of The Sound of Music. At a recent L’Oreal trends afternoon, they showcased James Pecis, a seasoned session stylist to talk through SS2012 hair trends. One of them being plaits. Now, I only ever wear a plait at the gym, more for practicality than style, feeling it’s too milkmaid to debut in the real world. But after James’s take on the braid I’ve changed my mind. Deftly done plaits can look youthful without looking too school yard, and if you like to wear your hair off your face it’s a cool alternative to the ponytail. Also note, there’s more than one way to wait a plait other than straight down the back as James spotlighted.

James reveals the key is to create a soft braid, and far from traditional three way plaiting, he takes two pieces of hair and ties a series of knots – for this style it was around the head. Catching the model afterwards and asking her if her hair was tangled up into knots, she said they actually came out really easily. “There’s a simplicity to next seasons plait,” explains James, “it’s almost as if they’re an after thought to control your hair, and soft pieces should be pulled out around the face to give a coolness and prettiness to the look.”

Perfect for day-old hair which has more grip, otherwise use Studio Line Silk & Gloss Volume Mousse, £3.56 to give hair guts, knot the hair and finish off with a spritz of Elnett Satin Very Volume Supreme Hold Hairspray, £3.56. Gives hold without look overly polished and lacquered.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Batiste's Wild Side

Just had to do a very quick posting on this fab can from Batiste. Their dry shampoo is an absolute hair saver for anyone that’s woken up late, and needs to reboot their style sans shampoo. Keeping up with fashion, they’ve just gotten Wild with their pussy galore animal print. I just can’t help thinking it will bring out the sex kitten in your hair with a little bit of back teasing. Miaow!

Batiste Dry Shampoo, £2.99 exclusive to Boots and at

Monday, 7 November 2011

Bobbi Brown's Party Dazzlers

As a working make-up artist, Bobbi Brown has created a  brand that understands how women want to look everyday – whether that’s a work day, a relaxing day or a celebration day. Subtle in her approach, but high end in her delivery, her collections never fail to impress with their sophisticated shades and textures. However, that doesn’t mean Bobbi doesn’t have a cheeky side.

Her Limited Editions for Christmas are, excuse the pun, real cosmetic crackers! The Pastel Sugar Sparkle Quad is described as the make-up equivalent of sparkling earrings with pale turquoise, silver and orchid sparkling eye shadows in the mix, but my favourite has to be her iconic Party Shimmer Brick. All gift wrapped in silver and gold, it gives a delectable disco glow when dusted lightly onto the tops of the cheekbones post blusher, and magically opens up the eye area when applied as a highlighter under the brow bone. For that Bond girl finish it’s embossed with a martini glass and shaker. Oh Bobbi, you do leave us feeling shaken and stirred!

Her rather lovely Party Fragrance makes for the ultimate accessory. It’s a scent most gorgeous with notes of violet leaves, rose petals and a dry-down of sandalwood. Spritzed to be seduced.

Party Shimmer Brick, £32.50 and Bobbi’s Party Fragrance, £46.50 are both available this month.
Stockists number: 0870 034 2566

Friday, 4 November 2011

Eucerin's Comfort Blanket for Skin


I’ve been a fan of this dermatological skincare brand for yonks. Their Hyaluron Filler Concentrate is a product I use religiously. Based on honest skin advice, it’s a brand that’s quietly confident without having to use tongue twisting, scientific sounding ingredients to impress or package itself in gold boxes. The deal breaker for such modesty is: it works.

Their latest edition to their burgeoning range is the US cult favourite, Aquaphor. I mention this now as skin takes a battering in winter months, whereby extremely dry, chapped, chafed and cracked skin not only looks unattractive, but is uncomfortable too. This is an all dancing balm that can be applied anywhere. It squeezes out like petroleum jelly and looks gloopy, but is surprisingly light in application, helping create a protective barrier that is semi permeable, meaning it doesn’t suffocate the skin. Far from being occlusive, it allows skin to breathe whilst keeping it lovely and moist. As well as a daily rescue for dry areas, it’s also clinically proven to support the skins regeneration process, so making it ideal for soothing on after treatments such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels and laser resurfacing. Go try!

Eucerin Soothing Skin Balm, £8.50 available from
For any skin problems www.eucerin,com gives good advice

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Clinique ask, 'Are you Being Served?'


When you’re clock watching and all you want to do is nip in and out of a department store and buy mascara, it can be a tad annoying to have a beauty consultant try and condition you to the whole of their range. Shopping for cosmetics can be a joy, but other times it can feel like a chore/minefield/rushed. Clinique understand this, hence their new service aptly called As You Like It.

Researching into women’s shopping habits, their new counter services adjust to your means and moods. There’s the Foundation and Colour Bar for example, and dedicated make-up and skincare browsing areas which encourage you to test and play at your leisure. Furthermore, for the time strapped there’s the Best Selling Tower which offers a well edited assortment of Clinique’s most popular products. A complete no-brainer in my beauty book.

But one of their most innovative shopping tricks up their sleeve, and one that slips onto your wrist is their complementary rubber wrist brands. These can be picked up on counter and signify how much time you have. Green stands for, ‘I have time, let’s talk.’ White, ‘Time is of the essence’ and pink, ‘Browsing and happy.’ I can’t help thinking they would be good for date nights too!

Available on counter now in Selfridges, London, House of Fraser Meadowhall and Glasgow, Debenhams Leeds and Fenwick, Newcastle

Dior does Gold Dust

When it comes to making an entrance, Dior never fails to put on a stunning make-up show. Their Christmas collection, Les Rouges Or celebrates the seduction of gold – and it’s truly red carpet perfection. As the story goes, gold was a gift brought to the baby Jesus from the Wise Men, and signified that Jesus would be fit for a king. This collection says you will be fit to party!

Gold has always befitted the house of Dior, both in beauty and couture with its dazzling and sophisticated allure, but it’s a colour that can be tricky to pull off, both in make-up and dress. Too much and it leaves you looking over decorated and tacky.  This collection is clever in its execution, not too muted, but with just enough sparkle to make you stand out from the crowd. It won’t leave you looking gold plated, more gently gilded. Each lip and nail shade is shot with golden powder and radiance to deliver a sexy and warm glow. A great tip is to slick the pure gold shade Rouge Dior in Or Etoile on top of any of the lip shades for full on Brigitte Bardot sexiness. We guarantee you won’t be looking for kisses under the mistletoe.  

Rouge Dior Les Rouges Or, £22.50 and Dior Vernis, £17.50 available nationwide.