Holidays are coming…

My tree might not be up and for the first time ever I have NO advent calendar, but alas, Christmas is definitely here. If you’re as disorganised as I am this year and have yet to even start your Chrizzy shopping, let alone finish it (seriously, I’m still prancing around in June somewhere in my head), then these little gems might just help you out. Well, not all of you. I’m no expert on lego or train sets. Or anything boy-related. Sorry.

Along Came Betty Body Lotion: Creme of all Creams, 500ml, £3.99 and Along Came Betty Radiance Moisturiser Glow On, 100ml, £5.99.

Along Came Betty Body Lotion: Creme of all Creams, 500ml, £3.99 and Along Came Betty Radiance Moisturiser Glow On, 100ml, £5.99.

Along Came Betty:

Radiance Moisturise, Glow On – Along Came Betty, a new range added to the ever-growing Tesco beauty line, is right up my street. The kitsch, girly packaging drew me in straight away (sucker). This face cream is a great pick-me-up treat for tired winter skin – apply before make up or just generally throughout the day whenever you need a little moisture boost. This tightened my pores and made my skin visibly glow (without even a hint of fake tan; it must be some sort of Christmas miracle). Reasonably priced for the size too, as each application needs only a pea-sized amount.

Creme of all Creams – Central heating, cold winter air and too much caffeine do not a good pair of legs make. Or something like that. Even though they’re hidden away for the best part of the next six months, I’m hoping a daily dose of moisturiser will make my legs more presentable come springtime (as I write this it’s snowing. Good luck to you, Spring). A nice consistency that absorbs well into skin with a sweet, fruity scent that’s noticeable for a good 2-3 hours after application.

Simple Little Treats gift set, containing mini face wash, toner and moisturiser. £5.99.

Simple Little Treats gift set, containing mini face wash, toner and moisturiser. £5.99.

Simple Little Treats gift set: A brand I turn to again and again because, (dodgy pun alert) quite simply it actually works. I’ve had problem skin for years and the combination of too much make up, way too much fake tan, the constantly changing British weather (give me a break Mother Nature) and lack of sleep always catch me out in the end, and when they do the only thing that seems to work is going right back to basics. If, like me, your skin is the bane of your life too and nothing else ever seems to work, then this sample-sized gift set is definitely worth a try.

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Rock Beauty Rock Book Gift Set – Disco: This. Is. Genius. I honestly don’t know why this hasn’t been done before. Packed into a small booklet, this is literally all of your finishing touches for a big night out rolled into one. There are a whole range in the Rock Beauty collection to choose from but I kindly got sent the Disco pack, which offers some unique make up alternatives for the eyes, lips and body over the party season. Each page in the booklet comprises a different treat and is handily accompanied by a small explanation and tutorial on how to apply. (FYI, this one is a bit mental, so probably best not to get too excited and apply it all at once. Not that I tried that. At all). Prices for these start at around £10 per booklet (did you hear that, Santa?) and are available from a number of places online.

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M&S make up

Autograph Amplified Lashes Volumising Mascara in black

Autograph moisture colour lipstick in Bubblegum Pink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be the first to admit that Marks & Spencer isn’t my go-to choice for topping up the make up bag. If I’m honest, I usually only go there on a Percy Pig quest (you know what I’m talking about. And if you don’t, shame on you) and even that’s had to stop recently due to the impending fear of wearing a wedding dress in 10 months’ time. Any way, enough of that, this time I admit defeat. I’ve been keeping an eye on their home section ever since I was given some vouchers as an engagement present (I should say ‘we’, but we all know who will really be spending them) and lo and behold, it wasn’t long before I discovered myself in the make up aisle.

Being that it is now officially autumn (when wasn’t it this year?), and I’m a sucker for anything pink (see said Percy addiction), I obviously ended up with this lipstick. I’m not a huge lipstick wearer, I’m all about the eyes, but there was something I loved about this colour. I wouldn’t exactly describe it as ‘bubblegum’ pink, it’s more of a berry tone than anything else, but it’s lovely nonetheless. Giving a silky, full coverage in one swipe, this lasts a good 3/4 hours and leaves a nice tint on the lips even after it’s rubbed away.

What I’m most excited about, however, is this little gem of a mascara. I am a mascara/false lash addict. All of the men in my life have ridiculously long, thick, dark lashes which are, quite frankly, wasted on them and make me feel like an inferior being, so I NEED mascara in my life. Usually a Max Factor False Lash Effect kinda girl (apart from the new 24 hour one – what was that about Max Factor, I lost about a billion precious lashes to that one), I was dubious about this, but thought it was probably worth the £9.50 price tag. Let me tell you, this is worth EVERY PENNY. Max Factor ain’t got nothing on this bad boy – full, thick, dark lashes in one coat, thank you very much. As you can see, mine has now taken a battering and needs replacing, but this will definitely become my regular mascara of choice.

Simple Skin

Skin. The absolute bane of my existence. If it’s not dry and covered in eczema then half my face is sliding off under the oil spill that is my forehead. And so sometimes, despite wanting to spend a month’s rent on ‘miracle’ products, I have to go back to the basics.

And what are these basics then, I hear you ask? Well, it’s Simple. Quite literally. Simple products have been knocking about for a while now and so need no introduction from me. I’m sure many of you have used something from the Simple range over the years, or know someone who has if you haven’t yourself. I first started using them when I was given a moisturising kit one Christmas several years back during a particularly bad eczema stint and am utterly convinced they helped clear it up.

Simple’s motto, ‘kind to skin’, just about says it all really – packed with vitamins and free from alcohol and oil they pretty much do exactly what they say on the tin (packet, box, tube, etc – you get me).

In light of the fact that I’m approximately 14 months away from a very BIG day in my life and my skin still resembles that of my 15 year old self I decided to get back to basics this summer and see if I couldn’t sort it out once and for all. And whilst I do love the moisturisers, face wipes (a staple in my make up box – that’s right, BOX), cleansers and toners, what I found myself gravitating towards this time were the newer products on the market – in particular, the ones for eyes. Working three jobs and planning a wedding does little for the old eye bags these days, so it didn’t take much persuasion for me to crack open the eye brightening cream. Pared with the revitalising eye roll-on I can honestly say my eyes are brighter and more refreshed. I’ve long been an advocate of eye cream (prevention is better than a cure, or something like that) but found that sometimes eye creams can make bags worse. Using the wrong kind or overuse can load the delicate skin under the eyes with product, dragging them down, so earlier this year I took a break from using them. Unfortunately, I then went and got myself a job that involves early starts (4.30am, anyone?) and lo and behold, the eye bags were back with a vengeance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I use the roll-on around 3 or 4 times a week, mostly on said days when I’m up at the crack of dawn and it feels like my eyes are actually stuck to the floor. Somehow, and this defies all my logic, this little gem is always cold, thus perking my bags up a treat. I tend to use the brightening cream just before bed. This makes no sense as it’s more of a daytime thing than before bed (as suggested on the packet), but in the interest of time (I’ll say it again: 4.30am, people) I slap it on before sleep.

Now, the thing about being tired is that it makes putting my make up on even more of a challenge than usual. Mistakes happen, and at 4.30am they aren’t pretty. Enter the eye make-up corrector pen, an ingenious little device that means I can be as slap dash as I like and go back afterwards and tidy up in one quick swipe – a-mazing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And lastly, my personal fave and new handbag essential, the moisture boost hydro mist. Now, one of my three jobs requires me to spend an unholy amount of time in a van driving around the Kent countryside – idyllic it might sound, but it’s not exactly the ideal for a dry skin situation, so this is perfect; a couple of little spritzes and my face feels fresh again. Plus, this doesn’t interfere with my make up – if anything it actually perks it up a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it, the essentials for summer skin this year. Although I use the term ‘summer’ loosely as, well, you know, it’ll probably rain now I’ve said it…

Laura Oakes for Elemis

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed so far this year it’s that everyone and everything seems to be celebrating an anniversary or milestone of some sort. The Jubilee aside, there have been some pretty exciting developments and celebrations within beauty this year, but the one that’s really struck a particular chord with me is the release of Elemis’s Limited Edition Papaya Enzyme Peel.

Launched in celebration of it’s 10th year of production, Elemis have doubled up not only with African fund-raising charity SOCO but also British artist and photographer Laura Oakes, whose flagship studio is a mere stones throw from my very doorstep in Rye, East Sussex.

Laura has been creating vintage-inspired prints using her unique “digital decoupage” technique (layers of vintage and hand-drawn imagery combined with her own photography) for a range of well-known companies (Liberty, to name but one) for quite a while now and her work is not only charmingly unique but also instantly recognisable. So in honour of its 10th Anniversary, who better to design a one-off line of packaging for the brand?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obviously as soon as this landed on my doorstep I couldn’t wait to try it out, so after cleansing my face I slathered it on and sat waiting eagerly for the recommended 10-12 minutes. Being that the word ‘peel’ is in the title I was kind of expecting (and hoping) it would do exactly that – literally peel off a layer of my face. So I sat, anticipating some sort of burning or stinging…and I couldn’t have been more wrong. This really isn’t that kind of peel, and being an Elemis product I probably should have known better – the natural fruit enzymes used in its creation mean that rather than attack the skin and strip it of any moisture, they instead simply gently dissolve any superficial dead skin cells without causing any interference or irritation.

After washing away with a damp muslin cloth I realised just how well this had worked (I was kind of worried that the non-stinging or burning meant nothing was happening) – my skin was fresh, matte and super soft.

Having used this a few times in the past couple of weeks I can definitely vouch for the claims that it makes skin softer and more radiant. How you use it is entirely up to you, but for me the best results seem to be just before applying my make up once or twice a week as it keeps skin matte and fresh-looking for the best part of the day.

If you’re after a pick-me-up product to see you through the summer, then you can start forming an orderly queue at your local Elemis stockist from tomorrow (1st June).

Repair Your Hair

They say in life that timing is everything. Well last month I managed to experience this in all its glory. And from the comfort of my own home. After spending the previous day bleaching the living daylights out of ¾ of my hair (ombre, anyone?) I woke up the next day to find an interesting looking package on the doorstep. Enter John Frieda (not the JF, if he was actually on my doorstep then that WOULD be good timing, not to mention a tiny bit creepy) and his new Full Repair range. My hair literally did a little happy scream.

And so I’ve spent the past month putting JF and his magical creations to work. As many people (not least my poor hairdresser) know, I have L-O-N-G hair. And it is no stranger to bleach. Miraculously, I’ve managed to keep it in such a condition that it has only needed one major cut in 3 years (seriously, I know), but suffice to say, it does take a battering and after my latest venture into the dip-dying scene it definitely needed a bit of extra TLC.

The theory behind the range, as I’m sure you’ve worked out by now, is to restore tired, chemically treated, heat damaged locks into softer, more manageable and healthier looking hair. Quite a tall order from such a short tube, no? I won’t go into the science of it all as frankly, it’s way beyond me, but the added omega-3 and promise of easier to brush hair sealed the deal for me, and for once I was actually looking forward to a good old hair wash.

John Frieda Full Repair Full Body Shampoo & Conditioner, 250ml, £5.69 each

I’m not particularly brand loyal when it comes to shampoo; anything that smells nice and is cheaper than a fiver usually gets my vote, but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The overall scent was good – I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something along the vanilla/orange kind of line – and it foamed up nicely. Now, when it comes to conditioner I AM a stickler and always use Boots own brand Coconut & Almond Intensive Conditioner – my hair literally drinks it up, so I was a tad skeptical that a “normal” conditioner would be enough for me. I probably used more than I should have and left this on for longer than recommended each time, but I was pleasantly surprised; when it came to the dreaded post towel-dry comb through my hair actually WAS easier to brush. I never (well, hardly ever) fully dry my hair, so treated it the same after using these products and was happy to find it did dry into soft, manageable waves. Just the way I like it.

If I were to criticize anything about these products then I’d probably have to admit I found the packaging a bit of a lazy-person-in-the-shower minefield; having accidentally washed my hair twice after mistaking the shampoo for conditioner (on several occasions) I’d definitely welcome some sort of distinguishing feature to set the two apart – of course, it’s no biggie and my hair is probably all the better for two washes but as I say, I’m lazy in the shower and as I spend enough of my life in there already the extra ten seconds I spent reading product labels probably didn’t bode well for all this talk of a water shortage.

John Frieda Full Repair Protecting Root Lift Foam, 200ml, £5.99

Next up was the Protective Root Lift Foam. I don’t normally use any kind of product in my hair; I’m lucky that it dries wavy so there’s really no need, but out of curiosity I had to give this one a go. I put this into my hair when it was damp and left to dry it did create more definition and volume. Even more volume was achieved when blow dried properly, but if like me you’re lazy then this is a perfect post-wash quick fix. More brownie points to JF for it being easy to brush out too. I’ve also since used it with a different shampoo and conditioner combo prior and it still achieves the same effects, so it could definitely be bought as a stand alone product rather than as part of the complete range.

 

John Frieda Full Repair Deep Conditioner, 150ml, £5.99

And finally, saving the best ‘til last, my ultimate favourite from JF’s new range is most definitely the Deep Conditioner Mask. This is a bit of timely process as you have to shampoo, condition and THEN whack this bad boy on, but if you’ve got the extra 2-3 minutes recommended then definitely go for it. My hair was uber soft (we’re talking silky smooth hair-ad hair here, people) after using this, and used once or twice a week has kept it in tip-top condition.

 

 

 

 

I’ll be the first to admit that the new Full Repair range isn’t exactly purse-friendly; if you’re on a particularly tight budget at the moment then this might be a stretch – especially if you’re wanting the whole collection – but unlike so many other ranges out there that promise to revive dry hair, this DOES actually work. I’ll definitely be digging a bit deeper to make the shampoo, conditioner and deep conditioning mask regular purchases. Who knows, I might even make it to 4 years before my next hair cut this time…

The writing’s on the Wall

I’ll warn you now – brollies at the ready people, it’s most likely going to rain very soon…I’m about to buy some actual Spring clothes. Yes, Spring. Who saw that one coming so soon?

Anyway, since I’ve been lusting after pastels and fake tan since, like, November, I’m finally caving and saving up the pennies to invest in some new pieces. However this year, instead of exhausting H&M, Topshop and the like, I’ve been looking a little bit further afield for some summery inspiration and happened upon Wall London. Clean-cut, practical, stylish and quintessentially British, Wall have a lot to offer shoppers in need of something different over the coming seasons and the company’s mission statement describes perfectly how it envisions itself and its target audience:

“Wall’s design ethos is to produce ‘elegant clothing for inspiring women’. Our collections are designed with a certain type of woman in mind; one who is artistic, independent, mature yet energetic and who enjoys both an intellectual and a social life. Our clothes are flattering and stylish, and suit a woman who wishes to look good whilst remaining comfortable.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obviously, Wall are on top of the game when it comes to nailing this season’s trends – florals, pastels, clashing prints, neon brights and nudes fill their 2012 collection to the brim.

The budget-conscious amongst you might have noticed that Wall’s clothing is a little pricier than your average high street treat, but don’t be put off; all the clothes are made from ethically sourced, high quality fabrics that are built to last. Even I, a die-hard Primark fan, have to attest that on occasion, quality really is better than quantity.

Wall clothing is available to buy in their Notting Hill boutique and by mail order via telephone, post, fax and online ordering. For any further queries, please contact Wall on 0844 850 7373 or email enquiries@wall-london.com 

 

 

Style on Demand

In a world where we can record TV from our mobile phones (well, SOME of us can, I’m still working that one out) and have the answers to almost any question at our finger tips, it seems only right that hair and beauty are leaping head-first into the digital age.

Beauty experts have been posting make up tutorials for some time on YouTube, teaching us how to accomplish the latest looks without ever having to leave the house. And now, following suit, is hair maestro John Frieda who has just launched his own YouTube channel crammed with bite sized videos full of inspiration for creating the most luscious of locks.

I’ve long been a Frieda fan – in fact, back in the Dark Ages when GHDs weren’t around (yes, I’m THAT old) Frizz Ease was my weapon of choice when it came to taming my tresses, so not only am I pleased that the brand is still going strong (with products that ACTUALLY work, people) but has moved forward to embrace this new techno culture.

Branded ‘Style on Demand’, eight short videos have been created and are hosted by top John Frieda stylists Jake Davies and Giles Robinson, who share industry secrets which will help us ladies to recreate a variety of 2012’s hottest hair trends from the comfort of our own homes. The videos – which aim to teach new styles and techniques in the simplest of steps – include a master class on retro curls, an elegant 1940s screen siren look and a celebrity-inspired halo plait, and all can be created for day or night.

Personally, I can’t wait for an excuse to try this one out:

The whole Style on Demand collection can be viewed here.