Friday, 30 October 2009

Silicone & Shampoo Free: One Week In

Last week, I wrote about the Curly Girl method, which hypothesises that curly hair does better without shampoo, as the most common cleanser in shampoo, SLS, is too harsh for delicate curly hair. In order to cut out shampoo, one has to also cut out anything that'll build up on the hair - silicones and polyquatariums.

I started off my shampoo free routine with one last shampoo - without silicone - to rid my hair of any build up before I began. I used Aussie Miracle Moist, which is silicone free and actually rather nice. It's been donated to my husband, now though, as after conditioning with Original Source White Pear and Avocado conditioner, I was free of silicones and ready to start co-washing.

For my next wash, I applied a palmful of conditioner to my scalp, and massaged with my fingers as I used to do with shampoo. Obviously, I didn't get any lather, which was a very strange feeling. After rinsing thoroughly, I applied some more conditioner to the lengths of my hair, and then I was done. I was very surprised by how clean my hair felt and looked after a rubdown with just conditioner; easily as clean as with shampoo. My hair also immediately started feeling softer and less dry.

A week on, my curl definition has improved, and although I'm still somewhat frizzy, I think it's less so than it used to be. I have noticed that my fringe gets greasy much faster - I think I'm probably using too much conditioner on it, so I'm trying to tone down. My big fear, that I would end up looking lank-haired and greasy, seems to have been unfounded thus far. So far so good!

I'll report back soon, and hopefully will have some before and after photos to compare too.

Lovely Things: Leighton Denny "Best Seller" Nail Colour

Leighton Denny make some excellent high-end hand and nail products, and are responsible for probably my favourite ever nail colour - Best Seller. It's a beautiful rich raspberry red colour, with silver and red glitter. It's not too flashy, not too sparkly, applies beautifully, and is almost-opaque in one coat (I always apply two coats for extra depth and sparkle).

Given my recent not-so-hot nail polish experience, one of the absolute best things about this polish is that it lasts. The photo on the left was taken two days in, and although there's a touch of tipwear, there are no chips, and the colour still looks fresh and shiny. Definite win for me.

Leighton Denny nail colours are £9.79 for 12ml from Helen Marks online, or can be found in numerous other places, including high end nail salons.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Collection 2000 Poptastic Collection - eyepopping palette at an eyepopping price

Superdrug is full of surprises right now. Not only are there two new Sleek palettes out this week - Sunset (permanent) and Graphite (Limited Edition) - there's also a new C2000 release in the form of two new palettes, Poptastic and Angelic.

Poptastic is full of bright colours in a range of matte and shimmer shades, while Angelic is more pastel toned. Each one costs just £2.93. This is probably the lowest priced palette I have ever seen. Apart from maybe the ones you see in 99p shops and the ones at car boot sales with yellowing sponge applicators stacked next to the 5-for-99p lighters.

9 colours for £2.93. It seems a little too good to be true. But after discovering the wonderful Lasting Perfection Concealer, which is now a daily staple for me, anything C2000 puts out now gets my full attention. I purchased the Poptastic palette and got to swatching.

As you can see below, payoff is not bad at all - this is on dry skin with no primer. Some of the mattes could be stronger, but overall I'm hugely impressed!

Find this massive bargain at your local Superdrug. It's not currently offered for sale on Superdrug's website, but you can learn more about it at Collection 2000's own site.

Cargo: Out At Sainsburys, In At Boots

A quick lunchtime bit of speculation - having just popped out to Sainsbury's for a salad, I noticed that the Cargo display was looking rather sparsely stocked, and that a whopping 75% off was being offered on the remaining products.

I controlled myself and snapped up only one thing; one of their little lipglosses for a very cheap £2.20.

This, combined with the recent increase in Cargo products available in Boots stores and online, makes me wonder whether Cargo are heading out of Sainsburys and into Boots. Checking out the Cargo website seems to support this; their international stockists list shows lots of Boots locations, and no Sainsburys locations at all. Looks like Cargo is about to become much easier to find!

Unusual Christmas Gifts For Beauty Addicts

It's not even quite November yet and already Christmas gift sets and holiday collections are invading. To me, a lot of them are the same stuff you see year after year; for those of us who love beauty, this time of year can bring a whole load of presents that are, well, pretty much the same. Not that that makes them any less lovely to receive, but hey, I've tried most of the Sanctuary stuff from Boots, I don't really want another gift set.

So, here are a few gift ideas that focus on products that are (fairly) unique, or on things that aren't necessarily the first thing you think of when you think Christmas gift.

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics have produced a new lip product which has won some high praise from US beauty bloggers. It's not a gloss, despite the gloss-like packaging; it contains high levels of pigment, applies smoothly from a tiny dab on a lipbrush, and dries down to a long lasting satin finish.

Best of all, it comes in 20 different shades, including black, white, blue, green and yellow, and is designed to be mixed together to create new shades. Cosmetic alchemy! Love it.

The company is US based but do ship internationally. One 8ml Lip Tar costs $12.50 and is available at OCC's website.

Heated rollers are sort of overlooked in today's hair straightener obsessed times. While they do take a little more effort to use than sliding your GHDs through your tresses, they are a fantastic way of getting long lasting, glam results - think volume; shiny defined curls; vintage styles. Babyliss make a set of ceramic heated rollers which my hairdresser used in my hair for my wedding, and I've been lusting after them ever since. 30 rollers for £41.99 at, or the non-ceramic version; 20 rollers for £32.90, also at

Guerlain's Terracotta loose kohl is an alternative way to get eternally desirable smoky eye look. Instead of a whole palette of eyeshadows and a smudging brush, you get an ultra-luxe package of loose kohl and a simple wand to apply it with. Use in the inner rim of your eye (but be careful!) or smudged around the eye with your fingertips, or both for ultimate smokiness. Comes in a variety of colours for £20 at Debenhams; or for a less luxe option, try B Never's version for £11.75 from their website (before it goes away for good!).

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

How To: Stop Red Hair From Fading

See that red hair over to the left? That's mine. I've had red hair since I was 16 and since the first time I dyed it (and a tiny bit of my mother's carpet), I've been battling the fade. Coloured red hair is notoriously difficult to keep fresh, fading to an orange or pinkish hue. Over the years I've gathered a number of tips on how to keep my hair bright, and while these are specifically tailored to red hair, could be equally applied to other colours to keep that just-coloured look for longer.

Minimise contact with water

I used to lie in the bath with my wet hair swirling around my shoulders under the water. One day I realised that it was contributing to the dreaded fade. Try to keep exposure to water to a minimum. If you swim, buy a swimming cap, and use it.

Use a colour conditioner

But not one of the ones you buy on the high street - apart from Aveda Madder Root, I've found none of them actually impart much colour into the hair. Make your own. All you need is a tube of semi-permanent vegetable colour (like Fudge paintbox) in your preferred shade, and a tub of conditioner. Mix a bit of the vegetable colour with a lot of the conditioner, slap it on your hair, wipe it off your skin (or it'll stain), and leave it on, under a plastic shower cap or some clingfilm, for as long as you can be bothered. Rinse thoroughly. I do this once a week.

Wash your hair in cold water

Hot water, apparently, opens the hair cuticle, allowing water to permeate. Cold water, apparently, closes the cuticle. I'm not 100% sure on the science but this definitely does work for me, with the added bonus that cold water = shine. Lots of shine.

Only wash your hair once

Washing makes your colour fade. Very few people need to wash their hair twice in one go; if you can avoid it, your colour will last longer. And you'll save money on shampoo!

Use appropriate products

Clarifying shampoo will strip your hair of colour faster than a moisturising one. Go for something fomulated for coloured hair. Never, ever use washing up liquid if you run out of shampoo - it's sometimes recommended as a way of washing unwanted colour out more quickly.

If you have curly hair, consider trying going shampoo-free entirely - my recent trials of the CG method show that using only conditioner is much kinder to my colour.

Review: Inglot Nail Enamel 053

My second Inglot nail polish purchase was this beautiful creamy pink. It has a sort of beigey-neutral undertone, and in certain lights, looks more mocha than pink on the nail.

Application on this one was OK - the polish is fairly thin and spreadable, but with a teeny tiny brush which requires you to make a number of strokes to get the whole nail evenly covered. This, coupled with the relatively fast drying nature of the polish, means you have to apply a fairly thick layer in order to get decent coverage before it starts drying. I managed to achieve bottle colour in two of these thick coats.

Unfortunately, the wear on this was terrible. Paired with the same top coat and base coat I always use, the first chips set in after just one day, and the picture to the right shows the state of my right hand after two days.

Overall, despite the lovely colour and good drying speed, I'm very unimpressed with this polish, and doubt I'll be trying any more from Inglot's vast range of colours.

If you'd like to try it yourself, you can purchase from the Inglot store at Westfield - as I didn't get a proper breakdown receipt, I can only tell you that 2 polishes and an eyeshadow cost me £22.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Review: Original Source Mint & Tea Tree Conditioner

I seem to be a on a bit of an Original Source kick at the moment! This is probably because their conditioners are silicone free, and I'm currently giving up silicone. This light, fresh conditioner totally blew me away with it's strong, minty scent and the amazing tingly sensation upon my scalp (which I'm not yet sure whether I actually like - VERY tingly). Seriously, if you wash your hair in the morning (and if you do, I envy you - 4 hours airdry time means I wash always in the evening) and need something that'll wake you up a little bit, go for this. It'll wake you up a LOT. Also, if you have a cold, I suspect this will get you breathing through your nose again pronto.

Performance wise, this is a lighter conditioner than the White Pear and Avocado conditioner I tried last week, which makes it ideal for conditioner washing (if you're giving up shampoo) or for imparting light conditioning to normal/greasy hair. Nothing special, but does precisely what it says it will.

The reason I tried this, incidentally, was down to my husband. Thank you, husband, for telling me my hair looked skanky just before we went out, when the Batiste was upstairs. Thank you, for otherwise I would be using a more heavy conditioner for co-washing, and would still look skanky now.

I'm not bitter, honest.

Anyway, if you'd like to try out this very minty, refreshing, tingly conditioner, you can get it for £1.99 for 250ml at

Monday, 26 October 2009

Review - Urban Decay Ink eyeliner

Once in a while, Urban Decay break with their tradition of excellence and put out a massive howler of a mistake of a product. Loyal fans like me are lulled into a false sense of security by seemingly endless runs of awesome releases, and then get caught out when they blithely put money on the counter for something that, to put it bluntly, sucks.

I'm remembering the time I bought Urban Decay's Smoke Out eyeliner. A pencil with the consistency of charcoal, which was meant to impart a smudgy chiaroscuro smoky eye. Only there was one glaring error in the design - people's eyelids, unlike paper or canvas, produce oil, and oil turns the tip of the Smoke Out pencil into a shiny hard unusable point. Hopeless.

Anyway, I digress. Back to now. The Ink liners were released a couple of months ago, and there are six in the set - Binge (midnight blue), Empire (royal purple), Loaded (green), Zero (black) Pyrotechnics (sheer glitter) and Demolition (brown).

The format is quite adorable - a long thin coffin-like box hinged at the short end, with a mirror set in the lid. Inside is a long thin strip of colour and a well beside it in which a double ended angle brush/smudger lies. The cover is faux-metallic with an engraving-effect peacock design and swirling script.

But think about the logistics for a moment - this is a cream liner, and it's poured in such a way that the surface area exposed to the drying air is maximised. It's also in a box with no airtight seal. Think about your little MAC Fluidline inkwell with its airtight screw lid. That's well-designed packaging right there. Ink liner, on the other hand - well, it's going to dry up, isn't it.

That's my worry for the future. But it's not my only qualm. Application reveals a new set of problems - with the formula. It is incredibly sheer, it's slippy, it drags and pills and smears off again when you try to layer it. It doesn't dry down properly. It gives less coverage than a cling-film bikini. You have to work your clumsy little angle brush right into the strip to pick up any product, which means you're going to use it up rather quickly (and as detailed above, that's probably a good thing because it's going to dry out pronto), and once you have it's far too draggy and cloggy to draw a nice thin line. After painstaking labours, I ended up with two panda eyes that smudged all over the place within about half an hour.

With a product called "Ink" I was expecting intense, opaque, creamy one-application liner that dries down and lasts. They would have done better to call this "cheap primary school poster paint", or better yet "damp wax crayon".

I bought "Binge" and "Loaded", and sorry Urban Decay, but my verdict is: Give them both a swerve.

Cargo Giftset Spotted At Boots

I'd been hoping that Boots' decision to stock Cargo LashActivator mascara would lead to them stocking the whole Cargo range; it's only available at Sainsbury's over here, and a wider distribution could only bring joy to more beauty junkies.

Looks like Boots is starting to slowly expand the range with the introduction of the 7 in 7 gift set which is available as part of the Christmas collection - named thusly because it contains 7 products to allow you to "get gorgeous in just 7 minutes". The set, which includes full size foundation/concealer, eyeshadow, blusher, eye pencil, lipliner, lipgloss, and the LashActivator mascara itself, retails for a comparatively tiny price of £35.

Unfortunately there's only one variation of the set available, so don't expect to get the perfect foundation shade with this one. The blurb says that the foundation is suitable for fair/medium skin; often for me, this means way too dark. But still, even discounting the foundation, that's still a good price - I'd certainly be very pleased to receive this for Christmas.

Cargo 7 in 7 set, £35 at

Review: Inglot Nail Enamel XL6

On Saturday, I happened to be at Westfield, London's newest shopping centre. It's a bit of a destination for beauty lovers; as well as the multitude of counters available at Boots, Debenhams and House of Fraser, there's a freestanding MAC store, and also an Inglot store. While I managed to avoid the counters and the MAC store, I'd never tried any Inglot stuff before, and that made it hard to resist!

Inglot is a Polish brand and I'd probably describe them as being much like MAC, in that they stock a wide range of shades in both face and colour cosmetics, but at a slightly less expensive price point. One of the things I picked up was a nail enamel in XL6 - a milky clear colour with lots and lots of blue/green/yellow glitter. I had trouble choosing even two shades from the range of polish - literally, there must have been hundreds of colours laid out, including some oh-so-fashionable matte shades.

The polish, once applied to my nails, had a disappointingly sparse glitter effect. In the photo to the right here, I've layered 4 coats to get a more sparkly effect (so difficult to photograph!), but unfortunately that seems to have left my nails with a slight yellow tinge under the glitter. I was also surprised that what seems to be a topcoat dried down with very little shine.

This shade, I think, will be nice layered on top of other colours, but it won't give me the solid-glitter, ultra-sparkly look I was hoping for. Still, the texture of the polish was smooth and easy to apply and the sparkle pretty, so this is a bit of a mixed result.

Unfortunately Inglot gave me only a combined receipt, and they don't have a UK website yet, so I can only advise you that two nail enamels and an eyeshadow cost me £22 at Inglot Westfield.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Going Silicone & SLS Free - The Curly Girl Method

I've read several articles recently about the Curly Girl method, which supposedly helps to keep curly hair well moisturised and frizz free. Apparently, the SLS in most shampoos (which is generally a fairly drying ingredient) strips moisture from curly hair, which is in general more dry than other hair types. Primarily, the theory is that by giving up shampoo, and therefore SLS, curls become more moisturised, less frizzy, and more well defined.

Now, the thought of skipping the shampoo makes me shudder - I can't feel properly clean if my hair is greasy. According to followers of the CG method, cutting out conditioners and stylers that contain silicones cuts down on the build up on dirty hair - and hair that's dirty with natural oils only can be washed with conditioner (silicone free, of course).

So, I've taken the plunge - I started off a couple of days ago with a final shampoo (which didn't contain silicone), and today tried out my first "co-wash" (conditioner wash). I applied a silicone free conditioner to my roots and sort of massaged as I would normally do with shampoo. I'll admit, this felt very weird, given the lack of foam. After rinsing thoroughly I applied the same conditioner as I normall would, and rinsed again. After a careful application of (silicone free) stylers, my hair is clean, shiny, and soft.

In the coming weeks I'll continue to steer away from the shampoo and try out a variety of silicone free conditioners in a bid to control my frizzy curly hair - and reporting on it along the way.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Review: Original Source White Pear & Avocado Conditioner

I admit it, I'm a bit of a haircare snob. Kerastase, Redken, Alterna - all these used to be firm favourites in my household; in fact, it had been years since anything high street had touched my tresses, dahling.

In a bid to go silicone free (more on that later), I picked up a bottle of Original Source White Pear & Avocado conditioner for the wallet-friendly price of £1.99 for 250ml. I used it for the first time yesterday, and I'm finding myself very pleasantly surprised by the results - my hair is soft and shiny; just as soft and shiny as with one of my higher-end conditioners with silicone in them. Plus, the Original Source conditioner smells absolutely gorgeous - fruity, but not overly so, and slightly fresh with it. Yummy.

Original Source make a range of conditioners, all of which are silicone free, including a Mint and Tea Tree variety (sounds refreshing) and an Almond and Coconut variation, which is ultra-hydrating. The White Pear & Avocado supposedly protects hair against damage, and was plenty hydrating enough for my excessively coloured, dry hair.

I'd highly recommend these. I'll definitely be picking some more up in the future! Selected conditioners are available at Boots, and Superdrug stocks the whole range (although it doesn't seem to show up on their website).

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Ruby and Millie's little sister - Scarlet and Crimson for Christmas at Boots

It's that time of year - Boots unleash a new horde of 3 for 2 Christmas gifts, which colonise a hallowed region of shelves amongst which beauty junkies wander, going "ooh, I'd like that" and "Oh! Perfume miniatures!". I myself have every single year since I can remember coveted the huge £70 No.7 artist's palette - although even when it was half price last year nobody has ever bought for me. Sniff.

Anyway, this year sees the usual feast of covetable items in haircare, skincare, bath and body and of course colour cosmetics. There's also a brand new range called Scarlet and Crimson, developed by Ruby and Millie for teenage girls.

There are a range of gifts available from the line, all of which would be highly recommended for any junior beauty addicts or curious offspring (get out of my traincase!) you might know.

And if you don't know any, you could always pick something up for yourself - for example "In the shadows" palette (pictured above) costs just £10 for 12 miniature shadows in a lovely range of colours.

But wait - it's 3 for 2! And surely you've got to take advantage of a deal like that, right? I'd probably pick the awesome-looking FCUK eye and lip palette (£8, pictured right) and Good Works Good to Go gift bag (£8) to go with it.

There, isn't your wallet easier to carry now it's so much lighter?

Naked Bodycare

Naked is a relatively new company producing what they claim to be "97% natural" products. "Natural" is a word slapped upon many beauty products nowadays, often completely meaninglessly, so what exactly do Naked claim is different about their products?

According to their website, the products are entirely paraben, petrochemical, SLS and phthalate free. All of these ingredients are widely used in cosmetics and toiletries, but there are arguments for ditching some of them - for example, SLS is considered by some as too harsh for curly hair. As Naked's products are SLS free, they could be a more gentle cleansing option.

Whether you're a believer in the more "natural" approach or not, Naked have a wide range of products to try including shampoos, conditioners, facial skincare, body care, and bath and shower products. They're also all reasonably priced; most of the range costs £3.91, with none of the products costing more than £7.82. I've just bought a tube of their conditioner, so reviews will be forthcoming!

If you'd like to try out the range for yourself, you can find them at Boots, or buy online through the Naked website.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Review: Steam Cream - Worth the Hype?

Steam Cream launched last year with great fanfare, claiming to be a multipurpose cream made with "pure, unrefined steam for maximum absorption". Pure steam, according to Wikipedia, is steam that's not been allowed to mix with air, but unrefined steam? I'm not sure quite sure what that means.

Anyhow, I've owned a pot of Steam Cream for a little while now, and have found it to be a very rich but conversely light textured. It feels very silky to the touch, and true to the marketing, is very easily absorbed. Over time, though, the cream has started to become thicker in texture - it's still light, but noticeably less light than when it was opened (around 2 months ago).

In my opinion, this isn't a multipurpose cream in that you can use it on your face and on your body. I've used this on my face a few times, and have found it makes my (fairly dry) skin quite oily. In addition to this, it is very heavily scented - mostly lavender, and so strong that my husband complains that I smell "like a hippy" if he's nearby when I apply it. The high proportion of fragrance alone is a good enough reason for me not to want to put it on my face any more!

For dry hands, elbows, feet - this is a lovely rich cream, but in no way anything extraordinary. If you'd like to try it yourself, you can find buy it direct from the Steam Cream website, where it costs £9.95 for 75ml, and comes in a variety of funky tins.

Monday, 19 October 2009

REN Grapeseed Jojoba & Shea Butter Body Cream

A recent stay in a posh hotel yielded a few gorgeous REN miniatures - and I've become somewhat addicted to the Grapeseed, Jojoba and Shea Butter Body Cream (possibly the longest product name in the world!). It manages to be a very rich cream which is absorbed quickly, leaving no residue, while hydrating the skin and leaving it smooth and gloriously but subtly scented.

Since I took up swimming, my hands have become more dry than usual, and this cream really helps to get them soft again after a dose of chlorine. While it's a bit overkill for the rest of my body (my skin is not dry at all, and rarely gets a coating of body cream), it works wonders on dry areas such as elbows and feet.

All this, as usual, comes at a price - £17.00 for 200ml (ouch!). At that price, I couldn't contemplate putting it all over my body, even though a little does go a long way. If you'd like to try it yourself, you can get the full size version at

Friday, 16 October 2009

Counter Culture: How Clean Are Your Testers?

I'm in two minds about posting this. I've decided I'm going to go ahead and raise the issue here on the blog, but I'm not going to name-and-shame any counters or brands. For I have a SRS BIZNESS-style complaint to make. Read on to hear the grinding of my axe.

When you wander the beauty halls of any major city, you routinely encounter gaily-made-up sirens who try to beguile you into a "makeover" or a "pampering session" with their products. They're sales assistants, but they also claim the role of "makeup artist". In fact there's a thin line between the two - some of these people are qualified, such as MAC and Illamasqua's staff. Some are just sales staff who have had a training course with the company they sell for.

Most of these people are on commission and they can often be quite persuasive about getting you to sit in a chair and try out their stuff. Usually it's the non-qualified ones who push the hardest.

Sometimes it's fun to go along with the sales pitch, barring a little awkwardness when it comes to the hard sell (I'm thinking here of my poor family member who came away from the counter of a certain aggressively-marketed Californian brand beginning with "B", bearing £100 of products she didn't need and hadn't intended to buy, just because she couldn't stand up to the sales girl). *deep breath* But the thing that bugs me about all this, if you'll forgive the pun, is hygiene.

Recently I found myself in the chair in an Oxford Street beauty hall, having my eyes lined by a girl who wasn't a trained artist. She was putting pencil on the inner rims of my eyes - something I'm hesitant to do even for myself.

Alarm bells went off when I saw her pick up the tester that the general public have access to and apply it straight to my delicate mucous membranes. I asked her if the products were sanitised before use, and she said they were, before and after every customer.

However shortly afterwards, I noticed her colleague pick the same pencil straight up from where she had replaced it on the stand and use it on another woman's eyes after mine. No sanitising took place whatsoever.

Are you cringing yet? Because I was.

As soon as we were done, I went across to the Clarins counter and asked to borrow some cleanser and eye makeup remover to take absolutely everything off again. (The assistant there readily complied - and she didn't try to sell me anything either.)

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Review: Lush Coolaulin Conditioner

A recent trip to Lush led me to pick up their Coolaulin conditioner, a coconut conditioner for dry, processed or curly hair - and coincidentally, my hair is all three!

The most striking thing about this conditioner is the scent. I absolutely love the smell of coconut, and I was expecting this to smell very strongly of it. I was surprised, and also pleased, to discover that the coconut scent is rather subtle, and has slightly woody undertones - smelling to me like a more natural scent than that in products I've used before.

While the instructions don't call for it to be left in the hair, as with most conditioners, I left it in my hair for 15 minutes to get maximum effect. I wasn't disappointed! My hair was left soft and much shinier than usual, with a slight scent that didn't linger for long. While not an intensive conditioner, it'll make a good regular use conditioner for dry hair.

The only reservation I have about this is the inclusion of SLS, or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which is a surfactant used to lift oil from the hair, or to thicken or add lather to a product. Lush say they use it as a thickener. This seems odd to me, given that this product is marketed for curls, despite SLS often being thought of as damaging to curly hair.

If you'd like to try it for yourself, you can get it from Lush, £6.30 for 240ml (and available in other sizes too).

Review: Cargo Plant Love Lipstick

Alright - Gemma has totally put me to shame with her prodigious posting this week, so here's a review of a recent purchase of mine. The eco-rama right-on feel-good Plant Love Botanical lipstick from Cargo.

Plant Love is a range of products that are organic and made from recycled/natural materials and packaging. You can ogle the full range at Cargo's website, but currently only a small selection of the lipsticks area available at the Cargo counters in selected Sainsbury's across the UK. They are accredited by ECO-CERT, are paraben-free, incorporate a charity donation in the RRP, and generally are totally halo-worthy.

As I'm slowly (and sometimes unwillingly) opening my eyes to health and ethical issues related to my beauty obsession, this range is great news for me, even if it does demand a slight suspension of disbelief to embrace the idea that a high-end lipstick is going to contribute significantly to solving the world's problems. "Be the Change"(TM) says Cargo, in their Plant Love strapline. I could probably be a more effective agent for change by doing voluntary work, giving money to charity, or helping a homeless person in the street by buying them a meal with my £13. But anyway.

The lipstick I'm modelling for you below is "Lola", designed by Denise Richards (and named after her daughter). It comes in a plastic-looking tube that is in fact made from corn - although you wouldn't know it had you not been told. Instead it feels like basic Boots Natural Collection-style white packaging - not luxurious, but not horrible either. The tube is printed with 70s-esque pink floral designs. Meanwhile the outer box is made of recycled paper that has been embedded with wildflower seeds. Apparently if you plant the box, the seeds will grow into a plant. Cute.

The lipstick itself is rather nice to wear. It manages to be non-sticky and also non-slippy at the same time. It almost feels like wearing nothing at all on the lips. The effect would be matte except for the shimmer particles in the formula - the colour is actually dry to the touch once applied. Unlike other matte formulas (and this is a frequent accusation about mattes from MAC, for example) it's not particularly drying either.

As for the shade, I absolutely love it. It's a warm neutral with a bit of a kick to it that really brightens up the whole face without being too attention-grabbing. Well done Denise! Well done Cargo! Pats on the back all round. Plant Love Botanical Lipstick retails at the VAT-weird price of £12.72.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Review: Rimmel LycraPro Nail Varnish

Recently, I decided to give Rimmel London's LycraPro nail polish a road test. It purports to last for up to 10 days, with a long-wearing and chip resistant formula.

Did it last 10 days? No. The picture below, which shows a fair few chips, was taken two days after application. I applied two coats, over a base coat, and added a thin layer of topcoat.

However, while this polish doesn't impress on longevity, it does impress on application. A maxi brush is included for "mistake-free application", and indeed, the width of the brush does make applying the polish very easy - you can paint most of the nail in one quick stroke. Plus, this colour, which is #307, Grape Sorbet, is a very pretty slightly metallic rose.

So, even though this product doesn't live up to it's long wearing claims, it still has its good points. If you're interested in trying it out for yourself, you can get it from all Rimmel stockists; I got mine from Boots, where it's £4.49 for 12ml.

Besame Lipsticks Available At CultBeauty

Besame Cosmetics' line of vintage styled, gorgeously packaged lipsticks are now available online at CultBeauty. Besame has been hard to find in the UK, with a few select products available in a few online boutiques. The full line of lipsticks and lipglosses, entitled Enchanting Lipstick and Enriched Lip Glaze, is now slightly easier to find.

The range of colours goes from subtle pink to intense red, all of which are densely pigmented, with a distinct vintage / old Hollywood vibe. The lipsticks are tiny - 1.8g, compared to the 3g of a normal MAC lipstick, as are the glosses, at 3.7g compared to 4.8g for a MAC lipglass, so the price is very definitely aimed at a high end market. With the luxurious packaging and styling, and a great selection of beautiful colours, this is looking like a tempting product!

Lipstick is £11 for 1.8g, and gloss is £12.50 for 3.7g. Available at CultBeauty.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

LookFantastic Hair Sale, one of my favourite online beauty boutiques, is having a rather large sale on hair products at the moment. They stock a full range of high end products from the likes of Kerastase, Redken, Paul Mitchell, etc, and have taken 20% off the price of a variety of products until 9AM Thursday.

We're not affiliated with LookFantastic, we just love their wide range of products and discounted prices.

MAC New Website; Style Black, Dazzleglass Creme Online Now

The US MAC site had an overhaul a few months back, and it seems that the UK site has finally followed suit. There's a new Colour Play feature, which takes all of MAC's products and arranges swatches by colour, so you can find products by shade. The collection graphics are much, much bigger and bolder than they were on the old site, making the new site more difficult to sneakily browse whilst at work. Not that we do that sort of thing. Ahem.

In other notable MAC website news, Style Black is available online, with the most in-demand product, the black Greasepaint Stick, in stock at the time of writing. Dazzleglass Creme, a new collection of Dazzleglasses, is also available online now.

If the temptation proves to be too much for you, as it might be for me, you can find all these lovely things at

Monday, 12 October 2009

More Info on Lush Synaesthesia Treatment

Lush has ventured into spa treatments in the form of Synaesthesia, a massage that also includes a full soundtrack and a variety of scents that purports to be a "multi-sensory massage". This weekend I popped into Lush to stock up on a few bits and bobs, and asked one of the assistants for some more info; namely, the duration and the price.

The massage lasts for 1.5 hours, with a consultation before and after the treatment, so I was advised that clients should schedule 2 hours for the whole thing. The cost is a hefty £125, which is a fairly high end price. I rather like the concept of the treatment, but for that price I can't see myself being tempted unless someone gifts me one or unless I indulge for my next birthday treat.

If you'd like more info on the treatment itself, you can find a description on Lush's website, and there's a YouTube video here. 4 stores currently offer the treatment, with more to come.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Mineral makeup - is it time to cut out the middleman?

A few years ago, the internet exploded with mineral makeup companies. Their product was natural, inexpensive, easy to wear and came in a huge range of shades. To me it seemed like the perfect solution for acquiring lots of amazing shades on a budget, without putting my skin in danger from iffy cheap ingredients, and my drawers swiftly filled with lots of little hand-labelled sample pots. It's very cheap and it's a fun way to try out colour. Plus, mineral shadows are easy to blend and hold tight in place over a layer of UDPP.

Anastasia of Lipsticks and Lightsabers has a newsflash for me however
- it seems many mineral makeup companies frequently just repackage wholesale micas at a hugely inflated price. And those wholesale pigments come from just one of two suppliers, whose prices are absolutely tiny in comparison. Claims of uniqueness, hand-blended-ness, exceptional quality or in fact any USP seem pretty flimsy in the light of this revelation. It's the same stuff, in a different jar, and it's five times the price..?

Is it money for nothing? Widespread outrage at LimeCrime Cosmetics' prices and suggestive website copy suggests so. After testing the prettily packaged vibrant shades sold by Doe Deere, Anastasia is pretty sure she's been duped.

Since these products are all sold online in any case, it does seem to make a lot more sense to go straight to the source for your mineral colours if you're going to be cranking up the ol' Paypal account. And maybe have a go at mixing your own shades into the bargain. After all if so many small internet "companies" are doing it, it can't exactly be rocket science, can it?

TBK Trading's kits (see pic above) provide everything you need to get started. Their EZ Eyeshadow Kit costs around the same as a single high-end eyeshadow ($19) and allows you to mix over 25 of your own custom shades.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Black is the new everything

If you've kept your eye on the trends arriving on the counters this season, you'll already have noticed the colours of summer giving way to an overwhelming tide of black. No, I'm not talking figuratively about the recession, I'm referring to the latest collections. For example, Chanel's Collection Noirs Obscurs (see pic), and MAC's Style Black.

You might think that such a stark look wouldn't capture the imagination of the average counter shopper, who could be forgiven for associating black lipstick and heavy liner with a teenage flirtation with Gothdom or Halloween facepaint.

But it turns out that the black lipstick, gloss, eyeshadow, liner and especially polish have been absolutely flying off the shelves, embraced wholeheartedly by consumers and makeup artists alike. Every MAC counter I visited on the day of Style Black's release had sold out of most of the collection, with the Grease Paint stick being the darling product of the bunch. It's a thick Shadestick-like crayon that's meant to be worn smudged, but sticks reliably in place once it's dried down.

So who is wearing their black products out and about? Have you seen any black lips or fingertips out on the street? Or do you sport this look yourself? Let us know in the comments.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful Closing Down

Bit of a gloomy topic for my first post on the blog, but nonetheless important news. Lush's sister company B Never Too Busy to be Beautiful will close its doors at the end of this year. They will stick around for Christmas but thereafter will be bowing out of the beauty game.

B (for short) have been in business for 6 years now, and specialise in unusual fragrance, vegan colour cosmetics, skincare and some bath and body products. Like Lush, they put a premium on sustainable packaging. Theirs is sourced from developing countries and features a lot of sequins and glitter. It's pretty (though sometimes impractical).

The closure has been officially announced on the B homepage this week, as well as on the company's facebook page. Apparently the concern just "isn't making any money" and so its assets will pass over to Lush. Whether this means Lush will sell some B items, I'm not sure. Perhaps the bathing products may reappear in Lush's "Retro" series at some point?

To cheer yourself up, and to reminisce about the glory days of B, why not check out their rather silly but quite fun B Heroes video?

Lovely Things: Kerastase Masquintense

After my recent experience with home hair colourants, my hair was in desperate need of a deep conditioning treat. My recent foray into high street products hasn't yet found me anything that truly stands out as an intensive conditioner, so I rummaged in one of my dressing table drawers and came up with a sample pot of Kerastase Masquintense Fins (for fine hair).

Despite having used half of the 20ml sample pot already, the remaining orangey mask was plenty to give my hair a well earned treat. Thick and silky feeling, this mask is a fantastic way of injecting moisture and shine into dry and damaged hair. My hair was left feeling much smoother and in better condition. The lovely high end scent - which lingered on for about a day after washing - didn't go amiss either.

Kerastase products are lovely, and in more cash-rich times, Masquintense was a go-to product for me. I've rediscovered why! Once I can justify the high end price tag, I'll be buying some more - a little goes a long way.

Kerastase Masquintense Fins is £19.76 for 200ml at, or if you're looking to stock up, you should be able to find a 500ml salon size tub on eBay for around £35.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Sonia Kashuk Brushes Land In The UK

Sonia Kashuk's range of makeup brushes, which have won the hearts of beauty addicts in the US for their quality, have finally touched down in the UK. You can find them at Space NK, that emporium of lovely high end goodness. And therein lies the problem.

In the US, Sonia Kashuk brushes are sold at Target, and are considered a fantastic budget brand, providing great quality at a lower pricepoint than the more expensive brand brushes. However, Space NK have slapped a premium brand price on them.

For example, the retractable Kabuki pictured above; Target's website lists it at $17.99 (£11.30, with today's exchange rate). Space NK are charging £23.49 for what appears to be the same brush. Since I'd heard such good things about Sonia Kashuk's brushes, I had considered trying one or two out when they made their way over here - but with the premium pricing on our shores, I suspect I'll be giving this a miss.

If you're interested though, you can find the brushes at Space NK.

Review: L'Oreal Feria Pure Scarlet Power

In a bid to save a bit of money this month, I decided to give up my monthly visit to the hairdresser, and try out a home hair colourant instead. I've been colouring my hair various shades of red for about 10 years - the last time I coloured it myself, I used L'Oreal Feria. So I decided to stick with what I know and use Feria again, in the Pure Scarlet Power shade; an intense red that looked most similar to the hairdresser-given colour I usually have.

The application process is much the same as any at home colourant I've used; a colour gel is added to a developer and then given a good shake. Feria adds an additional "colour booster", which in this case was an intense red liquid. Once the colour was mixed, it was fairly easy to apply to the roots of my hair, as the bottle nozzle is rather fine, allowing you to get right into the roots.

I used two boxes of colour on my thick, bra strap length hair, and found that the two boxes worth of dye fully saturated my hair. The dye has the usual chemical smell, which I did my best to ignore for the 30 minute development time. It took a long time to rinse the colour out; I spent a good 20 minutes bent over the bath rinsing and washing my hair out with the shampoo provided. My hair was left feeling fairly dry and coarse, and a big dollop of intensive conditioner was needed to smooth it out again.

The colour I ended up with it not the colour on the box. It's much darker, verging on a dark plum shade which glows red in bright light. I'm expecting it to fade down to a more box-like colour in a week or so, but overall I'm disappointed at the darkness of the initial colour, given that my hair was light red when I started out.

Pros: easy to apply, plenty of shampoo provided in the box, great quality gloves, gives great shine
Cons: much darker colour than expected, drying

All in all, worth trying if you're looking for shiny colour with a bit of an edge - but don't expect it to be as bright as the box shade.

L'Oreal Feria home hair colour, £5.67 at Superdrug.
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