Monday, 30 November 2009

Review: Inecto Coconut Oil Conditioner

Last week, I mentioned that coconut scented things are a great love of mine, and indeed, this week I'm bringing you a review of yet another coconut scented conditioner. Sorry about that, I'm weak willed.

I'd heard good things about Inecto's Coconut Oil conditioner; many of these things centred around the fact that it's rather cheap (about £2 for 500ml), silicone free, and effective. And it is pretty effective - in a light, non-heavy kind of way. In the form of a fairly thin cream, this conditioner has a lot of slip to it, and is easy to distribute through the hair. However, I needed rather a lot of it to adequately coat my fairly thick hair, which negates the cheapness slightly, as I think I'll work my way through the bottle quite quickly.

The effects are pretty good; shiny, light hair which doesn't feel weighed down. For me, it doesn't offer enough moisturisation for my dry mid-lengths and ends. It makes a fabulous conditioner for a co-wash, if you've sworn off the shampoo, and if you have normal hair, I imagine it would be a good all-round conditioner.

Now, I have one slight gripe with this product, and that's the scent. Despite containing pure coconut oil, I find the coconut scent a little bit too sweet, and a bit artificial. It's not so nose-wrinklingly artificial smelling that I wouldn't repurchase, but this isn't the nicest coconut scented thing I own.

If you'd like to try it for yourself, you can find Inecto products at Superdrug, where it will cost you around £2 (not stocked online, unfortunately).

US Only Beauty - What Products Are You Curious About?

One half of the LBR team is off to New York just before Christmas, and we've decided to bring back a few US-only beauty items to give away to our readers.

So, you tell us in the comments - what would you love to try that's only available in the US?

Due to it being Christmas and all, we'll be bringing back mostly drugstore items (and maybe a few Sephora items too). Let us know your thoughts in the comments and we'll be giving away some treats in the New Year.

On my list is:

  • Milani Luminous blusher - supposed to be a dupe for NARS Orgasm, and much cheaper
  • Something from the relaunched, Walmart only Hard Candy line
  • OPI for Sephora nail polish
  • NYX eyeshadow
  • Body products from Bath and Body Works - so many fragrances, so little time!

Review: Tesco Vintage Rose Bath Salts

Despite being a bit of a bathing fantatic (I rarely take showers if I can avoid them - baths are much nicer), I've never used bath salts. I'm not quite sure why. Possibly because I associate them with lavendar scents and old ladies.

While purchasing many boring things at Tesco the other day, I was having a bit of a nose around the bath products section, and happened upon this lovely glass jar full of bath salts and rose petals. It being a mere £3.69 for 500g, I decided to take the plunge. When poured into a running bath, these salts produce an absolutely lovely rose based scent. It's not overly heavy or sweet, nor is it too floral. It actually smells like a rose in bloom, rather than a chemical approximation that goes too far.

Although I didn't notice any benefit to my skin, I did emerge totally relaxed. Not only do you get the lovely scent, but you also get the experience of bathing with rose petals, which is quite luxurious - although unfortunately, this doesn't turn you into Mena Suvari in American Beauty. Just don't do what I did and see a rose petal stuck to your knee, and immediately assume that you've accidentally cut yourself somehow and have a small panic.

All in all, this is a lovely product for a bath experience - no particular effect on the skin, but very relaxing. A good buy for anyone who likes a good long soak, it's available at larger Tesco stores for £3.69 for 500g - and the pretty packaging (which doesn't have Tesco written on it in big letters) would make this an ideal stocking stuffer.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Sanctuary Microdermabrasion Body Renewal - the scourge of Keratosis Pilaris?

Huh - Blogger seems to have eaten the post I wrote about this last night. Boo on you, Blogger! So you will have to come to terms with the mystery of what I may have orginally written about Sanctuary's Microdermabrasion Body Renewal, available from Boots for £8.99, and make do with the rehashed version below.

The thing is that I have always had "arm bumps", for as long as I can remember. Many of you will too - it affects nearly half the population. The condition (proper name Keratosis Pilaris) results from inefficient cell turnover around the follicles, leading to a "bump" of dead cells clogging the pores. It looks a bit like goosebumps, and doesn't usually itch or cause discomfort (unless like me you can't resist the temptation to pick at your "bumps").

However it can make people feel self-conscious, look unsightly and the skin can be rough to the touch, so treatment options for it are frequently sought. The condition is genetic and can be treated, but never cured. Most treatments focus on mechanically performing the turnover of dead cells that the skin does not do for itself - so you have to keep it up on a regular basis to maintain results, otherwise the skin left to its own devices will re-accumulate "bumps".

Every so often I get annoyed with mine and try a regime such as dry-brushing, pumice, coconut oil, various scrubs etc. but I am never impressed enough by the results to keep it up and sooner or later I resign myself to having bumpy arms once again.

So I was interested to learn that the highly-respected spa line Sanctuary have created a microdermabrasion product that is specifically designed to smooth out KP. Using micro-silicates (very small crumbs of fossilised seashells) it resurfaces the skin on the body, and used a couple of times a week has apparently produced results in 9 out of 10 KP sufferers.

(I say "sufferers" but it's really not that awful a condition - "mildly unsatisfied people" would probably be more accurate.)

I have decided to give it a go - I currently use the Sanctuary Spa microdermabrasion product on my face and I am very happy with the results there. For £8.99 (200ml) it won't break the bank either.

Stay tuned for results...

NOTD Illamasqua Hectic

It's gone decidedly nail-focused around here lately, what with all these freebie Nails Inc shades and Gemma's adventures with Zoya and China Glaze. Here's the latest shade to adorn my nails, Illamasqua's Hectic.

It's a cream finish mid-tone khaki that I purchased over the summer during my first stages of fascination with Illamasqua but only now am I actually getting around to writing about it.

It applies translucent, and unlike its label-mate Muse it does take about three coats to get an opaque finish. Once dried however the lasting, shiny wear is very similar.

The thing I love most about this polish is the unique colour - the fact that it wears so well is just a bonus!

Hectic is available from Illamasqua, prices £12.50 for a 15ml bottle.

Friday, 27 November 2009

NOTD: China Glaze Raspberry Festival

This is the first time I've used a China Glaze polish; the formula is quite thin and easily spreadable, but maybe a bit too thin for my liking - I missed my nail a coupla times and painted my cuticles too (oops).

But at least that gave me something to do while waiting for my dentist appointment, hey?

Anyway, this is Raspberry Festival, a very pretty red with tiny tiny raspberry coloured sparkles. It sort of screams FESTIVE at me, but that's probably because the Christmas onslaught has started and I'm a famous scrooge.

UPDATE: This lasted a grand total of one day before it chipped badly enough that I took it off. I'll try it again later this week, maybe it requires a more hardcore topcoat than my current one.

Silicone & Shampoo Free: Comparsion Photos

Please ignore the fact that my second photo is so badly focused. I'm not great with a camera, particularly after an evening at the pub!

The left photo shows my hair before I started a shampoo and silicone free regime. The right photo is after about 5 weeks of using nothing but silicone free conditioner and styling products on my hair.

Aside from the main lighting, colour and focus differences, I think that the main difference is that my hair is more curly than it was previously. Before, my curls were concentrated mostly around the back of my head, with the front parts containing a mix of loose curls and waves. After skipping the shampoo and silicone, even the front parts of my hair are curly, particularly in the mid-lengths.

Frizz wise, there doesn't look to be much of a difference. However, the right hand photo was taken after coming home from a night out in London - a very windy night at that. So the fact that the level of frizz there is comparable to the left hand photo, which was taken after a wash and airdry entirely indoors, is a good thing in my book.

I'm pleased enough with the differences in both the feel and look of my hair that I'm going to continue this regime indefinitely.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Review: Superdrug Naturals Coconut/Sweet Almond Intensive Conditioner

I love the smell of coconut in the morning. Or in the evening, which is generally when I wash my hair. Such is my love of coconut-scented things that I'm 87% more likely to purchase a hair product if it smells of coconut (that's a scientific fact). And this was the case for this Superdrug Naturals intensive conditioner, which I picked up at the weekend.

Firstly, this product is cheap. Priced at just £1.85 for 400ml, this is definitely a bit of a bargain. Don't think that you're getting an inferior quality product though, oh no. This is one of the nicest intensive conditioners I've tried in a while. Gently scented with a sweet but not excessively sweet, very mildly coconutty scent, this is a very thick and rich product. Think butter at room temperature thick.

A good scoop distributed through the ends of the hair, and left on for a few minutes, left my hair feeling very soft, shiny, and well moisturised. Despite being silicone free, this product has that extra bit of 'slip' that I've been missing, and really feels like it's making a difference to my hair.

The only downside is that because of it's thickness, it can take a little longer than usual to rinse out of the hair. But that's a fairly minor point, and something I'm more than willing to do for such a lovely - and budget friendly - product.

If you'd like to try it yourself, you can get it at for £1.85.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Bobbi Brown Releases Mini Shimmerbricks for Christmas

Bobbi Brown has released new travel size Shimmer Bricks as a Christmas limited edition. Now housed within a swanky metal compact, there are three colours available - Plum, Nectar and Sandstone.

But here's the thing - each of these mini shimmer bricks costs a £42. That's significantly more than the regular sized-shimmer brick in the normal black plastic packaging, which costs £29.

The Bobbi Brown website makes it very difficult to compare the relative sizes of the bricks; the mini ones are described as being "5cm by 5cm" in size (which is really rather tiny), and the full size ones are described as ".4oz / 10.3g". Still, I don't think I could in any way justify spending £13 more on a smaller product, just because of the metal casing.

If you feel differently, you can find the whole shimmerbrick range at Bobbi Brown's website.

Selfridges and Grazia Beauty Competition

Selfridges and Grazia have teamed up to offer a beauty goody bag worth a whopping £700 to one lucky winner. The prize includes offerings from brands such as YSL, Dolce & Gabbana, Trish McEvoy, RMK, Clarins, Thierry Mugler, Lolita Lempicka and Illamasqua.

You can enter the competition through Grazia's website, where you'll need a login (you don't have to agree to receive email from Grazia, however). Entries are accepted up until the 1st of December.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

In defence of cleansing wipes

One of the things I like best about reading is that they aren't afraid to say what they think. I regularly laugh out loud when reading Aisling and Kirstie's opinions about things like Clarins moisturiser ("bangs like arse") and their own barnets ("I have POXY hair. I hate it"). However one thing I disagree about is their dislike of cleansing wipes.

Fair enough they aren't as good as a proper wash, and I wouldn't advocate using them as a replacement for "proper" skincare practices. But cleansing wipes are a versatile and highly practical invention that have a multitude of uses.

Here are my 10 compelling reasons for buying, using and loving cleansing wipes.

1. They are great for when you're drunk. Or tired. Or just can't be bothered with the whole "routine".

2. They make a great touch-up/mistake remover tool to have on hand while you're doing your makeup. Lauren Luke always uses wipes to tidy up mistakes when she's doing her tutorial videos, which is good enough endorsement for me.

3. They are also good for quickly cleaning your brushes after use to get the worst of your grip-tight hardcore waterproof liner off before it dries into an indestructible mass.

4. And while we're at the makeup table, wipes are also handy for dampening your brush when you're applying eyeshadow wet.

5. Keeping a pack of wipes in your bag is a good way to keep your hands clean while travelling. They make me feel slightly less revolting after I've been on the tube, and they're nots as drying as alcohol-based antiseptic gels.

6. Wipes can be a good ladies-loos last minute fix for frizzy hair before a date or meeting, especially the moisturising varieties. Just run lightly over the frizz for instant taming.

7. This may sound odd, but they're also very good for cleaning your keyboard.

8. Wipes don't do the full business on their own, we are agreed. But using them to remove a cream cleanser can work very well, and if you follow with toner and moisturiser you get a very thorough job.

9. Use a wipe or two to get all the loose shadow dust and powder off the inside of your makeup bag and the surfaces of other products after a spillage or packaging leak.

10. Lie back with a wipe folded over each eye to help quell a headache or hangover.

Review: Lipstick Queen Sinner Lipstick

Lipstick Queen was founded by Poppy King, a lady whose obsession with the lips and lip products led to the production of her first lipstick line when she was just 18 years old. Since then, Poppy has owned several lip-based businesses, and now runs Lipstick Queen, who aim to produce unusual lip products. They're an exclusive, niche brand - not widely available, and with a high end price tag.

I've wanted to try out the Sinner lipstick for ages. Billed as a 90% pigment matte lipstick, with a "opaque, rich and creamy with a matte yet silky finish", I took the opportunity to try out the Rose shade at Space NK's recent 20% off event. The range of shades is 10-strong,with nude, pink, red and brown shades on offer, all with a fairly browny base.

The lipstick comes in a slim black tube; there's nothing particularly original or interesting about the packaging. The product within, however, is undoubtably one of the best matte lipsticks I've ever tried. Most matte lipsticks are incredibly drying, and can be difficult to apply - but this is smooth and creamy, and while it doesn't glide onto the lips, there's no tugging to get good coverage.

The colour is completely opaque with one pass over the lips, and this stuff definitely lasts - I had a good 4 hours between top-ups, which in itself isn't unusual for a matte, but my lips didn't feel at all dry after those 4 hours - they felt soft and cushion-y. I'm in love with the formula. The overall effect is very 1940s glamour - perfectly matte, perfectly opaque, and still very lush looking.

If you'd like to try this one for yourself, you can find Lipstick Queen at Space NK, where a Sinner lipstick will cost you £16.15 for 4g.

NOTD: Nails Inc Shoreditch

As Sarah posted about a while back, Glamour are giving away Nails Inc polish with their December issue. After reading Sarah's post, I went out and bought a copy - ending up with this gorgeous shade, Shoreditch, and a magazine to read while it dried, for just £2. Bargain.

It's a bright, slightly orangey-pink colour with a cream finish, which to me just says "cheerful". Not a particularly wintery colour, but I know I could do with an injection of summer with all this rain we're having.

Nails Inc polishes are usually £10.50 at, or from salons and concessions nationwide.

Monday, 23 November 2009

How To: Pigment Pressing

If you're anything like me, you've probably got several shades of pigment, whether by MAC, Barry M or just plain mineral mica, which are in jars. If you're as clumsy as me, you've probably spilled them everywhere too. As a result of my clumsiness, I've stopped using my loose powder products so often, which narrows my makeup options down a bit.

I'd long heard of people pressing their pigments into palettes, so along with some supplies from Coastal Scents, I thought I'd have a go. Here's my step-by-step guide to pressing a pigment; I'm using blusher type shades and a large blush pan.

Gather some ingredients. Some pigment samples, a bottle of surgical spirit, an empty pan, and a stirring device. I used a cotton bud with the cotton removed at first, and later moved on to using a pearl-headed pin. You'll also need an extra cotton bud for dispensing the surgical spirit.

Start off by putting a few drops of surgical spirit into the bottom of the pan, by dipping a cotton bud into the bottle, then dripping it into the pan, to help the pigment stick.
Pile in your pigments. I think I used about half a teaspoon in total, per pan, to fill most of the space available.

Add a few drops of surgical spirit and mix mix mix with your cotton bud / pinhead. You're looking for a fairly creamy, medium thickness texture, a bit like cake batter - you can make it thinner, but it'll take longer to dry out. It's best to add the surgical spirit in a little bit at a time.

At this stage, I realised I didn't have nearly enough pigment in there. So I added some more. And some other colours, too, so I could build up an interesting shade. A couple more drops of surgical spirit, and a bit more mixing followed.

And then I ended up with a very pretty pink shade. To ensure that the surface is even, gently drop the pan from about an inch above the table onto the table surface. Repeating several times.
Leave to dry until any hint of glossiness is gone from the surface of your pigment mix.

Once the mixture is dry, pop a square of fabric (cotton or denim work well) over the top of it. Then, place something in the pan that's roughly the same size - for eyeshadow pans (which are smaller), coins work well, but for large blush pans, my Clarins facial oil bottle turned out to be the right size.

Balance a heavy book on top of the whole lot and leave to press.

Voila! A pressed pan of pale pink blusher. I popped it directly into my magnetic palette and went on to make another. The colour, you might notice, is a bit lighter than it looked when it was mixed up with the surgical spirit, so bear that in mind when mixing colours.

The colour pay-off of this is quite sheer, as I used mostly Apricot Pink pigment, which is a pale pink with lots of frost, and a small amount of Fuschia, which is more pigmented. The only downside I've found from this process is that the surgical spirit scent lingers on in the pressed pan - although I'm hoping that it'll fade in a few days.

I had a LOT of fun mixing colours and am quite proud of the finished product - and shortly will be on to filling up my empty 15 pan palette with eyeshadows too!

Coastal Scents: Makeup, Mica and More

Coastal Scents are a US based supplier of affordable makeup and supplies for those making their own bath or mineral makeup products. In fact, they're also one of the main mica wholesalers, if you'd like to go directly to the source for your mineral makeup.

Pictured on the left is their Ultra Shimmer 88-piece eyeshadow collection, which is a bit of a bargain at just $19.95. Although I've not tried it myself, it's had some good reviews, most of which conclude that this massive palette has good colour payoff and huge variety for such a tiny price.

I ordered some empty palettes and empty pans from them last week (more on what I'm using them for later!). I paid $19.19 shipping (around £11) - which sounds fairly expensive, but is only an extra pound over, say, Space NK's next day delivery. I placed my order on Monday afternoon UK time, and at lunchtime on Friday, my goods arrived. Very quick service from the US for a relatively low price.

With such quick shipping and such a wide range of products, I'll definitely be buying again.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Beauty Quest - UK beauty search engine

A new site has just been launched by the group who now own Kiss and Makeup (among other blogs). It's called The Beauty Quest. It's a price comparison site for cosmetics, health, fragrance, hair and men's grooming. There's also a blog, and a page tracking the current "top ten" special offers available on the UK market.

It's early days, but this looks like a promising new resource for UK shoppers.

Palestinian flag manicure

I did this for a friend of mine over the summer. She is passionately supportive of the Palestinian freedom movement. She got a few comments on it!

What I used: 17, Barry M and Barielle colours, plus a coat of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri topcoat to improve wear and speed up drying time.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Silicone & Shampoo Free: One Month In

Last month, I decided to make a radical change in my haircare routine and ditch shampoo and silicones, which in theory would give me softer, less dry hair, with better curl definition. It's now been four weeks since I washed my hair with shampoo - and I'm very impressed with the difference.

My hair is no longer particularly dry; it feels very soft at all times. My curls are much more defined than they ever have been, and even look more ringlet-y than they did before. And frizz? I only really get a little bit of frizz on the second day after washing now.

Two things thus far have convinced me that I'm on to a good thing: firstly, my recent sun-and-sea holiday. Spending most of the day in the sun, in the sea or the pool for a week usually leaves me with hair like straw. Washing my hair every evening with conditioner prevented the damage.

Secondly; I had my colour done very recently. My hairdresser said that she could feel the difference in my hair, that it was smoother and less dry. Since she's been my hairdresser for about 7 years, I'm taking that as a sign of a tangible result.

The only downside I've found is that my roots have a tendancy to get oily slightly quicker than before. Since I previously only washed my hair twice a week, I can cope with a slight increase of co-washing 3 -4 times a week.

As I've just had my colour done, I'm sporting a semi-straight blow dry, so no pictures this week, but I promise to take some next week. So far, so good!

Spa Specials in SW London

Well, I tried to alliterate as much of that title as possible, and mostly failed.

If you're in and around South West London much, you might be interested in some excellent Christmas offers from UR Beautiful, the surburban outpost of the Urban Retreat spa, which is located in Kingston-upon-Thames. Over the festive period they are offering a number of packages from £35 (1 hour 30m) to £150 (4 hours).

For £35, you could have a eyebrow shape, blow dry, and express manicure, or at the top of the scale, £150 will get you a facial, lash application, blow dry, and luxury manicure and pedicure. And each package comes with a 150ml Urban Retreat body shimmer to take away too.

The UR Beautiful spa is my local favourite; I've reviewed it in the past and would recommend it to anyone; at these prices, a visit is looking like a certainty in the very near future!

More details of all the packages can be found at the UR Beautiful website.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

NOTD: Zoya Freja & Inglot XL6

Excuse the ragged and nibbled cuticles, I'm due a proper manicure any day now! As my nails are rather short at the moment (I lopped them off before going on holiday), I decided to go dark. Zoya Freja is a deep gunmetal grey-silver, which is a nice compromise if you don't like to go full-on black on the nails. It goes on beautifully opaque in two coats and dries to a shimmery metallic finish.

I topped that off with some of my Inglot XL6 polish, which didn't work so well on it's own, but looks rather pretty on top of the Zoya base colour.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Space NK offering 20% Off Products

Space NK give us an offer that should make all the British beauty lovers feel better about not getting any Friends and Family sales on our side of the pond.

Using the code "FF201", you can get 20% off every product online. The offer runs from Thursday, 19th November, to 11.59pm on Saturday, 21st November. Maybe I can afford that Clarisonic after all....

Review: Olay Total Effects Night Cream

I remember when I was in my early teens, just starting to be able to afford cosmetics, I used to covet my mother's Olay moisturiser. It came in a fancy pump bottle like this one, and it seemed SO expensive. So, when I needed a new night cream recently, I found myself in Boots looking at the Olay display, and decided to try the Total Effects Night cream, in a bid to recapture my youth in more ways than one.

I'll admit I wasn't really expecting a lot from this cream. I've been using it for several weeks now, and I'm very pleasantly surprised. The cream is fairly light, yet still rich, and sinks in very quickly. In the morning, my skin is soft, plumped up and smooth, with no residual oiliness or that film that too-rich creams can give. Three weeks on, my skin is much smoother, the tone seems more even, and I'm fairly sure that my hated frown lines are looking less deep too.

The packaging is also a win for me - the very hygienic pump bottle allows you to dispense exactly the right amount of cream while keeping it safe from the air and contamination from the fingers. The only downside I can think of is that I'm not sure how I'll know when it's empty. The price of this cream is also pretty fab - at around £16, I think that on balance, it out performs my previous £45 Darphin cream.

If you'd like to try it for yourself you can find it at Boots, for £16.63 for 50ml, and many other places - Olay is very widely stocked.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Sleek EOTD

Just a quick picture post tonight (because I'm deathly tired and about to clamber into a bath with a copy of Chat magazine because that's all my battered intellect can cope with) - here's an EOTD I did at the weekend with the Sleek Acid Palette. I'd been concerned about using this because my experience with the original Sleek i-Divine palette was that it stained my skin, but the matte colours in the Acid palette at any rate didn't give me any problems at all. In fact they were a lot of fun and easy to work with. Yay to that.

I used: Sleek palette in Acid (£4.89)
MAC Royal Wink Fluidline (discontinued, but try Urban Decay Radium liquid liner, £12 as a more shimmery substitute.)
Brows: Illamasqua brow powder in Motto
Urban Decay Primer Potion

Sorry for the rather hopeless focusing in the middle one - hopefully you get the idea.

Review: Collection 2000 Glam Metallics Coloured Liquid Eyeliner

Since my last Collection 2000 foray, Glam Crystal Liner, turned out to be so damn good, I decided that I'd buy another one. As I chose my new colour I noticed another liner product in some lovely looking colours. Glam Metallics Coloured Liquid Eyeliner purports to be a metallic, water resistant liquid liner, and comes in 6 jewel toned shades. I picked up Ripped, a metallic purple.

Unfortunately I was disappointed by the product itself; while the glitter liner gives opaque coverage after two coats, this one definitely doesn't - the liner itself is slightly watery and after two coats the colour was still too sheer for my liking. It did have a slight metallic sheen, but without the depth of colour behind it, the overall effect was a bit meh.

If you'd like to try it for yourself, you can find the Collection 2000 range at Boots, Tesco, or Superdrug. Mine was £2.63 from Boots. You can also learn more at Collection 2000's website.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Review - Surya Amazonia Preciosa hair mask

This was a product that was sent to us free of charge to review.

On the deck today is the Amazonia Preciosa Cupuacu Revitalizing Hair Mask by Surya. (What is it with me and really long product names lately?)

This is a seriously eco-focused product. It's ECOCERT accredited. It's made of sustainably sourced Brazilian rainforest native plants and housed in recyclable PET packaging. The company are heavily invested in sustainable production policies and employ local people to harvest their ingredients. I'm not kidding. This mask? It positively gleams with virtue.

The question is - did my hair gleam, virtuously or otherwise, after using it?

Well, it's definitely a luxurious experience using this cream conditioner, which applies to the hair and is worn for 20 minutes under a hot towel before rinsing. With my hair wrapped up and a facemask on at the same time I felt quite decadent.

However, and this is a wholly personal thing, this product smells quite powerfully of almonds. I guess that the Cupuacu nut is a relative of the almond, going by the marizipan-like smell. The trouble is that I don't like almonds, and this marred the experience for me.

It took quite a lot of product for my hair to feel "covered" - there's not much "slip" to it, probably due to its being silicone free - it's almost like moisturiser or body lotion in texture. I guess I used up about 1/4 of the 120g tube.

After 20 minutes I had no trouble rinsing it out and my hair felt quite nice, tangle-free and generally happy. After drying though, I didn't feel that there was much difference to my hair. Usually when I use a leave-in conditioner I notice a marked improvement in the look and feel of my hair afterwards.

It's a shame, because the way the company seem to approach their business really does appeal to me (although I'm a little confused as to how shipping or air-freighting products all the way from Brazil can be carbon-friendly - nitpicking maybe). It's often (though not always!) sadly true that products with low impact on the environment also have low impact in terms of what they were designed to do.

I will say that I maybe should have used the mask designed for curly hair, since although I often wear my hair straight it is naturally curly and therefore probably more dry by nature. I could have chosen, in fact, from 5 masks in the range - Buriti, for dyed and damaged hair, Murumuru for oily hair, Brazil Nut for dry and fragile hair, or Ucuuba for curly hair. The one I had is for normal hair. Each mask also has a shampoo and conditioner in the same "flavour".

Amazonia Preciosa products are available at Liberty. The mask I tried retails at £10. Learn more at the Surya website.

No. 7 Ultimate Collection

Wow. Boots' latest offer of the week is this box o'No. 7 goodies, down from £60 to just £40. It has a value of £133, apparently, although that's worked out via price per ml, which I don't entirely trust - I wouldn't really want to pay for a 5ml sample of anything. But still, there's a huge amount of product there for a small price, encompassing both skincare and makeup:

  • Cleanser, toner, eye makeup remover, day and night creams, moisture mask, and a 5ml sample of Protect and Perfect Intense
  • 12 eye shadow shades (total of 12g)
  • 6 lipstick shades (total of 7.2g)
  • 2 blusher shades
  • An Extreme Length Mascara
  • A brush set
  • A jewellery case
I can think of many people who'd appreciate this as a gift, and many people who'd be equally likely to buy it for themselves!

If that's not enough for you, this is also on 3-for-2 with Boots' other Christmas gift sets. Think I might need to start stocking up....

If you'd like one of these, or if you'd like to drop a really big hint, you can find the set at and instore.

Max Factor Second Skin Foundation Samples

I've been reading a lot lately about Max Factor's newest foundation, Second Skin. It's being touted as a very good high street buy by many beauty bloggers, and Max Factor are helpfully offering free samples. About ten days ago, I requested my sample, and it popped through the letterbox this morning.

While it does dry down to a lovely semi-matte natural finish, and feels very soft and smooth on the skin, the two shades I received were both medium toned - both way too dark for my very pale skin - so I couldn't really apply to my whole face and test it out for a day.

If you've got more medium toned skin - I think everyone gets samples of the Natural and Golden shades - you can request some free samples at Max Factor's site.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

New shades from Boots No. 7 - Totally Teal

I buy my lunch from Boots nearly every day at the moment, and I usually pick up something or other I need at the same time. As a result I end up with a wallet full of free £5 No.7 vouchers every time Boots do that promotion. If I get around to using them, it's usually nail polish I buy, as the voucher brings the price down to less than £2.

Although the latest run of the voucher promotion has now expired, another one is sure to be along soon, so I was very interested to see 3 new shades of nail polish added to the range. As well as a deep silver/gunmetal and (I think!) a deep purple colour, there's a shade called Totally Teal.

I happened to be wearing Illamasqua's "Muse" teal polish the day I noticed these, and the colour match between my nails and the look of the colour in the bottle was pretty much dead-on.

I can't imagine the Boots' polish will have the same creamy opacity or lasting power as Muse, but it could prove to be a great value dupe, and No.7 nail polish is usually quite good quality. Keep it in mind for the next £5 voucher promotion!

There are also 3 new glitter eyeliners from No.7, but having seen Gemma's rave about Collection 2000's budget version, I think I'll visit c2000 for my glitter needs.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Review - Perfect Veil by Sarah Horowitz/Creative Scentualization

For several years, "my" scent has been Pure Grace by Philosophy, which is a light "shower fresh" fragrance that fits into what the beauty world has termed the "my-skin-but-better" school of fragrances.

Due to my magpie-like nature and love of variety, I have been compelled to seek out other scents of this type, and have discovered and loved Carriere by Gendarme, Clean Ultimate by D'Lish and Dirty by B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful - all of which pay a persuasive tribute to just-out-of-the-shower freshness and naturally nice-smelling skin. (I'm possibly making it sound here as if I don't wash or have some BO problem, but I assure you that's not the case.)

So this led me to the discovery of Perfect Veil, a slight twist on the theme. It's not a "fresh" or soap-and-water scent, rather it's a very light, slightly musky, slightly sweet "skin" smell.
From the Sarah Horowitz site;

"The concept behind this scent was to recreate the smell of clean, naked skin ... only better. Exquisite and subtle when worn alone, it may also be layered to increase any fragrance's warmth and staying power. This scent captured an immediate following upon its release as well as the attention of the national press. Perfect Veil is enjoyed by both men and women."

"Warmth" is the key factor here - as soon as I apply this I get a cosy wood-type top note, slightly cloying even, which gives way to a heart that is very much animal and musky rather than soapy or breezy like my other favourites. It's sweet, but it's a kind of complex, edgy sweetness with a definite sensual edge of "dirt" (I know there's probably a proper perfumer-word for that, but it's what springs to mind) in there too.

It has excellent lasting power,
something that Pure Grace in particular lacks, and it sticks around as a calmer and more subtle presence as the day or evening progresses. I would absolutely wear this on a date, or as my scent on a night out. I think it's a bit "rawrr!" for daytime, but maybe I'm just inured to my "safe" clean scents.

I really recommend this one - it's available from Luckyscent, who do a great sample service. You can try this one out for $3 for a 0.7ml vial.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Review: Collection 2000 Glam Crystal Dazzling Gel Liner

I picked up one of Collection 2000's glitter eyeliners recently while shopping at Tesco - mostly because I was attracted by the highly sparkly purple shade just calling me from the display. And man, am I glad I did!

I absolutely adore anything with glitter in it, and as a result I have a few different glitter eyeliners which unfortunately don't really get used that often. The ones I've tried in the past have always been slightly flaky, fairly sparsely glittery, and generally a bit of a waste of time.

But not this one, oh no. The glitter is pretty dense, and two coats applied thinly along my upper lashline gave me a fully opaque, beautifully glittery line of colour. Not only was the colour and application fantastic ; it also lasted all day without flaking, smudging or budging. And at only £2.93 each, I'll definitely be buying a few more - especially as this is the first product in some time that has had people asking what I'm wearing, because it looks great!

You can find out more at the Collection 2000 website; these are widely available at Boots, Tesco, and Superdrug.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Review: Naked Rescue Intensive Conditioner

Naked produce a range of "97% natural" products which are free from petrochemicals, harsh surfectants, and parabens. As a result, their range of conditioners are suitable for my silicone free, shampoo free hair routine, so I picked up a tube of their Rescue intensive conditioner from Boots.

This fresh-scented intensive conditioner contains shea nut butter and olive oil extracts, and is targeted at damaged, frizzy hair. While it is quite rich, the texture of the conditioner is actually quite light; it distributes through the hair evenly, and produces an odd light frothing effect as it mingles with the water in the hair.

The effects are somewhat different from what you usually get from a silicone-heavy intensive conditioner - that feeling of slip and extreme smoothness when you rinse the conditioner out is not there. That's not to say that the hair doesn't feel more moisturised and much smoother - it definitely does. It also doesn't weigh the hair down, leaving it soft and light.

If you're interested, you can try it for the very wallet-friendly price of £3.91 for 250ml at

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Review: Eau Thermal Avene Cleanance Purifying Anti-Shine Lotion

I'd always strolled past the Eau Thermal Avene concession at Boots, and I'm not really too sure why - possibly because their packaging is more simple and elegant than brightly coloured and shiny, which I'm generally more attracted to. Anyway, after accidentally overmoisturising my skin and ending up with some spots and oiliness, I decided I wanted a gentle toner to clear my skin out a bit, without overly drying it out.

I decided to try Eau Thermal Avene's Cleanance Purifying Anti-Shine Lotion. It has a very long name, and as with all of the products in the range, contains a high proportion of spring water. It takes the form of a dual-layered liquid which is shaken to produce an opaque fluid, which doesn't sting when applied to the skin, but does seem to lift off any excessive oil.

My skin was left feeling fresh, clean and ready to be moisturised, but I'm not particularly convinced that I experienced any less shine than usual; my t-zone can become shiny half way through the day, and still did with this product. I imagine that for someone with oily or very oily skin, it would make very little difference. For my dry/combination skin, however, this is a lovely freshening lotion, which lifts off extra oiliness without being drying.

If you're curious to try it yourself, you can find it at, £8.49 for 200ml.

Superdrug Haul - GOSH and Elite

I did a haul.

I couldn't help it. The multi-purchase offers made me do it. Elite cosmetics were 2 for 1, and GOSH (as it so agreeably often is) was 3 for 2.

GOSH Eyeshadow Collection 01 Smokey Eye (LE) £8.99
Elite Secret Cheeks Blush £6.85 (much more pink and less orange IRL)
GOSH Extreme Artliner shade 18 £6.85
Elite Repulp! gloss 07 Golden Pink £6.85
GOSH nail polish Wild Lilac £4.89

I feel guilty, but gleeful, like a child who has scampered away from the kitchen with cheeks stuffed with stolen chocolate cake.

I know you'll all be interested to take a look at the GOSH LE palette, so here are some swatches and pics. It is of course designed to help you create Ye Olde Smokey Eye, which as we all know has been "in this season" since the dawn of time, and so is a useful set of staple shades for any collection.

The palette has quite a solid, sleek construction, and the shades are a pigmented low-shimmer finish that I really like. Once I've binned those foam applicators I think I am going to have fun with it. There are nice thorough instructions on the box too, and they even suggest a nail polish shade to complement the look.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Review: Cargo PurseGloss

A recent trip to Sainsbury's netted me a Cargo PurseGloss, a little tiny lipgloss which is sized to fit into your purse. I believe that American purses are equal to British handbags, so I'm slightly unsure as to why you'd need a tiny lipgloss to fit in your handbag - even the smallest of clutches can hold a slim tube of gloss.

Anyway, on to the product itself - it's essentially a small squishy bulb of gloss with a built-in brush. You squeeze the bulb, gloss comes out of the brush, you apply, that's that. Nothing hugely exciting or surprising there.

The formula, however, was a bit of a surprise. Smooth and shiny, combined with that lovely cushiony, almost lip-balm-y texture that feels weightless and totally unsticky. With such a light formula, it doesn't last for ages, but I'd rather have something that's short lived and feels good than something that's sticky and long lasting.

Mine was a bit of a bargain at £2.20 at Sainsbury's; if they have any left, this is well worth the price. I would probably even pay full price for something that feels this good on the lips.

NOTD Nails Inc Victoria - free with December's Glamour magazine

Here's nails inc's "Victoria" polish as worn on my short nails. It's a very very deep red, though it just about manages not to look brown when worn. A true red-black. This is three coats.

Glamour magazine are giving away Victoria with their December issue along with 3 other shades - Tate (bright red), South Molton Street (neutral pink) and Piccadilly Circus (hot pink). You can see the shades at the nails inc website.

Glamour costs £2, so even if you don't read the magazine this is an £8.50 saving on the RRP of these shades. Worth buying a couple! All shades are boxed, so you could also give them as gifts if you're not a particular fan of the colours.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Fake MAC Mineralize on eBay

For the last couple of years I have been living with a low background hum of outrage over the state of eBay trading. Not so much the massive fees etc (that's another story) but the number of fakes that are peddled on the site. I've lost count of the number of reports I've made to eBay about these, but there comes a point where you just have to sit back and laugh at the ridiculous fakeness of the fakes.

Some of them are quite convincing. Some of them really really aren't. Today I've found this gem.

It's a Hello Kitty Antiquitease Mineralize eyeshadow! Of course that existed. Of course it was packaged in such a classy fashion. Oh dear.

I wrote a post about how to spot fakes earlier this year. (Although if you can't tell that Hello Kitty up there isn't kosher at first sight then I'm afraid I'll just have to pray for you.)

On a note of more concern - it seems it is now possible to fake Mineralize-style baked products, something that was previously thought to be a fairly safe bet. If you are a collector of MAC MSFs and go to eBay for your LE items, please do take extra care.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Free Lashes from Boots 17

Nip along to your local Boots this weekend and get a pair of false lashes for free when you spend five pounds.

There's also a slinky new collection of dark, glittery products for the Christmas party season available from the range - three glitter liners and three nail polishes. Between the two, you could put together a party look for less than a tenner.

I do love 17's free-with-a-fiver deals. Happy Friday!

Holiday Beauty: Travelling Light

When I go abroad, I have to resist the temptation to pack cosmetics for every possible eventuality. That's all well and good when you know the weather isn't going to melt most of your makeup off your face! I'm off on a much-delayed honeymoon soon and have been turning to some trusty multi-taskers which are hot-weather appropriate and take up as little space as possible.

Cleansing oil is a fantastic space-saver - it cleanses the skin and removes makeup, even stubborn waterproof stuff, in one go. So no need for separate cleanser and makeup remover and cotton pads.

I love MAC Cleanse Off Oil, £15 for 150ml, not just because it dissolves even MAC's budge-proof waterproof eyeliners, but because 6 empties = a free lipstick.

A multi-use product can give you blusher, lip and eye colour in one stick. In hot weather, I tend to abandon any attempt at matte skin and embrace the glowy look, so a cream formula goes quite nicely.

NARS The Multiple, £27, is great for eyes, lips and cheeks. Or, the classic Benetint by Benefit, which gives a pretty rosy flush to lips and cheeks - available in a handy dual-ended tube with a clear lipgloss, at £14, for even more usage options in one package.

Urban Decay Cream Eyeshadow, £9.79, is the only eyeshadow I've found that stays put on my slightly oily lids without primer underneath. Perfect for hot evenings, and no need to take primer as well.

Waterproof mascara is a must, even if you're not going to wear it in the pool. Lancome Hypnose Waterproof, £19.50, has always served me well, being melt and smudge proof - unfortunately I've yet to find anything quite waterproof enough to survive a swim.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Events: Carnaby 20% Shopping Party

In case you've not heard, Grazia Magazine are holding a shopping evening on Thursday 12th November from 5pm til 9pm. Many shops in the Carnaby area are offering 20% off, but you need to register to get a ticket via the Carnaby website.

Some of the more beauty focussed outfits taking part include MAC, Pixi, Neal's Yard Remedies, the Beauty Lounge, and Cowshed. Sounds like one not to be missed!

Review: Method Almond Flower Hand Wash

Full disclosure: We were sent this product by a PR to review on the LondonBeautyReview. That doesn't mean that the following review is biased; we promise to give the same honest opinions for all products, whether we paid for them ourselves or were given them to try out.

My first thought, when I received this handwash, was that it looks quite cool. Under the cardboard sleeve, the bottle is square, textured, and very chunky. I imagine that if you had a shiny ultra modern bathroom, this'd look right at home in it.

Method describe themselves as "people against dirty", and sell a small range of handwash and baby toiletries alongside a range of household cleaners. Their USP is that they make products which are derived from "plants not chemical plants", and are against animal testing. Their products are free from "parabens, EDTA or antibacterial agents" and their packaging is all recyclable.

Priced at £3.99, this handwash is the moisturising Almond Flower variety. The first time I tried it, I was surprised by how much effort I had to put into getting a lather - unlike conventional handwashes, the Method product doesn't produce masses of foam. I'm guessing that's down to the lack of SLS in the ingredients; the lack of SLS means that straight off, this product won't be quite so drying as other handwashes. The scent is light and pretty; it smells creamy and gently floral, is definitely not overpowering, and doesn't linger once you've dried your hands. And indeed - it cleaned my hands perfectly well, and left them feeling very soft compared to other handwashes I've used in the past.

If you're a green-thinking person, this product might appeal to you with its earth-friendly credentials. For me, I'll happily use the rest of the bottle, and may well repurchase if I happen across it.

If you'd like to learn more, or try it for yourself, you'll find more info and an online shop at Method's website.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Value vs. Vanity - Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel and Botanics Organic Face Nourishing Eye Make up Remover

Contender - rrrrrrrrrrready!
Gladiator - rrrrrrrrrrrrrrready!!

OK, not a massively original idea for a post - today I'm comparing a high end product with a low-end dupe and deciding if An Saving can be made.

Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel has been resident in my bathroom for about a year now, and I've finished two tubes in that time. It's a cleansing oil makeup remover in the vein of MAC and Shu Uemura's, but it comes in the form of a gel, so there's less risk of spillage and it's easier to apply. The gel is rubbed onto the skin where it reverts to oil state in response to body heat and pressure, and there it unites with the oils present on the face and the dirt trapped with them. Then with the addition of water, the whole lot emulsifies into a milky consistency and is easily rinsed away. It's quite foolproof and leaves the skin soft and feeling very clean. I use it when I am very tired because - and I know this is morally EVIL - I can get away without moisturising afterwards.

It costs around £19 per 125ml tube.

Boots Botanics Organic Face Nourishing Eye Make up Remover (and I would love to shake the hand of the copywriter who came up with that catchy name) is a similar idea, and is made with olive oil. It's designed for the eyes in particular, but you could certainly use it on the rest of your face too. It comes in a smaller tube - 75ml, and has a thicker consistency. Though it will rub down to an oil with a bit of persistence, it doesn't have the "melt" factor of the Clarins. I also didn't feel that it quite transformed into the milk phase completely - there was still a greasiness to my skin after I removed it. Finally another drawback was that after use my eyes were slightly blurry with residual oil in my lashes and around my eyes.

But it did remove my makeup very effectively, and it wins points for being organic and free of parabens etc. The ingredients list is short and sweet and contains nothing I can't pronounce - and that's definitely more than can be said for the Clarins, which contains quite a lot of chemical compounds that I don't understand and therefore instinctively mistrust.

The Botanics one (I'm not typing out the name again) costs £4.89 or thereabouts (it hasn't appeared on Boots' antiquated old website yet, so this is from memory - but it's not more than £5 for sure) for a 75ml tube. So it's less than half the price, ml for ml, of the Clarins product.

Verdict - despite lacking a bit of finesse, the Boots version wins on grounds of economy and use of unrefined ingredients.

Barbie beauty at New Look - yet another doll-based collection

When MAC did a Barbie collection, I was surprised. When Stila did a Barbie collection, I was mildly curious. Now, New Look have done a Barbie collection. New Look aren't even a makeup company! What gives?

The collection between a blonde pneumatic doll and cosmetic lines is not obvious to me at all. Perhaps it's some kind of branding link aimed at snaring young consumers into makeup purchasing? Maybe it's nostalgia marketing, designed to pique the interest of the young-at-heart? Perhaps Mattel are putting feelers out into a new industry and are using the Barbie brand as a kind of bridge?

Very odd. The New Look Barbie collection is released in stores this weekend and features lipgloss, blush, mascara, lashes, palettes, nail sets, a face mask, a bronzer kit, and even accessories like pyjamas, makeup bag and a watch, according to the press release we received (though not apparent on the website). The release coincides with Barbie's 50th anniversary. And, obviously, the Christmas shopping season.

The range looks cute, and would be a fun gift for anyone you know with a soft spot for the pocket-sized bombshell. It looks relatively upmarket too. One thing we do notice is that the branding on the products is the same as the MAC range - a logo of a head with a high ponytail in profile. The photography looks similar too. I wonder what went on between the three companies!

If you want to get "dolled up" (arf!) like the pink mannequin, check out the collection at Pricing starts at £4.00 and ranges up to £30 for the larger items.
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