Friday, 30 January 2015

Clarins Blush Prodige Illuminating Cheek Colour in Sweet Rose

Meet my new favourite blush - Clarins' Blush Prodige, which isn't a new product, in Sweet Rose, which is a new shade for their Spring 2015 Garden Escape collection.  The chunky palette contains a big pan of matte rose pink, with smaller pans of deeper pink and shimmery peach - swirled together, they make for a fresh, rosy, slightly glowy but definitely not sparkly flush.

I suspect the reason that the finish is so natural is down to the fineness of the powder within the compact - it's almost dusty and crumbly, and a gentle swirl with a brush picks up plenty of super-soft powder which buffs easily into the skin.

At £26, Blush Prodige is a little on the expensive side, but for a natural flush which works with a variety of looks, I think it's worth the cash, particularly as a little goes a long way.  Just make sure you throw away the included brush and use your fluffiest blush brush, as this stuff is worthy of a gentle veil across the cheekbones, rather than a more precise application.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Treatment Review: Philosophy Lunch Time Peel at Debenhams Oxford Street

Philosophy have ventured into treatments for the first time, giving fans a chance at a half an hour long lunchtime personalised pick me up.  Situated in the beauty room in the shiny new beauty hall at Debenhams Oxford Street, the treatment promises radiant skin in a flash.

First off, the treatment room is one of those used by multiple brands on a rotating basis, so it's fairly pared back and simple in its decoration - not a problem for Philosophy, whose stark white packaging looks very much at home in the stark white room.  When I visited, Krenara the therapist told me that Philosophy has been a runaway success so far - she's been booked up ahead of time for twenty slots a week, where bigger brands such as Dior and Givenchy have struggled to get even a single booking during their weeks in the room.

I suspect that part of the reason why is the therapist herself - I visited on her birthday, and her super-smooth, glowing skin made her look much, much younger than she told me she was turning.  Her passion for the products is obvious, and she explained every step of the treatment as she completed it - I left feeling well educated about the brand alongside the glowing skin.

The treatment itself is a pretty quick and simple affair - makeup is removed with a cleanser (don't worry, you can keep your eye makeup on), followed by the Microdelivery Peel application, which happens in two steps - crystals followed by an acidic solution which reacts on the skin to form a white foam.  Once that's been thoroughly massaged in and then removed, the skin is treated to an application of serum or oil, eye cream, and a moisturiser, all tailored to your skin type.  The treatment finishes with a spritz of your choice of Philosophy fragrances - I chose the one which smells of the ocean, which was a lovely invigorating way to finish a very relaxing treatment.

Afterwards, my skin looked bright and glowy, and I even met some friends for drinks later on without reapplying my foundation.  The next day, the brightness continued, and my skin felt incredibly soft.

For a half hour treatment, I was surprised at how effective it was - and I was impressed that all this is offered to customers for a mere £10 booking fee, redeemable against Philosophy skincare products.  Even if you don't want to indulge in any product, £10 is a very reasonable price to pay for an instant glow.  Upcoming dates, if you too would like to indulge:
  • John Lewis Cardiff:  2nd - 7th February       
  • Boots Cardiff - 9th - 14th February
  • Boots Fort - 2nd - 7th February
  • Debenhams Silverburn - 9th - 14th February  
  • Debenhams Glasgow - 16th - 21st February     
  • Debenhams London Oxford Street - 2nd - 7th February           
  • Debenhams Newcastle - 2nd - 7th February             
  • Debenhams Meadowhall -  23rd - 28th February    
  • Debenhams Liverpool - 23rd - 28th February
  • Debenhams Chester -  9th - 14th February

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary treatment for review purposes.

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Tom Ford Black Orchid

I picked up Tom Ford's Black Orchid Eau de Parfum at a recent 10% off sale at Debenhams - it definitely was a 'want' purchase rather than a 'need' purchase, particularly at £52 for a 30ml bottle.  It's absolutely gorgeous, though, and well worth every penny, especially if you're a lover of deep, mysterious, spicy fragrances.

The first spritz opens with a flash of bright white flowers, with an almost nose-quiveringly strong alcoholic note.  Behind that initial assault, there's a slight pepperiness which slowly deepens and becomes richer as it warms into the skin.  Once it's developed, there's a lovely warm richness to it, with the tiniest taste of bitter chocolate wrapped up in spices and vanilla - but it's saved from being a gourmand fragrance by the subtle citrus notes which freshen it up, and a hint of amber which works with the spices to make it feel entirely rich and grown up.

I've used the word 'rich' a lot in this description, and that's the scent I live with whilst I wear it - rich, sumptuous and spicy.  It's very grown up, a bit sultry, and very, very unique.  I love it.  Not quite as much as I love Tobacco Vanille, which still smacks me round the face with its sheer intensity every time I wear it, but as a slightly less heady day-to-day fragrance, Black Orchid is fabulous.

Disclosure:  Bought by me.

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Quick Pick: Jo Hansford Voluminous Spray

I don't usually go for volumising products on my hair - it's thick, fluffy texture means that I generally want to reduce the volume rather than increase it.  A few haircuts ago, though, my hairdresser took a good chunk of weight out of the midlengths, leaving it much less fluffy than usual, and in need of a boost at the roots.  Luckily, I received this new Voluminous Spray from colour maestro Jo Hansford, and since then, it's been a regular part of my hair styling routine.

Voluminous Spray is a super lightweight mist with a delicate fragrance.  It's designed to give volume and body to fine or limp hair, whilst also protecting the hair from heat.  This is a good point - my usual combination of blowdry creams protects my lengths, but I never put them on my roots, which means my roots were sort of unprotected until I started using this product.

Anyway, spritzed into the roots before blow drying, I definitely notice that my hair has lots more volume - if I really emphasise volume by drying my hair in the opposite direction to the way it lays flat, I get some serious bouffe.  Added to my normal styling regime, it's a more subtle effect (thankfully).  I'm most impressed by the lasting power - my hair stays full all day, and in the morning a bit of a shake through with my fingers at the roots reinvigorates the volume.

In summary, then, I'm seriously impressed, and will probably repurchase once the bottle is finished - although I suspect it'll be a long time coming, as the six or seven spritzes I use barely makes a dent in the amount of liquid in the bottle.  Find it now at Jo Hansford's website, where it costs a spendy but not exorbitant £18.50.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Beat the January blues with free Max Factor Colour Elixir Lipsticks in Ruby Tuesday!

Apparently, Monday is Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year.  Perhaps because it's still so cold, perhaps because the shine has worn off the Christmas presents, and perhaps (definitely in my case) because that Christmas weight is still stubbornly clinging on.

Max Factor are rather charmingly giving away free Colour Elixir lipsticks in Ruby Tuesday to pep up your Monday - the only catch is that you'll need to be travelling through London's Liverpool Street station, or Manchester's Piccadilly Station to nab one.  I can't believe it was 2011 when the Colour Elixir range was first released - Ruby Tuesday was one of the stand out shades for me then, with it's bold classic red tone, comfortable texture and brilliant wear time.

The Max Factor team will be handing out lipstick from 7.30AM - first come first served, and unsurprisingly there's a limited supply available, so if you fancy a free lipstick to start your week off, be there early!

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Illamasqua Glamore Lipstick in Virgin

I'm a fan of Illamasqua's newest lipstick formula, Glamore - it's much more comfortable to wear than their original, intensely matte formula.  This shade is called Virgin, and it's a classic true red with a satiny finish and a lovely comfortable feel on the lip.  The fact that it's a collaboration with the reddest of airlines, Virgin Atlantic, might have passed you by, since Illamasqua do like to name their lipsticks in a semi-sexual manner, but a collaboration it is - Virgin's cabin crew wear this shade to match their red uniforms.

Side note - my stepson thinks that an excellent alternative career for me would be to work on Virgin Atlantic, because I have red hair, and that would clearly give me an advantage in the application process.

Anyway - if you're looking for a comfortable red lipstick at a mid-range price (£18.50 does seem to be a mid-range price nowadays), this is a good one to try.  Add to that a decent 4 hour wear time before softening down to a muted ruby stain, and you've got a good all round classic red.  The fact that it's from a home grown brand is a bonus, too.

Find it online and in-store at Illamasqua now.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Quick Pick: Ojon Colour Sustain PRO Shampoo & Conditioner

Ojon's Colour Sustain PRO range is everything colour-treated hair needs:  sulphate free, gentle, and moisturising without being heavy.  I've been using them for the last couple of weeks and I'm seriously impressed - to the extent that I've unconsciously reached for them every time I wash my hair.  The shampoo lathers up pretty well for something without sulphates, leaving even my bleached hair tangle free and soft rather than a bit Velcro like.  The conditioner is surprisingly moisturising for something with a light, fluid texture - I apply it to the mid-lengths and ends of my hair only, and it leaves my hair feeling supple and silky without any added weight or heaviness.

The only slight downside is that these products are pretty pricey - £18.50 for 250ml of shampoo, and £20.50 for 250ml of conditioner.  A cheaper alternative is L'Oreal Hair Expertise range, which costs under £5 per product, although the Ojon versions are more luxurious and leave the hair feeling slightly lighter.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

£52? REALLY? By Terry Terrybly Densiliss Blush in Flash Fiesta

Terry de Gunzburg has expanded her original (and lovely if very expensive) Densiliss foundation into a mini line of its own, which includes primer, concealer, and blush - everything you need for a good foundation for your makeup, then.  The premise is that Densiliss not only delivers a beautiful finish, but contains skincare ingredients which add extra anti-aging oomph to your daily routine.  Today I've got one of the Densiliss Blushes to show you.

As you can see, the packaging is very shiny (you can probably see the reflection of my flash gun in the top picture) and very heavy - it definitely feels luxurious.  Because of that weightiness, it doesn't actually sit flat when opened up - rather, the compact rocks back and balances just below the hinge, which is a little bit annoying if you like to dip your brush into a compact which is resting on your dressing table.

This shade is Flash Fiesta, a bright coral.  The blush itself is embossed with Terry's name, and looks every bit as expensive as the compact.

On the skin, it gives a lovely soft flush with a very real-skin finish; nothing powdery or overly shimmery about this blush.  The pigmentation is on the medium side, which means you can build it up to the intensity you want - I used a good couple of swirls of a brush to achieve this level of flush, which I found a bit surprising as I have many other blushes which impart much more pigment per swirl.

Overall then, Flash Fiesta is a lovely shade, and Densiliss Blush is a lovely blush (albeit in slightly annoying packaging).  But... the kicker, as always with By Terry, is the price.  This blush costs £52, and whilst it's definitely a nice blush, it's not £52 worth of nice.  Unless you have very deep products, adore overpriced products, or own shares in By Terry, I'd pass on this one - Clinique's Cheek Pops are similar on the skin and cost a much more reasonable £16.50.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil in Honey

Clarins' spring collection, appropriately named Garden Escape, contains a little tube which I reckon is going to be the front runner of a new beauty trend for 2015.  Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil is one of the first lip oils to emerge in the market, and it's available in two shades - this one, which is called Honey, and an online exclusive called Raspberry, which is a soft pink.

Supplied with a big, firm applicator, it's clearly more of a treatment product than it is a colour product.  Honey looks yellow in the tube, but applies clear - in the photo above my lips are a little red from doing lots of swatching, and the Lip Comfort Oil has added only the shine.

The premise of lip oils is similar to lip balms, just made with more oil and less wax.  This one is made of 100% natural oils, and includes hazlenut oil as a natural preservative.  With all that oil included, I was expecting Lip Comfort Oil to be, well, oily, and to leave my lips slippy.  The texture is actually much thicker than I expected - it's the texture of liquid honey without the stickiness, and if it didn't have the word oil on the tube I don't think I'd describe it as an oil at all.

So, if it's essentially a thick, non-sticky clear lipgloss which feels remarkably light on the lips, what's the point?  As a treatment product, it definitely imparts plenty of moisture into the lips - akin to the moisture I get from my favourite Lanolips balms - whilst at the same time giving a lovely glossy finish.  If you're looking for a glossy effect with serious conditioning benefits, it's great - but it's still not really an oil in the traditional sense.

If you're curious, you'll find these online and in store in February, costing £18.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Lippmann-a-Like: BeautyBay The Collection Nail Polish

Left to right:  It's a Starry Sky on Wall Street, Champagne's Flowing on Hollywood Boulevard,
Fairy Lights Twinkle on Fifth Avenue
I didn't know BeautyBay did nail polish until these landed on my doorstep a little while ago.  And what nail polishes they are - for anyone who's a fan of Deborah Lippmann's complex glitter/shimmer finishes, these three are an absolute joy.  Particularly since they're a fraction of the price of a Lippmann polish at just £5 each (currently discounted to £2.50), with a 5-for-£9.95 deal making them even cheaper.

It's a Starry Sky on Wall Street has a black base with gold, copper and greenish gold glitter, with a smattering of very fine holographic particles.  It's opaque in two medium-thick coats and lasts for ages - I've worn it for a week before with only minor tipwear.  It's not all out flashy, but it is very interesting on the nail, and catches the light in a more subtle way than more twinkly glitters.

Champagne's Flowing on Hollywood Boulevard is one of those soft champagne golds which glows on the nail and isn't too yellow toned.  There's silver and gold glitter in there, and the overall effect is classy and pretty.  Application on this one is good, too, with no brush marks and wear time of around four days on my nails.

With it's multi-coloured glitter and clear base, Fairy Lights Twinkle on Fifth Avenue is similar to Deborah Lippman's iconic Happy Birthday, although it has more teeny-tiny glitter particles and less hexagonal glitter.  Best applied over a solid colour, this one - building it up to opaque glitter is difficult to do, and difficult to remove.

So there you have it.  Three gorgeous polishes, at a very reasonable price.  Have you tried BeautyBay nail polish yet?

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

BUY THIS NOW: Ojon Rare Blend Cleansing Conditioner

I really love a cleansing conditioner, and this one from Ojon is absolutely fantastic.  As with most cleansing conditioners, it promises to clean the hair whilst nourishing it, leaving it 'silky smooth [and] perfectly refreshed'.

Applied to the roots and mid-lengths and emulsified with plenty of water, it cleanses the hair effectively - don't expect any lather, though, as it has absolutely none.  Massaging it in for a few minutes helps to remove dirt, oils and impurities, and once rinsed away the hair feels hydrated and clean.  This isn't a product to remove a ton of product buildup, or one for finer hair types - you'll need a proper shampoo for that - but if your hair is dry or coloured and wants refreshing rather than a deep cleanse, it's perfect.

My bleached, dry and coloured hair loves it - after use my hair is soft and shiny, and is definitely easier to blowdry smooth than it is with regular shampoo.  One caveat to Ojon's instructions, though - they say to apply it root to tip, which is uneconomical if you have thick or porous hair thanks to the fluid texture.  You'll need to use a slightly scary amount to cover all of the hair - instead, use it on the roots and midlengths to wash, and use a separate conditioner on the ends.

At £18.50, it's not cheap - but it's a godsend for dry hair, reduces blow dry time, and leaves the hair wonderfully smooth without a ton of extra product afterwards.  And if your hair is coloured like mine, using this every other wash will help preserve your colour for longer - so actually, it saves you money on colour.  I love it, and will definitely be repurchasing.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Quick Pick: Clarins Everlasting Foundation+

Clarins' latest foundation is an improvement on an old favourite - Everlasting Foundation is Clarins' long-wear formula, and Everlasting Foundation+ is an improved version which now claims 18 hours of wear, shine control and colour that remains true throughout the day.  This last point is interesting to me - I recently tried a new foundation which unfortunately oxidised on my skin throughout the day, leaving a regrettably yellow cast which stopped my face from matching my neck.  Bad.

Anyway, Everlasting Foundation+ also boasts SPF 15, which is an essential in my eyes, and a dewy fresh finish.  I personally don't like a dewy finish, so I applied a tiny of bit of powder on top of it, and found that the results were still great - an even, brightening finish with a lovely glow.  Shade 103, Ivory, is a great match for my skintone, and there's a more warm toned pale shade available in 102.5 Porcelain to match

Wear wise, count me impressed - my skin looks even and fresh all day long when I wear it, and even when I take my makeup off at night some 15 hours after application, my skin is free of oily/shiny patches.  Given this impressive wear, it's natural to compare Everlasting Foundation+ to Estee Lauder's Double Wear - in my mind Everlasting Foundation+ is somewhat lighter in coverage and in texture, and my skin looks a little more natural with it compared to Double Wear, which needs very careful application to avoid looking overdone.

At £27.50 this is a luxury foundation, but if you really need your foundation to last all day, it's a surefire bet.  Find it at the Boots and Clarins websites, and on counter at your local Clarins concession, when it launches on February 15th.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sneaky Peek: Smashbox Double Exposure Palette

Smashbox are all about contouring and shaping this year - there's a new Contouring Kit coming soon (more on that later) and this new palette, Double Exposure, gives you fourteen shades of eyeshadows to sculpt the eye area, with plenty of flattering neutrals alongside a few deeper shades for smokier looks.

The format of the palette is a fairly simple flapover cardboard affair, and whilst the shadow casing is pretty sturdy, I'm not sure how much flapping the flap will take before it flaps its last.  I'm planning on travelling with this palette, but I'm somewhat worried that it'll get dented and damaged along the way.

On the upside, there's a double-ended brush included - one end is a large angled brush, perfect for shadow-as-liner, and one end is a fluffy yet firm domed shape for easy application all over the lid.  I found that the domed end is surprisingly short bristled and firm compared to other shadow brushes I have - making it excellent for precise application across the lid and into the crease.  You will probably need a fluffy brush for blending though.

One thing which surprised me was that the shades swatch completely differently from how they appear in the pan.  For example, the blue in the bottom left hand side of the palette looks much more mid-blue denim in the pan, but swatches as a deep sapphire;  the shade third from the left on the bottom row looks like a fairly plain taupe but as the most gorgeous lilac/gold flash to it.  I think this means that people may well look past this palette because it looks much less pretty in the pan than it does on the skin.

Finally, there's a bit of a twist I've not mentioned - Smashbox actually intend for this palette to be used with a dry or damp brush, allowing for even more shades and more finish varieties.  I've not tried it with a damp brush as I'm enamoured enough with the shades inside without wanting to risk them with a bit of water - but I can definitely see the appeal to make the darker or more matte shades into high impact eyeliners.

At £37, this is an expensive palette, but it does contain a ton of eyeshadows in a variety of shades which are everyday wearable, and yet not all seen-it-before neutrals.  I also like that the vertical pairings work so well as duos, making this an easy early-morning-not-quite-awake bet as well as offering more freedom for interesting colour combos.  My only reservation is that for the high price point, I'd rather a more sturdy, durable bit of packaging - a Too Faced style tin would be great.

Launching on January 7th, you can find it online at the Smashbox and Boots websites, and at Smashbox counters nationwide.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Friday, 2 January 2015

KMS Curl Up Perfecting Lotion and Leave-In Conditioner

There are a myriad of products for curly hair on the market.  Most claim to define and moisturise curls - and these two new products from KMS, part of their Curl Up range, claim the same thing - moisturised, defined curls which aren't crispy and retain movement and bounce.

The Perfecting Lotion provides definition and also claims to allow re-definition during the day with a bit of scrunching.  The formula is a fairly thin but still rich and slippy liquid which distributes evenly throughout the hair.  My normal curl routine is to apply product and then scrunch gently before leaving my hair alone to encourage curls.  I found that the Perfecting Lotion did reduce frizz, but didn't really encourage my curl very much - the end result was more wavy than curly.  I suspect that this is partially down to the lack of ingredients which pull up the curl and set it in place - this definitely avoids crunch, but means the curl enhancement isn't quite as impressive as other products which do leave a bit of residue behind.

On the other hand, the Leave-In Conditioner delivers brilliantly on its promises - which are to simply add moisture and reduce frizz without weighing the hair down.  The light feeling cream is also silky in texture, and the ends of my hair were definitely less fuzzy after use.  Avoid applying on the root area unless your hair is super dry, though - this stuff may feel light, but it's very moisturising, and over application will leave your hair feeling a bit overcoated.

Unfortunately neither of these products rocked my curls - but I will continue to use the leave in conditioner for well moisturised, less fuzzy hair.

Disclosure: PR samples

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.
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