Monday, 20 October 2014

New: L’Occitane Whipped Shea Butter

LOccitane-Whipped-Shea-Butter-Shower-Mousse Hand-Cream 

L’Occitane is a brand I always turn to for extra skin nourishment at this time of year and the Shea Butter products are my favourite in the collection. The brand has released a limited edition whipped version of the line to celebrate 25 years of using Shea Butter from women’s co-operatives in Burkina Faso. Think the same nourishing formula and delicious scent as the original, with a light, mousse-like texture - even easier to work into skin and keep dryness at bay. Each product contains 25% Shea Butter, so it really is nourishing (you’d be surprised at the teeny amounts of such ingredients in many beauty products).

The products are fun to use too, a bonus if you tend to be forgetful about applying hand cream, which comes out of the star-shaped nozzle in a crackling, bubbly swirl, like whipped cream from a can. The body wash looks like water in the bottle, but squirts out in a smooth rich foam, with a fresh, clean unisex scent. I have to be very careful what I apply on my body at this time of year as my skin tends to become dry and sensitive, and this has been a pleasure to use in recent weeks. I use a lot of different hand creams and have tested multiple brands over the years, but if my hands are extra dry, L’Occitane Shea Butter is the one I turn to - and the one I always recommend to friends.

Heads up: you can get a free L’Occitane hand cream with this month’s Marie Claire in Shea Butter (original formula), Vanilla Bouquet, Zesty Lime or Delightful Rose.


L’Occitane Whipped Shea Butter Hand Cream, Shower Foam and Body Cream, from £8

Sunday, 19 October 2014

British Beauty Blogger for M&S: Review & Swatches


It’s been amazing to see a number of beauty bloggers launch their own collections recently - I love to see their hard work paying off and the impact of bloggers acknowledged - it gives the rest of us something to daydream about! From a personal point of view, the most exciting launch for me has been British Beauty Blogger’s collaboration with M&S - a limited-edition collection of beautifully presented nail and make-up sets.

I have great fondness and respect for BBB editor, Jane, and appreciate her support since I started my blog 3.5 years ago. Despite being one of (if not the) top UK beauty bloggers, she is extremely grounded and genuine. If you haven’t yet discovered her blog, it’s - just don’t go there until you’ve read this post or you won’t come back!

I have 3 sets from Jane’s new collections, which I’ve only been playing with for a few days, so this is very much my initial impressions, but I couldn’t wait to share pics and swatches!




If you’re familiar with Jane’s blog, you’ll recognise these gorgeous illustrations by the same artist who designed her blog header, fashion and beauty illustrator Nuno Da Costa. The stunning packaging gives the collection a real edge and makes these sets an extra special gift (self gifting totally acceptable, obvs). I love how the focal point of each box reflects its contents: eyes, lips and nails… I certainly can’t bear to part with mine!


British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-eye-liner-pencil-set British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-eye-liner-pencil-set-swatches

The set of 8 kohl pencils includes 3 shimmery brights - lilac, peppermint and sky blue; 2 mid tones - matte dark grey blue and metallic maroon (my favourites); 2 darks - matte charcoal and black and a WOW glittery black. I’d describe the pigmentation and texture as medium, which makes them very user friendly, particularly if you’re a beginner (or colour shy, like me). These are not the type that deposit an unnerving amount of colour unexpectedly; they allow precision with a single stroke, which is buildable to more intense colour with a second layer. I used two layers for these swatches.

Eye Pencil Kit £15



British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-lipstick-set British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-lipstick-swatches

This Lip Trio is my favourite of the collection, with 3 wearable shades in nude (Cami), coral (Selfie) and red (Heartful). The formula of these lipsticks is incredibly creamy and perfectly pigmented. The cherry red is a total beaut and I’ve been wearing it all weekend - expect to see it on my lips very soon! The only thing I’d change about these is the clear lids, but at least I can see which shade I’m looking for (the base is also colour coded).

Lip Trio Set £15



British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-nail-polish-set British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-nail-polish-set- British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-nail-polish-shades

These aren’t your run of the mill nail polish shades and I like that: two brights, three pastels and a shimmery top coat to give a pearly finish. I’m a fan of the Butter London/Chanel-esque packaging and clever shade names.


I’ve swatched my four favourites (from top): Pop, Mull, Melted and Milky Pink - on their own above left - and with the Ice Fall top coat above right. The top coat turns the bright colours into pastel metallics - an effect I liked way more than I expected to - the colours remind me of Perfume Bon Bons… anyone else remember those? I used two coats and no top coat so that you can see the actual finish, which is very glossy! Although described as ‘mini’, the bottles are the same size as regular polish and each contains 8ml. Eight polishes for £14 is pretty amazing!

Mini Nail Polish Collection £14


I have loved reading about Jane’s personal journey in all of this and am impressed by how incredibly hands on she has been, from choosing the shade names in half an hour to training the M&S floor staff. The bit about sending a set to her mum brought a wee tear to my eye. The Behind the Scenes story is on BBB here.

You can find the full British Beauty Blogger Collection at M&S HERE, where it’s part of the pre-Christmas 3 for 2 gift offer!

Congratulations to Jane on her products hitting the shelves and kudos to M&S for their vision - here’s to many more BBB/M&S collabs in the future!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Beauty for Breast Cancer Awareness 2014

JML Red Roses 100ml Cologne BCA

I’m a little late in posting about Breast Cancer Awareness month but with two weeks to go, there’s still plenty that you can do to support this very worthwhile campaign - and there could be something in it for you too…

Throughout October 2014, Jo Malone London will be donating £20 to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s UK research grants from every UK sale of its Red Roses Cologne 100ml.


Clinique-bca-LIPSTICK  Clinique-bca-DDM 


Clinique, a long term supporter of BCA, will donate £2 from purchases of these two dedicated products to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®. Choose from Power with Pink, an exclusive shade of Long Last Lipstick with a pretty pink carrying case, or a special edition of reformulated Dramatically Different Moisturiser and Clinique signature hearts key chain, available online only at


Alex-Monroe-Silver140805 Zandra Rhodes Pink Bag1

The Haven is a support centre for breast cancer patients, which provides one to one support to anyone affected by breast cancer - from complementary therapies to emotional support and advice services. A number of leading brands have designed exclusive products for The Haven, of which a significant portion of sales throughout October will go towards supporting the charity. My favourites are Alex Monroe’s ‘Haven’ necklace and Zandra Rhodes wash bag; all profits from these two will go to the charity. The full range is available here (including a pink Kitchen Aid!).


Birchbox Coppafeel

Birchbox Oct 

Birchbox has partnered with CoppaFeel! for all the info you need to spot the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer. This month’s box contains a selection of pretty in pink beauty goodies from brands including Balance Me, Meaningful Beauty and Pixi Beauty. Find out more about both here.



One of my local charities, Cancer Focus NI is encouraging us all to organise a Girls’ Night In towards a target £40,000 to help fund the next important stage of their research - clinical trials with women at risk.  This research has the potential to make an enormous difference to the lives of many local women. The Girls’ Night In could have any theme - from a PJ party to a glam cocktail evening… further info and Pink Party Packs are available here. This applies to N.Ireland only but there’s no reason why you couldn’t do the same and support a local cancer charity wherever you are!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Library of Fragrance: Gingerbread & Moonbeams


Library of Fragrance (aka New York’s Demeter perfumery) has arrived in the UK and is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It offers a literal library of 300 fragrances based on everyday scents around us - think Grass, Gin & Tonic, Play-Doh, Marshmallow - with something to appeal to everyone and their aunt. 101 of these are now available in the UK, with an edited 28 bestsellers at Boots.

Most are based on real life scents - Sticky Toffee Pudding, Leather and Cake Batter, while others are imagined scents - Snow, Sunshine and Thunderstorm. I find it all quite amusing and rather charming. A bit like a fragrant version of Jelly Belly Beans… in fact they do have 10 Jelly Belly scents in the US! The idea is to use the scents to rekindle memories, recreate happy moments and layer up to create your own personal fragrance - a la Jo Malone (but more affordable and perhaps aimed more at a younger market).

I have four to share with you today, which I chose based on a combination of appeal and intrigue. I’ll let you guess which was which!

Orange Blossom ‘full, lush and exquisite – a perfect adaption of the scent of the living flower, carried by a gentle breeze on a warm summer's evening.’

This was the one I expected to love and wear the most, but actually appealed least of the four. I expected a distinct orange scent, but it’s more subtle than that - very much a citrus floral - and rightly so. It’s a good daytime scent and perfectly pleasant, just not what I expected.


Fireplace ‘It smells exactly like your jumper after sitting for hours in front of a roaring wood-burning fire.’

This is my absolute favourite as it smells exactly as you’d imagine - like you’ve had an open fire lit in the house all day. Confession: I don’t wear this on my skin as I personally don’t want to smell of firewood (might smell good on a man’s skin), but I love to spritz it into the air in my living room and it works equally well as a room scent. I tested it out on my 9 year old daughter who immediately said ‘fire’, a smell she’s not at all familiar with as we don’t have an open fire.


So what do you imagine a Moonbeam would smell like? ‘opens with Vanilla and Chocolate, then combines with green leaves, Jasmine, Lily of the Valley, Amber and precious Woods’.

I must admit I think they’ve got this one spot on… it makes me smile when I spritz it and imagine little dancing moonbeams - it’s sweet, fresh, soft and pretty - a very wearable, feminine scent.


Gingerbread ‘a rich, spicy ginger scent, extremely warm and sexy.’

This was my wildcard… I love the smell of ginger and had hoped for more ginger than bread, but this is super sweet and to be fair, does smell like actual gingerbread, straight from the oven. It’s very gourmand with a hint of caramel and spice… fans of sweet scents will love this and it’s quite festive! My 6 year old son thought it smelt like chocolate and orange, pretty good for a blind test. There is also a Fresh Ginger scent, for those more inclined towards a pure ginger alternative.

The Library of Fragrance, £15 for 30ml at Boots (currently on offer: 2 for £25)

I think this is a fun and unique collection and would make a great gift - do any of the scents appeal to you? Baby Powder or Vanilla Ice Cream anyone?

Monday, 13 October 2014

Aromatherapy Associates Rose Infinity Moisturiser


Aromatherapy Associates Rose Infinity Moisturiser is one of those products that seems to disappear on contact with the skin, yet keeps on giving. Silky smooth and lightweight, it sinks in quickly leaving no residue, just skin that’s perfectly prepped for make-up. Alpine rose stem cells and plant proteins support the skin’s repair system while hyaluronic acid keeps it hydrated. It smells divine too, thanks to jasmine, rose and neroli essential oils.


The product comes in a chunky opaque white and gold tub with a flip up lid (Sali Hughes new book arrived from Amazon just in time to prop it up beautifully today - can’t wait to read this!)


Each pump of moisturiser is released by pressing the gold lip at the edge of the tub. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure this out, but I love this kind of mechanism as it’s so hygienic. One pump is enough for my face, though I normally use two to cover my neck as well.

This moisturiser doesn’t come cheap, but the price is testament to the quality of ingredients and it leaves my skin velvety soft and glowing. People often ask me if uber expensive skincare is worth the price tag - and I think it’s something that really has to be assessed with each individual brand and product. I’ve been using Aromatherapy Associates Rose Infinity Moisturiser for the past month and - if I could continue, I totally would - for now, I’m treasuring every last drop.

Have you tried any Aromatherapy Associates skincare?


Thursday, 9 October 2014

La Roche Posay Skincare


I’ve been a fan of La Roche Posay skincare for years, so am really pleased that it’s now available to browse in my local Gordons Chemists. La Roche Posay is a French skincare brand, developed and used by dermatologists worldwide and suitable for sensitive skins.

Most recently I’ve been enjoying the Lipikar Baume AP+, immediately soothing on dry, itchy, atopy-prone skin on the body thanks to shea butter and omega-rich canola oil. The skin on my body is more sensitive than my face, so I have to be careful what I use on it and am particularly prone to discomfort at this time of year. I really like the smooth silky formula of this, which feels like more of a treat than a treatment on my skin.

My long-term favourites from the brand include Serozinc, an antibacterial spray toner, not yet available over counter in the UK (previously reviewed here), Soothing Rehydating mask (my review), Anthelios XL Sunscreen (review) and Cicaplast Baume B5, a soothing, repairing face & body balm (review).

One stand out product which I’m grateful to several of you lovely readers for introducing me to is Rosaliac AR Intense, a localised treatment serum to reduce burning, itching and redness from flare ups of rosacea. This has improved my condition more than products that cost 4 times the price and I now only suffer from occasional flare ups.

That’s another big selling point for La Roche Posay - despite the science behind the products, the price points are very reasonable. The range is being rolled out in Gordons Chemists across Northern Ireland and is already available online at

Have you tried anything by La Roche Posay?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

My Top 3 Beauty Essentials: on offer!

Top3Beauty-Bioderma-H20, Hourglass-Ambient-Lighting-Palette, Anastasia-Brow-Wiz-Ash-Blonde 

Today I’m talking about the three items I’d grab were my entire beauty collection about to fall off the edge of a cliff. Dramatic, much… I’ve been meaning to post about this trio for a while - and as all three are on offer this week, it would be rude not to share, pronto. As I feature so many different beauty products, including numerous new releases, I thought it might be useful to share the ones that I keep coming back to, the essentials that survive every cull and are continually repurchased.

One of these items makes my life easier, one makes me look human and the other makes things look better than they really are. You’re most interested in that last one, right? Let’s start with that…


MOST TREASURED // makes me look better…

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette I haven’t harped on about this too much on here as it was originally limited edition, but has now been made permanent. It’s a finishing powder, very different from traditional setting powder - and as the name suggests, makes skin look as though you are in ambient lighting. The last stage in my make-up routine, I’d call it a skin perfector, thanks to its softening, blurring, candlelit effects. My skin isn’t perfect, but any time I’ve had compliments on it I’ve been using this product. I save it for special occasions (it’s expensive) or days when I’m looking particularly blah as it’s a real game changer that can switch my skin from good to great or awful to acceptable. I use Dim (left) all over, Incandescent (centre) as a highlight and Radiant (right) as a Winter appropriate complexion warmer. I could go on all day, but you can see my original review, swatches and the product applied here.

OFFER: £10 off £40+ online with code DISCOVER10 at Space NK // Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette, £56 (ouch, I know - hence sharing to coincide with the code)


MOST APPRECIATED // makes me look human…

Anastasia Brow Wiz is my most repurchased beauty item ever. I’ve been using it for years, since I had to source it from the US and everyone wondered what I was banging on about. It’s since reached UK shores and - unsurprisingly - become one of the most talked about cult brow products ever. Before I met the Brow Wiz, I had invisibrows. This gives natural definition, lasts all day and the lightest shade, Ash Blonde, is perfect for blondes and redheads, with zero red undertones. A fine twist-up waxy nib on one end creates fine hair-like strokes, while a spoolie at the other keeps things tidy… everyone I’ve recommended this to has loved it. I’m on my 6th.

OFFER: 20% off at Cult Beauty (exc a few brands) // Anastasia Brow Wiz, £15.50


MOST USED // makes my life easier…

Bioderma Sensibio H20 micellar cleansing water has been a staple in my routine for around six years now; we’re practically family. Confession: I did use this as my only cleanser in the days before I understood the value of deep cleansing. It’s now the first step in my routine to remove make-up (followed by a balm or oil cleanse) and my eye make-up remover of choice. I can’t emphasise enough how great this is at removing eye make-up: dampen a cotton pad, hold over lid for 10 seconds and gently sweep off colour. Done. Honestly can’t be without it. Because it’s water based, there’s no oily residue or irritation and it doesn’t dry out my skin. I’ve tried the Hydrabio version but the original is more effective on eye make-up, so I’m sticking with it.

OFFER: 1/3 off French Pharmacy at Escentual // Bioderma Sensibio H20, £3-£6.66


PS I’ve spotted one more beauty bonus too good not to share: BeautyBay is including a limited edition Hot Pink DuWop Lip Venom (RRP £10) FREE with orders of £50+ (while stocks last)! Just select the plumping lipgloss as your deluxe gift at checkout when you shop at


So… which 3 products would you rescue from that cliff edge?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Soft Pink & Plum Make-up & Nails

Diego-Dalla-Palma-La-Vie-en-Rose-eyeshadow-palette,Love-Nudestix-Lip Cheek,Bobbi-Brown-Smokey-Eye-Mascara

I’m often drawn to soft pink and plum make-up shades at this time of year as I think they’re particularly flattering on pale skin and make a pretty alternative to the usual brown and bronze Autumnal tones. La Vie En Rose Eyeshadow palette by Diego Dalla Palma (out this month) encapsulates these tones perfectly, with six daytime friendly matte and shimmer pinks and plums that can be smoked up for evening.

I applied the bottom right matte pink shade all over the lid and added the top right matte mauve into the socket with a KIKO Eyes 202 flat brush. I then added a little of the shimmer mauve (top centre) on top before smudging the matte charcoal along my upper lash line and deep matte mauve on lower lash line with a KIKO 207 pencil brush. To finish, I softened any edges with my Liz Earle Blend & Contour brush and added a couple of coats of Bobbi Brown Smokey Eyes Mascara.

I wanted to keep the rest of my make-up look soft and subtle, so finished off using NudeStix Lip and Cheek pencil in Love, a pretty, semi-sheer baby pink with a slight sheen. I apply this to cheeks with a few sweeps of colour, patted in with the flat of my finger and then fill in lips like I would with a regular lip pencil.


Barry M’s new Autumn Winter shades in Ballerina (pinkie), Vintage Violet (ring finger) and Nightshade (middle) are the perfect tones to complement this look - and naturally I had to apply all three just to prove the point. Can’t get enough of these colours and am particularly attached to Vintage Violet, which lasted an impressive 5 days on me without chipping. To be fair, I did use Dr Lewinn’s Renunail 3D top coat over it, but regardless, this is verging on miraculous wear time for me!


This is the final look - please excuse the slightly scruffy rest of me (school run-ning!)

Are you a fan of pinks & plums?


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Handbag Essential


Not gonna lie… the first thing that drew me to Lanolips Antibacterial Hand Cream was the pretty vintage style packaging and super slim fit-in-a-clutch sized tube. Not just a pretty face, this is a hard working handbag essential with double duties: medical-strength antibacterial ingredients plus moisturising ultra-pure-grade lanolin.

Independently proven to kill 99.99% of germs, including E.coli, it contains no alcohol, nourishing hands rather than drying them out. I’d describe the texture as quite silky, with a lovely light refreshing Aloe Vera scent. While not instantly touch dry - I wouldn’t use it at a keyboard - it does sink in fairly quickly on my hands (few mins), making it practical for use when out and about.

I regard this as a hand cream with antibacterial benefits rather than a hand sanitiser per se (alcohol-free EcoHydra is my go-to sanitiser), and find it reassuring that it provides the added bonus of keeping my hands germ-free.

Lanolips Antibacterial Hand Cream, £9.85 (currently on 3 for 2)

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Which Face Mask?

Pur-Minerals-Mud-Mask,Bioderma-Hydrabio-Mask,Zkin-Brightening Hydrating-Masque-Mask,REN-Flash-Rinse-1-minute-Facial

When I first started using face masks there were two options: the ones that dry like caked on mud and crack when you smile or the one that dries like plastic and peels off like glue.  I associated both as solutions for oily, spotty skin and steered clear for years. Masks have progressed enormously since, with brands offering a wide range of intense skin solutions for all skin types - and have now become part of my regular routine. If I forget to use them for a while, I notice a difference and would put them on a par with daily serums in terms of impact. A big learn for me was that a mask doesn’t have to be used over the entire face, but can target specific issues from blocked pores to dehydration, just where needed.

So which one’s for you? 

CONGESTION - clogged pores, black heads, spots, a feeling that your skin needs a good spring clean.

Of all the clay masks that I’ve tried, Pur Minerals Mud Masque (now called Dirty Girl) is my absolute No1 and I won’t be straying any time soon. Rich in minerals, it contains Pascalite, a rich form of calcium bentonite clay for deep cleaning and brightening. This is a traditional style, cracks-when-dry, putty coloured clay mask and believe me when I tell you, this literally hoovers my skin, without stripping it. I still laugh when I remember the first time I used it - I applied it right down my neck and honestly, the suction was so strong it almost felt like being choked. Moral of the story - don’t put it right around your neck - just below the jawline is enough and only a thin layer is required. I used to think the more I used, the more gunk would be removed, but not so. I don’t always use this on my whole face, sometimes restricting it to my nose and chin area. It’s also great to help zap spots when they first flare up!

NB I’ve had this (almost empty) tube for a while - it has since been renamed Dirty Girl and comes in much more stylish packaging (identical formula, phew!), which you can find here.  A great budget alternative is Good Things Manuka Honey Face Mask, suitable for sensitive skins.


DEHYDRATION - thirsty, lacklustre skin (dehydrated skin lacks water while dry skin lacks oil)

Personally I think we all need extra hydration and it’s pretty much impossible to overdo. I do a lot to rehydrate my skin -from facial mists to toning waters, but it’s hard to beat a long, quenching drink from a hydrating mask. My most used are Bioderma Hydrabio (on offer), Dr Jart+ Most Moist Water Sleeping Mask and Hydraluron Moisture Boosting Mask. The first two are quick and easy to use and I’ll often pop them on as soon as I climb out of bed (the morning after *cough*) for deep rehydration while I eat breakfast, or slather on a layer before bed and leave to work overnight. The Hydraluron is a bit more of a full on treatment, which I’ve reviewed here.


DULL - tired, lacking radiance

Lately I’ve been reaching for Zk'in Brightening and Hydrating Masque when my skin is looking a bit flat. Zk’in is an Australian brand, new to the UK, which marries certified organic ingredients and scientific skincare with realistic deliverables. I find this mask a complete pleasure to use and see a notable brightness in my skin after doing so. It contains antioxidants found in organic Cocoa to smooth skin, improve circulation and temporarily brighten, while organic Aloe Vera increases hydration. I tend to pop a thin layer on cleansed skin while I’m in the bath, then rinse off with a flannel and warm water.


MAKEOVER REQUIRED - blah and in need of va-va-voom!

If you want to prep your skin for a special occasion or just shake things up a bit to look your best, REN 1 Minute Flash Rinse Facial is The One. ‘Me time’ is a rarity in my house, so anything that promises fast results gets my attention and this mask really does deliver… while still managing to feel like a treat! I apply the gel to dry skin, massage in gently (it’s a teensy bit gritty, but very gently so), splash with water to activate the Vitamin C and then leave for 1 minute before rinsing off. I guess it’s more like 2-3 minutes in reality, which is fine by me. It leaves my skin feeling extra soft, radiant and perfectly prepped for make-up. Recommended use is every 3 days and I genuinely look forward to using this every time!

Do you ever use face masks?

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