Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Clarins (Secret) Face Contour Palette

Clarins Face Contour Palette is the perfect pick for those who like to add colour and dimension to their face without anyone knowing about it... the Secret Contour if you like, exactly how I think contour should be worn. I'm really not a fan of contouring per se, though totally get that it looks great on certain face shapes. On my face, additional angles are not required and on most, it's an unnecessary extra step best left to the pros (in my humble opinion).

So why blog about the newest contour palette on the block? Because for me it's a great multi-tasking face palette with bronze, blush and powder in one, perfect for those of us who appreciate de-faffing on a busy morning. It works well on light to medium skin tones and anyone who enjoys quite a natural makeup look.

All three powders are matte - and while I'd personally prefer the lightest shade to have a satin finish, it works just fine as a setting powder and even better swirled with the bronzer for an extra subtle look, making it versatile all year around. The blusher is a pretty, soft rose pink, similar to the shade my cheeks go when naturally flushed (always a good gauge).

Above are finger swatches of all three shades - the lightest, slightly vanilla in tone, barely visible. The bronze looks slightly orange here, but appears lighter and more neutral on my face - and I'd say the pink is a touch more blue toned in real life.

These are the swatches blended out with a brush to give you more of an idea how they look applied, though I use less of the bronze shade in particular. Speaking of brushes, the palette includes a good quality one, but as ever I prefer to use my regular brushes.

In summary, the powders are finely milled, easy to blend and skin flattering. I use the bronze to add a tiny bit of warmth, the lightest shade on my T-zone and the blush on apples of cheeks. The palette is both glam and sturdy with a good mirror, great for on the go and I think best for light to medium skins. I've been using it most days for the past month or so and it's been the first to distract me from my trusty Givenchy Lune Rose blush in a looong time.

Clarins Face Contour Palette is available now.

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and purchases. See my full disclaimer here.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka Cologne Intense: Review

Myrrh & Tonka is the latest addition to the Jo Malone Cologne Intense line... and a must-try if you enjoy sensual, smoky scents.

There's no two ways about it; this is one sexy fragrance and smells great on both men and women. Without exception, everyone I've asked to try this finds it as swoony as I do... and of all the Cologne Intense scents, this is my No1.

"The rich, potent sap of the Namibian myrrh tree... mingling with whispers of warm almond and lush vanilla... the addictive tonka bean."

I was surprised to read of lavender top notes as I didn't catch these at all, so don't be put off if like me, you're not a fan. There's an oriental herbal freshness on first spritz that quickly turns smoky before the myrrh kicks in, eventually settling to sophisticated vanilla and almond.

I've heard some describe Myrrh & Tonka as sweet; to me the dry down is a musky, woody gourmand - soft and creamy, but not quite sweet. A gentle oriental smokiness remains as this scent wears on my skin and I can't help thinking that it would make a beautiful candle.

Fragrance Director, Céline Roux describes it as "decadent... addictive... warm and opulent" - and I completely agree. To me, it conjures a log cabin with open fires on the edge of a forest... close my eyes and I'm there (I wish).

I think Myrrh & Tonka will be hugely popular and am pleased that the Cologne Intense line is now available in slightly more accessible 50ml bottles (cute, squat and square). These scents have a richness and lasting power beyond that of regular Jo Malone colognes and I find that they work particularly well in Winter.

Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka is available now in 50ml or 100ml  in the UK (find it here in the US).

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and some links are affiliate. See my full disclaimer here.


Monday, 19 December 2016

Fragrance by Occasion

It can be tricky knowing where to begin when choosing a new fragrance, so I thought I'd share some inspo for that last minute gift or self-treat to wear over the party season. A good starting point place is to think when the perfume will be worn... everyday, special occasion or a head turning signature scent. I've divided these four scents up a little to give you a bit of a steer, though personally I mostly choose by mood, for which there are no strict rules. If I'm feeling a little flat I'll go for something invigorating; if stressed, something soft and soothing... again each of these will be personal tastes and your choices may differ from mine.


The YSL Black Opium Collection includes 3 fragrances: the fruity green Eau de Toilette, gourmand floral Eau de Parfum and white floral Nuit Blanche. While I do like all three, I'm most drawn to the Eau de Toilette in its glittering black and rose gold bottle, pictured above. While slightly lighter than the others thanks to a luminous green coffee and jasmine tea, this sits firmly in the evening category for me, perched on a base of patchouli, white woods and musk. While perhaps not for the faint hearted, this is not cloying, but extremely wearable and sophisticated.

SENSUAL: Michael Kors Wonderlust

This is one of those perfumes that has grown on me the more I've worn it and definitely come into its own in colder weather. On me it sits quite close to the skin, is warm, sensual and very feminine, suitable for both day and evening wear. Bergamot, almond milk and cashmere wood are the stand out notes to me... I've previously done a full review here if you'd like to find out more about this one.

EVERYDAY: Clean Reserve Blonde Rose

This is one of the more intriguing scents I've tried and it seems to smell different on everyone. Initially very soft and feminine, the clean notes come through as it settles on the skin. With notes of rose, peony, jasmine, musk and sandalwood, the brand describe this as 'feminine with an edge', which I'd say is spot on. The branding, packaging and presentation box are stunning and together imake this the perfect choice for a gift.

UNISEX: Escentric Molecules Escentric 03

Woody, green and aromatic, the invigorating Escentric 03 is a definite feel-good fragrance. It opens with ginger root, green peppercorn and lime, with orris, jasmine and tea at the heart and a base of vetiver, woods, leather and musk. Much as I enjoy wearing this unisex scent, I think it leans slightly more masculine and hasn't managed to lure me from my old favourite, Escentric 02. A great choice if you fancy sharing!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Christmas Beauty Gift Guide

A round-up of gift ideas for beauty lovers on a mostly modest budget...

Pixi Beauty has released some gorgeous gift sets for Christmas 2016 including the Ultimate Beauty Kit and Fairy Dust Favourites (the most beautiful loose pigments).

Pixi Palette Rosette includes everything you need to enhance cheeks and eyes in one convenient palette of suit-everyone shades.

Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pens are among my favourite go on smooth, blend beautifully and last all day eyeliners and this kit of minis is a great way to try a range of shades, including a couple of new ones.

I've declared my appreciation of Real Techniques Bold Metals brushes on here before and am loving this Bold Metals Spotlight Essential Set in its own cute brush roll, perfect for travel. It includes a tapered blush, triangle concealer and tapered eye shadow brush, all of which ecan be used with cream, powder or liquid products.

I've been using Oral B electric toothbrushes for years and think this new rose gold version has got to be the most glamorous one ever... I'm all for everyday tools being as pretty as they are practical, so if you're gifting a toothbrush, make it a rose gold toothbrush! (currently on offer at Boots)

Soap & Glory Christmas gift sets never disappoint, especially ones that play Christmas tunes! This gorgeous Foam & For-tune set includes six shower favourites and a body polisher in a cute keepsake tin.

Vita Liberata is one of my favourite self tanning brands and this Fabulous Glow Luxury Tan kit works out at half price! It includes HD Body Blur for party presentable limbs and Self Tanning Tinted Lotion, a moisturising formula that I find works really well on dry Winter skin... all in a rose gold pouch.

The Dirty Works Advent Calendar works is beautifully presented and the Get Set Glow Luxury Minis are great for gifting or travel.

Beauty themed stocking fillers are always a hit and this Roger & Gallet hand cream set and Dr Lipp balm are both pretty and practical. I also find the balm brilliant on dry cuticles.

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Soap & Glory The Whole Glam Lot: Boots Star Gift

Soap & Glory's 2016 Boots Star Gift is pretty fabulous and I reckon the packaging is just as gorgeous as the contents!

How adorable is that pink metal suitcase printed with a gazillion teeny selfies of S&G fans?! The Whole Glam Lot goes on sale at half price in Boots this Friday, 9 December - and I'll be amazed if it doesn't sell out.

Inside you'll find 10 of the most popular Soap & Glory products, mostly skincare with two makeup items:

Sugar Crush Body Wash - 500ml
The Scrub Of Your Life body Buffer - 200ml
The Righteous Butter Body Butter - 300ml
Smoothie Star Deep Moisture body Milk - 500ml
Hand food Hydrating Hand Cream - 125ml
Face Soap and Clarity Facial Wash - 350ml
Speed Plump Super Moisturizing Day Cream - 50ml
Thick & Fast High Definition Collagen Coat Mascara - 10ml
Sexy Mother Pucker Lip Gloss in Rose & Shine - 4ml

Hand Maid Antibacterial Hand Gel - 50ml

All products in the Soap & Glory Star Gift are full sized and this set will be on offer for ONE WEEK at half price: £30 instead of £60 - both online and instore at Boots

We're big Soap & Glory fans in this house and I think their products are brilliant value, especially at Boots Star Gift prices!

Will you be snapping up The Whole Glam Lot?

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Luxury Beauty Gifts: Christmas 2016

I've selected my top 3 luxury beauty gifts from Jo Malone, Charlotte Tilbury and Laura Mercier, for a sprinkling of full-on festive glamour under the tree this Christmas. Or on your own dressing table... (I won't judge).


Jo Malone London's annual Christmas Crackers are always a best seller and this year's couldn't get much better, not least because it includes my favourite Jo Malone scents. The three luxe minis inside are Basil & Neroli Cologne, Blackberry & Bay Body & Hand Wash and Mimosa & Cardamom Body Creme, each individually wrapped in black tissue.

Who wouldn't want to find one of these under their tree - or on the dinner table if your host is feeling extra generous! 

PS If you really do want to push the boat out, check out the Jo Malone Ultimate Christmas Cracker!


Charlotte Tilbury has brought back her darling Mini Lipstick Charms (see what I did there?) in both Matte Revolution and Kissing formulas For Christmas 2016 - and they're pretty much the cutest makeup item I have ever seen. The box is admittedly tiny (think large match box) but the contents oh so perfectly formed.

Each gold lipstick is tied with a purple satin ribbon that can be hung from a tree if you trust your fellow housemates implicitly. Personally I'll be clutching mine tightly, which reminds me... they really are the perfect size for a clutch bag. Festive party top-ups, sorted. 

The matte revolution formula feels creamy on lips with just enough movement to stop them being drying, yet retain a matte finish and good lasting power. The shades include options for every occasion: a nude, Very Victoria; mid pink, Amazing Grace and very festive Red Carpet Red.


I've worn Laura Mercier Ambre Vanille on and off since it first launched and this set provides the perfect opportunity to pair it with the entire body range for full on fragrance layering. Ambre Vanille Sweet Temptations Luxe Body Collection includes Honey Bath, Creme Body Wash, Souffle Body Creme and Eau de Toilette. All products are full size except for the handbag sized 20ml perfume.

Ambre Vanille is a sensual gourmande scent that's a little sweeter than Fresh Fig (another favourite) but fresher than Creme Brulee. I'm a definite fan.

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Skincare Gift Sets

There are some excellent skincare gift sets around this Christmas and most work out at much better value than buying individual products - or at least give you the chance to try smaller versions at a reasonable price. Whether you're shopping for yourself or someone else, these are some of the best I've found.

Dermalogica is well known for its fantastic face masks and this Power Rescue Masque Trio includes three best sellers. Inside you get the charcoal rescue, multivitamin power recovery and skin hydrating masques x 40ml each. I've been really impressed by all three.

DHC is a Japanese skincare brand with a faithful following - and for good reason. The DHC Beauty Bento box is one of the cutest sets I've seen in a long time, such a clever concept and the contents are beautiful. Inside you get a little booklet of Oil Blotting Paper, the brand's cult-status Deep Cleansing Oil, a mini mild soap and Revitalizing Moisture Strips for pre & post party eyes.

Origins has put together some beautiful sets of its recently launched Rituali Tea mask sets. The antioxidant-rich Matcha Madness set includes a powder face mask with a pretty pottery mixing bowl and spoon, a cleansing body mask and even a little box of PositiviTEA to sip as you pamper. I'll definitely be putting the gorgeous metal storage tin to good use too!

I've been a fan of Caudalie skincare for years and really rate the body products, so am loving this Gourmand Body Set. The Vine Body Butter is super nourishing on dry Winter skin and the hand cream and lip balm are winners too. Again, this comes beautifully presented, mini hat box style with a ribbon handle.

Finally, a shout out to professional skincare brand, Skinician, previously only available at salons but now available online. I've had really positive experiences with this sister brand of He-Shi self tan, including these three items which I've used in the past. The Advanced Eye Repair is particularly good.

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Bobbi Brown Christmas 2016

When a beauty brand names a new collection after two of your favourite things, it's always a good sign. Bobbi Brown Wine & Chocolate was inspired by two of its namesake's top indulgences... I'm curious to know if she enjoys them together as much as I do (all kinds of wrong - I know).

Can we just take a moment to appreciate that packaging - chocolate brown leather effect with gold trim and embossed pure gold. It doesn't get much more glam than this.

Bobbi Brown has released a lot of new palettes and gift sets for Christmas 2016, alongside Wine & Chocolate. I really like the idea of including a mini lipstick or mascara within a compact, anything to make my handbag lighter is always a winner. 

For me, the star of the Wine & Chocolate Collection is the Chocolate Eye Palette, (also available in Wine). This includes four eye shadows in Ivory, Woodrose, Milk Chocolate and Velvet Bronze, with a trio of Cocoa Mauve, Navy and Black Chocolate Intense Pigment Liners.

How good are those colours? The two lighter shades are great for daytime and can be smoked up with optional bronze sparkle for evening. If you haven't tried the Intense Pigment Liners before, they are game changers. Applied wet, these create long lasting, dramatic definition and can be softened at the edges for a softer look. I've previously done a full review of these with swatches if you'd like a closer look.

Also part of the Wine & Chocolate Collection are Limited Edition Brightening Blush in Pink Truffle, a pretty pearlised blush with a hint of shimmer that's perfect for lighter skin tones (available in deeper shade, Warm Cocoa) and Luxe Lip Color in Uber Nude. This also comes in Tawny, a gorgeous milk chocolate and Your Majesty, a merlot red. 

Party to Go Lip & Eye Palette is my second favourite from the Gift Giving Collection. Four eye shadows and a mini True Rose Lip Colour make a beautiful pairing and work out at good value priced at £29.50.

The bottom left and top right shadows are shimmers and the other two matte, again making this very versatile. 

Last but not least is the Golden Eye Palette, with a mini Smokey Eye Mascara (one of the best I've tried) and a proper mini eye shadow brush (we all know how rarely that happens). The centre shade is a really twinkly oyster gold with great payoff for dramatic party looks. Again, this works out at great value compared to buying individual products and tools, plus you get that gorgeous packaging - £29.50 for the set. 

Find all Bobbi Brown Christmas palettes and sets here

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.

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