Thursday, 29 December 2011

Makeup shopping

Today I have mostly been hanging out here...


Doing this...



I'll be back to tell you more & share my purchases very soon!


Monday, 26 December 2011

NEW: Xen-Tan Launches Scent Secure Gold

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Xen-Tan has struck gold with today’s UK launch of a brand new product, Scent Secure Gold.  And if you want to shimmer your way into 2012 this New Year’s Eve, time is of the essence as only 50 of these beauties are up for grabs today, Boxing Day!  (The full launch will take place in the New Year) 

A step up from the original formula, Scent Secure Gold is a tinted moisturiser containing 24k gold leaf, which leaves a beautiful subtle shimmer on the skin and eradicates that horrid biscuity smell that lingers as self tans develop.  Suitable for use on both the face and body, it is paraben and oil free, richly moisturising and contains a skin firming complex.

Designed to be worn either alone or on top of a tan to enhance skin colour it provides a really gorgeous gleam and the shimmer effect is only really noticeable under the light. There is no DHA within the product, so it can be washed off, though I’d be wary of wearing very light clothes with it, just incase.  I was honoured to be one of the few people to try this in advance of its launch and tell you all about it - here’s how I got on…

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I was initially alarmed at how dark it looks coming out of the tube (fear not - it blends out well!)

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Check that 24k gold leaf shimmer!

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Partly blended… still pretty daunting and a tad ‘muddy’ in tone…

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Fully blended out, an gentle olive toned, golden shade.

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I hope you can see from the pics that from a distance the skin appears to have a slight golden sheen, but close up in the light you can see a few little flecks of gold - thankfully they are quite sporadic and not at all OTT.

The official advice is to apply this product one hour after a self tan (if scent is the issue), or any time as a tinted moisturiser. I really like the colour and think it looks quite natural, even on my currently lily white skin. It’s very quick and easy to blend and a little goes a long way. It smells clean and fresh and does tackle the self tan smell, although that’s not something I personally have a big issue with, unless I’ve applied tan before going out in the evening and don’t want to ‘develop’ a pong as the night goes on…

The only drawback for me is the price as £26.99 seems quite steep for a product like this, but when you consider that it:

  • lightly tans
  • removes that yucky biscuity smell
  • moisturises
  • tones and firms
  • adds shimmer
  • contains real gold leaf

I guess it’s not that bad!

What do you think - would you be tempted to try something like this?

Scent Secure Gold is available at xen-tan.co.uk for £26.99 and remember only 50 are available to the public today, Boxing Day!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Luxury Skin Treats ~ Diamond Lift & GlamGlow…

Transformulas Diamond Liift

Well they do say diamonds are a girl’s best friend…and this girl could not resist an invite to be one of the first to try skincare containing diamond dust!

‘Diamond Lift Brightening Complex’ is the latest launch of cosmeceutical specialist, Transformulas, and contains diamond powder, vitamins and minerals to tone the skin’s collagen fibres.

‘Along with unique anti-ageing and reviving Gaultine Expression, the rich cream is packed with luxurious ingredients to provide instant results, semi-permanent effects and long-term benefits.’

Design to keep skin looking skin youthful, lifted and toned, this product claims to help your complexion look radiant even after a night’s partying.  According to Transformulas, this product brings the following benefits…

Diamond Lift:

  • Hydrates the epidermis and the derma of the facial skin

  • Creates luminosity and radiance to the skin
  • Immediate and continual luminance and hydration
  • Nourishes  and promotes cell stimulation
  • Promotes the toning of collagen fibres
  • Illuminates the skin with diamond powder

It does feel lovely on the skin and provides an instant radiance and slightly shimmery sheen. The shimmer is visible so it can’t just be applied ‘willy nilly’. I like to use it as a highlighter on my cheek and browbones and have been complimented on my skin when using it.  I’m not sure whether the ‘luminosity and radiance’ are more than a temporary effect, but it is a lovely product to use and I can’t deny the thrill of smearing diamonds into my cheeks!

Diamond Lift will be available online at Transformulas at £41.95 for 10ml, from the end of January 2012 (website says March but I’ve been told it will now be late January)

 

Let it Glow…

GlamGlow Tingling & Exfoliating Mud Mask

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Designed as a 10-minute anti-aging ‘facial in a Jar’ for behind-the-scenes of Hollywood’s entertainment industry, GlamGlow promises ‘immediate camera-ready glowing skin’. The perfect antidote to morning after skin, or pre-party prep, recommended use is a couple of times a week or when GLAM-tastic™ skin is a must!

Results:

  • Skin Collagen Synthesis for a Noticeable 3-Day Glow.
  • Leaves Skin Noticeably Smooth & Soft.Multi Level Resurfacing Exfoliation.
  • Helps Tighten Skin & Minimizes Pores.Absorbs Impurities Without Removing Natural Oils.
  • Helps Protect Against Free-Radical Damage

I tested a little sample tube and my skin really did look more radiant and ‘pepped up’ afterwards. As for camera ready? Hmm… not sure on that score!

While it contains no artificial colours or fragrances, there are some parabens in there - along with lots of goodness, including… Volcanic Rock, Volcanic Mineral Ash, French Sea Clay, Purified Clay, Real Pieces of Green Tea Leaf, Green Tea Seed Oil, Grape Seed, Chamomile Flower, Marigold Flower, Cucumber, Ivy, Herb Leaf, Lavender Oil.

GlamGlow does come at a price and is something I’d definitely save for special occasions. Sadly out of my budget for twice weekly use!

GlamGlow costs £69 at Urban Retreat’s Beautique.com

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Shake it up with Festive Toffee Apple & Cinnamon ~ Herbalife

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You could be forgiven for mistaking the above for a generous serving of Baileys on ice… in fact it’s a less typical Christmas tipple - a nutritional festive shake in toffee apple and cinnamon flavour by global nutrition company, Herbalife.

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I’ve never tried anything like this before - I’m not a big dieter, so this was a whole new experience for me.  Herbalife Festive Shake is designed as a meal replacement for weight control and nutrition, providing protein and nutrients for energy. I am not particularly overweight, but have put on about half a stone in recent months that I would like to shift - ie I can still get into my jeans, but they’re so tight they hurt!

I used Herbalife Festive to replace one meal a day. I tried it for both lunch and evening meal, but found lunch a lot easier to manage (I was starving by evening and did not enjoy watching my family tuck into lasagne!). My lunch is often rushed anyway and it was admittedly convenient (although bizarre) to mix this up, drink it and feel as full as I would after a sandwich.

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The shake is made by mixing two tablespoons of the powder with 250ml of semi skimmed milk, so a smallish glass. When mixed up, a glassful contains 220 calories, milk and soy proteins, antioxidants, fibre, herbs and 23 vitamins & minerals.

After replacing one meal a day with the shake for one week I had lost just under 2lbs, which I guess is a reasonable and healthy loss. I’d like to point out that I’m not an advocate of crash diets, but agreed to trial this product both out of curiosity and to help me lose a few pounds before Christmas.

I know there are many people out there who enjoy shakes and find them very convenient.  I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon flavour and LOVE my food, so must admit this isn’t something I’d personally use if I wanted to tackle long-term weightloss.  For those who favour this kind of product, it’s an innovative change from the usual strawberry or vanilla and seems to be effective.

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Herbalife describes the Key Benefits of this product:

  • Provides a delicious, healthy meal with an excellent balance of protein and key nutrients for sustained energy
  • Scientifically proven as an effective way to help manage your weight
  • Combines soy protein and carbohydrate to help you stay fuller for longer and keep your energy levels high
  • Contains high levels of vitamins and minerals to help you achieve a balanced diet
  • Less than 220kcal of guilt-free enjoyment

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*This is just my personal experience of using this product…. please read the ingredients list carefully, visit Herbalife for further info and consult your GP to help decide if a product like this is a good choice for you, particularly if you have chronic kidney problems or insulin dependent diabetes.*

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Luxury Beauty Gift Guide

So my third and final Christmas Gift Guide is all about the lux… my top picks on luxurious beauty items for those we love. I often give a little piece of luxury, such as a small item by Dior or Chanel as a gift. It’s something I love to receive myself, which is generally a good gauge when it comes to choosing for others.

Dior…

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I think Red Royalty is the perfect festive red - like a glimpse of Santa’s coat dashing by!  Except of course it’s super glossy (no topcoat used in these pics) and comes in a beautiful heavy glass bottle with a chrome CD embossed lid.  The consistency of this polish is unlike any I’ve ever tried - it’s dense and velvety, heavily pigmented and works best applied in thin layers. The new wide brush means most nails only require one stroke for coverage and although I applied two coats for these pics, they were opaque in one.

Dior Vernis Long Wearing Nail Lacquer in Red Royalty #999 (love the red hot ‘emergency’ number!) £17.50 at House of Fraser

Guerlain…

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I was so chuffed to receive this gorgeous perfume and body lotion set as a birthday gift last week. Amber floral, Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial is my new favourite Winter fragrance - it is rich, spicy, warm, sensual and yet quite discreet. It’s not overpowering as I know some found the original Shalimar. And isn’t the bottle just stunning!

Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial costs £37.00 for 40ml edp at Boots. My set came from Debenhams for the same price, currently available with 10% discount at £33.30.

Neom…

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I have two Neom Luxury Organics items to share… firstly the ‘Inspiration’ treatment candle with Violet, Chamomile and Cedarwood - a gorgeous uplifting fragrance to help you feel ‘inspired, confident and motivated’. Perfect way to start the New Year, don’t you think?  It comes beautifully presented in this sturdy gold box with a satin bow.

This is the large 300g/1kilo size at £37.50 from Neom Organics - also available in travel size.

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How about some gorgeous Tranquility Organic Bath Oil to use with the candle?  I love this vintage style heavy glass bottle, which looks beautiful on the dressing table or bathroom window sill. Fragranced with English Lavender, Sweet Basil and Jasmine, this smells divine and is very relaxing - perfect antidote to a great night’s sleep. Just a few drops are all that’s needed… deeply moisturising too. (A Tranquillity Candle is available in the same scent).

Tranquility Bath Oil, 100ml £32 at Neom Organics

Chanel…

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My luxury guide would not be complete without a little piece of Chanel… Illusion D’Ombre, the mousse to metallic cream eyeshadow has been one of this year’s cult beauty products that any girl would be thrilled to receive.  Pictured in Illusoire, a mauve toned metallic steely grey, this looks stunning for day or evening wear.

Chanel Illusion D’Ombre Longwear Luminous Eyeshadow costs £22.50 at Boots or most department stores.

Aspinal…

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Last but by no means least, this gorgeous gold mock croc cosmetics pouch by Aspinal.

*sigh* isn’t it beautiful? … I’d love to whip this out to touch up my lipstick on a special occasion.

£45 at Aspinal, where you can view a range of cosmetic pouches and cases in various sizes and finishes.

Despite being a luxury guide, all of my suggestions come in at under £50… I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and been inspired with some gift ideas. Enjoy the final week of Christmas shopping!

Please have a look at my Stocking Filler Guides #1 & #2!

Nic x

Dior polish was a sample

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Styling Products for Curly Hair ~ label m, Osis, John Frieda, Phil Smith

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I’m quite sure I’m not the only curly who struggles to tame my mane, so I thought I’d share a few of my tried and tested experiences of products specifically designed for curly hair... I guess mine is more wavy than curly these days - a result of me blow drying it straight for quite a while I think.

I’ve tested each of these products for a minimum of several weeks each to see how they work in different conditions, when used with styling products and on naturally dried hair.  This is just my personal experience and I’m very aware that hair products tend to be as individual as skincare in terms of working differently for each of us. Where possible I’ve tried to suggest which type of hair I think each product is best suited to.

First up… label.m. Curl Spray

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I find a lot of styling products weigh my hair down too much… I don’t like the feeling of stickiness they often create and hate when they make my hair lank. This product was suggested to me as one which would do none of the above - and it really works! Curl Spray can be used on wet hair before styling or on dry hair to add emphasis to curls between washes.

Results:  Its humidity resisting formula helps with frizzies, it smells beautiful (of coconut), sprays in a super fine mist and accentuates curls and waves without stickiness or weighing them down. I like that it also provides heat protection during styling.

Best for: fine, medium or coarse wavy/curly hair. I use it quite lightly but would add more to coarse hair and possibly a few drops of serum or gloss on the ends for definition.

Price: label.m Curly Spray 200ml £8.95, 500ml £14.95 at The Beauty Booth (a retailer I’ve discovered recently and am massively impressed by - sells a brilliant range of hair, beauty and skincare products).

 

Osis Pump my Curls

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As I’ve said before, I’ve been a massive fan of Osis styling products by Schwarzkopf Professional for years. Pump My Curls is a spray to cream formula designed for use on wet hair and gives ultra strong control.

Results: This product really does give great hold and definition. I normally style my hair with Babyliss Big Hair, which to be honest, gives good results even without product, but with the addition of Pump my Curls I really did notice that the curl lasted much longer, even on day two. I was aware of having product in my hair - it’s not sticky - I was just aware of it. This probably wouldn’t bother most people, but I’d personally save this one for special occasions when I really want to make an extra effort.

Best for: ‘Proper’ curly hair, unruly curls and frizz, medium to thick hair. I think this would be a touch heavy for very fine hair.

Price: Osis Pump my Curls, 120ml £11.05 at Look Fantastic

Flatliner Iron Serum Spray

This is a late addition I’ve just remembered… another great Osis product that my lovely hairdresser once told me about and one of the few I’ve repurchased - Flatliner Iron Serum Spray £9.25 at Beauty Bay. Yes I know, a strange choice for wavy hair (maybe not so good on megacurls) but believe me - it works! It’s lovely and light and just smooths out the waves and defrizzes like magic.

 

John Frieda Frizz-Ease Curl Reviver Styling Mousse

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I bought this around the same time as my Babyliss Big Hair and it’s almost empty, which is a good sign as I rarely finish hair products!  It’s designed for adding hold and definition to wavy or curly hair and eliminating frizz.  I hadn’t used mousse for years before getting this - it was frustrated attempt at finding something that wouldn’t weigh my hair down too much.

Results: Curl Reviver adds volume, gentle hold and definition to my hair. Its formula is quite light, which I guess is normal for a mousse. To be honest it didn’t wow me, but I did enjoy using it and found it great for helping everyday hair look a little more polished. It did help ease the frizz, but didn’t eliminate it completely - so I guess it does exactly what it says on the tin!  I sometimes added some serum to the ends and surface of my hair after blow drying with this.

Best for: fine to medium wavy or curly hair, hair lacking in volume.

Price: £4.99 at Superdrug (or £7.49 for 2)

 

Phil Smith xtreme style xceptional curl cream

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Phil Smith Curl Cream came hugely recommended to me by several other curlies and while I did like it, I wasn’t as blown away by it as I expected to be. Maybe I’d just built my hopes up too much! I definitely prefer spray formulas as I find the result more lightweight - this one is a cream that is worked through the hair with your fingers.

Results: Adds some definition and hold, smells good. The first few times I used this I did love it, but it seemed we had a mere fling together as it has sat abandoned in my cupboard ever since. Saying that, it has serious fans, so you might love it too!

Best for: I think this would be best suited to thicker, more definite curls - it’s quite rich and moisturising so should help defrizz too.

Price: I bought mine in Sainsbury’s where it is currently £4.09

I really hope this has been helpful to some of you… I’d really love to hear about your favourite styling products for wavy and curly hair in the comments below. I’ll be doing a separate post on serums in the New Year.

Thanks for reading, Nic xx

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Stocking-Full of Christmas Beauty Gift Ideas #2

In part two of my Stocking Filler beauty gift guides, I bring you sparkling glitterati gorgeousness - once again up to £10 in value and all available on the High St… perfect for last minute pressies or a little treat for you!

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Nail Glitter

These little pots of glitter by GOSH make gorgeous stocking fillers and are available in a wide range of stunning shades. Perfectly sized for dipping fingertips in their gorgeousness they contain finely milled glitter (I know, I’m covered in it!) which leaves a magical matt-effect glitter finish on the nails and also works brilliantly for nail art.

Pictured are #11 Rose Quartz, #2 Gold and #7 Amethyst purple (my favourite!). I’ll be doing a separate post to show how wonderful these look on your nails, but wanted to include them in this gift guide as they’re so fabulously festive!

GOSH Nail Glitters are available exclusively at Superdrug and costs £3.95 each

Sparkling Bath Candy

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I think I must be the last person in the world to hear about Lush Snow Fairy, a ‘sparkling seasonal must-have’.  While I’m not the biggest fan of Lush fragrances (I find them quite overpowering), I know my little girl will love this. It’s pink, it smells of sugary Candyfloss and has purple iridescent sparkles through it… perfect. I know lots of big girls love it too!

I bought the smallest size, 100g for £3.25, but even the largest is only £9.95 for a whopping 500g that will probably last you until next Christmas! Available instore or online at Lush.

Shimmer Look Book…

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The Strictly Stunning Look Book is part of a collection designed by Strictly Come Dancing’s Head Makeup Designer and artist to the stars, Lisa Armstrong. This ‘Salsa siren’ palette includes well pigmented eye shadows in a shimmery ice blue, metallic navy and sparkly teal, perfectly complemented by hot pink, tangerine and opalescent lipglosses. The top right image of the bronzer is the most true to life shade, a buildable medium tan with subtle shimmer. I pull out guide gives guidelines on how best to use the shades, with a large built in mirror on the other side I think this palette is amazing value considering the quality of the contents and the slim packaging makes it a perfect stocking sized gift.

The Strictly Stunning Look Book costs £10 and is exclusive to Boots and is available on 3 for 2. (Look Books also available in other shades) 

Glitteezer Me…

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As the mum of two small curly haired children, Tangle Teezers are life savers. They glide through curls and tangles like no other brush, and if we can’t find ours in the morning, there are tears.  I also use it in my own hair - it’s great for smoothing out my hair into a ponytail or spreading deep conditioning treatment through it - it’s safe to use wet and dry without damaging the hair. £10 may seem expensive for a hairbrush, but believe me, these are worth every penny. My daughter’s is neon pink, which helps find it on cold dark mornings; this purple glittery baby is all mine!

Tangle Teezers are available in a variety of colours and designs at places like Boots. The cheapest I found were on Amazon, or you can pick up my purple glitter brush at Fragrance Direct.

Minnie Balms…

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This pretty little Minnie Mouse Lipbalm Trio functions in a similar style as the L’Occitane glosses I posted about in yesterday’s gift guide and is brilliant value. Lightly fragranced with vanilla, strawberry and cherry, each chic slide-open tin of balm adds a lovely moisturising gloss to the lips. Perfect for dividing into 3 - one for each stocking and hopefully enough for yours too!

Minnie Mouse Lipbalm Trio costs £6 at Boots and is available on 3 for 2!

I hope my Stocking Filler guides have helped you come up with some gift ideas - if you missed #1 please have a look here!… My 3rd and final guide will be on Lux Beauty items - get ready to drop some hints girls!

Thanks for reading, Nic x

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