Ciate Purple Sherbet Swatched & July Magazine Freebies


Ciate Purple Sherbet - Marie Claire July 2012

Ciate nail polishes are a little bit gorgeous - the bow, the bottle & the application.  I’ve been wanting a lilac polish for a while and thanks to Liloo’s post on La Petit Jardin de Liloo I spotted this pretty ‘Purple Sherbet’ magazine freebie in the July UK edition of Marie Claire, out today. 


I was seriously tempted by the totally stunning bright pink, Jelly Bean and almost bought it as well, but put it back in favour of another freebie, which I’ll tell you about in a minute. The third shade available was a very pale pinky-beige nude.


Purple Sherbet is a pink toned lilac and is warmer than it appears in these pics.  I usually find lilacs too grey/blue toned for my skin but this one is really sweet and sugary, more lavender than lilac perhaps.

006 Marie Claire magazine July 2012 freebie

I used three coats and no top coat, typical for a pastel really. The brush is quite wide and very easy to use.  If anyone has swatched the pink, please link me up in the comments below - I’m quite happy to be swayed on that one!

Jemma Kidd I-Glamour Volume Mascara - Red magazine July 2012


If I’d remembered that Benefit Bad Gal Lash is free with Glamour, I wouldn’t have bothered with this.  In fact I kind of wish I hadn’t!  It’s a nice enough, but ‘volume mascara’ it is not - unless it’s one of those that takes a while to get going as I know some do - and  I’ve only tried it once to be fair.


It’s very black, applies really nicely with zero clumps and gives good length, but there’s very little volume going on.  If you like a natural look mascara or are lucky enough to have already full lashes, then you’ll probably love this!  There was a choice of black eyeliner, which I believe is nicely soft and blendable, so possibly a better choice.

  • You can see the other Benefit freebies on Liloo’s post linked above - with a choice of Pore-fessional (see my review here), Bad Gal Lash or That Gal primer.
  • I spotted a blue and black Body Shop eyeliner freebie with In Style (2 liners with each mag).
  • I’ve also been told there’s a choice of 3 free Leighton Denny polishes with Harper’s Bazaar, which I’ll definitely be on the lookout for! 

Have you spotted any other magazine freebies for July?

Nic x


LP Skin Therapy by Dr Linda Papadopoulos & a special KMI discount


LP Skin Therapy, the creation of Dr Linda Papadopoulos PhD, is based on the philosophy that a healthy mind means healthy skin.  All eight products combine high performance actives and peptides to combat signs of ageing and are reasonably priced for what they are.

I’ve been trying a few mini products from the range, which are very refreshing in hot weather and would be perfect for holidays, a weekend away or even popping in a gym bag! 

Uplifting Facial Water is super refreshing and uplifting thanks to the delicious scent of Orange Blossom.  Soothing and calming on hot summer skin it combines natural Aloe Vera and Hibiscus Extract with luxurious collagen boosting 24 carat colloidal gold! RRP £15, 120ml

System Balance Wash contains anti ageing peptides and probiotics and is scented with Orange Blossom.  I’m not sure how anti ageing a face wash can be, but this does smell good and is refreshing to use in the mornings.  The fragrance is quite strong, just incase you don’t like that kind of thing! RRP £15, 150ml

Re-affirm Eye Serum is cooling, hydrating and tightening - it makes my eye area tingle slightly on application in a really nice way!  It contains an impressive ingredients list including peptides, Sodium Hyaluronate and other fancy things that went over my head. RRP £25, 15ml

For the full lowdown on the LP range inc special offers & expert advice from the lovely Dr Linda, tune into QVC on 12th June at 6pm  You can try the anti ageing starter kit for £25 or browse the full range at but check these special deals first…

A big thank you to KMI Brands, who kindly provided these samples for review along with a special discount code for Strawberry Blonde Beauty Blog readers! 

The code STRAWB15 will give you a 15% discount on Keep Me Inspired valid from today until the end of June.

If you move fast you can get an even better deal as KMI is offering 50% off EVERYTHING on the website over the Jubilee weekend (Sat-Tues) with the code JUBILEE50!


Skin Nourishers ~ Body Shop Oil, Lavera All Round Cream & Astral

Have any of you noticed your skin more parched than usual in the recent glorious weather?  While it’s important to stay hydrated from the inside out (sadly Pimms doesn’t count!), my body always craves an extra layer of moisture in the heat.  These are a few of the products I’ve been reaching for to quench its thirst.

Body Shop Strawberry Beautifying Oil


I’m not normally a fan of sweet, fruity smells yet was really drawn to this oil - a lovely light, fruity scent that’s perfect for summer.  More importantly it feels beautiful on my skin - I’ve mostly been using it on my legs where I suffer from particularly dry skin and it leaves a gorgeous glowy gleam without stickiness. 

I’ve also tried it in my hair, warming a small amount in my palms and scrunching it through the lower half of my hair around 30 minutes before washing.  If you do try this, go easy as I was amazed how far it went.  It smelt lush, shampooed out leaving no residue and my hair was extra soft afterwards with a definite reduction in frizziness. I imagine it would also work on dry hair, applied to the ends to defrizz and add gloss - if I was doing this I’d just use any residue left from applying to my body or you could end up looking a little lank!

Available in 11 fragrances these new oils include a blend of three lightweight nut oils: Community Fair Trade Marula, Kukui Nut Oil and Sweet Almond Oil. Moringa and Sweet Lemon are next on my list!

£9 at Body Shop UK or 15 euros in RoI.



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Did your mum used to have this on the bathroom shelf when you were little?  Mine too.  While the original is still going strong (who could argue with ambassadors like Joanna Lumley & Twiggy?) Astral has launched a newer, lighter version, which I must admit I much prefer. 

Astral Light & Creamy - enriched with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E - has a gel-cream texture and sinks in quickly while nourishing the skin.  It’s not something I’d choose to apply on my face daily but it’s great for the body and most definitely moisturising.

Best of all it’s absolutely bargainous, retailing at just over £4 for 200ml in Boots, Superdrug and supermarkets.


Lavera All-Round Cream

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My hands have been horrifically dry recently and this little pot has been a bit of a godsend. My lovely mother in law (hello if you’re reading!! x) described its fragrance as lemon pancakes - and she’s absolutely spot on!  It’s rich and buttery and does indeed contain a little lemon oil.  I love the lightweight portable tin, perfect for bringing on holidays.

With organic shea butter, jojoba and almond, it’s super nourishing yet suitable for all skin types including sensitive skins. I also like to leave it on overnight after a home pedi, which I’ll do a post on soon if anyone is interested?

Lavera All-Round Cream costs £6.95 at Feel Unique or Lavera

This post included samples


Model’s Own Golden Peach ~ Sunset Nails Monday Mani


I’ve been searching for Model’s Own Golden Peach since I was 8 years old.  One day my friend and I found her mum’s nailpolish collection, among which was a peach with gold shimmer.  I thought it was the most beautiful colour I’d ever seen and have never forgotten how mesmerised I was by how it looked on my nails (no doubt I applied it beautifully!). 

Ever since it has popped into my head that I’d love to find a polish just like that - and this is it: Model’s Own Golden Peach.  It’s not new, but I’ve only just discovered it.

Model's Own Golden Peach 074

These pics were taken late evening and I’m a bit gutted that they don’t show it in all its shimmering glory - a soft peach filled with iridescent gold shimmer. Like little mini sunsets on my nails. You’ll just have to buy it and try it for yourself!

And just cos I liked it with my new blouse (taken with flash)…



Natio & Lavera Sunscreens ~ uvBurn & uvAge

I’ve been really impressed by two sunscreens from Natio and Lavera in this recent sunny spell, using one for my face and one for body.  I highlighted what the ‘B’ and ‘A’ stand for in UVB and UVA as so many people genuinely don’t realise. Sunscreen doesn’t stop you tanning, it stops you burning and ageing. End of soapbox moment…



Natio is an Australian brand I’d spotted in every chemist on trips to Melbourne, but not actually tried until it arrived in Debenhams.  I found it by accident this week while searching for Dr Lewinn’s nail strengthener in the random products section. 

It was the Cosmo award that caught my eye first, then the fact that it’s an Aussie sunscreen (I know theirs are made to high standards), plus it felt gorgeous and sunk into my skin so quickly and said it could be used under makeup. It’s also reasonably priced at £9.10.


Those of you who understand sunscreen ingredients better than I do, feel free to tell me what you think!

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The texture is a BIG plus point for me… it feels beautiful on the skin and isn’t sticky at all - just sinks straight in leaving a lovely fine sheen. The skin feels totally dry to the touch, not even tacky. This really helps when you want to apply makeup straight after, or when applying to young children who don’t like to stand still for longer than 30 seconds!

As it was so hot this weekend I used this on my face, décolleté and arms. Normally I’d just use spf 30 on my face, neck and décolleté. When I say ‘normally’ what I actually mean is that this is my new thing - it’s normal as of now! Previously I would have used spf 30 all over, but I’ve decided I personally don’t think that’s necessary on regular warm summer days in the UK. I value my vitamin D and want to stock up on it!



On the rest of my body I used Lavera Neutral Sun Milk SPF 20.  Again, this feels lovely but does have a slight tackiness and leaves a faint white cast.  This does disappear after a while, but is worth mentioning for anyone who might be bothered by it. 

Lavera Sun Sensitive Organic Neutral is water resistant, hypoallergenic and fragrance free - all plus points in my book!  As it’s so gentle, I’ve also used it on the children when it’s not super hot (when the white cast actually comes in very useful for making sure you haven’t missed any bits!).


Lavera is available at for £12.50

Natio is available at Debenhams for £9.10 (or less if you’re lucky enough to get the website to work before midnight while there’s 10% off, unlike me - missed out on £100 worth of ‘bargains’ that I was unable to check out all evening!)


YSL, Dior & Chanel Summer 2012 Bronzers

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve jaw-dropped at the high end bronzers launching in Summer 2012 collections.  I do struggle to resist glamour, but glamour alone is not enough to make me part with cash (honest!). These products not only look good; they look like they offer results that will entice me to use them daily - and if I’m paying a premium price, that’s what I want!

These are my favourites…


YSL Terre Saharienne

YSL Collector terre saharienne n°1YSL Collector terre sahariennen°2YSL Collector terre sahariennen°3

Aren’t they beautiful?  I honestly can not wait until these are launched next month.  Inspired by the python print in Yves Saint Laurent Couture accessories they come in a variety of 3 harmonies for a radiant, subtly glowing complexion - as pictured left to right:

N° 1 Tanned: Iridescent light, a golden brown.
N° 2 Sunkissed: Satiny light, rosy apricot.
N° 3 Bronzed: Matte light, intense brown.

I’d be hard pushed to choose between N° 1, which looks like the perfect light toned bronzer and N° 2, which might double up as both bronze and blush - similarly to Chanel’s 2 summer offerings.   1 might just clinch it for its gorgeous goldenness.

Pure crystalline pigments allow these bronzers to give a ‘transparent luminance’, blurring imperfections. They have a long-lasting heat resistance, silky texture and offer light UV protection with an SPF 12.

Priced at £39 each or 55 euro, these limited edition beauties are available from Harvey Nichols 30th May and launch nationwide 21st June.


Diorskin Nude Tan Healthy Glow Enhancing Powder

Dior Bronze Nude Tan Healthy Glow

Pictured in shade 002, Sunlight, this powder combines two tones with “skin shades” for a result that matches the original skin tone and provides a natural radiance-boosting effect. Rosy harmonies add a touch of freshness and an anti-dulling effect, while apricot harmonies ensure a healthy glow infused with sensuality.  I love how these look as if they would blend seamlessly into most skintones, which is exactly what I want from a bronzer - I don’t want to look as if I’m wearing it!

Diorskin Nude Tan Healthy Glow Enhancing Powder  costs £37.00 and is available now.


Soleil Tan de Chanel

Chanel Sable RoseSable Beige (left) is the lighter, yet warmer looking of this duo, with peach, light bronze and gold tones and looks like it would work well on light to medium skins. Sable Rose incorporates mauve pinks among sand and golden stripes, which can be used individually or swept together.  Frankly, both are little dreamboats in a palette in my eyes.

Priced at £39 these will be available soon - I don’t have an exact launch date but believe it will be a matter of days.


I haven’t seen or tried any of these products in person YET, but I most definitely will - and shall report back with my thoughts.  Do any of them appeal to you - and if so, which one?

Thanks for reading, Nic x


Me & my boy at the beach


Me & boy went for a walk on the beach this morning.  It was so beautiful I just wanted to share it with you.

He is such a happy little soul… just loved splashing around in the water & burying his feet in the sand. 

Couldn’t love him more. That is all…


ghd air professional hairdryer review

ghd air hairdryer

As a complete gadget geek, I was gagging to try the new ghd air hairdryer as soon as I heard about it.  I’ve been repeatedly disappointed with budget and medium priced hairdryers and have wanted a fancy pants one forever - and after trying this one, I think it’s as good as it gets.

ghd air hairdryer


I thought it might come with more ‘bits’, but I supposed it’s a good thing it doesn’t, since I don’t actually need any more bits! The only extras are two concentrator nozzles in different widths to help hone a variety of styles.

It has ionic technology for a smooth, frizz free finish, a salon strength motor for fast powerful drying and an ergonomic design that suits both right and left handed stylists. Designed for professional use, the 2,100 watt motor shouldn’t be phased by heavy continual use.  One of the things that pleases me most is the super long 3m cable that means I can sit comfortably on my bed while blow drying!

pro hairdryer

It’s rather elegant, a reasonable weight and the controls are simple, which again is good. Medium or powerful pressure, medium or hot temperature and a cool shot. That’s it!

So what’s it like to use?

I decided the best way to test it to the max was to blow dry my hair straight.  I have a lot of hair and this always puts the most demand on any styling product for me - it takes my hairdresser around an hour to complete.  My hair was semi dry before I started, not really on purpose but because I rarely get to do anything without being interrupted by small children!

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I think the pics really speak for themselves.  It would normally take me about 20 mins to get my hair anywhere near as straight and silky as this. You can see in the before pic how fuzzy and kinky it is naturally - what you can’t see is that it’s really coarse underneath - proper wiry red hair.  I was actually shocked that it looked like this 3 mins later… I kept stroking it and even asked my 4yo to feel how soft it was (poor child gets such good training - he’ll make someone a wonderful husband one day!).

It is powerful and the barrel gets quite hot, which is something I’m not used to, though you could use the lower heat setting. The combination of heat, power and ionic technology means a much quicker drying time.  I’d say 8-10 mins max for proper styling with a wide barrel brush as I did above.  I’ve also used it for a more natural wavy look, when I literally blasted the hair from above for a few minutes and ran my fingers through it.

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A closer look at some of the gadgety bits (my camera has not been focusing well lately so apologies that some of these aren’t as sharp as I’d like).

As you might expect, a machine like this does not come cheap and has an rrp of £99.  Is it worth it?  If you can afford it, then I do think it’s worth investing in. I’ve definitely spent more than that on hairdryers in the past 5-6 years, whereas I think you’d have (& love) this one for a lot longer. Of course there may well be others a bit cheaper that produce equally great results, but I’m very happy with this one and must admit there is something a little bit special about having a ghd - it just feels like the best!

ghd air is available at all the usual outlets for £99 and you can read more about it on the ghd website.




Pure Gold Collagen ~ anti ageing shots


Skin is made up of more than 75% collagen; it’s what keeps young skin looking firm and plump - and deteriorates (1.5% each year) as we age - along with the firmness and plumpness!  Pure Gold Collagen is an anti ageing ‘shot’ containing a blend of collagen and active ingredients designed to target the skin’s deepest layers, beyond the reach of creams and serums.

My one month supply of Pure Gold Collagen sat in a box on my kitchen shelf for, erm one month, before I plucked up the courage to try it.  While it’s become quite common to take anti ageing supplements orally, half of me was eager to try this while the other half was a little ‘freaked’ at the idea.  I struggled to believe that it could work, was a bit concerned about delving into the unknown, and expected it to taste disgusting (it doesn’t).

‘Pure Gold COLLAGEN® is the latest in anti-ageing expertise to hit the UK from the shores
of Japan; this uniquely formulated ‘collagen shot’ is up to 100 times more powerful than a
collagen cream, as it’s taken orally the active ingredients reach the deeper layers of skin
that creams and serums cannot.’

I read up about it *a lot*. I reassured myself that the fact it’s sold in Boots as opposed to some random website I’d never heard of was a good thing. I finally took the plunge. I waited for something to happen… nothing did.

I stopped thinking about it. I stored a few bottles in the fridge to make it more palatable, almost like a treat (haha). As each bottle is so tiny, I literally knocked it back in 2 swigs each morning. It’s a little bit fruity; a little bit tart. I’m not crazy about the smell, but the bottle design means you don’t actually smell it unless you choose to stick your nose in it.


Dinky little bottles.

Two weeks later my sister kept raving about my skin and asking if I’d started using new skincare. I purposely hadn’t as I wanted to see if this would have a stand alone effect, but initially I didn’t put 2+2 together so didn’t relate any improvement to the Gold Collagen. Every few days she would go on and on about it saying my skin looked clearer, lines looked finer and frown lines (my pet hate) were less pronounced. 

I finally conceded that despite my cynicism this little potion was actually having a positive effect. I took it for around 20 days in total, then stopped. I wanted to see if the effects would reverse - and most annoyingly, they did.  So half of me is impressed and half is very frustrated, as if I’d have to continue taking Pure Gold Collagen to maintain the results - and frankly, at £35.99 for a box of 10 I can not afford to do so.


Sorry that I don’t have any shot glasses (the student me would be horrified!) but I wanted to let you see what a small amount is in each bottle - it literally is just a quick ‘shot’.

Pure Gold Collagen has been described as:

‘the first product to actually reverse the ageing
process by stimulating the skin to produce more collagen using a unique formulation of
hydrolysed collagen (5000mg), vitamins (C, E, B6), borage oil and hyaluronic acid.’

Pretty huge claims there.  I don’t want to go into the science bit too much as it makes my mind boggle, but I was impressed that a double-blind randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial showed a “30% decrease in the formation of deep wrinkles after taking 10g of hydrolysed collagen per day for 12 weeks.”

If I was preparing for a really special occasion, like getting married or something (hopefully not!) I’d consider taking this in the short term. If I could afford it I’d totally take it regularly. How about you? I’m really curious to know if you would be open to this kind of thing (I definitely wasn’t until I tried it)… please leave a comment below.

Pure Gold Collagen costs £35.99 for 10 x 50ml bottles at Boots - where I’ve just realised it’s on 3 for 2!



Lavera Natural Liquid Foundation Review ~ Porcelain 01 & Almond 04


I didn’t expect a whole lot from Lavera foundation. I seem to have said this a lot lately, but while I do gush on here about the things I love, the truth is that I’m quite difficult to impress - so when I say I love something, I really love it!  I don’t tend to blog about products that disappoint because frankly I think life is too short and I’d much rather put my energy into focusing on the positive than the negative!

I’ve written about Lavera natural products before - so just to summarise….

‘Lavera translates as ‘the truth’ in Latin, which is exactly what this multi award winning brand stands for; natural, honest products that can be used on even the most severe and allergic skin types.’


Lavera Natural Liquid Foundation is mineral infused and leaves a flawless dewy finish that looks and feels light, yet the coverage appears closer to medium.  It contains nourishing organic Argan Oil and Blossom Butter and applies well with a brush or fingers…  I tend to use my fingers as I love the consistency of it. I’d describe it as a gel cream, which before I forget to mention, comes in a pump bottle and actually allows you to dispense a small amount when needed - yay!  More about the texture in a minute - first some swatches…


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I was sent the darkest and lightest shades: Porcelain 01 and Almond 04, neither of which were perfect for me, but the Porcelain is pretty close and should be fine as the weather warms up and I have a bit more colour.  Porcelain is very yellow based and Almond is pink based - I know that both of these tones can be difficult to find so will hopefully be a godsend to some of you!  Each of the above swatches are blended out next to ‘the blob’ - as you can see the Porcelain is barely detectable.


Above, more swatches away from direct light.


Full face pics, wearing Porcelain 01


Above, in natural light


Above, with flash


Closer look in better light to show the texture and finish.

This is makeup that doesn’t feel like makeup! To me it feels like skincare that provides coverage - almost like what you’d expect from a BB cream.  All in all I’ve loved this foundation and have been wearing it a lot. It’s quick and easy to apply, feels totally weightless and I feel like I’m being kind to my skin while wearing makeup, which is always a bonus. Lasting power is pretty impressive too - without powder I only need the odd touch up of concealer around my nose, but that’s normal for me with any foundation. The colour range isn’t huge, but if you can find one that works for you I think you’ll be impressed.

The best bit is that this is very reasonably priced at £12.90 from or

Have you tried any Lavera products? I’ll have more reviews on Lavera makeup and skincare soon.

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