Ole Henriksen Skin Changers & 25% OFF AT Escentual


I hadn’t planned to feature this skincare just yet - until I received an email announcing 25% off at Escentual - and it’s so good, I had to share the opportunity to get hold of it at this price. Ole Henriksen has been on my Skincare Shortlist (this actually exists) for a while now… I’d heard reports of great results and so I had high hopes for my first dabble, using this duo.

I could count on one hand the number of skincare products that have made a quick visible difference to my skin - and this is one of them - the night cream in particular.

I have a confession…

For various reasons (sadly none involving partying) I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been a bit lazy about cleansing lately, always one of the first things take its toll on my skin. You know those nights when a quick lick feels virtuous compared to nothing (that sounds all kinds of wrong, but you know what I mean!). I’m convinced that following my half hearted attempts with Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Crème has saved my face. My skin looks clearer, red patches less obvious and some scarring from a whopper on my chin has cleared up faster than usual. I still have my woes and it’s certainly not perfect, but everything just looks better.

How can this be?

It contains all of the acids that my skin loves: glycolic, lactic and AHAs, which together brighten skin’s appearance for a more even, radiant tone and reduce the appearance of pores.

It works.

The light gel-cream contains primrose oil and shea butter, sinks in quickly and has a lovely zingy fresh scent. I’d prefer it in a pump bottle for hygiene reasons and ease of use, but don’t have a bad word to say about the contents. If my best friend was looking for a new face cream, this is the one I’d recommend. (Sidenote: this is the benchmark for all of my reviews, which is why you don’t see every single product and new release on here).

I’ve been using the night cream nightly, as you do, along with Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Crème. I’ve just noticed that the jar says ‘Daytime Eye Crème’ oops. ‘Ultimate Lift’ is a huge claim to put on a jar of eye cream, but I’m all over the firming and hydrating element, courtesy of bio peptides and hyaluronic acid.

This has a cooling, slightly more dense texture than the night cream and by the time I’ve massaged it in for a few seconds, my skin feels dry and silky, no tackiness. I’m guessing the silkiness is due to a temporary plumping effect, as ‘silky’ and my eye area are not normally in the same room, never mind sentence. (You may be familiar with the de-puffing Ultimate Lift Eye Gel, which can be used alongside this at night, by those more organised than me.)

If this experience (and results) are anything to go by, I’ll definitely be trying more Ole Henriksen. I’m really enjoying both products, but if I had to choose one it would be the night cream. Not cheap, which is even more reason to take advantage of Escentual’s 25% off bank holiday offer.

  • Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Crème is currently exclusive to Escentual.com (25% off all stock until Tues 1 Sep with ESCENTUAL25)
  • Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Crème will be a Selfridges exclusive, launching any day now.

PS if you’re not on the lookout for new skincare, you can still save 25% off everything at Escentual.com, including makeup, hair care and fragrance. Use the code ESCENTUAL25. (I wasn’t asked to share this - it’s where I do the majority of my online beauty shopping.)


The Skinny on Clinique Chubby Lash, new liners & Just Browsing


Clinique recently launched four new eye defining products, including a couple of stand-outs that have received a lot of love already. Chubby Lash Mascara, Skinny Sticks, Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen and Just Browsing… great product names, so what do they do, how do they perform and do you need to try them?



Out of all the above, Just Browsing probably looks the least exciting, but it’s the one I’ve reached for most from this line up in recent weeks. A gel-mousse formula with a teensy wand, it tints brows while adding a little fullness and light hold without crispiness. I haven’t tried Benefit Gimme Brow, which would be the obvious comparison, but find it quick and easy to use. It’s not too wet, which means your unlikely to overdo your brows - nobody wants the caterpillar effect - and sets matte. A pencil will give more precise definition, but this is a great everyday option. Available in 4 shades, mine is Soft Brown, which I can just get away with if I use a light hand; Soft Blonde would probably work better.

Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara has been the most talked about release from this line… my samples are Jumbo Jet (black) and Massive Midnight (blue) and I have my eye on Two Ton Teal. I have a real weakness for teal eye makeup (esp liner) and can imagine this being gorgeous on. I’ve also heard high praise for Bodacious Black Honey, (only at clinique.co.uk), which I love the idea of, but struggle to carry off anything with red undertones on my eyes. In terms of formula, this mascara looked good with one coat - though less chubby than expected - and on two coats was a touch clumpy. This may be down to my lack of finesse with the super chubby wand and those blessed with longer lashes may not have the same issue. If you’ve tried it I’d love to know how you got on.



I’m rubbish at applying liquid eyeliner and rarely take the plunge as I’ve ruined more eye shadow looks than I care to admit by doing so. Still, deep breaths and I dived in, all in the name of research. Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen has a very flexible tapered brush, which did in fact seem to live up to its pretty easy name. It lasted well on my eyes, though oddly seemed to be smudgeable after a few hours. Clearly I have weird eyelids, as the same product lasted THREE days on my arm, despite vociferous scrubbing - go figure! Also available in brown for a softer look.


Kicking myself for not photographing the Skinny Sticks next to regular eyeliner to illustrate just how skinny they really are: 2/3 the diameter of traditional pencils to be precise. Designed to emphasise the lash line, the fine nib allows precise application right at the lash root, which I found worked really well. I do end up applying a thicker line as I like the Skinny Blue colour so much, a lovely deep denim blue with a slight sheen. The other colour here is Demi-Grape, a more matte blackened grape. The formula is well pigmented, smooth and easy to apply, with 12 shades in total including mint green and bright yellow! Wheat Thin (bronze) and Mini Moss (dark olive green) shall be mine; I wear bronze or dark green eyeliner most days and can never resist them.  Sidenote - go easy on these and don’t twist up too much at a time as the nibs are so thin they could break easily; mine haven’t - just saying.



Ok so I know it’s a bit odd to swatch mascara in this way but I think some people could be scared off by the electric blue shade on the wand and wanted to illustrate how much deeper it looks when dry. It does look distinctly blue on my very pale lashes, but definitely wearable. I save it for the upper lashes and stick to Clinique’s Bottom Lash Mascara on my lower lash line. Another more subtle way to wear coloured mascara is a light layer just on the tips, over your regular black or brown.

I’ve included a thick and thin swatch of each liner to show just how finely they can be applied, especially the Skinny Sticks. How pretty is Skinny Jeans? This would have to be my favourite along with Just Browsing.

Clinique Chubby Lash Mascara, Skinny Sticks, Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen and Just Browsing are available now at John Lewis (bonus time until 5 Sep!), Boots & House of Fraser.

What’s your favourite eyeliner formula?


NEW: Pixi Beauty SkinTreats


I’m really excited to see Pixi Beauty extend its skincare range with a new line up of ‘Skintreats’. Best know for its Glow Tonic, a staple in my routine forever, I’ve previously enjoyed a couple of the serums too. I’ve been testing a selection of the new products for a couple of weeks now, so thought I’d share my thoughts (ps I’d normally test skincare for longer, but can form an opinion on masks and cleansers faster than serums and moisturisers).

On first impressions, the packaging couldn’t be more perfect. The crisp mint green and rose gold vintage-esque look is both pretty and practical. I think it’s genius how the key benefits of each product are included on the front in such a simple, clear way, making it easy for us to see what’s what without poring over a load of mumbo jumbo. There’s also a (succinct) para on the back of each product with a full ingredients list.




These two masks do very different jobs, so there’s no reason why you can’t use both, or choose one that best suits your needs. I quite like multi-tasking with masks and have used this clay mask on my T-zone with the nourishing mask on cheeks and neck.

Glow Mud Mask with Aloe Vera, ginseng and mineral-rich mud is a deep pore cleanser - your typical charcoal mud mask that sets dry on the skin *no smiling* and is then rinsed off; it smells good and it does its job well. I like to use a mask like this once every week or two and find that it helps keep congestion at bay. I rarely apply it over my whole face, generally sticking to my nose and chin aka enlarged pore zone.

While I’d class a mud mask as essential (or at least useful), the Nourishing Sleep Mask with botanical extracts and oils is much more of a treat. Deeply hydrating, it can be left overnight or used as a 10 mins booster before going in with your usual skin care routine. This is particularly useful post-flight or the morning after, when skin is parched and tends to eat makeup, so I’ve heard.

Sidenote: Both of these masks smell great, a gentle botanical scent. Always a bonus.




I enjoy using the Glow Mud Cleanser in the mornings as it’s quick and easy and gives my skin the added oomph that it seriously lacks first thing. I’m not usually one for cleansers with actives, as you’re rinsing them off, but the exfoliating 5% Glycolic  Acid in this works nicely in tandem with Glow Tonic - and regardless of that, it’s really pleasant to use. In terms of consistency, it’s a rich cream that looks (and kinda feels) like it’s been mixed with mud, which presumably it has! I’m not sure how this would work daily on my skin in the  long-term and would imagine oily/ normal/ combo skins will particularly enjoy this.

Nourishing Cleansing Balm with Sweet Almond Oil & Vitamin E is a balm to oil cleanser that’s more in line with my usual evening skin cleanse. The key difference is that it doesn’t emulsify (turn milky when wet), which means more thorough removal is required. It smells good and feels good, but the lazy girl in me is put off a bit by this element. It’s rich and heavy, a good choice for dry skins though I think any skin type could use this - my best advice: less is more. And this is definitely one for a second cleanse rather than makeup removal.




Glow Tonic is not a new addition, but the smaller 100ml bottle is, making it more affordable if you’ve been on the fence about trying it. Applied post-cleanse with a cotton pad, it gently exfoliates, removing dead skin cells and impurities and leaving skin looking clearer and brighter. A daily staple for me. I’m wary of exfoliating toners on my rosacea prone skin, but this one is gentle enough not to aggravate. If you use a gritty exfoliant and are after something more gentle, this is the one. PS it takes time to see results from this, so don’t expect overnight miracles; used consistently it works.

Described as an anti-fatigue peptide serum, 24K Eye Elixir is a lightweight eye serum that instantly hydrates and cools tired eyes with a metal rollerball applicator. Quick and easy to use pre-makeup in the mornings… a quick pat and it’s done, no waiting for a rich cream to sink in (I prefer to save that option for night time). It does seem to de-puff and contains age-defying ingredients and collagen.



I know it’s weird to include skincare swatches but as the textures of these are quite unique I thought it might be helpful, so I jumped up to snap these half way through writing. Glow Mud Mask is your standard mud texture, spreads nice and thinly and dries quickly. I’d describe Nourishing Sleep Mask as 2/3 cream, 1/3 gel - it feels very light and instantly hydrating on the skin. Glow Mud Cleanser doesn’t feel much different from a regular cream cleanser, with a muddy greige hue (how on-trend). I’ve tried to blend out the dollop of Nourishing Cleansing Balm to illustrate how it converts to an oil when massaged in; it’s a ‘soft set solid’ in the tub, like your typical dense balm.

Overall, I’m impressed and think there’s something in this line for everyone. As a walking hydration magnet, my top pick is the Nourishing Sleep Mask… I’m also loving the sound of H20 Skin Drink and Glow Peel Pads.

Pixi Beauty Skintreats launch at M&S Beauty on 3rd September and the full line is available now at pixibeauty.co.uk


Jo Malone London Mimosa & Cardamom Review


I took these photos back in Peony season and looking at them is making me crave these big pink fluffy beauties so badly! Nothing to do with the fragrance I hasten to add, but I didn’t have any Mimosa to hand! Jo Malone London Mimosa & Cardamom Cologne is the brand’s biggest launch of the year - available 1st September - and is unlike anything they’ve released before. I’m completely smitten.

“A new bohemia awaits. Mists of honeyed, golden mimosa float above the spiciness of freshly crushed cardamom. Creamy tonka and smooth sandalwood woven under powdery heliotrope and Damask rose picked at dawn. Warm, ethereal, mesmerising.”

Jo-Malone-London-Mimosa Cardamom-review-pics

The slightly bohemian vibe of this fragrance is what sets it apart - and it’s right up my street. Creamy smooth, powdery, musky and gently floral with a touch of spice (can I squeeze in any more adjectives?!). Almost like a gentle version of the Intense Colognes. I tend to think of Jo Malone London scents as fresh and clean cut, whereas this is a little bit smokey and mysterious, yet remains pretty and feminine.


If I had to compare this to another scent in the line it would be Peony & Blush Suede. If you like that, I reckon you’ll love this. A nod to my photos after all!

JML Mimosa & Cardamom Group Shot 2 (1)

Jo Malone London Mimosa & Cardamom is available from 1st September in 30/100ml Cologne, Body & Hand Wash, Body Crème and a Home Candle. PS  I’ve had a whiff of the candle and it’s going straight to the top of my wish list.


NEOM Daily De-Stress Face, Body & hair Oil


Ever wish you could walk around all day wearing the scent of your favourite candle (just me)? Well now you can with NEOM’s newest launch, 3 head to toe Face, Body & Hair Oils to de-stress (Daily De-Stress), aid sleep (Intensive Night Repair) and lift mood (Daily Boost).

This one is designed to de-stress, but assuming that most of us wouldn’t argue with a daily dose of calm, there’s absolutely no need to restrict this to days when you’re in a tizz - and once you’ve tried it, you won’t want to. 

Daily De-Stress oil contains 97% certified organic essential oils of safflower, jojoba, lavender, jasmine and Brazilian rosewood,  as well as Vitamins A and E. If you’ve tried NEOM’s popular Real Luxury line, you may recognise the main components here. I find the scent sophisticated, fresh and clean, yet soothing. While not described as a dry oil, it’s not far off - and certainly doesn’t leave my skin feeling greasy. I like to use it on my upper body where I can benefit most from the scent and can be found reapplying it on my arms throughout the day or before bed and inhaling deeply. I really do find it incredibly relaxing to use in this way.


Packaging is on point: tall, slim glass bottle; fabric-effect label with glossy font, blonde wood lid. If I could change one thing, I’d add a pump, or some kind of stopper so that it’s easier to dispense without the risk of losing a single drop. It’s a big bottle and could absolutely be restricted to pulse points, neck and shoulders to help it last longer.


I haven’t tried this oil on my face, but do love to use it on my hair as well as body. I warm a few drops (roughly a quarter teaspoon) between my palms and rake it through my ends and mid lengths… a little goes a long way. I was surprised how quickly this smoothes my hair and love that I can catch the scent as blows in the wind!

{Sidenote: did anyone else used to fantasise about being *that* girl in the original Timotei ad? Ultimate Hair Flick, slow motion essential. Ahem.}

This oil can also be used as an overnight hair mask, with a tablespoon massaged in and then shampooed out in the morning. I can imagine this smelling incredible and ensuring the most peaceful night’s sleep ever. Must give it a go.  Top tip: apply hair masks a few hours before bed to allow them to soak in/dry and avoid a messy pillow. If you don’t have time to do this, tie hair up and wrap a towel around your pillow.

I think these new oils are a great addition to NEOM’s product line and hope to see them roll out additional products like this. Find NEOM Daily De-Stress Face, Body & Hair Oil here.

PS excuse the mix of photographic backgrounds as I tried to dodge small boys playing football in my garden!


Bobbi Brown Greige collection: Review & Swatches


Inspiration really can come from the simplest things in life - and I love that the colour palette for Bobbi Brown’s new Greige Collection was inspired while mixing paint to decorate her own home. On counters in September, Greige is all about creating chic, neutral looks with touches of intensity. I’ve already shared my personal highlight, the Intense Pigment Liners (review here), but expect that most will be drawn to the Greige Eye Palette encased in sleek, navy satin. The line also includes two new shades of Long-wear Cream Shadow Stick, four Rich Lip Colors and two nail polishes.



I was pleased to see so many cool, matte shades in the Greige Eye Palette, with subtle variations in tone meaning that it can be used to create a number of different looks. There are five mattes, one shimmer and two sparkles. At first swatch, I was unsure if it had enough pigment, but on my eyes, the mid tones are perfect for adding definition in a way that looks polished, yet not overdone. Possibly not one for show stopper looks, but if like me you’re into using eye shadow to contour and enhance the eye area, I think you’ll appreciate this. The most swoony shade is Brown Haze Shimmer Wash (the one the brush is resting on above), chocolate with a satin finish that catches the light without looking showy or full on metallic… I use this on my lids with Greystone (bottom left) in the crease.

I’ve been reaching for this palette most days lately and find it more versatile than Clarins new Pretty Day Palette, reviewed here. The Greige Eye Palette RRP is £52; if you don’t mind skipping the sparkle and glamour, Urban Decay’s Naked Basics 2 (£23) has similar cool toned mattes, which I like the look of, though haven’t personally tried.



As it was a dull day when I took these pics, I’ve included swatches taken indoors by the window (above) and outdoors (below). These are quite heavy finger swatches… the colours are clearly buildable, but the matte tones look softer and almost skin-like when applied with a fluffy brush. I will be forever grateful to the Space NK MUA who taught me how flattering skin toned eye shadows can be for contouring the eyes in a very natural looking way.




If you fancy amping things up a bit - or doing your eyes in a hurry - it’s worth checking out two new shades of Long-Wear Cream Shadow Sticks, Greige and Midnight, both with impressive lasting power and colour intensity. 


Greige is taupe with silver shimmer and mauve undertones, more shimmery on my eyes than it looks here. Midnight is a very wearable blackened navy and great for a quick smokey eye. Slick these all over the lid and blend out the edges with a finger or fluffy brush. I really like Midnight as a smokey liner too... use the edge to draw along the lash line and smudge with a pencil brush or Q tip. I’ve included a fine line smudged out with my finger to show how the colour can be applied softly for a more subtle look.

I’m wearing the Greige Eye Palette and Intense Pigment Liners in this pic. Look out for the Greige Collection on counters from September 2015.


Urban Retreat Beautique Luxury GWP: Ultimate Summer Beauty Bag


If your beauty stash needs replenished or you’re in the mood to treat yourself, it may be worth popping over to The Urban Retreat Beautique (Harrods online beauty store) where there’s a seriously luxurious GWP going on. You’ll need to spend £150 to get your hands on it, but you’ll receive almost the same value of beauty products in return. The Ultimate Summer Beauty Bag, worth more than £140, is filled with luxury essentials, some of them miniatures as you can gauge from the (full sized) nail polish bottle. Not a dud among them though, these are all top notch brands.

So what to buy to get your hands on them? Well it took me all of 2 minutes to virtually blow the budget on some of my everyday beauty favourites… the perfume I’m wearing today - Laura Mercier Ambre Vanille; my go-to setting powder for a radiant, candlelit-effect finish - Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette; the hair styling products I’m never without - UNITE 7 Seconds Conditioner and Boosta Spray (aka best volumiser ever) and last but not least, NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base for all day, crease-free colour.

Hand on heart, I used every one of these either daily or several times a week - and have done for a couple of years. I try a lot of beauty products and these are ones I keep coming back to.

So is this the ultimate GWP? Here’s exactly what you get, all stashed inside a beach bag:

  • Cover FX Illuminating Setting Powder
  • Moroccanoil Treatment
  • Chantecaille Faux Cils Mascara
  • Essie Nail Polish, To buy or not to buy
  • Leighton Denny Miracle Mist
  • Ultrasun Anti-Aging Sun Protection
  • Thalgo Cocooning Lotion
  • Delarom Acquaconfort Cream
  • Murad Advanced Active Radiance Serum
  • Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate
  • Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
  • Kérastase Elixir Treatment
  • Voucher for 10% off above full sized products in your next online order.

The Ultimate Summer Beauty Bag (worth £140) is available while stocks last when you spend £150+ at The Urban Retreat Beautique


Bobbi Brown Intense Pigment Liner: Black Plum & Forest


Intense Pigment Liners are, for me, the stars of Bobbi Brown’s upcoming Greige Collection (more on that soon, sneak peak on my Instagram). They look like traditional cake eyeliners, but are actually highly intense powder liners that can be used to create soft, subtle definition, a smokey eye or an intense crisp line. If like me, you like to use eye shadow as liner for a softer look, I think you’ll love these.

I love the rich tones, stripes and dinky mirrored compacts, available in three shades including Midnight (deep blue), Black Plum and Forest. The three colours in each trio can be worn individually or together,  on the upper and lower lash line, in an ombre effect, or as an accent colour. I assumed that they should be used wet or mixed with some kind of liquid to create the intensity of a liner, so was shocked at the depth of pigment on my finger after one gentle sweep of the pan.


Here I’ve swatched Forest (left) and Black Plum using Bobbi Brown’s eye liner brush for the thicker lines. NB this brush is great for lining the lower lash line, though a new dual-ended one launches with this collection - similar to this with a smudger brush on one end.  (PS that’s a puppy scratch next to the swatches in my top pic! )

I used one or two passes of the brush for these swatches (two required mainly to address my wobbly lines). If you’ve ever used eye shadow to line your eyes, you’ll know that this is a whole lot more pigment than you’d normally get. They can of course be applied with a lighter hand and smudged for a more subtle effect, or smoked out with a fluffy brush. The colour is so intense that it can transfer a little on my hooded lids if I apply too much, which is why I prefer to use it on my lower lash line with the following method on my upper lash line.

While these do work smoked out - alone or over gel liner/cream shadow - my favourite way to wear them on the upper lash line is in a slick line of colour applied with a slanted brush, dampened with Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water for added longevity. This is how I did the thinner lines below each trio of swatches, using the central shade of each palette; colour can be applied in this way to create fine lines, or built up into a dramatic cat eye flick. I use a MAC 266 Small Angle Brush (mine is ancient and still going strong). While you can create a crisp line without the Primer Water, this method means that the product sets - and does not budge until I choose to remove it.

Bobbi Brown Intense Pigment Liners in Black Plum, Midnight and Forest, RRP £26.50 will be on counters as part of the Greige Collection in September 2015 or online at johnlewis.com and houseoffraser.co.uk


Latest in Beauty Awards Winners’ Box 2015


Latest in Beauty has announced the winners of its first ever Awards - and gathered them together into one fabulous Winners’ Box. Seven of the nine products are full size, which is pretty impressive for a beauty box - and I’m a fan of most - read on to hear my thoughts on each one.

The winners in each category are… *drumroll*

  • Cult Classic: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+
  • Best Newcomer: Zoella Beauty Fresh Fizz Fragranced Bath Fizzer
  • Skincare Saviour: Burt’s Bees Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep cleansing cream
  • Must-Have Makeup: Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon
  • Hottest Haircare: Philip Kingsley Elasticizer
  • Body Beautiful: The Body Shop Wild Argan Oil Miracle Solid Oil For Body & Hair
  • Best Eye Makeup: Eye of Horus Brown Mascara or Brown Eyeliner
  • Green Award: Dr Organic Snail Gel Facial Serum
  • Blogger’s Choice Award: COLAB Sheer & Invisible Dry Shampoo in Monaco

BurtsBees-Deep-Cleansing-Cream, PhilipKingsley-Elasticizer

I really enjoy using this Burt Bees creamy cleanser in the mornings and am a loooong term fan of Philip Kingsley Elasticizer when my hair is parched or brittle.

CoLab-Monaco, LaRochePosay-Effaclar-Duo , Zoella-Fresh-Fizz-Fragranced-Bath-Fizzer

COLAB Dry Shampoo was the Bloggers’ Pick, which I had fun helping judge. A very deserved winner, it’s lightweight and non-sticky with no powdery finish - plus it’s cheap as chips aaand smells good. La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+ is a much loved anti blemish treatment that helps unclog pores and prevent scarring… I’m quite new to this one, but have heard nothing but rave reviews. Zoella’s new Fresh Fizz Fragranced Bath Fizzer has been given the seal of approval by my daughter - just break off a fruity scented chunk and pop it in the bath!


It’s been a while since I’ve tried a brown mascara and have enjoyed wearing Eye of Horus Goddess Mascara in Babylon Brown on my lower lashes for a softer look. Its paraben free formula with Moringa Oil is suitable for sensitive eyes. The Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon is one I’ve raved about multiple times and included in my favourites - a balm/lipstick hybrid with creamy, moisturising goodness that packs on pigment. The Body Shop Wild Argan Oil Miracle Solid Oil is a great product for anyone that’s a bit timid of using a liquid body oil. It smells divine, is deeply nourishing and the little tin couldn’t be any easier to use… just swipe with your fingers and melt the product onto skin.


The only product I’m not a fan of from this lot is Dr Organics Snail Gel Facial Serum - let’s just say it’s not my bag. Great brand though, and I am a fan of their lovely new coconut range!

The total value of the LIB Beauty Awards 2015 Winners’ Box is £84+ and it’s available now for £21+p&p. I don’t think anyone can argue with that for a bargain!  You can read more about each of the products or purchase the box while stocks last at latestinbeauty.com


Scentered: Let’s take a moment


We all have days when taking a few deep breaths and telling ourselves to snap out of it and get on with things just doesn’t cut it. Recently I’ve been reaching for Scentered 100% natural therapy balms when I have a bit of a moment. Created as an easy way to integrate the benefits of essential oils into everyday life - minus the faff of oil bottles and burners - Scentered is all about empowering us to cope with stresses and strains on-the-go. And feel more, you know… centred.

For me, the balancing act of looking after young children and working from home is usually the biggest challenge in terms of maintaining my ‘Zen’. I feel genuinely blessed to be able to spend so much time with them, but the work at home mum scenario has its pros & cons - and in all honesty, is not one I’d necessarily recommend (unless you have a lot of family support or are much more disciplined than me!) Over the school holidays I’ve been reaching for Stress Less balm (chamomile, neroli & mandarin) more often than I should probably admit.

On days when the kids are at Summer clubs - ie when I should get stuck into work - my instinct is of course to sit very still, enjoying the silence and hot, uninterrupted coffee, pretending to be a lady of leisure. This is when Focus balm kicks in (rosemary, mint and clary sage), recommended before important meetings or exams to boost mental alertness and performance. Blessed with the concentration levels of a gnat, I have to say that every little helps.

Thanks to the essential oil blends, Scentered balms smell good - to the extent that I’m happy to skip perfume and wear them instead - plus they’re so quick and easy to swipe on my wrists, temples and neck (am sometimes tempted to just paint my whole body with them). In all honesty, I have no idea how much of the benefits are due to the essential oils or if it’s a placebo effect, but hey - if it works.

While a swipe or six of balm may not *quite* transport me to the chilled Earth Mother, Career Woman and Domestic Goddess I aspire to be, they do seem to knock my rough edges off and feel comforting to use.  I’d describe the outcome as a bit like the feeling after you’ve lit a soothing candle - at times when you can’t because you’re on the bus, at an important meeting, or Sainsbury’s.

Scentered Balms are available at SpaceNK and are also available in Escape, Sleep Well and Love.

PS I like this bit too…

“The vision for Scentered is to not only empower women through the use of its products, but also through the sharing of its profits. To this end, 10% of net profit proudly supports Women for Women International, an organisation that empowers women to improve their lives, and rebuild communities in war-torn regions.”


July BEAUTY favourites


It’s been a while since I’ve done a monthly favourites post… I always intend to and then get distracted - must be more disciplined! I gathered these July favourites by zooming in on the hotspots where my most used products gather - from the windowsill where I do my makeup to handbags where I stash essentials when going out for the day. If I can’t find something, the bottom of my handbag is usually where it will be, especially lip products and concealers, my two main topper-uppers.

This month’s favourites are mostly makeup based, but I do have some separate skincare posts coming up.

TomFord-FranticPink-Blusher,ByTerry-OmbreBlackstar-BronzeMoon,Oskia-GetUpAndGlow,PixiBeauty-IlluminatingTint Conceal,MiiLipstick-Crush

THE BASE |  Things always get more dewy for me in Summer, with a lighter base, coral lips & cheeks and a smoosh of bronze on the lids. So predictable, but it works!

Oskia Get Up & Glow has been helping me do just that. When I first saw this product I assumed that it was a skincare/makeup hybrid due to its pinky opalescence, but it’s not. This is an energising serum that does add a degree of instant glow, but is much more about what lies beneath, with a cocktail of radiance boosters that don’t disappoint. It hasn’t stolen Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel’s No1 spot (be still my beating heart) but is a lovely addition on days when my skin needs perking up (that’ll be most days then). I also like to press it over makeup with a Barely Cosmetics sponge for an afternoon pep up, a tip from the lovely Kenneth Soh MUA (the process, not these specific products, though he may well be a fan!).

The first time I tried Pixi Illuminating Tint & Conceal resulted in much swooning, ohh-ing and ahh-ing. This is a flipping genius product and I love it lots. Think mega glowy tinted moisturiser with SPF20 and a built in concealer on the end. Genius. Mine is No1 Light Glow. Coverage is minimal, but can easily be topped up with the concealer and it also works beautifully mixed with a little foundation. Probably my favourite Pixi Beauty product to date.

I didn’t come cheek to cheek with a Tom Ford blusher until early Summer - and now I get the hype. Tom Ford Frantic Pink is the precise colour I’d create if I was making my own blush - the perfect coral pink with a glowy finish, wrapped in satisfyingly clunky packaging with a built-in mirror. An instant face pepper-upper that looks beautiful paired with bronzer. (NB For those who missed out on Bobbi Brown’s sell out Calypso Cheek Palette (my review here), this creates a similar effect to all three shades blended.)

As much as I love luxury beauty products, it pains me to pay £29 for a single eye shadow crayon, but I did. Twice. And I can’t deny that By Terry Ombre Blackstar is a total beaut. Bronze Moon is a one sweep wonder… I’ve mainly been wearing it all over the lid, blended up into my  crease and smudged along my lower lash line. It’s daytime friendly and can be smoked out for night, which I usually do with its older sister, Brown Perfection. I find Bronze Moon easier to work with and really do think it’s a suit-all shade that most people will fall for as hard as I did.

I love a lightweight shiny lipstick in Summer and Mii Silkcrème Lip Lover in Crush adds the perfect pop of bright coral. Nourishing lychee and antioxidants make these lipsticks feel really balmy and weightless, with a flattering shiny finish that makes them very wearable for daytime. I never get mega lasting power from this kind of dewy formula, but it’s a compromise I’m happy to make as I love how it looks and feels - layering over the matching lip liner helps add longevity.


FRAGRANCE & HAIR  |  I get asked what perfume I’m wearing every single time I go out in Tom Ford Fleur de Portofino, one of my most complimented fragrances ever. (Laura Mercier Fresh Fig is its closest contender in the compliment stakes). I love that, because who wants a perfume that no-one can smell?! Having said that, this is not an overpowering scent, but a fresh yet  sweet, feel-good one that whisks me away to a tropical island every time I spritz. Kinda convenient since I happen to live on one of the coldest islands on the planet *sniffs wrist again and feels thankful for good imagination*. See my full review here.

I’m a sucker for a mist-on hair oil as I find them so much easier to use than the kind I have to carefully massage in while taking care not to apply an entire dollop on one strand. Label M Therapy Rejuvenating Oil Mist has been my go-to for days when my hair needs extra moisture, added definition, de-fuzzing or just some faux gloss. ie unless it needs washed, I use this. It also smells gorgeous (maybe I should use it when my hair needs washed) and doesn’t weigh my hair down or make it lank, at all. Top tips: use on ends/mid lengths only and don’t spray near a tiled or wooden floor unless you want your nearest and dearest to go on their ear. Guilty, whoops.

So there we go. I started this at tea time and it’s now bed time… which may be why my monthly favourites are more quarterly than monthly! I know, I know I could just say less about each product, but it’s hard when you’re on a roll and really excited about that lipstick…

What’s your current favourite - if you had to pick just one? Oh the pressure!


Clarins autumn 2015 makeup collection


I usually feel a bit odd talking about Autumn beauty collections at this time of year, but the weather ‘kindly’ fast forwarded this week, helping me get into the vibe. Clarins Autumn 2015 Makeup collection features a mix of daytime neutrals and more sultry evening looks. I’ve been trying out three of the new neutrals, which are perfect for everyday makeup that leaves you looking polished with very little effort. 


PRETTY DAY PALETTE  |  This Pretty Day eye shadow palette includes a mix of matte and shimmer shades. The tones offer exactly what most people want from a day time palette: a matte cream base, a slightly peach shimmer to enhance the brow bone. (I don’t like OTT shimmer in this area - it can look a bit 80s-tastic - especially for daytime. The subtlety of this is on the money.) The middle beige shimmer has the least payoff (not a criticism; it’s a daytime shadow) and can be used as an inner corner highlight or pressed over one of the other shades to add shimmer. I’m not really a fan of either look for daytime, but no doubt many will be. A matte chocolate brown works well in the crease, as liner, or for definition in the outer corner. My personal favourite is the last cool toned brown with a satin finish, beautiful all over the lid and blended up into the crease, I like wearing this one alone. It also works well as a smokey liner as it has the best payoff of every shade in the palette. Speaking of which, I’m pretty happy with how all of them apply and think the payoff of each is in keeping with its role - I tested the same look on one naked eye and one with my trusty NARS primer - and found very little difference in both blendability and payoff. 

Clarines palette size

PACKAGING  |  The Pretty Day Palette is teeny and the outer casing is shiny gold cardboard secured with a gold elastic. I’ve photographed it with the lipstick on top to illustrate. This will please those who enjoy a makeup bag sized, travel friendly palette, though may bother others who expect more luxe packaging from Clarins. I’m a fan of the dinky size and its packaging doesn’t bother me, though I must admit the usual style feels more glam to handle. What do you think?

Overall, I’d sum up this palette as a great staple that’s enhancing rather than ground breaking. A good buy if you don’t already own a neutral palette - though do keep an eye out for the Pretty Night Palette with beautiful rich bronze and olive shades if you fancy something a little more decadent.


LIPSTICK  |  After talking about the eye shadow palette in more detail than intended (nothing new there), I have to admit that it’s not actually the star of the collection for me (though I suspect Pretty Night Palette may be). What WOWed me most was the lipstick and brow pencil. Tawny Rose is a new addition to the Rouge Éclat lipstick line (along with Red Paprika, a bright russet). I love the nourishing formula of these with Vitamin E and 100% plant waxes including mimosa and jojoba, giving a creamy, slightly sheer glossy finish. They really do plump and smooth my lips and Tawny Rose is a lovely pinky-brown nude that reminds me of Autumn leaves... I love this kind of shade against pale skin.

EYEBROW PENCILS  |  I’m already a fan of Clarins eye pencils and lip liners, so it’s no surprise that their new brow pencils don’t disappoint. Neither too hard nor waxy, they have just the right amount of colour payoff for accentuating your shape and filling in the odd gap, the spoolie is soft and distributes the product beautifully and Soft Blonde works well on me. In the swatch it looks a touch warmer than what I’d normally go for, but somehow it works. Also available in Light Brown and Dark Brown.

OMBRE MATTE  |  Last but not least, Heather is a beautiful new addition to the Ombre Matte pots of shadow - these are highly pigmented, smooth on like silk and can be blended out with one finger. This charcoal grape tone looks amazing with blue eyes and I can imagine it working just as well with green or brown eyes. I need to use these over a primer, but those with less crease-prone eyes could probably skip this step as the payoff and lasting power are great.



Apologies for not showing a pic of these on my face - I know it’s helpful to see that but I’ve been feeling a bit camera shy lately (aka minging) - anyone else ever have days (weeks) like that? If you follow me on Instagram (@strawbryblonde) I promise to share one over there soon.

The Pretty Day Palette and Heather Ombre Matte  shadows are available now at clarins.co.uk and the rest of Clarins Autumn 2015 makeup collection will be on counters and online this month.

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