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.


EVENING: YSL Black Opium EDT


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!
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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.
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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.
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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 CHRISTMAS CRACKER 

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 MATTE REVOLUTION MINI LIPSTICK CHARMS

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.


LAURA MERCIER SWEET TEMPTATIONS AMBRE VANILLE LUXE BODY COLLECTION

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.
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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.
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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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Sunday, 20 November 2016

Soigne Botanique AW 2016



I've been trying out the Autumn Winter range by luxury French nail brand, SOIGNÉ Botanique and am impressed by the shades, formula and packaging. The SOIGNÉ formula does not contain any harmful carcinogens, is 5-free and each polish includes up to 85% plant-sourced raw materials.

I'm going to use the brand's own colour descriptions as even these are charming (clockwise from top left)...

  1. Poussière d'ortie, meaning “nettle dust”, a unique green, reminds us of the faded foliage of summer time. 
  2. Mica is a sophisticated mineral-grey, a cooling shade to compliment the deep tones of your autumn wardrobe. 
  3. Papillon De Nuit is a playful, pumpkin-leaf green to add a burst of colour and a hint of mischief to any outfit.
  4. Nuit Radieuse is a unique shade of gunpowder grey, reminiscent of the dark blanket of the night sky and mysterious moonlit shadows. (I'd describe this as a dark teal)
  5. Robe Velours is a deep and mysterious purple, reflecting the luxurious garments of winter. 
  6. Ombre Solaire, meaning “solar shadow”, is a burnt orange, reminiscent of autumnal sunsets and crisp, fallen leaves. 


I find that these polishes apply very smoothly and evenly in two coats and the sophisticated simplicity of the bottle design really appeals to me. 



The only shades I personally wouldn't wear are the orange and lime ones, though I do think they could look incredible on deeper skin tones and like that SOIGNÉ hasn't played it too safe with these collections. My personal favourites are the two greens, both of which you can see me wearing here (Poussière d'ortie) and here (Nuit Radieuse)


The above shades and a vast range of pastels and brights are available at soignenails.com



Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.
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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Standout Skincare Launches

After trialling some great skincare launches in recent months, I've put together an overview of  my top picks. I've tried to keep this brief, so please shout if you'd like a more in depth review of a particular product. For reference, my skin is quite dry, dehydrated, sensitive and rosacea-prone, so I'm always drawn towards products that address at least one of these issues. 


I'm a fan of everything I've tried from Dublin-based brand, Pestle & Mortar and Superstar Retinol Night Oil is no exception. The first retinol product I dipped my toes (cheeks?) into, Superstar is a non-irritating, retinol night oil to repair skin damage while increasing collagen and elastin levels. It has a beautiful light texture, caused me no irritation despite daily use and has helped reduce some stubborn pigmentation. (Keep an eye out for Cyber Monday/Black Friday offers for Pestle & Mortar subscribers).



I first heard about Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Oil from local salon owner, Michelle of Bliss Dromore, who raved about the results she'd seen from it. Phyto Replenish is a feather light oil with plant-based active ingredients to restore moisture levels and leave skin glowing. Unlike most oils, this is designed for morning use and I only need a few drops for super dewy skin. It doesn't disturb makeup and is particularly lovely for Winter months - big fan of this one. 



Skinceuticals Phyto Corrective Masque is designed to calm and soothe temporarily red or irritated skin. It contains highly concentrated botanical extracts, calming dipeptide and hyaluronic acid to cool and hydrate on contact. I absolutely love this when I have a rosaceous flare up or my skin is feeling a little sensitive... the cooling gel texture feels deliciously soothing. Also great for post-workout, sun exposure or - let's face it, more likely - windburn.



Bioderma's Hydrabio range is a personal favourite of mine and the new Bioderma Hydrabio Rich Creme moisturiser is a great new addition to the line. Available in two formulas: a rich cream for normal to dry skin or Light Moisturising Gel for oily/combination, it has a sumptuous texture and leaves my skin feeling immediately nourished. Salicylic acid and Vitamin E help smooth the skin's texture and a little goes a long way with this - don't overdo it (as I did first time) to avoid pilling.  



I don't often use a physical exfoliator and struggle to find one that's gentle enough for my sensitive skin, for which Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream comes up trumps. Rich and creamy with super fine jojoba oil microbeads (the good kind!), it has a gentle fresh scent and leaves my skin feeling strokably soft. 


Eucerin's Hyaluron-Filler range is packed with actives including high molecular Hyaluronic Acid to smooth skin over time while instantly plumping for a wide awake, juicy complexion. My personal favourites are the Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Concentrate serum, worn under moisturiser to smooth the appearance of fine lines, Hyaluron Filler Eye treatment and the Day Cream. NB some of these products are quite fragranced, which I didn't find irritating, but just to give you a heads up. 



Aveda Botanical Kinetics Hydrating Treatment Lotion with nutrient-rich algae instantly quenches, hydrates and preps skin for serum and moisturiser. I'm a huge fan of this essence-style product, especially in colder weather and just press this watery lotion into my skin with my palms. Rose, German chamomile and eucalyptus add a refreshing scent that doubles up as a gentle wake up call. 



I've already raved about Deciem's Ordinary skincare line in an ode of its own (here) and am happy to report that these little bottles are now much depleted and remain in my daily routine. Out of all of the above launches, these remain the biggest standouts for me in terms of no frills, great active ingredients at incredible prices, closely followed by the two oils and Bioderma Hydrabio. 


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