Moisturiser with SPF (that feels like a treat)


While we all know that we should use an SPF all year around, most of us make more of an effort to apply it consistently when there's actual sunshine. Which there is, despite today's 5 minute hail storm in the middle of it. I've recently discovered a moisturiser with SPF which I reckon will convert sunscreen avoiders everywhere (I know you're out there!). 

Perricone MD Photo Plasma is a moisturiser with a mineral-based, broad spectrum SPF30 to guard against UVA and UVB damage. It also contains Alpha Lipoic Avid and Vitamin C Ester to improve the appearance of pores and brighten skin texture. This combination makes it great for sensitive skin that's prone to dryness and anyone with concerns about the effects of ageing. That'll be me then. 

"helps protect against the 10 most common skin aggressors: sun exposure, dehydration, pollution, harsh wind, excessive heat, extreme cold, heavy metals, smoke, stress and chemical irritants."


A few things make this really special. First up, it has the most luxurious texture of any moisturiser or SPF that I've tried... a silky, whipped mousse that melts into the skin leaving a beautiful sheen. Although mineral based, there is zero white cast from fact the finish is almost pearlised, though not shimmery as such. Oily skins may not be fans for this reason (though it is oil free), but glow-boosting is always a bonus in my book and I find that this makes a beautiful base for foundation.

It is pricey, but for a 2 in 1 luxury skincare product that is a pleasure to use and leaves skin peachy, protected and glowing, I think it's worth it. I prefer to use a separate SPF in the height of Summer or when spending prolonged periods of time in direct sunlight, but for these in between months, this is perfect.

Perricone MD Photo Plasma SPF30 is available here (10% off at the moment) or as part of a set with 3 other products for £20 extra here. (US readers will find it at Sephora).

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


Dolce & Gabbana Summer in Italy Make Up 2016: Review & Swatches

Dolce & Gabbana Summer in Italy 2016 Make Up
It's not every day that a new make up collection sets my pulse racing, but Dolce & Gabbana Summer in Italy does just that. And yes, this is coming from a neutrals lover, but JUST LOOK AT THOSE COLOURS! It's good to have fun with make up sometimes, especially at this time of year. This collection is inspired by the playful palette of Italian Summers, from Sicilian fruits to the Mediterranean atmosphere. Don't know about you but this lot make me crave sunshine.

These brights will generate a huge yay or nay from most; there's no room for middle ground (or wall flowers) here, but you can always just choose one piece. Personally, I wouldn't wear more than two of these at any one time - and yes I've tried the whole shebang, including different shades on each eye and a pink & orange ombre lip. It was a bit much (for me).

Think a simple bold lip with glowing bronzed skin and little else, or a pop of bright eyeliner and the lipstick worn as a stain... absolutely stunning.

Let's have a closer look...


Dolce & Gabbana Classic Cream Lipstick in Cyclamen & Venere
Despite my love of a bold lip, I have to admit I was a little shy of these at first. Cyclamen is a striking blue toned fuchsia (the ultimate instant teeth whitener) and Venere is a spicy orange. These are super creamy and highly pigmented, yet turned out to be surprisingly wearable. I've been patting Cyclamen onto my top lip (straight from the bullet), then pressing against my bottom lip for a thin layer of colour with soft edges that doesn't look too OTT. For longer lasting power, I follow with a heavier layer, then blot. I've done double takes in the mirror in surprise at just how long these last. They do stain my lips (evenly) and I even wake up with a slight rosy tint the next morning (in a good way). They are perfumed with D&G's signature rose petal scent, which I don't love, but only notice during application.

I'd describe the finish as very natural... slightly dewy when left to do their own thing or semi matte when blotted, which I prefer. They don't feel matte, but this finish somehow adds to the wearability - yes they're bright and bold, but the sophisticated texture means they're not too in your face.


Dolce & Gabbana Glam Liner Intense Liquid Eyeliner in Cyclamen & Perfect Mono Cream Eye Colour in Indaco

Yep it's a Cyclamen liquid eyeliner, in the same shade as the lipstick above. This has a shimmery finish and at the encouragement of my 8 year old son, I actually gave it a go. I added a mini cat eye above the dark liner I was already wearing and apparently it looked 'really cool'. I'm willing to bet it will look way cooler on someone half my age, but don't knock it 'til you've tried it.

The Perfect Mono Cream Eye Colour in Indaco is an absolute stunner and the formula is so good I'd love it in a tonne of everyday colours. This is mega pigmented (a theme that runs across this collection) in cream to powder - which sets on the eye - and a little goes a long way. It can absolutely be sheered out, but looks best when it packs a punch. I've worn this all over the lid and smoked out as liner and it does.not.budge. I'd call it a petrol blue, which looks dark teal when smudged or smoked out.


Dolce & Gabbana Luminous Cheek Colour in Orange & Shimmer Powder in Star Shine
Ok so you're not likely to catch me in vivid orange blush, but on darker skins, this will come into its own. A word of warning, barely touch the pigment with your brush bristles - less is more.

Shimmer Powder in Star Shine is an oyster cream to powder highlight with very finely milled gold shimmer. It sets on the skin and can be used on cheek and brow bones or on the eyes. I like it as an eye shadow, all over the lid or as a pop of shimmer in the centre. Budget alternatives that do a similar job are Topshop Glow and Soap & Glory Glow All Out.


Dolce & Gabbana Summer in Italy Swatches - natural light
I wanted to share swatches in both natural light to show the true colour and pigmentation - and in the sunshine where they seem to belong.

From top:
  • Perfect Mono Cream Eye Colour in Indaco
  • Shimmer Powder in Star Shine
  • Luminous Cheek Colour in Orange
  • Glam Liner in Cyclamen
  • Classic Cream Lipsticks in Venere & Cyclamen

Dolce & Gabbana Summer in Italy Swatches - sunlight

Dolce & Gabbana Nail Lacquer in Turquoise
Last but not least, a big shout out to the divine Turquoise nail polish - creamy, opaque and one of the glossiest formulas I've tried. It's photographed with no top coat and lasted 3-4 days like this with only minor tip wear despite heavy housework. The perfect greeny blue, it basically looks like you've dipped your fingers in the Med. 


Here's how the products look on a total (Italian) babe, wearing the eye shadow in Turquoise. 

While I'm a long term lover of Dolce & Gabbana perfumes (I've owned and obsessed over Light Blue, Femme, The One & Intense), this is my first dabble in the makeup and as you've probably gathered, I'm impressed. I'm curious to know if the neutral shades are equally good, so please let me know if you've tried any. 

Dolce & Gabbana Summer in Italy 2016 Make Up Collection launches 1st May at Harrods. My top pick is the hot pink Cyclamen lipstick, closely followed by the Turquoise nail polish. Even better worn together. 

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


Barry M Spring 2016 Swatches

Nail polish is a no brainer when it comes to cutting corners in the save vs splurge beauty debate. In the past, sophisticated colour ranges (ok and blingy bottles) have enticed me to fork out the extra for a luxury nail polish, rather than huge discrepancies in formula over more affordable ones. This is definitely starting to change as budget brands up their game and Barry M's Spring 2016 collection is just one that includes a colour spectrum of subtle tones that compete with the best. The Gelly Hi Shine and Speedy Quick Dry line ups include beautiful nudes that even pale hands like mine can pull off.

(I've been getting eye rolls from my daughter for photographing this collection for the third time in an effort to capture the colours accurately - fusspot, moi?)


Barry M Gelly Shine Spring 2016
Barry M Gelly: Cream Soda, Butterscotch Sundae, Pink Lemonade, Acai Smoothie swatches
Barry M Gelly Hi Shine: Cream Soda, Butterscotch Sundae, Pink Lemonade, Acai Smoothie
Barry M Gelly Hi Shine is a well pigmented, thick glossy formula that looks good in two coats, though you may prefer three for some pastel shades.

Cream Soda, a buttermilk off white, is pretty worn alone or as a base for nail art. Pink Lemonade is right up my street - a pastel dusky pink with a vintage vibe that's neither too girly or too grey - perfect for everyday.

Barry M Sunset Daylight Curing Spring 2016
Barry M Sunset Daylight Curing: Pinking Out Loud, Bug-a-Blue, Empire State of Mint
Barry M Sunset Daylight Curing: Pinking Out Loud, Bug-a-Blue, Empire State of Mint
In terms of application, I think Sunset Daylight Curing are my favourite as they go on super smoothly. The colour 'cures' in daylight giving a high shine finish and comes off with regular nail polish remover. The new Spring brights are pretty, though a touch sugary for me and I'd probably restrict to toes unless I was really tanned. There's also a beaut orange red called All The Things She Red that sadly smashed en route to me - it would be my pick of the bunch in terms of colour and I must grab another when I'm in Boots. You can see my daughter sporting Bug a Blue here - a pretty sky blue, which I think my skin is too pale to carry off. This line comes with its own top coat for extra long wear, though you can get away with your regular top coat.

Barry M Speedy Quick Dry Spring 2016
Barry M Speedy Quick Dry: Winning Streak, In a Flash, Freestyle, Personal Best
The Speedy Quick Dry shades are very pretty though I do find that this formula often requires 3 coats to get rid of streaks and feels a little less fluid in application. This could be due to powders or thickeners that boost its drying time... I'm just guessing here! It does dry quickly and the colours look great once they're on. Pastel peach In a Flash is my pick of the bunch, one of the few nudes I've tried that flatters my skin tone and doesn't give me mannequin hands.

Barry M nail polishes are among my most used and definitely give luxury brands a run for their money. Once these are on your nails, no-one is gonna know the difference between them and a polish that costs 4 times the price. While this doesn't stop me from enjoying a high end polish from time to time, these absolutely stand on their own two feet and are the perfect pick me up. Damson, a rich cobalt blue, is one of my most worn polishes ever and pretty much a constant on my Summer toes.

Barry M Gelly Hi Shine, Speedy Quick Dry & Sunset Daylight Curing are available in these shades at Boots (buy one get second half price). 

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


Jo Malone London Nashi Blossom Cologne: Review


Jo Malone Nashi Blossom Cologne is a bright, juicy scent that's perfect for Spring. I'd describe it as a grown up fruity floral that reminds me of crisp linen, warm skin and picnics with home made lemonade (or G&T, who am I kidding?). Crisp, clean and effervescent, the initial whoosh of refreshing lemon settles to a much softer musky floral.


Have you ever seen a happier looking perfume bottle? Monochrome polka dots and a metallic lime lid... what dressing table could resist? The design is inspired by the Nashi blossom's pure white flowers with black stamen, creating that pretty polka dot effect.

Blossoms on the East Asian Nashi pear tree traditionally symbolise the start of Spring (Nashi means pear in Japanese) . The tree's sweet, crisp fruit resembles a cross between an apple and pear - and notes of both are included in this scent. The fruit itself is fragrant and considered a delicacy, often given as a gift, very apt inspiration for a perfume don't you think? Its blossom also has a hint of rose, included in the heart of Jo Malone Nashi Blossom.

I can definitely catch the lemon, rose and pear.


Another quick swoon at those dots, which carry right around the bottle... I can't look at it without smiling.

I'll be saving this one for warmer weather when I'm most drawn to this kind of fragrance and will really appreciate that zesty spritz. If fruity florals aren't really your thing, hold out for Black Cedarwood & Juniper in June, a stunning unisex relaunch from the London Rain collection and one of the most sophisticated scents I've tried in a long time.

Jo Malone London Nashi Blossom cologne is a  limited edition, on counters from May 2016 in 30ml (£44) and 100ml (£89) and already online at Jo Malone. 

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

The Dewy Base

I mentioned my penchant for a dewy base in my last post... and this is the one I've been wearing most days lately. My newest base discovery, Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue, is at the heart of it - and stands well on its own - but for me, layering is key for an all day glow. I have to admit there are times when I add more layers than this, but for fear of being labelled a beauty onion (or complete nutcase), I've pared things back today.  

Quick reminder - my skin is dry and dehydrated and although the dryness eases off during Spring and Summer, it's still pretty baltic in Belfast, so I'm still layering up. I'd much rather use multiple thin layers than a thick coat of moisturiser and think my skin prefers this too. 

OM Revitalising Beauty Booster is a hydrating floral water blend with Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C and botanicals. Add a few drops to moisturiser with the pipette or pat straight onto skin, which is how I like to use it. I then moisturise with Oskia Renaissance 360 Supreme Cream (full review coming soon on this beaut) and prime with Too Faced Hangover, which I love as it hydrates and plumps my skin as well as priming. The first silicone-free primer I've tried, it contains coconut water and doesn't have the usual waxy consistency, feeling more like a skincare product. 

That sounds like a lot when I write it all down but it takes me 1 minute tops to apply all three, which sink in quickly, so no hanging around.   

When I first tried Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue I thought uh oh, not enough coverage for me. Yes I know it's meant to be a light base, but I do need a certain amount of coverage. If this is a concern for you too, then fear not as this product builds beautifully and is truly versatile. I actually couldn't believe the difference a second layer made - my skin looked like a smoother, more velvety version of itself. The cream gel texture applies equally well with a brush or fingers and I'm a fan of the squeezy tube, weightless feel and That Glow. This product is very skin like in finish and definitely one for normal or dry skins... it's super comfortable to wear and has SPF30. As someone who likes the idea of wearing a mineral foundation but doesn't love powder versions, this has been a brilliant discovery and I'll definitely be wearing it into the Summer. It's currently on offer at Debenhams (10% off all foundations if you want to stock up on your usual) and I use the shade Buttercream, a touch deeper than I'd normally go but spot on with self tan.

I do still need extra cover in certain areas and rely on NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer for redness around my nose or chin and any small blemishes such as broken veins or pigmentation spots. This product does not work for my under eye area. I see young things on YouTube slathering on a thick layer, my jaw dropping as they keep dipping in the applicator for more and more, wondering when they're going to stop. Oh the joys of porcelain smooth perfect skin. On blemishes and redness however, it's a winner for me, with great coverage and lasting power. I use the shade Vanilla.

While I still use my Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Serum Corrector and Concealer regularly, I'm having a bit of a rekindled love affair with Clarins Instant Concealer for a quick everyday face. It's particularly great for under eyes (no caking or creasing) but is so creamy that it works well anywhere on the face and can be used to boost coverage wherever needed. If I was only allowed one concealer in my stash, this would be it. I've probably had this tube for longer than I should but it's still going strong. I use the lightest shade, 01.

This pic was taken after I'd used all of the above (and the rest of my makeup). 

Do you do dewy?

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


Clinique Chubby in the Nude Foundation: Review & Swatches


Chubby in the Nude Foundation Stick is the newest addition to Clinique's Chubby family - a portable, twist up foundation that can be used all over or for spot concealing. It arrives with Clinique's first ever Buff Brush, suitable for use with any foundation formula, including this one.


I go into a lot of detail in this post, so if you're after a quick lowdown on Clinique Chubby in the Nude:
  • Comes in 10 shades from Abundant Alabaster through to Curviest Clove. 
  • Coverage is buildable from sheer to medium, though I think it looks best worn quite sheer. 
  • The formula is oil-free, long wearing and has a natural looking satin/semi-matte finish. 
  • I can wear it sheer on my dry skin, though think it will work best on normal skins. 
  • Although oil-free, I'd avoid if you're very oily as although solid, it's quite creamy. 
In all honesty I wasn't feeling this on first use... most foundations are slow burners with me (closely followed by mascaras) so this was no surprise. I don't make judgements after just one use and realised my (dry) skin needed some attention to give it a fair run. Skin prep is really important for me when it comes to foundation and I'm increasingly realising that the correct skincare can make or break whichever base goes on top.

On day two I prepped using my current favourite beauty device, the Foreo Luna, which leaves my skin feeling baby soft. If you don't exfoliate regularly, try any gentle exfoliant to reveal newer, softer skin for a more even foundation base. I upped the hydration levels with Vichy Aqualia Thermal Eye Balm DHC Beauty Lift Essence and Oskia Renaissance 360 Supreme Cream, then went in with the foundation.

This time I used Clinique's new Buff Brush (instead of fingers). I'm a big fan of this... super soft, it has slightly sparser, longer bristles than my usual buffing brushes and gives quick coverage with a natural finish. I've also tested the Real Techniques Buffing Brush with this foundation, which works well too, so if it ain't broke...

I used 2-3 stripes of foundation across each cheek and 1 on my nose, forehead and chin. The product is surprisingly creamy and warms quickly on the skin; while it does need some working in, it blends more easily than I expected. One light layer gives me semi-sheer coverage - enough for daytime with the addition of concealer - and I'd describe the finish as quite skin-like, on the cusp of satin and matte.

My skin looks better than I expected with this foundation, especially as I don't usually get on with any compact or solid foundations. I'm not wowed by it as I personally love a more dewy glow, but it's more than acceptable and I expect a lot of people will love it.


HEAVY SWATCH: Clinique Chubby in the Nude Foundation Stick in  Capacious Chamois (top) & Intense Ivory

BLENDED SWATCH: Clinique Chubby in the Nude Foundation Stick in  Capacious Chamois (top) & Intense Ivory
Intense Ivory and Capacious Chamois are the 2nd and 3rd lightest shades in this foundation. I haven't seen Abundant Alabaster in person, but it looks quite a bit paler. Intense Ivory leans pink/beige and Capacious Chamois is more yellow/beige toned. 

I'd definitely need the fairest, Abundant Alabaster, in Winter, but can get away with either of these shades for now, after a little self tanning (more on that soon!).


I don't see myself using this product on a daily basis as I think liquid foundations with a radiant finish are better suited to my dry skin. I also prefer the whole application process with a liquid or cream foundation. I do however think these are perfect for both travel and on the go touch ups or pairing with a tinted moisturiser/BB cream for extra coverage where needed. I'll be keeping one in my handbag for this purpose and the Buff Brush has gone straight into my everyday stash!

Clinique Chubby in the Nude Foundation Stick and Buff Brush, £23 each, are available now at and due to hit counters on Friday 15 April 2016.

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

Budget Buy: Neutrogena Deep Moisture Oil-in-Lotion

Neutrogena Deep Moisture Oil in Lotion

I know I tend to focus on spendy stuff a lot of the time because that's my jam when it comes to beauty products (not in any other area of my life, though a girl can dream!). This doesn't stop me loving a good ol' beauty bargain, especially the type that perform like a luxury find.

Right now I'm all over the new Deep Moisture Oil-in-Lotion for the body by Neutrogena. If you'd put this in different packaging and told me it cost £30+ I'd have totally believed you. I've used the Visibly Renew formula for a while and like it a lot, but this one feels so much more luxurious. The sesame oil content makes it feel silky and instantly hydrating - and yet it sinks in so quickly - I can literally apply and dress immediately.

Anything that makes applying body lotion both a pleasure and easy is a bonus in my eyes. Even better when it costs less than a fiver. I actually look forward to using this - it feels like such a treat and leaves my skin feeling softer. I have dry skin, so if you don't, this may not be for you, though it really doesn't feel heavy or overly rich.

Neutrogena Deep Moisture Oil-in-Lotion usually costs £4.99 but is currently on offer at £3.33 here. Rude not to.


Overnight Skincare

While there are no strict rules about which time of day you can use certain skincare, some products are best used at night. They may have an extra rich formula that takes time to sink in, or exfoliating actives best left to work overnight when our skin is makeup free. These are some of my current favourites, depending on what my skin needs on a given day... it's generally dry, dehydrated and quite sensitive.

I often use a face oil at night, especially when my skin feels extra dry, though recently I've been reaching for Origins Plantscription Powerful Lifting Overnight Mask. I haven't used a lot of Origins skincare but have been impressed with the few things I've tried. Made with Red Algae and Sweet Almond Extract to plump, lift and firm, this is one of those products that make me swoon when I apply it. It's as if my skin is thanking me for such a treat. The rich texture is beautiful and I'm convinced my face looks more rested next morning.

Elemental Herbology Vital Glow Overnight Resurfacing Cream contains plant actives to revitalise and repair skin. It's what I use when my face is looking particularly dull or blah (clinical term). Again, the texture of this is gorgeous and it feels like a proper pampering treatment rather than something I'm just slapping on. I'm trying to be very good about using products on my chest and neck as well as my face and to be honest with this one it's difficult to stop. I could probably use it daily but notice the benefits most when I restrict it to a few times a week (clearly I look blah regularly).

I have to be careful with exfoliating toners as my skin is quite sensitive and rosacea prone, so I was thrilled when the lovely Merumaya launched one specifically for sensitive skin. Natural AHAs in Merumaya Gentle Exfoliating Toner gently remove dead cells to reveal smoother skin and less visible pores. It also hydrates and smells bloomin' beautiful. I just sweep it on with a cotton disc after cleansing and before applying other skincare products, only takes a few seconds. Again, I'm trying to remember to take this below my neck and do a quick swipe on the backs of hands.

These last two products are not designed for night time use, but I'll explain why I've included them...

OSKIA Renaissance Brightlight Intensive Pigmentation & Dark Spot Serum is a new complexion corrector packed with actives to treat hyper-pigmentation, repair sun damage and restore luminosity. I have a biggish sun spot that really bugs me just above my left cheekbone, which I'm praying will reduce with long term use (I'm a few weeks in but things like this take longer in my experience.) I tend to use this most at night in the hope that it will be most effective when my skin isn't exposed to sunlight (not that there's a lot of that at the moment anyway). Oskia's directions suggest both morning and evening use - I'm just being optimistic - and do add a little more some mornings. I noticed a brighter, more radiant look to my skin almost immediately after I started using this - you know that post-facial type glow? That. I'll keep you posted on the longterm results.

I've included an SPF in this line up as a morning after essential due to the actives contained in some of these products, particularly the Merumaya, Elemental Herbology and Oskia. AHAs leave fresh new skin particularly vulnerable to the effects of sunlight and there's zero point in treating sun damage unless we protect from further sun exposure. I'm religious about this and really enjoying the lightweight, quickly absorbed texture of Aveda Daily Light Guard SPF30 which sits perfectly under makeup. If your face is exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods, I'd go for a higher SPF such as La Roche Posay Anthelios XL SPF50.

And on that note, I've just spied 1/3 off La Roche Posay so am off to stock up on my favourites! 

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