The (not so) Ordinary Skincare

I have a round-up of exciting new skincare launches on its way to you, but felt The Ordinary deserved an ode of its own. This is the latest line by Deciem, The Abnormal Beauty Company, who can do little wrong in my eyes (I'll link previous reviews below).

This incredibly clever range could not be less ordinary. Its ethos is based on honesty and integrity in skincare, offering advanced clinical technologies at pocket-friendly prices. Shockingly pocket-friendly in fact, with most products around the £5-10 mark.

I've tried three to date and will absolutely be picking up some more.

Advanced Retinoid 2% contains two types of retinoid said to be more effective against signs of ageing than retinol, retinyl palmitate and almost all other forms of retinoid. For £8. Now I'll be honest and say that I've tried a few different retinoid products in recent months (more on that soon), which makes it difficult to single out the exact results of this latest addition. It's also worth noting that the effects of retinoids often take time to show (at least several months), but I am impressed by this, have had no negative reactions and will find it difficult to justify higher priced competitors after trying this one.

Lactic Acid 5% is an alpha hydroxyl acid (aha) that gently exfoliates the skin. Available in two strengths from The Ordinary (mine is the weaker one at 5%), it contains Tasmanian Pepperberry, known to reduce signs of inflammation and sensitivity. My skin is dry and sensitive and I haven't had any negative reactions to this... I find it very softening, more than other similar products I've tried. Out of the three products, I think this one has made the biggest visible difference to my skin. The Lactic Acid is £5. Knock yourself out.

NB All Retinoids and Lactic Acid make skin more vulnerable to UV damage, so use at night and apply SPF daily during use and for one week after - non negotiable, seriously. 

Buffet serum is a bit of an all rounder that all skins will benefit from, particularly those wishing to target multiple signs of ageing at once. It's packed with peptides, probiotics, skin-friendly amino acids and hyaluronic acid, which I personally find soothing, hydrating and softening. Almost gel like in texture, this feels like a luxurious treat on my skin and I'm blown away by the £12.70 price tag for all those sophisticated active ingredients.

I use each of these products as the first skin care step post-cleansing, applying my usual serum and moisturiser on top. I'm still really enjoying the Juice Beauty products reviewed here. I tend to rotate the Advanced Retinoid and Lactic Acid, using each a few times per week, with Buffet on top.

You'll find a huge product menu from Ordinaries which can be a little overwhelming if you're new to skincare... if you're not sure where to begin, this is a good place to start.

Ordinary skincare is available directly from or at Victoria Health


Berrylicious Beauty

Looking up at the copper leaves in this morning's golden light, I thought I must write an Autumn beauty post before the branches become bare... so I've done a little berry picking and gathered a handful of favourites to share with you. Most definitely my favourite beauty season, I adore the rich Autumnal tones of berry, plum and copper - and how they bring life to paler skin and cold hands. I'm sticking to berries today, but no doubt I'll be back with more.

Clarins pull it out of the bag every year with their Essentials Eyeshadow Palette and this one is no exception. I don't tend to wear a lot of purples on my eyes, but this mix of rich and muted tones in matte, satin and shimmer finishes are very wearable. Dampen the brush to up the pigmentation levels... I like to use Smashbox Primer Water for this as it also boosts lasting power.

I probably use Kiko lipsticks more than any other brand. They aren't pricey and the quality is almost always superb. Enigma Lipstick in Theoretical Burgundy from the Neo Noir Collection is a dark vampy shade that adds instant drama. Pat on over balm for a more subtle look or pair with the matching lip liner and embrace the boldness. See me wearing it in this pic.

Jessica Nails Fruit of Temptation is The Most Perfect Plum nail polish. I have many and this blows the rest out of the water, plus the formula, gloss and lasting power are fantastic. It looks quite red in the bottle here but is a definite dark plum.

Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay never gets old and is one of my most worn perfumes ever. It works at any time of year but really comes into its own in Autumn. If you're dreading dark gloomy mornings already, you need this in your life... I'm rationing the last few drops.

Paul & Joe Kiss in the Park Lipstick is perfect for a daytime look or anyone who loves to add colour without looking overly made up. Sheer in one coat, the colour is buildable, glossy and feels like wearing balm. The rich plum red is stunning and looks polished yet can easily be applied on the go with zero fuss. (NB the lipstick refill and limited edition case are sold separately)

Both lip colours lightly swatched... I do tend to wear a few layers for more intensity. Kiko bottom, Paul & Joe top.

Bobbi Brown Longwear Liquid Liners are a great way to add a pop of colour in a way that's completely wearable. Violet Sparkle may look quite bold in this pic, but on the skin it's a mix of black and violet with a chrome finish that looks very enchanting on the eye. Available in five shades including a gorgeous olive and bronze.

Bog Standard hand poured natural wax candles are made 20 minutes from my home and come in a range of gorgeous outdoorsy scents such as Field and Moss. Hedgerow smells of brambles and roses and reminds me of days out blackberry picking. These are beautifully packaged and very reasonably priced for the quality.

Antipodes Joyful Hand & Body Cream is made with pure avocado oil, wild blackcurrant berry and hibiscus bloom. While the scent is a touch too sweet for me to use on my hands, it makes a glorious body cream and sinks in immediately, with no greasy finish for instant dressing.

L'Occitane has added to its super nourishing Shea Butter range with Shea Violet, a delicate powdery scent in pretty packaging. I'm loving this cute Hugs & Kisses set of hand cream and lip balm (both great) and the Shea Violet Body Cream feels blissful on dry to very dry skin.

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


FACE Makeup Book by Sam & Nic Chapman of Pixiwoo

If you're just starting out with makeup, wish you could master the perfect eyeliner flick or want to take your beauty knowledge to the next level - you'll love 'Face'. This beautiful new makeup book by Sam and Nic Chapman aka Pixiwoo, contains step-by-step guides for everyone from beginners to aspiring makeup artists.

There was a time when I was baffled by the idea of watching YouTube videos of other people applying makeup, until I discovered the Pixiwoo sisters. Many years on, I still love watching these down to earth, original beauty vloggers, along with 2 million+ global subscribers.

As a long term viewer, I wasn't sure if I'd learn anything new from the book, but I was wrong about that... Face is both gorgeous to look at and a brilliant reference point for practical beauty guidance. As well as advice on things like tools, brows and skin, it includes specialist tips such as dealing with lash loss and how to perfect your lip shape with liner.

There's no doubt that watching Nic and Sam apply liquid liner on camera is the ultimate, but their book goes the extra mile by breaking each process down into steps we can follow at home. Extra tuition will be available via a free app, with exclusive videos to accompany the book.

I've wasted more time in failed attempts to apply false lashes than any other beauty ritual - and this particular guide is the first one I'll be following to the letter!

Face also includes more creative makeup styles and pro tips, illustrated with striking photography... this foiled gold eye is one of my favourites.

Nic and Sam have presented their combined knowledge using both pictures and language that are accessible to all... personally, I think Face is a brilliant read that every makeup wearer will both enjoy and learn from.

Face by Nic and Sam Chapman, published by Blink Publishing, launches 20 October 2016 RRP £20. It's currently on offer for £13 and available for pre-order on

If you can't wait that long, I'm giving away a copy over on Twitter!

Giveaway closes Mon 24 October at 8pm, is open to UK entries only (sorry) and a winner will be selected at random, Thanks to Blink Publishing for providing the prize.


Juice Beauty arrives in the UK: authentic skincare

Juice Beauty has finally reached UK shores and if you like natural, organic skincare that delivers results without compromising on ethics, I think you'll be a fan. I've been trying a few items from the Stem Cellular range for normal to mature skin (ahem), also perfect if you've suffered from sun damage due to their cell regeneration properties.  

The name alone draws me in... I mean Juice Beauty has got to be the best name for a skincare brand ever - it just sounds as if it's packed with all the good stuff - which in this case, it is!

"At Juice Beauty we believe in advanced beauty solutions that harness the best of certified organic & natural ingredients to deliver clinically validated results that do not compromise your well-being nor the Earth.”

I'm going to start with my least favourite, not a criticism of the product per se, just my personal preference. Stem Cellular 2-in-1 Cleanser is a non-foaming gel rinse-off cleanser. It's perfectly pleasant to use and I have used it in the mornings as the scent is very uplifting; I just have a personal preference for oil and balm cleansers and if you're the same, this range does include an oil cleanser. 

Now onto the serum and moisturiser which are absolute winners... 

Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum has a light gel texture that sinks in quickly and feels immediately blissful. This is packed with fruit stem cells and vitamin C to boost the skin's ability to repair and renew cell turnover. It's suitable for all skin types, not just those showing signs of ageing, though considering the price tag I personally don't think anyone under 30 needs this. (I was sent these products for trial and didn't register the price until just now when I looked up the website).

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Moisturizer comes in my favourite type of packaging - a flat topped pot that you press to release the perfect amount of product. In fact each one of these products has hygienic pump-style packaging that protects the contents from contamination as well as making them easier to use. This rich cream contains fruit stem cells with collagen and elasticity boosting Vitamin C. A rich juice base also contains resveratrol with age-defying antioxidants. My skin is prone to dryness and this brings immediate comfort. 

As well as feeling and smelling incredible on my skin - these have a fresh citrus scent and really are a pleasure to use - I find Juice Beauty serum and moisturiser extremely nourishing and really do feel like they're feeding my skin (sounds corny but true!). My skin looks brighter and fresher after one month of consistent use and although very moisturising, I can apply makeup on top immediately without any problems. 

Juice Beauty is available now at, the only UK stockist, with an extensive product range for every skin type. I just spotted this little Stem Cellular starter kit which might be a good one to try before investing in full sizes. Get 10% off your first order with FIRST10.

You can read more about the ethos behind Juice Beauty here

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


Dolce & Gabbana Wild About Fall Makeup: Review & Swatches

Dolce & Gabbana Wild About Fall AW 2016 makeup collection features some of my favourite Autumnal tones... chocolate, olive, gold and rose, inspired by the Sicilian landscape.

I like wearing the copper and olive shades from Smooth Eye Colour Quad in Enchanting Fall all over the lid. The copper in particular packs a real punch and is the most pigmented and metallic of all four. It also works beautifully pressed on the centre of the lid for a shimmery pop of colour layered over another shade. I find the dark brown a little tricky to blend, so tend to use it as a liner and the shimmery white isn't really my thing. I wear olive green shadow a lot in AW so can imagine wearing this shade the most. While this is a beautiful palette, I think you could replicate the shades for less (NB Kiko Charming Sage is one of the best olive greens I've tried and currently on offer for £3.40 here).

Strawberry blush is my kind of straight up pink for a healthy flush and a little goes a long way. Bold enough to work on most skin tones; best with a light hand on mine. A perfect partner for Shine Lipstick in SN1 001 (I'd have called her Autumn Rose).

The Nail Lacquers are fabulous, super glossy and apply true to the bottle colour. You can see me wearing Raspberry in this pic. Wild Green is a dark fir shade and Ebano, a blackened chocolate. 

This is the Enchanting Fall Eyeshadow Quad and Strawberry Blush swatched. I used two layers of colour for each shade with no primer, though I do need to use primer with the shadow (as I do with all brands).

Swatches from left are Shine Lipstick in Chocolate (79) and SN1 001 lipstick (pink) with Sheer Shine Gloss in Desert (165). Chocolate is more vampy than I'd normally go for but I'm kinda digging this look at the moment and wore this out on Friday night. It's a bitter chocolate with black cherry undertones and mega pigmented, with a beautiful matte satin texture. SN1 001 is a pretty raspberry mauve with a creamy texture that leaves a sheen on the lips. The gold Desert Gloss can be worn alone or patted over any lipstick for a metallic finish.

I often wear green eyeliner and these two shades are beautiful. The olive shimmer pencil is Agave (16) and the liquid Glam liner, Wild Green (4) - a blackened green with blue-green shimmer. This goes on quite sheer but can be built up for a more intense finish; I used 2 layers of all shades for these swatches.

While I'll use most products from D&G Wild About Fall, the lipsticks, eyeliner and nail polishes are my top picks. Which do you like the look of?

Dolce & Gabbana Wild About Fall makeup is available at Harrods and Nordstrom

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

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