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.


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

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

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.

Elemis QVC TSV: Gift of Great Skin Collection Nov 2016

A new bodycare collection from Elemis, White Lotus & Lime, launches on QVC tomorrow as part of a Gift of Great Skin Collection. The TSV (Today's Special Value) includes 3 skincare and 3 body products in the new aromatic fragrance or signature Frangipani Monoi scent, with a total saving of £93.50.

White Lotus and Lime is as fresh and invigorating as the Frangipani Monoi is rich and sensual. Both are beautiful, though personally I'd save the latter for evening or special occasions and use the new White Lotus and Lime as an everyday scent. Made with nourishing moringa oil, the body products leave skin feeling soft and hydrated with a sophisticated floral citrus.

If you've always wanted to try Elemis skincare, this set is a great way to get to try it for a fraction of the usual price. The luxurious cleansing oil, spray toner and best seller moisturiser are the perfect way to add extra moisture to parched winter skin.

The generously sized content are beautifully presented in a pretty gold box and include:

  • Elemis Nourishing Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil 
  • Elemis Soothing Apricot Toner
  • Elemis White Lotus & Lime Hand & Nail Cream
  • Elemis White Lotus & Lime Body Balm
  • Elemis White Lotus & Lime Bath & Shower Nectar

(Body products also available in Frangipani & Monoi fragrance)

The Elemis Gift of Great Skin Collection TSV is available on QVC Sunday 13 November 2016 for 24 hours only. It costs £42.96 and is worth £138.50. Find it here

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

M&S Advent Calendar 2016

Beauty Advent Calendars are bigger than ever for Christmas 2016 and personally, I think Marks and Spencer's offers the most bang for your buck. It costs £35 when you spend £35+ on clothing, beauty or home - and is worth a whopping £250. 

Inside are 25 products in a mix of travel and full sizes from reputable brands including Emma Hardie, Alpha H, Nails Inc, Rodial and Philip Kingsley... I'm impressed by the mix of skincare, makeup, hair, nail and fragrance. 

Of course I don't want to spoil all of the surprises for you, so have just picked out a few personal favourites. You want to know if it's worth your while, right? (see the full contents here if you can't wait!)

Philip Kingsley Elasticizer is a brilliant hair mask for dry or over processed hair; the Autograph Cranberry nail polish is a stunning festive shade and no one should be without the Leighton Denny Crystal nail file (once you've tried it you'll never go back.)  

Long term skincare favourite, Alpha-H Liquid Gold is in there, along with a few gems I look forward to trying from brands like Filorga, Ren and Skyn Iceland.

Emma Hardy Moringa Cleansing Balm probably needs no introduction (it's a beaut); the Rosie for Autograph Lip Glossy is a lovely pink nude and Pixi clear brow gel is great for tidy, non-crispy brows.  I'm a big fan of Look Good Feel Better makeup brushes and this mini powder brush is the perfect handbag size that will double up for bronze or blush.

Don't think I'm the only one who will be spending at least £35 in M&S this Christmas regardless, so if you're the same, I can highly recommend adding this beauty advent to your basket for another £35. Can't really argue with the price for £250 worth of beauty products that will last for many months to come... just don't hang about as it sold out in one day last year.

The M&S Beauty Advent is available from today at

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

Autumn Candles

Since the clocks went back and darker nights set in, my love of candles has been rekindled and I've been burning one most days. Here are a few current favourites...

This is my second Rathbornes candle, hand poured in Dublin and made with pure essential oils. Wild Mint, Watercress & Thyme was inspired by aromatic herb gardens, with a blend of mint, lemon, eucalyptus, camphor, rosemary, thyme and ginger. For me this is an invigorating day time scent and an absolute breath of fresh air. The travel sized candles (£16) are a great way to try out the different scents. 

Charles Farris scented candles are made with premium ingredients encased in artesian hand-finished glass. The striking midnight blue makes a welcome change from the usual white or clear jars. The fragrance blends are picked by in-house perfumers and mine is Redolent Fig - an authentic blend of wild green fig leaves mixed with a hint of fruity cassis, soft florals and woody base notes. 

I've raved about Jo Malone Basil & Neroli already but had to include it as I've been burning it more than any other. Thankfully it's literally a slow burner and lasting well (read my full review here) ...if dark nights drag you down a little, this will lift your spirits while making your home smell incredible. Alternatively, Pine & Eucalyptus smells like walking through an enchanted Winter forest. 

L'Occitane Light up my Future is a limited edition fresh citrus candle, developed in partnership with Marie Claire to raise funds for the education of girls and young women in developing countries. I'll be picking up a few more of these (£8) as gifts in support of such a great cause. 

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