Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Jo Malone Basil & Neroli Scented Candle


The Jo Malone Basil & Neroli Collection hits counters this week and is an absolute beauty. The first ever Jo Malone citrus floral (but not as you know it), this new permanent line extends from cologne to body cream. If the scented candle is anything to go by, I defy anyone not to fall for it.

I'm a huge fan of herbal scents, with Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay an all time favourite, so the top note of basil received an immediate tick from me. I am that person with her nose stuck in a pot of herbs, rubbing the leaves to release the juicy aroma - and basil is a particular favourite. 

The succulent green scent of Neroli, from the blossom of bitter orange trees, introduces orange flower to the mix, while musk adds roundness and softens any sharpness from the citrus.

Green, clean and exhilarating, this scent is slightly more gentle than Blackberry & Bay, which packs a more distinct herbal punch. (I haven't yet tried the cologne, so am only judging by the candle.)


The Jo Malone Basil and Neroli scented candle makes my room smell amazing, with the kind of outdoorsy freshness that I adore. When I leave and come back in, it's as if someone has left a freshly cut bunch of herbs and flowers on the table.

I imagine that this fragrance will hold particular appeal to fans of Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin, Orange Blossom and my personal favourite, Blackberry & Bay (review).


I'll be hot footing it to check out the cologne when Jo Malone Basil & Neroli launches this Thursday (1st September). I reckon I'll need a treat on the day my baby girl starts secondary school. I just know there will be tears (mine!) as I watch her disappear through the gates... that's my excuse anyway! 

Jo Malone Basil & Neroli scented candle, £42; 30ml cologne, £43; 100ml cologne £86; Body Creme, £50; Body & Hand Wash, £28. 


PS Thank you to my friend, Gillian, for allowing me to photograph this candle in her dreamy garden, a haven of beautiful flowers and fresh herbs. xx


Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and purchases. See my full disclaimer here.
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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Best of KIKO (& a Belfast store!)


If you've ever:
1. read my blog
2. seen inside my handbag
3. watched me apply makeup
...you'll know that I'm a fan of Kiko makeup.

Kiko is an Italian beauty brand renowned for great quality, well-priced makeup. Regular new product releases and limited edition collections sit alongside a range of staples, creatively packaged and presented in stand-alone stores or online. I visited one of its shops in Italy a couple of years ago and have since yearned for the opening of a Belfast store, which is just about to happen. I think it speaks volumes that I'm at least as excited for this as the imminent arrival of our first local Charlotte Tilbury counter.

If you're yet to try Kiko and not sure where to begin, these are the products I think they do best. NB some items may no longer be available (downside of so many limited editions).

LIPSTICK & SINGLE EYE SHADOWS


Kiko lipsticks are among the best I've tried by any brand. I still wear the mauve pink Lusty Peony lipstick above several times a week and always get complimented on it (limited edition but v similar in colour to MAC Mehr). Well pigmented, creamy and beautifully packaged, these look and feel a lot more luxe than their price point (around £7-10). The sheer and glossy formulas are nice, but the more pigmented ones get my vote.


Kiko single eye shadows tend to wow me even more than the palettes and this green is a favourite. Buttery soft with great colour payoff in a range of finishes from skin toned, sheer nudes to foiled metallics, I just can't fault them.

BLUSHER


Kiko blushers are finely milled and generally available in multiple shades to suit different skin tones, which my pale skin appreciates. Again, the presentation is often unique, such as this ombre blush from the Artist Collection. PS that's a Kiko blush brush next to it. High praise for the brushes too - I use several of the eye shadow brushes regularly - this fluffy blending brush is a staple.

EYELINER


Eyeliner is another Kiko product that I reach for almost daily. I find the formulas soft and smooth to apply, smudging out nicely before setting. They often release mega bright shades, which aren't really my bag, but I can always find one in my standard brown/bronze/grey/olive tone. This formula is my current fave.

NAIL POLISH


Kiko nail polishes were one of the first products I tried from the brand and they're ace. Keep an eye on the website for promo offers, esp on discontinued ranges. These are down to £2.50 each at the moment.

LONG LASTING STICK EYE SHADOW


Of course I had to save the best for last. Probably Kiko's most talked about makeup product, the Long Lasting Stick Eye Shadow, aka eye shadow crayon. Often compared to By Terry Ombre Blackstar, at a quarter of the price, these glide on, blend out and stay put for the day. I do need to use a primer under mine (as I do for the By Terry, just sayin') but am very impressed by these - and as you can see, couldn't stop at buying just one!


I realise that after promising to share the best of Kiko, I appear to have said that it's all fabulous. I don't love everything I've tried by them, but in all honesty it's been more a matter of personal taste over particular colours (rainbow bright eye liners) or formula (super matte liquid lipsticks), rather than there being any issue with the actual product.

If you only buy one (or two) Kiko products, try a lipstick and/or a Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow

For my local readers, Kiko Belfast opens one week today on 31st August at 10.30am. The first 50 customers will receive a Kiko gift card and the first 200 a gift with purchase. It's at 11 William Street South (near the Topshop entrance to Victoria Square - next to Hotel Chocolat) - see you there!

Have you tried Kiko yet? 

PS Since I know there's always someone who wonders, this post is not sponsored in any way... I just love this brand. I've been thinking about doing similar 'Best of' posts on a number of makeup and skincare brands, as I often get asked about my favourites from one specific company. Please let me know if you like this idea - below in the comments or on Facebook/ Twitter.

PPS I'm now on Snapchat strawbry_blonde so come say hi!
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Sunday, 21 August 2016

When Beauty Brands Remember Redheads


I really appreciate it when beauty brands remember redheads. It doesn't happen often - with a lot of lines focusing on blondes and brunettes - but I've noticed a welcome shift towards acknowledging us copper tops. I also had a bit of an epiphany this week when it occurred to me that in 5+ years of blogging, I don't think I've ever written a blog post specifically relating to redheads. Which is utterly ridiculous for obvious reasons - and about to change. 

Today I'm sharing three top picks for enhancing red hair: a recent addition and two old favourites. 

I've been using John Frieda Radiant Red Colour Protecting Shampoo & Conditioner exclusively for a couple of months now. That never happens, but I enjoy this duo and anything that helps stretch the time between expensive salon visits is a bonus in my book. The actual product is a pinky red cream that prevents colour fade and leaves my hair in similar condition to much more expensive versions. 

For the record, I'm a natural redhead, but have been getting my strawberry blonde locks deepened into a slightly richer shade for a couple of years now (I previously had highlights to play down the red - what was I thinking?!). I get an all over semi permanent colour ever few months, or until the greys start to creep through! 


I've written about Maria Nila products before (here) but hadn't tried this at the time. Maria Nila Bright Copper Colour Refresh is a nourishing hair mask with temporary colour pigments that really brings my hair colour to life, makes it look more radiant and glossy and is a godsend for that last week or two before a professional colour. It comes with disposable gloves (an absolute must) and you can leave it in for 3-10 mins depending on the colour intensity you're after. The results last up to 10 washes (I'd say 6) and it comes in a tonne of colours... I'd use it to enhance natural colour too.


Color Wow Root Touch Up in Red does exactly what it says on the tin. The double ended brush has a narrow end for really pushing the highly pigmented powder into the roots, while the wider end can be used for dispersing it evenly for a natural finish. This is a touch dark for my current hair colour, but I can get away with it if I use a light touch. 

Any other redheads in the house?



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

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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Too Faced La Créme Color Drenched Lipstick: Review & Swatches


Too Faced recently added 10 shades of La Créme Color Drenched Lipsticks to its lineup and I've been having a bit of a play. I do love a creamy lip formula and these are packed with antioxidants and peptides to hydrate and condition. Whether you're a fan of crowd stopper shades, shimmering metallics or a good old everyday nude, I think there's something for everyone here.


Let's start with the three stand-outs for me. Yes that's a blue lipstick - and it's been the talk of the blogosphere with good reason. Not gonna lie, you're unlikely to bump into me wearing Unicorn Tears, but I can appreciate how fabulous it is. I mean the name for starters, the fact that it's BLUE, how it tints lips pink with silvery lilac shimmer... it's kinda magical. 


Swatches of Unicorn Tears, Sugar Daddy and Berry Naughty in natural light (above) and direct sunlight.


Sugar Daddy and Berry Naughty are my two favourites from the line up. Sugar Daddy is a gorgeous rosy brown nude, which I've been wearing a lot, usually paired with my favourite lipliner, Pixi Beauty in Bare Buff. I actually shared a pic of me wearing this combo on Instagram today.

Berry Naughty literally looks like the colour of mushed up berries and I know it will be a staple come Autumn. So rich and creamy with a slightly glossy finish.

Too Faced La Creme Mean Girls & Dubble Trouble
Too Faced La Creme Lipsticks in Ursula, Wham & Topless
 SWATCHES


Above, swatches in natural light and below in direct sunlight (to show off those metallics).


It's worth noting that some shades have a distinct vanilla scent, including my favourite, Sugar Daddy. For me, this disappears immediately after application and the colour and formula are so good I can live with it, but I wanted to mention as I know it's A Thing for some of you.

If you're looking for a nourishing lipstick or like to experiment with colour, Too Faced La Créme Color Drenched Lipsticks (£18) are definitely worth checking out.

Do you have any Too Faced favourites?


Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and purchases. See my full disclaimer here.
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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Retouching Makeup & New Classics from Bobbi Brown



If you like the idea of flawless skin minus photoshop or filters, look this way... Bobbi Brown's new Retouching Face Pencils and Powders are designed to do just that, while the New Classics lipsticks deliver a perfected pout.


RETOUCHING FACE PENCIL
Bobbi Brown Retouching Face Pencil in Porcelain
Bobbi Brown Retouching Face Pencils can be used to highlight, brighten, erase and correct.

Illuminate is the only shade with shimmer to highlight cheek/ brow bones and the inner corner of the eye. The others can be used in a shade to match your skin tone to correct imperfections, or in slightly lighter/darker tones to brighten and bronze.

I've been using mine to add extra coverage to a light foundation and for on-the-go touch ups, particularly useful for concealing redness around the nose and chin where my foundation tends to wear off first.

The creamy matte texture blends easily with the heat of my fingertips and I'd describe the coverage level as full, verging on concealer-like if used intensely on small areas. For example it will cover a large freckle or pigmentation mark completely.

Mine is in the lightest shade, Porcelain and I'm happy to say it's consistent with my Bobbi Brown Porcelain foundation - I'm assuming this carries through with all of the shades.


RETOUCHING FACE POWDER

Bobbi Brown Retouching Powder in Rose #2
Inspired by colour pigments used by makeup artists, Bobbi Brown Retouching Powder is designed to make skin look better, minus any obvious powdery finish. In all honesty these threw me a bit at first as I was unsure how to use them, so was happy when Bobbi Brown Pro Artist, Hannah Martin confirmed that the Pink and Rose shades can be used on the cheeks, as I had been doing. On my colouring, Rose works alone as a subtle blush or over existing blusher for a soft, glowy finish.

Also available in white, peach, pink and yellow, the powders should be applied over foundation and can be used for colour correction - eg pink or peach to warm a sallow complexion. I'd recommend colour matching on counter to find the right shade for you... while I wouldn't call these essentials for every makeup bag, I think true makeup enthusiasts will enjoy them.


SWATCHES

Bobbi Brown Retouching Face Pencil in Porcelain & Retouching Powder in Rose
Even in this heavy swatch (to show the colours), you can see the soft velvety finish of the Retouching Powder.


THE NEW CLASSICS

Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color in Bellini & Flame
Ten new shades of Luxe Lip Color have been released for Autumn, inspired by the original lipsticks that launched the brand in 1991. I'm a big fan of Bobbi Brown lipsticks in general and its most luxurious formula is super smooth and moisturising with full coverage.


SWATCHES

Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color in Flame (top) & Bellini
Bellini is a very unique deep peach with a definite vintage edge. I don't think it really works with my colouring but can see it looking striking on the right person. It immediately made me think of Audrey Hepburn, whereas Flame, a bold orange toned red, is very Marilyn Monroe... even my 8 year old son loved this one on me! "Ohhh you're wearing lovely lipstick mum!" 

I'll definitely be checking out the other shades, which include some gorgeous Autumnal tones such as Bahama Brown and Uber Rose (is anyone else kinda looking forward to Autumn already?!). The Retouching Face Pencil has already become a firm handbag staple - no mess, no fuss, does what it claims.

Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color: New Classics, £25
Bobbi Brown Retouching Face Pencil, £22 - on counter at John Lewis 4 Sep, nationwide 8 Sep
Bobbi Brown Retouching Powder, £27


Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and purchases. See my full disclaimer here.
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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Travel Beauty: the products I took on holiday



Today I'm spilling the beans on the actual products I packed for our Summer holiday. This is not the time to introduce anything new, no matter how cute that mini moisturiser is. I learnt this the hard way and now stick to products that I know my skin can tolerate (holiday breakouts suck). I bought travel bottles in Boots and Muji to dispense my regulars, but didn't need them in the end.  


I actually thought I'd traveled quite light until I lined everything up for these pics. Oops.


As there are so many products (and it's one minute to midnight), I'm going to do a quick run through of what was inside. Please just ask if you'd like further info on any of them.

I *sort of* grouped them into categories in the above pic, so will use this one as a guide, starting top left.

SKINCARE



EXTRAS

  • Jo Malone London Nashi Blossom Cologne is now officially my scent of Biarritz... beautifully crisp and fresh on hot skin (full review). The slim 30ml bottles are perfect for travel. I can't find this recent limited edition online, so keep an eye out in store. 
  • Nails Inc Gel Effect polish in Charlotte Villas has been on my toes all Summer, a gorgeous vibrant rich orange. It replaced another fave, Barry M Molten Metal in Copper Mine which moved up to my finger nails. I didn't actually get a chance to paint my nails until we arrived (I know, who am I?!), so also packed Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover for Hands & Feet.
  • Dentalux toothpaste is one of Lidl's new collection of well priced travel minis (is it just me that thinks most regular brands hike the prices of these?). Next to it are two little sachets of Vita Coco Coconut Oil, which doubles for a hair and skin quencher and ear plugs in case the hotel neighbours get rowdy (they didn't).


BODY

  • Fake Bake Flawless Coconut Tanning Serum - yep I bring self tan on holiday as I wear a high SPF and don't like to sunbathe for too long (my days of sunrise to sunset baking are long gone and yep, the damage does appear when you get older). This one gives the most deliciously natural deep golden tan. 
  • Sure compact deodorant 'cos of the handy size really.
  • Soap & Glory Clean On Me body wash and Righteous Body Butter miniatures as they're my favourites from the line and smell SO good.
  • Weleda Wild Rose Shower Gel in case I ran out (!!) - smells gorgeous - worth checking out the minis that Weleda release regularly. Love 'em all, great for sensitive skin too.
  • Clarins Radiance Plus Body Golden Glow Booster - I meant to lift the one for face and actually packed this by mistake, but used it on my face anyway! Mix with moisturiser or serum for a subtle golden glow in the morning - I need at least 6 drops to see a very natural looking difference at this time of year.

HAIR

  • Toni & Guy Shampoo and Conditioner from a travel set (which I can't find online, sorry)
  • Philip Kingsley Smooth Cream - a styling cream with sunscreen that smells great, adds shine and helps fight frizz.
  • Kerastase Elixir Ultime - not photographed as I had a mini tub which I used up and absolutely loved, one of the richest hair masks I've tried, great for sun parched hair. Will treat myself to the full size one day (eep, just spied it on offer here).


Well done if you're still with me - that was a whopper!


I haven't included makeup or we'd be here all day, but poured everything into the main compartment to show that I really could have fitted it into the additional pockets of the very gorgeous, sunshine-y Orla Kiely Sunset Floral large wash bag. It also has a zipped mesh pocket on the front and two small interior pouches. 

I brought very little makeup and used a separate bag to spread out the weight in my suitcase - or that's my excuse anyway! You can see which sunscreens I packed in this post.



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

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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Coconut Hair Treats



How could anyone not love a coconut hair treatment? I'm a definite fan - especially in Summer - and thought I'd share some totally tropical inspo today.

The blurb on the back of Color Wow Coconut Cocktail Bionic Tonic begins with the words 'Do not Drink', which gives you an inkling of just how good it smells. Think a sweet Pina Colada all umbrella-ed up and you're halfway there. This is a leave-in hair tonic with pure coconut oil designed to replenish lost moisture, particularly in colour-treated hair. I use it most when I'm letting my hair dry naturally - post shampoo and conditioner for some much needed moisture and shine. 


I've been reaching for Aveda After Sun Hair Masque on repeat since returning from holiday and it's verging on hair hero status. While a lot of masks leave my hair feeling lank, this one makes it silky soft with zero heaviness. A blend of tamanu and organic coconut oils with green tea and vitamin E protect against free radical damage and eradicate the attractive crispy texture my hair had acquired. I use this in place of regular conditioner, leaving it in for a few minutes before rinsing... it really has made a difference.

If you fancy cutting straight to the chase, pure coconut oil is hard to beat. Extra Virgin, cold pressed Vita Coco is my favourite all rounder and an absolute bargain. It smells and tastes the sweetest of any I've tried (I also use it to cook pretty much everything) and works a treat on hair too. I tend to melt some between my palms and work it through mid lengths and ends as an intense treatment for up to an hour before washing and conditioning as normal. (You could just use a smaller amount in place of regular conditioner after shampooing.) I highly recommend investing in two jars: one for the kitchen and one for bathroom!

Any other coconut based products I need to try?


Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples. See my full disclaimer here.
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Monday, 1 August 2016

Stella McCartney POP: Review


I've owned this bottle of Stella McCartney POP for 12 days and have already made a significant dent in the bottle. This feel-good scent makes me smile at every spritz and I clearly can't get enough. A million miles from my most recent perfume addiction, I find POP soft, sweet and heart warming.


Earlier this Summer, a friend gave me two little tomato plants - and every time I water them, I rub the leaves between my fingers and inhale the glorious green. If only I could have that scent bottled, I said.

Tomato leaf just happens to be among the opening notes of Stella McCartney POP, alongside violet leaves and green mandarin. It doesn't linger long before the tuberose and sandalwood kick in, but it's there and this makes me happy. (If anyone knows of a full blown tomato leaf fragrance please tell me about it!)


The clear, faceted bottle with that shocking pink embossed polka dot that looks like Stella's name up in lights is as fun and joyful as the contents. 


Just don't try to twist the lid off like I did... press the top and it sprays from the side in a delicate mist.

The lasting power isn't the greatest, which doesn't really bother spritz-happy me, though I know could be a deal breaker for some. While my perfume stash is bordering on embarrassingly large, I keep my current favourite on the hall table and spray it throughout the day if I'm heading out ...or just happen to be walking past.

I've heard some describe POP as quite a powerful scent, though to me it's soft and difficult to overdo. Feminine, floral woods with a little powder... sweetly sophisticated.

Stella McCartney POP is available in 30, 50 & 100ml. Currently on offer at Escentual, it's also available at the usual outlets such as House of Fraser and Sephora.  

Are you a fan of Stella McCartney perfumes?


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

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