Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Pureology Hydrate: Sulphate-Free Hair Fix

I've been meaning to tell you about Pureology for a while as the Hydrate range has made a real improvement to my hair in recent months. I noticed that the bottles were almost empty when photographing them earlier - and will most definitely be replenishing.

Unlike many products for dry, coloured hair, I find that Pureology Hydrate improves my hair's condition without weighing it down. If you've ever blow dried your hair after using a treatment mask, only to discover that it looks and feels lank and greasy, you'll be familiar with that sinking feeling. For me, this doesn't happen with Pureology. It leaves my hair softer, smoother and less poodle-like, minus the lank roots, which is always a bonus. Oh and it smells IN-credible. And did I mention it's sulphate-free?

Hydrate shampoo has a built in anti-fade complex that won't strip colour, lathers well and the tiniest bit goes a long way. Like literally half of what you'd normally use.

To be honest I have used the mask more than the Hydrate conditioner, so still have about a quarter of a bottle of this left, which is a little unfair as it works really well and smells of mint. Personally I'd much rather my hair smell of mint than say, flowers or traditional perfume-y scents, so this is a big bonus in my book. Unusually, I can use this right to my roots, which is great as that's where my halo of fuzz resides.

Pureology Hydra Whip moisture mask is the star of this trio... and if you only buy one thing, this should be it. Probably not the one for fine flyaway hair, but if you're coarse, coloured, curly or frizzy, this is fabulous. I do avoid roots when using this as it's so intense - and just comb through them with any excess once I've worked it through the rest of my hair. This hair mask only takes a few minutes to work and makes a distinct difference to the texture of my hair, leaving it much more manageable when styling.

Oddly I also find that these products leave my hair clean for longer and the shampoo and conditioner have been brilliant on my daughter's fine ringlety hair, to the extent that numerous people have commented on how much thicker and more healthy it looks.

There are other ranges and styling products in the Pureology range to target different hair types, available now at 

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples & purchases and some links are affiliate. See my full disclaimer here.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Making the Most of Everyday #SpendItWell #ad


"So if it doesn't make you feel 10 feet tall...
 if it doesn't take you somewhere extraordinary, say no."    #SpendItWell

I've never been one to save things for best... I've always believed in drinking from crystal glasses every day, wearing sequins to the supermarket and using the limited edition palette until it hits pan. 


In a recent survey, M&S found that 81% of us think it’s the small things that make a big difference, but don’t make enough time for them. It takes effort to shift this mindset and personally I find that simple things often make the most impact.... 
  • Starting my day with a walk on the beach
  • Wearing a dress and red lipstick, just because it makes me feel good
  • Buying myself flowers
  • Resisting the temptation to scroll through my phone when I'm waiting for the kettle to boil
  • Making more time for people I want to be around (and saying no to those I don't!).

On 1st June, Marks & Spencer is launching Make it Matter Day with a series of national events in support of communities around the UK. It's all about making time for what's important and empowering us to change from a place of frustration to one of greater contentment. Locally to me, M&S is supporting Foyle Search & Rescue, a volunteer-run suicide prevention charity, where M&S Foyleside and Crescent Link staff will make over, spruce up and maintain a memorial garden used by those who have lost loved ones. Derry-Londonderry is one of ten pilot community transformation programmes to support 1000 communities, with the ultimate aim of living happier, healthier lives.

I'd love to know what you do to make time for things that matter... please leave a comment below or share online with #SpendItWell - you'll find more info and inspo here

*This post was sponsored by Marks & Spencer


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Free Lancome Gift at John Lewis

A quick heads up on a free Lancome gift with the purchase of selected beauty bundles at John Lewis this month (while stocks last). Bundles are available on a range of budgets, from a lipstick and mascara to skincare. I opted for this one, which includes Advanced Genifique Yeux Eye Illuminator, a beautifully cooling serum to target eye bags and lines, and Hypnose Mascara, for seriously fluttery lashes. I was also very tempted by this lipstick & mascara duo as the colour is right up my street.

Every bundle (regardless of value) comes with the same free gift, which includes a generous mix of travel and full sized products:

  • Creme Mousse Confort Cleanser 125ml
  • Cils Booster XL 5.5ml
  • Hypnose Mascara 2ml
  • Muslin Cloth
  • Hydrazen Day Cream 15ml 
  • Hydrazen Night Cream 15ml

I haven't had a chance to try everything just yet, but wanted to share details while the offer is still on... quite a few things were out of stock when I got mine, but seem to have been replenished since. So far I've been particularly impressed with the Hypnose mascara and Cils Booster XL, a white mascara primer for extra length and volume - it really does make a difference though the mascara is great on its own.

Offer is available while stocks last - full details on all bundles here

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples & purchases and some links are affiliate. See my full disclaimer here.


Monday, 8 May 2017

Jo Malone Star Magnolia Hair Mist: Review

Jo Malone London has released its first ever hair mist in new Limited Edition scent, Star Magnolia. 

Star Magnolia is fresh and bright, a crisp yet gently creamy white floral, with notes of magnolia leaf and orange blossom alongside lemon, ginger and shiso (an aromatic Asian herb). Also available in cologne, I find it quite youthful yet sophisticated and think it will appeal to a wide age range.

The Hair Mist is perfect for anyone who wants to take fragrance layering to a new level, fancies a lighter way to wear scent or whose skin can not tolerate perfume. While this isn't my typical go-to scent, it's perfect for Spring and I've really enjoyed wearing it. We've had beautiful warm sunny weather this week and it's been great to spritz my hair with this rather than applying perfume on top of sunscreen.

If making my hair smell good was its only asset, I'd probably opt for the cologne instead, but I find the hair mist surprisingly functional. It acts as a great finishing product on my easily weighed down hair, adding a delicate mist of lightly conditioning definition and shine, with a waft of scent every time my hair moves. And don't even start me on the white ombre bottle and (removable) floral collar. 

Jo Malone London Star Magnolia is a Limited Edition scent available in 30 or 100ml Cologne and 30ml Hair Mist, available now. It's just launched and selling out fast already... find the range here or here. 

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

Monday, 1 May 2017

Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules

Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules are one of the first age-defying skincare products I recall from many moons ago, now available in a new formula that claims to have 'triple the anti aging power'. While I can't compare them to the original, I'm really enjoying these little capsules of serum as a night time treatment. Designed to be worn under moisturiser, personally I find them self sufficient.

Ceramides are naturally present in the skin and like many good things, decrease with age. They help retain water and hold cells in place on the outer layer of our skin, for that plump, smooth (youthful!) appearance. Advanced Ceramide Capsules help strengthen the skin's moisture barrier and retexturize skin for a fresher, more radiant look.

Each little pearly capsule contains a single dose of serum... just twist off the little end and squeeze the product into your palm before massaging into skin. I actually find the dose quite generous and could probably eek it out to two nights; instead I've been extending it to my neck and decolletage, which I'm making a concerted effort to do with all skincare lately.

I'd recommend Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules for anyone in their 30s or older who is concerned about the effects of aging. As the consistency is rich and slightly oily, I think they're best suited to dry or normal to dry skin.

My smaller bottle of 30 capsules is sold out online although may be available in store... two larger sizes are available here (and actually work out better value in the long run). If you fancy treating yourself, now is a good time as House of Fraser has a lovely Gift With Purchase worth £47 when you buy any two Elizabeth Arden products (one to be skincare).

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

Monday, 3 April 2017

Switching up my Make Up for Spring

There's nothing like a few days of blue skies and sunshine to put me in the mood for Spring makeup. After a recent spree at Victoria Square, Belfast, I've revamped my everyday stash, adding bold colour, sheer textures and a golden glow to the mix.


Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning for Face is an old staple that's hard to beat. This milky lotion is easy to apply and gives a subtle golden glow that camouflages imperfections, giving me the confidence to wear a lighter base. I've recently switched to YSL Touche Eclat Le Teint foundation in the shade B20... slightly less dewy than the original formula, this gives medium coverage with a natural looking finish that gets better as the day goes on. It has good lasting power even without powder (though Blur Primer does help it go the extra mile) and is perfect on my normal to dry skin at this time of year.

Clarins new Skin Illusion Blush in Luminous Pink is the prettiest soft rose shade in very cute packaging. A built in puff in the lid picks up just the right amount of powder blush to apply directly to cheeks and blend... great for on the go, though I do normally use a brush.


I'm a big fan of one step eye products as I rarely have time to apply a full eye shadow look. Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon in Amber Haze provides subtle definition as liner or added drama when applied all over the lower lid. Just smudge the edges with a ring finger and you're good to go. This gorgeous metallic bronze is recommended for brown eyes, though I think it works well with blue too.

YSL The Shock Mascara has been a bit of a game changer for me. When keeping liner and shadow low key, big lashes are a must for me - and this gives instant length and volume in a single coat. You can of course keep going for an even bolder look (subtle this is not)... I'm absolutely hooked.


I've found the perfect Spring pairing in this lip duo: Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk with Chanel Le Rouge Crayon de Couleur in Rose Violine. Both are a flattering mauve toned mid pink and very wearable for every day. Chanel Rouge Crayon de Couleurs have the most gorgeous creamy texture that goes on glossy, settles to an almost matte finish and stains my lips with surprising staying power. On days when I want a bolder look, I opt for Tom Ford Lip Colour in Wild Ginger (2nd pic from top), the most beautiful vivid orange-coral. I'm loving the new counters for all three of these brands at House of Fraser, Belfast... much as I love online shopping, it makes such a difference being able to try products in person.


Mild weather makes me want to switch to bright nail colours immediately and Nails Inc Gel Effect in Chelsea Grove is a gorgeous glossy fuschia shade that brightens up any outfit.

I was joined on my Spring spree by blogging friend, Avril of A Life to Style ... pop over to see her new season fashion picks here! Local readers might like to check out Victoria Square's Spring Carnival on 8-9 April for fashion shows, beauty demos and loads more.

*Some of the featured products were bought from House of Fraser Belfast with a Victoria Square gift card.


Friday, 31 March 2017

All About Face

Pretty sure I'm the last beauty blogger on the block to get around to trying the original Beauty Blender. I've tried alternatives like those by Real Techniques and Barely There, but only recently had my first play with the iconic hot pink bouncy makeup sponge.

This All About Face set contains the original pink Beauty Blender for foundation, a smaller grey one for blusher and a micro mini for highlighting and concealer. The mini is particularly good for concealing around the eyes, where I find the pink one a little too bulky to really smooth concealer into the corners.

I've been using the Beauty Blenders with my current base products, YSL Touche Eclat Le Teint Eclat foundation and Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Serum concealer (yep, still loving this - full review here). Both of these are liquid formulas with a dewy finish, so lend themselves particularly well to this kind of application. I'm not sure if a thicker cream or compact would work so well?

If you're new to Beauty Blenders, they're firm-ish sponges used to press or bounce foundation onto the skin for a perfected, seamless finish. I dampen mine before use, which makes it almost double in size and apply product more smoothly with a natural finish. I squeeze it with a clean flannel to get rid of excess water before use, so it's not dripping wet. 

I definitely use more product with a sponge compared to a brush - almost double in fact - which is quite significant, though I'm currently sucking it up as these give such a perfect, almost poreless finish. Cleaning them is easier than I expected... little and often seems to be key (and more hygienic). The solid cleanser is great, though I've tried a face wash (the Merumaya Luxury Facial wash from this post), which works well too.  

Once the novelty has worn off, I'll probably return to makeup brushes for every day and save my Beauty Blenders for times when I want to make more of an effort. I'd love to hear your experiences of using one - and welcome any tips. 

You can find the full Beauty Blender range and All About Face collection here


Monday, 20 March 2017

Pixi Hello Rose Glow Kit

If anyone knows how to get the glow, it's Pixi. So many of the Pixi Beauty products help to create a more radiant, glowing complexion and this little Hello Rose kit is no exception. If rosy tones aren't your thing, it's also available in a peach and honey toned version called Hello Glow.

This is how the kit comes, with generous miniatures of cream highlight, blush and plumping lipgloss. 

Glow Booster in Pink Pearl is a sheer pearly pink toned highlighter... mix a dot with foundation, apply under base for an all over glow or add to the high points of your face as a final step (my personal favourite).

Lip Lift Max in Sheer Rose is the ultimate nude lip colour for me... I have the full size version which I've worn a lot in recent months. A rosy brown toned nude with the perfect amount of pigment for a semi-sheer wash of colour, this looks gorgeous paired with a nude lipliner. I'm a big fan of Pixi's Soft Nude Contour Liner though since mine ran out I've been using Barry M lip liner in Blush, an excellent nude shade and total bargain at £2.99.

Pixi Blush Duo in Rose Gold is a cool pink with a slightly iridescent finish and a white gold highlight. I like to use the blush side on its own, though it can be mixed with a little of the highlight for a more shimmery finish or used separately. I prefer the more subtle finish of a cream highlight, so tend to use the Glow Booster on tops of cheekbones.

Swatches from left: Blush Duo in Rose Gold (blush & highlight swatched separately), Glow Booster in Pink Pearl and Lip Lift Max in Sheer Rose.

Pixi Hello Rose Glow kit is available now for £20 here in the UK or in-store at Target in the US. 


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Bathroom Shelfie

Hello from my new bathroom! It's been a while since I've shared a bathroom shelfie and as some of these products have become regulars, it's time to share my thoughts...

I first discovered Alfaparf Milano hair care after a Keratin treatment at Stafford Hair. I've tried quite a few of the products since and have most recently been enjoying Prickly Pear and Orange from the Precious Nature range. The smell of these is as authentic as I'd hoped and really lingers on my hair. I'm prone to dryness and a frizzy halo (lucky me) and these really do leave my hair feeling softer and smoother. The mask is so rich that I can only use it on ends as my hair is prone to that weighed down feeling (coarser hair types could probably use it more often)... I use the shampoo alone and then apply the mask every 2-3 washes. This is the first shampoo that leaves my hair feeling nourished without any conditioner, so although a little more pricey than your average Boots number, it works out fairly economical (available at selected salons or amazon). PS also works wonders on my daughters spirally curls and the gorgeous scent has made hair washing much less of a chore!

Bioderma's Atoderm bodycare range is aimed at dry, sensitive skin, which I'm particularly prone to in Winter. If you're the same, it's really not worth inflicting your skin to highly scented, foaming products with harsh chemicals, which increase irritation and strip skin of natural oils. This Ultra-nourishing Anti-irritation shower oil is a pleasure to use and much more luxurious than it looks. On contact with wet skin, the oil quickly emulsifies into a milky lotion, rinses off easily and leaves my skin feeling soft and comfortable (not remotely greasy). The pump makes it really practical and as an added bonus, it's makes leg shaving a breeze!

I've been using this tube of Merumaya Luxury Facial Wash each morning for longer than I remember and need so little I'm barely half way through. It's super gentle and a little dot the size of my baby finger nail is all I need. The reason I've stuck with this for so long is that it's one of the few facial washes I've tried that cleanses without drying or irritating my skin in any way. Active ingredients include antioxidants to protect and pomegranate enzymes to brighten, treating redness and imperfections without stripping. I'll sometimes use it alone and rinse off, but more recently have been massaging it in with a super gentle Konjac Sponge for an even more thorough cleanse. Konjac Sponges were one of my earliest discoveries through this blog and are perfect for anyone who likes an uncomplicated, natural approach to skincare. Available to suit different skin types, each one contains French clay and minerals; mine is the Chamomile Facial Puff sponge to soothe and calm sensitive skin. 

Mauli Reawaken Hand & Body Wash is an indulgence for my dry hands and I've been eeking out every drop to make it last as long as possible! Made with 80% organic ingredients, including essential oils, its amazing scent includes lime, grapefruit, frankincense and jasmine... an absolute treat for both the skin and senses.


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

3 x Face Masks to Plump, Soothe and Hydrate

I've recently moved house during which any form of pampering went out the window, so once I make my way through unpacking the last few (57) cardboard boxes, some self tlc will most definitely be happening. I find leave-on face masks one of the easiest ways to do this... I slather one on as I fall into or out of bed and let it do its thing, zero effort required. I know we're officially meant to 'tissue off' any excess, but why waste a drop? Here are three of my personal favourites, depending on my skin's needs on any given day.

PLUMPING: Purelogicol Triple Helix Collagen Boosting Mask

This feels incredibly luxurious on the skin and is great to plump and smooth before a special occasion or to help fake a few hours extra sleep the morning after. Made with natural plant extracts, essential oils and vitamins, it repairs and hydrates skin while adding extra glow. If I could only have one face mask, it would most likely be this one.

SOOTHING: Ren Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask

As the name suggests, this is one I reach for when my skin looks or feels a little angry or sensitive, which it's prone to more often than I'd like. Designed to protect skin's protective moisture barrier, I find it both calming and soothing, particularly during rosaceous flare-ups.

HYDRATE: Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Mask

I was hooked on this mask made with calming botanicals and antioxidant vitamins from first use... it does exactly as the name suggests and as a dehydration sufferer (is anyone not?!) it's become an essential for me. I'm not sure how often it should be used, but I apply several times a week as it really does deliver the deep hydration my skin craves.

What's your favourite face mask?


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Clarins (Secret) Face Contour Palette

Clarins Face Contour Palette is the perfect pick for those who like to add colour and dimension to their face without anyone knowing about it... the Secret Contour if you like, exactly how I think contour should be worn. I'm really not a fan of contouring per se, though totally get that it looks great on certain face shapes. On my face, additional angles are not required and on most, it's an unnecessary extra step best left to the pros (in my humble opinion).

So why blog about the newest contour palette on the block? Because for me it's a great multi-tasking face palette with bronze, blush and powder in one, perfect for those of us who appreciate de-faffing on a busy morning. It works well on light to medium skin tones and anyone who enjoys quite a natural makeup look.

All three powders are matte - and while I'd personally prefer the lightest shade to have a satin finish, it works just fine as a setting powder and even better swirled with the bronzer for an extra subtle look, making it versatile all year around. The blusher is a pretty, soft rose pink, similar to the shade my cheeks go when naturally flushed (always a good gauge).

Above are finger swatches of all three shades - the lightest, slightly vanilla in tone, barely visible. The bronze looks slightly orange here, but appears lighter and more neutral on my face - and I'd say the pink is a touch more blue toned in real life.

These are the swatches blended out with a brush to give you more of an idea how they look applied, though I use less of the bronze shade in particular. Speaking of brushes, the palette includes a good quality one, but as ever I prefer to use my regular brushes.

In summary, the powders are finely milled, easy to blend and skin flattering. I use the bronze to add a tiny bit of warmth, the lightest shade on my T-zone and the blush on apples of cheeks. The palette is both glam and sturdy with a good mirror, great for on the go and I think best for light to medium skins. I've been using it most days for the past month or so and it's been the first to distract me from my trusty Givenchy Lune Rose blush in a looong time.

Clarins Face Contour Palette is available now.

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

Monday, 16 January 2017

Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka Cologne Intense: Review

Myrrh & Tonka is the latest addition to the Jo Malone Cologne Intense line... and a must-try if you enjoy sensual, smoky scents.

There's no two ways about it; this is one sexy fragrance and smells great on both men and women. Without exception, everyone I've asked to try this finds it as swoony as I do... and of all the Cologne Intense scents, this is my No1.

"The rich, potent sap of the Namibian myrrh tree... mingling with whispers of warm almond and lush vanilla... the addictive tonka bean."

I was surprised to read of lavender top notes as I didn't catch these at all, so don't be put off if like me, you're not a fan. There's an oriental herbal freshness on first spritz that quickly turns smoky before the myrrh kicks in, eventually settling to sophisticated vanilla and almond.

I've heard some describe Myrrh & Tonka as sweet; to me the dry down is a musky, woody gourmand - soft and creamy, but not quite sweet. A gentle oriental smokiness remains as this scent wears on my skin and I can't help thinking that it would make a beautiful candle.

Fragrance Director, Céline Roux describes it as "decadent... addictive... warm and opulent" - and I completely agree. To me, it conjures a log cabin with open fires on the edge of a forest... close my eyes and I'm there (I wish).

I think Myrrh & Tonka will be hugely popular and am pleased that the Cologne Intense line is now available in slightly more accessible 50ml bottles (cute, squat and square). These scents have a richness and lasting power beyond that of regular Jo Malone colognes and I find that they work particularly well in Winter.

Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka is available now in 50ml or 100ml  in the UK (find it here in the US).

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and some links are affiliate. See my full disclaimer here.

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