Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Neutrogena Visibly Clear meets Danielle Romeril meets visibly clearer skin

I've got to be honest: I've had mixed experiences with Neutrogena, and as a person who's suffered from acne for nearly 20 years now (err...woo?), it's difficult to find products that can genuinely boost radiance and improve skin condition. However, from 2010 I've had the chance to test several products from Neutrogena's Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit range, whose zesty zing not only helps to wake you up in the mornings, but also kickstarts skin into clearing up. The original face wash has now been given a design-based pick-me-up by up-and-coming Irish designer Danielle Romeril, who coincidentally also in 2010 graduated from the MA Womenswear course at the Royal College of Art. In 2012 she set up her own label and this year, as well as presenting new designs at London Fashion Week and winning the NEWGEN award, has revamped one of Neutrogena's most successful face washes with a retro 80s design that's perfectly in keeping with catwalk trends. Specifically, it's designed by Memphis, an Italian architectural movement known for its avant-garde style and in-your-face colours.

Luckily for all fans of this product, it remains exactly the same on the inside - just in a jazzy collectible bottle - so for all those needing a top-up, now's a pretty good time to splash the cash (yep, all £4.94 of it). Happily, I'm just as pleased with the results as when I initially tested it in 2010 - and maybe even more so (and not just because of our Dani's pretty bottle).

perfect partners
Pink Grapefruit Oil-Free Moisturiser (50ml) – RRP: £4.99 
Pink Grapefruit Daily Scrub (150ml) – RRP: £4.95
Pink Grapefruit Cream Wash (150ml) – RRP: £4.99

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Vaseline Spray and Go Body Moisturiser


RRP: £4.99 for 190ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Moisturises in seconds so you can put your clothes straight on. Instantly leaves skin soft, not sticky or greasy. Dispenses evenly with one all over continuous spray."

--Packaging--
The vibrant colours reflect the essence of each available scent (cocoa, oat, and aloe vera), while the plant-based illustrations also portray a degree of natural provenance. The spray mechanism is efficient, and the swivelling top means there's no pesky lid to lose, either, with the chances of leakage in your bag also being significantly reduced as a consequence.

--Application--
Hold 10 cm from the skin and spray where desired, before rubbing in. This is easy, with a little of the product going a long way.

--Appearance--
All variants spray on white and rub in invisibly.

--Scent--
While I haven't yet had a chance to try the cocoa butter variant (sadly!), Vaseline did kindly send me the oat version, which smells pleasantly neutral (think freshly laundered cotton), and the aloe vera version (which smells vaguely botanical, but not overwhelmingly so) - neither of which should interfere with perfume.

--Texture and consistency--
Rubs in quickly and easily, as promised, meaning you can get dressed straight away without worrying about the product staining your clothes.

--Effects on the skin--
Skin is left quickly moisturised and non-greasy, in both the short and long-term.

--Value for money--
This is at least £1 more than Vaseline's standard body lotions, so you really have to want this format and consistency specifically. However, other brands selling the same size package, including classic body moisturiser Atrixo, are roughly the same in terms of both cost and result. Crucially, though, this product currently represents something new and different, with only Palmers offering a similar product. So if you're one of those who likes to be first on the scene, you definitely won't be disappointed by this fragrant and functional product. Look out for good deals on the high street for even better value, too.

perfect partners
Lip Therapy, £2.10
Intensive Care Healthy Hands + Stronger Nails Hand Cream, £3.99
Pure Petroleum Jelly, from £2.19
Intensive Care Aloe Fresh Roll-On, £1.69
Active Fresh Anti-Perspirant Deodorant Spray, £1.90

Friday, 31 July 2015

Jane Iredale Longest Lash Mascara

RRP: £26

--What does the promo say?--
"This dual-purpose formula contains sea minerals that condition lashes so they can grow to their fullest potential, while thousands of cellulose fibers coat the lashes for a look that’s glamorous, rich and full. The Jane Iredale Longest Lash Thickening and Lengthening Mascara extra large, tapered brush makes application easy and separates lashes effortlessly. Packaged in a squeezable tube with the highest quality brush. Contains 75% more product than normal mascaras. Conditions lashes so they don’t clump, flake or break."

--Packaging--
The gold, tapered tube is beautifully elegant and really would stand out on the shelf.

--Application--
Apply a single thin coat to your lashes on one eye, before doing the same on the other eye. You can then go back and repeat the process. By alternating eyes, you end up with well-defined, well-separated lashes, rather than one thick layer of product that clumps.

--Appearance--
Delivers a deep jet-black colour that could not fail to impress. Lashes are smoothly separated for a sophisticated finish, and lashes are effectively lengthened from the very first use.

--Scent--
Surprisingly actually smells relatively commercial despite the relative lack of chemicals. Odd. Still, never mind.

--Texture and consistency--
While drier than other mascaras, I often find that many commercial mascaras are very wet when new, which can make them difficult to use as the lashes frequently stick together as a consequence. The slightly stiffer consistency created by the waxes and marine extracts means that you get a perfect result from the very first use (rather than having to open the new mascara to let some air in before shutting it in a drawer for a few months, ahem). It's also easy to remove when you want to, despite having decent staying power, meaning no panda eyes for you.

--Value for money--
At £26 it's perhaps a little on the expensive side, being of equivalent retail price to brands such as Giorgio Armani, Helena Rubinstein, By Terry, Dior, and YSL mascaras. However, it's clearly high quality and the natural ingredients it's made from are a definite bonus, with results that you just can't quibble with. Terrific stuff.

perfect partners
Bitty Brow Kit, £25
PureBrow Brow Gel, £16
PureLash Extender and Conditioner, £16
Mystikol Powdered Eyeliner/Highlighter, £13.50
Eye Pencil Crayon, £12
Eye Highlighter Pencil, £16

Liquid Eye Liner, £19.95
Eye Steppes Eye Shadow, £28
Eye Gloss Liquid Eye Shadow, £16
PurePressed Eye Shadow Duo, £25
PurePressed Triple Eye Shadow, £19
Eye Shadow Kit, £40

Monday, 27 July 2015

Liz Earle: Autumn/Winter 2015

Liz Earle has a long history of harnessing the positive qualities of botanical ingredients to produce clear results in skin care, hair care, and body care. Now, as the classic products bed down in beauty buffs' consciousness thanks to the company's regular sponsorship of events such as Cowes Week and increasing presence in department stores (as well as availability on shopping channels such as QVC), the brand is keen to expand its offerings without betraying its original vision. 


This was what their recent Christmas in July event was all about - not just the promotion of their seasonal offerings for the ultra-prepared, but also their new products due for release in September and October 2015. The already popular Superskin range, launched in 2009, sees the £48 facial serum being added to the line this autumn to help you slow the ticking. Its texture is incredibly light and can thus be used at any time, whether day or night, as a complement to the existing Superskin oil (which, as one Liz Earle rep told me, can be handily added to your bath for a truly aromatherapeutic experience).


Another aromatic addition comes in the form of the new hand repair collection, which launches in October. The signature orange flower scent will be joined by two entirely new scents - the harmonious lavender and basil, and the sparkling rosemary and rock rose, which both continue to blend luxury and functionality. Texture-wise they sink in well without sticking, allowing the process of softening, smoothing and protecting to continue round the clock, regardless of how busy your day is. Containing echinacea, hops and vitamin E, they certainly merit the £21 price tag for 150ml. These are well-complemented by the hand soap, as well as the travel sizes of the hand repair cream - while these are currently available in the classic orange flower scent only, I am confident that these will also appear with the new aromas, given sufficient time.


A further key product being added to the Liz Earle range comes in the form of their latest Botanical Essence - Number 20. While BE1 has a distinct vetiver base, and BE100 is a real sparkler, BE20 combines all the best elements of the two, blending maturity and youth to reach out to as wide a customer base as possible. At £49 for 50ml it isn't cheap, but it competes well with high street equivalents, and is arguably better quality thanks to the sustainably-sourced essential oils it contains, which include mandarin, jasmine, and sandalwood. Released to celebrate the brand's 20th birthday, it successfully encapsulates the brand's modern yet grown-up image, and has been designed by parfumier Domitille Bertier, who has a degree in chemistry as well as training from the ISIPCA Perfumery School in Versailles, signifying the high level of expertise behind the brand.

This hallmark of quality is further reflected in Liz Earle's new candles, which will be released in November and mark the company's foray into home fragrance. £40 gives you 40 hours' burning time, which will be further maximised by trimming the wick after the first ten minutes' burning. Available in the same fragrances as the hand repair cream, as well as the classic eucalyptus and rosemary, it also comes in a damask rose and pink pepper variant, which nicely foreshadows the new Pink Pepper and Mint Cleanse and Polish (£20.75). Further to this, an orange and mint version of the cleansing cream will also be available. These limited editions will be available for purchase only for as long as stock lasts, rather than for a designated time period, giving extra exclusivity to the brand. This high grade of product is further enhanced by the ethical and careful sourcing of ingredients, which come from around the world: Turkey, Africa and Yorkshire, to name just a few.

This meticulous approach extends to the brand's wish to perfect its products before putting them onto the market; as I had recently suspected, representatives were able to confirm that Liz Earle's previous attempts at sunscreen had been withdrawn from the market until they could get it right. However, their after-sun gel, which contains cucumber, aloe vera and tea tree for healing and cooling, came highly recommended, with other suncare products potentially in the pipeline. This augurs well for the future (if the sun comes out, at least!), and in the meantime, we can prepare for Christmas thanks to the brand's beautiful new gift sets, which range from affordable packs priced between £20 and £30, up to the Ultimate Christmas Hamper, which retails at a sumptuous £329. Meanwhile, we can take refuge from the autumn wind and rain thanks to the newest products, which promise to fragrance our homes and our faces with the beautiful botanical essences that the brand is known for.  

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Noble Isle Fireside Body Lotion


RRP: £25

--What does the promo say?--
"Fireside kindles the warm, spicy aromas of a country inn with cinnamon and cypress oil, comforting vanilla and vitamin-rich organic beet extract."

--Packaging--
The rustic logo and minimalist text create a clear brand identity, and the bronze embellishments and black pump-action system add to the classiness of the look also. Clear plastic bottle a bonus as you can always see how much is left.

--Application--
Rub into clean dry skin. The only annoying part is that the pump, while efficient for small areas of the body such as the hands, only dispenses a small amount of lotion at a time, which means moisturising your whole body can take a while.

--Appearance--
White, but quickly rubs in clear.

--Scent--
None of the stated fragrances stand out individually, but blend perfectly for a balanced aroma that appropriately evokes the desired wintery, fireside atmosphere. It's oriental without being too masculine or woody (although him indoors described it as fruity, meaning that the grapefruit is possibly more detectable than I'd imagined).

--Texture and consistency--
Completely smooth; is absorbed without a hitch.

--Effects on the skin--
Skin is effectively moisturised, both short-term and long-term.

--Value for money--
While perhaps a little pricy, dispensation is efficient and the results are clear. This would also make a beautiful gift for anyone you care about.

perfect partners
Fragrance Sampler, £12
Mini Traveller, £15
Mini Love, £15
Warm and Woody Trio, £19.50
Bath and Shower Trio, £19.50
Fireside Bath and Shower Gel, £20
Deluxe Traveller, £29
Bath and Body Gift Set, £29
Bath and Shower Gel Duo Deal, £34
Fireside Candle and Snuffer, £39

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Noble Isle Lightning Oak Hair and Body Wash

RRP: £20

--What does the promo say?--
"An enduring, handsome fragrance, balancing smoky wood aromas with modern notes of crushed pepper and bergamot, enriched with toning extract of English oak."

--Packaging--
As classy as a plastic pump-action bottle can be thanks to its traditional logo and minimalist text, all embossed with an opaque finish. You also can't go wrong with it being see-through - I personally prize always being able to see how much product I have remaining.

--Application--
Lather up and rub over wet skin, or through wet hair. Rinse off when done.

--Appearance--
A sage green in the bottle, but turns white upon lathering and leaves no visible residue.

--Scent--
The website promises a mixture of bergamot, grapefruit, cardamom, clove, vetiver and sandalwood. Vetiver in particular is a very masculine fragrance, and I don't normally like it. However, in this case it's not overwhelming. None of the other scents are especially detectable; however, this could be considered the mark of a good fragrance, as it means they are all well-balanced.

--Texture and consistency--
Lathers up encouragingly and rinses out well, both from the hair and off the skin.

--Effects on the skin and hair--
Leaves skin feeling smooth and soft, and while I'm often sceptical of these products that claim to be multi-use, effects on the hair are also positive, with volume, luminosity and texture all restored.

--Value for money--
While £20 might seem pricy, this product's luxurious nature, high-quality results and multi-purpose application make it worth the money.

perfect partners
Warm and Woody Trio, £19.50
Bath and Shower Trio, £19.50
Bath and Body Gift Set, £29
Mini Love, £15
Lightning Oak Soap Bar, £15
Lightning Oak Candle and Snuffer, £39
Fragrance Sampler, £12
Deluxe Traveller, £29 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Dove Invisible Dry Anti-Perspirant Deodorant

RRP: £2.39

--What does the promo say?--
"Dove Invisible Dry Anti-Perspirant Roll On gives 24 hour protection without leaving any white marks on a remarkable 100 colours of clothing.  It contains 0% alcohol so is gentle on skin whilst being an effective deodorant."

--Packaging--
The roll-on that I was sent by Dove's PR is tiny - a real tapered bullet that's perfect for hand baggage! The silvery screw-on plastic lid adds a touch of sophistication, too.

--Application--
Just roll under your arms after showering or bathing. Easy peasy.

--Appearance--
I was a little worried as it visibly rolls on white. However, it quickly dries clear, and, as promised, leaves no white marks on a variety of clothing colours.

--Scent--
Cotton-like and fresh.

--Texture and consistency--
Smooth and dries quickly.

--Effects on the skin--
Does not irritate and provides effective anti-perspirant protection - and all without white marks on clothing or body.

--Value for money--
Even though some will prefer natural deodorants (an increasing trend these days), there are plenty of people who just want something that will do the job fast without staining their clothes. With this, you can stay dry and fresh all day for under £3, and without having to scrub off white marks either. Thanks, Dove.

Dove Invisible Dry Deodorant comes in a variety of formats - spray, stick and roll-on - and sizes (40ml to 250ml).

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Screening your skin from the sun - naturally

Colorescience Sunforgettable
Having written quite a few sunscreen posts in my time, it occurred to me that the natural sunscreen market is proliferating, with varying degrees of success, as people fight back against an industry that plays on people's fears (i.e., people are so scared that their skin will be damaged by the sun that they will pay whatever price the big companies ask for their sunblocks - regardless of what these may contain). This has been helped enormously by the mineral makeup industry, which seems to find it easy to integrate natural sun protection factors into its powders, foundations, primers and concealers. And as I've said in a recent post, different people have different priorities, meaning that there are many wishing to seek out these alternatives.

My favourite natural SPF-integrated makeup brands have to be as follows:

  • Colorescience - their Sunforgettable range also offers excellent coverage for the face for those of us who can't quite face the world without makeup. Its bronzers, primers and so on also contain SPF.
  • Arbonne - the only brand my auntie's oncologist endorsed following her cancer scare.


Perhaps the first natural sun cream I tested was by Liz Earle, and to be honest, I wasn't that keen - it was extremely thick and stiff, difficult to apply and rub in, and didn't have a good shelf life either. (They've since shelved the idea - presumably until they can get it right - for now only offering an aftersun gel.) But the situation has improved massively since then - I recently tested a tinted moisturiser from Spa Technologies, and while it failed on that front (given that it offered no coverage whatsoever...) it also had a natural SPF of 45, and felt more like a luxurious face cream than a chemical sunscreen. Fantastic news for everyone wanting a more natural alternative to the market mainstays.

And there's plenty of choice too - listed below are just some natural sunscreen brands available in the UK (and while my two favourite brands, listed above, are a little more costly, going 'au naturel' does NOT have to break the bank). As I haven't tried all of these, your feedback would be greatly appreciated. Leave a comment if you have!


  • Bears Beauty 22% Zinc Sun Lover's Cream, from £2.65
  • Bubbles for Hope Natural Sunscreen Stick, from £3.31
  • Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 60, £3.74
  • Bare Ends Sunscreen SPF 25, from £3.97
  • Seasonal Remedies Home Made Natural Sunscreen, from £3.97
  • Evergreen Helios Sunscreen Milk, £4.40
  • Naturela Face Sunscreen, £4.43
  • Purely Esssential Organic Sunscreen, £4.63
  • Simple Life Mom Natural Sunscreen Lotion SPF 40, from £4.64
  • Bare Earth Natural Sunscreen SPF 30, £5.29
  • Little Granolas All Natural Sunblock SPF 30, £5.30
  • Heavenly Hands Natural Solid Sunscreen, £5.30
  • Alba Botanica SPF 45, £5.44
  • Lavera Organic Sunscreen SPF 15, £5.75
  • Alba Hawaiian Green Tea Sunblock, £6.37
  • Lotus Herbals Sunblock Cream SPF 20, £6.44
  • Terravana All Natural Sunscreen, £6.62
  • Nature's Gate Face Sunscreen SPF 25, £7.42
  • Uriage Bariésun SPF 50 Fragrance Free Cream, £8.22
  • Lush Solid Sunscreen Wash SPF 30, £8.95 
  • Jason Sunbrellas Facial Natural Sunblock SPF 20, £10.19
  • Eco Cosmetics Sunscreen SPF 30, £10.89
  • Mommy Care Facial Sunscreen SPF 15, £11.12
  • Mustela Very High Sun Protection Lotion, £11.49
  • Goddess Garden Sunny Body Natural Sunscreen SPF 30, £11.51
  • Apicita Sun Cream Face and Body, £12.50
  • Green People Scent Free Sun Lotion SPF 30, £12.99
  • Antidote Skin Care Mineral Sunblock Lotion, £13.06
  • Hang Ten Natural Sunscreen, £13.07
  • Moraz Face Sun Saver SPF 50, £13.16
  • Louis Widmer Sun Screen 25+, £13.70
  • Apivita Sun Face and Body, £16.38

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Riemann P20 Once A Day Sun Protection

RRP: £13.99 per 100ml
available in SPF 15, 20, 30 and 50

--What does the promo say?--
"P20 provides 10 hours' protection from one application and is very water resistant even after swimming frequently throughout the day.Its clear, lightweight consistency ensures a silky and even coverage. Active 15 minutes after application, it's quickly absorbed, non sticky and leaves no white marks. Thanks to its long-lasting UVA and UVB filters, it helps protect against burning and the premature signs of ageing, and its once a day formula is colour and paraben-free, with no added fragrance or preservatives. Great for all the family, including the children whether you're lazing by the pool on holiday, outdoors playing sports, or just enjoying the garden at home. Perfect under make-up or moisturiser and for men with a thinning scalp."

--Packaging--
The red, orange and yellow colour scheme, particularly when juxtaposed with the white and black of the rest of the box and tube, is eyecatching and fits well with the purpose of the product. Equally, the spray mechanism is efficient and easy to use.

--Application--
Spray over body before sun exposure. Rub into skin completely.

--Appearance--
The spray is a pale yellow colour initially, but rubs in clear.

--Scent--
Unfortunately smells a bit like nail varnish remover, so can't buy into the 'fragrance free' claim.

--Texture and consistency--
Rubs in quite well, and is non-sticky as promised, although leaves a bit of a residue on the skin (albeit an invisible one).

--Effects on the skin--
Protects skin from the sun's harmful rays successfully, and as the above comment perhaps implies, it's a fairly heavy-duty product, so true to its promises, also only needs applying once a day, removing the hassle of reapplication.

--Value for money--
While sun protection is of course vital to our health, I always think that sunscreen seems like expensive stuff. Despite the high levels of technology that are likely involved in making these products, I am also inclined to believe that sunscreen producers capitalise on consumer fear - they make the product expensive because of people's concerns for their health, knowing that people will buy it anyway. This sun cream is effective stuff - it protects you from the sun, both in and out of the water, and is long-lasting, meaning you are free from the annoyance of repeated application. However, different people have different priorities, and some would rather apply sunscreen more often but use a product with a more natural basis. This can be achieved by spending less than £13.99 per 100ml, but we all have different budgets and different concerns. Nonetheless, if you're looking for something that will definitely work and last all day, P20 is a good choice.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Spa Technologies Vitamin C Mist

RRP: from £15

--What does the promo say?--
"An Isotonic Seawater Mist fortified with Hyaluronic Acid to attract and retain moisture to the skin and Antioxidants to restore lost minerals and vital elements. Use after cleansing or whenever skin needs refreshing."

--Packaging--
A chunky glass bottle with an eyecatching metallic blue band that looks sophisticated and modern while helping the brand name to stand out. I'm a fan of glass bottles - they are recyclable and help you to easily see how much is left. While this glass bottle is on the heavy side perhaps, this means it shouldn't shatter when travelling. The spray mechanism is good too and easily detachable from the bottle for recycling.

--Application--
Spray onto face directly after cleansing, or onto a cotton pad which you can then sweep over the face to pick up any excess dirt or makeup.

--Appearance--
A clear, watery liquid.

--Scent--
Slightly salty, but not overbearing. A natural scent that really evokes the sea.

--Texture and consistency--
The watery liquid goes on smoothly and leaves no visible or palpable residue.

--Effects on the skin--
As promised, it's immediately refreshing and keeps the skin hydrated. It also removes any excess dirt or makeup for optimum cleansing, meaning that you should see increased radiance, decreased dryness, and some overall improvement in skin condition, particularly thanks to the natural ingredients this contains.

--Value for money--
I was kindly sent the 30ml version by Spa Technologies, and while I loved it, I didn't find that this smaller bottle lasted as long as I was hoping, so when purchasing another bottle I would without doubt go for the better value 100ml bottle (which is only an additional £10). Natural, effective toners are hard to find, so this one definitely joins my skincare staples.

perfect partners
Vitamin C Moisturising Serum, £35
Revitalising Sea Cleanser, £25
Essential Kit, £59
Repair Kit, £101