She's black Despite being out of the limelight now for a year or two, Avril Lavigne has teamed up with Procter and Gamble to create her debut fragrance, Black Star. Available across Europe this July, and in the US and Canada in the autumn (Asia will follow in 2010), the bottle is reminiscent of Viktor & Rolf's Flowerbomb and the scent itself is said to contain notes of hibiscus, black plum, and dark chocolate. Lavigne describes it as 'young, fresh and edgy'. The range's prices will start from €16 for 15ml, and will include body lotion and shower gel as well as the eau de parfum.
Going down in history The story of fashion and beauty house Christian Dior, written by Alexandra Palmer, will go on sale at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London this October, priced at £19.99. As a student of couture, art history and textile, and a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada, she is arguably the best person to take on this tale of Dior's rich tapestry, and as someone holding a PhD, it should be well-written too. It will also be available via Amazon.
Purity for the man in your life Well-hidden natural grooming company Pure Nuff Stuff has recently launched a range for men to keep themselves clean and shiny. The brand responds quickly to developments in the cosmetic industry (for example, withdrawing palm oil as an ingredient immediately when reports in 2008 cast doubts on its sustainability), and as well as keeping their noses clean ethically, the prices are to die for, with the men's range starting at just £2.75. Your man can clean himself with just about anything from Pure Nuff Stuff, from soap to shower gel to aftershave lotion. The brand looks like a promising entry onto the ethical cosmetics and beauty stage; I may just have to get my hands on some of their products myself, especially with custom blending available.
More Dior In yet more Dior news, their summer colour collection already seems set to be a hit, drawing inspiration from the Pop Art movement and from Dior's own collection of watches. The gloss is yet another addition to the colour-changing battalion, containing wild mango and SPF10. The full list of the range's products can be found here.
Congratulations, and jubilations... As well as Procter and Gamble recently holding its annual 2009 Beauty and Grooming Awards, Avon also celebrates 50 years of trading in the UK this week. In this time of economic recession, I'd say that's a job well done.Sources www.basenotes.net http://cdn.buzznet.com Daily Fashion Monitor Amazon www.purenuffstuff.co.uk www.cosmeticsbusiness.com www.temptalia.com
--What does the promo say?-- "Garnier's Vital Restore range is the first to contain a unique combination of orchid extract and soy bio-proteins to address the ageing of mature skin. The eye cream helps smooth the appearance of the eye contour area, and reduce the appearance of bags and dark circles, leaving skin looking more luminous."
--Packaging-- As with the other products in the range, the packaging seems generally sturdy, albeit a little bit 'cheap-feeling' (though at this price, what did you expect?), with no leakage or wastage during use. The dark red tube also feels like a let-down after the pretty pink and white of the box.
--Application-- Smooth a little of the cream under and around eyes before applying makeup, and rub in gently, being careful not to drag the delicate skin as you go.
--Scent-- None immediately discernible, though if you give it a really good sniff the orchid scent is there, albeit not in such a high-impact way as in the serum.
--Appearance-- A stiff, white cream that is invisible when rubbed into the skin around the eyes.
--Texture/consistency-- As mentioned, quite stiff, but this doesn't prohibit the absorption of the cream, and a cream being stiff is always better than a cream being runny.
--Effects on the skin-- Strangely, after my extremely positive experience with the range's serum, I noticed absolutely no effect on the fine lines around my eyes. None whatsoever. Saying this, I'm not exactly part of the target age group, so will be sending the remainder of this to someone who is for the purpose of further testing.
--Value for money-- While this is arguably one of the cheapest anti-ageing products on the market, what good is that if it doesn't actually do anything? Still, judgement is best reserved until it's been tested by someone a bit closer to the age range Garnier is aiming at (50+), and in any case, you shouldn't be put off the range entirely: if the day and night creams are as good as the serum, I'd still rush to the shops with cash in hand.
perfect partners Vital Restore Day Cream, £9.99 Vital Restore Night Cream, £9.99 Vital Restore Anti-Age Spots Serum, £11.99
--What does the promo say?-- "Garnier Vital Restore is the first skincare range with a unique combination of orchid extract and soy bio-proteins. Developed to revitalise the look of mature skin, the serum helps to reduce the appearance of age spots and restore radiance."
--Packaging-- The box this comes in is very nice, with refreshing white intersected by vibrant floral branches. The bottle itself, while not at all prone to leakage and easy enough to use, is not as nice: the dark red bottle is a bit of a let-down compared to the beautiful pink of the flowers as depicted on the box, and the plastic seems a bit cheap - you feel a slight 'twang' when you pull off the transparent lid. Nevertheless, since this isn't exactly a top-budget brand, this is perhaps to be expected and shouldn't be complained about, since it's not as if it leads to wastage.
--Application-- A pea-sized blob of this moisturiser will see to your whole face. The pump mechanism is easy to control during application, and the entire application process is a breeze. Advice is application every day; whether you take this to mean once or twice is up to you, though I find that once is sufficient.
--Appearance-- A slightly translucent, white cream, which leaves no visible residue on the face. More moisturiser-ish than traditionally serum-ish though.
--Scent-- Just beautiful; unlike some other brands which have tried to cash in on the whole orchid thing before, Garnier have really used the gorgeous smell to their advantage. Possibly the nicest-smelling moisturiser I've ever used.
--Texture/consistency-- Not too thick, but not too runny; not lumpy or too watery. Nigh on perfect, in other words.
--Effect on skin-- While I'm not exactly part of the target group for this product range, I have noticed two main effects with this serum on my 23-year-old skin. Firstly, and somewhat bizarrely since it's about as far from the range's aims as you can get, I have noticed an improvement in my acne. Secondly, perhaps less bizarrely, my skin does seem more plumped up and radiant, with a potential reduction in the appearance of pores.
--Value for money-- At the cheaper end of the anti-ageing market, this serum is surprisingly effective, laughing in the face of Estée Lauder and Lancôme's £30+ serums. I wish Garnier would change the packaging a little, I wish they'd be a little more transparent about what "soy bio-proteins" actually are, and I wish that their claim "to use, wherever possible, naturally derived active ingredients" was less at odds with the list of ingredients that looks more like a chemistry lesson. However, it clearly has positive effects, as well as a gorgeous smell, and despite being half the age of the target age group, I'll be keeping this, and maybe even buying some more when it runs out too.
perfect partners Vital Restore Day Cream, £9.99 Vital Restore Night Cream, £9.99 Vital Restore Eye Cream, £9.99
RRP: €14/$22 (not out in the UK yet, but I'm sure it will be soon)
--What does the promo say?-- "This innovative lip gloss is totally transparent and reacts on contact with the lips instantly transforming their natural colour into a customized shade just for you."
--Packaging-- Pretty innocuous really - while it's different to other brands in the sense that most other gloss tubes are not bright red, within the Clarins brand you wouldn't know this gloss from any other (not sure whether that's good or bad). Can be a little difficult to squeeze the gloss from the tube sometimes.
--Application-- As mentioned above, this is perhaps achieved with some difficulty at times, but just slick this onto your lips and you're good to go. It definitely doesn't gloop all over the place, though - you just might have to squeeze the tube with a little more force than you're usually accustomed to.
--Scent-- Again, as with the previous Clarins gloss that I tried, it's a little soapy. Shame.
--Texture/consistency-- Near on perfect: not sticky, not runny, and feels encouragingly smooth.
--Appearance-- Initially all you get is the transparent high shine that you expect from Clarins' lip glosses. Give it a few minutes though, and you get a sort of half-matte, half-shiny, definitely there dusky rose pink colour in the gloss. The colour also lasts way beyond the shine factor, which is interesting. Looks very natural and will fit in with just about any look no matter what your skin tone, so definitely very diverse and adaptable. Good for just about anything from a day at work to a romantic date.
--Longevity-- Interestingly, as said above, the general glossiness lasts averagely, but the colour itself stays the distance, without drying out your lips.
--Value for money-- At the same price (and perhaps cheaper than) a Benefit lip gloss, I think you're getting very good value here, even if the colour change isn't *instant* and generally isn't as good/as dramatic as Thierry Mugler's colour-changing lip colour. You don't need to use very much at a time and the product generally delivers on its promise. A good solid product.
--What does the promo say?-- "Repairing, stimulating and regenerating, this conditioner nourishes and deeply restores capillary fibre. It will detangle, soften and add lustre to hair. This product is free from: parabens , synthetic colorants, formol or formaldehyde, animal ingredients, triclosan."
--Packaging-- Clearly part of the Aromachology/Dry & Damaged Hair range of products available at L'Occitane, with the bottle bearing a great resemblance to the shampoo and serum. The flip-top lid seems sturdy and the combination of green bottle and orange label is eye-catching. Travels well - you don't need to worry that you'll open your bag and find conditioner everywhere.
--Application-- Slick onto wet hair, leave for a few minutes, and then rinse out. Use once or twice a week. However, I have found it generally very difficult to rinse out, and this is affected by the water pressure in your shower, so perhaps steer clear if your shower is weak.
--Appearance-- A thick, creamy, yellow-green substance.
--Scent-- None as far as I can tell.
--Texture/consistency-- It's not too runny or lumpy, though it can on occasion be tricky to squeeze from the bottle.
--Results-- This is possibly the most bizarre encounter I've ever had with a hair product, along with the serum from the same range: as well as its rinsability apparently depending on your water pressure, this also seems to depend highly on the water hardness of your area: in hard water it is near impossible to get decent shiny hair, whereas in soft water far less effort is needed. While the effects of hard water on hair washing are not exactly unknown, this is the first time that I've known a conditioner to barely work at all because of it. In soft water the results are excellent, with hair visibly softer and with greater luminosity. In hard water it is near impossible to wash out, leaving hair greasy and heavy.
--Value for money-- Great when it works (especially with usage recommended at only 1-2 times a week), horrific if it doesn't! Check out your water area before purchasing.
perfect partners Repairing Shampoo for Dry & Damaged Hair, £11.75 for 300ml Repairing Serum for Dry & Damaged Hair, £15.65 for 100ml Repairing Mask for Dry & Damaged Hair, £18.10 for 250ml
--What does the promo say?-- "From the age of 10, the parfumier Olivier Cresp, creator of Lacoste Pour Femme, fell in love with the captivating scent of jasmin flowers in the garden of his grandmother in Grasse, France. Cresp chose to focus on the perfume's perfect equilibrium between rich and natural scents, making Lacoste Pour Femme a marvellously feminine, energetic and dynamic perfume. The top notes are allspice, apple, and purple freesia. The heart introduces heliotrope and jasmine in an alliance with hibiscus blossom and Bulgarian rose. The base brings Himalayan cedar, sandalwood, and incense."
--Packaging-- The pale yellow is unusual, but not too unusual, in a market where pink still tends to dominate. The bottle is tall and slender, though the sculpture of it is similar to bottles produced by many other brands, such as Givenchy, Thierry Mugler and Kenzo.
--Application-- Nothing difficult about this; it's just a simple spray-top.
--Scent-- The first note you catch is a largely sweet and fresh smell from the apple. As it matures it becomes creamier, though I don't know from where this result comes. The flowers also become more discernible, though the 'deeper' scents like incense and sandalwood do not especially. It's certainly a very pleasant scent and it got rave reviews from him indoors (until he found out it was by Lacoste, anyway).
--Longevity-- Reports online seem to agree with me that sadly this otherwise charming fragrance does not linger too well on the skin - a couple of hours at most.
--Value for money-- This is priced pretty reasonably, especially if you go bargain hunting online. Despite the fact that this fragrance's staying power is not good, I am still (perhaps stupidly?) tempted to get some, or at least try some of the other products in the range. This being my first encounter with Lacoste, the winning combination of flowers, fruits and spices has enticed me to try more of their stuff. Not bad.
RRP: €28; £20 Retails at www.talika.com and at Sephora Contains myrrh (to purify, regenerate, strengthen, soften, and act as an anti-inflammatory), benzoin (to act as an antiseptic and astringent), and incense (to restore cells and to scent the oil).
--What does the promo say?-- "Multiple wear and tear such as use of cleaning products, nail polish and acrylic nails, age and slow down nail growth by altering its structure. Nail Regenerator Serum nourishes, hydrates and restructures fragile and lifeless nails, stimulates the growth of dry, brittle, split and uneven nails, softens cuticles and heals damaged matrices. Made with three 100% natural powerful plant oils, Nail Regenerator Serum is a natural and regenerating treatment that increases your nails’ potential to grow."
--Packaging-- A neat pen-like applicator, much in the style of pen concealers etc that are currently in vogue. The modern blue and orange colour scheme stands out beautifully and the clear top and bottom of the tube are reminiscent of Thierry Mugler's lipsticks. The logo is in white capital letters and is nicely calligraphed. The only downside is that there is a little leakage around the bottom of the sponge applicator, though thankfully this is well contained by the lid and is generally minimal.
--Application-- The Talika website advises you to "apply the Nail Regenerator Serum on to the base (root) of the nails and gently massage each nail to release the active ingredients." Pretty simple stuff. It also dries quickly, and is moisturising and non-greasy. It can also be applied even if you've got nail varnish on with no adverse effects on the colour or finish of the varnish.
--Appearance-- The oil is a very pale orange, and leaves no staining or visible residue on the nails.
--Consistency-- Of perfect viscosity - not too thick and not too runny.
--Scent-- A light but beautiful musky scent.
--Long-term effects-- Excellent - even short-term, I noticed a visible difference in the strength of my usually easily breakable nails. However, you need to stick to the maintenance programme that they suggest, or your nails will soon decline in quality again (which may sound like a chore, but hey, you need to shampoo and use deodorant regularly too, right?!).
--Value for money-- For something that ONLY contains the three ingredients listed above and nothing else, most definitely works, and is travel-friendly, you are guaranteed a great product. One tube also lasts ages, and best of all, all of Talika's products are available worldwide. Doesn't get much better than that.
perfect partners Nail Shaper, £23 Instant Manicure Set (8 treatments), £17 Hand Anti-Ageing Serum, £20
Sustainable Youth Technologies: April 2009 www.onlynature.co.uk: March 2009 Garnier: March 2009 Lancôme: January 2009 Bath & Body Works: February 2008, July 2008 Dove: January 2008, March 2009 TotalBeauty: Sept 2007-present Avon representative: Sept 2007-Dec 2008
agencies Tractenberg: March 2009 Balistik*Art: January 2009
publishers Beautiful Beginnings Youth Inc.: February 2008
RRP: £47 for 50ml available for both dry skin and normal/combination skin
--What does the promo say?-- "See more lift. Feel firmer. 92% of women do. This highly effective formula with our exclusive ExtremeLift3 Complex empowers your skin to look more lifted and more contoured--faster than ever. The rich blend of long-lasting moisturisers with super-energised nutrients relieves uncomfortably dry skin and creates a fresh, rejuvenated glow instantly. A gentle SPF15 sunscreen provides effective broad-spectrum protection. More lift. More radiance. More moisture. Now your skin can have it all. Clinical testing proves Resilience Lift Extreme firms skin's appearance up to 2X faster than original Resilience Lift."
--Packaging-- Very pink and pretty but not especially modern. As with other Estée Lauder products, it's easily recognisable both as part of the brand and as part of the range it belongs to (in this case, moisturisers). In a pot, meaning wastage is minimal (unless of course you're stupid and you drop it). They need to work on a catchier name, though: this one is a bit long and not exactly easy to remember.
--Application-- The Estée Lauder website advises application to the face in the morning after cleansing and the application of eye cream. No problem with this: it absorbs well and without residue.
--Appearance-- Thick and pale pink. No visible residue left on the skin.
--Scent-- Old-fashioned; a light yet intense rose.
--Texture/consistency-- Thick and creamy, without a trace of runniness.
--Effects on skin-- It at least passed the first test: despite the strong scent and thick creaminess, it didn't clog my pores/cause breakouts. However, it didn't really seem any better in terms of making my skin smooth than any other moisturiser I've used, though the intensity of the consistency makes me believe that it would have an effect in terms of restoring vitality and elasticity (though I'm not exactly part of the target group for this cream, I suspect, so its use would be purely preventative).
--Value for money-- While this cream is nice enough, and may well do what it says on the pot, my jaw absolutely dropped at the price. In terms of smoothing skin and restoring vitality, there are far better and cheaper moisturisers out there. Even one of Estée Lauder's serums would be a far better investment.
--What does the promo say?-- "Dramatically refinish skin's appearance and texture. See more clarity, smoothness and luminosity as it helps your skin get rid of dry, dulling, flaky surface skin cells. See more highly refined, virtually poreless skin. Enjoy our most dramatic skin resurfacing benefits—faster, more efficiently than ever before.
• Refines the look of uneven skin texture, flakiness and roughness. • Pores appear 1/3 smaller—instantly.
Smooth on Idealist and instantly enjoy that soft, seamless, silky feeling you love.
• Includes 3 times more Glucosamine than original Idealist. • Pore Diminishing Technology significantly shrinks the look of enlarged pores. • Gentle-acting Chestnut Extract helps your skin get rid of dry, dulling, flaky skin surface cells.
It's as if you're seeing the skin you were born with, all over again."
--Packaging-- Beautiful luminescent and translucent blue glass bottle with a classic (but perhaps aimed at older women?) gold lid and clear glass dropper. Clearly recognisable both as part of the Estée Lauder brand and as part of the range of serums the brand offers.
--Application-- Just apply a few drops to your face and neck along with your usual moisturiser.
--Scent-- Very sharp and fruity, in a very pleasant way, and no wonder. It's packed with all sorts of fruity goodness, containing extracts of mulberry, grape, and saw palmetto. The overriding scent, however, is that of grapefruit. Simply divine.
--Appearance-- A white cream reminiscent of Skyn Iceland's Cloud Cream (which, interestingly, also has a strong grapefruit smell), although not as thick. Leaves no visible residue on the skin. Sadly, I didn't see that immediate reduction in pore appearance that the thing promises; Lancôme's Génifique is at least better for that.
--Texture/consistency-- It absorbs very successfully into the skin, not drying so quickly that you don't have a chance to rub it in. It is also non-greasy and makes your skin feel palpably less oily, and much smoother too. Not lumpy, and it is a little bit runny, but not overly so.
--Effects over time-- It certainly leaves skin impossibly smooth: apply it at night, and you'll still wake up with skin as fresh as a daisy in the morning. It doesn't clog pores, but I still didn't see that reduction we were all promised (although admittedly, according to the Estée Lauder website, you'd need to use it for 4 weeks to see long-term difference, which a 4-day sample is never going to provide).
--Value for money-- Somewhat obviously, you get an interesting reduction if you buy a bigger bottle (the 100ml bottle is 'just' double the price of the 30ml one for more than three times the content), and given that 1.5ml gives you 4-5 applications, I'd guess that 30ml gives you approximately 100 applications, at a cost of 34p per application (which declines if you buy a larger bottle). Despite not seeing an immediate reduction in pores, I'd be keen to test Estée Lauder's 4-week claim out, as it really is a joy to use. That'll be one for the birthday list, then.
perfect partner Idealist Micro-D Deep Thermal Refinisher, £31 for 75ml
--What does the promo say?-- "The essence of modern femininity, Jeanne Lanvin is floral and voluptuous, with its joyful fruity notes. The fragrance opens with sweetened blackberry surrounded by citron and scents of pear nectar. The raspberry heart suggests femininity, underlined by a delicate floral bouquet of white freesia and sweet peony. Warm and sensuous, the base blends sweet, milky sandalwood and ambergris with musk."
--About the brand-- This severely underrated French brand was established in Nanterre in the early 1900s. Initially consisting of clothing, the Lanvin fragrance house was created in the 1920s, and the signature fragrance, Arpège, was launched in 1927. Her light, floral colours and embellished, classic style is still popular today, a hundred years after the establishment of the Lanvin brand, making it the oldest fashion house still in operation.
--Packaging-- Just as you see above: pink and pretty, with netting in the same colour stretched across the Lanvin logo. It's a basic spray-top setup, and the whole thing is just simple and feminine.
--Application-- Spritz away to create the ultimate feminine impact.
--Scent-- Really beguiling; perhaps a little TOO sweet initially, but it soon develops into something deeper, combining the various flavours beautifully, but with the sweet summer and autumn fruits still shining through. The combination of fruits and muskiness can't be *that* new, but it feels new with this. Very feminine and girly and yet somehow grownup.
--Longevity-- It's up there with the best of them, lasting many hours.
--Value for money-- This is my favourite scent since Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle, and at a far more attractive price. This is a scent of high quality that simultaneously reflects the tradition of the Lanvin fashion house and the modern femininity of today's women. Quite simply utterly perfect.
perfect partners Jeanne shower gel, £16 for 150ml Jeanne body lotion, £18 for 150ml
Thanks to my boyfriend's latest skincare-buying spree, I now have a ton of new samples to try:
Clarins High Definition Body Lift Cellulite Control Hermès Kelly Calèche Sisley Soir de Lune Nina Ricci Air du Temps Hermès Eau des Merveilles Clarins Multi-Active Day Cream Estée Lauder Resilience Lift Extreme Ultra Firming Cream Dior Total Capture Eye Treatment
I've also been approached by Garnier, Skinfood, and the Tractenberg agency recently asking if I want free things, so with a bit of luck I'll have even more stuff to test.
In the meantime, this arrived yesterday from the kind people at Dove: Despite the fact that it looks slightly dildo-like (errrrm), I have tried it this morning, which for me is no mean feat since, given my hyperhydrosis, I rarely stray from my usual Mitchum (which I KNOW works). So far, so good with the scent and everything else. I'll get back to you on the hair-minimising part...
(edit: it appears I spoke too soon - the Garnier stuff, samples from their Vital Restore range, arrived today. While I'm a wee bit below the target audience for these products, I reckon it can't hurt to give them a try; hey, it's all preventative care, right?! And if my mother and her twin sister are lucky, I may offload what's left onto them when I'm done.)
--What does the promo say?-- "What it is: Colorful, long-wearing stickers for the nails.
Sephora Brand Nail Patches make it easy to be glamorous. The colorful strips add shine and brilliance to nails, with zero drying time or smudging—so you can stop using brush applicators and worrying about polish that runs or spreads unevenly and takes a long time to dry."
--Packaging-- The patches are aligned on lines of sticky-backed paper and are easy to tear off. These are, in turn, encased in a shiny black plastic envelope which gives you all the essential product information on the front in silver, as well as a see-through window so that you can take a good look at the product before you buy it. You don't have to separate all the patches at once, and the envelope closes easily as well, to protect them until you want to use them again.
--Application-- "Just stick on the patches and go — it's that easy!" says the Sephora website. "Select the appropriate size for your nail, pull off the clear protective strip, and place the rounded side at the nail base. Smooth onto the nail surface, and remove the surplus by folding the nail sticker under the nail. The excess easily tears away. Remove the nail patch with traditional nail polish remover." Sadly it isn't quite as simple as they make out: it's VERY fiddly to a) get it perfectly aligned on the nail and b) to avoid creases and tears. Boooo. Orange sticks and a pair of nail scissors do help enormously though.
--Appearance-- Not great - creases and uneven edges, due to difficulty in applying and tearing respectively, are rife. However, the colours are brilliant, and compliments were received regarding the appearance of my nails.
--Texture/consistency-- None, since this isn't exactly a conventional nail polish, although with perseverance a smooth result can be achieved.
--Longevity-- The pack claims that the patches, once applied to your nails, will last for 10 days, which seems to be a valid claim. It's just a shame if you can't get it right in the first place, as all your mistakes will stay on your nails for ten days too, with no way of correcting them. It also does not/cannot adapt to your natural nail growth, meaning that gaps soon appear between the patch and the cuticle, and the patch and the top of the nail, which is probably the main reason why you need to re-apply the patches after 10 days. The colour does not suffer at all during this time.
--Removal-- Absolutely rubbish. You really have to scrub at them with your usual solvent/nail varnish remover in order to get this stuff off, and if you have one of those little dip-and-twist nail varnish remover pots, it actually won't work on this at all and you'll need to borrow some real remover off someone. Since I unfortunately have one of these stupid little pots (albeit quite an old one), I had to resort to just using the solvent to weaken the polish before scraping it off manually (and even then it took ages). Ugh. Simply not worth it.
--Value for money-- It's still a pretty expensive option for 2 applications of nail colour, even if you have small nails and can thus stretch the pack to cover 3 applications. It's also a fair amount to pay for something that's so far from perfect. If they can find a way to make it less fiddly to apply, less prone to creases, and easier to remove, then I'll be all ears.
perfect partners Sephora Birchwood Sticks (set of 12), $2 Sephora Glass Nail File, $8 Sephora Cuticle Tool, $16
As a teacher, blogger, freelance translator, sometime student of Italian, onetime NaNoWriMo contestant and generally obsessive reader and writer, I think it's safe to say that language is my life. My side interests include documentaries, not tidying, and Double Stuf Oreos.