Your (new) best friend...
...is perhaps YBF Beauty, which has just launched in the UK thanks to QVC, is already one of the best-selling brands in the USA, Canada and Australia. One of the brand's hottest new products is the Perfect Prep Face Primer, which costs £19: it promises to smooth lines and wrinkles, and to neutralise redness. It also contains vitamins for a bit of extra 'pep', which most skin types are likely to need as the season of sun damage ends and the seasons of cold weather begin. Plus, it has a handy sponge applicator attached, so less mess too. However, what I like the look of even more is its Brighten, Hide & Sculpt Concealer Trio, which could pose a threat to my harder-to-get-hold-of-yet-much-beloved Sonia Kashuk quad. The brand's Custom Cover foundation is also retailing at just under £12 at the moment - a bargain price to say goodbye to summer with.
Autumn/Winter 2012 - Burberry, Tesco
Saying goodbye to summer means hello to autumn and winter, with many makeup brands now rushing out their new collections. Not only has No7 just unveiled theirs, Burberry is referencing its runway collection in its makeup catalogue. Thankfully the looks are something we can all recreate at home: smoky eyes in rich velvety brown shades, matte skin with a soft-focus velvet finish and gently contoured cheeks, and natural dusky pink lips. The brand's Velvet Foundation promises to help us with this look, combining long-lastingness with hydration and protection - and the fact that it's available in 8 shades should mean that most of us are covered. New eye and lip shades are available too, and are out this month - but if you can't quite swing it, just check out these pictures and videos and see if you can't create the Burberry look yourself with the products you already have. Or, for a more moneysaving option than Burberry, Tesco's new BD collection also offers an enticing range of berry and taupe shades for lips starting at just £9.
Celebrate smoky eyes with an e-cigarette
If you're trying to give up smoking, I reckon an e-cigarette (rather than a real one!) would go perfectly with the smoky eye look mentioned above. Electronic smoking (also known as Vaping) uses heat to vaporize solutions for inhalation, meaning smokers who are trying to quit get the feeling of smoking without nearly the number of health risks. Vapestick is one of the UK's leading electronic cigarette brands, and I was kindly offered one as a trial. Not being a smoker myself, or having friends or family that do, I'm passing the offer on to you - try the product, then guest review it for me. I practically never allow guest reviews, so this is a rare opportunity. This offer will be extended to only one person, so if you'd like to try it and review it for me, get in there quickly by commenting on this post or by emailing me at soprano[UNDERSCORE]seraph[AT]hotmail[DOT]com. Vapestick and I would love to help one of you stop smoking. If you're not the lucky recipient of the free trial, it's on sale at top retailers such as Tesco, Argos and Costco. Why not give it a go?
E-smoking in; holiday diets out?
You wouldn't think that people would stop being concerned about how they look in a swimsuit, would you? It's as much a part of summer as getting your barbecue rained off and returning to work looking like a lobster. But according to a recent study carried out by Directline Holidays, the pre-holiday diet is in fact almost dead. Of over 500 people surveyed, fewer than 2% worry about their appearance in a swimming costume, and only 5% are crash dieting before a holiday. This can mean only two things: either Brits are letting themselves go completely, or instead are keeping tabs on their appearance more sensibly and over a longer time period.
But there's more to looking good than exercise and healthy eating plans; we need to know that the products we use are safe and that the people we see for the trickier or more gruesome jobs are well-trained and sufficiently regulated. This is where the PHAB Standard comes in - it's a new industry hallmark recognising the importance of customer care in hair and beauty salons today. Launched with the support of hair mogul Trevor Sorbie, the PHAB Standard Exams are now available around the world. If such hallmarks fill people with confidence, ensure good service, and keep customers returning, they can only be a good thing - not just for the economy, but also for helping us look our best (and speaking of which, my nails already need doing AGAIN. Le sigh.).
Beauty supplements are certainly not new to supermarket and pharmacy shelves - they're more affordable than a series of spa treatments and often promise to do us good while sorting out our ability to tan naturally or the strength of our nails. Dove is the latest brand on the block in this regard, with its supplement, Strength Within, now available at Boots. Created from more than five years' research, and with the help of scientists, nutritionists and dermatologists, it's mainly an anti-ageing product, but with ingredients such as vitamin C and lycopene, it could also help with other skin conditions, such as acne. It's also recognised by the British Skin Foundation and has been featured in New Scientist, meaning there's perhaps less reason with this supplement than with others to give it a wide berth. At £35 for 28 days' supply, though, it doesn't come cheap - although the other Dove Spa products perhaps offer a more affordable alternative - I'm particularly liking the look of their Treasure Collection, for oily skins like mine.
Even if beauty does come from within, sometiimes we need a little help with what we have on the outside too, especially when we're busy with work, running a household, pursuing hobbies, having a semblance of a social life, and attempting to fit in the exercise we all need. However, I bet none of us are as busy as Julie Macklowe, who managed a multi-million dollar hedge fund, was a fashion socialite and a mum, achieved “It Girl” status, and lived an on-the-go lifestyle all before the age of 30. Not finding the luxurious yet results-driven skincare she was seeking to suit her multi-tasking needs, she decided to make her own. Her search for the rarest botanicals and most advanced technology led to the creation of VBeauté in partnership with CRB High Performance Lab in Switzerland. Her products use ingredients that include Alpine Rose and BioCellular Peptide, which are supposed to help with anti-ageing and protect against environmental stress. I can't pretend that the whole ensemble is affordable, but the refills for the It Kit are, and they're all available separately. Although it's more widely available in the US at present, stocks are gradually coming to the UK - and plenty of beauty insiders are already abuzz about it.
Buying for breast cancer
OK - I admit it. Buying for ourselves can feel pretty selfish at times. We all have a million reasons to justify why we need this product or that. But charity initiatives linked with our favourite makeup and skincare brands can not only give us a genuine reason to buy, but also a chance to help others, and there are two fabulous charity collections out just now. One is spearheaded by Jane Iredale, whose Cherish Lip Fixation is similar in style to Clinique's latest charity gloss, but comes in two parts, comprising a lip stain and opalescent gloss. It contains soothing botanicals and comes with a diamanté-adorned zip pouch, but the best part is that ALL profits will be donated to Against Breast Cancer (in the UK and Ireland) and Living Beyond Breast Cancer (in the US). This one's available from September onwards while stocks last.
Soap and Glory is also on board the charity wagon with its Proud Mouth campaign, which in the US is supporting leading anti-bullying program Stomp Out Bullying. The punchy skincare brand hopes to encourage its users to be proud of their words and actions, and to this end will be donating $1 from every Sexy Mother Pucker lipgloss to this worthy cause, with a goal of $25,000. Sadly there appears to be no equivalent UK campaign at present - but awareness is always good, and we never know. Perhaps if enough of us lobby Soap and Glory, they'll launch a similar project on British shores too. That really would give us something to be proud of on the back of all those gold medals.