Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Cosmetics and Beauty News (October 2012)

Like mother, like daughter

NUDE skincare is set to see its first mother-daughter collaboration in preparation for the next generation of products, with co-founder Ali working with daughter Jordan. A sneak peek can be seen in Helena Christensen’s exclusive behind-the-scenes film, which provides insight into the mother-daughter working relationship and the products themselves, which include ingredients such as omega oils and n-probiotics. You can view the video here

Another good option to nourish skin this winter comes in the form of Environ RAD Lips, which contains UVA and SPF15 UVB filters, protecting against premature ageing, wind burn, and UV damage. The fragrance-free balm also utilises rosemary extract, shea butter and bees wax, as well as vitamins C and E, in order to nourish lips and protect against ageing. Priced at £9.95, Environ was created by South African cosmetic surgeon Dr Des Fernandes, who specialises in the use of topical vitamins to address the effects of the environment on skin. For more information, visit

New London perfumery opened

East London has seen the opening of a new perfumery this month thanks to Angela Flanders’ shop at 4 Artillery Passage, which unlike her Columbia Road outlet will be open Monday to Saturday inclusive. Angela’s recent recognition for Best New Independent Perfume at the 2012 FiFi Awards for fragrance Precious One should have fans flocking to her shop in no time. This joins her Artillery Range, which promises six classic eaux de toilette. Firstly there’s a new version of Napoleon’s favourite, named Le Premiere, which is scented with bergamot, lemon, neroli, rosemary and mint. Eau de Lisbon carries flavours of bitter orange, cedarwood, pepper and rose, while Hungary Water uses melissa, lemon, mint and rose. Vetivert combines lavender, spice, and woods with vetiver, and a sandalwood fragrance is created by blending this with rose and cedarwood. Finally, Patchouli Spice uses cardamom, green spices and green ginger to create a fresh and unique scent for the 21st century. Priced from £55 for 50ml, however, it’s arguably one for the wish list.  

Of course the onset of Christmas means that there’s a whole slew of fragrances out there for you to choose from – whether as a gift for a loved one or as a gift to yourself. Molton Brown’s Valbonne, for instance, is inspired by Provencal tanners, and as such contains overtones of leather, as well as containing orange, orris and mimosa, among other ingredients. Equally intriguing is the new range of fragrances by the White Company, which are affordably priced from £18 for 30ml of eau de toilette. The company’s debut fragrances are named Blanc and Noir, which contain blends of musk, juniper, and geranium; and orchid, amber and mandarin respectively. Body creams, hand creams, bath oils and scented candles are also available. Topman has also announced the introduction of its first fine fragrance, named Distil, which uses scents of petitgrain, blood orange, ginger, olibanum and cashmeran, to name just a few of the fragrance’s many layers. Distil will be available from November 5th in two sizes on, as well as across 20 selected stores.

 But perhaps the biggest fragrance news comes in the form of Chanel No 5’s Forever Feminine, which is marketed by Brad Pitt and promises to be “the most feminine fragrance of all time”. To have ladies made weak at the knees therefore seems part of its DNA! And speaking of which…
Test your anti-ageing DNA

Have you ever wanted to see how you really will age? Now the anti-ageing DNA test at the Organic Pharmacy makes this a reality, with geneONYX suitable for all age groups. Immediate results mean that data doesn’t need to be sent away for analysis, allowing you to choose a course of action most suited to your age and skin type. While I’m not sure I believe in any miracle cures in the combat against ageing, this may help young enthusiasts in particular to take preventative action.

In other anti-ageing news, one brand has harnessed the power of the often-overlooked Aloe ferox plant in a new capsule skincare range. Timeless Skin claims to use the power of nature with the power of science, creating a creamy cleanser, alcohol-free toner, day and night creams, a serum and a mask – all with the South African aloe ferox. Distinct from the much more famous aloe vera plant, aloe ferox also helps to moisturise skin and stimulate natural collagen production, while being twenty times stronger than aloe vera. The level of bitter anthraquinone is what helps to pack the punch, thanks to its powerful antioxidant properties. The range is aimed at women aged between 35 and 55, so arguably slightly out for me at age 26 – although one could say that it’s never too early to start anti-ageing. Exclusive to Natural Beauty Care, the products are sold from . And who knows? Even if you’re not in this company’s target age bracket, I still reckon aloe ferox will be a top ingredient in 2013.

L’Oreal to sell Body Shop?

Many consumers were unhappy about The Body Shop selling out to L’Oreal some years ago due to apparent odds in the two’s ethical credentials. However, there are whispers on the wind of L’Oreal selling up thanks to incompatibility between The Body Shop and L’Oreal’s other brands. Lush is one of the beauty specialists rumoured to be taking The Body Shop on, with the latter’s fortunes failing over the past five years arguably because of cheap brands expanding their beauty lines and undercutting Anita Roddick’s pet project. Some consumers in the UK and abroad have also criticised The Body Shop for its slightly outmoded packaging and lack of change in its products. It’s clear that such criticisms are subjective; however, with the beauty market set to grow by 2.6% in 2013, the brand possibly has to change to compete.

Florence and Fred moves forward

One brand that is adapting to the times is Tesco’s Florence and Fred, whose makeup brand (F&F Made Up) is now available online for the first time. Launched last year in Tesco Beauty Shops, the brand is now available to all at Priced from £5, it makes for an affordable way to glam up and a convenient way to shop for modern day looks – whether it’s in your weekly shopping trolley, or in your cart online.

Another new kid on the online block is Wild About Beauty, founded by Louise Redknapp and Kim Jacob, which has just been launched in the UK. International makeup artist Kim advised Louise after she developed skin pigmentation following the birth of her son, with natural, fresh and glowing looks made possible without heavy makeup. Their Divine Twilight palette for eyes has already earned a mention on this blog for its bewitching array of colours – and with luck I’ll have some reviews available for you soon.

Beauty comes from within

It’s often said that beauty comes from within, and it’s possible that Purifyne is about to prove it with its new Beautifyne Cleanse Plan. Similarly to Onça, which I road tested this May, Beautifyne is a juice that you take daily. It’s said to flush out toxins, balance your body’s pH level, and provide skin-beautifying vitamins and minerals, with the green juices used said to rejuvenate and stimulate cells, and to act as an antiseptic. Beautifyne promises to brighten and hydrate skin, and increase energy levels. However, Beautifyne is only within reach of the select few, as it’s even more expensive than Onça, at £395 for a five-day supply. You can find out more at the Purifyne website - – but I suspect that for many of us it won’t be a stocking filler in 2012.

Perhaps slightly more attainable is Laura Mercier’s signature 10-brush collection, which is being sold exclusively at Harrods. With its wooden handles and professional-grade bristles, it’s still £195 for the set, so I’d be more inclined to pin my hopes on a few other beauty bits and bobs that I’ve got my eye on, including Philosophy’s spiced pumpkin shower gel.

Sugar and spice and all things nice…

Assuming I can’t get hold of the Philosophy stuff (seeing as they don’t ship to the UK and stopped retailing in France not long ago), Ashleigh and Burwood could be offering a good alternative as far as sugar and spice goes. London’s master fragrance house offer conventional perfumes as well as fragrance lamps and scent diffusers, and are expanding their range for the festive season. The holiday scents promise to destroy harmful bacteria and eliminate unwanted odours, rather than just masking them, and Ashleigh and Burwood offer their fragrances in a range of colours to suit any home. As for the scents themselves, I’ve got my eye on “Mulled Wine”, “Festive Figs and Spiced Clementines”, and “White Ginger and Roasted Nutmeg”. What will you choose?

Leading cosmetic clinic advocates diet over surgery
Court House Clinics have finally confirmed what many of us have long suspected, by supporting findings that a ‘quick fix’ cosmetic treatment for weight loss just isn’t viable. The national cosmetic group has used a case study of their own to provide evidence for their statement. A Birmingham housewife weighed 15st and 2lbs when she approached Court House Clinics seeking advice on bariatric surgery. With a BMI of 42.8, she was advised to lose weight naturally first using their Alizonne diet programme, and in this way she dropped seven dress sizes in eight months. Dr Patrick Bowler, the clinic’s head consultant, explains: "These results cannot be achieved by surgery alone. Obese patients are put at risk by quick fix surgeries which do not have any long term health or medical benefits. Court House Clinics advise anyone thinking of undertaking a weight loss treatment to fully investigate the programme before investing money. Surgical solutions are only ever part of the solution, not the whole solution according to the group. Patient participation and commitment to treatment is a key factor in getting the desired results." It’s wonderful to finally see clinics and patients using treatments in a responsible way, and using surgery just as a last resort. If only others would follow their example.

(Lip)sticking to art

We all love lipstick, but artist Fabrice Hyber has taken his love of the stuff one step further by making it into a work out art. The “1m³ of beauty” sculpture is made entirely out of lipstick and is part of his Raw Materials (or “Matières Premières” for our froggy friends) show at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Hyber praises this unusual medium, describing it as “supple…especially in a large quantity. [It] permanently moves…[and] is never finished, …is always evolving. It’s a living oeuvre.” I’ll definitely be trying to make it there to see it before the exhibition closes on January 7th 2013, and hope you manage to as well.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Cosmetics Contemplations: My Vaniqa experiment

Part of me thinks I should really stop hanging out on discussion fora. While they can be bastions of great friendship, humour, knowledge and generosity, I've also experienced the other side of it: narrow-mindedness, nastiness, arguments worse than any in real life, and people turning on you at the drop of a hat. Sometimes it feels as if I'm too old, and beyond the immature individuals that can frequent these places.

However, it seems that I just can't keep away, and my current favourite forum is that of the MoneySavingExpert website, which covers all subjects from how to save old style to which diet works best. It was while I was on the Health and Beauty bit of the forum that a conversation started about unwanted excess facial hair in women. It's one of society's remaining taboos: nobody in real life ever talks about this, so as I suffer with this myself, I joined in the discussion keenly, waiting with bated breath to see if solutions would be offered that I had not already tried (or dismissed as impractical).

I first suffered the demon facial fur when I was about 15. I don't remember how I first started trying to combat it (but as I wasn't waxing the rest of my body then, I suspect it involved a razor), or exactly when I began trying to remove it (although it was probably when I realised it was noticeable, when girls at school added this to the long list of things that they already made fun of me for). Quickly realising the limitations of shaving, I turned to my mother, who was sympathetic, and suggested wax. This didn't hurt too much and she seemed to be suggesting that I would only need to do this once a month. So as we stood over the gas stovetop waiting for the wax to melt, I remember thinking, "Yeah, once a month...I can handle this."

Sadly, the hair grew back again too quickly, and so I resorted to the razor again for more regular maintenance. Of course the vicious cycle with excess facial hair is that you have to let it grow in order to wax it, but that you don't want to let it grow in case it becomes too visible (and with my hair being dark brown against my pale skin, I have it pretty bad). Once I started waxing the rest of my body hair, I went for a combination of shaving and tweezing, knowing that removing the hairs at the root would (...eventually...) reduce the growth. In more recent years, I have resorted to hermitdom for the first five days of each school holiday, letting the hair grow long enough for it to be waxed, which does seem to improve the situation. The hermitdom and constant scarf-wearing at this time are less of a perk, however.

All of these ideas naturally came up on the MSE thread, with others being added, including threading (which carries the same problems as waxing) and depilatory creams (which unfortunately don't slow regrowth). But then a solution was suggested that I'd never heard of before: a prescription-only cream called Vaniqa*, which is said to reduce hair growth over time thanks to twice-daily use. I didn't know how it worked, but I was intrigued, and got myself some. The side-effects didn't worry me. The most common one is chin acne, which I again suffer from anyway, so I figured that I wouldn't be losing out much even if it didn't work.

All of this was at the end of August, or beginning of September this year. I naturally did my research before embarking on my trial of the product (which was carried out, by the way, entirely at my own expense), finding that while information about Vaniqa itself is readily available, finding tales of people's actual experiences is much more difficult. Perhaps it's that taboo subject thing. One excellent, very detailed account can be found here, written by Vickie in the early 2000s. Although people's experiences can of course vary, her report really helped me to make my mind up on whether or not to proceed (but I certainly didn't agonise over it in the same way that I considered whether or not to proceed with a course of Roaccutane).

So - to the product itself. I don't like the name Vaniqa, by the way, as it seems to suggest that excess hair is purely a cosmetic issue. Until society changes the way it sees beauty (yeah...good luck with that one...) it will always be much more than that, with sufferers often feeling and/or being socially stigmatised as a result of it. The cream itself, though, is easy to apply, is absorbed quickly into the skin, and doesn't sting at all. It's also not too heavy, so shouldn't clog pores - it's more comparable to a gel-cream than to, say, a heavier night cream. Apply twice a day after moisturiser, and wash your hands afterwards. Not difficult really.

The accompanying information in the Vaniqa leaflet clearly states that it may take up to 8 weeks to see a difference, and this is what I have found to be the case: having started the course at the beginning of September, I have noticed a huge reduction in hair growth between then and now (end of October). Even though the manufacturers say that you will need to keep using Vaniqa for the effects to be sustained (i.e. the hair may grow back if you stop), the increase in confidence that I've experienced makes the prospect of applying an extra dab of cream to my face each morning and night seem only of infinitesimal concern.

I'm really just amazed that GPs either don't seem to know about this product or don't want to prescribe it - this was never suggested once to me as a remedy when we did seek help at the doctor's surgery for my PCOS and talked to the doctor about the excess hair. Polycystic ovary syndrome can have such severe and long-lasting effects (as mentioned, I was 15 when the excess hair kicked in, and I'm now 26) that it almost seems criminal to not prescribe something that could potentially improve a sufferer's life so much. This also makes me question what other treatments could be lurking to assuage other PCOS symptoms (which include rapid weight gain, difficulty in shifting weight, acne, infertility, and more besides) and makes me wonder why doctors I've seen have had such a laissez-faire attitude towards the condition, rather than adopting a more proactive or combative approach.

The good news is that I still have stacks of cream left in the one tube that I've acquired. I probably use a pea-sized amount each day (not each application - each DAY) to cover my chin area, which just goes to show how far the cream spreads. Depending on your needs, you could make one £40 tube last at least six months, which compares favourably to the cost of several big-brand anti-ageing concoctions. This suggests that even when my tube runs out, I will be replacing it. And all thanks to those 'immature individuals' on MSE! Overall, the experiment appears to have been a success - and I would truly urge other sufferers to look into it too.

*Also available on the internet at around £40 a tube from various suppliers...but you go down that road at your own risk.

Eyesbright Contact Lenses

Bianca's Beauty Blog's Eye & Eye Makeup Correspondent, Gemma Summons, tries out Eyesbright's Contact Lenses with positive results:

I was sent Eyesbright's fashion contact lenses in September, with them being intended for daily use. They supposedly last 3 months under this pattern of use, but do come with a container with fluid, so you could feasibly use them for AGES if you weren't likely to use them every day. The lenses themselves are really comfortable and easy to put in. However, there is an obvious problem: if you're someone who really relies on normal contact lenses to actually SEE anything, you can't use these. Either that or you'd have to wear glasses, which, if you're using them for a special occasion/event, might defeat the whole point of them. Eyesbright should therefore consider bringing out a range with prescriptions - but as it is, you've either got to have perfect vision, or be happy to wear them with glasses.

I selected 'natural green' lenses, but the website does specifically have lenses for people with dark eyes (i.e. me). However, I wasn't a massive fan of the colours offered for dark eyes - they seemed really lurid or quite blatantly artificial (cat eyes, 'twilight vampire' eyes, etc). This would be fine if I was going for the shock factor and so would be perfect for Halloween or a fancy dress party, but not for more frequent use. So I did go for the natural green because I preferred the colour, but they don't actually show up all that much on my eyes, which is my fault for not following the website guidelines. However, looking at the lens itself, I think you'd get quite a nice effect if you had light eyes (blue, grey), although the colour around the edge is quite 'pixellated' - you wouldn't notice from conversation distance, but it's noticeable up close.
Gemma's right eye has the lens in
The strange thing is that the lens is larger than my normal iris - so you can see the ring of green around the edge, but it doesn't look bad. I suppose they make my eyes look a bit more hazel, which isn't a bad thing, so I don't have any problems with the colour (other than wishing it showed up more). My irises look like they've got a bit more 'dimension' to them because the lens is quite multitonal. But because the lenses ARE larger than my normal irises, my eyes do look a bit... weird. Not sure if anyone else would notice anything, but my irises are now bigger. Maybe I just have naturally small irises? Who knows. Either way, I'm quite undecided on the effect- I don't know if it makes me look a bit spaced out, or whether it actually makes my eyes look nicer.

If you wanted to play around with eye colours, or if you had to do fancy dress, I do think it's a great product. The lens is comfortable and easy to put in and it's good that they last such a long time. I don't think I chose the best lenses for me - I think you'd have much more success with all of the lenses if you have light eyes to start with, and the change would be much more dramatic. Even though the effect is not drastic enough for me to use them every day, I'd happily consider them if I had a themed party.

Eyesbright contact lenses can be purchased from

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Ultradex Low Abrasion Toothpaste

RRP: £6.10/75ml
--What does the promo say?--
"Clinically proven formula that delivers exceptional oral care, whitening and fresh breath confidence. The intelligent iQ+ ActiveOxi Technology™ within UltraDEX works with your natural oral pH level to release the appropriate amount of active ingredient to meet the individual needs of your mouth.
  • Clinically proven to whiten teeth within 14 days by gently oxidising organic stains to reveal the true brightness of your teeth
  • Clinically proven to prevent bad breath by eliminating, not simply masking, odour-causing Volatile Sulphur Compounds (VSC)
  • Anti-bacterial action. Kills bacteria that, without the correct preventative measures, can cause gum problems, tooth decay & plaque. Bacteria cannot become resistant to UltraDEX and regrowth is inhibited.
  • 100% free from harsh abrasives with a low Relative Dental Abrasivity* (RDA) of only 53
  • 100% free from Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and non-foaming to enable longer brushing time. [...]
  • Clean, fresh mint taste."
 The white and blue theme is not uncommon in the toothpaste market, so unfortunately nothing here will be making this tube stand out on the shelf. The squeezy screw-top tube operates in the same way as any other.

Pop a pea-sized amount onto a toothbrush and clean your teeth as normal. Nothing tricky here.

Again, all very ordinary; white with no visible grains or streaks.

--Scent and taste--
Very minty - nothing weird here as with some toothpastes for sensitive teeth.

--Texture and consistency--
There's not as much foam as you'd ordinarily be used to, but now I find that normal toothpastes create too much lather by comparison, so it's clearly just a matter of habit.

--Effects on the teeth--
Teeth are left feeling squeaky clean and stains are gradually buffed away, improving tooth appearance noticeably - although perhaps not within 14 days.

--Value for money--
There are clearly positive results and one tube lasts ages. To pay over £6 for a tube of toothpaste therefore still seems extortionate in some respects - this is three times what most households usually pay. However, it's less than the cost of a scale and polish at the dentist, and less too than some specialist whitening toothpaste brands, such as Blanx. I would consider replenishing stocks once my free PR sample runs out, but perhaps just for use as a once-a-week treatment rather than for everyday use, as the price is prohibitive otherwise.

perfect partners
Anti-Bacterial Coated Interdental Tape, £3.49/25m
Wire Free Interdental Brushes, £5.49/30
Daily Oral Rinse, £8.15/500ml

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Yves Rocher Sublime Skin BB Cream

RRP: £18 (though currently on offer at £9.00)
# of shades available: 2

--What does the promo say?--
"BB cream- 1 beauty step, 6 results, Perfect Skin!
Sublime skin BB cream 6 in 1 :
- 24-hour moisturising,
- Evens out skin tone,
-Hides imperfections and signs of fatigue,
-Smoothes skin,
-Amplifies radiance,
-Protects against external aggressions.
A light texture that spreads uniformly over the skin."

The peach, white and green colour scheme is not terribly modern, but does capture the idea of white tea very well. The squeezy tube is convenient and easy to use.

Applying blemish balms is slightly different to applying foundations and tinted moisturisers; to avoid them looking caked on, you almost need to 'slap' them on. Many websites have articles written on this subject; just Google "how to apply BB cream" for more information. But don't worry; it isn't rocket science.

The light shade of the cream initially looks a bit grey straight out of the tube, but matches my pale skin tone perfectly once on. Hides signs of fatigue well, evens out skin tone and promotes radiance as mentioned in the promotional material, but I found that face powder was needed for a more matte finish.

Nothing chemical, although the white tea is hardly detectable either. I'd go as far as saying it's scentless.

--Texture and consistency--
Creamy and luxurious, yet easy to blend in. Never once feels cakey or greasy, drying to a powder-light finish.

Doesn't quite last 12 hours, but then again it never claims to. It hides imperfections quite well, but not perfectly: I found that extra concealer was needed for me.

--Effects on the skin--
Skin felt moisturised for sure, but I would have expected slightly more turbo-charged healing properties. For a couple of weeks I thought I saw a difference in my acne, but then the situation reverted to how it had been before. A shame.

--Value for money--
I would definitely repurchase this for the launch price of £9.00. However, at £18 I would hesitate. Even though Yves Rocher is a quality line that uses natural ingredients well, I would be more inclined to go for Clinique's in this price bracket, as it offers greater sun protection, or to try BB creams by Missha or Skin79, which are genuine BB creams all the way from Asia. One of the best Western BB creams on the market, however.

perfect partners
Concealer, £7.90
Pressed Powder Compact, £10.50
Perfect Primer, £18.90
Radiance Corrector Pen, £13.00
Natural Blush, £11.50 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Vit A

RRP: £15.95/60 capsules

--What does the promo say?--
"By feeding skin internally with vitamin A you can dramatically increase the results you get from topical skincare. Skin Vit A contains optimum levels of retinyl palmitate to normalise skin, boost collagen and increase natural moisture levels."

Most supplements come in bottles, so I'm loving the pouch format, which seems as protective yet more robust for travel. It's easily resealable and the white and blue colour scheme makes it unisex too. The image of the capsules as depicted on the sachet is also accurate, and the back of the pack shows all the required information without being too wordy.

--Usage instructions--
Take 1-2 capsules per day with food. Easy peasy - especially if you already take medication, such as the contraceptive pill. Those who don't normally take medication may find it trickier to remember to take these, however.

The capsules are a dull grey-brown colour and appear to be made of plastic. The join between the two capsule halves is quite visible and I think the two halves would be quite easy to take apart if necessary. The capsules are not too large, though, so aren't daunting to take on first sight.

--Scent and taste--
Perhaps slightly plasticky, but nothing really serious. They certainly don't taste disgusting at all and go down easily and tastelessly with water or juice.

--Texture and consistency--
The capsules are not grainy or too large, and so slide down easily with fluid.

--Effects on the skin--
While I experienced slight dryness during my trial period, I did ultimately also notice a decrease in my acne, and the dryness is easily controlled with a good moisturiser. For me, I noticed a more positive effect when taking two capsules a day rather than just one.

--Value for money--
Due to taking two capsules a day, my supply lasted one month, but if you were to find that one capsule a day is efficient enough, the pack would last you two months, at which point it is of course better value. Nonetheless, I don't feel that £16 for 60 capsules is extortionate and would definitely continue to take a vitamin A supplement having seen the positive effects on my skin. Good work, ANP!

perfect partners
Skin Vitality 1, £17.10
Skin Omegas, £20.60
Skin Vit C, £10.90
Skin Accumax, £34.90