Still searching for that perfect Mothers' Day gift in time for March 10th? Look no further than Environ's gift set, which promises to protect skin from environmental aggressors and fight ageing simultaneously. Its four 20ml products and one 50ml product allegedly give "real results" thanks to their vitamin-packed formulae, and the sizes are convenient for travel too. However, it's not easy to order, as you usually have to go through an Environ consultant, but do check www.iiaa.eu for stockists, or try websites such as Care Concept, Touch of Skincare and Ebay.
You could also try Beau Choix for your gifts this year, specifically its Nahbi Gold range, which features masks, cleansers, moisturisers, toner, and serum containing gold nano-particles. Claiming to reduce fine lines, heal sun damage, brighten skin and reactivate elasticity, the products also contain organic green tea and frankincense extracts. With products starting from £25, it's affordable too. Mums can try the deep cleansing 10-day Sheet Mask Set for this price - and why not get one for yourself too?
Tales of London
In a similar vein to Molton Brown's Global Heroes set, Ashleigh and Burwood has now set out to express a little bit of London in a range of scents for the home. The Tales of London range consists of six scents, each named after various London neighbourhoods, and all are available in candle and reed diffuser form. Covent Garden evokes its famous flower markets thanks to notes of rose, jasmine, galbanum and rosemary, while Knightsbridge goes for fresh and sophisticated with moss, ginger, basil, grapefruit and lime. Buckingham uses rose, mandarin, bergamot, and patchouli to create an air of decadence and royalty, and Westminster continues the historic theme with black pepper, amber and lemon. Piccadilly is more playful with vanilla, tonka bean, candy floss, freesia and peach, and Portobello completes the range with mimosa, cardamom and musk. Definitely sounds better than the smell of cigarette smoke that pervades our apartment block...
Speaking of the banishment of bad smells, some of you have probably already seen the adverts on TV extolling the virtues of the incredible shrinking deodorant cans in the brands made by Unilever (Sure, Dove and Vaseline). The new compressed aerosol contains the same amount of deodorant as exists in the normal-sized cans, but contains less propellant, and thus takes up 50% less space in your bathroom cabinet. The smaller can also reduces the amount of aluminium and the carbon footprint of each can by 25%, and the fact that more can be transported at once also means a reduction of Unilever lorries on the road by 35%. As one famous retailer says, every little helps...
Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair
Ever heard of the Brazilian blow-dry? London's Michaeljohn Salon has now launched a formaldehyde-free alternative, the Biolustre Revamp Smoothing Treatment. Specially formulated to rebuild weakened hair, it's a treatment for damaged locks that's packed with replenishing keratin to make hair feel nourished, shiny and soft for up to 14 weeks. Its patented polymer links the keratin with the hair to create a permanent protective seal that penetrates the hair shaft and bonds to the hair's inner cortex. This sounds perfect for hair like mine that gets greasy at the roots but dry everywhere else - but sadly it's only available in their Mayfair salon as yet, and not as a commercial product for at-home use.
However, it's far less expensive than another of the latest innovations to hit my inbox recently. Truffle, by Fuente, is a shampoo and hair conditioner system that uses diamond dust, meteorite and white truffle to create an 'intelligent' product that restores every hair type to top condition. The ingredients contain minerals that are extremely suited to human hair and scalps, and took four years to develop into a usable at-home formula. All of these top ingredients come at a price, though - the shampoo and conditioner set costs £275 for half a litre of product.
Much more within budget is FAST - a fortified amino scalp therapy that promises to almost double the rate of hair growth. Great for people like me whose hair grows slowly, FAST took 15 years to develop and is suitable for all hair types (e.g. curly) and people (men, women and children). I'd love to see my hair grow at the extra 2 inches a month it proposes, and at £24.99 for 600ml, it's luxurious without being out of reach for the recommended daily use. It's also completely organic and paraben-free, which is a bonus for those who consider these aspects to be important. I'll definitely be checking it out during my next visit to the UK.
Not just a pretty face
I'm already enamoured with new brand Wild About Beauty, and they've just launched their newest collection, which includes limited edition nail varnishes, and a palette entitled Safari Nights. Featuring corals, pistachios and bronzes, these new shades should see you through the spring and into the summer season. The polishes, named Flora, Martin and Tanwen, are free of traditional nail varnish ingredients such as formaldehyde and toluene, and the paraben-free multi-functional Safari Nights palette features gold and copper eyeshadows in powder and cream formats, as well as nude highlight, blush and lip colours to suit any skin tone. But it's about more than just the face, with Wild About Beauty donating £4 to the Born Free Foundation from the sale of every Safari Nights palette.
In addition, two beauty brains have recently launched an online version of beauty concept BeautyMART. Anna-Marie Solowij (beauty writer) and Millie Kendall (of Ruby and Millie fame) have created magazine-style pages that play on a loop, featuring must-have products backed up by expert tips. Unlike with a magazine, however, you can shop straight from the page - and to me this sounds like an important future step for the magazine industry.
The best of British
Spa brand ESPA has recently announced that it has joined forces with the English National Ballet to create new products and improve existing ones. With both focusing on British heritage, and on quality performance beautifully delivered, this seems like a perfect partnership, and natural next stage for ESPA in the light of their previous collaborations with artists: past links have included chocolatier William Curley and designer Julie Verhoeven. Dancers have been busily testing products and providing feedback to shape ESPA's future offerings, with the brand's Replenishing Facial Oil and Soothing Bath Oil already receiving compliments. Waiting with bated breath to see what the second act holds for this duet.
Exposure to second-hand smoke reduced - but still too high
The latest European Commission report on smoke-free environments finds that we are doing well in terms of cutting down second-hand tobacco smoke, but still could do better. Twenty-eight per cent of Europeans were exposed to second-hand smoke in bars in 2012, which is a massive reduction compared to 2009's 46%. The report also shows that the economic impact of indoor smoking bans has been limited, neutral, and even positive over time; however, some member states are still lagging behind in terms of regulation and subsequent enforcement. According to conservative estimates, over 70,000 adults in the EU died due to exposure to tobacco smoke in 2002, with many of them being non-smokers who were exposed to second-hand smoke in the workplace - so any reduction does signify real progress. Happily, all member states report that they have adopted measures to protect citizens against exposure to tobacco smoke, although enforcement is still a problem in some places. If you care about the health of your friends and family, you'll stop smoking - or at least stop smoking around them.