Sunday, 26 May 2013

Aussie Take The Heat Shampoo

RRP: £4.49

--What does the promo say?--
"It's a given. You look hot. But while you smoulder, your hair doesn't have to. Singed hair doesn't match that LBD, so grab a bottle of Aussie Take the Heat Shampoo. Lather. Rinse. Style. Sorted. It protects your locks from the harsh effects of primping and preening."

--Packaging--
A cream, dark purple and dark red squeezy bottle makes for an unusual colour scheme that definitely stands out on the shelf. The lid is in the push-down style whereby it flips up to reveal the opening. The kangaroo emblem on the bottle also adds a fun touch and definitely evokes the notion of the brand being from Australia, and there is a nice balance of image and text too.

--Application--
Rub through wet hair, and then rinse out. Perfect if you are planning to dry your hair afterwards and/or use other heat styling tools such as straighteners.

--Appearance--
A pale cream lotion that leaves no visible residue on the hair.

--Scent--
The jojoba oil scent comes through strongly. For those who don't know it, it's simultaneously 'clean' and luxurious, which I think is reflective of the brand in general.

--Texture and consistency--
This makes for an opulent experience thanks to the creamy yet light texture. It's not runny or claggy and is easy to wash out when required.

--Effects on the hair--
Hair is immediately degreased as well as having added volume and luminosity. It also retains extra softness even in the face of heat styling products. However, I would like these effects to last a bit longer than just a day or so; within 48 hours it seems like you have to wash again, but maybe this just comes down to individual variations in hair type.

--Value for money--
I think Aussie have pitched this fairly, with this product falling into the same price bracket as other salon-style brands, such as Fudge, Tresemmé, and Schwarzkopf. However, I'd perhaps recommend spending the extra 50p or so and going for the 3-Minute Miracle, which really does deliver amazing results. 

perfect partners
Take The Heat Conditioner, £4.49
Take The Heat Leave-In Cream, £4.99
Take The Heat Leave-In Spray, £4.99
Take The Heat 3-Minute Miracle, £4.99

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Dr Hauschka Lemon and Lemongrass Vitalizing Body Wash

 RRP: £12.95

--What does the promo say?--
"Natural essential oil made from fresh lemongrass emits a gentle citric fragrance, encouraging vitality and brightness. Invigorating and awakening summery notes of lemon and lime stimulate the mind, creating a wonderful burst of refreshment."

--Packaging--
The blue-and-white squeezy tube that we have, which we bought just a few weeks ago, seems to no longer be available, despite being perfectly serviceable. Instead, it's apparently been replaced by a purple and white pump-action bottle, which doesn't necessarily seem like it would be *more* effective. Oh well. If any of you try it, you'll have to let me know.

--Application--
Lather under the shower and rub onto damp skin before rinsing off.

--Appearance--
A pale yellow-green cream that lathers up slightly into a whiter foam. No visible residue is left on the skin.

--Scent--
Smells of lemon and lemongrass. The other ingredients - such as avocado, sunflower oil, quince seed, and lime - don't really come through. Scent does not really linger on skin after use.

--Texture and consistency--
Creamy and luxurious. Does not lather up as much as commercial shower gels or creams.

--Effects on the skin--
Cleanses body skin effectively, without stripping or irritating the skin. Makes skin feel softer and soothed.

--Value for money--
£12.95 seems fair and reasonable given the high quality of natural ingredients and positive, luxurious experience while using the product. In Germany, it's the equivalent of £8 today, but I suppose you do have to factor in the cost of importing it. Would definitely recommend purchasing this lovely product - even more so if you can buy it in Germany.

perfect partners
Lemon Bath Oil, £18.25
Lemon and Lemongrass Body Oil, from £3
Lemon and Lemongrass Body Moisturiser, from £3

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Inika Mineral Eyeshadow

RRP: £14.50/1.2g
# of shades available: 24
 
--What does the promo say?--
"INIKA eyeshadows (1.2g) are rich in pigment providing vibrant and opulent colours that last all day. The purity of ingredients means that they are perfect for even the most sensitive eyes. INIKA eyeshadows are multi-purpose and can be used wet or dry as a shadow or eyeliner."

--Packaging--
The dinkiness of this pot means it can be easily slid into a purse or pocket - not just a handbag! The screwtop lid keeps everything secure, and for extra protection, there's a plastic layer inside as well, with holes so that you can just shake out the amount that you need into the lid. Hopefully this means that you shouldn't find any of the shadow in your pocket!

--Application--
The Inika website recommends using a brush, but if you should be caught short, I've found that fingers work just as well - the size of the holes and the security of the plastic lid inside the pot mean that powder doesn't just come rushing out and that you can control application easily. Blend outwards gently for idiot-proof smoky eyes; layer colours for a dazzling metallic rainbow effect; or wet the shadow for use as an eyeliner.

--Appearance--
Can be vamped up or subtly played down for the effect that you want; layering the shadow is easy and effective. The shade I had, Burnt Sienna, was given to me at a QVC press day, and would work well for any skin type (although may be less visible on darker skin tones). However, with 24 colours to select from, you're spoilt for choice and will definitely find a hue that suits you.

--Texture and consistency--
Smooth and powdery without sending dust everywhere. The texture is very manageable - easy to manipulate for blending and for application with your fingers.

--Longevity--
Definitely lasts all day as promised. Not a crease to be seen! Very impressive.

--Value for money--
I think one pot of this would last you a long time, and given that this literally stays on all day and is made with natural ingredients too, I think the shadow is worth every penny and that the price is an accurate valuation of the product. Would definitely purchase for myself and wholeheartedly recommend to others.

perfect partners
Mineral Mascara, £19
Certified Organic Eyeliner, £13.50
Certified Organic Eye Makeup Remover, £19.95 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Diptyque is in full bloom at Chelsea Flower Show


You already heard yesterday about BrandAlley and The Pretty Dress Company's celebratory collaboration at the Chelsea Flower Show, and the fashion and beauty presence there continues to abound thanks to fragrance and candle company Diptyque's partnership with ethical jewellery maker Pippa Small. This week, guests visiting Pippa's retreat will also be treated to a sample of a Diptyque fragrance formulated especially for the occasion. Floral tuberose works with heady lavender and cleansing mint to create a unique scent to remember this year's show by. Stay tuned for further info...

Monday, 20 May 2013

BrandAlley flash sale

Fashion-loving gardeners must be in raptures of delight at the news that BrandAlley has created a garden at this year's Chelsea Flower Show. However, even the least green-fingered of us can celebrate: BrandAlley has collaborated with favourite celebrity brand The Pretty Dress Company to create an exclusive range of dresses, emulating floral catwalk trends, that are available for this week only, while the flower show is on (May 20-27). The brand is favoured by such stars as Kelly Brook and The Saturdays, and you can have a piece of it this week for £44. Get it while it's hot!
And don't forget to check some of my past posts for some floral beauty advice.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Eyeko Curvy Brush Mascara

RRP: £15

--What does the promo say?--
"For a flirty lash look curl up with Curvy Brush. Our multi-action brush with tiered bristle clusters is designed to define, curl and lift lashes. We use a unique conditioning formula that blends key ingredients Keratin and Shea Butter for soft and supple lashes that stay lifted and curled. Intense jet-black colour. No smudging, crumbling or flaking. Water-resistant. Lifts lashes to a 90 degree angle for 12hrs+ hold. Paraben-free formula. Easy to remove."

--Packaging--
The lipgloss style tube makes this new and different to other mascaras, and the screw-top lid is easy to open whenever you need it, while simultaneously offering secure closure. The silver and pink colour scheme is edgy yet feminine - what's not to like?

--Application--
Eyeko claims to offer a free shield in every box to aid application, but I didn't find mine (perhaps because I didn't know to look for it; it could well have been in there and got accidentally thrown away). If you do have it, it claims to maximise length and minimise smudges - just pop it underneath your lashes while you apply the mascara. I definitely could have done with this as smudges seem to occur easily with this mascara (more on this later).

--Appearance--
Lashes are separated well with this mascara, and the promised jet-black colour does not disappoint. However, smudges are definitely a danger during application (see below), which can have a definite effect on the final result.

--Texture and consistency--
While the smooth formula means lashes don't clump too badly (and that it's easy enough to remove the mascara later), this formula is very wet, meaning it's nearly impossible to avoid (and subsequently remove neatly) those annoying smudges that inevitably result below the lower lashes.

--Value for money--
£15 is pushing it for something that doesn't give a near-perfect result. I like my mascara formulas slightly drier to allow for easier application and a more agreeable consistency. It's also a lot to charge for a brand that's relatively unknown; at least Urban Decay and Stila have fame and a solid reputation on their side. For this money, I'd be more likely to choose a mascara from either of these brands, or from Jane Iredale or Aveda, which provide the same 'natural' credentials.

perfect partners
Skinny Liquid Eyeliner, £10
Brow Gel, £18
Lash Curler, £12 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Melvita Hydrating Facial Gel

 Our Southern France correspondent, Sarah Cross, reviews this product from quintessentially Ardèche brand Melvita.

RRP: £25.00/40ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Ideal for dry to combination skin, this gel as fresh as the morning dew lightly moisturizes the skin for 24 hours. Rose floral water acts as a direct source of hydration, while Rose seed milk helps hold in the skin's natural moisture by maintaining the hydrolipidic film. To diffuse this moisture at the heart of epidermal cells, wild rose petal extract (derived from roses that grow at high
altitudes) helps to stimulate the synthesis of aquaporins – true "water channels". Enriched with mattifying rice powder, this gel is immediately absorbed and leaves skin shine-free. Its thirst deeply quenched, the skin stays soft and fresh all day long! Natural and Organic Cosmetic certified by ECOCERT GREENLIFE according to ECOCERT Standard available at http://cosmetiques.ecocert.com .
99% of the ingredients are from natural origin; 36% of the ingredients are from Organic Farming."

--Packaging--

The same style as for the micellar water, except with a white instead
of see-through bottle and a pale pink lid that pops off easily to reveal a push
down dispenser nozzle. It has the green MELVITA logo with the words ‘Gelée fraîche désaltérante’ in pretty pink (translated underneath into English) and the same lovely scattered arrangement of photographs in varying sizes with some very attractive pictures of roses, wild and garden varieties, petals, bees collecting nectar, and so on. There is a pink line traced around the bottle towards the bottom, giving a very pretty ‘girly’ effect. The dispenser means that the product is
not contaminated and that just the right amount is ejected each time. However, this also means that you cannot see how much of the product you're using and so have to go by the weight of the container in your hand to know if you're running out. The solid container also means it can't be cut open to get the last dregs. Naturally, though, you can't have everything, and the fact that these dispensers don't topple over (unlike Melvita's old tubes) is a big plus.

--Application--

Apply in the morning to cleansed face and neck.

--Appearance and texture--

I have never really been a fan of gels but this one has a nice texture. It is a creamy white and smooths over the face easily.

--Scent-- 

Divine. Rosey-posey!

--Effects on the skin-- 

What surprised me was how quickly it was absorbed into my skin…my face just said ‘WOW’ and soaked it up. Must be doing some good then! It didn’t leave my face shiny and provided a good base for make-up.

--Value for money--

Compared to the other ‘beauty giants’ Melvita’s products are reasonably priced and not over the top. As you only have to use a little of the product each time, I reckon it is good value.  

perfect partners 
Fresh Micellar Water, £15
Moisturising Rose Nectar, £25

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Spa Review: L'Escale Orientale, Paris

An 'escale' in French is essentially a stopover, or perhaps a stage in a journey (a French online trip planner requiring you to take regional express train A followed by metro lines 6 and 12 and then a short walk, for instance, would tell you that your journey has 4 'escales'). It's therefore both significant and appropriate, then, that Parisian spa L'Escale Orientale chooses to use this word in its name. Located in one of the busiest parts of the French capital, near what is perhaps the city's biggest shopping district as well as the second busiest railway station in Europe, it's housed within a small courtyard that truly provides an oasis of calm and quiet away from the chaotic streets.

Specialising in hammam - the water treatment popular in places like Morocco and Turkey - L'Escale Orientale ensures that your treatment takes place in comfort and style, as well as allowing you to benefit from the latest technology. Their hammam treatment areas are essentially full-body capsules that you lie in while essentially completely stark naked (although I'm sure that if you wanted to wear your own swimming costume instead of the paper thong that they offer you, they would oblige), and that faithfully replicate the traditional Islamic hammam experience. Fans allow hot dry air to circulate over your body before gentle steam is introduced. After this, water jets provide strong massage from above and below your body, as well as from the sides of the capsule. Before the 30-minute experience commences, the spa staff check that the temperature of the water is to your liking before switching the capsule on (although they only seem to speak French there, so be aware of this before booking - which, by the way, you can only do by telephone).

Wearing makeup is not to be recommended, and while of course you may tie up your hair, this is unlikely to stop it from getting wet. None of this, of course, stops the hammam from being a fully satisfying and unusual experience: after treatment from the water jets you feel completely invigorated, and the gently changing coloured lights in the room and soft décor adds to the relaxation factor.

Continuing in the Oriental hammam tradition is the full body exfoliation and massage. The exfoliation takes place in the same hammam pod, with the assistant using an exfoliation glove to slough away dead skin cells from your entire body. This has the desired effect of making you feel smooth and glowing before your massage. Prior to the massage, you are given a new paper thong, plus a paper bathrobe, to put on - and in typical French style, this leaves little to the imagination. You are then led to a room decorated in dark pink and brown, which is dimly lit and where relaxing music plays. A five-minute massage is given while you are wrapped in a towel to ensure that you are fully dry after the hammam and exfoliation routine, and then a 15-minute massage using warm oils ensues. Finally, excess oil is soaked up through another 5-minute massage with the towel (although those who are new to massages with oil should be warned that it can still be a good idea to wear older clothes, or clothes that you care about less, to wear afterwards). The spa staff are skilful in the art of massage and have an appropriately firm touch to see off knots or aches. However, they did not ask about any back conditions that could be affected by the massage, so come prepared to tell them about this in advance.

At the end of the massage, you may be invited to have a quiet cup of sweet green tea in the reception area, where plush banquettes abound for moments of further relaxation and contemplation. Having been given this trio of treatments as a Smartbox gift from my inlaws, I have no idea how much was paid for the treatment (especially as the particular box I was given is no longer available), but can estimate from the Smartbox website that the price was between €35 and €75. I suspect, however, that according to the list of treatments on the L'Escale Orientale website, what I had was closest to their Essaouira Escale Classique, which consists of a hammam, exfoliation, and a 30-minute massage with perfumed massage oil and comes to €95 (or €175 for a pair of you, which makes €88 each). So it could be suggested that you get a better deal through the Smartbox even with that two-person discount. However, my excellent experience and the not-too-bank-breaking price means that I would definitely consider returning and perhaps even gifting the experience to others. After all, these precious moments of physical and mental calm are perhaps indeed priceless.


94 rue St-Lazare, 75009 Paris
00 33 1 48 78 20 69
http://www.escaleorientale.fr/ 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Gatineau Peeling Expert Microdermabrasion Cream

RRP: £35.50/75ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Gatineau Peeling Expert Microdermabrasion Cream deeply exfoliates your skin to smooth away rough, dead skin cells, to reveal a fresh, revitalised and glowing complexion. Reveal a radiant new you with a little help from Gatineau."

--Packaging--
An elegant white and silver plastic tube that stands on a white screw cap (on some smaller tubes, the screw cap is silver). Easy to use and closes securely.

--Application--
Wet your hands and face and gently massage a small amount of the exfoliator over your face. The exfoliator can be mixed with your face wash in your palms if desired, or used alone. Wash off using a damp flannel.

--Appearance--
A white cream with no visible particles. However, on the face, a few small white particles can still be seen after rinsing.

--Scent--
None to speak of - just smells clean without being chemical. Could be likened to cotton.

--Texture and consistency--
Satisfyingly scrubby without being too abrasive; however, it's not always easy to rinse off, with some of the exfoliating bamboo beads still being left on the skin afterwards.

--Effects on the skin--
Sadly, this didn't seem to do much short-term or long-term. While skin felt softer, dry patches did not go away immediately after using, or recur less frequently over longer time periods.

--Value for money--
My tube is a smaller size, coming as part of a Gatineau gift set (which was already discounted when I bought it), so I don't feel cheated by what I paid for it. However, I would definitely be loath to pay the £35 asking price for this exfoliator. If I were going to spend £35 on an exfoliator (which is unlikely, just so you know), I'd be far more likely to go for the offerings at this price point from Ole Henriksen, Carita, or Aesop.

perfect partners
Vital Sculpt Cryo-Contouring Serum, £41.50
Floracil Eye Makeup Remover, £35/400ml
Meltaogenine Futur Plus Anti-Wrinkle Radiance Mask, £40
Gentle Silk Cleanser, £35/400ml  

Gatineau Peeling Expert Microdermabrasion Cream is also available as a trial size in the following gift sets:
Top To Toe Peel And Smooth Collection, £55
Cleanse and Peel Collection, £63
Top to Toe Collection, £74
Anti-Ageing Deep Clean and Polish Collection, £47  

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Radox Muscle Therapy Bath Soak

 RRP: £2/500ml

--What does the promo say?--
"There's nothing quite like a hot soak to ease the aches out of your tired body.  Taking a bath in Radox Muscle Therapy Herbal Bath, with our blend of black pepper and ginseng will help gently warm your muscles and revive your body and mind.  Just sink in, lie back and feel rejuvenated."

--Packaging--
This is intended primarily for use in the bath, and so has a black screw cap and an open top (as opposed to a pump action or one of those plastic discs with a hole in it). This is naturally fine for bath use, but means it's not easy to control the amount that comes out of the bottle if you're hoping to use it in the shower (I don't have a bath at home, so this was bound to occur). The fact that the bottle is see-through is great for knowing how much is left, and the herbal illustration is appealing and concise.

--Application--
Pour as much as desired into the bath, and let relaxation commence.

--Appearance--
A translucent red that doesn't look too gory when lathered up! Does not leave stains.

--Scent--
Reflects the black pepper aspects slightly more than the ginseng, and my husband liked the scent more than I did. This appeal to men may well explain why Boots have categorized it under 'men's bath soaks' on their website.

--Texture and consistency--
Quite runny, but not so liquid that you waste the product. Not at all lumpy or irritating, and forms a perfectly smooth lather on skin, while still washing off easily when you want it to.

--Effects on the skin--
The scent will linger for a short time on the skin, so may contradict some women's perfumes, but shouldn't be an issue for men's aftershaves. (However, I'm not sure I know anyone who has time to bathe in the morning, so perhaps this isn't really relevant.) Skin also feels moisturised. Since, as mentioned, I don't have a bath at home, I don't think I was really able to maximise the bath soak's full therapeutic qualities. However, I can believe that it would have a psychological effect as an absolute minimum, as the scent is very relaxing and invigorating. Once I've had a chance to test it in a bath, I'll let you know!

--Value for money--
Just £2 seems very reasonable for such an enormous bottle - and Superdrug has it on half price at the moment, so even better. I'd say this does what it says on the tin, and I'd definitely be looking to try their other bath soaks to explore the range of scents.

Radox's other bath soaks
Spa Conditioning (honey, milk, almond); Brazilian Fusion (dragon fruit and camu camu); Stress Relief (rosemary and eucalyptus); Muscle Soak (clary sage and sea minerals); Relax (lavender and water lily); Moisture Soak (calendula and rose); Sleep Easy (camomile and jasmine)