Saturday, 31 August 2013

Dr Hauschka Cleansing Cream

RRP: £14.95

--What does the promo say?--
"Deep cleansing. Maintains the pH balance so that the acidic barrier protecting your skin is not broken down. Maintains and supports the skin's natural moisture level."

--Packaging--
The white metal tube is mostly practical, though could be prone to breaking in the middle if you don't squeeze from the end. The slightly sober design gives the impression of a brand to be taken seriously, and is suitably unisex.

--Application--
Easy to use - just squeeze a little into your palm and rub gently onto a damp face before rinsing off. Don't be too rough - the almond meal will do the work for you. 

--Appearance--
Doesn't look the way you'd expect a cream to thanks to its grainy appearance. The dark orange colour is also a surprise - even though it looks natural rather than artificial - but doesn't leave any visible residue on the skin. 

--Scent--
A slightly oaty, yeasty smell that probably comes from the nuts and nut oils used in the product (almond and peanut) as well as the wheatgerm. The floral and fruity ingredients are not detectable at all, and neither is the witch hazel.

--Texture and consistency--
Satisfyingly scrubby without being rough. Not creamy, though, so no idea where this concept of it being a "cleansing cream" has come from.

--Effects on the skin--
Skin looks noticeably more radiant even from the first use, and skin condition (including acne) visibly improves. Skin is left clean and fresh, especially when used with other Dr Hauschka products. Even on hot days, skin is significantly less oily and shiny, making this a spectacularly efficient product.

--Value for money--
Unquestionably good thanks to the excellent results. Even the UK price, which is often hiked up significantly compared to European prices, is reasonable at just under £15. It's true that with twice-daily use you may need to replace it as often as once a month - but given how high a price tag many other companies put on such a good outcome, this is a quality product that's fairly priced. Would repurchase.

perfect partners
Cleansing Clay Mask, £25.45
Facial Toner, £23.45
Normalising Day Oil, £24.25 

Friday, 30 August 2013

Taking in your skin

SPONSORED CONTENT
I hate exercise and have been through all of the excuses under the sun so as to get myself out of it. It's too hot out. Too cold out. I hate getting sweaty. The sofa is so comfortable and gym membership costs so much.
my gym
And yet I know exercise is so important - not just for our health but, on a more shallow level, our beauty and wellbeing too. Regular exercise has been proven to tone our bodies, help us lose weight, improve our skin condition, ease stress, make your hair healthier, create more collagen to stop wrinkles in their tracks, ameliorate sleep patterns and reduce bloating. But with autumn and winter just around the corner, the motivation to get outside and go for a run is bound to diminish. 

It was the motivation to exercise ALL year round - not just on days where it was sunny enough to go and chase some squirrels around my local park - that motivated me to join a gym in January (well, that and the post-Christmas flab). But unlike many January sign-ups, I've kept going to the gym and now go at least 3 or 4 times a week. It is expensive - but that encourages me to keep going to get the most for my money.

Happily, though, you have more choice in the UK than I do here in France: British gym memberships aren't held to the same restrictions and tend to be much cheaper. Britain is also better at special offers: Vibro Suite, for instance, is currently running a competition via its website to win four months' worth of free gym membership to celebrate its fourth birthday. Besides the contest, it also offers a free personal training session, and, throughout September, has waived all of the administrative fees usually associated with joining a gym. Plus, whenever you buy three personal training, beauty or sports therapy sessions, you'll get a fourth one for free, which adds further value. Additionally, if you're in charge of these sorts of benefits where you work, Vibro Suite runs special corporate deals whereby they'll waive the gym's administrative sign-up fees for your employees, reduce monthly membership fees, or even offer free membership depending on the deal you strike with them.

With September being the back-to-school season, it often feels like the beginning of a new year for many, meaning that it can be a good time to readjust your habits and change your lifestyle. There are good deals everywhere, so there's little excuse: MyGymCompare lets you compare prices for all of the gyms in your area, and the £30 deal they came up with for me (nearest my parents' house) looks a darn sight better than the going rate of €47 a month (that's £40 at today's exchange rate) that I pay in France. Just as good is comparison search engine The Gym Website, which got me a deal of £35 a month for a gym within walking distance. Even better are some of the deals on Groupon - such as a one-off payment of £10 for two months' access to Zumba classes.

So get yourself moving, and you could be taking in the sight of your new skin, hair and body in no time at all - which is much better than having to take in your clothes.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Born In Brooklyn Aromatherapy Brown Sugar Scrub


RRP: $20, only via www.borninbrooklynskincare.com
variants available: Coconut & Mango, Pomegranate, Tangerine & Lemongrass, Kiwi & Melon

--What does the promo say?--
"Born in Brooklyn is famous for its fabulous and timeless Aromatherapy Brown Sugar Scrub line.  These scrubs can be used on face and body and they come in a scrumptious variety! The Aromatherapy Brown Sugar uses African Brown Sugar and a touch of Dead Sea Salt from Israel to slough off unwanted dead and dry skin from your face and body. This scrub is perfect for year round use - pampering dry skin in the winter and keeping you glowing in your shorts during the summer. Jojoba, Avocado, Sweet Almond and Coconut oils are absorbed into your skin with each and every use.  Rub gently in a circular motion on dry skin as soon as you hop in the shower.  Rinse and shower as usual.  When you're done, your skin will be smooth, incredibly soft and silky. NO NEED FOR LOTION, just pat dry and go!"

--Packaging--
A basic plastic pot and lid with a distinctly homemade-looking sticker. To be honest, glass seems more luxurious even if it is a little less practical - and when people are spending $20, I think they want a little luxury. More serious, though, is the fact that this doesn't come with a little scoop or anything to help mix the scrub or get it out of the pot. Having one would reduce wastage and mess significantly.

--Application--
Massage into wet skin while in the bath or shower, then rinse off. Can be used on face or body.

--Appearance--
A brown lump of sugar/salt mixture, swimming in a sea of natural oils. Happily, it breaks up quite easily with your fingers so that you can mix it with the oil. However, a scoop or mini spatula would still be easier.

--Scent--
The scent I own, Spicy Pumpkin, is now defunct, but can still be purchased from the Dead Sea Salt 'n' Scrub collection and the bath oil range. However, rest assured it still smells like exactly what it says, which augurs well for the other scents available.

--Texture and consistency--
Strikes a perfect balance between scrubbiness and moisture, with the oil sinking beautifully into the skin, meaning there's not necessarily a need to moisturise separately after use.

--Effects on the skin--
Effectively sends dead skin packing, with the results visible from the very first use. Skin is also left soft and feeling moisturised.

--Value for money--
$20 can initially seem pricey. However, the pot is generously sized, so it should last a long time, and the product itself is effective, ticking all the boxes for luxury as well as utility. Plus, the $20 appears to include shipping when a dummy purchase is run through the website, making it even better value. Would buy again.

perfect partners
Moisturizing After Bath Oil, $10
Dead Sea Salt Soak 'n' Scrub, $20

Monday, 26 August 2013

Salon Review: Body'Minute


When it comes to the removal of unwanted body hair, waxing is often touted as being the best way to send it packing. As the process removes hair at the root, over time it should grow more sparsely and eventually stop altogether, therefore being of good value in the long run in terms of both money and hassle. However, short-term cost is one of the main reasons cited when people are asked why they shave, use depilatory creams and so on instead of waxing. It's true that salons can charge high prices for this service, and that waxing at home can be more pain than gain.

I was therefore pleased to discover the Body'Minute chain of salons when I moved to France, which offers beauty services of all kinds at very reasonable prices. I can get my underarms waxed along with a half leg wax and basic bikini wax all for the princely sum of...€13.50. (In the US, a mere €11 is charged.) Plenty of salons charge that just to wax one area of your body. At this price, Body'Minute franchises manage to undercut other businesses considerably - and with franchises gradually spreading across Europe and America, and there even being rumours of a London branch in future, there's every chance that you could end up going for your wax there soon.

Some people might wonder if this is too good to be true. The answer, as usual, is yes and no. No, in the sense that the raw materials required for a wax are in fact very cheap (a fact confirmed to me by a mobile beautician I used to see when I still lived in the UK). In this respect, the prices charged by Body'Minute for their waxes are very fair. However, they skimp on costs - and thus profit - in other ways, enabling everything that they offer (not just their waxes) to be so inexpensive.

Firstly, there's their staffing policy. No receptionists are hired at Body'Minute, meaning that the girls working there are always going to be dividing their attention between you, the phone, and the door. Obviously this doesn't matter too much if it's not really a busy day, but if lots of people want treatments that day, you may feel a little short-changed compared to the personalised and attentive service you receive at other spas and salons. 

Secondly, there's the fact that Body'Minute doesn't take reservations for their waxing services specifically. This means that they can have a constantly rotating service, whereby when someone comes in, they can be told to come back in half an hour (or even later) - basically, whenever a member of staff will next be available. This means that staff are used more economically and lessens the chance of employees sitting around and doing nothing, as well as possibly minimising the chance of clients not showing up to appointments. (The chain does, however, take appointments for other services, such as massages and manicures, which may contradict this slightly.)

Thirdly, there's the subscription scheme on which the whole place runs. Subscribers are charged €9,90 a month (€6 in the US) in order to benefit from reduced rates for treatments throughout the 30-day period. If subscribers don't use their subscription one month, the franchise naturally still takes their €9,90 without having to give away any treatments for a reduced rate. (There's nothing wrong with this; many businesses, such as gyms or underground car parks, operate similar schemes. If you don't use the subscription, that's your loss, not theirs.) Conversely, non-subscribers are charged considerably higher rates for the same services. Not only does Body'Minute make some money from these increased prices, but they also hope that the lure of the lower, subscriber-only prices will tempt people to sign up (and of course, the sign-up process carries an extra administrative fee of its own). If they do subscribe as a result of this tactic, there's a chance that they may not use the subscription every single month (which is taken out of your account on an indeterminate rolling basis, until you tell them to stop). And so the circle of life continues.

Fourthly, there are many other areas in which this franchise cuts corners. Staff are likely paid badly (hence the prominently-positioned tip jars at the reception desk - something that barely exists in France, as legislation mostly means that employees are paid correctly), partly due to their lack of expertise (in my experience, they wax well and do good massages, but are rubbish at manicures, pedicures and facials - suggesting that they are trained to only carry out a limited scope of treatments). You also won't see any expensive billboard or television campaigns for this company. Finally, the products they sell for you to use at home are largely inferior: their home wax strips are good, but their moisturisers for face and body left my skin in worse condition than before I started.

So with all of this in mind, why do I still attend monthly with almost religious fervour? First, their price significantly undercuts anyone else in town, making this particular treatment good value for money. Next, it's convenient - I only live round the corner from my nearest branch and there's another one near my work, too, just in case. They also open on Mondays, whereas many salons in France do not. Furthermore, I tell myself I'll tip the poorly-paid staff just as soon as they don't stab me in the underarm with the tweezers in the immediate post-wax period (it hasn't happened yet...). And in closing, the girls are friendly, deserve a job (even if outwardly it appears slightly crappy, surprisingly staff turnover does not seem to be that high), and ultimately they do manage to defuzz me effectively each month. And with waxing still being the most effective (in terms of results and cost) in the long run, I'm happy to keep on going there if it means that I'll be able to be fur-free by 50.

Start your own Body'Minute franchise by clicking here.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Clean & Clear Advantage Clear and Soothe Foaming Wash

RRP: £4.99
--What does the promo say?--
"New CLEAN & CLEAR® ADVANTAGE® Clear & Soothe Foaming Wash contains a powerful spot fighting ingredient and aloe vera – the formula not only helps reduce spots but also soothes even sensitive skin. The pump dispenser delivers a soft foam which is gentle on the skin ...what’s more, it’s oil‐free and can be used daily!"

--Packaging--
The handy pump-action bottle is suitably unisex thanks to its green and silver colour scheme, and the transparent bottle is helpful in ensuring that you always know exactly how much is left. The pump always dispenses the right amount each time, too, meaning that wastage is minimised.

--Application--
One squirt and you're away - lather up in wet or dry hands and rub over face before rinsing off with a wet face cloth.

--Appearance--
The clear watery liquid changes immediately into a puffy white foam upon dispensation. No visible residue is left on the skin after rinsing.

--Scent--
A mixture of lime, apple and aloe. Not at all chemical-smelling. Delicious! (NB: DON'T eat it :p )

--Texture and consistency--
The foam takes on a creamy, luxurious quality when massaged onto the skin, making for a really pleasant experience. It's easy to wash off when you want to, too.

--Effects on the skin--
I was in the pre-menstrual zone around the testing time, so this could have had an effect, but I didn't find this really kept oiliness at bay. In turn, it just about maintained my existing skin condition, without making the situation better or worse.

--Value for money--
The price seems proportional to the effects that I experienced while using this. Even though the face wash contains known acne-busting ingredients aloe vera and salicylic acid, the concentration of these in the products is probably such that it would only be effective on mild to moderate acne, rather than extremely long-term, persistent cases such as mine (I've had acne since I was 10. I'm now 27, and while the situation has been improving over the past year or two, it's still not completely gone). If your acne is on the mild side, I'd advise trying this, as it's affordable and could still work for you. However, if your skin condition is more severe, you may be better off shelling out a bit more cash for something else, and/or seeing your doctor.

perfect partners
Advantage Clear & Soothe Daily Scrub, £4.99
Advantage Spot Treatment Gel, £4.59

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Clarins Splendours Colour Quartet and Eyeliner Palette

 RRP: £31

--What does the promo say?--
"Shadow and light create mesmerizing eyes that are like an invitation to distant lands. Solar symbols add a touch of sophistication to the Colour Quartet & Liner Eye Palette and decorate the case and the powder. A palette of 3 shimmering shades - copper, pale gold, and pink gold - illuminate the eyes. To add rich, intense definition, use the eyeliners." 

--Packaging--
The range of applicators and goodly-sized mirror included in this compact are a big bonus, as is the instruction booklet to help create various looks. However, the very obviously plastic-looking case is a disappointment for £31: similar palettes from brands at this price point, such as Guerlain, go for more sophisticated looks, such as metal-effect, to maximise the feeling that you've got value for money. Clarins also hasn't made the brand seem modern with its dark red casing, which makes the palette seem like a 70s or 80s throwback that might be more likely seen on your gran's dressing table than yours.

--Application--
Clarins advises applying the pale gold shade over the eyelid for a natural look. For further definition, the pink and dark brown shades can be used. The eyeliner included is black. The little instruction booklet provided in the box, and the range of applicators provided, means that this can't possibly go wrong.

--Appearance--
The subtly shimmery basis of this means that it's formal enough for work while being special enough for evenings. But it's not all glitter and no colour: the neutral palette of gold, brown and pink works well with any skin tone and the additional black eyeliner can add as much or as little drama as you want. Would complement a tan well - so perfect for summer - but its sparkly qualities make it just as good for Christmas, as well as for brightening up the slightly duller, greyer seasons of spring and autumn.

--Texture and consistency--
Goes on silky smooth and there's practically no wastage due to it being so highly pigmented. No spare dust or powder flying around here.

--Longevity--
Lasted virtually all day, with only the tiniest bit of creasing towards the end of the evening. Very impressive.

--Value for money--
A top performance from an eyeshadow whose packaging is just a bit of a letdown, making the £31 price tag less justifiable. However, shop around and you will find it for less. This makes me feel a little bit more positive about the quality of Clarins products, which may make me try harder to seek them out even in the midst of what are usually their unexciting product lines.

 perfect partners
Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balm, £18
Splendours Shimmer Body Oil, £38
Splendours Summer Bronzing Compact, £30
HydraQuench Tinted Moisturiser, £26

Friday, 23 August 2013

Real women

In the face of an increasingly Photoshopped and Botoxed society, many brands (such as Dove) have capitalised on the idea of using 'real women' to front their products, usually with the aim of making the general public feel less insecure and more like the brand's products are really for them, not just for celebrities. 

One such campaign has Boots' No7 products at its forefront, and it's just hitting the airwaves. In the video featuring Yasmin (see right), what appears to be a real woman (as opposed to an actress) is shown being frank about her insecurities and what makeup means to her. She's then pampered and given a new look which seems to really boost her confidence.

What I really like about this campaign is that specific products from the No7 range are not pushed, implying that we should choose products that are right for us as people, not products that a specific person (celebrity or no!) has worn. I especially like the slogan - "a brighter shade of me" - as this, to me, emphasises what makeup is about. You don't put makeup on necessarily to be a completely different person, but rather to enhance the very best bits of you. And by making yourself feel better on the outside, this can be a step to making yourself feel better inside too.

So go on - experiment with new looks, shake up your routine, and start feeling good today :)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

ZAO Mascara

RRP: £16.95
# of shades available: 2

--What does the promo say?--
"Mascara is your secret weapon! It enhances your look for every occasion and is designed to give intense colour and volume whilst providing hydration. ZAO mascara reduces the risk of redness and irritation to your eyes. It contains high-quality raw materials Suitable for regular use and sensitive eyes. Combining traditional craftsmanship and modern design, the painted bamboo case emanates sophistication and originality. It is protected by a cotton pouch like a jewel. This beautiful presentation even makes the ZAO product range a perfect gift."

--Packaging--
ZAO aren't wrong when they emphasise their beautiful, sustainable bamboo packaging. You wouldn't even want to throw this away when you're done with it. Refillable mascara is probably not a possibility right now, but I hope their other products are refillable.

--Application--
As normal: apply one thin layer of mascara to each set of lashes. Go back round again, adding a second thin layer (as opposed to just applying one thick layer from the outset) to further define lashes. Not difficult.

--Appearance--
Regardless of the shade chosen, this provides a beautifully natural, complementary shade that will suit anyone. Lashes are separated perfectly - better than just about any high street mascara I've seen.

--Texture and consistency--
Wonderfully smooth, without being too liquid or sticky. No clumps whatsoever.

--Value for money--
I know £16.95 seems like a lot of money, even if the packaging is sustainable and elegantly crafted. However, this is basically the perfect product: its price is in line with big brands like Clinique and Laura Mercier, but contains much friendlier ingredients and gives just as good a result (and even better). Even though I was sent mine for free, I would definitely come back to this brand, as the sheer quality of this mascara augurs very well for ZAO's other products.


perfect partners
Cream Eye Shadow, £13.95
Eye Liner, £16.95
Eyebrow Pencil, £9.95

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Fushi Cherry Seed Oil

RRP: £12 for 50ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, organic Cherry Seed oil provides natural, effective hydration. Cherry Seed oil is gorgeous emollient oil that is also rich in natural antioxidants, plus vitamins A and E. Cherry Seed oil is especially beneficial for acne-prone or inflamed skin. The vitamins and nutrients contained within the fruit are known to play an important role in collagen synthesis and skin healing processes. Yellow in colour with a hint of marzipan, the oil is abundant in oleic acid and linoleic acid, fatty acids that help restore and replenish the skin. The oil also works well as a carrier oil in aromatherapy. Add a few drops of the oil to your daily moisturiser and keep your skin ultra hydrated and to treat acne prone skin. Sourced from Malatya in central Turkey."

--Packaging--
This opaque glass bottle makes an elegant addition to any bathroom, but the plastic stopper (with a hole in it to let the oil out) is unreliable and frequently falls out. The best way to get it out is to run the opening of the bottle across the palm of your hand, keeping the bottle opening quite close to your palm at all times. Go over the entire palm of your hand twice to create a layer of oil, before rubbing into your face directly or mixing with your moisturiser.

--Application--
You can mix with moisturiser or use directly on the face. I'd perhaps recommend the former, as it may sink in more easily then (when the oil is applied alone, this takes longer).

--Appearance--
A beautiful golden oil that sinks invisibly into the skin.

--Scent--
A gorgeous and authentic aroma of marzipan. Nothing added to this! And who doesn't love a product which makes them smell like cake?

--Texture and consistency--
Not too thick itself, but does seem to take a long time to absorb. A shame.

--Effects on the skin--
As well as moisturising, this promises to reduce inflammation and benefit acneic skin. Happy to report that I have seen an improvement in my skin while using this.

--Value for money--
This compares most favourably with other facial oils on the market: Nuxe, perhaps the most famous, charges £14 for 50ml, while Weleda and Jurlique charge the same. Sanctuary, Green People and even Body Shop are even more expensive than that. I'm sure Waitrose won't mind me borrowing from their catchphrase when I say that this is a quality product, honestly priced, in spite of its flaws regarding texture and packaging. The aromatic smell gives a real boost in the morning and the results are there too. And I'm not just saying that because I was sent mine for free! Would recommend.



perfect partners
Beauty Totale for Skin, Hair and Nails, £15.26 
Thyme Tincture, £8

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Potter's Herbals Skin Clear Lotion

RRP: £4.80
 
 --What does the promo say?--
"Potter’s Skin Clear Lotion is formulated to deeply cleanse the skin and help clear pores using a blend of natural herbal ingredients including Witch Hazel, Benzoin, Lavender, Pine and Tea Tree. A gentle astringent cosmetic lotion which, used regularly, can help to deeply cleanse skin and help clear pores from excess oil and grease. Its mild fragrance makes this a popular choice by both men and women. Particularly good for adolescent skin care."

--Packaging--
This has changed recently from a dark blue label (see left) so don't worry if you can't seem to spot it immediately online. Suitably unisex with a GENIUS tapered nozzle, meaning no wastage.

--Application--
Can be used after or even in place of a cleanser (I've been doing the latter). Soak a cotton pad in this and then apply all over the face. Naturally avoid contact with your eyes and ears.

--Appearance--
A slightly bubblegummy blue thanks to the artificial colourant added, which seems a bit unnecessary. Thankfully this doesn't leave any visible residue on the face after use.

--Scent--
The witch hazel is prominent, with the tea tree perhaps being the next most detectable.

--Texture and consistency--
Liquid - basically like water.

--Effects on the skin--
This is a non-irritating product that delivers good results within a short time frame. Improvement can be noted within 1-2 weeks, with diminishment of whiteheads being particularly significant.

--Value for money--
At this low price tag you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Once my free bottle from Potter's Herbals' PR runs out, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase.

perfect partners
Distilled Witch Hazel, £2.50
Comfrey Oil, £3.40

Monday, 19 August 2013

Nailner Repair Spray

 RRP: £21.99 for 8ml
 
--What does the promo say?--
"Nail fungus is a common and irritating problem that can cause discomfort and embarrassment. There is now an easy solution: New! Nailner Repair Spray - a nail protecting innovation. Its unique, patented carrier system allows the ingredients to saturate the nail and combat the fungus at its core by changing the nail's environment to the disadvantage of the fungus. Improvements are visible in just a matter of weeks! Clinically tested, Nailner Repair Spray is an innovative and new over-the-counter product. The ingredients have been shown to help treat nail fungus by protecting the newly grown nail from getting infected. The handy spray allows an easy and quick application. Each spray contains approximately 100 single applications. Say Goodbye to Nail Fungus!"

--Packaging--
The white and teal-coloured spray bottle is small, neat and functional. Would slip easily into an overnight bag for trips away and takes up little space in the bathroom. However, the spray function itself doesn't always work well: sometimes it sprays perfectly over the whole nail, while at other times the liquid dribbles down the side of the spray canister.

--Application--
As mentioned above, how easy spraying the affected nails is can vary. However, it's not usually too difficult to get the liquid to come into contact with the nails - even if you have to run your finger down the side of the canister and smear it onto the nail yourself. Integrating the twice-daily required spray into your routine is also not difficult - spray it on before your deodorant, or before brushing your teeth, so that it has time to dry (not that this takes long - especially compared to treatment nail polishes designed to have the same effect). You also don't need to eschew nail varnish for it to work - it's contact with the nail bed, not contact with the nail itself, that's important.

--Appearance--
A completely clear watery liquid that dried invisibly on the nail. 

--Scent--
The essential oils included in the spray are detectable but not overwhelming. However, they're clearly natural, which makes a change from chemical-smelling products.

--Effects--
I'd been having problems with a nail on my right foot for at least 18 months, whereby even treatments prescribed by the supposedly top French medical system had not worked. THIS WORKED. Thank the Lord :)  I'll now be using it on my big toe, which has just started to develop a problem on the same foot, to try to nip things in the bud immediately.

--Value for money--
I was surprised by the £21.99 price tag - but when my free tube from Nailner runs out, I would happily spend my own pennies on this. Boots also have a buy-one-get-one-half-price offer on at present, meaning that two tubes would cost you £33 rather than £44 at the moment. A tube lasts AGES as well, so I would definitely recommend it - it's the only product I've tried that works.

perfect partners
Nailner Repair Pen, £20.75 
Nailner Repair Brush, £20.75

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Melvita Moisturizing Rose Nectar


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

RRP: £24
*also marketed as Melvita Rose Day Cream. Don't worry - it's the same thing!

--What does the promo say?--
"Ideal for dry and dehydrated skin, this sheer, comfortable cream intensely moisturises the skin for 24 hours. Rose floral water acts as a direct source of hydration, while extract of fresh roses, obtained by enfleurage, helps to hold in the skin's natural moisture by maintaining the hydrolipidic film. To help 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". Rose Nectar is made with 100% organic active ingredients and provides 24-hour hydration. Perfectly moisturized throughout the day, the skin feels soft and supple again – and the complexion looks beautifully rosy!"

--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-- 

A lovely smooth and silky cream that goes on well.
 

--Scent--
If you like roses…fabulous!  Floral and feminine.  I could put this on all over!  

--Effects on the skin--
To be honest, since I have the hydrating facial gel, I am tending to use this product at night instead of in the morning.  I don’t see the point in using two products in the morning to do the same job.  When I tried them out, I felt that this one was the thicker, creamier product and that, of the two, it would be more effective overnight than the gel.  It would, however, still be perfect as a day cream because it is not too heavy. I would generally use something more ‘robust’ and deeply penetrating/nourishing as a night cream (I obviously need to try the Extraordinary Night Cream £29 with moonstone, argan and rose for this…)….but the only way to test this product out was to use it separately to the gel in order to able to observe the effects of each.  One wonders if one is meant to use BOTH in the morning or if it is just a question of personal choice for the texture. The skin is left looking and feeling supple and moisturized - given the choice, I prefer this to the gel.
 

--Value for money--
An excellent product that does what it says. Again, as you only have to use a little of the product each time, I reckon it is good value.  Compared to the other ‘beauty giants’ Melvita’s products are reasonably priced.


perfect partners

Fresh Micellar Water, £15
Rose Hip Oil, £20
Rose Extraordinary Water, £16
Fresh Cleansing Milk, £16 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Mary Kay Limited Edition One Woman Can Creme Lipstick

RRP: £13

--What does the promo say?--
"Limited-edition Beauty That Counts®Mary Kay® Creme Lipstick,  in the shade One Woman Can™, celebrates Mary Kay’s 50th anniversary as the creme lipstick that gives back. Berry-pink shade looks great on everyone. Long-wearing, stay-true formula glides on easily. Helps protect lips with antioxidants. Provides instant moisture."

--Packaging--
The pale gold tube is fairly standard, in all honesty. Something at least partly transparent would be better so that the beautiful swirls of lipstick could be seen more immediately. However, it does the job, with the lid remaining secure.

--Application--
Apply straight from the tube or using a lip brush to clean dry lips. For a subtler look, apply just to the bottom lip before pressing together with the top lip for a paler result. Two dots of lipstick on each lip, and then blending, will do the same thing.

--Appearance--
Depending on which side of the lipstick you get more of when applying, results can vary from a darker berry to a brighter fuschia. The latter may be a bit full-on for some, so I'd recommend blotting for a more muted effect as mentioned above. Nonetheless, both colours in the stick should suit just about everyone. 

--Texture and consistency--
Beautifully smooth and soft thanks to the oodles of natural waxes and oils this contains. Lipstick's come a long way from those very drying days.

--Longevity--
About the same as most modern lippies, to be honest - although longer than you'd expect perhaps for something that glides on so smoothly and has so few artificial additives.

--Value for money--
This is a high-quality product that uses ingredients straight from nature, and its price tag of £13 competes favourably with lipsticks from brands with similar ideologies (Aveda, Origins and Bare Escentuals charge the same for their lip colours in department stores). With that in mind, I'd buy again once my free lippy from Mary Kay's lovely PR people has run out :)

perfect partners
TimeWise Age-Fighting Lip Primer, £16
Satin Lips Set, £19
Retractable Lip Brush, £2

Friday, 16 August 2013

Spongeing your skin

How do you wash your face?

With a flannel, a cotton pad, a tissue, or just with your hands like on the TV?


The Konjac Sponge Company has a new idea: why not wash our faces with sponges? But not just any sponge, oh no. Their sponge (the clue's in the name) uses the konjac plant, and it's already taking off in Japan (all the best stuff seems to start there, doesn't it? First BB creams, and now this).

How it works is this: this relative of the potato is ground down into flour (which has previously been used to make noodles and thicken food) before being mixed with pure filtered volcanic water, put into moulds, fermented, steamed, and baked into shape. Different supplements are added to suit your skin type, whether it's bamboo charcoal to balance oily skin or red clay to hydrate dry skin.

The sponges hold ten times their weight in liquid, so you don't need much water. No cleanser is needed, but if you still want to use one anyway, use less than you normally would, as the sponge will make it go much further. The sponge then exfoliates gently to get rid of dead skin cells, increase radiance, and reduce puffiness.

When the sponges show signs of wear and tear (usually around the 3-month mark), their fully biodegradable qualities mean that they can be disposed of in a completely environmentally friendly way, whether you want to compost them or feed them to your house plant.

Not convinced? Try it yourself: from August 20th-24th, a pop-up shop will be running in the Marylebone district of London (specifically at 10a Blandford Street), where you can speak to experts about the best sponge for you. Pop in between 11.00 and 3.00 on any of the days above to test it out. With luck I'll be sent one to try soon, so will also be able to feed back on this spongy revolution. *tosses flannel into the wash*

Thursday, 15 August 2013

L'Oreal EverRiche Nourishing and Flowing Shampoo

RRP: £5.99

--What does the promo say?--
"Hair Expertise EverRiche Nourishing & Flowing Shampoo is a hair care product specifically designed for dry, fine hair. Enriched with Botanical Oils and non-sulphate cleansing surfactants, the range provides a unique sensory experience and leaves dry hair feeling nourished, protected and flowing."

--Packaging--
Mine was a free sample from a magazine, so can't comment on the full monty, but I like the gold and brown colour scheme of this squeezy flip top tube, as it seems unusual, and like it would stand out on the shelf.

--Application--
Massage into wet scalp under the shower and then rinse out. Repeat if desired. Follow with EverRiche Nourishing and Flowing Conditioner. Nothing difficult about this.

--Appearance--
A white, slightly pearlescent lotion that leaves no visible residue in the hair.

--Scent--
Clean and cotton-like with a hint of the botanicals mentioned in the promotional material.

--Texture and consistency--
Smooth and luxurious; slightly runny and not at all sticky. Lathers up well and washes out easily when required.

--Effects on the hair--
Hair feels smoother, softer and more voluminous. You can also get away with not washing your hair on the second day and you will still look just as good.

--Value for money--
Depending on how long the bottle lasts, £5.99 could be construed as being a bit steep. However, it works well on the hair, and if you grab it as part of the introductory offers going on (2 Ever Riche products for £9, for instance), it instantly becomes even better value. Recommended :)

perfect partners
Nourishing and Flowing Conditioner, £5.99
Nourishing Intense Mask, £6.99
Perfect Elixir, £6.99

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Dr Jart+ Regenerating BB Cream

RRP: £14

--What does the promo say?--
"This professional formula, containing cutting-edge active ingredients, covers and conceals imperfections whilst helping skin regenerate. Featured benefits include skin regeneration, sun protection and nourishing properties whilst helping to eliminate age spots and blemishes. Contains suncream to help protect the skin, macadamia ternifolia seed oil to lubricate the surface of the skin, snail secretion filtrate to hydrate and moisturise, and simmondsia chinensis seed oil to calm and smooth out the skin. Moisturises, protects and corrects, thanks to treatment serum and sunscreen, with no foundation needed. Skin looks smooth, perfect and natural."

--Packaging--
Mine was a free sample, so I haven't had the chance to try the full version of this plastic flip-top tube, but I love the edgy silver-and-black colour scheme.

--Application--
Skip moisturiser if you want and just go straight for this - the macadamia and jojoba oils already moisturise perfectly. If you really want to use foundation primer as well, you can, but again it's probably unnecessary. Just rub a 10p-sized amount between your hands and smooth onto the face. Complete with concealer and powder if desired.

--Appearance--
This is a perfect match for my skin tone, but as Asian BB creams tend to be quite pale by default, it won't suit everyone. Unfortunately BB creams tend to go for a 'one size fits all' approach.

--Scent--
Nothing discernible, in all honesty - not even the seed oils.

--Texture and consistency--
Perfectly smooth and blendable.

--Effects on the skin--
The sun protection factor in this works brilliantly, so there's no need for extra sunscreen to avoid burning - and at factor 30, it's suitable for even sensitive skin. Sunscreens also have proven anti-ageing properties long-term, so that's something that you'll see the rewards of in 20 years' time if you use an SPF on your face regularly. More immediately, good natural coverage is provided, although you'll want to finish off with concealer for any particularly bad spots. Unfortunately my free sample was so small that I wasn't able to see how far it improves skin conditions such as acne even over a few days or weeks, but I can believe that it would. Oiliness is reduced, meaning you don't feel like your face is melting and your makeup sliding off even in hot weather.

--Longevity--
Does better than most tinted moisturisers and as well as most foundations.

--Value for money--
At £21 exclusively at Boots, this competes favourably with high-end Western BB creams from brands such as Clinique and Bobbi Brown. Dr Jart is a genuinely Korean brand, so you know you're getting the real deal with this. The excellent results it provides in terms of coverage and sun protection means I'd buy it again - and with Boots offering 33% off several Dr Jart skincare products at present, it currently poses even better value for money if you can bag it for the discounted price of £14.

perfect partners
Pore Refine Re-Tighten Mask, £19
Pore Refine Tight Effect Toner, £18
Pore Refine Up-Tighten Serum, £13
Pore Refine Clear Away Gel, £16
Pore Refine Recover Primer, £18
Pore Refine Bubble Foam, £13 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Sure Compressed Deodorant

RRP: £2

--What does the promo say?--
"Sure Compressed with motionsense™ system delivers long lasting protection in a little can. Use Sure Compressed just like your normal 150ml Sure aerosol and it will last just as long. 48-hour protection against sweat with a light fresh fragrance. We’ve re-engineered the spray system, thus reducing the amount of gas needed to deliver the same level of antiperspirant ingredient with each spray. This allows us to deliver as much protection as a 150ml with a smaller pack. Alcohol free and dermatologically tested."

--Packaging--
As mentioned above, it's like a normal spray can, but dinkier. Perfect for keeping in your handbag or for travelling light.

--Application--
Just spray onto clean dry skin. Happily doesn't pack the same punch as the Dove compressed deodorant with each spray, so doesn't give you that choking feeling.

--Appearance--
Unfortunately leaves more white marks than the Dove one, so be careful before getting dressed.


--Scent--
The version I was sent (Cotton Ultra Dry) is clean and refreshing without being floral, chemical or cloying. Great for giving you the get-go to just get on with your day.

--Effects on the skin--
Deodorises very effectively: I'd quite easily believe that this one would stick out the 48 hours promised. It also doesn't irritate the skin.

--Value for money--
I don't normally like sprays, and it's a shame about the white marks. But due to the dinky packaging, dinky price tag, and effective deodorisation, I'd definitely buy this in future.