Thursday, 22 October 2015

Time Bomb Smart Balm Eye Cream

 RRP: £29 for 15ml
 
--What does the promo say?--
"Actively targets dark circles, fine lines and crepe-y texture around eyes. Moisturizes, plumps and smoothes the look of delicate eye area tissue. Has an instant, temporary tightening effect to decrease the look of fine lines and wrinkles."

--Packaging--
The white slender tube is nothing special, but the pink and green lettering really pops and asserts itself as part of the brand identity (where pink and green play a big part in the colour scheme across the board).

--Application--
Use your ring finger (the weakest finger, don't you know!) to gently dab this around the eye area once you've washed your face. Pat gently into the skin around the eye until fully absorbed - don't pull or drag the skin.

--Appearance--
Bright white, but sinks in invisibly.

--Scent--
The borage and calendula in the cream come through a little, but there's nothing overbearing in this at all.

--Texture and consistency--
Not at all sticky or drying - sinks in beautifully and leaves skin feeling soft.

--Effects on the skin--
As well as moisturising effectively, it genuinely brightens the eye area and wrinkles appear reduced. Nice one.

--Value for money--
I wasn't necessarily expecting it to be as expensive as £29 a go (I was sent mine for free, for what it's worth), particularly as this puts it in the same price bracket as many major brands (such as Clinique, Benefit and Elemis) - which can be a little disconcerting when a brand is so new to the market by comparison. However, as it works and is a joy to use, I feel I'm in no position to knock it. On the whole, my experience so far as is such that Time Bomb products not only are effective and lovely to use, but as such would make lovely gifts as well (the Time Bomb website has a great selection) - particularly as they have the sparkle of the celebrity factor, too, without being cheesy. Great work, Lulu!

perfect partners
Neck, Jaw and Chest Cream, from £13.50
Collagen Bomb Essential Skin Fuel, £65
Youth Juice Secret Oil, from £16 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Philip Kingsley Re-Moisturising Shampoo

RRP: £17

--What does the promo say?--
"This shampoo for medium textured wavy hair, gently cleanses and balances the different needs of your roots and ends (i.e. less at roots, more at dry, damaged ends). Containing wheat protein it helps to deliver the correct balance of moisture to your hair leaving it more manageable and lustrous. Its unique formula contains a natural antistatic conditioning barrier which helps smooth your hair's cuticle to improve combing and condition, and also anti-oxidants for added protection."

--Packaging--
The nozzle is quite different to the usual flip-top lid shapes that you see, but is still easy to use and secure to close. The brand name is emblazoned across the bottle, but with no other illustrations or colours it manages to stay quite minimalist and unisex. The colour of the lettering also changes according to the type of product you're using, so each product is still part of the brand family while staying distinct in itself.

--Application--
As usual really. Lather up onto the scalp and smooth through the hair before rinsing (and repeating, if desired).

--Appearance--
A translucent beige gel which becomes a white lather when mixed with water. Leaves no visible residue on hair or skin.

--Scent--
Wheaty and clean; like cotton or freshly laundered sheets. Pleasant and unisex.

--Texture and consistency--
Smooth, luxurious, lathers well, and rinses easily. No stickiness or wateriness.

--Effects on the hair--
On the day of washing, and possibly also on the day after, I do notice an increase in lustre and manageability, as promised. There is also increased smoothness and a lack of static flyaway, with ends moisturised and roots degreased. However, after day 2 my hair begins to feel heavier and greasier, and I can't go as long between washes with this as I would with other shampoos.

--Value for money--
£17 a bottle isn't cheap, but it does last several months, even with regular use. I am always happy with the results in the first day or two of washing, but do wish I could go longer between washes as I prefer to avoid heat treatments (I have to blow-dry my hair every time I wash it, otherwise due to the length it takes too long to dry on its own). However, Philip Kingsley does have several different types of shampoo and conditioner for hair like mine, so I would definitely be interested to see if these are different in this regard. Nonetheless, a high-quality product that generally suits the needs of my hair.

perfect partners
Moisture Balancing Conditioner, £20
Moisture Extreme Jet Set, £24
Soft & Shiny Try Me Kit, £6

Thursday, 15 October 2015

No7 Moisture Drench Lipstick

RRP: £9.95
# of shades available: 35

--What does the promo say?--
"Nourish your lips with No7 Moisture Drench Lipstick, this moisturising formulation keeps your lips smooth and soft. Hypo-allergenic. Fragrance free. SPF 15. Intense lip colour. Satin finish."

--Packaging--
An ergonomic tapered design whose lid closes securely. The No7 embossed logo, as well as the black casing, is equally elegant, and the lipstick itself is cut to a curve that sits well on the lips during application.

--Application--
Use the stick itself, or a lip brush to apply colour directly to the lips, taking extra care around the Cupid's bow to ensure neatness.

--Scent--
Fragrance free, as mentioned in the promotional materials. Not overly chemical or waxy either.

--Appearance--
As promised, the finish is satin-like: mostly matte with a slight shine. New shades have also been added for autumn: Honey Bloom, Caramel Silk, and Tawny Rose, which I was sent to test by No7's PR. These new shades are dusky and flattering in appearance; even those that on first glance might appear too dark or bright look far more naturally flushed on the skin.

--Texture and consistency--
As promised, these lipsticks moisturise impressively, making them perfect for autumn and winter, when the colder weather begins to dry out skin.

--Longevity--
Lasts impressively, especially given the product's moisturisation qualities (which can make lipstick fade more quickly). You can eat and drink with this on and still not need to reapply for a while.

--Value for money--
This delivers function and form - i.e., luxury and utility. It's also inexpensive, with value increased further thanks to Boots' frequent special offers on No7 products. Would recommend!

perfect partners
Match Made Concealer, £7.50
Natural Blush Tint Powder, £8.00

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Irresistible Me Clip-In Silky Touch Hair Extensions

RRP: from $79
# of shades available: 11

--What does the promo say?--
"Silky Touch is our best-selling line. These 100% Remy human hair extensions are fantastic quality for a friendly price and can be very easily washed, heat styled, cut and colored to blend in your hair perfectly. The thickness of the hair decreases slightly towards the ends just like normal hair does which will provide a completely natural look while wearing them. The Silky Touch extensions are perfect for anybody who loves adding a bit of volume and/or length to their hair occasionally or for special events and offer the best quality/price ratio on the market. If you’re just starting with hair extensions and you want something great, the Silky Touch clip-in hair extensions are the way to go. Each set is composed of 10, 8 or 7 pieces of different widths depending on the weight you choose, purposely adapted to cover your head all around."

--Packaging--
The hair extensions arrive in a clear plastic envelope with a Zip-lock style closing mechanism, as well as hygiene stickers over the opening to seal it, which reassures you that the hair extensions have not been opened prior to you using them. The clear envelope also means you can check the colour and quality of the extensions before opening the package. The envelope also has two parts to it, with the smaller part containing the smaller extensions (1-2 clips) and not protected by a hygiene seal. This means you can open the smaller part of the envelope and handle and look at (and even use!) the extensions more closely to decide if you are satisfied with the product. If not, the larger part of the envelope (with the hygiene seal still on) can be easily returned for a refund. The envelope, as well as the black hairnets that the extensions arrive in, also makes sure that the extensions are convenient for travel and storage.

Normal length hair
--Usage--
There are luckily plenty of videos on the Irresistible Me website showing you how to put in the extensions - great for people like me who have never used extensions before! But the upshot of the procedure is this: you pin up most of your hair so that it is out of the way, leaving only a small part trailing at the nape of your neck. Affix one of the three-clip wefts to the parting created, then let down a little more hair, creating a new parting at around the bottom of your ears. Add another three-part weft and then repeat the process, adding the four-part weft at the top of your ears and the final three-part weft level with your temples (but still at the back of the head), ensuring that you leave enough hair at the top to cover the wefts. Let this back down and then brush the top of your hair to create your usual parting (centre, side...). Repeat the process on either side of your parting using the two- and one-clip wefts. This whole process took me about 45 minutes the first time, but would definitely speed up as time went on and you used them more often.

with long hair!
--Appearance--
Once I was done putting in the extensions, I was extremely happy with the appearance of my hair. It had not just greater length but greater volume as well, meaning I had the long luxurious Disney princess hair that I had always wanted. Equally, the colour was a perfect match, and people at work commented on all of these aspects the first day I wore them. The extensions in no way look fake or plastic, so you can be sure that you are getting quality. In short, I couldn't have been happier. (Be careful: when first putting them in you may find that some wefts/clips are still visible if you haven't left quite enough hair at the top of your head to cover them. Just check after each weft inserted, and change it then if you need to, as it is more difficult to go back later and reinsert it to make it invisible.)

--Texture and consistency--
As these are made of real human hair (which some might question the ethics of, depending on how the extensions are sourced - something the Irresistible Me website doesn't tell us), they unsurprisingly feel exactly the same, and can be brushed and styled in the same way. The name 'Silky Touch' is definitely not a misnomer! Weight-wise, you can choose from 140g or 200g, with Irresistible Me's PR sending me the latter (due to the length of the extensions I chose - i.e., 20 inches). This extra weight takes a little getting used to and you do feel the clips in your hair as well, although it's not unpleasant or painful (just different).

--Removal--
While the brand website doesn't give exact guidance about this, I would definitely recommend removing these at the end of each day, as opposed to sleeping in them, as I think the clips would probably get matted or tangled while you slept or showered and would become more difficult to remove (the extensions can be hand-washed separately in your bathroom basin). The clips stay secure in your hair all day, meaning there are no worries about them falling out, but are easy to remove when you want to.

--Value for money--
These definitely do not come cheap. Prices start at $79 for the Silky Touch extensions, but this can go up depending on colour, length and weight. My 20-inch, 200g hair extensions in Silky Golden Blonde (#14) cost $189. So definitely a purchase for special occasions, but not exactly out of reach, either (particularly with free worldwide shipping; discount vouchers are regularly offered as well). Despite the initial outlay and possible ethical considerations in terms of the hair's provenance, I would class them as good value: I was extremely pleased with the results visually as well as the hair extensions' overall usability, and clearly they can be used more than once, making them far better value than a trip to the hair salon. I have already recommended these to friends and family, and look forward to wearing them again on many special occasions in future. Thank you, Irresistible Me!

perfect partners
Diamond Hair Styler, $149
Sapphire 8 in 1 Curler, $199
Liquid Gold Shampoo and Conditioner, $24 each

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Spa Technologies Flower Acid Peel

RRP: £25

--What does the promo say?--
"An anti-inflammatory concentrate of hibiscus flower and green tea acids fortified with salicylic acid for problem skin. Flower (Pyruvic) Acid peel comes in a soothing seaweed -based gel. Gradual exfoliation without irritation associated with alpha-hydroxy peels. Helps to decongest pores consistent with acne. Essential in treatment of rosacea. Allows basal cells to fully mature, strengthening the connective tissue matrix."

--Packaging--
The weight of the glass makes you feel like you're holding a higher-quality product in your hands, and the metallic banding is a thread that runs throughout the brand identity. The pump-action dispenser is convenient, and it's always nice to be able to see how much product you've got left at any given moment.

--Application--
It's recommended that you apply this at night, after cleansing, so that it has a few hours to work. You then wash your face in the morning as normal.

--Appearance--
A golden brown serum that leaves no visible residue on the face.

--Scent--
A really pleasant, naturally sweet, 'treacly' smell.

--Texture and consistency--
Neither too runny nor too sticky; however, I would definitely stick with the advice of only applying this at night, solely for the reason that when it dries it can feel a little taut on the face, as if you've applied a mask. In short, don't expect it to leave a completely smooth and absorbed finish like a moisturiser.

--Effects on the skin--
Skin does appear calmer, smoother and more radiant after use, and doesn't have the irritating qualities of many commercial peels in the short or long term.

--Value for money--
While £25 for a 30ml bottle can seem expensive, it's nothing compared to the cost of the equal number of spa treatments - one bottle does last a long time and yields good results. Great for giving yourself spa-level results at home. Would recommend.

perfect partner
Vital Energy Capsules, £25

Saturday, 5 September 2015

No7 Gel-Look Shine Nail Colour

RRP: £7
# of shades available: 21

--What does the promo say?--
"Our patented technology makes the polish tough and flexible to help prevent chipping and improve ease of application to help achieve a streak-free finish. Complete coverage in just one stroke, with outstanding and durable gel look shine. Helps to smooth and plump nails so natural ridges can't be seen, for best results use in combination with the top coat. Rich colour pay off in one coat. Plumps and volumises in 2 coats."

--Packaging--
Sophisticated and minimalist with a pleasing and ergonomic curve on the lid for easy handling. The No7 logo is centre stage on the bottle, clearly demarcating it as one of Boots' own. The lack of unnecessarily massive stickers is equally pleasing, allowing you to always see how much you have left. The brush is a bit big for my liking, though, although I suppose this does mean you have a greater chance of covering the nail in one stroke.

--Application--
Apply a base coat and allow this to dry thoroughly before painting one stroke down the centre of your nail. Add a further stroke down each side if necessary, so that the entire nail is covered in colour. Leave this coat to dry before attempting to apply a second coat. Finally, finish with a top coat once the colour is dry.

--Appearance--
The shade I was sent by Boots' PR (thanks guys!) was the rose gold shade, which I really love - perfect for both summer and Christmas, it adds a bit of shimmer to any outfit and goes with basically everything, whether you're wearing silver jewellery or gold. I tend to go for metallic nail colours for this reason and this is a great one to have in the kit alongside the classic silver, gold, copper and bronze.

--Texture and consistency--
Perhaps a little thick for my liking, but this is easily sorted by putting a couple of drops of nail varnish remover into the bottle and giving it a good shake.

--Longevity--
To be honest, I didn't find this polish to be any more robust than others I've tried. A shame, as this whole 'gel-nail-a-like' concept really appeals to me (I find that real gel nails are often too damaging).

--Value for money--
At £7 this is about standard for nail polish. Truthfully, without the longevity claims stacking up, I wouldn't want to pay any more for it, regardless of how much I love the colour. However, you can buy nail polish from other brands that specialise in nails for the same or less money, such as Sally Hansen or Mavala, so I can understand why you'd go for this option instead. It would be great if Boots could maybe go back to the drawing board on this one so I could feel that I could get the longevity they promise without having to spend more on their gel-a-like line of base coats and top coats.

perfect partners
Stay Perfect Base Coat, £6
Stay Perfect Top Coat, £6
Nourishing Nail and Cuticle Care, £6
Strength and Growth Treatment, £8

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Spa Technologies Marine Serum

RRP: £35

--What does the promo say?--
"A favorite of ours. This light Gel Serum blends Aromatherapy with a complex of Marine Algae active ingredients. Marine Serum nourishes and remineralises ageing and environmentally damaged skin. Continuous use strengthens the connective tissue matrix for firmer, healthier skin. Essential Oils provide Antioxidant protection and help to control blemishes."

--Packaging--
The metallic bands against the clear glass bottle are new and different and this concept across all products in the range clearly helps to unite the brand and create a clear identity. The pump action dispenser clearly controls the amount of product used, which helps to minimise wastage.

--Application--
Use underneath - or even in place of - moisturiser after cleansing and toning.

--Appearance--
A translucent white serum which leaves no visible residue on the skin.

--Scent--
Slightly salty, which I suppose comes from the seaweed. Subtle, though, so shouldn't overwhelm any other products that you want to stand out for their scent.

--Texture and consistency--
Really light and generally absorbs quickly, although perhaps not as completely as a moisturiser (leaving a slightly taut feeling when dry).

--Effects on the skin--
As with other products in the range, this increases radiance and calms problem skin.

--Value for money--
At £35 this is no small outlay, but it's nonetheless an affordable luxury that works well. Another great result for Spa Technologies.

perfect partners
Oxygenated Correcting Pigmentation Skin Brightening Booster, £59
Essential Kit, £59
Spot Cure Kit, £79
Restore Kit, £80
Repair Kit, £101

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Neutrogena Visibly Clear meets Danielle Romeril meets visibly clearer skin

I've got to be honest: I've had mixed experiences with Neutrogena, and as a person who's suffered from acne for nearly 20 years now (err...woo?), it's difficult to find products that can genuinely boost radiance and improve skin condition. However, from 2010 I've had the chance to test several products from Neutrogena's Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit range, whose zesty zing not only helps to wake you up in the mornings, but also kickstarts skin into clearing up. The original face wash has now been given a design-based pick-me-up by up-and-coming Irish designer Danielle Romeril, who coincidentally also in 2010 graduated from the MA Womenswear course at the Royal College of Art. In 2012 she set up her own label and this year, as well as presenting new designs at London Fashion Week and winning the NEWGEN award, has revamped one of Neutrogena's most successful face washes with a retro 80s design that's perfectly in keeping with catwalk trends. Specifically, it's designed by Memphis, an Italian architectural movement known for its avant-garde style and in-your-face colours.

Luckily for all fans of this product, it remains exactly the same on the inside - just in a jazzy collectible bottle - so for all those needing a top-up, now's a pretty good time to splash the cash (yep, all £4.94 of it). Happily, I'm just as pleased with the results as when I initially tested it in 2010 - and maybe even more so (and not just because of our Dani's pretty bottle).

perfect partners
Pink Grapefruit Oil-Free Moisturiser (50ml) – RRP: £4.99 
Pink Grapefruit Daily Scrub (150ml) – RRP: £4.95
Pink Grapefruit Cream Wash (150ml) – RRP: £4.99

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Vaseline Spray and Go Body Moisturiser


RRP: £4.99 for 190ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Moisturises in seconds so you can put your clothes straight on. Instantly leaves skin soft, not sticky or greasy. Dispenses evenly with one all over continuous spray."

--Packaging--
The vibrant colours reflect the essence of each available scent (cocoa, oat, and aloe vera), while the plant-based illustrations also portray a degree of natural provenance. The spray mechanism is efficient, and the swivelling top means there's no pesky lid to lose, either, with the chances of leakage in your bag also being significantly reduced as a consequence.

--Application--
Hold 10 cm from the skin and spray where desired, before rubbing in. This is easy, with a little of the product going a long way.

--Appearance--
All variants spray on white and rub in invisibly.

--Scent--
While I haven't yet had a chance to try the cocoa butter variant (sadly!), Vaseline did kindly send me the oat version, which smells pleasantly neutral (think freshly laundered cotton), and the aloe vera version (which smells vaguely botanical, but not overwhelmingly so) - neither of which should interfere with perfume.

--Texture and consistency--
Rubs in quickly and easily, as promised, meaning you can get dressed straight away without worrying about the product staining your clothes.

--Effects on the skin--
Skin is left quickly moisturised and non-greasy, in both the short and long-term.

--Value for money--
This is at least £1 more than Vaseline's standard body lotions, so you really have to want this format and consistency specifically. However, other brands selling the same size package, including classic body moisturiser Atrixo, are roughly the same in terms of both cost and result. Crucially, though, this product currently represents something new and different, with only Palmers offering a similar product. So if you're one of those who likes to be first on the scene, you definitely won't be disappointed by this fragrant and functional product. Look out for good deals on the high street for even better value, too.

perfect partners
Lip Therapy, £2.10
Intensive Care Healthy Hands + Stronger Nails Hand Cream, £3.99
Pure Petroleum Jelly, from £2.19
Intensive Care Aloe Fresh Roll-On, £1.69
Active Fresh Anti-Perspirant Deodorant Spray, £1.90

Friday, 31 July 2015

Jane Iredale Longest Lash Mascara

RRP: £26

--What does the promo say?--
"This dual-purpose formula contains sea minerals that condition lashes so they can grow to their fullest potential, while thousands of cellulose fibers coat the lashes for a look that’s glamorous, rich and full. The Jane Iredale Longest Lash Thickening and Lengthening Mascara extra large, tapered brush makes application easy and separates lashes effortlessly. Packaged in a squeezable tube with the highest quality brush. Contains 75% more product than normal mascaras. Conditions lashes so they don’t clump, flake or break."

--Packaging--
The gold, tapered tube is beautifully elegant and really would stand out on the shelf.

--Application--
Apply a single thin coat to your lashes on one eye, before doing the same on the other eye. You can then go back and repeat the process. By alternating eyes, you end up with well-defined, well-separated lashes, rather than one thick layer of product that clumps.

--Appearance--
Delivers a deep jet-black colour that could not fail to impress. Lashes are smoothly separated for a sophisticated finish, and lashes are effectively lengthened from the very first use.

--Scent--
Surprisingly actually smells relatively commercial despite the relative lack of chemicals. Odd. Still, never mind.

--Texture and consistency--
While drier than other mascaras, I often find that many commercial mascaras are very wet when new, which can make them difficult to use as the lashes frequently stick together as a consequence. The slightly stiffer consistency created by the waxes and marine extracts means that you get a perfect result from the very first use (rather than having to open the new mascara to let some air in before shutting it in a drawer for a few months, ahem). It's also easy to remove when you want to, despite having decent staying power, meaning no panda eyes for you.

--Value for money--
At £26 it's perhaps a little on the expensive side, being of equivalent retail price to brands such as Giorgio Armani, Helena Rubinstein, By Terry, Dior, and YSL mascaras. However, it's clearly high quality and the natural ingredients it's made from are a definite bonus, with results that you just can't quibble with. Terrific stuff.

perfect partners
Bitty Brow Kit, £25
PureBrow Brow Gel, £16
PureLash Extender and Conditioner, £16
Mystikol Powdered Eyeliner/Highlighter, £13.50
Eye Pencil Crayon, £12
Eye Highlighter Pencil, £16

Liquid Eye Liner, £19.95
Eye Steppes Eye Shadow, £28
Eye Gloss Liquid Eye Shadow, £16
PurePressed Eye Shadow Duo, £25
PurePressed Triple Eye Shadow, £19
Eye Shadow Kit, £40

Monday, 27 July 2015

Liz Earle: Autumn/Winter 2015

Liz Earle has a long history of harnessing the positive qualities of botanical ingredients to produce clear results in skin care, hair care, and body care. Now, as the classic products bed down in beauty buffs' consciousness thanks to the company's regular sponsorship of events such as Cowes Week and increasing presence in department stores (as well as availability on shopping channels such as QVC), the brand is keen to expand its offerings without betraying its original vision. 


This was what their recent Christmas in July event was all about - not just the promotion of their seasonal offerings for the ultra-prepared, but also their new products due for release in September and October 2015. The already popular Superskin range, launched in 2009, sees the £48 facial serum being added to the line this autumn to help you slow the ticking. Its texture is incredibly light and can thus be used at any time, whether day or night, as a complement to the existing Superskin oil (which, as one Liz Earle rep told me, can be handily added to your bath for a truly aromatherapeutic experience).


Another aromatic addition comes in the form of the new hand repair collection, which launches in October. The signature orange flower scent will be joined by two entirely new scents - the harmonious lavender and basil, and the sparkling rosemary and rock rose, which both continue to blend luxury and functionality. Texture-wise they sink in well without sticking, allowing the process of softening, smoothing and protecting to continue round the clock, regardless of how busy your day is. Containing echinacea, hops and vitamin E, they certainly merit the £21 price tag for 150ml. These are well-complemented by the hand soap, as well as the travel sizes of the hand repair cream - while these are currently available in the classic orange flower scent only, I am confident that these will also appear with the new aromas, given sufficient time.


A further key product being added to the Liz Earle range comes in the form of their latest Botanical Essence - Number 20. While BE1 has a distinct vetiver base, and BE100 is a real sparkler, BE20 combines all the best elements of the two, blending maturity and youth to reach out to as wide a customer base as possible. At £49 for 50ml it isn't cheap, but it competes well with high street equivalents, and is arguably better quality thanks to the sustainably-sourced essential oils it contains, which include mandarin, jasmine, and sandalwood. Released to celebrate the brand's 20th birthday, it successfully encapsulates the brand's modern yet grown-up image, and has been designed by parfumier Domitille Bertier, who has a degree in chemistry as well as training from the ISIPCA Perfumery School in Versailles, signifying the high level of expertise behind the brand.

This hallmark of quality is further reflected in Liz Earle's new candles, which will be released in November and mark the company's foray into home fragrance. £40 gives you 40 hours' burning time, which will be further maximised by trimming the wick after the first ten minutes' burning. Available in the same fragrances as the hand repair cream, as well as the classic eucalyptus and rosemary, it also comes in a damask rose and pink pepper variant, which nicely foreshadows the new Pink Pepper and Mint Cleanse and Polish (£20.75). Further to this, an orange and mint version of the cleansing cream will also be available. These limited editions will be available for purchase only for as long as stock lasts, rather than for a designated time period, giving extra exclusivity to the brand. This high grade of product is further enhanced by the ethical and careful sourcing of ingredients, which come from around the world: Turkey, Africa and Yorkshire, to name just a few.

This meticulous approach extends to the brand's wish to perfect its products before putting them onto the market; as I had recently suspected, representatives were able to confirm that Liz Earle's previous attempts at sunscreen had been withdrawn from the market until they could get it right. However, their after-sun gel, which contains cucumber, aloe vera and tea tree for healing and cooling, came highly recommended, with other suncare products potentially in the pipeline. This augurs well for the future (if the sun comes out, at least!), and in the meantime, we can prepare for Christmas thanks to the brand's beautiful new gift sets, which range from affordable packs priced between £20 and £30, up to the Ultimate Christmas Hamper, which retails at a sumptuous £329. Meanwhile, we can take refuge from the autumn wind and rain thanks to the newest products, which promise to fragrance our homes and our faces with the beautiful botanical essences that the brand is known for.  

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Noble Isle Fireside Body Lotion


RRP: £25

--What does the promo say?--
"Fireside kindles the warm, spicy aromas of a country inn with cinnamon and cypress oil, comforting vanilla and vitamin-rich organic beet extract."

--Packaging--
The rustic logo and minimalist text create a clear brand identity, and the bronze embellishments and black pump-action system add to the classiness of the look also. Clear plastic bottle a bonus as you can always see how much is left.

--Application--
Rub into clean dry skin. The only annoying part is that the pump, while efficient for small areas of the body such as the hands, only dispenses a small amount of lotion at a time, which means moisturising your whole body can take a while.

--Appearance--
White, but quickly rubs in clear.

--Scent--
None of the stated fragrances stand out individually, but blend perfectly for a balanced aroma that appropriately evokes the desired wintery, fireside atmosphere. It's oriental without being too masculine or woody (although him indoors described it as fruity, meaning that the grapefruit is possibly more detectable than I'd imagined).

--Texture and consistency--
Completely smooth; is absorbed without a hitch.

--Effects on the skin--
Skin is effectively moisturised, both short-term and long-term.

--Value for money--
While perhaps a little pricy, dispensation is efficient and the results are clear. This would also make a beautiful gift for anyone you care about.

perfect partners
Fragrance Sampler, £12
Mini Traveller, £15
Mini Love, £15
Warm and Woody Trio, £19.50
Bath and Shower Trio, £19.50
Fireside Bath and Shower Gel, £20
Deluxe Traveller, £29
Bath and Body Gift Set, £29
Bath and Shower Gel Duo Deal, £34
Fireside Candle and Snuffer, £39

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Noble Isle Lightning Oak Hair and Body Wash

RRP: £20

--What does the promo say?--
"An enduring, handsome fragrance, balancing smoky wood aromas with modern notes of crushed pepper and bergamot, enriched with toning extract of English oak."

--Packaging--
As classy as a plastic pump-action bottle can be thanks to its traditional logo and minimalist text, all embossed with an opaque finish. You also can't go wrong with it being see-through - I personally prize always being able to see how much product I have remaining.

--Application--
Lather up and rub over wet skin, or through wet hair. Rinse off when done.

--Appearance--
A sage green in the bottle, but turns white upon lathering and leaves no visible residue.

--Scent--
The website promises a mixture of bergamot, grapefruit, cardamom, clove, vetiver and sandalwood. Vetiver in particular is a very masculine fragrance, and I don't normally like it. However, in this case it's not overwhelming. None of the other scents are especially detectable; however, this could be considered the mark of a good fragrance, as it means they are all well-balanced.

--Texture and consistency--
Lathers up encouragingly and rinses out well, both from the hair and off the skin.

--Effects on the skin and hair--
Leaves skin feeling smooth and soft, and while I'm often sceptical of these products that claim to be multi-use, effects on the hair are also positive, with volume, luminosity and texture all restored.

--Value for money--
While £20 might seem pricy, this product's luxurious nature, high-quality results and multi-purpose application make it worth the money.

perfect partners
Warm and Woody Trio, £19.50
Bath and Shower Trio, £19.50
Bath and Body Gift Set, £29
Mini Love, £15
Lightning Oak Soap Bar, £15
Lightning Oak Candle and Snuffer, £39
Fragrance Sampler, £12
Deluxe Traveller, £29 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Dove Invisible Dry Anti-Perspirant Deodorant

RRP: £2.39

--What does the promo say?--
"Dove Invisible Dry Anti-Perspirant Roll On gives 24 hour protection without leaving any white marks on a remarkable 100 colours of clothing.  It contains 0% alcohol so is gentle on skin whilst being an effective deodorant."

--Packaging--
The roll-on that I was sent by Dove's PR is tiny - a real tapered bullet that's perfect for hand baggage! The silvery screw-on plastic lid adds a touch of sophistication, too.

--Application--
Just roll under your arms after showering or bathing. Easy peasy.

--Appearance--
I was a little worried as it visibly rolls on white. However, it quickly dries clear, and, as promised, leaves no white marks on a variety of clothing colours.

--Scent--
Cotton-like and fresh.

--Texture and consistency--
Smooth and dries quickly.

--Effects on the skin--
Does not irritate and provides effective anti-perspirant protection - and all without white marks on clothing or body.

--Value for money--
Even though some will prefer natural deodorants (an increasing trend these days), there are plenty of people who just want something that will do the job fast without staining their clothes. With this, you can stay dry and fresh all day for under £3, and without having to scrub off white marks either. Thanks, Dove.

Dove Invisible Dry Deodorant comes in a variety of formats - spray, stick and roll-on - and sizes (40ml to 250ml).

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Screening your skin from the sun - naturally

Colorescience Sunforgettable
Having written quite a few sunscreen posts in my time, it occurred to me that the natural sunscreen market is proliferating, with varying degrees of success, as people fight back against an industry that plays on people's fears (i.e., people are so scared that their skin will be damaged by the sun that they will pay whatever price the big companies ask for their sunblocks - regardless of what these may contain). This has been helped enormously by the mineral makeup industry, which seems to find it easy to integrate natural sun protection factors into its powders, foundations, primers and concealers. And as I've said in a recent post, different people have different priorities, meaning that there are many wishing to seek out these alternatives.

My favourite natural SPF-integrated makeup brands have to be as follows:

  • Colorescience - their Sunforgettable range also offers excellent coverage for the face for those of us who can't quite face the world without makeup. Its bronzers, primers and so on also contain SPF.
  • Arbonne - the only brand my auntie's oncologist endorsed following her cancer scare.


Perhaps the first natural sun cream I tested was by Liz Earle, and to be honest, I wasn't that keen - it was extremely thick and stiff, difficult to apply and rub in, and didn't have a good shelf life either. (They've since shelved the idea - presumably until they can get it right - for now only offering an aftersun gel.) But the situation has improved massively since then - I recently tested a tinted moisturiser from Spa Technologies, and while it failed on that front (given that it offered no coverage whatsoever...) it also had a natural SPF of 45, and felt more like a luxurious face cream than a chemical sunscreen. Fantastic news for everyone wanting a more natural alternative to the market mainstays.

And there's plenty of choice too - listed below are just some natural sunscreen brands available in the UK (and while my two favourite brands, listed above, are a little more costly, going 'au naturel' does NOT have to break the bank). As I haven't tried all of these, your feedback would be greatly appreciated. Leave a comment if you have!


  • Bears Beauty 22% Zinc Sun Lover's Cream, from £2.65
  • Bubbles for Hope Natural Sunscreen Stick, from £3.31
  • Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 60, £3.74
  • Bare Ends Sunscreen SPF 25, from £3.97
  • Seasonal Remedies Home Made Natural Sunscreen, from £3.97
  • Evergreen Helios Sunscreen Milk, £4.40
  • Naturela Face Sunscreen, £4.43
  • Purely Esssential Organic Sunscreen, £4.63
  • Simple Life Mom Natural Sunscreen Lotion SPF 40, from £4.64
  • Bare Earth Natural Sunscreen SPF 30, £5.29
  • Little Granolas All Natural Sunblock SPF 30, £5.30
  • Heavenly Hands Natural Solid Sunscreen, £5.30
  • Alba Botanica SPF 45, £5.44
  • Lavera Organic Sunscreen SPF 15, £5.75
  • Alba Hawaiian Green Tea Sunblock, £6.37
  • Lotus Herbals Sunblock Cream SPF 20, £6.44
  • Terravana All Natural Sunscreen, £6.62
  • Nature's Gate Face Sunscreen SPF 25, £7.42
  • Uriage Bariésun SPF 50 Fragrance Free Cream, £8.22
  • Lush Solid Sunscreen Wash SPF 30, £8.95 
  • Jason Sunbrellas Facial Natural Sunblock SPF 20, £10.19
  • Eco Cosmetics Sunscreen SPF 30, £10.89
  • Mommy Care Facial Sunscreen SPF 15, £11.12
  • Mustela Very High Sun Protection Lotion, £11.49
  • Goddess Garden Sunny Body Natural Sunscreen SPF 30, £11.51
  • Apicita Sun Cream Face and Body, £12.50
  • Green People Scent Free Sun Lotion SPF 30, £12.99
  • Antidote Skin Care Mineral Sunblock Lotion, £13.06
  • Hang Ten Natural Sunscreen, £13.07
  • Moraz Face Sun Saver SPF 50, £13.16
  • Louis Widmer Sun Screen 25+, £13.70
  • Apivita Sun Face and Body, £16.38