Friday, 31 October 2008

Cosmetics and Beauty News - October

Lots of cosmetics and beauty news this month, from brand new names to household names, and from high street to luxe. To kick off...

B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful opens London flagship store
On October 9, Oxford Street was abuzz with the flagship store from Lush's sister company. Specialising in cruelty-free cosmetics, it's been available online for some time, but now it takes to the streets. Featuring a makeup bar-cum-cocktail bar, it's already set the standard as being one of a kind. Don't forget to check out its new fragrance, superworldunknown.
Another fragrance to emerge from its online world into a physical store is Cult Beauty, which recently unveiled its presence at London's Bloww Salon and Spa.

New skincare brand Kyoku for Men launches
Despite its launch on October 9, this is still very much a dark horse. The packaging is made more androgynous by the inclusion of a flower-star-type logo, and the range is currently only available online. The emphasis is on masculinity, but still on embracing sensuality and sexuality: possibly a first for men's skincare. However, their website may be a reason why it's still a virtual unknown: it caused my (admittedly ageing) laptop to throw a bit of a paddy. Apparently it can't cope with an episode of Top Gear running at the same time...

Clothing brand Monsoon launches fragrance
Monsoon takes the advantage of the winter holiday season to expand into fragrances. A good choice, I feel: it's been providing women with stylish and modern outfits for years, whether for everyday or for your wedding. It's reasonably priced, with its 100ml bottle retailing at £25, and is also available in 30ml, 50ml, and a body mist, body lotion, and bath and shower cream, are available too. I'd have made the Monsoon logo less obvious myself; however, the colour scheme is beautiful and Christmassy, and it's sure to be an affordable but chic holiday hit.

The first anti-ageing perfume launches
Designed to make its users smell eight years younger, Ageless Fantasy uses antioxidant-rich fruits in its scent to achieve this almost-too-difficult-to-believe effect. With its basis in natural biochemistry and its Thierry Mugler-style bottle, this is set to appeal to the very youngest of anti-age proponents. At $120, and the fact that I don't really want to smell 14 (!), I think I'll be giving this a miss for now. However, with the right publicity, this environmentally-friendly product could become the sought-after elixir of youth across the world.

Teen show Hollyoaks branches into fragrances
Staying with the fragrance news, teen UK show Hollyoaks, clearly not content with their calendars, books, and all-morning Sunday omnibus, have chosen the release of a related scent to next target their viewers. The first TV line of fragrances, the cast themselves had a hand in the scent's development, right down to the shapes of the bottles. The female scent is fruity, sweet and musky, while the masculine equivalent is cleaner and spicier. Available from The Perfume Shop, at a mere £20 each, even the youngest Hollyoaks fan should be able to find enough in their bank account for this.

Elle Macpherson moves into skincare
Celebrity ranges carry a certain amount of derision from some areas of the cosmetics sphere. However, since the multi-million-pound success of ex-model Macpherson's lingerie range, it could be eminently sensible, not to mention that the range's emphasis on making women feel good (not necessarily sexy - just good) makes her stand apart from her rivals. Called 'The Body' after her famous nickname, the range is available in Boots and Selfridges, and includes reasonably-priced body polish and facial toner.

Your very own beauty advisor online
This is what aims to provide. As well as keeping you informed of the latest products, its sophisticated website also allows you to ask for tips and seek relevant advice from experts, after choosing your phenotype, or skin/hair type. It strives to answer frequently asked questions, such as 'what skincare regime should you be following to get the most out of your skin?' and 'what can I do now to prevent early signs of ageing?', in a way that's relevant to you. Good stuff.

It's collaboration time!.
Kiehl's has teamed up with Brad Pitt to create its environmentally friendly Cradle to Cradle Aloe Vera Biodegradable Liquid Body Cleanser (try and say that one quickly if you can...), with all of the proceeds being donated to Pitt's charity, which helps to build sustainable housing for victims of Hurricane Katrina. On a less hippy-like side, Avon is collaborating with triathletics brand Ironman to create its new fragrance for men, with emphasis on determination, drive and success. A happy twin of the caring, sharing aspect, I think.

Balenciaga meets Coty
In (yet more) fragrance news, Balenciaga has chosen Coty as a partner to help its relaunch into the world of perfume. Having not released a new perfume for over 60 years, this collaboration will be crucial, and with Balenciaga already being a hot A-list couture brand, this new scent should head straight to the top of celeb wish lists when it launches in 2010.

Hitting UK outlets on November 3rd, Mon Soin du Visage is a high-end skincare range that combines 16th-century France with traditional Japanese ingredients that includes everything from facial cleansers to bath oils. Starting at £48 for a product, and soaring to £177, this is not for people who don't have money to blow. If you do have the cash, however, you should also try Lisa Simon's similarly priced Parisian range (exclusively available at Les Senteurs).

Dove & Woman's Own Pro-Age Awards
Finally, Dove has partnered with UK magazine Woman's Own to recognise the incredible achievements of women over the age of 45, in line with Dove's philosophy that while doing all you can for yourself on the outside helps, true beauty starts from within. Top.

Sources:;;; Condé Nast; Reuters;;;; B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful; Monsoon; Ageless Fantasy; Fabric Magazine; Daily Mail; Les Senteurs; IPC Media

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Dr Brandt's Liquid Synergy

RRP: $70 for 1.7oz

--About the brand--
--What does the promo say?--
"liquid synergy™ is designed to mimic skin’s structure, providing proteins and essential nutrients, allowing skin to be a better canvas for your night cream, leaving your skin refreshed and replenished.
Previously called 'liquid skin', liquid synergy™ is formulated with potent protective ingredients of green and white tea and seven essential amino acids, all of which are targeted to repair aging skin.
Adding liquid synergy™ to your nighttime regimen will help restore the skin allowing continuous balanced protection and replenishment of proteins and nutrients. liquid synergy™ is compatible with any skin care product.
Prepares skin for your night cream, enhancing the benefits. Provides essential nutrients, leaving skin refreshed and replenished. Restores moisture loss due to excessive exposure from environmental factors."

Sleek black, silver and white goodness. Looks very modern and edgy, particularly when compared to most anti-ageing products. Screw-top glass pot that would look nice in anybody's bathroom.

"Warm small dab between fingers and apply to cleansed and toned skin before your night cream."

Thick, white, luxurious-looking cream. No visible residue on the skin though.


Not runny, lumpy, or sticky. Perfect :)

--How does your skin feel afterwards?--
Uber-smooth and soft, from the moment you put it on at night to the moment you wake up in the morning.

--Effects on the skin over time--
Sadly, I think this may have caused a breakout in me, so the claim that this is for all skin types doesn't really wash (oily skin types - stay away!). Beyond that, I didn't really see any other effects, though I suspect you may have to use it for months or years, rather than weeks, for that.

--Value for money--
It contains a lot of natural ingredients, and it definitely makes your skin feel softer. However, I bet you can find plenty of normal moisturisers that do that, and I didn't notice much difference when using this compared to the effects of just using my normal moisturiser.
According to the current exchange rate, this is about £42, which is probably about the average price of an anti-ageing product, to be honest (there are plenty of lower-priced products, but plenty of higher-priced ones too!). My 2ml sample lasted me about a week and a half, so by that calculation, the 50ml pot should last you 250 days. That's about 16p a day. Worth it? You decide.

perfect partners
Dr Brandt Contour Effect, $185
Dr Brandt Lineless Cream, $100

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Treacle Moon Body Scrub (My Coconut Island)

no. of scents available: 5
RRP: £2.97 for 225ml
available: exclusively at Tesco

--About the brand--
"Treacle Moon is a little new UK company based in a small village in Hertfordshire. Its founder is Penny Anderson, who has spent more moons than she cares to admit to working in the beauty industry, doing her apprenticeship with the biggies such as L'Oréal and P&G before setting up her own business in 1992 creating and managing brands such as Nicky Clarke, The Sanctuary, Umberto Giannini and Elle Macpherson. We only told you that so you were reassured that we do know rather a lot about beauty and didn't just mix this product up in the garden shed with a little help of course from the garden gnome!"

--What does the promo say?--
"Always remember that true beauty begins from the heart...our lovely recipes simply do the best they can for your skin and your smile! We like to create products that you will love to use...scrumptious smells, fabulous textures and a 'look' that will sit with pride in your bathroom. Please enjoy."

It's probably one of the few shower products of the plastic tube/flip-top lid type that doesn't mysteriously collect water in its lid when left in the shower. It's also completely see-through so that you can always see how much remains. The text on the tube is black and orange, and as well as the name of the scrub and the company, there's also a charming little story in old-fashioned black typeface, relating to the idea of a coconut island. This is both original and endearing. The tube also seems pretty robust as well as having a young, cheeky, dreamy vibe about it.

Just squeeze out a 10p-sized amount, and this will generously cover your shoulders, arms, and chest area. Rub in for as much scrubbiness as you desire, and then rinse off.

Definitely very coconutty, which is a good sign for the rest of the brand. It's a very natural smell as well, which is slightly weird given that the ingredients list gives little indication of any natural coconut additive (e.g. coconut milk/oil).

Very creamy, but not runny; the scrubbiness is also perfect (not too harsh, and not barely-there). However, like with the scent, it's difficult to tell what causes the scrubbiness: close scrutiny of the ingredients list reveals that it *could* be silica, but even with intensive wikipedia searching, I am no scientist and still can't provide a definite answer.

White, with black scrubby bits, which isn't visible on the skin.

The scent certainly doesn't last all day; however, softness is definitely sustained.

--Does it do what it says it will?--
All this claims is that it will provide an enjoyable shower experience, and it undoubtedly does that: it is really pleasant to use, providing creaminess and scrubbiness in equal measure.

--Value for money--
Excellent by most people's standards, I think: a little goes a long way and so one tube lasts ages. It also delivers what it promises, so good call.

perfect partners
Treacle Moon Handwash (Coconut Island and Lemonade Island only), 200ml, £2.47
Treacle Moon Bath and Shower Gel, 500ml, £2.97
Treacle Moon Hand Cream (Coconut Island only), 150ml, £2.47

an update about me

I never know who reads this thing, and thus who might be interested, but meh.

Last time I wrote one of these 'about me' type sections, I was still in the midst of my linguistics studies at Oxford. I thankfully passed that course, and graduated last month. I am not currently planning on any further study, though perhaps I will do a doctorate some day (part-time, because I really enjoy working).

Also last month, I moved to France on the 5th September. I work as an English teacher (both for native speakers and for those learning English as a foreign language) at the Ecole Active Bilingue, a secondary school in Paris' 15th arrondissement, and as a private tutor. I am here mainly to get away from the gigantic mess that is Britain at the moment, and to put an end to the frankly ridiculous international long-distance relationship arrangement that my boyfriend and I wrestled with for nearly four years. Now in state of general cohabitational bliss. Luckily, I am not too far away from my real 'home', friends, and family in England, and have friends and family in France as well.

While doing all this, I continue to write this blog (as I'm sure you're aware...) in association with TotalBeauty. In addition, I plan to start a book blog in January, as a hangover from my days as a book reviewer for the university rag. I'll link to it here as soon as it's up. Enjoy -- and if anyone has any suggestions for the blog, please of course let me know.


Monday, 27 October 2008

Body Shop Born Lippy (Passionberry)

RRP: £4 for 10ml
# of flavours available: 7 (passionberry, mint, satsuma, mango/peach, strawberry, raspberry, and watermelon)
contains: beeswax and lanolin (both natural moisturisers)

--What does the promo say?--
"A glossy and moisturising lip balm with an exotic berry flavour, that leaves lips looking and feeling soft, smooth and kissable."

The label for these used to be natural-looking, artistic images of fruit, but now they're more modern and jazzy in a computer-art type way. They look good both ways: not sure which I prefer. Simple plastic circular screw-top pot, of a size that fits easily in your pocket. Closes securely, but is easy to open when you need to use it. It also seems to preserve the lip balm itself quite well, protecting it from age or from extreme temperatures.

Apply liberally to lips, using fingers or a lip brush.

A sexy, rich colour in the pot, but turns sheer and transparent on the lips. Can be worn over lipstick to vamp up existing colour, or alone for simple winter care while keeping a natural look.

A really natural, fruity smell. Almost smells good enough to eat! (But don't.)

Luxurious; not sticky, gloopy or runny.

Its staying power is average, but its effects can be felt long-term, with dry skin being sent packing. One tiny tub also lasts months, even years, and it doesn't seem to degenerate with age, meaning you can keep a pot for as long as you like.

--Value for money--
This is Body Shop doing what Body Shop does best: bringing people a little luxury in their day-to-day products. You COULD use Nivea or Vaseline, but somehow, I don't want to. This is just such an utter pleasure to use, and even better, it's been a Body Shop staple for many years, showing their complete commitment to developing the product and making it stay the distance. This may even be my favourite lip balm range of all time, even beating Elizabeth Arden's 8 Hour care for lips. Go and buy it now - and if the quality of these is anything to go by, why not add an extra £1 to your budget and get their Christmas versions (vanilla spice and cranberry, which were brought out as body butters last year)?

L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil

RRP: £14.50 for 250ml

--What does the promo say?--
"A customer favourite. Transforms into a lavish, softening foam -- original and unique in texture -- that leaves a satin-like softness all over the body. Rich in almond oil and nourishing lipids. Cleanses gently to impart a delectable perfume. Keep handy in bath or shower as an extra-pampering alternative to Shea Butter Soap and our fragrance soaps."

Looks simple and timeless. Clear plastic bottle, chunky text on a minimalist label, keeping a colour scheme designed to evoke Provence with its olive green and brown. There's also a fake metal screw-cap style lid, which in fact doesn't screw off at all: it's just there for effect, and you just push down the plastic disc at the top in order to dispense the oil. Dispensing the oil is a pretty controlled process - it doesn't spill out everywhere, allowing its use to be effective and economical. Bottle itself seems fairly robust and the label doesn't peel off in the shower either, making it constantly look as if you have only just bought it.

Squeeze out a 50p-sized amount of the oil, and rub onto your body, avoiding genitals and face. Leave on skin during your shower and then rinse off.

Sweet and sort of doughy - smells exactly like when almonds are fried with sugar (delicious - I recommend doing this if you haven't tried it! Also works well with salt.).

Perfect: not runny, lumpy, sticky or viscous. Just the right 'thickness' and it glides well over the body.

A pale yellow oil, which leaves no residue on the skin.

Warms up slightly when rubbed between the hands.

--Does it do what it says it will?--
The product's two main claims are soft skin, and the fact that this can also be used as an effective lubricant before shaving. The latter is certainly true: I shave daily, and have experienced no irritation whilst using this. The former I cannot advise so confidently on, as I do not really suffer from dry skin. However, the fact that my skin has not become dried out while using this suggests that those with dry skin would experience softer, smoother skin.

--Value for money--
This is excellent - superior to 'higher' brands such as philosophy without capitalising on it in terms of price. I always respect companies who keep their prices honest, and who are more concerned about keeping their old customers than attracting new ones. It's a luxurious product to use in the shower and also has useful qualities, which is always nice. Champion.

perfect partners
Almond Milk Concentrate, £32 for 200ml
Almond Delicious Paste, £24 for 200ml

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Giorgio Armani Code for Women

RRP: from £26; available in 30ml, 50ml and 75ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Seduce the senses with an intriguing orange flower note with fresh ginger accents and the caress of honey-sandalwood accord creating an unforgettable and captivating new encounter. A woman's mysterious code of seduction revealed. Top notes of orange blossom, bitter orange from Africa and sweet orange from Italy. Middle notes of Tunisian orange blossom, and sambac jasmine. Base notes of vanilla and honey."

The combination of blue and black flowers is intriguing: feminine, but punchy. Basic spray top.

Spritz spritz spritz.

The heavier, peppery scents come over first, but it's the vanilla that lingers longest. The scent is not in any way overbearing.

On the wrists, very very poor. It wears off in an hour or two. The only note that lasts is the vanilla and you still have to sniff quite hard to detect it. However, strangely, it lingers on the neck all day long.

--Value for money--
Shop around online for the best deal. You can probably get nicer perfumes for less money, though (Anais Anais by Cacharel comes to mind, as do Escada's fragrances).

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Chanel Chance Gentle Shower Foam

RRP: £32

--What does the promo say?--
"Creamy mousse texture in lightest shade of pink. Easy to rinse off & leaves skin subtly perfumed. Contains active moisturising ingredients & protective-barrier agent. Gently cleanses skin & keeps it soft & supple."

All pink and silver girly wonder. The top pulls off, but luckily secures easily and faithfully. Conforms very well with Chanel's overall image: sophisticated, feminine, and not too in-your-face while still remaining distinctive.

--Application/usage instructions--
Pull off the lid, and press very gently on top of the white plastic dispenser part. I say 'gently' as the foam expands greatly once expelled from the canister, so less is most definitely more. Rub all over body (though I wouldn't recommend going near your ladybits with this - it's too strongly perfumed for that), and then wash off.

Flowery but with depth. It also fills the whole bathroom - the first time I used it, one of my flatmates could even smell it in the corridor. It really has something unique about it and should appeal to both girls and women of all ages.

No residue is left on the skin, but the foam itself is a light, creamy pink.

Really light and foamy, and yet still creamy and luxurious - it in no way feels thin or pathetic. Skin afterwards feels smooth and well cared-for.

Varies - sometimes it lasts until you go to bed, while sometimes it only lasts until lunchtime.

--Value for money--
I wasn't expecting it to be as expensive as it is (even though it is Chanel). However, one canister lasts aaaaaaaaages and it keeps really well too, even when you don't use it for a while. It is also an absolute joy to use and you are buying into one of the biggest, most well-known, most luxurious brands in the world. At this price, though, you may be into Christmas wishlist territory, but it is definitely worth asking for.

perfect partners
Chanel Chance eau de parfum, £32
Chanel Chance body moisture, £17.50
Chanel Chance deodorant spray, £17.95
Chanel Chance Body Satin moisturiser, £41
Chanel Chance eau de toilette, £50
Chanel Chance bath and shower gel, £31.50
Chanel Chance silky body oil, £29.50

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Superdrug Tea Tree Peel-Off Mask

RRP: £0.99 for 15ml sachet

--What does the promo say?--
"Give your skin a treat with Superdrug's Tea Tree and Peppermint Peel off Mask. Specially formulated, it cleanses the skin pore deep removing dirt, grease and other impurities."

This apparently now comes in sachets, but when I bought mine, it came in a clear tube with green plastic flip-top lid. It may still do, in fact, but since Superdrug's website is notoriously rubbish...
I'm not sure that the sachet thing is such a great concept for general use (think slippery stickiness and the thing drying out if you don't use everything in the sachet all in one go), but for travel it's always a good thing to have tiny sachets that you can take with you.
The tube is obviously easier to use, assuming they still sell it in this format.
In terms of branding, they've done a great job, with every product in the range being instantly recognisable.

--Application/usage instructions--
Smear generously onto face, leave to dry for 20-30 mins, and then peel off.

Very, very strong, in a peeling-onions, makes-your-eyes-water type way. The peppermint and the tea tree oil are equally prevalent.

While the gel itself is bright green, on the face it appears and dries totally clear.

--Consistency and texture--
Sticky and viscous. Not really nice to use.

A very pleasant cooling feeling on the face - you feel like it's actually doing something.

Not easy - it takes a looooong time to dry and you may need to help it along with some water and/or a dry flannel/towel.

--How does your skin look and feel afterwards?--
Noticeably smoother and more refined. Generally less rough-looking and pores appear temporarily minimised. Over time, there is a reduction in skin problems - it's strong stuff!

--Value for money--
Excellent - even the tube, if they still make it this way, is only around £2, from which you get several applications. If you use this with the other products in the range, you can feel the promise of good skin becoming a reality for surprisingly little money. They need to do something about the consistency of this mask - it's a bit too gloopy and sticky - but I'm prepared to put up with that for great-feeling, great-looking skin.

perfect partners
The Superdrug tea tree range has a variety of products, including concealers and cleansers.