Sunday, 30 November 2008

Cosmetic and Beauty News (November 2008)

The final piece of the puzzle
Jigsaw has expanded its product lines to include an organic bath and bodycare range, whose ten items include lip balm, hand cream and body scrub. Seventy per cent of the ingredients are Soil Association certified and the whole range is handmade in Devon, UK. With its black-ribbon Victoriana style packaging and credit-crunch-beating prices, they make excellent stocking fillers as well as nice treats for you.

Time for a trip to fragrance landAgain, many new fragrances this month in time for the Christmas season, from a variety of retailers and labels including Moschino, Calvin Klein and L'Occitane. Another already established brand extending their fame into fragrances comes in the form of former model Melinda Messenger, who is launching her first fragrance, Delightful. Describing it as the perfect all-day perfume, the lady herself describes it as a fragrance she wouldn't want to be without.

land of Soap and Glory
The already popular brand Soap and Glory is responding to Christmas by releasing its first facial skincare line. With its usual tongue-in-cheek wordplay, the range consists of eleven products with names to make you smile, including Glow Job moisturiser and Off Your Face makeup wipes. Boots is also introducing new skincare products this season with its Original Beauty Formula, and renowned psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos has just brought out her latest range, Psyderma, which employs the use of vitamins and essential oils across its entire range, tackling damage caused by sun damage and free radicals as well as damage caused from within by stress and anxiety. The range is reasonably priced (the set pictured here is just £24), and would make a classy gift for any woman in need of a little time for herself.

Celebrity endorsements
Following her departure after 11 years on legendary children's show Blue Peter, it appears that Huq is beginning to scale even glossier heights. Intelligence, good looks and fame together are an attractive combination that often equals success, and perhaps consequently, Huq has been quick to secure a lucrative deal whereby she will serve as the new face (or hair) of Alberto Balsam. Similarly, Myleene Klass has recently signed as the face of Pantene Pro-V's Volume and Body range.

Ariane Poole launches makeup range
Securing a high-profile spot at Errol Douglas' London salon will certainly help to propel makeup artist Ariane Poole even further into the public eye, with her flexible makeup range aimed at being suited to all skin types and colours. The Ariane Poole section of the makeup bar will offer everything from free 5-minute retouches to bridal makeup and masterclasses with the lady herself. On a more mainstream level, L'Oréal was among the winners at the recent Pure Beauty Awards, winning both the best new hair range trophy for L'Oréal Re-Nutrition and the best hair colouring launch for Paris Excell10. Finally, the company scored an awards hat-trick by winning the gong for best anti-ageing launch with Age Re-Perfect Age Restoring Eye-Lip Cream. Try and say all that in one go if you can!

A touch of ooh la la
French makeup brand Elysambre has finally made it across the water to Britain. Its aim to embody mutual respect between people, animals and nature makes it an intriguing addition to Britain's beauty coffret, and with it offering organic everything from nail varnish to cream foundation from just £6.80, you can just start wishing yourself a very organic Christmas.

Daily Fashion Monitor

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Franck Provost Hydra Active Shampoo for Dry Hair

RRP: €12

--About the brand--
Provost is arguably France's most reputed chain of hairdressing salons, akin to Toni and Guy in the UK. It also has branches in Brazil, Spain, and India, although it is not yet available in the UK or the US.

--What does the promo say?--
"Gently washes dry, sensitized hair: moisturizes, revitalizes and softens. Micro-molecules of collagen, cystine and pure ceramide III have an extremely moisturizing, high-repair action. Very soft and creamy texture. Hair is full of health and strength."

Easy to use plastic squeezy bottle, with an attractive design (classy silver-effect lid, with three simple pink dots adorning the pearlescent white bottle along with the familiar Provost logo). Product information is displayed clearly on the front of the bottle.

--Usage instructions--
Lather onto wet hair and then rinse. Repeat if desired. Can be used in conjunction with a conditioner or with other Provost products, or can be used alone.

A colourless, slightly runny gel.

No discernible scent.

Excellent in all respects: not viscous or gloopy, sticky or runny. It glides through the hair with ease and there are no problems with rinsing.

--How does your hair feel afterwards?--
Soft and revitalised. While the dryness is not completely gone, for the first few uses this is impressive stuff, and augurs well for improvement over time, especially considering it was tested without a conditioner.

--Value for money--
This is very reasonable for a high-performance, salon-pro product, in addition to the reassurance provided by the brand name. It does not necessarily need to be supported by other products for everyday use; however, if the results are consistently encouraging, I would certainly feel moved to purchase the special treatment products in this range. Thumbs firmly up.

perfect partners
Hydra Active Nourishing Mask, €20
Hydra Active Moisturising Treatment, €18

Givenchy Very Irresistible Body Veil

RRP: £22.50; however, available on for a mere £12.95.

--What does the promo say?--
"A delicately iridescent lotion rapidly absorbed without leaving a greasy film. Resulting in an immediate sensation of perfectly soft and smooth skin gently fragranced, with a hint of shimmer."

I have seen this in a variety of different packaging, from a cylindrical pump to a squeezy plastic tube. Nevertheless, they all come in the same shocking pink, with the Givenchy logo in gold. I am pleased to see, however, that the overall design of the packaging for the cylindrical pump and the Art Deco angular pump seems to have had a lot more thought put into it, while the squeezy plastic tube was uninspiring and seemed to collect a lot of lotion in the lid.

After showering or bathing, rub the lotion liberally onto your dry torso, arms, and legs. Allow to dry before dressing.

Rose-scented. A bit mumsy and homely - an impression belied by the Gaultier 'Madame'-style packaging. Very light and not overbearing, but still very pleasant. However, it is not especially memorable and the scent does not seem to tally with the Givenchy image.

The promotional material claims that this is slightly shimmery; however, this was not really obvious and I would only say that it's a cream colour. There is no visible residue on the skin.

Perfectly creamy and smooth: not runny, lumpy, sticky or irritating to the skin. It also absorbs quickly, so certainly measures up on that score.

Poor - although skin remains soft, the fragrance fades far too quickly.

--Value for money--
Even when used liberally, this scent doesn't last the distance, which doesn't bode well, especially when coupled with its general forgettability. However, it is certainly affordable, and if you still like the sound of it, at least it won't break the bank.

perfect partners
Givenchy Very Irresistible Eau de Toilette, available in both 50ml and 75ml, from £20
Givenchy Very Irresistible Bath Gel, £18

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Thierry Mugler Rouge Unique

RRP: €31/$35
# of shades available: 7

--What does the promo say?--
"Indulge your lips with the ultimate pigment explosion. An ultra-sensory texture provides an immediate feeling of softness and comfort, as it glides effortlessly across your lips. Its formula contains a combination of waxes, softening oils and vitamins to protect the lips. The thin, diamond-cut stick offers precise application while the rich colour-intense formula guarantees a long-lasting powerful effect. All shades are presented in a luxurious silver cylinder-shaped applicator adorned with a touch of glass on the cap."

As promised: silver-bullet style with a touch of glass. A touch of class, too, for that matter: this in no way looks tacky or cheap.

Using a lip brush, or just directly from the stick, carefully sleek on the lipstick (for a full-on effect) or gently dab on, for a more understated look.

This is where things get interesting: I bought this lipstick almost solely for the fact that it has recently come out in blue. The blue magically turns pink when applied to your lips, and this idea very much has an air of 1990s retro about it - it was a time when all the ten-year-old girls in England were buying mood rings and mood lip glosses that allegedly changed colour to reflect your mood. I also couldn't get out of my head the perhaps childish idea of how undyingly chic it would be to be wearing one of my favourite outfits (dark blue Ralph Lauren skinnies, white Fat Face top, blue peeptoe stiletto heels, relevant co-ordinating jewellery, and a white and blue Liz Hurley beach bag) and then utterly complete the whole vision by whipping out a blue lipstick.
Initially I was sceptical and was worried that it would be too purple (and thus draw attention to my fluorosis-plagued teeth). However, while initially the colour turns to a bold purplish-pink, it soon calms down and even starts to look a very natural, berry-stain pink (although it is still brighter than your average nude lipstick). You also need to make sure you rub it into your lips quite well, unless you like that irritating feathering effect at the inside edges of your lips.

Very smooth, although no more so than other, cheaper lipsticks (e.g. the L'Oréal True Match ones). However, if the promotional material is anything to go by, this could potentially contain more natural materials to achieve this. (The list of ingredients reveals the inclusion of castor seed oil, candelilla wax, synthetic beeswax, and carnauba wax.)

Sadly, not amazing - although not terrible. Expect to reapply at least 2-3 times a day (although make sure your lip brush is completely dry for optimal results).

--Value for money--
I have no problem admitting that this is the most I have ever spent on a lipstick - I don't think my Guerlain one even cost this much. However, you are buying into an intelligent, young and edgy brand that I think most under-30s would be proud to be associated with; what's more, you are also buying a unique product. If anyone has seen other companies do this colour-changing lipstick thing, please say: but at present none come to mind, and it's perhaps worth your money for the uniqueness factor alone. It's also advisable to buy from a US retailer if possible: as is perhaps self-evident, they get a better deal on Thierry Mugler stuff generally (or so it seems). Don't expect much difference from other brands in terms of longevity or softness - however, I'd be surprised to find anyone displeased with this.

perfect partners
Thierry Mugler Flash Lips Lip Foundation, $39/€31
Thierry Mugler Plexi Gloss, $40/€35

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle

RRP: from £51.99 for the eau de parfum (available in 50ml and 100ml)
Also available in eau de toilette - £25 for 100ml from

--What does the promo say?--
"A floral jasmine-rose accord, light as a petal. COCO MADEMOISELLE embodies all the modernity of the spirit of Mademoiselle CHANEL. Bold and resolute, she proved that elegance can be found in simplicity, and understated luxury. These values are shared by women in the twenty-first century, and restated by CHANEL in COCO MADEMOISELLE."

Although I've only trialled this on a sample basis, I have confidence just from my sample that the real thing is nice: it just LOOKS sleek. The Chanel logo oozes elegance and frankly does all the work on its own.

Spritz behind ears, onto wrists, and perhaps a little onto the breastbone for maximal yet subtle impact.

Deep and yet floral without being too 'old' or overpowering. It is charming, beguiling, romantic, and suitable for young women as well as those who are more mature. It is also a clearly high-quality scent - there are many inferior imitations on the market - and while it has been available for some time, it corresponds well to the image projected by the use of Keira Knightley in Coco Mademoiselle's latest advertising campaign (capturing the qualities of beauty, youth, timelessness, and something slightly showy and high-class).

It's difficult for any scent to last well on the wrists, assuming that like any normal person you are washing your hands a few times a day. However, this lingers on other parts of the body (e.g. behind the ears) until night-time.

--Value for money--
There's no denying that the prices for this are slightly out of reach for many. However, the price of the eau de toilette and the bath soap are both encouraging and allow most people to buy into this delightful fragrance. It's also worth remembering that as well as buying into a highly luxurious and world-famous brand, you are also buying a high-quality fragrance that stays the distance (not just day to day, but also across the years). Definitely one for the Christmas list.

perfect partners
Body Cream, £64.50 from StrawberryNet
Hair Mist, £35 from StrawberryNet
Fresh Deodorant Spray, £22.50 from L'aura Perfumery
Fresh Body Satin Spray, £30 from L'aura Perfumery
Fresh Body Lotion, £41.63 from
Fresh Bath and Shower Gel, £25 from L'aura Perfumery
Bath Soap, £22 from StrawberryNet

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Sephora Nail Varnish

RRP: €4.50/$4

--What does the promo say?--
"Glaze your nails with brilliant, chip-proof shine. Our widest assortment of nail colours takes you from classic to cutting-edge with just a swipe of the brush. Each long-lasting shade is packaged in travel-ready 0.17 oz bottles, so you can tote several of your favorite shades for quick changes, on the go."

Dinky and simple. The Sephora logo is carved into the clear glass, and the lid is basic screw-top black. All of the information is available on a discreet black label on the back of the bottle. Easy.

Apply the polish to your nails in thin coats, waiting a little between coats. Three strokes per nail (centre/left/right) generally ensures an even finish. Finish with a separate top coat.

This brand arguably has the world's widest nail polish range, with its staggering range of colours not only available in the standard finish but also available in metallic, shimmery and glittery finishes. Mine is a simple matte navy which wears very well on its own but even better as an alternative French manicure (white for the majority of the nail, blue for the tips). Colour appears even and is very definite: there's no confusion with black here.

The brush tends to pick up a little too much polish, making it difficult to handle. However, the polish itself is fine.

--Drying time--

--Staying power--
Again, average (although I tested this with no top or bottom coat).

--Value for money--
It is a sample size, and an own brand too, and the price reflects this. However, there are very few bad points, making this ideal for travel or for everyday use.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Giorgio Armani Smooth Silk Eye Pencil

RRP: €20/$26/£13.50
# of shades available: 10

--What does the promo say?--
"This silky soft formula allows for precise, easy application and versatile looks. Use it to subtly define or to intensify your eye look. Glide the smudger over eyeliner for a sexy, smoky result. Available in a subtle palette from pale taupe to soft black."

Comes in a sleek-looking black cardboard box, with the brand logo embossed onto it in shinier black. Unfortunately the box bends and becomes dirty quite easily, especially if you're carrying it in your handbag. The pencil itself is equally sleek, with the smudge brush at one end and the actual pencil nib at the other end. The lids on both end secure easily and mean you can easily carry it around without the box. My sole criticism would be that the end with the smudge brush is not well indicated on the pencil - it has a small ridge around the top of it, which the pencil end doesn't, but that's all the indication there is and it took me a while to work it out.

"For an ultra-glamorous look, extend the eye pencil slightly outside the outer corner of the eyes. Build in other eye lining colors with the eye liner brush and moistened eye shadow."

The colour of the eyeliner varies its appearance according to which colour eyeshadow it is used with, and whether it is used on top of or underneath the shadow. Clever. Mine, the grey one (#8), is also incredibly versatile in this regard: it can be used equally easily with blue shadow, brown shadow, purple shadow, or silver shadow, while still looking incredibly natural.

Perhaps a tiny bit too soft, but you could always keep it in the fridge. However, the only time I had a problem with this was when it was brand new and a tiny bit broke off the end - I've had no problems with it since. Works better on the top lashes than on the waterline, perhaps because of this. It is, however, easy to control: you can blend a little or a lot with the brush according to your mood and the liner 'responds' accordingly.

It doesn't move an inch on the top lashes once applied. On the bottom lashes, it fares no better or worse than other liners.

--Value for money--
While this isn't perfect, I'd still say that you get your money's worth: the pencil is a generous size, it's a dream to apply because of its creamy texture, and when you compare the price to other mediocre high-street brands' eyeliners, you get an astonishingly good deal when you consider that you are buying into one of the world's biggest and most luxurious brands for surprisingly little money.

*available at: Saks, Nordstrom, Harvey Nichols, Galeries Lafayette, Printemps

perfect partner
Giorgio Armani Eye Liner Brush
Giorgio Armani Star Lash