Saturday, 31 October 2009

Cosmetics & Beauty News October 2009

Another month, another closure
Following the announcement of the closure of Prescriptives last month, B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful is the next victim of the crunch. While they haven't gone bust, Lush has taken the decision to close, citing a sheer inability to make a profit, and will be absorbing the business. This strikes me as being a sensible pre-emptive decision which looks and sounds an awful lot better than having to call in administrators. But unlike Prescriptives' closure, this piece of news is much less surprising: the combination of a lack of catchy brand name, and the fact that the brand always did play second fiddle to Lush (especially given its similar philosophy, branding and products), means that this move is perhaps for the best.

Liz Earle guest edits Top Santé
November's issue of Top Santé is the Beautiful Skin issue, so it seems more than fitting to have Liz Earle, a former beauty journalist and now pillar of the eponymous skincare company, return as guest editor for the issue to offer skincare tips and advice. Liz Earle is also releasing the brand's first fragrance this month, with top notes of orange bigarade and cardamom, heart notes of lavender and nutmeg, and with base notes of cedarwood, patchouli, and tonka bean absolute.

Fragrance news
As Christmas approaches, and boys the world over panic about what to get for their wives and girlfriends, many new fragrances are landing on the market to exploit this little male weakness, with many brands taking to the perfume scene for the first time in anticipation. At the most affordable end of the spectrum comes Accessorize, which is releasing its debut scent in celebration of the brand's 25th birthday (£17.50), and Avon, who is teaming up with the Black Eyed Peas' Fergie for its latest blend (although this one's not out until August 2010). L'Occitane is also rolling out its winter fragrances, and for those with satisyfingly deep wallets, Jimmy Choo has just signed a 12-year-fragrance deal. There's also Dolce & Gabbana's new fragrance Rose The One (containing traces of lychee, rose, Madonna lily, ambrette seed, and many other flowers, it starts from £32 for 30ml), and Helena Rubinstein's All You've Ever Wanted, inspired and launched by Demi Moore. Plenty of choice, no excuses :p

Chanel presents Vanessa Paradis
Another range sure to be on many women's 2010 wish lists this year is Chanel's new lipstick line, created with Vanessa Paradis and entitled Rouge Coco de Chanel. If, however, you can't wait that long, and want to get your greasy mitts on something just as expert, you could always buy Alex Box's book, which celebrates her work as a leading makeup artist (she has collaborated with Karl Lagerfeld and Alexander McQueen, among others) and is published by Turnaround. At £50 it's still quite expensive, though (even if you buy it on, it's still £40 for the hardback), but there's always the exhibition of the same name instead, which is running at the Annroy Gallery, 110-114 Grafton Road, Kentish Town, from the 23rd Oct – 22nd Dec.

Be squeaky clean in time for Christmas
As well as Sex & The City's Chris Noth being lately unveiled as the new spokesperson for Biotherm Homme, there are plenty of other skincare companies currently on the offensive to make sure you're looking your best. Neutrogena's new Deep Moisture range, for example, starts at a mere £4.99, and with its two body lotions (one for dry and one for sensitive skins) and its multi-use Comfort Balm, it promises to keep skin soft and supple for 24 hours with just one application. Soap and Glory tries to get the men on board with its new range, which comes in retro red and with its trademark tongue-in-cheek names (such as Dry Hard deodorant and the Man O'Phwoar gift set), and is also kind to the wallet with starting prices of just £3.49. But those of you looking for something a little more unusual also won't be dissatisfied: Green & Spring has just brought out its first range of skincare too, including face masks, skin refiners and lip balms as well as the more traditional cleansers, toners and moisturisers (though prices are a little more steep, the lip balm is just £7.50 and so would make a delightful stocking filler).

In the media
Being launched on November 6th, Absolute Cosmetics was launched as the first ever free consumer magazine to be produced by professionals in the cosmetics industry. Aimed at giving real insight into the industry, the quarterly will offer product news and real life stories, and will deal with cosmetic and beauty myths and misconceptions. Equally exciting is the creation of new website The Skinny, which plays on the new sample sales craze (of which Gilt Groupe and RueLaLa are examples), takes the concept, and applies it to skincare, giving site users the chance to get the high-end skincare treatments they love at a fraction of the cost. The site, located at, also provides video tutorials and personalised recommendations - sounds good to me.

National Skincare Month
November is National Skincare Month, so it seems like a good time to stand back, take stock, and make sure you're doing everything right for your skin. This includes drinking plenty of water, getting plenty of sleep, not smoking, eating well, not getting too much sun (and definitely NO SUNBEDS!), removing makeup thoroughly each night, having a few makeup-free days per week, and having a good solid skincare routine, using products that are right for your skin, remembering to account for any changes in your skin condition as you go through life. Have a happy and healthy November :)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Dermalogica Treatment Foundation

RRP: £26.40 for 40ml
# of shades available: 8

--What does the promo say?--
"Dermalogica Treatment Foundation No.5 has natural, non-sensitizing pigments that maintain true color and texture all day without irritating the skin. Includes two hypoallergenic application sponges. Contains no artificial fragrance or colour."

Having only trialled this on a sample basis, I'm not in a position to comment fully. However, the screw-top lid looks secure and the design concept both belongs confidently to the Dermalogica brand and clearly identifies itself as a foundation. All good :)

The website instructs:
"1. Dot on each area of the face.
2. Blend with provided application sponge or with fingertips. Do not rub.
3. Wait one minute before applying powder or blush."

This is all fairly simple. However, I would discourage the use of any sort of sponge, as they are undoubtedly the most unnhygienic application method around. Go for your fingers or a foundation brush instead.

As with the Rimmel, the sample shade that I had managed to procure was a tad too dark for my skin. However, unlike with the Rimmel shade, I still wasn't 100% happy with it once it was blended, so olive-skinned people should have no problems with this brand at all. Whether or not it was my imagination, though, I did find it had a slightly shinier finish than I would normally be happy with, too.

Lovely and creamy, but not too rich or comedogenic.

Initially good, but wore off quickly. Reapplications of concealer and/or powder are definitely needed during the day.

--Effects on the skin--
One of the supremely positive aspects of this product: this is the main point of the product and thankfully it does deliver. I did definitely notice a difference in skin condition even in the few days of use that I had from my sample, with skin seeming more balanced and with fewer spots and dry patches.

--Value for money--
While there are websites offering this for less than the RRP, and while the foundation does help to reduce acne, I'd still say that it was pretty expensive, and that I'd really like to see Dermalogica improve the overall formulation so that it stays on for longer and gives a more matte finish before I commit to buying it with any sort of regularity. For now, opt for Rimmel's Renew and Lift instead.

perfect partners
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, £22.49/75g from
Dermalogica Total Eye Care, £22.20/15ml from
Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster, from £19.51/30ml from

Monday, 26 October 2009

Yves St Laurent Parisienne Eau de Parfum

RRP: from £34 for 30ml

--What does the promo say?--
"The portrait of a woman incredibly free. Free to think, free to act. She was not born in Paris, but Paris adopts her, because she conveys the joy of living and loving in the moment. A precious flacon, intricately carved like the labyrinth of Parisian streets, as soft as the sheets she has just left behind, as pink as an early morning sky, as couture as the YSL label on black leather. A grand floral with a woody structure, luminous even in its mystery, PARISIENNE is the perfume of ultra femininity, warmed by the touch of the man who embraced her. The top note adds the shine of vinyl, an ultra modern wink to gloss, varnish or the metal of a spike heel, before the tartness of cranberry adds a point of bitter sharpness - the evocation of a certain impertinence softened by sparkling, succulent, fruity blackberry, symbol of an epicurean PARISIENNE. The floral heart beats wildly with the absolute femininity of the Damask rose, which harmonizes perfectly with the powdery violet, sensual and carnal like leather worn by Kate Moss. In contrast, the peony gives a breath of PARISIENNE youth and a hint of morning freshness. The base note brings tumult and intensity in its woody wake. First with patchouli, the ultimate in mystery. And when the masculinity of vetiver flirts with the feminine eroticism of musk and sandalwood, one knows that this PARISIENNE knew a 'night of love'."

With echoes of Viktor and Rolf, it's unusual while still being romantic as the lilac liquid shines through the glass bottle. This is set off by a high-shine gold top that you simply pull off, and with the trademark YSL label stuck to the front in black and gold.

Spritz onto pulse points, and go.

While the liquid appears purplish in the bottle, nothing is visible on the skin.

The overriding smell is of violets, so this definitely takes some getting used to. Some of the scents described in the brief are virtually undetectable (cranberry, for instance), while some of the others emerge later on (such as patchouli). I personally don't hate it, but this is definitely a personal thing: many people will find it too sweet and I certainly wouldn't call it a classic fragrance that will live forever.

About average, I'm afraid. Expect to reapply at least once or twice a day.

--Value for money--
A nice enough fragrance (absolutely not down there with the horror of Sisley's fragrances) but for the money I'd expect something more timeless and something that lasted longer on your skin. As an English girl living in Paris, the concept of the perfume definitely appeals to me, but it's debatable as to whether the quality of the fragrance truly lives up to the vision. Go for Viktor and Rolf's Flowerbomb instead.

perfect partners
Parisienne Eau de Toilette, from £32 for 30ml
Parisienne Body Lotion, £28 for 200ml
Parisienne Shower Gel, £27 for 200ml

Rimmel Renew and Lift Foundation

RRP: £7.82
# of shades available: 7

--What does the promo say?--
"Powerful Time Reverse Complex with peptides and ceramides helps lift and regenerate skin. SPF15 and natural minerals protect the skin. Even, flawless coverage. Look up to 8 years younger in just 12 days."

I only trialled this on a sample basis, so can't comment on how the packaging is to use or travel with, but it looks nice: it's a good departure from the squarer, more plasticky bottles that we're used to seeing, instead materialising in a cylindrical glass container, with a deep, sophisticated dark lid. I like the circular logo, too. Nice.

Fifteen minutes after moisturising, apply onto face before adding concealer and finishing powder of your choice. Blend into skin using a brush or clean fingers.

Initially worrying: the shade that I had in my sample (soft beige) seemed like it would be far too dark for my skin tone. However, things went far better than expected, resulting in a sheer finish that did match my skin tone after all. This hopefully means that pale-skinned people should have a wide range of choices when it comes to choosing shades (below soft beige, you have true ivory, ivory, and porcelain). However, the flip side of this is that people with more olive or dark skin tones may find the choice of shades available to be limiting.

--Texture and consistency--
Not as creamy as, say, No7's Essential Mmoisture, but definitely not as runny as some foundations I've tried. Of a generally consistent and reliable quality; blends easily.

Generally good; I did have to retouch one particularly bad spot a few times, though.

--Effects on skin--
Very moisturising, so I could believe that you would see positive effects on skin over time in terms of rehydrating the skin and making it appear rejuvenated. However, this sadly can't be achieved in 2-3 days' worth of sample.

--Value for money--
This is a high quality foundation, providing great coverage within a reasonable price bracket, and the inclusion of an SPF (and possibly other anti-ageing qualities) is always a bonus. I would definitely buy this, particularly later into my twenties and in my early thirties when even more concerned about wrinkles.

perfect partners
Renew and Lift Concealer, £4.99
Renew and Lift Pressed Powder, £5.87

Monday, 19 October 2009

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Body Spray

RRP: £13 for 100ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Oil-free formula helps clear and prevent breakouts everywhere — back, chest, shoulders. Helps control oil, reduce the look of redness. Convenient 360-degree spray even works upside down. Perfect for hard-to-reach places. Non-staining formula."

The big C clearly designates it as part of the Clinique brand, and the colour scheme of eucalyptus greens ensures that it integrates well with the rest of the Anti-Blemish range. The spray function is pretty good, working at all angles as promised, and the lid stays on securely without being too difficult to remove when you do want to use the product. The whole ensemble is made of plastic, so it's very lightweight.

The Clinique website instructs that you should start using the product once a day initially, increasing to twice a day if required. You should spray over the affected area after cleansing (ideally with the Clinique Anti-Blemish face and body soap) and leave it to dry, and this is pretty easy to do. No problems here. Just make sure that you use this product before using any other creams or lotions as the spray can be tricky to use when your hands are on the slippery side.

It does unfortunately smell a little bit like bug spray, but this is not too overbearing and can easily be covered by use of a neutral-smelling body cream if it bothers you. I would still prefer a eucalyptus, aloe vera or tea tree smell though.

No visible residue is left, and the spray itself is virtually invisible anyway.

Not sticky or greasy; just pleasant and light. I wouldn't say it's such a light mist that you could just spray it and leave it - I did feel the urge to rub it in - but it definitely doesn't take long to sink in.

--Effects on the skin--
I experienced no dryness while using this spray; indeed, skin just felt smooth and balanced. The best part is that it actually worked, too - I don't know if it's just the same toner from the range but in a spray bottle, but either way, I saw much more significant improvements on my body than on my face. The spots on my arms and shoulders have gone away and stayed away; my chest is taking longer to catch up, but I have confidence that it will follow.

--Value for money--
My spray lasted me two months, with me using it once a day some days, twice a day on others, and not at all on others. This therefore makes about £6.50 a month, which I'd say is exemplary value for money for something that is so easy to use and which works so well. I'd really like them to improve on the scent, and I'd quite like some sort of body cream to use in conjunction with it too, in order to augment the already promising results even further.

perfect partner

Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Bar for Face and Body, £12.50

Friday, 16 October 2009

Korres Materia Herba Moisturising Cream

RRP: €32.50/$39/£32 for 50ml
Retails at Sephora, Harvey Nichols,, and many other locations

--What does the promo say?--
"This lightweight moisturiser helps control oil and contains a synergetic mix of citrus, honey, betaine - a natural aminoacid - and lemon pectin that regulates skin hydration."

I like, I like. The drawings on the box are immediately reminscent of old botany textbooks and the old-style typeface on the white tube immediately sends the sound of typewriters clattering through your head. The choice of colours is unisex and the tube seems to be of solid, durable quality.

--Usage instructions--
"After daily cleansing, apply to face and neck, avoiding the eye area." No problems here.

No visible residue is left on the skin after use, and the cream itself has a translucent, creamy off-white (slightly yellow) appearance.

Perhaps oddly, I was not struck by any sort of citrus or honey scent at all, but rather was confronted with a pleasantly overwhelming smell of sage. I really could not detect any of the main ingredients at all.

Takes some time to sink into the skin, which I don't really like, but certainly once it has been absorbed your skin does stay silky smooth all day long. Be careful, though, to ensure that your toner has completely dried before moisturising, as otherwise the cream can almost break up on your face and come away from the skin in bits rather than being absorbed properly.

--Effects on the skin--
You certainly do get day-long silky softness and shine is reduced throughout the day. However, I felt that the shine factor was increased immediately after application and took some time to settle down; in addition to this, the product did not deliver on the main hope that I had for it: I had been hoping that it would improve the overall condition of my acneic skin, and it did not do this. Admittedly it doesn't promise to, but at this price, and with these ingredients, I did nevertheless expect that it might.

--Value for money--
If this cream were the same price as Korres' usual moisturisers (under £20) then this would definitely be an acceptable addition to the bathroom cupboard. However, when you double the figure, I start to expect miracles (or at least discernible results - or maybe that's just the "student budget" part of my brain that's still talking). While this was pleasant to use, though, I just didn't get that wow-factor feeling, either in terms of general use or in terms of overall results. A shame - but I'm still not put off trying some of Korres' other products, as they just sound divine: the gift sets in particular, as well as the pomegranate and complexion-clearing ranges, sound just irresistible.

perfect partners
Materia Herba Foam Cleanser, £20 (150ml)
Materia Herba Moisturising Eye Cream, £30 (15ml)
Materia Herba Moisturising Night Cream, £35 (50ml)
Materia Herba 3 in 1 Cleansing Emulsion, £20 (150ml)
Materia Herba Anti-Ageing Cream, £36 (30ml)
Materia Herba Anti-Ageing Eye Cream, £39 (15ml)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Villainess Body Soap

RRP: $5/£4

--What does the promo say?--
"Absolutely smooth, sheer, silken lather."

The packaging consists of an olde-worlde paper label wrapped around the soap, encased in a plastic wrapping which is rather difficult to tear open. I'd prefer fully paper packaging myself; even cardboard would work well with this brand. Apart from that, things are all good, with the soap packaging design fitting in consistently with the Villainess brand as a whole.

Lather up over your body during a shower or bath. Rub the bar over arms, legs, chest and stomach area to make bubbles before rinsing off.

Again, the colour descriptions on the website are slightly out: rather than being a "frothy bog green", I'd say that this was more of a distinguished pale brown, even though the lather that's created is pale white. No visible residue is left on the body after use.

--Lather, texture and consistency--
As described: not as obviously foamy as bath bubbles, but a definite, pleasing, sophisticated sheen of lather. Washes off easily when you want it to, but doesn't slide off the body seconds after application. I found it a real pleasure and treat to use. My fiancé was not so sure: he didn't find it luxurious enough and is more used to using shower gels rather than body bars. Equally, I found that it washed off well, but he said that his skin felt 'sticky' after use.

I have to say that I wasn't keen: the vetiver is quite overpowering and packs a serious masculine punch. This might be a better present for your boyfriend than for you. However, saying that, even my man didn't like it: he found it just too 'soap-smelling' and has preferred other samples that I've stuck into the shower in the past.

--How does your skin feel afterwards?--
Smooth and lovely. No objections.

--Value for money--
This is a great value body bar that I can see lasting me a long time; after a few uses it still looks brand new, and I would definitely choose it over Lush's Buffy in terms of refinement, efficacy and identity. Even though I wasn't too keen on the scent, Villainess luckily offers a really good range of variants so that there's bound to be something that suits me (Ginger Snapped? Yes please!).

perfect partners
Grundy Smooch! Body Scrub, £7/$10
Grundy Whipped! Body Cream, £7/$10
Grundy Mud Face Mask, £7/$12
Grundy Perfume Oil, £10/$16
Grundy Kaboom! Bath Bomb, $8.50 (available only through Villainess website)

Friday, 9 October 2009

L'Oréal Double Extension Renewal Serum Inside Mascara

RRP: £10.99

--What does the promo say?--
"L'Oréal Paris Double Extension Renewal Serum Inside Mascara combines The Renewal Lash Serum inside a spectacular mascara. The new L'Oréal Paris Double Extension Renewal Serum Inside Mascara is a 2-step mascara that gives a multiplied lash effect and up to 80% longer-looking lashes.

Step 1: A serum enriched base coat with arginine and centella. Lashes feel fortified and nourished.
Step 2: An ultra-lengthening mascara for a lash extension effect. Up to 80% longer-looking lashes.
Spectacular lashes!"

The packaging is gold and royal blue, with each side being embossed with text in the reverse colour. This is not to be confused with the red version, the Double Extension Beauty Tubes, although you have to sit with the products for a while to work out the true difference between the versions. The original Beauty Tubes contain a sort of primer for the lashes, whose primary purpose is to make the lashes appear longer; however, the new Double Extension variants have a serum, which is not only designed to make the lashes look longer in the short term but is also supposed to make your lashes longer on a long-term scale. The writing on the tube is a little bit cheap-feeling and prone to rubbing off even when the tube is new; I definitely like the use of the two colours either way, though.

Apply the serum to your lashes on one eye, and then add the mascara immediately afterwards. Repeat the process with the other eye. I do it this way because if my experiences with Lancôme's equivalent are anything to go by, if the serum is allowed to dry before the mascara is applied then there is a risk of the serum clumping or looking more obvious on the lashes (see below regarding appearance). Otherwise, this is fairly simple stuff.

The serum is white (sob - maybe one day the mascara companies will work out how to make it clear/transparent), which I suppose does distinguish from all those clear mascaras on the market. You therefore couldn't just put this on and then go out as it actually does make you look albino. However, once the mascara is applied over it, no white is visible at all. The mascara is of a good colour and the two used together deliver real showgirl lashes.

Arguably better than Lancôme's equivalent - overall application and results are smoother and with better separation and definity.

--Effects on lashes--
Now, this is where L'Oréal loses out to Lancôme. I'm a firm believer that the vibrating technology used for Lancôme's serum really helps to stimulate the lashes' roots for visible long-term growth results. While L'Oréal's version does definitely provide an excellent base and gives extra length and separation to the mascara (so good results on a day-to-day basis), I'm afraid I didn't notice the same degree of results when it came to long-term lash improvement. One of L'Oréal's key ingredients of the serum, arginine, is an amino acid that has been reported to boost growth hormones, but as yet there is no proof. I prefer the sound of the serum's other key ingredient, centella, which has been traditionally used in medicine and is thought to maintain youthfulness and aid healing. I did definitely see an improvement in just a few days of use - maybe just not as significant an improvement as with the Lancôme equivalent.

--Value for money--
Ultimately, despite Lancôme's winning stakes in the lash growth department, I still think I'd plump for this product instead: it is cheaper, has far fewer clumps, and comes in a handy travel format instead of two separate tubes. Following L'Oréal's copy of Givenchy's Phenomen'Eyes in the form of their Telescopic Explosion mascara, this is another successful replication of the higher-end market.

perfect partner
Renewal Lash Serum, £10.99

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Villainess Whipped! Body Lotion

RRP: £7/$10

--What does the promo say?--
"Distinguishing Features: Extra-decadent cherry kernel oil, antioxidant rich grapeseed oil, light coconut oil, and our favourite luxury mango butter.

Characteristic Scent: An intoxicating blend of crisp, regal gardenia, sweet frangipani, verdant tuberose, and soft, beguiling pikaki lani.

Wanted For: Moisture restoration, gentle emollience, and velvety texturising."

As with the body scrub, all very vintagey and artificially-aged looking. I love screw-top pots - they enable you to get the very last drops of the product rather than leaving loads trapped in a tube at the end.

Rub onto clean dry body skin once or twice a day. No problems with this - it soaked in well and quickly.

Described on the Villainess website as being the colour of soft clotted cream, I'm quick to disagree with them: I spent enough time serving tea and scones to toffs at Henley Regatta to know that clotted cream is a very creamy yellow colour, rather than being white, as this is. Methinks they meant whipped cream, which would be a more accurate assessment (both in terms of colour and in texture). In any case, no visible residue is left on the skin once this white, moussy cream is rubbed in.

I wished I could have smelt more of the oils and mango butter in the Datura version of this body lotion - while the crisp floralness was nice, I felt that being able to smell some of the fruit would have given it more of an unusual lift when combined with the flowers. My fiancé also said that the scent was slightly overpowering. While the smell is perhaps a little strong, it is nevertheless a pleasant scent.

I absolutely loved the unusual mousse-like consistency of this body lotion. Most body creams are of the runnier lotion type, so a change was definitely good. Luxurious and light without being overbearing.

--Effects on the skin--
Certainly seems to soften skin and do what it says it will.

--Value for money--
Definitely an affordable treat to help you pamper yourself on these cool autumn evenings (and your friends and family, if you can bear to give any away).

perfect partners
Datura Smooch! Body Scrub, £7/$10
Datura Body Soap, £4/$5
Datura Slick! Cleanser and Makeup Remover*, £7/$10
Datura Perfume Oil, £10/$16

*for dry, mature, sensitive or irritated skins