Thursday, 30 September 2010

Cosmetics & Beauty News September 2010

Protect your skin - all year round
A study conducted recently by the University College Hospital, Besancon, in conjunction with Boots' No7, finds that not only can skin damage occur when skin is exposed unprotected to sun through glass (such as through conservatory windows and car windows) and that 83% of women are unaware that they should be protecting their skin with an SPF product all year round - not just when on their usual annual summer holiday. Boots helps to combat this with their release of the first 5-star rated UVA daily moisturiser in the UK - No7 Protect and Perfect Intense Day Cream - which helps to protect skin from the sun as well as repair already existing signs of ageing.

And for sensitive skin too...
...there's Allergy UK-approved extreme tolerance skincare range, NATorigin. Approved also by the Vegetarian Society, packaging is fully recyclable, and the products themselves contain a minimum of 97% naturally-sourced ingredients - and the range, available from, has also been nominated in three categories in the 2010 Pure Beauty Awards to prove it. With prices starting at £6.75, the range contains red seaweed and raspberry seed oil to nourish, hydrate and purify. Sounds good to me.

Think pink with Estée Lauder  
In support of Breast Cancer Awareness, Estée Lauder is launching its Pink Ribbon Collection this October, comprising two snazzy new makeup sets complete with pink mock crocodile clutch bags. The Elizabeth Hurley Lip Collection gives you two double-ended lipgloss wands for a total of four gloss shades (Nude Rose, Rock Candy, Brazen Berry and Extravagant Pink) for £25, while the Evelyn Lauder Lip Collection offers three shades of Pure Colour Lipstick - Tiramisu, Candy, and Rubellite - for £25. To complete your look, there's the Estée Lauder Jewelled Pink Ribbon Pin, whose £10 retail price goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in its entirety. As for the makeup sets, £7.50 from each purchase also goes directly to the charity. Who could ask for more? Look good and support a charity at the same time.

Get Bobbi Brown in your stocking this Christmas
Bobbi Brown's new teen beauty book and palette are sure to feature on many a girl's wish list this December. In Beauty Rules, out now, Bobbi gives tips on everything to build beauty inside and out, including exercise, being a great friend, and of course plenty about makeup. The accompanying new website,, gives just a taster of what you can expect - and could even benefit us 20-somethings who are still teens inside.

And the winner is...
Thanks to our good friends at Purity Organic Skincare, I have been able to give away five full sets of the range this month. The five winners are:
Rachel Barnes, Maidenhead
Jessica Collier, Brighton
Sarah Long, Woking
Mary Richardson, Hull
Sabrina Stadler, Glasgow

Enjoy your products - they should be with you soon :)  Happy October, everyone!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

No7 Stay Perfect Trio Eyeshadow

RRP: £9.75
 # of shades available: 12
--What does the promo say?--
"No7 Stay Perfect Trio Eyeshadow conains a selection of high impact colours that blend effortlessly and last for hours."

Fairly standard ovular black plastic with a little window to look through. No mirror, but a brush is included (even if the curve of it sometimes makes it more difficult, not easier, to manipulate the shadow). All in all, nothing to write home about.
The Boots website recommends applying the lightest colour all over the eyelid, up to the brow bone, followed by the medium shade just up to the crease of the eyelid. The darkest colour can be used to follow the line of the eyelashes before blending in. Basically, it's not rocket science.

The shade I was kindly sent by No7 is only identified as 'matte', but looking at the website's current selections, it is closest to Good Earth, with a creamy base colour, a pale brown middling colour, and a slate grey liner shade. It's quite a nice combination on the eye, but not as versatile as other trios I've tried (Revlon, I'm looking at you), and as you will see below, it's quite an effort to get anything to show up at all.

Strangely, this trio of shadows is nowhere near as easy to manipulate as the new mono shadows that No7 also sent me from their autumn collection. As quite a few reviewers on the Boots website point out (you have to scroll through quite a few pages to get to the lower-rated reviews: cunning tactic there!), you have to scrub at the eyeshadow for ages with the brush in order to pick up any and when you do apply it the paler colours in particular are very faint. Applying eyeshadow just shouldn't take this much effort and persistence. However, the darkest colour in the trio is better.

Can't complain - but when the shadow barely shows up on the eye to begin with...

--Value for money--
No7 seem to be trying in their makeup to compete with other similar brands, such as Revlon, and while in the past I was often pleased with their products (the Sheer Temptation lipstick/gloss hybrid is a godsend!), in more recent times I have been less pleased with the overinflated prices which do not deliver on the quality so often. My advice? If you must buy a No7 eyeshadow, perhaps go for one of their mono shadows (of which my more positive review will soon follow), but if it's multiple colours you want, the up-and-coming Prestige and Front Cover both offer far better value, as does the more mainstream L'Oréal.
perfect partner
No7 Intense Volume Mascara, £11

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Schwarzkopf Gliss Shea Cashmere Shampoo and Conditioner

RRP: £1.59/bottle
Retails at: Sainsbury's, Superdrug, Savers, Bodycare

--What does the promo say?--
"Hair Repair - Repairs Inside the Hair Cell
Dry or Lifeless Hair
Easy Combing & Cashmere Smooth Hair
Suitable for Daily Use
The nourishing formula with Shea Butter and Cashmere Protein provides the hair with intensive care and tangibly more suppleness."
Like many other brands of its type, it reaches its target audience of women aged 20-30 with soft pastel colours, although the purple is a bit more zingy and adds a nice touch. The unusual combination of shea and cashmere immediately conjures images of softness and luxury, and high technology is also evoked in the illustrations on the bottle. With the shampoo bottle standing on its flip-top lid and the conditioner bottle having its lid at the top of the bottle, the slightly opposing yet harmonious design works well too.

Massage the shampoo into wet hair as normal before rinsing out, and then add the conditioner, smoothing it down the full length of the hair, or just on the ends if this is where you have most difficulty with dryness, and then rinse out completely after a few minutes.

The shampoo is a lovely pearlescent slightly beige/off-white coloured product, which continues to create the image of something truly luxurious in the shower. The conditioner is slightly yellower and more matte than pearlescent.

The shea butter is expectedly prominent; you are definitely given what you are promised. Always nice to have a slightly chocolatey start to the morning!

No problems here: it wasn't too sticky, too thick, too runny, or too anything. The  conditioner is creamier and less runny than the shampoo; both products are very manageable and easy to control and rinse out.

--Effects on the hair--
Truthfully, Schwarzkopf's claims on this shampoo and conditioner are very modest, so you cannot claim that they do not deliver. The main claims are "increased suppleness" and "cell repair", with the former being very subjective and the latter being presumably only something that could be tested by a scientist. However, I did thankfully experience increased softness in my hair, which I assume to be down to the various proven conditioning ingredients within, such as glyceryl cocoate (derived from coconut) and wheat protein, as well as the cashmere protein and shea butter mentioned in the brand's promotional materials. I was therefore fairly pleased with the products, in spite of the fact that they didn't quite deliver the high-shine result I was after (but hey - you can't have everything).

--Value for money--
Being a hair colour company primarily, I had always (perhaps stupidly) presumed that Schwarzkopf's products were expensive (since hair dye usually is) and was very pleasantly surprised to find this retailing at such an affordable price. It easily competes with others in its price bracket, such as Aussie and Trésemmé, as well as with others of a higher price range, such as John Frieda. Would buy again - they just need to bring out a hair mask now!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Purity Organic Skincare Giveaway

Our kind friends at Purity Organic Skincare are giving you the chance to win one of five full sets of the range.

For your chance to win, email soprano[UNDERSCORE]seraph[AT]hotmail[DOT]com with your name and postal address before the end of September (closing date = Sept 30 2010, 23:59:59 UK time). Winners will be selected at random and announced on Bianca's Beauty Blog on October 1st.

Good luck :D

Friday, 10 September 2010

Johnson & Johnson Daily Essentials Rehydrating Night Cream

RRP: £3.99

--What does the promo say?--
"Johnson's Rehydrating Night Cream, enriched with Skin Essentials,replenishes essential moisture lost during the day whilst caring for normal skin with:
• Skin loving minerals known to restore skin vitality
• Glycerine known to help support your skin’s hydration overnight
Results: Awaken to beautifully soft,refreshed skin.
Dermatologically tested, suitable for sensitive skin."

I know it's not tremendously practical to have a glass jar, but it is so nice and luxurious (and better for the environment too). Again, the pink and white may be a bit off-putting to some. The jar is a nice size, too: not too big. 

Smooth a small amount over face and neck every night after cleansing and toning. 

A thick, white, luxurious cream.

Again, that rose-tinted scent that plagues this range and is its main disadvantage.

Despite its thickness, blends in really easily and doesn't make your skin feel bogged down or oily.

--Effects on the skin--
In conjunction with the cleanser, this did seem to improve my skin a little and added some luxury to my routine. However, it is not suitable to double up as a day cream, as skin seems to become more oily more quickly this way, so if you are going to purchase this range, make sure you get the day cream too.

--Value for money--
Offers better results than a lot of more expensive brands, and provides a recession-proof, quality alternative to skincare at a lower price.

perfect partners
Daily Essentials 24h Day Cream for Normal Skin (SPF15), £3.99
Daily Essentials Refreshing Gel Wash for Normal Skin, £2.99
Daily Essentials Refreshing Facial Cleansing Wipes for Normal Skin, £2.99/25 

Johnson & Johnson Daily Essentials Refreshing Gel Wash

RRP: £2.99

--What does the promo say?--
"Johnson's Refreshing Gel Wash, enriched with Skin Essentials, gently lifts away impurities whilst caring for normal skin with:
• Skin loving minerals known to restore freshness
• Vitamin C derivative known for its antioxidant properties
Results: Skin is cleansed, feels soft and refreshed.
Dermatologically tested, suitable for sensitive skin."

The image of the feather is nice, although all that pink may put some off. The plastic bottle is a good chunky size without being overbearing and the flip-top lid is practical and sturdy.

Wet hands, lather up a small amount of gel wash, rub onto face, and then wipe off with a damp flannel. Simples.

A clear gel with tiny pink exfoliating beads suspended in it. Leaves no visible residue after use.

The thick rosy scent of the product pervades the entire range and I really feel that Johnson & Johnson have really left behind their modern female market with this. Women today tend to expect something more botanical, clinical without being chemical, or even something with no scent at all, rather than something so cloying, powdery and frankly old-fashioned.

The exfoliating beads are pleasantly scrubby but not especially heavy-duty and the gel is refreshing as promised. No problems here.

--Effects on the skin--
After using this (in conjunction with one of the range's moisturisers) I felt like I'd had a good luxurious facial done, which was an impressive start. Equally, despite using a product for normal skin even though I have very oily skin indeed, I didn't note too many negatives: while it didn't give me the perfect skin I dream of, and didn't seem to speed up the elimination of any existing blemishes, it did seem to significantly reduce the number of new blemishes that appeared. Skin was calmed and less red, too, although not as much as when I was using the Origins product that I was sent to test recently. This is probably down to the minerals that the product contains, such as zinc, which is known to help healing.

--Value for money--
Since you can hardly argue with £2.99, or with the positive effects that I did experience, I'd definitely be interested in trying the brand's range for oily skin. However, since the product does contain various alleged nasties such as SLS, you would possibly want to aim a bit higher with your budget in order to avoid these.