Monday, 28 March 2011

Macadamia Natural Oil Rejuvenating Shampoo and Moisturising Rinse

RRP: £4.20 for 60ml (each); £12.65/300ml (shampoo); £15.30 (conditioner); all prices from

--What does the promo say?--
"Macadamia Rejuvenating Shampoo is a moisturizing shampoo for all hair types and is excellent for dry, damaged hair. The Rejuvenating Shampoo gently cleanses the hair while weightlessly replenishing moisture and protecting the hair from environmental elements...Ideal for all hair types, Macadamia Moisturizing Rinse is an every day conditioner that gently nourishes, detangles, moisturises and protects, leaving hair soft, manageable and ready to style. Benefits of the Macadamia range:
- Provides intense nourishment, smoothing and a long lasting, tangle-free, frizz-free finish.
- Hair is ultra-smooth, manageable and shiny.
- Instant absorption and light-weight, non-greasy feel.
- Shown to extend the life of colour treatments by reducing fading.
- Natural UV protection.
- Reduces drying time an amazing 40-50%."

The packaging of these bottles is very unusual with its combination of brown and green as well as its conical shapes. However, on the 60ml size at least, I found the plastic to be very hard to squeeze on the conditioner bottle, so I'm not sure how easy these would be to handle long-term; I can see how after a while this might get on your nerves or lead to some of the product being wasted because you can't get it out of the bottle. It stands up well in the shower, though, with no risk of it wobbling or being difficult to balance.

You are supposed to only use a small amount of each of these, working them through wet hair before rinsing out. However, this was difficult to do, as no matter how much or little I used, and no matter how thoroughly I tried to wash it out, it seemed that these products were near impossible to rinse.

An off-white almost shea butter type of colour. However, this probably comes from the macadamia oil or the oil from the linseed or wheat germ that is also in these products. Fits in well with the image the company is trying to project.

A very pleasant sweet smell which is simultaneously very natural and in keeping with the product's image; a nutty, slightly sugary smell which is occasionally reminiscent of pear drops. Curiously, the lavender oil present in the product is undetectable.

--Texture and consistency--
The shampoo is smooth, runny and glossy, lathering well through the hair. The conditioner is whiter and lumpier, holding its shape well in the hand, but smoothing well through the hair all the same. They are both, nevertheless, perhaps in spite of their initial appearances, tricky to wash out.

--Effects on the hair--
As perhaps anticipated, the consequence of this difficulty in washing the products out of the hair is that my hair felt weighed down and almost greasier than before. I had one glimmer of hope when I got out of bed one morning having washed my hair with the stuff the previous day, as my hair did seem lighter and silkier at this stage, but this was all soon shattered when I passed a hairbrush through my hair, which restored it to its dull and weighed-down state. It therefore goes without saying that I experienced none of the benefits outlined in the promotional material, including any reduction in drying time. I also tried the shampoo with a different conditioner in case it was the moisturising rinse that was causing the heaviness, but to no avail. 

--Value for money--
In short, I would expect so much more than this for the money paid (even if in this case I didn't have to pay), in terms of results (see above) and quality of ingredients (this contains a few industry nasties including SLS (which reportedly has carcinogenic qualities) and disodium EDTA (a persistent organic pollutant). For this price, one should probably go instead to upmarket brands such as Aveda, or to established 'hairdresser' brands such as Bumble & Bumble or Rene Furterer, in order to get a better finish. In any case, there's no need to pay this much even then: lower-priced brands such as Aussie also provide impressive results for a fraction of the price. In future, I would perhaps buy the infused comb or brush, which are innovative and give you all the macadamia oil's alleged benefits in a lighter layer without breaking the bank. But keep your eyes peeled: the Macadamia Natural Oil leave-in conditioner (to be reviewed here soon) is much more impressive.

perfect partners
Healing Oil Treatment, from £4.90/10ml
Deep Repair Masque, from £20.99/250ml
Nourishing Leave-In Cream, £15.95/300ml
Healing Oil Infused Comb, £6.40
Healing Oil Spray, from £12.70/60ml
Oil Infused Brush, £15.95

Monday, 21 March 2011

Qiriness Purity Control Cream

RRP: €36.50 for 50ml
available at: branches of Marionnaud (France); branches of Ici Paris XL (Belgium)

--What does the promo say?--
"This airy and delicate cream gives your skin instant radiance and mattifies it whatever the circumstance for faultless skin. Purity Control Cream absorbs excess sebum, controls undesirable shine and leaves skin matte and silky, thanks to its purifying, mattifying and astringent qualities."

Disappointingly plasticated, although the silver and clear design is nice - very modern and slick. I like the fact that it's a screw-top lid, too - at this price you want to be able to get right in there and scrape out every last drop of the cream.

After cleansing with your preferred cleanser (strangely, Qiriness don't seem to do their own line of cleansers yet - so in my case, I'm using a Neal's Yard cleanser) and toning with a toner (Qiriness does do toners at least), rub in a few drops of this to moisturise your skin throughout the day. Simples.

The moisturising cream is a lovely pale duck-egg blue which fades into nothing once rubbed into the skin.

A very fresh, clean and natural, almost alpine scent - perhaps unsurprisingly seeing as it's packed with Swiss herbs.

--Texture and consistency--
Almost impossibly smooth and light and blends into skin instantly. Delightfully soft and silky to handle.

--Effects on the skin--
As I found out following a facial at the Marionnaud, it really does make your skin baby-soft, which adds a small piece of luxury to your routine every day (I'm sure every woman craves that spa-quality softness which really does last all day). It also stays true to its word in terms of keeping your skin mattified (i.e. not like an oil slick), and I have also found that it has improved my acne considerably as well. In short, it really does do everything that it says it will.

--Value for money--
While some of the other Qiriness products are insanely expensive, this one is, to my mind, worth every penny in exchange for the results I have seen. And nope, I haven't been paid to write this by anyone - I definitely paid all €36,90 of this out of my own pocket, and I would do so again. This luxurious but highly useful product is perfection and value personified.

perfect partners
Purity Peel-Off Mask, €49 (60g)
Vive Tonic Lotion, €19,90 (200ml)
Purity Performance Serum, €39,50 (30ml)

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Beauty Byte: Gel Nails

With apologies for the craptacular photography (...I never was good at that...), let us proceed with no further delay to the subject of GEL NAILS.

The newest innovation in the beauty sector, this manicure method has attracted praise (for the sheer indestructability of its results) as well as criticism (given that UVA/UVB rays are used to dry the nails, an increase in the incidence of cancer in the fingers has been seen in the United States among regular customers). But what do I think of it?
Firstly, the price is right. I got mine done for about €30, which for a long-lasting, new-to-the-market treatment is not bad - you can get standard manicures being charged at this and more. The process was also relatively quick (about 30 minutes) and painless (in spite of the fact that they do file away the top layer of the nail a little bit, and in spite of the use of the light mentioned above, which is the same type of ray used in tanning salons).

It was also a simple process, using two types of gel, and it gave what I think is a pretty damn good-looking professional manicure result. There's nothing messy about it and thanks to the light the gel dried instantaneously, allowing me to rummage in my bag for my purse afterwards without incident. This was also done ten days ago, with a promise that it would last a minimum of 14 days. Apart from one tiny chip in the gel on the right thumbnail and another chip on the middle fingernail of the left hand, this has proved true so far, and this minimal damage may not even be visible in the (unphotoshopped and unaltered) photo above.

This is not to say that I do not note any disadvantages. You have to go back to the salon to get this stuff removed, as your standard nail varnish remover will not make a dent in it. I've also heard (although as yet not experienced) that following removal your nails can be weaker than usual, although this can be treated with creams and oils. Finally, this type of manicure renders your nails totally useless as functional objects (the chips mentioned above came, I think, from the fact that I did not initially realise this): it is more difficult to do any of those things that we women often do, such as pick at dry skin or open a can of Diet Coke.

While having the gel nails is marvellously faff-free (to not have to worry about the colour coming off is blissful), I'm not sure I would opt for it full-time due to the potential damage to nails and fingers long term as well as the loss of any practical function my nails may have hitherto had. Plus, €360 a year, plus removal fees, is quite a lot to spend on your nails. Nevertheless, I will be going back just before my wedding at the end of April to get them done again: while they may not be a hundred per cent bullet proof, I can be certain of them getting me through my big day.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Cosmetics & Beauty News March 2011

Hempz treats: what your body's been craving
One of the USA's best-selling ranges of lotions has now hit the UK, and with hemp seed oil used as the foundation to enrich your body, you're bound to want to put it all over for the dramatic long-term hydration it provides. In addition to the range of body lotions and lip balm being full of natural vitamins (E, C, B1, B2, B3, B6), Omega-3, Omega-6, and antioxidants, hemp is also a sustainable and eco-friendly resource, so that you can indulge guilt-free. Furthermore, with the body moisturisers starting at just £4.99 and the corresponding lip balms starting at £9.99, your wallet won't mind too much either. Retails at

 Feel the rush
With Christmas and Valentine's Day over, there is always a slight lull in the perfume market that has to be compensated for. Beyoncé fans, and others, need look no further with the introduction of Beyoncé's Heat Rush by Coty, which seems set to prepare everyone for a sultry summer with its attention-capturing notes of yellow tiger orchid, mango blossom and orange hibiscus. Inspired by Brazilian sunsets and also incorporating teak, amber and musk, it's sure to bring your summer on even faster - and starting at just £19.99, it's affordable too.
In other fragrance news, House of Fraser is now offering Jimmy Choo's first fragrance, which also uses the tiger orchid, but blends it with chypre, sweet toffee, and patchouli. The packaging features Jimmy Choo's standard snakeskin design in pink, and, out now, the perfume retails from £39.99, its goal being to embody confident, sexual and thoroughly modern women all over. If you really want to blow the budget, feel free to go for Lanvin's peach-themed La Plume, which, with its notes of apricot, pear, orange, freesia and rose, comes in at £49 for 100ml.

Hot off the presses
Boots' first roaring success of 2011 has come in the shape of the First Aid Beauty (FAB) Detox Eye Roller, which sold out online in under two hours and now has over 1000 people on its waiting list. Said to relieve puffiness and detract from under-eye circles, its formula, which contains caffeine, witch hazel, and sodium hyaluronate, is said to be a favourite with Jennifer Aniston, and, given its dermatologist-recommended, allergy-tested and fragrance-free qualities, this Stateside gem is set to become a hot favourite over here too - especially at its affordable price of just £18.
Further success could come for Boots this year in the form of Poppy King's new range of lipsticks and lip glosses, which start at just £11 and whose range of classic colours and dotty designs inject a bit of early twentieth century glamour into the shop. With seven shades - one for each reason why women wear lipstick (history, power, glamour, confidence, allure, seduction, and intrigue), there's bound to be one for you.

Celebrating a mother's love
While it's of course something we should be appreciating all year round, it's always nice to buy our mummies something to say thanks for all they do, and there's plenty out there to choose from. Get a gift that gives to charity too with OPI and Ovacome's joint venture, the Teal Tips campaign, which supports the ovarian cancer charity with every purchase of OPI's new blue nail varnish, Ski Teal We Drop, which can be bought from Liz Earle has also put together an exclusive Mother's Day gift this year - a pack containing generous travel sizes of the Superskin Moisturiser, Superskin Concentrate, Superskin Body Cream, and Superskin Eye and Lip Treatment, which is available now for £30 (a saving of £12.90).
Further to this, treat Mum from the inside as well, with Simple nutritionist Fiona Hunter's beautiful breakfast in bed: kiwi, mint and melon smoothie for vitamin C (which helps produce extra collagen, dontcha know), blood orange, pistachio and pomegranate salad (for lycopene, which helps to prevent damage from UV radiation), and blueberry and oat muffins (for antioxidants which help to fight ageing).

Drinking your way to the perfect derrière
I'm not talking about falling out of A&E after a few too many sambucas...oh no. While we already know that herbal teas can help to calm us spiritually and to detox our systems, I'm not sure that any of us thought that throwing back the hot fruity stuff could give you a better figure. Irish beauty and pop songstress Havana is also already known in her hometown of Cork for her blends, and has now come up with a new concoction made from fennel, citrus fruits and pomegranate, which allegedly perks up the rear in preparation for all those bikinis we're going to have to wear. While I'm not sure where the science is in all this, I suppose we've nothing to lose by trying, and with a bit of luck Havana's blog may even in future be a little bit more forthcoming with information on this secret blending prowess of hers.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Cosmetics Contemplations: When the people speak

I've always been a bit of a consumer watchdog: in my student days I loved such televisual output as Don't Get Done, Get Dom, and (of course) Watchdog, and as I've got older and web users have become more vocal, I've enjoyed participating in fora such as those on the MoneySavingExpert website and reading reviews of products and services. In fact, it's surprising that I've never taken out a subscription to Which? (although I did apply for a job with them recently, so you never know - my love for what they do could soon manifest itself in other ways...). In fact, my passion for making sure the consumer was making an informed choice based on honest opinions rather than just company spiel was one of the main motivations behind me beginning to review products in the first place. The main website for reviews, although perhaps less so now with the rise and rise of the blogosphere, was and probably still is Ciao. Although it is an extremely comprehensive and detailed website which I still visit from time to time, it has less use for me since the advent of the glorious price comparison engine that is Google Shopping and there were reasons why I went over from reviewing on Ciao to blogging here which remain unchanged.

However, it still being an extremely popular website, it is always interesting to see just how far the views of its users reflect the views and habits of the general population (and, dare I say it, "experts" like myself who write about beauty regularly and are equally regularly lucky enough to have free stuff thrown in their general direction for testing). 
My first impression upon looking at the list of the best cleansers and exfoliators (as per five star rating) is that the list probably doesn't reflect the whims of the population at large - contrary to my expectations. I say this because a good half of the brands featured are, to put it bluntly, expensive. Of the remaining half the list, one of the brands (Burts Bees) is what I would call of limited availability: for the widest choice you are definitely best off looking online rather than popping to your local chemist. For Ciao users, this is perhaps not unreasonable: however, most people are not willing to trawl the net looking for a product from a less widely available brand. Of the four remaining cheaper brands, two bring us back down to earth with a bump, perhaps showing how easily conned the British public is by advertisting (as they are not brands that I would ever recommend). Olay and Ponds are of course much-beloved British high street classics, and so it is hardly any great surprise that they appear on the list as well. Another interesting feature of the list is its diversity, with all ten of the listed products being from different brands: this openmindedness, or lack of brand loyalty, is refreshing, but arguably also a trademark of the internet shopper: those of us who shop around and go through price comparison sites with a fine tooth comb are probably more likely to be curious about lots of different brands than the UK shopper who throws their moisturiser into their supermarket basket as part of the normal weekly shop. It is this diversity which also reflects the "beauty experts" quite accurately, with lots of different brands from different budgets being included, but with the list ultimately leaning towards higher-quality products.

So would the 'best face creams and treatments' list fare any better in representing the average UK consumer? The answer is perhaps yes. Only three of the ten products featured are not widely available on the high street and of these three there was only one product that I had not heard of at all - and yet even this one product is perhaps indicative of people's shopping habits, since a little digging around online revealed it to be available via a popular UK shopping channel as well as via a few web outlets. At hundreds of pounds for a pot I would expect the Freeze 24-7 Anti-Wrinkle Cream to have classier packaging, but as I previously mentioned, there are a multitude of ways in which the British public can be duped, especially if this is via the frankly superliminal means of the television shopping channel. In addition, for a cream that reportedly glows under UV light (not so good if you are a seasoned clubber), you could say it represents the buying population's slightly more eccentric side. It's comforting that the rest of the list, though, ranges from a mere £2 right up to the dizzy heights charged by Decleor, Elemis, Estee Lauder and Freeze, meaning that there really is something for everyone there - which I think is what everyone would expect and want.

The only 'mistake' in that list, in my view, is the Simple moisturiser, but hey - I suppose even the legions of web shoppers can't get it right all the time...

The lists
Best cleansers and exfoliators 
Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel
Burt's Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
Simple Soothing Toner
Philosophy Purity
Estee Lauder Perfectly Clean Splash Away Foaming Cleanser
Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3 (Oily Skin)
Clearasil StayClear Skin Perfecting Wash
Olay Regenerist Cleanser Daily Thermal Skin Polisher
Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser

Best face creams and treatments
Clinique Anti Blemish Solutions Clearing Moisturiser
Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream
Simple Hydrating Light Moisturiser
Boots No7 Protect and Perfect Beauty Serum
Clinique Superdefense Moisturiser
Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream
Decleor Face Treat Aromessence Ylang Ylang Purifying Concentrate (Oily and Combination Skin)
Estee Lauder Idealist Pore Minimising Skin Refinisher
Olay Definity
Freeze 24-7 Anti Wrinkle Cream

Sunday, 6 March 2011

A few small changes to Bianca's Beauty Blog

- You will start seeing more direct price comparisons with other brands in the same price bracket under the "Value for money" section. I was doing this a little bit before, but not consistently. Now I aim to do it every time so that all 102 of you have a better point of reference.

- You may have also noticed a new feature - a type of post called "Beauty Bytes". While I will still be continuing with the monthly roundup of news, when it comes to news (usually of an event) that it is better for you to know about straight away, this will be posted as a Beauty Byte to give you as much notice as possible.

Well, I said a few, but in fact, it's just two :)  Many thanks to all of you for your support and following - keep coming, and bring others :)

Liz Earle Energising Body Wash

RRP: £11 for 200ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Start your day with this revitalising all-over wash. Pure plant extracts and gentle foaming agents from corn and coconut clean and refresh, while sweet orange and 8 pure essential oils delicately fragrance your skin. Use Energising Body Wash to gently cleanse the skin, leaving it feeling soft, smooth and invigorated. The naturally active ingredients include a revitalising blend of damask rose flower water and pure essential oils."

The rounded design is reminiscent of a stone that has been smoothened into shape by the sea's waves, giving a great natural feel to the product. The sophisticated fine lines of the design mean that it wouldn't even look out of place in a spa - meaning that if it's good enough for that, then it's good enough for you. The plastic flip-top lid always closes securely, too, and the product doesn't collect in the bottom - thus eliminating wastage.

The Liz Earle website advises: "Massage a generous amount onto wet skin over the body and rinse away thoroughly. Follow with Energising Body Scrub and Energising Hip & Thigh Gel. Common sense precautions: Pregnant women may wish to seek advice from their GP before using aromatherapy-based products." I'd add to this the idea of rubbing the gel in your hands a little bit before smoothing it over your body, as it warms up a little in your hands as you do so and gives you a bit of extra lather before you begin, too.

Unlike its body scrub cousin, this product is not a dark orange colour but rather a see-through pale yellow gel. Does not leave any visible residue on the body after rinsing, and is easily worked into a white lather.

--Texture and consistency--
The warming sensation in the hands when lathering up is always nice, and I never ceased to be amazed by the quality of the lather in the Liz Earle shower gels: who says eco-friendly products can't be just as good (or indeed better)?! The gel is smooth, thick and luxurious and glides effortlessly over skin before washing off easily when you want it to go.

Again, the orange oil is predominant in this, but we are given the feeling of something more complex at play in the background.

--Effects on the skin--
Skin is left smooth, soft and calm, and if it isn't my imagination, I have also seen some improvement in the acne on my arms, shoulders and chest during use. Here's hoping it's not all just an illusion.

--Value for money--
As with the body scrub, the price tag can seem a lot to shell out. However, this genuinely is the perfect product, which not only cleanses and softens skin but also has the ability to make your bathroom feel suspiciously like a professional spa. What more could you ask for? 
If you still feel you can't quite stretch to this, however, the only comparable equivalent at a lower price is probably found chez Weleda - another long-time expert in essential oils.

perfect partners
Energising Body Lotion, £16.50 (150ml)
Energising Body Scrub, £12.75 (200ml)
Energising Hip & Thigh Gel, £21.45 (200ml)
Body Try-Me Kit, £18.30

Liz Earle Energising Body Scrub

RRP: £12.75/200ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Use our invigorating, refreshingly scented body scrub to exfoliate and revitalise. Ground olive stones gently buff away dead skin cells for smoother, healthier-looking skin. Massage onto wet skin to help improve circulation and enliven senses. Specially selected ground olive stones gently buff away dead skin cells for healthier, smoother skin." 

Keeping in with the company's generally calming feel, rather than evoking an energising feel, the pale blue packaging also fits in well with the rest of the bodycare range, which is the same pale blue. On the down side, however, this means that the Energising range as a whole is indistinct from the rest of the bodycare range; even something as simple as a line of navy blue around the lid, for instance, would have been enough to make the distinction felt. Apart from this, there are no real concerns: the packaging is robust as ever and the design does not rub off even after weeks of sitting in the shower.

The Liz Earle website recommends the following: "For best results: massage a generous amount onto wet skin over body using circular movements, paying particular attention to upper arms, hips, thighs and feet. Rinse off thoroughly. Not recommended for use on the face, neck or sensitive areas. Common sense precautions: Pregnant women may wish to seek advice from their GP before using aromatherapy-based products."

A very thick, almost syrupy dark orange gel mixture accentuated by a rich and abundant supply of olive stone grains. Like dipping your hands into wet sand, but even more satisfying, it provides an organic and relaxing as well as energising experience. No visible residue left on body after use.

The orange oil is the predominant scent, but it's deeper than that: the complex blend of essential oils used means you can tell that there's something else going on in the background. A strong scent that fills the bathroom and turns your shower into a full-on spa experience rather than just a wash-and-go one.

--Texture and consistency--
Strong enough in its scrubbiness to make you feel like you are really being well-exfoliated while being gentle enough for you to enjoy it. Lathers up a little on contact with water and spreads well over the skin, with you only really needing 2 pea-sized amounts to do your whole body.

--Effects on the skin--
Leg and underarm skin is smoothened and it seems to be a great way of keeping ingrown hairs at bay. It also deodorises thanks to all of the essential oils and the vitamin E it contains helps to moisturise as well. While this section is subtitled "Effects on the skin", it should perhaps also be prefixed with the words "mind and soul", as the use of Liz Earle's products in general really do provide a multi-sensory experience for your entire being, simultaneously relaxing and energising you for the day ahead and helping you to scrub away the day's woes and to prepare for a good night's sleep if using it in the evening.

--Value for money--
I won't lie; nearly £13 is a considerable outlay for many for just a body scrub. However, many more "mainstream" brands such as The Body Shop and Korres charge the same for theirs, and to my mind, in the case of the former brand at least, with Liz Earle you are getting so much more - not only in what the product delivers but also in the company's approach to its customers. Equally, as previously mentioned, you need to use so little of this product at a time that it can continue to delight your bathroom for months to come.

perfect partners
Energising Body Lotion, £16.50 (150ml)
Energising Body Wash, £11 (200ml)
Energising Hip & Thigh Gel, £21.45 (200ml)
Body Try-Me Kit, £18.30

JML Magic Minerals Lash Extending Mascara

RRP: £9.99

--What does the promo say?--
"For long, luscious, look-at-me lashes. For outrageously full and flirty lashes that will have all eyes on you, Jerome Alexander’s incredible Lash Extending Mascara is your secret weapon. With just one sweep of the wand your lashes will look up to 50% longer and 4 x thicker."

Stylish, classic, Agnes-B style packaging that seems to have been abandoned by makeup brands in recent years in favour of flashier and bolder designs. Sometimes basic really is best and this black and silver design does the job just fine.

Stroke as many layers over lashes as desired to achieve a subtle daytime look or a more dramatic night-time one.

Nothing too strong; there might just be a normal mascara smell in there.

--Texture and consistency--
This is brilliant - I am normally the type of girl who will buy a mascara, open it once, and then leave it in a drawer to dry out a bit for six months due to the formula being just too thick and wet to work with when new. This, though, is perfect from the vey first use, with not a clump in sight. Hoorah!

As you have probably guessed, this makes you look perfect every time, its idiot-proof formula producing fluttery and natural-looking lashes with there being a visible difference in length and separation.

Stays on all day, but comes off easily when you want it to.

--Value for money--
I am truly staggered by the difference in quality between this and the pressed powder from the same line. I would definitely buy this again due to its quality rivalling even top-end brands, and believe the price to be extremely reasonable. A million times better than the Bourjois and L'Oreal mascaras in the same price range and gives the designers with the same price tag (chiefly Clinique and Elizabeth Arden) a run for their money. Would buy again.

perfect partners
Magic Minerals Mineral Powder, £29.99
Magic Minerals Eyeshadow and Lip Kit, £19.99
Magic Minerals Mineral Blusher, £9.99

JML Magic Minerals Mineral Powder

RRP: £29.99
--What does the promo say?--
"The only make up you’ll ever need.
Change the way you apply your make up forever, with Magic Minerals from JML. Created by make up expert Jerome Alexander, the amazing Mineral Powder works as a foundation, corrector and concealer all-in-one. Its unique built-in colour correctors make skin imperfections magically disappear while its ultra-fine formula glides on gently and hides the appearance of age spots, dark circles and even breakouts. Unlike other foundations, Magic Minerals allows you to build up coverage to achieve the look you want, without it ever looking heavy or caked on.
  • Foundation, corrector and concealer all-in-one
  • Perfect, even coverage
  • Hypoallergenic with natural SPF
  • Fragrance and talc free
  • One shade suits everyone
  • Ultra fine; won’t get caught in wrinkles, lines and creases. 
  •  Suitable for light to medium skin tones."
A robust black plastic square which, unlike a lot of high street powders, has a really good size of mirror included in the lid. Mine also came with the brush, which is sometimes included as part of special deals at JML but also retails separately on the site at £7.99. Sadly the brush is terrible and does not live up to the 'professional quality' tag attached to it: the bristles are really coarse and started falling out of the brush from the very first use. Nevertheless, it does pick up and hold the powder well during application without sending it everywhere.

Swirl the brush across the powder palette and sweep over face after applying any other base products such as foundation or concealer. Nothing tricky about that.

I was a little concerned that in spite of the product being pegged as being suitable for light to medium skin tones, it would be too dark on me, as in the palette the powder appeared quite orange. However, I need not have worried, as it did indeed match my skin tone perfectly. The powder is also speckled in the palette with small dots of bronze, white, green, pink, yellow and purple, which are colours used in powders by many companies to help counteract the effects of lines, redness and scars - so while it may look odd if you're not used to this kind of product, be assured that there is a method to the madness.

None - as promised.

--Texture and consistency--
Again, as promised, it is a fine powder which does not cake or weigh heavily on the skin.

--Effects on the skin--
Sadly, the product does not deliver on the miracle effects described in its promotional materials. I applied this over bare skin and saw no difference at all, but held out hope that once I had applied all of my usual concealer and foundation that I would see a difference (as a long-term acne sufferer I do accept that I am quite a special case). However, the difference was only minimal - a long way from being the holy grail of a "foundation, concealer and corrector all-in-one". Plus, the product just did not provide the radiance and coverage that I see from my usual choice (Arbonne's Sheer Pressed Powder). All in all an underwhelming experience.

--Value for money--
The price tag is outrageous and astronomical - which would be fine if it worked. There is far too little effect for the money paid (and for that money you expect real wow-factor stuff) for a product by a designer that nobody has heard of. Products in the same price bracket (£25-£30) include the Arbonne powder mentioned above (£26), as well as powders by such luminaries as Lancôme, Guerlain (their Meteorites refills and travel versions - I suspect the inspiration for this product - retail at £30 and under from Slapiton and ScentStore) and Bobbi Brown, who all produce wow-factor results at the makeup counter. While JML offers a few slightly more lucrative deals on its website (go for the Special TV Deal, for instance, and you'll get the powder with a blusher, mascara, makeup brush and explanatory brochure - all still for £29.99), you would be better off giving this a miss altogether and going for one of the big-name brands mentioned above, or to a minerals specialist, such as PurMinerals (starter kit: £26), or pressed powders from Bellapierre (£29 from House of Fraser) or Youngblood (£30). 

perfect partners:
Magic Minerals Lash Extending Mascara, £9.99
Magic Minerals Eyeshadow and Lip Kit, £19.99
Magic Minerals Mineral Blusher, £9.99

Friday, 4 March 2011

Beauty Byte: Claire's for Comic Relief

Looking to spice up your life this March - and help raise money for Red Nose Day? Pop into Claire's at 488 Oxford Street (London W1) at any time between 10.00 and 18.00 not only tomorrow (March 5th) but also on Red Nose Day itself (March 18th) for a manicure using Claire's exclusive WAH nail varnish in bright scarlet; the manicure is free with any purchase of a Red Nose Day product (of which 30p goes to the Red Nose Day charity) at Claire's. Now that's what I call painting the town red.