Thursday, 30 June 2011

Cosmetics & Beauty News June 2011

With all of the negative coverage about sunbeds and even about the sun itself (although don't forget that everyone needs some sun each day unshielded from sunscreen for their daily dose of vitamin D), it can sometimes seem like the only way forward is via fake tanning - especially since some dermatologists, such as Dr Amy Taub, are even getting high schoolers to sign 'no-tanning' pledges. Tan Solutions UK truly does offer a solution for everyone with its extensive range of at-home self tans for different skin tones, including those of us who normally get no further than the pale and interesting look. At over £15 it's in Fake Bake and St Tropez territory, but with delivery free over £20, a discount code of 20% on your first order (type in OPEN at the checkout), and Paypal accepted too, it's looking like one of the hottest new options on the market today.
In the same price bracket, try Crazy Angel Duo Packs - the same fake tan supplying programmes such as Made In Chelsea. Rich in bearberry, shea butter and sesame, it too caters for light and dark skin tones.
You can also fill out's fun survey on tanning here: Have the TOWIE girls succeeded in bringing back the creosote fake bake? How much is too much?

Grow, hair, grow!
If, like me, you're fed up of hair THAT JUST WON'T SEEM TO GROW GODDAMMIT (I've been stuck at shoulder length for years), then Lee Stafford new hair growth shampoo and conditioner range could fit the bill perfectly. Following on from the existing Hair Growth Treatment comes the shampoo and conditioner to help 'fertilise your follicules and help hair grow to its maximum potential length'. They contain a cocktail of yummy-sounding (and smelling!) stuff, including apple and lemon extracts, green tea, and wheat protein. At £6.99 each for salon-standard styling, they're affordable too.

Celebrating all things beauty
Television shopping channel QVC's Beauty Month launches tomorrow (July 1st) - and trust me, there's loads to look forward to in the way of exclusive launches, great guests, and special offers. Discover new premium bronzers, nail care items and fabulous gift sets from brands such as Elemis, New CID, Bliss, OPI, and Perfect Formula - and perhaps even start on a little super-organised Christmas shopping from the comfort of your own home :) Shiseido has also launched on QVC this week, so start looking out for exclusive info and promotions on that front too.

All acne? All natural? No problem
When looking for solutions for acneic skin it can seem that all the products on the shelves are loaded with chemicals. Chart-topping television programme Embarrassing Bodies: Live From The Clinic has, however, perhaps found a product for those who prefer to care for their skin more naturally. Voted best product on the show recently, Antiac Skin Therapy Spray by Salcura supposedly "stop[s] shine and [gets] right down deep into the pores to banish blemishes" and provides an aromatherapeutic experience at home too, containing tea tree, sandalwood, manuka and nerolina oils, which not only smell nice but also combat the bacteria that cause acne with their anti-fungal and anti-septic actions. It also has aloe vera and sea buckthorn in the ingredients list to treat inflammation and promote healing. It's available in a spray format, allowing for more economical use and deeper, quicker penetration of the product into the skin. Interested? You should be. I know I am. 
 Health vs beauty
You'd think that health would win out in this battle, right? WRONG - British women apparently spend more than £100 more on beauty than on health each year, spending around £336 per annum on beauty enhancement products compared to £228 a year on vitamins, gym membership and health care. The survey of 3000 women aged 18-65, commissioned by the Benenden Healthcare Society, shows that British women also use 880 gallons of foundation per year, and enough lipstick each year between them to draw a line from London to New York. Don't forget to look after your inner health too!

Makeup for the beach
At this time of year, the Western world is assaulted by ads for fake tan products, limited edition summer makeup palettes, and, of course, waterproof makeup for the beach. But some waterproof makeup products don't just stop you from looking like a panda - if you think about it, rubbing makeup into your eyes by accident or crying just after you've done your makeup can lead to a host of eye infections. Scrummy, I think you'll agree. So it could actually be pretty important to have a mascara like Blinc's Kiss Me Mascara on your side, since it claims to never run, clump, smuidge or flake, even if you cry or rub your eyes. The most searched-for mascara on the internet, it is sometimes even recommended by ophthalmologists for those who have recently undergone laser eye surgery or to patients who have sensitive eyes or use contact lenses. It can even be removed with warm water alone, and given that it's available in black, brown, and even green, there's no need to compromise on your usual look either. Depending on where you look (Google Shopping is a good place to start), it can even be found for as little as £10.  
And speaking of beach makeup - a full face isn't cool. It just looks odd and may clog up your skin even more in the sun. Moisture is key due to the sun and salt water, so get a good moisturiser (why not a tinted one?), and of course, a good sunscreen. Use powder-based products to combat shine, rather than liquids or creams that may smudge; cheek stains are good for long-lasting colour; and don't forget there are plenty of waterproof eyeshadows and eyeliners out there too.

There's also an article from on keeping your feet beach beautiful that is good to check out:

Dove meets Nails Inc
From now until July 12th, you can get a free limited edition Nails Inc nail polish created by Dove especially whenever you buy any two Dove deodorants at Boots. Taking their names from colourful Latino cities (including Havana), the Dove Beauty Collection nail polishes bring the vibes from these cities straight to your fingertips. This perfect finishing touch is worth £11 and is a great celebration of Dove's newest deodorant, Beauty Finish. Make sure you don't miss out!

There's an app for that
Of course, when it comes to looking prettyful it's sometimes not enough to paint and powder ourselves to within an inch of our lives. That's why it's important to keep fit and healthy too - and yep, you guessed it, there's even an app for that. From timing contractions to launching birds at pigs, it seems that iPhone apps can do anything these days, including keeping tabs on your fitness and diet. The main problem for most (including myself) is motivation and willpower, which Christine Chiu's new app (as yet unnamed) hopes to counter by turning your health goals into series of small, winnable games. Users can earn points, level up, and unlock badges whenever they do something good, such as adding a piece of fruit to the food diary or completing a workout, as well as consulting charts and graphs to follow their progress. And best of all, you'll be able to use it even if you don't have a smartphone, as there'll be a web version too. Stay tuned for further info!
Jergens has also recently created their Fantastic-O-Meter - a fun and handy tool that helps you to identify the areas of your life where you may need a little injection of Fantastic, by asking you to rate six key areas: Fun & Recreation, Finance, Family, Friends, Love Life, and Health & Wellbeing. You can try it here:

Save the bees!
Following yesterday's Bee Lovely Bee Symposium, hosted by Neal's Yard in association with activist Sam Roddick, the beauty brand is now reaching out to ordinary consumers to help save these precious pollinators. From now until October, you can sign the petition to help raise awareness of the plight of bees and to ban neonics (powerful pesticides) that pose a threat to them. The Neal's Yard Winni-bee-go van will also be zooming around London on July 5th and 6th, where you can pick up a free Save The Bees book and get a massage with Bee Lovely Hand Cream. In August the book and hand cream will be launched officially nationwide, with the cream including organic honey and orange essential oil.

Now that's what I call multi-tasking...
Renowned psychologist Linda Papadopoulos has just released LP Skin Therapy - a skincare line that takes multi-tasking to new heights by using psychodermatology (how the mind can affect the skin). Treat your mind and your skin at the same time with these products, which are sold by Harrods and QVC and contain known mood regulators, such as periwinkle extract, tyrosine and Vitacell. Starting at £15 means they aren't cheap, but not exactly out of reach either - and it could be worth it to balance your entire wellbeing.

Be spa struck
If you can afford it, you can also take yourself off to Wales' highest-rated hotel - the 4* Vale Resort - which has just unveiled its brand new spa. With three unique relaxation zones - chill-out, water, and sleep - you're bound to find the perfect experience among the plethora of shimmering lanterns and water features, and, in addition, the Thermae Suite is designed to treat your body to heat experiences that soothe, relax and detoxify, such as saunas, body brushing with birch, hot and cold rainforest showers with chromatherapy lighting, and ice rooms. It's also the only spa in Wales to offer luxury beauty brand Sundari, created by model Christy Turlington.
And while you're splashing the cash, why not pay a visit to Claudia Louch, the Harley Street-based skincare and nutrition expert? All of her skincare treatments and products are created bespoke for each individual patient, and all are 100% plant-based. Sounds worth the consultation fee to me. If struggling with acne, eczema, rashes or psoriasis she could be a good pit stop.

Bright and beautiful eyes
To soothe eyes that have been irritated by sunlight, sea water, chlorine or hay fever, Liz Earle's Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion could just transport you to a calmer place too. Just for summer, the company is running a bright and beautiful eyes offer: for £25, you can receive a tube each of Daily Eye Repair and Smoothing Line Serum and a bottle of Eyebright - saving you £9.70 until August 31st. What's more, these three products provide all you need for the eye mask that's part of the signature facial at Liz Earle's London Treatment Rooms. To do a facial eye treatment in the comfort of your own home, simply soak two cotton wool pads of our Eyebright and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then apply Soothing Line Serum around the eye contour (gently patting with the ring finger) and finally apply the two chilled pads for 15minutes and relax. This will help decongest and hydrate the eye area, leaving eyes looking bright and beautiful.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Shadow Pencil

RRP: £14

--What does the promo say?--
"They're crease-proof, they're waterproof, it's the next generation of 24/7 Pencils! These Shadow Pencils deliver incredible color payout, but feel lightweight. The new fat shape allows you to cover large areas more quickly. Use the thin tip as eyeliner, or the side of the tip as a generous swipe of eyeshadow. Luscious drop-dead shades make you feel every inch the creative type, as you blend shimmer, cream and sparkle finishes. Skip the powder shadow brushes and water - Shadow Pencils make it easier than ever to get vibrant eyeshadow looks on the go. Experiment with multiple shades layered together then blend away for an unbelievable effect that sets and stays put. All shades are paraffin, mineral oil, and paraben-free."

Coming in a wide range of funky shades with equally wacky names (OH how I would love to be the person who named the dark purple shade 'Delinquent'), the pencil you choose is always the same colour as its shade, so that you will make no mistakes when making a mad dash and grab again on your way out the door to do your makeup on the train during your daily commute. The lettering design and silvery lid take you straight back to an 80s disco in the best possible way, and the lid stays on securely too.

Sweep all over the eyelid and up to the brow bone for an impossibly bold look, or just draw a thick line to follow your upper lashes, and then blend upwards.

Of the two colours I was sent to test, one (Delinquent) has large pieces of glitter, while another (Morphine) just delivers a light matte finish with no glitter at all - so whatever look you're going for, there will be something for you. Teals and greys (such as Mercury and Clinic) would be excellent for work, while the wilder Clash and Barracuda are as suitable for the dancefloor as they are for the daytime. Equally, the consistency (see below) means that you can blend to create as subtle or as daring a look as you desire.

--Texture and consistency--
In spite of its initial stiffness, this is surprisingly easy to blend. Equally, its durability means that it will hold quite impressively.

In other words, "Is it really 24-hour?" While it puts up an impressive fight, the answer is sadly 'no' - although you can sleep in it overnight and have the colour still recognisable the next day (and not because it's smeared all across your face), it does begin to crease (although not to fade) before the end of the day.

--Value for money--
For truly long-lasting colour, you need to aim a tiny bit higher (about £1.50 higher) and go for MAC Pigments instead, which do not crease in the slightest. While the 24/7 Glide-On Shadow Pencils do glide on easily and offer something for everyone, they do not quite topple MAC and so perhaps need to lower their price a tiny bit more (say to the £12-£13 mark) to reflect this.

perfect partners
Big Fatty Mascara, £15
Eyeshadow Singles, £13
Fun Eyeshadow Palette, £25
Ink For Eyes, £15
24/7 Lip Pencil, £12
24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil, £13

Philosophy Hope In A Jar

RRP: £34/56.7g

--What does the promo say?--
"Recommended for all skin types, this intensive facial moisturiser contains lactic acid to exfoliate and Beta Glucan to help give skin a healthy glow. The light texture means it's easily absorbed."

Clean, light and minimalist in design and colour, using black and white to get the product's message across simply. Shame it's all made of plastic; for the price, more is perhaps expected.

Smooth on a small amount of the product after cleansing and toning.

A creamy yellow product that blends invisibly with the skin.

A slightly milky/creamy smell - given the presence of lactic acid, this isn't exactly surprising.

--Texture and consistency--
Creamy and luxurious; glides on and blends in effortlessly.

--Effects on the skin--
Redness is reduced, oiliness is reduced, spots don't seem to last as long, and the cream gives a really nice glow to the skin. Skin is also softened and calmed. Top stuff.

--Value for money--
This product seems to really polarise critics, with users on giving it as many 5-star reviews as 1-star reviews. One size therefore probably does not really fit all as the company tries to claim, and so my opinion of 'suitable for all skin types' products remains the same; I reckon I just got lucky this time. I also balked at the price when I saw it (THIRTY-FOUR QUID?! ARE YOU HAVING A GIRAFFE?!?!), but consider that if it really is effective on my poor acne-plagued skin (which, so far, it is) then it must be worth paying. The effects are also visible within even a few days of use, meaning that even the most disheartened can take something from it. Would buy again, and would encourage other acne sufferers to give it a go too - a surprise contrast to my disappointing experiences with other Philosophy products.

perfect partners
Miracle Worker Anti-Ageing Moisturiser, £46/56g
The Present Skin Perfector, £22/56.7g
The Great Mystery, £22/141.8g
The Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash, £22/236ml
Hope Springs Eternal Deep Sea Revitalising Mask, £21/142g

Blistex Relief Cream

RRP: £2.85/5g

--What does the promo say?--
"A soothing, penetrating formulation for quick relief of occasional cold sores, cracked lips or chapped lips. When you need a penetrating & soothing remedy to relieve & treat occasional cold sores and cracked & chapped lips, leaving your lips feeling soft again. Cold Sores - when first symptoms arise, gently apply every hour to rapidly relieve any discomfort. You are more vulnerable to developing a cold sore if you are feeling stressed & rundown. Lip care - your lips are more sensitive during extreme weather conditions, so may need a little more care than normal. Apply Blistex Relief Cream frequently to quickly relieve sore, cracked and chapped lips."

The soothing and utilitarian blue colours of the cardboard packaging are echoed again on the small metallic tube, which also uses white and red in its design. The nozzle is too thin to be practical; a wider applicator would be easier to use. Leakages could also be better controlled (see below) - the first time I opened the tube and squeezed, all that came out was a clear liquid which went all over my fingers. NICE. The cream came only later.

Squeeze a little of the product out of the tube. Really only a tiny amount is required, but as mentioned above, the nozzle is a bit small to control application thoroughly or to apply the product directly to the lips, so the best way seems to be to squeeze some product onto your index finger and apply from here to your lips. Although it is advised to apply the product every hour, certainly in summer this is not necessary, as it is more effective than this.

Although the cream blends invisibly onto the lips, delivering only a slight and quite natural sheen, the cream itself is a creamy, slightly off-brown colour. Some clear liquid also seeps out of the tube with every application, which again does not appear visibly on the lips.

A very strong menthol-style smell.

--Texture and consistency--
Smooths onto lips easily and absorbs well - not too quickly or slowly. Not in the least bit sticky. The clear liquid that seeps from the tube with each application is also not sticky or tricky to absorb, but is just annoying and watery and makes more of a mess of your fingers.

--Effects on the lips--
Lips are smoothened and irritation is rapidly soothed after only one or two applications; definitely speeds up the healing process. Really very effective.

--Value for money--
This product packs prescription power punch at a price to suit all, and all in an off-the-shelf product; however, there are still a few kinks that need ironing out. The smell is not offputting to me (I like mint) but may be to some, and the runny liquid that accompanies the cream needs to blend better with it inside the tube.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Beauty Byte: VIP Summer Shopping Event @ The Organic Pharmacy

This weekend (June 25th/26th), The Organic Pharmacy is hosting a special VIP Summer Shopping event on its website as well as in store. Use the code SUMMERVIP11 at the online checkout to get 20% off. Why not take full advantage of this offer and stock up on summer essentials, such as the After Sun Cream or the Tan Accelerator? Just go to :)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Beauty Byte: Feeling Closer with Nivea

NIVEA is celebrating its 100th birthday with its Feel Closer campaign, and to find out just how close we are in this new decade of iPads, Facebook and smartphones, has commissioned research by UK psychologist Geoff Beattie - and the results are good.
In spite of all the new technology at our disposal, we are in fact closer than ever to our friends and families. That can only be a positive sign for the future of our health, relationships and overall wellbeing. Research has even shown that not staying connected to those we're close to can be physically bad for you, as closeness with others can help to lower our blood pressure and stress levels and improve our mental health. If we have strong support networks in the form of friends and family, we may be less likely to turn to vices such as drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, and have the self-esteem boost from our relationships to motivate us to care about our health. The built-up stress over the years as a result of a lonely life can also even accelerate ageing - so it even comes down to beauty, too, as to the effects of friendship and closeness on our health. All the more reason then for Nivea, one of the world's best-known beauty companies, to get involved!
You can therefore show just how close to your nearest and dearest you are by participating in Nivea's A Million Moments of Closeness campaign - upload photos of you with them to from the comfort of your own home, or look out for Nivea's roadshows where travelling photo booths will enable you to upload photos to the campaign more interactively and just as instantly. And there's more benefit than just the feel-good factor: every day Geoff Beattie will choose his picture of the day, with the winner receiving £100 as a prize. What's more, you can debate online via Nivea's pages about whether long-distance relationships can work (I say they can!), whether a text can really take the place of a face-to-face chat, and more. Now that's what we call valuing closeness.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Beauty Byte: Nivea is 100 years old!

And they're probably the best-looking centenarian around, don't you think?

Nivea is marking its 100th birthday with a celebration of closeness in modern Britain. The video below deals with a number of ideas relating to this, including the impact of social networking on our closeness, and the value of getting immediate response.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Cosmetics Contemplations: shielding the sun

Although it doesn't always seem like it, with the weather being up and down like a yoyo, it is indeed now June. And with June comes the knowledge that the end of work (and thus the beginning of summer holidays) is in sight. Whether you are planning on staying in the UK for July and August, or jetting off to warmer climes, it's important to protect your skin. Most people already know this - so the question, perhaps, is how?

There is the hermit option of covering your head with a hat and your shoulders with a loose shirt. And carrying an umbrella. While wearing Factor 50. And only venturing outside at dusk. However, most people are not going to do this - so realistically you have two choices. The first is a suncream or a sunscreening gel. While creams are less oily these days, and thereby less tiresome to put on and wear on the skin, they are probably suited to those of you with drier skin. Gels could be more tolerable if you have oily skin - or, if you plan to work or play in dusty or sandy conditions while the sun is out, they also have the advantage of drying on the skin without leaving a film. You can also go for a spray (but these, I find, while being fun to use, can be as time-consuming as a cream to apply, if not more so) or a stick (for the face or lips).
The second option involves eschewing manmade sunscreens altogether and opting for natural sunscreens which contain minerals such as zinc or titanium. These can come in the form of lotions and potions - a form with which we are all familiar - or powder, which is a nice idea but potentially on the timeconsuming and inconvenient side when it comes to applying it, although they usually come with a built-in brush, puff, or rollerball.

If none of this appeals, there is always a third way: that of making your suncream yourself at home. That way, you know exactly what's gone into it, and could be a prudent choice for those with certain allergies or simply those trying to budget. You'll need to buy some ingredients online, but the satisfaction of making something for yourself, in bulk, and knowing that it's made just for you, could make the whole thing worth it. The required ingredients seem to be a carrier oil (basically any oil from your kitchen cupboard such as olive or sunflower), emulsifying wax, sunblocking agent such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (all available online), and a few drops of essential oils (your choice; usually available from the local hippy shop down the road). There are plenty of recipes available online to help you do this (such as this one).

So with all of the above at your disposal, there's no reason to not protect yourself from the sun. And, more importantly, you should be protecting your skin all year round - the sun can cause your skin to look more aged, cause changes in pigmentation and in blood vessels, and even cause skin cancer, and the UVA and UVB rays that cause these beat down on your skin all year round, not just when you feel it's time to sunbathe.

Two Great Mineral Powder Sunscreens
BareMinerals SPF30 Natural Sunscreen, £21
Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral Powder SPF45, £24

Five Great Mineral Sunscreen Lotions
Alba Botanical All Natural Sunscreen SPF18, £5
Loving Naturals Sunscreen Stick SPF30, £6.49
Lavera Baby & Child Suncream SPF20, £10
Green People No Scent Sun Lotion, £16.20
Liz Earle Mineral Sun Cream SPF20, £18.90

Five Great Gel Sunscreens
Dermatone Endurance Dry Gel SPF45, £6
Bullfrog SPF36 Surfer Formula Gel Sunblock, £6
Aloe Gator SPF40 Gel, £7
Aroma Magic Aloe Vera Sunscreen Gel SPF20, £9
Australian Gold SPF30 Plus Spray Gel, £13

Five Great Traditional Suncreams
Boots Essentials Sun Protection Lotion SPF15, £5.10
Nivea Sun Moisturising Sun Lotion SPF6, £10.71
Hawaiian Tropic Sensitive Face Sun Lotion SPF30, £12.25
Piz Buin Allergy Lotion SPF15, £15.31
Biotherm Sun Milk Face SPF50+, £21.75

Nair Ultra Precision Wax Roll-On

RRP: £5.99

--So what does the promo say?--
"Get salon results…at home! Professionally inspired Ultra Precision Wax glides effortlessly along the contours of your face to effectively remove hair and reveal radiant, smooth skin. With a high precision applicator, it's easy to achieve an expert finish that lasts for weeks! Fragrance free and enriched with moisturising white lily to leave delicate facial skin soft and smooth."

All fairly simple to use: the squeezy tube shows you exactly how much wax is left at any time, the screw-top lid keeps the tube securely closed until needed and the roller applicator is easy to put onto and remove from the tube as required. It's also easy to wash and store after use. As far as the various accoutrements go, you're provided with a good number of washable, durable strips that can be reused, and an orange stick (supposedly to allow for greater precision when spreading wax over the eyebrow area, but for reasons why this is somewhat redundant, see below).

Nair's instructions to users are as follows: "Carefully fill a glass or cup with boiling water. Put the tube of wax, cap downwards, into the water for 3 minutes. Dry the tube well. Remove the cap and screw on the roll-on applicator (keep the cap for storage between uses). Squeeze the tube to get the wax flowing, and roll the applicator over the back of the hand to test the wax temperature. If the wax does not come out easily, replace the cap on the tube and put it back into the hot water for 1 minute. Make sure that water does not get into the tube, as it will make the wax less effective...Cleanse the area from which you wish to remove hair using soap and/or warm water and then dry thoroughly. The hair removal area must be dry and free from any traces of cream or cosmetics. Roll the applicator over the area to be treated, in the direction of hair growth. Place a cloth strip on the wax, pressing well, leaving approx. 1cm at the end to make it easier to remove. Hold the skin taut with the other hand and then pull off rapidly in the opposite direction, parallel to the skin. Each strip can be used several times." 
With the exception of the patch test (whose instructions I have left out here), I followed these instructions to the letter, with no results. Wondering if I were following the procedure incorrectly, I tried leaving the wax to dry a little (e.g. while I dried my hair), but this also had no effect. This leads me to believe that the instructions are either unclear, or missing steps, or that no matter how good the instructions were, the product would still not work.

A pleasant pink gel which does not leave any visible residue on the skin.

I don't know that I'd go as far as to say it's fragrance free - it perhaps has a slightly bubblegummy scent to it - but on the whole it's inoffensive.

--Texture and consistency--
Very sticky and does not harden enough for any hair removal to be possible. Even if you don't squeeze the tube, and just let the roller applicator do its thing, the layer of wax that comes out is also far too thick, you could argue, to harden within any reasonable length of time. On the upside, despite the stickiness it does wash off easily.

--Does it do what it says it will do?--
In short, no. I wondered if this was down to my inexperience at home waxing (I'm a salon girl all the way), but reviews across the internet seem to echo the fact that you would get better results using sellotape. After being sent this, I must have used it at least 3 times (if I recall correctly - twice on unwanted facial hair, once on eyebrows) only to find that not a single hair could be removed using it.

--Value for money--
It beggars belief that this even got off the drawing board and past initial testing, let alone that people could be charged £6 for the pleasure of using something that doesn't actually work. I'd be interested to try Veet's version to see how it compares, but ultimately would instead recommend the kind of wax that you heat up yourself at home and then rip off - much more effective (see here, here, here, or here for examples of such products).