Sunday, 31 July 2011

Cosmetics & Beauty News July 2011

Kate Beckinsale
Top British beauties revealed
The results of QVC's survey of 2000 men and women are in - so what does Britain believe to make the most beautiful? Apparently if you're 5'5", have blue eyes and dark brown hair, and are into acting, you stand a good chance. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, in the list of the 100 most beautiful women formulated according to the survey results, Audrey Hepburn came out on top, although the results were certainly evenly and closely spread - there were no landslides here, with the Breakfast At Tiffany's star scoring 11% of the votes. Plenty of famous brunettes appeared in the top 10, with Elizabeth Taylor in second place, and Catherine Zeta Jones, Cheryl Cole and Kelly Brook coming in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. Plenty of blondes featured too, though, with Princess Diana coming third, Keira Knightley coming 7th, Holly Willoughby coming 9th, and Twiggy 10th. Kate Beckinsale completed the top 10 list, filling the 8th place. Vlogger Fleur de Force has been commissioned by QVC to create video tutorials using a whole range of beauty products from the shopping channel so that you can get the looks of these top ten British beauties at home. Products used to create the looks include Amazing Cosmetics concealer, Perricone No Foundation Foundation, and Bare Escentuals Fabulous Eye Colour Palette Diamond.

Beat The Heat
Since it appears that the sun is finally coming out again, we can all be newly concerned about protecting our hair, skin and eyes from the sun. John Frieda's Frizz-Ease hair serum is one way of dealing with the former: with three different formulas to choose from (original, extra-strength, and thermal protection), there's a frizz-busting serum for every possible problem, ensuring sleek and flawless style whether combating humidity or sun damage. Neutrogena's Multi-Defence range (prices from £3.49) will also help to protect skin from environmental aggressors all year round - while we all know about sun damage, your skin is also exposed to pollution from road vehicles, factories and homes. The range comprises moisturisers, scrubs and wipes and contains a heavenly host of ingredients to calm and protect skin, including vitamins, antioxidants, green tea, and Moringa seed. You could also try Simple's cooling Limited Edition Facial Wipes - for every pack sold, Simple will donate 10p of the RRP to Macmillan Cancer Care. Cooling, cleansing and caring - what more could you want?

Stand out from the crowd with Miami Pop
For a low-budget way of making yourself seen in the crowd this summer, you could always try 17's Miami Pop range, available at Boots. Centering on spontaneity, bronzes are mixed with bold brights and the products come in packages with a distinctive flamingo design. Try the nail varnishes, lip gloss and bronzer from just £2.99, or try the £6.49 Adaptitude Adapting Skin Match foundation for a look you can work all year round.

The future's bright
Are nano-cosmetics a mainstay of the future, or a flash-in-the-pan fad? Beauty company Fiabila certainly thinks it could be the former, having just secured permission to use nanotechnologies in its nail polishes. More specifically, they will be using Halloysite Natural Tubes: naturally occurring, non-toxic and environmentally friendly nano-composites which provide increased durability and performance to nail products. This means that as well as being at the cutting edge of technology, you're using natural products too - and Fiabila aren't the only ones to cash in on the rising star of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology - or the use of tiny molecular compounds - enables ingredients in beauty products to go deeper into the skin's surface and produce better results; as a consequence, the volume of patents relating to nanotechnology use in the beauty industry has increased by 103% over the past seven years, with the technology being used mainly in sunscreens and anti-ageing products. Since it can help with the healing and repair of skin tissue, it's hardly surprising that international brands such as Estée Lauder, Dr Brandt, Avon and Shiseido are hot on this new technology's tail.

Staying fresh
Aspects of health can be just as important as makeup and facials in helping us all feel our most beautiful. Companies like Femfresh are beginning to recognise this by offering products to keep us clean on the go - whether we are off to a festival or off on holiday. Especially important in hot weather, Femfresh's Feminine Freshness Wipes (£2.49) cleanse, freshen and deodorise with their hypoallergenic and pH-balanced formula. Just as importantly, they are biodegradable and flushable, helping to circumvent tricky disposal tactics. Also available is the Feminine Freshness Deodorant (£2.65), containing calendula and silk.
Babies and children can now also 'stay fresh' with the arrival of Pure Beginnings at John Lewis. Eco and vegan friendly, this organic skincare line is endorsed by Beauty Without Cruelty South Africa, and accredited by Phytotrade Africa - all the while providing everyday essentials for little ones' skin, such as baby wash and shampoo (£8.15; contains rosemary, geranium and baobab), berry toothpaste (£3.60; endorsed by dental associations and suitable for teething babies), and barrier cream (£10.15; contains tea tree and baobab and can be used to treat skin conditions ranging from nappy rash to eczema).

Your secret weapon for perfect brows
Famous fans The Saturdays recommend HD Brows' Eye and Brow Palette (£19.95), whose long-lasting anti-smudge powders should keep your brows looking good for up to 24 hours. What makes this product different is the availability of different varieties for blondes (Bombshell), brunettes (Foxy), and those with dark hair (Vamp) to create a range of natural and smouldering looks. Rochelle describes her 'Vamp' palette as "an absolute must have" while Frankie "love[s] the definition they give". The powders can also be used as eyeshadows and the palette comes with a mirror and double-ended styling tool. 

Fragrance news
Burberry announces the launch of Burberry Body - its most sensual women’s fragrance to date. British actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is the first Burberry Body fronting the fragrance’s multimedia ad campaign. The campaign directed by Christopher Bailey, features Rosie Huntington-Whiteley wearing only a rose gold satin trench coat and the scent Burberry Body will be launched through dynamic offline and online activity, innovative digital events and highly visible, disruptive communication combining tradition and technology. Burberry will create an iconic portfolio of "Burberry bodies" shot by Mario Testino, iconising the fragrance for years to come. Burberry Body launches in over 150 countries from 1 September 2011 with further details of the innovative bottle, fragrance and scent all being revealed over the coming weeks.
© Copyright Burberry/Testino
 What makes you beautiful?
Lancôme is launching its site,, as of tomorrow, to help us find the answer. Everyone is invited to share their own vision of beauty, in whatever medium they so desire - an image, a phrase, a video...- and thus contribute to a constantly changing digital picture of beauty.
 The site could also help; it allows you to unlock your hidden beauty potential through specialised quizzes developed by doctors (on nutrition, sleep, relationships and more), improve your scores with personalised action steps delivered to your inbox, get the latest health and beauty news, read columns written by experts in their fields, and explore daily beauty facts. Tap into the science of a beautiful you! 
You can also revitalise and detoxify yourself with the help of another doctor - Dr Hauschka - by using Dr Hauschka Lemon Lemongrass Body Oil (£17.95), which for a limited time also comes with a 'grow your own' sleeve implanted with lemon mint seeds. The handmade paper sleeve can be planted and grown rather than discarded - use the leaves for a rejuvenating tea or to add kick to a salad, while the body oil keeps your skin hydrated and supple all year round with its formula containing jojoba, lemon, lemongrass and mistletoe.
Continue the lemon theme with Lanolips' Lemonaid Lip Aid - an originally limited edition product that is now permanently part of the Lanolips range. Containing lanolin and organic lemon oil to soften and exfoliate, it's priced at £8.99.

Free beauty treatments
To help the above along, why not take advantage of a free beauty treatment this summer courtesy of Really TV? The Really Buff Boutique in central London will be open for a limited time only (August 2nd-5th, 11-7) and offering free treatments including fish pedicures, waxing, and manicures. Just like their Facebook page to get hold of their exclusive booking number. John Bell & Croyden, London's landmark pharmacy, is also holding a summer shopping event in store on August 11th from 13.00-21.00. Packed full of free treatments including hand massages and mini facials, free health checks, and free tastings of red ginseng and Comvita honey (to name just a few), there's something for every need and desire. You can also enjoy 20% off everything and enter spectacular prize draws.
It's hardly surprising that this should appeal given QVC's latest survey indications that we really are a nation of beauty addicts: of the 2000 women surveyed recently, 33% would never leave the house without makeup on and 21% say putting on their makeup is the most important part of their day. A quarter of Brits reapply their makeup every two or three hours, and a whopping 65% believe themselves to be judged more by other women than by men. Make of that what you will...

Hand luggage essentials
Still got your hols to look forward to? You can beat the budget airlines at their game by travelling on hand baggage only to save money. Along with planning meticulously what you will wear (and sticking to it), wearing clothes more than once, and using your hotel's free towels (if provided) rather than bringing your own, you can pack smart by bringing makeup palettes, wipes and mini products rather than taking full size versions of everything. Some hand luggage essentials include Wet Ones antibacterial wipes (£1.19), Hawaiian Tropic's Takeaway Sun Protection Kit (£13.99), and Quattro for Women Disposable Razors (£5.79; contrary to popular belief, disposable razors are allowed - it's just individual blades that aren't). Happy travelling!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Blistex Lip Massage

 RRP: £1.83 (

--What does the promo say?--
"A softening treatment formula of shea butter, aloe vera and squalane applied with its unique massaging tip for smooth, refreshed and gorgeous lips. Dermatologically tested. SPF15."

The shiny dark blue is an unusual touch and the tapered, textured top of the plastic tube only furthers this. The pull-off lid is secure, stays on well and comes off easily when you want it to. Simples! One complaint by other reviewers has been that the textured top becomes dirty too easily and requires constant cleaning; I personally haven't found this. Just remember that a little of this stuff goes a long way and you'll be fine.

Blistex say: "Twist the cream and use the applicator tip to gently massage all over your lips (first use may take up to 10 turns, subsequent uses should only require one turn). Reapply frequently during prolonged exposure to dry, cold or sunny environments - the soft touch tip smooths away rough spots to achieve soft, smooth and gorgeous lips." No reading between the lines here; does exactly what it says on the tin.

An opaque, creamy-coloured stiff lotion that gives a slight sheen to the lips once applied.

An overwhelmingly fruity scent which contrasts the menthol and vanilla scent you get from Blistex's other products. Could put the blokey contingent off, but I like it - it's a natural fruity smell too (although I can't work out where it comes from), unlike Carmex's fruit-style confections.

--Texture, consistency and sensation--
As mentioned, this is a stiff and creamy lotion, but it absorbs easily and is not at all sticky. Slight tingling sensation which fulfils the refreshing feeling promised by the promotional material. Equally, the textured tip offers a comforting and soothing 'massage' feeling when dragged across the lips, which is so simple and effective that I can't believe other lip care manufacturers haven't yet seized on similar devices.

--Effects on the lips--
All as promised: lips are soothed, smoothed and massaged. Top stuff.

--Value for money--
Prices vary widely across the web, even running as high as £3.50, so be careful. Boots offers it at £1.83 on special offer, but even at its normal price of £2.50, I'd say it's still a steal for an effective and unique product.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Liz Earle Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion

RRP: £9.70/150ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Wake up and revitalise eyes with cotton wool pads soaked in this gentle, soothing herbal lotion before using Cleanse & Polish. Non-oily, it is ideal for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers. Naturally active ingredients include the grassland herb eyebright, witch hazel, organic aloe vera and cornflower to help tone, cool and refresh tired, puffy or sore eyes."

The rectangular packaging is reliable and confident, especially with its twist-up lid, and the calm yellow is unusual too, while still fitting in with the rest of the company's products.
The Liz Earle website states: "Apply Eyebright to cotton wool pad to clean and wake up your eyes first thing. For a revitalising, soothing compress, soak 2 cotton wool pads in Eyebright and place over eyes and relax for 5 – 10 minutes." No tricks to any of that. One other tip from the Liz Earle therapists is to keep this product in the fridge for extra coolness on summer mornings.

A clear liquid which leaves no visible residue on the skin after use.

I would actually say it's fragrance free, which is perhaps a little surprising given the presence of the aloe vera and witch hazel. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing - if you are put off by strong smells in products, have no fear here.

--Texture, consistency and sensation--
It's a replica of water in its texture and consistency - and, as promised by Liz Earle, is light and non-oily. It also didn't bother my contact lens-wearing husband; we both found it delivered a refreshing sensation without any irritating side effects. Although it's marketed as an eye lotion, it can also be used to refresh the entire face, which makes it a lifesaver in hot weather. Its lack of harsh chemicals also means it can be used for children.

--Other comments--
I've heard this can also be used to remove light eye makeup, and while I believe it can do this, I don't know anyone who wears *only* eye makeup, and so most people need a more heavy duty makeup remover that also removes foundation etc. Why would you use two products when one will do?

--Value for money--
It's not that I think the price is bad, especially for a product which appears to be totally unique in the market (type "eye lotion 150ml" into Google Shopping, and even without the speech marks, Liz Earle's product is the only one to come up; without the ml specification, even then most of the results are eye creams, which is not what this product is). However, even though I think it is a great addition to a facial (before, during or after a mask, for example), neither my husband nor I could see the point of it exactly in terms of fitting it into our day-to-day routine (we both already cleanse, tone and moisturise). I'm guessing that the people who would get the most out of this product are people who perhaps suffer with eczema, psoriasis or dry/irritated skin around the eye area, but apart from that, most people are not going to make regular use of this product. Liz Earle would perhaps be better off rebranding it as a toner for acneic skin (its Skin Repair Light moisturiser, which is for oily skin, already contains similar ingredients; I would be tempted to use Eyebright as a toner to see if its witch hazel sees off the blighters), a toner for sensitive skin, or a toner for people with other skin complaints (see above for examples). Maybe then it would have more takers.

perfect partners
Eye Try-Me Kit, £22.75 (for 4 travel size favourites)
Daily Eye Repair, £13.25/10ml
Smoothing Line Serum, £13.25/10ml
Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, £11.75/100ml
Skin Repair Light, £17.60/50ml

Blistex Daily Lip Conditioner

RRP: £1.49 (Superdrug)

--What does the promo say?--
"For beautifully cared for lips that are healthy and in tip top condition. Now bursting with even more Vitamin E and with added Aloe Vera and collagen, this daily lip balm has all the ingredients for keeping your lips gorgeously soft, healthy and younger looking.
Care - your lovely lips will feel smooth and super soft from all the goodness of daily conditioner."

The green and cream combination is unusual - a lot of lip balm containers seem to burst off the shelves in bright primary colours - and evokes the idea of natural ingredients being used. Despite the appearance of the cardboard sleeve, the balm itself comes in a small plastic pot that you need to dunk your finger into to extract the balm. Generally no complaints apart from the fact that the screwtop lid can occasionally come a bit loose in a pocket or bag - although not so loose that you can't fix it before it falls off and makes the balm all sticky and gross.

Use your fingers, or perhaps a lip brush, to apply the balm onto the lips. Much easier to control than other Blistex products such as the Relief Cream.

A creamy-coloured balm in the pot which is invisible on the lips, delivering only the slightest sheen and thus making it suitable to be used by men, women and children.

A lovely vanilla smell - which may make it appeal less to men! It's a natural-seeming smell, though, and it's not strong enough to be offensive.

--Texture and consistency--
Smooth, soft, slightly waxy, and not at all irritating.

Gives a slight tingling feeling, making your lips feel fresh and nourished. 

--Effects on the lips--
Sends dry skin packing with ease, leaving lips smooth in the long and short term. It also has SPF15 in it, so you don't need to worry about being out in the sun. Nice one, Blistex.

--Value for money--
My favourite kind of product: utilitarian, luxurious, portable, and best of all, affordable. Would I buy again? DEFINITELY.

perfect partners
Intensive Moisturiser Lip Cream, £2.34
Tint & Shine, £2.59
Med Plus Cherry Berry Lip Balm, £2.34

Liz Earle Botanical Shine Shampoo and Conditioner

RRP: £7.65 for 200ml

--What does the promo say?--
"With West African shea butter, natural source vitamin E, shine-boosting apple and orange extracts plus naturally derived cleansers, our shampoo gently cleans without stripping to leave hair soft, shiny and smooth. Contains no sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate. Naturally active ingredients include natural vitamin E, west african shea butter to moisturise plus apple and orange extracts boost shine. Specially formulated with meadowfoam and yangu oils, blue seakale and shine-boosting apple and orange extracts, our creamy, colour safe conditioner leaves normal hair glossy, hydrated and in perfect condition, ready to style. Naturally active ingredients include meadow foam oil to help condition, Kenyan yangu oil to smooth and soften plus apple and orange extracts to boost shine."

The blue and white is perhaps a little too conventional in terms of the shampoo and conditioner market in general, but fits in well with the rest of the Liz Earle range. Even though the fact that they contain apple and orange extracts means that they probably could have gone for a pale green or orange colour scheme, I can appreciate that they didn't want things to look too wacky. The plastic tubes are shiny and the flip-top lid is secure; the grass-decoration banner is also successful in conjuring up the desired natural image and hinting at the product ingredients.

"Wet hair thoroughly, massage into a rich lather from root to tip – a little shampoo goes a long way," says the Liz Earle website. It continues: "If needed, add water for more lather. Rinse and repeat if required. Massage [the conditioner] into clean, wet hair after using Botanical Shine Shampoo. Apply to mid lengths and ends. Rinse thoroughly." Nothing tricky about any of that.

The shampoo is a runny, but not too runny, opaque off-white lotion that creates a fine white lather when mixed with water. The conditioner, however, is a stiff white lotion. Neither leaves any visible residue on the hair after rinsing.

If you sniff hard then you can smell the fruit extracts; however, it is not immediately obvious. Overall a fresh and clean scent suitable for both sexes.

--Texture and consistency--
The shampoo, as mentioned, is a runny lotion, while the conditioner is more like a stiff cream; both, though, are easy to spread and work through the hair. A smoothing and luxurious experience on both counts. I am also always amazed by how Liz Earle manages to create such a fine yet rich foam in the company's products without the use of traditional industry foamer SLS.

--Effects on the hair--
Makes hair smoother, cleaner, less frizzy, less tangled, and more manageable. However, as someone with hair that is quite quick to get greasy (although, simultaneously and frustratingly, when it has just been washed it is usually too dry!), I would be interested to try one of their other conditioners: there exists one for dry or damaged hair, as well as one for fine or oily hair.

--Value for money--
Gives a good salon effect with natural ingredients, so I'd say this is quite a good buy. Even though some may balk at the price, it is in the same bracket as the chemical-laden L'Oreal and Tigi, so at the end of the day, I suppose it depends on your priorities.

Botanical Shine Shampoo - for all hair types
Three types of conditioner available: for normal hair, for dry & damaged hair, and for fine & oily hair
All £7.65 for 200ml

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Alpha H Triple Action Cleanser

RRP: £21/200ml

--What does the promo say?--
"This light non-foaming cleansing gel that removes all traces of face and eye make-up whilst cooling the skin. Contains triclosan (a scientifically proven anti-bacterial which helps reduce acne breakouts), aloe vera, which hydrates, and cucumber, which calms and soothes. Recommended for normal, combination or oily skins; for adults and teenagers suffering from persistent breakouts, or for men to use prior to shaving. Gently removes eye make-up; retards the spread of acne bacteria, breaking the acne cycle; skin attains correct pH balance thanks to unique combination of ingredients; skin becomes more receptive to further treatment."

Very utilitarian and unisex in its black and white plastic tube. While functional is good, I would have perhaps liked something that told me a little more about the product's "personality".

Spread the non-foaming gel over a wet face and then rinse off. Nothing difficult about that.

A clear gel which, as mentioned is non-foaming. Leaves no visible residue on the skin.

Virtually scent-free; a tiny amount of aloe vera may be detectable, but it's certainly not strong enough to bother anyone.

--Texture and consistency--
As you would expect a gel to feel: not lumpy, not sticky. Just smooth. Easy to wash off.

--Effects on the skin--
Despite the generally boring-if-hunky-dory aspects of the product as detailed above, this is where I hit trouble, and where my view seems to differ to just about everyone else on the internet. I found that oil built up more quickly on my skin throughout the day while I was using this, and that if anything spots got worse and took longer to go away. Sucks to be me.

--Value for money--
Those for whom this product works probably find it's excellent value. But I don't - and find that £21 is pretty expensive in general. For something more effective, and cheaper, go for Clinique's Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Bar or Cleansing Foam (£13 each), or Neal's Yard Rejuvenating Frankincense Facial Wash (£16). For something in the same price bracket - which provides a more effective and luxurious experience, go for Liz Earle's Cleanse & Polish, which is exactly the same price at £21 for 200ml.

perfect partners
Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF50+, £25.50
Purifying Clay Mask with Vitamin A, £24

Monday, 4 July 2011

Cosmetics Contemplations: From one royal wedding to another

As I mentioned at the beginning of May in my original royal wedding makeup post, eyes can be just as much on a celebrity bride's face as on their dress. With Kate Middleton, Lily Allen and Kate Moss having all gone for natural looks, it appears too that the new Princess Charlene of Monaco went for an equally classic look on Saturday:
Waterproof mascara was clearly a choice element for this teary bride. Her tan (natural, I'm guessing; if it's fake then whoever did it did an excellent job) is complemented by a highlighter (perhaps something akin to Benefit's High Beam) and a natural lip colour, such as those provided by Clinique's new Chubby Stick Moisturising Lip Colour Balm (Graped Up is a most agreeable shade). Some extra hold may have been needed for the lips, though, so perhaps the blushing bride's lips also had a base made from concealer or foundation, or from a specialist product intended for the purpose, such as products by Astor or Benefit. Max Factor also do a great double-ended product, the classic Lipfinity, that does both in one stick. I've heard, though, that Charlene's lip colour was actually applied by makeup artist Pablo Ardizzone, and created by him too - the shade 'Charlene' was mixed specially, in honour of the day.

The bride's eyeshadow, in timeless golden brown colours, is also given the thumbs up from over here - and, as some criticised Kate Middleton for, none of it is too heavy even from close up. The eyebrows are well-shaped too - although I don't imagine for a moment that the ex-Olympic swimmer did them herself.

The crowning glory, though, is definitely the new princess' hair: her highlights add natural extra dimensions without looking in the least bit tacky (although you'd expect that from someone with hundreds to spend on a hairdresser, wouldn't you?), and the hairpiece is elegant and a little bit glitzy without losing any of its classiness.

Funnily enough, the lack of jewellery, while it initially bothered me, does not in fact detract from the overall effect: the hairpiece, glittering details on the dress itself, and the other main features of the veil and train more than compensate. On seeing pictures, the wow-factor is there while still keeping Charlene looking chic and understated. We don't know what perfume Charlene wore, but the aptly-named Marry Me! by Lanvin would fit the bill for any bride; alternatively, she could have followed in Kate Middleton's footsteps and plumped for the Duchess of Cambridge's choice - White Gardenia Petals, by the House of Illuminium.

Another brand that may have been a port of call for the new princess may have been Giorgio Armani: after all, he did design the dress, and the makeup brand that bears his name also gets the thumbs up from several beauty industry pros. Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel designer, was also present among the guests; could Charlene have taken some beauty guidance from him?

Overall, a successful and very lovely wedding look; let's just hope the marriage of the newest entrant to the House of Grimaldi is just as successful.

Bronzer: Agnès B b. Sunny! Poudre de Soleil
Mascara: Rimmel 100% Waterproof Mascara
Highlighter:  ELF Shimmering Facial Whip
Lips: Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturising Lip Colour Balm; Benefit Lip Plump
Eyeshadow: MAC Pigments in Chocolate Brown, Tan and Copper Sparkle
Perfume: Marry Me! by Lanvin

Beauty Byte: On the Fashion Photography Circuit

Vodafone has set world-class racing drivers Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton a tough challenge: can they style, direct and photograph a high-end British fashion shoot?

Assisted by stylist Valentine Fillol-Cordier, they are tasked to style the models, choose props, and then take photographs. It must have been a partial success at least, with model Charlotte W describing the shoot as "hilarious" and "completely different to any shoot I've ever been on". Click on the video above to see for yourself!

The film is just one element of Vodafone VIP, which gives customers access to the best of British festival, fashion and Formula 1™ events. Whether it’s the 2011 FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX, music festivals or exclusive front row seats at London Fashion Week shows, Vodafone will be supplying customers with the hottest tickets and money can’t buy experiences. All Vodafone customers can register for Vodafone VIP by going online.