Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Cosmetics & Beauty News October/November 2011

                                                                                    Natural News
As part of its 30th anniversary celebrations, Neal's Yard Remedies has launched a brand new website, NYR Natural News, where you can search for everything you want to know about natural health and wellbeing.The new site promises to offer readers a wide range of resources to boost their knowledge and understanding of natural health and complementary medicine. 

Alexander House Hotel & Spa, East Grinstead, has scooped a top accolade from the prestigious worldwide Spa Finder Readers Choice Awards by being named the Best Spa For Romance in the UK. Facilities include double treatment rooms, an outdoor spa garden with its own hot tub and plenty of comfy nooks and crannies to hide away, alongside spacious individually designed bedrooms, some with double showers and sumptuous Victorian bath tubs with room for two - all designed with romance in mind.

You can also create a spa-style atmosphere at home with Radox, who have commissioned Marconi Union to produce the most relaxing track in the world (allegedly more so than any spa treatment or massage). Five thousand women have already turned to the new track, entitled Weightless, in a bid to get that spa feeling every day while saving pennies. The track can be downloaded for free here.
In case you fancy a spa-style treatment at home while you listen, spa and skincare brand ESPA is now even more accessible thanks to the opening of its newest concession in Westfield Shopping Centre's House of Fraser. Find the best products for your skincare concerns thanks to ESPA's Skin Vision technology and give yourself a pampering experience at home.

Hair removal warnings
Women are being warned about unqualified hair removal “clinics” that totally disregard health and safety rules and use cheap devices bought on the internet. The service is very often an add-on to beauty salons cashing in on the huge demand for “unsightly” hair by women who are falsely reassured that they are in safe hands. Horror stories include burns to arms and legs, and eye damage because safety glasses have not been worn by patients. Other injuries are caused by inferior IPL (intense pulsed light) equipment. Britain’s leading ethical hair removal organisation, Laser Active, says the government, as part of its cuts, abolished regulatory controls and opened the floodgates for anyone with a cheap pen light or laser to set up in business. “Since controls effectively disappeared we’ve seen an explosion of amateurs setting up as hair removal experts,” said Laser Active founder Gill Leeden, a qualified nurse who had to pass an intensive training course before she could launch her popular clinics in Canary Wharf, London, and Knebworth in 1998. Gill, whose company is currently being franchised across the country in a bid to stamp out the cowboys, continued: “As the government appears to have abandoned any official regulatory control over these dangerous practices, then we have to offer people a safe and ethical alternative." Laser Active says its franchises will only be available to qualified nurses who agree to undertake proper training, but the benefits to patients will be enormous. “They can undertake treatment in a safe environment where their health is paramount and which
uses only the best equipment, handled by properly qualified and registered nurses,” she added.

Beautifully healthy
Staying cold- and flu-free becomes increasingly difficult as winter sets in (especially if, like me, you have a day job that brings you into contact with baby germs - the most potent germs known to man), so many brands try to help us protect ourselves from colds, soothe sore throats, and keep skin and senses nourished. One of these is Burt's Bees: with its affordable naturally medicated lip balm with eucalyptus and menthol oils, its natural throat drops (available in honey or honey & lemon flavours), aloe and witch hazel hand sanitizer, and its therapeutic bath crystals, you're well set to defend yourself while keeping your bank balance in good health too.

A/W 2011/12 cosmetic collections
See out 2011 and see in 2012 with new makeup collections from Burberry and Smashbox (or get someone else to buy them for you; tis the season after all!). Burberry's 60s-inspired collection focuses on sculptured brows, stormy wintery eyes and soft cheeks. Mascaras, eye shadows and eye definers from the new collection come in shades of brown and kick off at £15.50, while rose lip shades also start at the same price point. Sheer concealers and foundations also promise New Year confidence, although how far base collections with 'beige' in their name can truly cater to true English roses perhaps remains to be seen. For those who always have trouble picking the right eyeshadow colour, Smashbox's newest palettes promise to help: with one palette for blue eyes, one for hazel eyes and one for brown eyes, and with 3 shades in each box for a soft everyday look and 3 for a smoky eye, doing your eye makeup seemingly just got foolproof (even if L'Oréal did beat them to it some years ago with their eye and lip collections based on the same concept).

Heaven scent
Further to the recent news of Burberry releasing a single in collaboration with The Feeling to accompany the Burberry Body TV ad campaign, Burberry today announces the music video of the soundtrack. The exclusive track, entitled The Feeling Rosé Unplugged at Abbey Road for Burberry, is the first release of a single by a luxury brand. Featuring model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, the video is now airing on television music stations.

Nature, style and sustainability
Artist Vicky Woolford's brand, Sávar, recently launched its premium natural and organic product range which features all that is best in nature, style and sustainability. Concerned about the effect of substances on her hands after days spent painting in the studio Vicky has developed a range of 12 luxurious products, ranging from cleansers to anti-ageing moisturisers, as well as products for men, which are all 99% plant based. Vicky has personally selected the exquisite fragrances for the range, painted the subtle abstract inspired artwork for the labels and photographed the flowers for the beautiful Savar gift cards. The exotic ingredients list includes New Zealand blackcurrant oil, organic bilberry, marshmallow extract, organic fig, lemon balm, lime flower, and organic goji berry.
Sávar ships worldwide, and is exclusively available online at

Sticky moments no more
As a sufferer of hyperhydrosis (excessive sweating), I'm constantly on the lookout for the latest miracle. I wonder if this will do it? An AHC range of antiperspirants found on certainly seems a more appealing at-home alternative than an iontophoresis kit, and definitely more appealing than the outpatient option (which I've been offered in the past). Containing no colorants or preservatives, the products apparently help to close pores and work after the first application, using plant extracts to soothe and protect, such as clove oil and sage. Assuming nothing better comes along, I'll definitely be giving these a try myself.

Sticky sweet lips
Sticky sweet desserts, however, are quite another matter, especially when they don't add to your waistline. Vaseline's Limited Edition Crème Brûlée Lip Therapy seems to tick all of these boxes. It's already proved hugely popular, selling out in several stores - but keep your beady eyes peeled and you may still be able to get hold of one before 2011 is out. At £2.99 it's an affordable stocking filler - or an equally affordable treat for yourself. 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Cosmetics Contemplations: Christmas Collections 2011

And on that highly alliterative note, let's begin.

 Giorgio Armani's Madre Perla Collection
Aiming to epitomise the glamour of the 1930s, this collection takes the art deco movement as its inspiration, exploiting pure lines, sophisticated colours and luxurious details to their fullest extent. The £95 Madre Perla palette evokes silk lingerie and is set off by lacquer and metal, while the more affordable Eyes To Kill eyeshadows (£24.50 each) come in glistening taupes, golds and silvers. The Gloss d'Armani capitalises on bolder colours - shown above are shades Rouge 404, Pink 507, Plum 603 and Plum 604, which at £21 each, would make a glamorous yet not bank-breaking gift.

Bath and Body Works All I Want Liplicious Collection
Despite being unavailable in the UK (sob), these look just too delicious to not feature here. Bath and Body Works' festive glosses combine holiday flavours with Vitamin E and jojoba oil, and are available in five cheekily-named variants: Gingerbread Giggle, Candied Smile, Peppermint Hug, Snickerdoodle Squeeze, and Cranberry Kiss. At $8 a pop (or $16.50 for the whole set of five), they're the perfect stocking-filler.

Get ready to party with MADARA Skincare
MADARA's Flower Dust Shimmering Body Lotion (£22) promises to turn heads at Christmas parties with its light-reflecting particles, as well as protecting skin from winter cold with its nourishing ingredients (including calendula, camomile, seaweed and rosehip). Its £25 Tinting Fluid uses St John's Wort, cocoa and plantain, among other ingredients, to allegedly help give you a natural dewy complexion while disguising imperfections and fine lines - but with only coming in two shades, I'd say that this tinted moisturiser is a bit of a gamble. The brand's Tinting Lip Glosses, priced at £9.90 each, may be a better bet, combining natural colours with moisturising properties using plant minerals, mica, soy beans, sea buckthorn and more.

Luxurious gifts from Chantecaille
Chantecaille's Swarovski-studded bottles and compacts are sure to glitter under the trees of those willing to cough up. Its Crystal Fragrance (of which there are 5 scents: Pétales, Tiare, Vetyver, Frangipane and Kalimantan), whose bottle was designed by artist Cimon, retails at £500, but even those with more modest budgets can also partake: its South Sea Pearl body highlighter, enclosed in a flow-through brush, costs £46, which while extravagant is not totally out of reach. The £75 Evening Duo contains two exquisite new eyeshadow shades, and is adorned with crystals aplenty.

Holiday Gifts from L'Occitane
The Holiday Confiserie comes in two different variants for L'Occitane fans this Christmas. The Rose and Violet collection (Délice des Fleurs) contains violet and rose leaf absolutes, and includes an eau de toilette, a solid perfume, a shower jelly, a body milk, a hand cream, and a lip gloss. The Délice des Fruits variant smells of lemon and clementine and offers customers a lip balm, shower jelly, body cream, perfumed soap, bath ball, hand cream, sweet candle, and home perfume diffuser. Prices start at £3.50.

Ellis Faas Winter Gift Set
To celebrate the season, Ellis Faas has devised a £60 gift set, comprising three best-sellers: Milky Lips L201, Creamy Eyes E103 for an easy smoky eye, which can also double up as a liner, and Milky Eyes E209 for fresh accents. Their bullet-like pens and refuse-to-budge hold never fails to impress.

With all of that to choose from, you certainly shouldn't be short of ideas now *cough*guys*cough*. There's something here for every style and budget, whether you prefer the edgy expense of Ellis, or the affordable offerings from L'Occitane. Wishing you a happy shopping season!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Murine Bright and Moist Eye Drops

RRP: £4.07/15ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Murine Bright And Moist Eye Drops are formulated with a brightener to give super-white bright eyes. The long lasting drops also contain moisturisers helping to refresh and soothe eyes. Plus, the eye drops come in a liquid gel, a slightly thicker consistency helping them to stay in your eye. For great looking and great feeling eyes, in an instant!"

Beautiful in its design and detailed in its instructions without being overwhelming. Tells you everything you need to know on the box and on a leaflet inside. The plastic eye drop bottle is plain, white, and with a tapered tip as well as a secure screw-on lid.

Adults and teens (from age 13 onwards) are advised to tilt head back and squeeze one or two drops into each eye, up to four times a day, without letting the tip of the dropper touch the eye or any other surface. Contact lens wearers can use these, but you can't put in your lenses until 15 minutes after applying the drops. The drops are also not recommended for everyday use. In any case, application is simple and not at all problematic.

The eye drop gel is completely clear.

Nothing really obvious, not even anything vaguely medical.

--Texture and consistency--
Normally I hate using eye drops as within a few minutes it travels down through all the other vital canals (nasal, throat...) before choking you with its taste. This did not happen with these at all, so I was very pleased. If all eye drop manufacturers could adopt this formula then they'd be making millions of users' lives so much more pleasant.

--Effects on the eyes--
I admit to being sceptical about the product's claims to give me great-looking eyes "in an instant". However, these drops did do exactly that, giving me natural-looking but visibly whiter and brighter eyes. It did also help to refresh and soothe, so would be helpful if you were feeling tired.

--Value for money--
At £4 it's hardly going to break the bank, but I still don't know if I'd buy it again: I can't see it becoming a regular part of my routine, as I'd be mostly likely to use it only if I were very tired, or if my appearance was going to be exceptionally important/if photographs were going to be taken (e.g. at a party or at an important meeting). But seeing as the pack advises you to throw it out within 28 days once opened, you'd need to be quite sure that you were going to use it a darn sight more than this to make it worth your while. I would use Murine eye drops again - but perhaps only for a more specific everyday concern, such as dry eyes or irritation and redness.

Other Murine products
Dry And Tired Eye Drops
Contacts Refresh and Clean Eye Drops
Irritation and Redness Relief Eye Drops

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate

RRP: £38.75/28ml

--What does the promo say?--
"The intense, aromatic blend of 100% pure plant oils in this rich, restoring night-time treat is suitable for all skin types. It helps to soften dry or mature skin and balance combination or oily skin."

Clean and pretty at the same time, this packaging denotes quality in its detail. 

You can apply this separately, before moisturiser, or mix it with your moisturiser for the final step in your skincare routine. I usually prefer to mix oil with moisturiser, but you can just choose what's best for you.

Looks like a high-end, good quality product from the moment it comes out of the bottle. Its golden colour sinks invisibly into skin.

Unlike the rest of the Superskin range - which can seem to have little scent - the Superskin Concentrate has a natural, herbal fragrance that is evident without being too strong.

--Texture and consistency--
Smooth and enriching, the product sinks easily into skin.

--Effects on the skin--
As well as smoothening the skin, it also leaves it feeling softer and non-greasy.

--Value for money--
While not the cheapest product on the market, this is far from being the most expensive. It's good value for the quality of the product, and it lasts a reasonable period of time as well as you don't need to use it in excessive quantities. Nonetheless, as a bargain hunter I would say that you are better off searching out a deal in store or on QVC rather than paying full price ;-)

perfect partners
Eye and Lip Treatment, £26.50
Moisturiser, from £12.75
Bust Treatment, £27.25
Body Cream, from £12.50
Superskin Essentials, £56.70
Superskin Try-Me Kit, £27.50
Superskin Christmas Collection, £78.00

Friday, 11 November 2011

Dainty Doll Hot Pour Concealer

RRP: £14.30
# of shades available: 3

--What does the promo say?--
"Some things are best kept secret, so mask imperfections while helping them heal with this Dainty Doll Concealer Hot Pour. Very Light. This creamy concealer is enriched with skin loving ingredients that camouflage flaws while protecting your skin."

Sophisticated, glamorous and artsy. The drawing of the Nicola Roberts-a-like on the box is vivid, albeit perhaps a little unrealistic in what it encourages women to aspire to, and the compact comes with its own mirror. The box is enormous compared to the size of the compact though, so be prepared for a slight disappointment when you open it.

The worst ever of any concealer I have tried. It is impossible to apply with your fingers, unlike more traditional foundation, and while decent coverage is achievable, it takes much longer than with other concealers - you need a proper concealer brush to do it, and even then it lengthens the routine of putting on your face by significant proportions.

Some reviewers say it smells of cocoa butter; I personally couldn't detect this, but as it does contain shea butter, maybe my nose is just defective.

--Texture and consistency--
A bit too cakey for my liking and not always easy to blend. Be prepared to work hard when applying it!

I was amazed to find that the lightest shade (001) wasn't right for my skin tone, being too light. This meant I had to work a lot harder with foundation and powder to obtain something resembling a natural look. You definitely couldn't go out wearing this concealer on its own as the overall look of the thing is just far too patchy.

Lasts quite well once on (it is water-resistant, though, as I found out when I tried to mix it with water to make it easier to apply with my fingers, so I suppose this should be expected), but is it enough to compensate for the frustration and time it takes in applying it?

--Value for money--
While I might be willing to try this in another shade, this is officially the world's crappiest product in terms of the fact that applying it is just so damn time-consuming! I just don't have that kind of time on my hands - and in the end this, coupled with the fact of the shade being the wrong colour for me, I threw out the thing before it was empty (NB I practically never do this). For this price, Benefit's Boi-ing concealer is better for blendability and speedy application while competing well on durability. Dainty Doll is also overpriced for the brand name: as well as Benefit concealers also coming up in this price bracket, you can also spend your £14 on concealers by Elizabeth Arden, BareMinerals, Smashbox, Clinique, Shiseido and BareEscentuals - indicating that pricing Dainty Doll with them is way off. My advice? Unless you really cannot find a shade *anywhere* else to suit you, choose something else.

perfect partners
Loose Mineral Powder Foundation, £15
Wonderbalm, £16
Mascara and Eyeliner Duo, £14

Sunday, 6 November 2011


 RRP: £10 a month

--What does the promo say?--
"Stay up to date with current trends and discover new niche brands. Every month, GLOSSYBOX delivers a mix of 5 exciting product miniatures packed in a beautiful box for you to test at home. Our product selection is original and innovative. You can try them out in the comfort of your own home and in your own time without any pressure from sales associates."

When Glossybox offered to kindly send me a free Glossybox, I was in no universe expecting it to be so beautifully packaged. The pale pink and black box is sturdy and pretty, filled with luxurious ribbon and tissue paper in coordinating colours, and comes with full product information too (also printed up in their black and pink colour scheme). Definitely has the wow factor as well as being practical; for the packaging alone, a Glossybox subscription would make a great gift. Swift and secure dispatch also ensure it arrives promptly and undamaged.

As mentioned, you get five product samples (not including multiples; I think including multiples I had 6 or 7 individual pots, vials or sachets). I was intrigued to find out whether these would be full size products, or no more than the teeny sample sizes you get at any posh beauty counter. As it turns out, it's a mixture of the two.

It takes the same view as a magazine or mobile phone subscription: you pay £10 a month to receive an ongoing service. Unlike a magazine or mobile phone subscription, though, the Glossybox can be easily personalised: on the Glossybox website, you can fill out beauty profiles so that you're sent things that fit your beauty and styling requirements. In addition, there is a loyalty scheme on the website which enables you to pick up 500 GlossyDots for every friend you recommend, and 20 GlossyDots for every product from the box that you review on the site. Once you attain 1000 GlossyDots, your next box is free. This all encourages active use and consumer loyalty. Buying products you have enjoyed using is also enabled through the site, and cancelling subscriptions seems to be easy based on the website description of the process. The only feature I would add to the concept would be some sort of forum or service enabling GlossyBox users to interact as an integral part of the site: while there is a blog (and doubtless various Facebook and Twitter accounts), the site community would be strengthened further if its users could communicate with each other more easily.

--Product satisfaction--
With GlossyBox promising high-end and niche products alike, I was certainly not disappointed with the selection I received in the September box. I used one of the two generously-sized Dead Sea Spa Magik Salt Brushing sachets on a weekend away in the Loire valley, which rejuvenated and energised as well as fitting in with the luxury setting of my weekend. At £12 for 500ml as advertised on the site (offers exclusive to the site/to GlossyBox subscribers could perhaps be another way forward, allowing companies to shift more of their products and keep GlossyBox users loyal?), I would definitely buy. The HD Brows set is sophisticated and technical, and the Moa green balm is a serious contender to Liz Earle's Superbalm thanks to its multitasking moisturising rescue properties for your whole body. The Neal and Wolf Glow Super Shine Spray is also sure to add a touch of glamour and confidence to any girl's hair. The sample of Plum perfume, by Mary Greenwell, was the only thing I was disappointed with - not for its scent, but the sample size was nothing special and no different to what you get as a freebie if shopping in a department store. However, the box definitely gave me the chance to try products I'd had earmarked for a while (the Moa green balm had been pinned to my fridge in the form of a magazine cutout for months) as well as to discover products I didn't know to exist.

--Value for money--
While for some people £10 seems a lot for something unnecessary, people across the world spend this sort of money routinely on things like state-of-the-art mobile phones. However, the statements made by the company are valid: this is a good way to try a lot of new, different beauty products at once without wasting your money on full size packs. I have also heard GlossyBox lovers justifying the purchase with reasons such as them not drinking or smoking, and so that this is their affordable monthly luxury. And I don't blame them - the brand easily fulfils its brief of delivering a slice of daily sophistication to users' doors, and I have already recommended it to my husband as a gift for a family member this Christmas. Top service.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Green People Vita Min Fix

RRP: £14.95/50ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Voted ‘Best Moisturiser for Dry Skin’ by Natural Health & Beauty magazine. A 24 hour solution for normal, dry and tired skin. An explosion of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Regenerates and nourishes your skin. Promotes production of new skin cells. Delicate, natural scent. This natural skin care product is made without Parabens, Lanolin, ethyl alcohol, artificial perfumes, petrochemicals, phthalates and colourants to bring you the purest moisturiser that nature can offer. Certified with the Organic Food Federation. Suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Also available in a 10ml travel/trial size. This product contains Fairly Traded Ingredients."

The white and blue bottle (looks like a pump-action bottle; I wouldn't know, as Green People kindly sent me a sample tube that works more like a lip gloss) tells you everything you need to know without overloading you. 

Apply onto clean dry skin after cleansing and toning.

A white, slightly translucent cream which blends invisibly into skin.

Floral and natural without being overpowering. It also seems slightly fruity, although I don't know what ingredient/s could be giving me this impression. Overall very pleasant.

--Texture and consistency--
Light and non-greasy, rather than intensive; sinks into skin quickly.

--Effects on the skin--
Sadly, I think this made my acne worse, but then again it was clearly never made for my skin type. I can see how it would definitely be better for normal or dry skin and will be passing this on to someone else whose skin type is closer to this for a more accurate assessment.

--Value for money--
It is great to see a genuinely ethical company endorsed by genuinely ethical organisations, such as the Organic Food Federation and the Vegan Society, as opposed to all the other companies out there who think sticking a leaping bunny on the tube (which is linked with BUAV - possibly one of the most questionable "ethical" organisations out there) makes it all OK. Despite my negative experience with this cream, I am not put off trying a Green People product again that might be better suited to my skin type - and I don't think £14.95 is a lot to pay for 50ml of genuinely natural and ethically produced cream.

perfect partners
Eye Cream (night), £8.50/10ml
Fruitful Nights, £14.95/50ml