2 December 2010

Dior Vernis - Aztec Chocolate

Mmmmmm! Dior is starting to dominate my nail polish collection somewhat but when they come out with beauties such as this I'm kind of powerless to resist.

Aztec Chocolate is so stunning and oddly wintry. It's kind of a medium brown with beautiful cool shimmer, not too obvious until you catch it under the right light and then.. wow! As you can see from the photos it does appear slightly purple in some light but in natural daylight it just appears brown.

Excessive number of pics coming up...

Dior has changed it's polish brushes and I did find application a bit trickier than usual, but not for long. I may be imagining it but the consistency also seems slightly thicker.. perhaps not, but application is still good and no chips at the end of day one despite some nail unfriendly activities such as food shopping, washing up and buying a Christmas tree!

There are a few more Dior polishes I like the look of at the moment - next on my list is Czarina Gold, a brown/black with gold shimmer, which I hadn't been that interested in until I heard someone else lemming  it (thanks Vex in the City!) and now predictably I NEED it! I also love the look of Bond Street, a blue-grey I first saw on British Beauty Blogger and which is on sale exclusively at Selfridges.

I also purchased a hot pink Serum de Rouge, Diorskin Nude Concealer and Diorshow Mascara, which I hope to review shortly. Anything from Dior caught your eye of late?

30 November 2010

Paul & Joe Eye Colour swatches

Just thought I'd do some quick swatches of my three Paul and Joe eyeshadows. They don't have names - just numbers. Although Paul & Joe have relaunched their eyeshadows (the powder shadow range is now called Self Select) I think you can still find these kicking around various online outlets such as Bohemia  - these were actually purchased from Fenwick in a sale earlier this year so it would be worth keeping an eye out in the January sales too if you like them.

l-r 24 (Centre Stage), 26 (Metro) and 003 (Fortune, from Secret D'Or LE collection)

l-r 26, 24, 3

I love the shimmer shadows (24 and 3) particularly - they're really soft and pigmented. The grey/taupe I tend to use as a liner. As you can see none of them have had much use though - I'm a bit like that with eyeshadows I'm afraid, mainly as I'm clueless as to how to apply! I do find the packaging a bit whimsical - really I prefer the Chanel / Nars school of no nonsense packaging, but they are pretty admittedly.

Anyone tried any of the new Paul & Joe shadows?

Aromatherapy Associates Perfect Partners Bath and Shower Oils (and more festive goodies)

Following my review of the Aromatherapy Associates Revive Evening Bath and Shower Oil, which I loved, I recently had the opportunity to try two more of the Bath and Shower Oils, found in the Perfect Partners set.

The set contains 7.5ml each of the Revive Morning Bath and Shower Oil, and the Deep Relax Bath and Shower Oil. It costs £14 to buy, but on the Aromatherapy Associates website it is currently being offered as a (quite generous I think) gift with purchase when you spend £50 or more - the perfect excuse to stock up on Christmas presents!

Of the two, my favourite is Deep Relax. It contains extracts of vetivert, camomile and sandalwood,  apparently calming ingredients. I'm not very good at describing scents so I'll just have to describe their effects  and say that I actually felt a kind of calmness descend and tension leaving my body. I even managed to stay in the bath for a whole 20 minutes, something of a record for a prior bathphobe such as myself. The name couldn't be more appropriate.

Containing a blend of rosemary, juniper berry and pink grapefruit (which AA describes as detoxifying and energising ingredients), the Revive Morning oil is a bit more.. zingy. Personally I prefer the Revive Evening oil, as I find the Morning version just a tiny bit strong for my fragile composition first thing - rather than use this in the bath therefore I think I'll reserve the remainder of this one for a quick splash in the shower, or perhaps adding to a basin of hot water for bit of steam inhalation therapy. However on those days when you're feeling a bit groggy, sniffly or generally would much rather be in bed, I think this would be just the thing you need to clear the senses and kick-start your day.

Although the Aromatherapy Associates line is expensive, I really feel like I'm doing myself some good using these products - I certainly haven't tried any other aromatherapy products that promote such a sense of wellbeing. I am definitely going to buy the Deep Relax oil as a Christmas present for my brother's girlfriend, a very hardworking nurse who I think is the perfect candidate for a bit of pampering of this nature. And if your budget doesn't stretch to full size, there is also another set of miniatures, the Heavenly Oils, which come in lovely Christmassy purple packaging and again would make lovely stocking fillers.

One major plus though of the miniature bottles is that once you've used up the contents, you can refill them with one of your full size AA bath oils which is hopefully residing in your bathroom cabinet! They're the perfect size to take away for a weekend or overnight stay - with the added bonus that they'll make even the stalest hotel bathroom smell beautiful. That said you should get a few baths out of each one - if you use two capfuls per bath as directed and not four like me! 

Finally I just wanted to make a quick mention of the Comfort Candle (£24), another Christmas offering. Frankly I'm sold on the name alone, though the promise of damask rose and ginger helps too. Lovely and festive and just the thing for this weather!

Anything from AA on your Christmas wishlist?

Images courtesy of Aromatherapy Associates

Disclaimer: The Perfect Partners set was a PR sample

28 November 2010

Ren - Lipovector Smoothing Eye Contour Cream (and other nice things)

I purchased this eye cream recently when my previous eye cream, Kiehl's Abysinne (decent but not exactly earth shattering) was running out. I hadn't tried anything in the Ren line previously, despite having hankered after the Moroccan Rose Bath Oil for about the last decade, so thought I'd give this a try despite the lack of reviews online.

And I really like it! Whereas the Kiehl's felt nice but I didn't really notice any improvements to the eye area, I actually feel my undereye area looks better with this cream, which I've been using for about a month now.

Active ingredients are yeast collagen, which apparently increases moisture retention, vitamin A from rosehip oil, which apparently encourages collagen to fill wrinkles (well this is what the Ren website says anyway!) and wheat peptides which reduce the depth of expression lines and wrinkles. Although I don't normally pay much attention to these sorts of product claims, I have to say that I have definitely noticed effects in these areas. I don't have a lot of lines around my eyes yet but I do get dry looking creases under my eyes particularly when smiling and laughing, and I notice these are visibly lessened after i apply the cream.

It has a good consistency (not too runny or too thick), feels nice to apply and make up goes smoothly on top. The only thing I don't like is the packaging - the pump tends to squirt out more than you need unless you happen to have extreme control of your index finger, which I do not. It also tends to squirt anywhere except on to your finger tip, so I now pump it into the cupped palm of my hand where it can't do any damage to fabrics!

Packaging quibble aside, I'd definitely recommend giving this a go if you're on the search for a new eye cream, particularly one with natural ingredients.

If you place an order on the Ren website at the moment you will currently receive two winter skincare trial size products, and delivery is a reasonable £3. This week I also purchased (not from the Ren website but from the North Wood Clinic in South London) this gorgeous mini skincare set as a Christmas present for my friend, which contains four Moroccan Rose and Grapefruit and Neroli shower gels and moisturisers, and which cost a reasonable £15.

(pic: Ren website)

Quite some time ago, I also purchased the Ren Guerande Salt Scrub from Beauty Expert. It looks amazing and gets great reviews, and I am super excited about using it but before I try it I first have to use up my old standby L'Oreal Exfotonic. Couldn't resist opening the lid to have a quick look though!

Ren Lipovector Smoothing Eye Contour Cream costs £25 for 15ml, and the Guerande Salt Scrub costs £19.50 for 330ml. Ren is available from Renskincare.com, Beauty Expert and some department stores including Liberty of London.

24 November 2010

Saco hair, Covent Garden

Just wanted to do a little rave about Saco hair in Covent Garden.

I first heard about this salon via a Groupon deal - £23 for a cut and blow dry. As the salon got good reviews online, I decided to give it a go (still not quite having found 'the' hairdresser to make me love my curly locks again in London).

I booked in for a cut and was very pleased with my lovely, friendly stylist and the cool but informal nature of the salon, which although quite large is laid out with lots of little nooks and twisting corridors so it doesn't feel too impersonal. I was also pleased with the cut - not a triangle or a diamond to be seen (two curly hair crimes) - my stylist listened to me, offered advice and feedback, and gave me EXACTLY what I wanted, despite my very vague attempts at explaining this (kind of choppy, shorter on top, longer straggly bits but not too much taken off!).

I was therefore very excited to return a couple of weeks later for a colour. We'd discussed going darker and richer, and I was a little surprised to see that the end result was somewhat redder than I'd anticipated. But once I'd gotten used to it - LOVE! In fact I'm going back in a couple of weeks for another dye and I'm going to go a bit redder, as it has faded quite a bit which is no reflection on the colour but more that red hair does fade quite quickly and it wasn't a permanent colour.

The salon only uses sulfate-free products which impressed me. AND they place nice relaxing music, not noisy in your face trendy rubbish. They use Wella dyes, and I'm actually quite impressed at how the colour has panned out. Normally when I have a colour I end up with a flat, orangey tinge when it starts to fade. On this occassion, although it has faded quicker than I would have liked, it's actually faded to a quite nice rich, chestnuty colour. I have been using Kiehl's Sunflower shampoo and conditioner on it as well, which I think has helped (I'll be posting on those little godsends shortly!).

Anyway here's a few pics for you to judge for yourselves.

after cut 

how it looked curly

after colour

colour five weeks later 

Price-wise Saco is about average for a central London salon though if you're having a colour you then have to pay separately for the blow dry, a practice I disapprove of in salons but which seems to be fairly widespread now unfortunately. And I did feel the blow dry was ridiculously overpriced at about the £40 mark. No blow dry, however good, is worth that in my book. I did have a 20% voucher for my second appointment which lessened the blow (no pun intended!) but I will be sticking to getting my hair coloured at the same time as I get it cut in future and getting blow dries when needed at my local salon in south London!

Overall though, highly recommended.

PS Another thing I loved about the red is that it opened up a whole new world of make up possibilities - colours which had previously looked a bit blah against my mousy hair were given a new lease of life against my vibrant red locks. I took full advantage of this by having a little splurge at Nars, the results of which can be seen in my last couple of posts!

13 November 2010

Outfit of the day - Autumn florals

I overlooked the fact that I had to buy a large in this dress so it wouldn't suffocate me, as it's is very cute.

It's from Zara and cost a mere £29.99. I love the Liberty-meets-William Morris print, the flattering neckline (it does require a vest during the day) and the warm autumnal colours - the material is also lovely and soft.

I paired this with some navy woolen tights and my battered old, much loved and really-needing-to-be-replaced Office brogues.

I also added a few gold bracelets and a gold necklace from Agent Provocateur which I picked up for a bargainous price from My Wardrobe. I'm not normally a fan of logos on anything but the AP logo is so subtle, and I love the individuality of it.

Tomorrow I'm going for Sunday lunch at a pub in Sussex, and am thinking I'll wear the dress with some cream knitted tights, chunky brown heels and a cardi. I also bought a navy belted tunic dress with a shawl collar from Zara which I'm loving, so there will probably be an outfit of the day featuring that sometime soon.

OPI - Dulce de Leche

Picked this colour when I had a manicure recently - and regretted it. I wanted a change from the brights and darks I normally favour, but this really didn't do anything for me. I found it quite unflattering and blah and annoyingly I'm sure I've actually gotten rid of a number of similar nude shades to this from my collection. What can I say - it looked nicer in the bottle!

11 November 2010

Blissful bathtime - Aromatherapy Associates Revive Evening Bath and Shower Oil

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I received a full size bottle of this bath and shower oil when I took out a subscription to Vogue recently. I'd been interested in trying the Aromatherapy Associates line for a while, and was not disappointed.

According to the Aromatherapy Associates website, the oil is "just the thing to help restore a flagging mind and body", and I wholeheartedly concur. Containing extracts of patchouli, geranium and ylang ylang, the oil has a delicate herbal scent which I find deeply relaxing - indulgent and therapeutic. It is recommended that you use one capful of oil per bath - I do use a little more than this, but used as directed, one 55ml bottle should provide enough for 20 baths. As the name suggests, you can also apply the oil to the skin before showering, though I tend to use mine in the bath only as it goes further that way.

Bathing with this product leaves my skin feeling soft and soothed (though do be careful not to slip when getting in or out of the bath!). As an added bonus, my bathroom and towels smells gorgeously spa-like for a few days after I've used this, and I also love how pretty the glass bottle looks beside the bath.

As a 'shower person', I'm not normally one to get excited over bathing and bath products, but this oil is doing a good job at converting me - especially now the nights are dark and cold and the lure of a hot, scented tub is so much more appealing. I will definitely repurchase this when my current bottle runs out - which won't be too long at this rate - I'm also keen to investigate more of this line so would love to hear what your favourite AA products are. I notice there are some gorgeous gift sets out, along with some scented candles which I'm quite tempted by, and there's also a free gift when you spend over £50 on their website - I should think anyone who likes baths would love to receive one of these gorgeous glass bottles in their Christmas stocking.
Revive Evening Bath and Shower Oil costs £34.75 for 55ml

First image courtesy of Aromatherapy Associates.

An edited version of this post was published in October on www.lovestyle.com

9 November 2010

Essential measures #6 Kiehl's Creme de Corps

Kiehl's Creme de Corps is a regular fixture in my bathroom cabinet. I have been using this for years - occasionally checking out other creams on the market, but always returning to my beloved Kiehl's. Nothing makes my skin feel quite as cocooned and nourished - particularly in this harsh weather - as a generous dollop of this creamy goodness.

Creme de Corps contains the antioxidant beta-carotene, and cocoa butter and sesame oil to soften and moisturise the skin. It doesn't have a strong scent, which means it doesn't interfere with perfumes. I love the texture and custardy colour of this cream (and of course the packaging, which as with most Kiehl's products I find really quite pleasing). But most importantly this cream delivers. My skin feels and looks really soft immediately after using it. When I use it regularly, the overall condition of my skin visibly improves - particularly around the chest area where the signs of ageing are manifesting themselves rather too quickly for my liking! And another major plus of this cream as that despite its thickness, it doesn't doesn't clog the skin on my chest or back, which is prone to breakouts with many other creams.

Although quite a thick, rich cream, Creme de Corps never feels heavy or uncomfortable on the skin. The instructions suggest you wait several minutes before dressing, but I find it actually sinks in quite quickly so I don't need to do this (maybe my skin is just super thirsty??).  It also lasts me a decent amount of time - it's by no means cheap at £26 for 250ml, but with careful use it is fairly economical.

My only gripe is that with the smaller, non-pump bottles, it can be difficult to get the product out when you've used quite a bit of it. Usually just needs a bit of a vigorous shake (storing it upside down is not easy due to the shape of the cap) - or you could always buy a pump for the bottle if this is a problem.

I tend to use Creme de Corps more in the autumn and winter, when my skin is more prone to dryness, although it also works great as an aftersun; it feels very soothing on irritated skin. There is a lighter, SPF version of Creme de Corps which I've never tried, however in the summer I tend to switch another Kiehl's moisturiser - Deluxe Hand and Body Lotion with Aloe Vera and Oatmeal. This is a lovely, light body lotion which comes in variety of soft, subtle scents including Coriander, Mango, Grapefruit and Forest Rain, though my favourite, Vanilla, has sadly been discontinued.

Pic courtesy of Kiehl's

An abridged version of this post was published in October on lovestyle.com 

25 October 2010

Nars Deep Throat blush

I do kind of object to the name - not that I'm a prude but I don't want seedy traffic coming to my blog - never mind! I love this blush - much more-so than Orgasm (fighting a losing battle here really) which is a bit more sparkly than this. It does have shimmer, but not too OTT for daytime. This gives a very pretty flush to the cheeks and as with pretty much all my other Nars blushes is great at highlighting the cheekbones. 

I can't get enough of Nars at the minute especially their blushes - I don't love Deep Throat as much as Amour - yet, but give it time and who knows. I'm loving this shade with my new red hair and I especially love this with my new Bangkok Pure Matte lipstick, which I'm also wearing in these pics.

What are your favourite Nars products? I love Dolce Vita and Pigalle lipsticks, Amour, Zen and Douceur blushes and Rebel Yell nail polish. I'm ashamed to say I've never tried one of the famed Multiples. I'd also like to try Sheer Glow foundation, but I'm going to use up my tube of Diorskin Nude first, which I do really love and may well repurchase.

24 October 2010

Nars Pure Matte lipstick - Bangkok

LOVE! I had my hair dyed a kind of coppery red colour yesterday (not what I was planning on and not sure how I ended up with it but I think I like it so it's okay), and as the salon was conveniently close to Liberty I thought I'd pop in for a mooch round the beauty department to see if I could find one or two things to compliment my new look. Unsurprisingly, I did! Enter the new Pure Matte lipstick in Bangkok, by Nars (so my favourite make up brand at the moment).

Love the packaging and the size of this lipstick - so much easier to apply than normal lipstick tubes I think.

I knew I wanted a matt, medium MLBB pink, as I think pink shades look lovely with red hair (Cheryl Cole clearly agrees with me - see her Sat night X-factor look for proof - NOT that I was trying to emulate that I should add - I didn't see it til this morning actually!). Anyway, the make up man in Liberty suggested Bangkok - a quick swipe, and I was sold. 

As others have mentioned (and as the name suggests) this is a matt shade, and as such will highlight any imperfections / dry patches on your lips - so exfoliation and a balm is a must beforehand (I usually just use a muslin cloth with a bit of balm to exfoliate the lips). The formula is actually quite flattering, giving a soft, pillowy effect, and the lasting power is decent (after a cup of coffee and sandwich today it was still hanging in there). 


I'm loving Bangkok with Deep Throat blush, which I also purchased and will do a post on separately - you will see more pics of Bangkok on that post (would have put them here but blogger just started playing up!). I also think Bangkok will look great with Douceur and other pink blushes. 

The Pure Matte lipsticks cost £18 and I think there are a total of six shades in the line.

 Anyone tried this shade or any of the other Pure Mattes?

19 October 2010

Caudalie Toning Lotion

I'm about three-quarters of the way through a bottle of Caudalie Toning Lotion which I purchased from Beauty Expert a couple of months ago, and so thought I would write a short review. 

I really like this product. It is soothing and calming on the skin and has a clean, fresh fragrance. I don't notice any magical effects, but it is effective at removing cleanser residue, freshening my skin and preparing it for moisturiser - pretty much all I look for in a toner. 

Ingredients-wise, it's alcohol free and contains '94% natural ingredients', one of which is a compound called 'Vinolevure' which is apparently capable of retaining up to 100 times its weight in water, therefore preventing dehydration of the skin. I like the fact that it combats dehydration, as my skin has definitely become a bit drier and tighter with the change in weather.

Although not the cheapest at £14.50 for 200ml, my skin seems to like this product and I feel it is quite nourishing and protecting, so I think I will repurchase when it runs out. I haven't tried any other Caudalie products other than the lip balm which I do really like; based on this toner I may well investigate further.

18 October 2010

Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte - Opera Rose #29

Yesterday I had a bit of a clear out of my make up stash... which predictably involved rediscovering a few little worn gems that had been relegated to the darkest recesses of my make up drawers - enter MAC Brit Wit and Bobbi Brown Velvet Plum cream blushes - and my two YSL Rouge Voluptes in Forbidden Burgundy and Opera Rose - the latter of which I had a little play with and as such am now blogging about.

This is one of those colours that I love in the tube, and like on my face.. but never wear. It is kind of bright - and I'm not really a bright lips kind of girl (why I bought this one out of all the other more wearable colours I will never know - it may have been to do with Temptalia). I love the formula - it feels heavenly when you apply it. But I've never yet got around to wearing this in public - so I'm thinking it might be toodle pip. I'll always have the photos at least (actually having done this post I've decided I like this colour too much too let it go, so I'm going to keep it to look at from time to time - and one day I might just whip it out and surprise everyone).

NB I'm sorry about the imperfect application - since I've started blogging I've realised that I in fact have a very wonky lipline - this I've only noticed since I've started looking at lots of photos of my lipsticked mouth! I can only get lipsticks to apply evenly using a lipliner - and I then feel that gives an inaccurate portrayal of how the lipstick would look applied solo. So you'll just have to put up with my wonky application I'm afraid and I hope it doesn't offend anyone!

16 October 2010

Shiseido - Sheer Gloss lipstick in Honey Tea

Shiseido Sheer Gloss lipstick in Honey Tea was a cult product a few years back. It was one of my first high end beauty purchases (and few repurchases) and one that marked my transition from mildly-interested-in-make-up to make-up-obsessed.

Honey Tea is kind of similar to Clinique's Black Honey - it's a berry colour that works with rather than against your natural lip colour, and that you can build up or keep quite sheer - but I see more brown in it than Black Honey. It adds polish to the lips but the glossy finish keeps it quite natural and sexy - I like to wear it without blush and my eyes defined with a bit of brown eyeliner or shadow. The formula is lovely - moisturising and glossy with decent lasting power. What you get on the lips is basically the colour you see in the tube.

I was surprised to read online whilst writing this review that this product has been discontinued, but as I'd already taken the pictures for this review I thought I'd post it anyway as kind of a cult classic retrospective - though you can still buy the shade from various websites online. I think the sheer gloss lipsticks have been replaced with the Perfect Rouge Tender Sheer line, though I haven't tried this line and it seems to have quite a limited colour range.

Does anyone remember, or still have and wear, Honey Tea?

15 October 2010

OPI - I'm Suzi and I'm a Chocoholic

Hmmm... interesting. This was the most difficult application I've ever had with an OPI polish. It went on very sheer and unevenly, with some nails needing three coats. A bit surprising as I usually find OPI a dream to apply. And yet it lasted an amazing five days without chipping - go figure!

The colour I am faintly underwhelmed by. Normally I adore brown-red polishes, but I think I may have ODd on them - so I think I'm a Chocoholic may be my last foray into 'breds' for a while (well, it's better than 'blurple'!).

I was struck however by the similarity between this polish and my retro radio - so I thought I'd introduce that into the shots for a bit of interest (it's a bit dusty as our builders used it whilst working on our house - and clearly I haven't cleaned it since!).

Overall it's nice, and I think it suits my skintone, but I just don't love it as much as some of the other breds in my collection - Essie Downtown Brown for example. So probably eBay for this one (and funnily enough, that's where it came from!).

9 October 2010

Molton Brown Seamoss Stress Relieving Hydrosoak

In the past, I had for some reason an irrational dislike of Molton Brown. To my eyes, it seemed to be kind of an 'artificial' brand, invented purely to bring out bland toiletry gift sets every Christmas for frazzled shoppers on a last minute dash to get something for the mother in law, or to furnish bathrooms of luxury hotels.

I think this strange view was in part due to the fact that little seems to be known about the brand itself, and its history, and perhaps too the marketing. You don't seem to see it advertised much anywhere. Doing a bit of research into the brand for the purposes of this post, i was surprised to discover that it has a long history, dating back to 1973, when Molton Brown opened a hair salon in London's Mayfair, before branching out into toiletries based on ingredients from nature (one major plus of this brand is that it does not carry out animal testing on it's products or ingredients).

My somewhat unfair view of Molton Brown has in the past year or so been challenged by the few Molton Brown products I have tried (thanks to my mother being one of the recipients of the aforementioned gift sets!). I was surprised by the utter deliciousness of the scents - one of them a ginger shower gel, and also a green shower gel whose name I forget but which smelled divine, like nature bottled.

So when I was browsing Beauty Expert for a new bath product recently, I thought I'd treat myself to the delightful sounding Seamoss Stress Relieving Hydrosoak.

I have to confess that the gorgeous aqua-marine packaging and the fact that it had 'seamoss' in the title first drew me to this product - I am a sucker for anything marine-themed. However I was pleased to discover that it provided a suitably aquatic bathtime experience.

The scent is gorgeous - kind of hard to explain, but it is uplifting and relaxing, and definitely transports you to somewhere decidedly more appealing than your bathroom. The product contains dead sea salts, seaweeds and horse chestnut extracts which apparently help exfoliate the skin as well as soothe the senses.

The soak gets good reviews on Beauty Expert, but none of them mention the best thing about this in my opinion - that it turns your bath green! A gorgeous, sea green, as if you are bathing in a tropical lagoon.


At £18 for 300gm, it is expensive, but being much more of a shower person anyway I figured this would last me a while. The seamoss soak has definitely opened my eyes to the Molton Brown brand and I shall be exploring more products in future. I am considering buying the complementary shower gel, and I also like the sound of the Warming Eucalyptus Bath and Shower Gel. As well as toiletries, there is also a small selection of make up, and scented candles, on the Molton Brown website.

Does anyone have any Molton Brown products they would recommend? Who knows, between this and the Aromatherapy Associates Evening Bath and Shower Oil, which I've also been using (and loving) recently and will be reviewing shortly, I may just become a 'bath person'.