21 July 2010

Essential measures #5 Olay Total Effects Make up Remover

Women can be very fussy about their cleansing routines.  Some like to pre-cleanse, for others just a splash of water will do. Some insist on a separate eye make up remover, for others, a simple cleansing wipe fulfils all their needs. And while for some, only oil cleansers give that deep down clean feeling, for others, cream or hot cloth cleansers are the way forward.

It's unsurprising women are so fussy about cleaning their skin - after all, clean skin means healthy skin and fewer of the breakouts that for many women plague them well into adulthood and beyond. Breakouts can then lead many women (myself included) to pile on the make up... leading of course, to more breakouts. Clean, glowing skin looks youthful, appealing, and is the perfect base for make up.

Now in my early 30s, I've found a cleansing routine that works for me. In the mornings, I usually just use a facial wash, sometimes with an exfoliator. I'm not too fussy about which, although at the moment I'm using a Murad one containing AHAs, as my skin has been acting up a bit, probably due to the hot weather conditions we've been having.

When it comes to make up removal however, I am firmly in the cream cleanser camp, and I've found what I believe to be the ultimate make up removing clean cleanser - Olay Total Effects Make up Remover.

pic: Google images

This cream is sooooo effective at removing make up, including eye make up and mascara - far more effective than any other eye make up removers I've tried. I've gone through quite a few tubes of this since I discovered it last Christmas and I now bulk buy it when it's on offer. I find it quite expensive for a 'drugstore' cleanser at £6.50 for 150mls, but you can often find it on offer in Boots and Superdrug for around the £4 mark, sometimes cheaper (in fact it's on offer in Superdrug at the mo).

To use, I apply this cleanser to a cotton pad or ball and wipe it across my face and neck. I'd say a tube lasts me about 3-4 weeks, depending on how much make up I'm using. Even if I'm not wearing make up, I usually use this as my evening cleanser as it leaves my face so clean, I feel it really gets rid of all the London grime that you can't see but know it's there! Especially great in the summer when it's so hot and sticky. I do follow with a toner however as I don't like feeling as though there is any cream residue left on my skin.

There are some other cleansers I like but none as effective at removing make up. I love Cleanse and Polish for example, as it gives such a lovely radiance to the skin afterwards, but I don't find it good enough for make up removal - more of a morning cleanser for me.

Overall I love this cleanser and think it's one of the best cream cleansers out there - I don't like to spend a lot on cleansers as essentially you just wash them off your skin (I feel the same about body wash). This is at the higher end of the range I'd normally spend on a cleanser but it is more than worth it. It leaves my skin super clean, soft and in great condition - what more can you ask for from a cleanser?

Would love to hear about your cleansing routines and favourite drugstore cleansers!

13 July 2010

Vogue subscription offer (and magazine musings)

I buy a hell of a lot of magazines. Very few are off limits for me; I have even in my time been known to purchase Easy Living (actually quite a good read), though I think I need a few more years under my belt before I graduate to Woman's Own and Good Housekeeping.

Those I buy with regularity include Elle Decor (the covers always win me over - though I'm not so keen on Elle magazine), Red (a good mix of fashion, food and life stuff), Harpers Bazaar (I like the writing in this and the photography), Look (a good trashy read but actually the fashion and beauty pages are quite good) and, of course, Vogue. I also have a subscription to Living Etc which my boyfriend bought me when we were doing up our house, which although I read I find the way its written quite irritating, and the contents not hugely inspiring.

I don't normally pay much attention to subscriber offers, as I prefer to pick up random mags, when out and about. Most of my mag 'hauls' take place in WHS Smiths in Euston or Victoria whilst waiting for a train up north. Magazines are not great all the time, most of them have dud issues with not much in them (In Style is particularly bad for this I find!) and so I like to pick and choose when I buy them.

However all that changed when, flicking through this months Vogue, (cover price £4), I noticed their current subscriber offer. £19.99 for ten issues (so half price - less than £2 an issue!), then £19.50 for six issues after = £3.25 an issue. Still a lot cheaper than full price. But that's not all - the thing that caught my eye is that there is currently a free gift with subscription - a bottle of Aromatherapy Associates Revive Bath and Shower Oil - RRP £34.75.

pic: Google images

This has been added to my shopping basket on Beauty Expert on several occasions (I'm a sucker for anything oily and anything turquoise!), but the price has put me off. I was naturally thrilled, then, when I saw this offer, and ten minutes ago I had an email from Vogue confirming my subscription. I'm already dreaming about my first bath with tealights, a glass of wine perhaps and this oil... and I also now plan to start a little Vogue collection, a la Carrie Bradshaw, in my living room. They do look so chic stacked on top of one another - just the thing for our new bookshelves.

If this offer has tempted you as well, you can subscribe to Vogue here. Looking through my magazines, I realised that I have every issue of Elle Decor from this year, so I've also placed a subscription for that. No free gift sadly but only £22.80 for 12 issues (£1.90 instead of £3.80 per copy) then 25% off cover price. Seems like a no-brainer really.

Do you subscribe to any magazines?

Strange Beautiful / Library of Colour - Beautiful polishes (anyone tried them?)

I first heard about Strange Beautiful whilst reading Nailed Up - a great polish blog if you don't already follow it, with fantastically clear photos..

I absolutely adore the first two polishes in this post - so my kind of colours - though less keen on the Chartreuse admittedly. Having never heard of this brand, I did a bit of research online and found that Strange Beautiful is stocked in Liberty (though unfortunately they are all out of stock at the moment.)

The polishes are not sold separately but in collections of 8 polishes - at less than £6 a polish that's potentially pretty good value. I haven't tried one yet so I can't comment on the quality but from the swatches on Nailed Up it looks pretty decent. According to the Liberty website, "Each polish has been developed and evaluated with an artist’s eye producing hues that are deeply and richly saturated throughout."

I particularly love Volume 3 - such beautiful autumnal colours. Might have to do some further investigations and find out when they'll be back in stock!

Has anyone had any experience with this brand? By the way I'm not even sure whether the brand or the collection is called Strange Beautiful. I think maybe the collection is Strange Beautiful and the brand Library of Colour. Google not much help - can anyone shed some light??

7 July 2010

Essential measures #4 Dove Hair Minimising Roll-on Deodorant

Continuing my Essentials series with an absolute must-have for the underams - Dove Hair Minimising Roll-on Deodorant.

In the past I've experimented with various products that claim to slow down body hair growth - most of them moisturisers. I've never stuck with them long enough to determine whether they actually make a difference - particularly as I'm quite fussy about which moisturisers I use. I wouldn't use a hair-minimising moisturiser on my arms for example, only my legs, and then it becomes a complete pain to use two moisturisers on your body. So I haven't had much success with hair minimising creams for these reason.

Hair minimising deodorant is a simple but genius idea. After all, whereas some of us might happily go without moisturising our bodies, few of us (hopefully) are likely to go without deodorant. And few of us (again, hopefully) like underarm hair. A deodorant that minimises underarm hair? Masterstroke.

But does it minimise underarm hair? As you've probably guessed from the fact that it's found it's way into my own beauty hall of fame, yes it does. Not only that, but it's also a very effective deodorant. After a few weeks use, I noticed my underarm hair was finer, could be shaved more easily and grew back slower. Waxing seems to last much longer too. I am a body hair aficionado. Trust me, this stuff works, and until I can afford to have my underarms laser treated, this will remain one of my must have beauty items (and even after laser treatment I'd probably still use it to keep them as smooth as possible!).

The hair minimising deodorant is a bit more expensive than regular deodorants - it retails at £2.44 full price in Boots, but they often have offers on (and you can sometimes pick it up in cheapo stores such as Wilkinsons at a reduced price). There is in fact a buy two for £3 offer on www.boots.com at the mo though sadly not in my local Boots store. It also comes in two scents - Wild Rose and Nature Fresh. Both are fine.

Please note I have only tried the roll on version of this deodorant and not the anti-perspirant spray.

PS I've just noticed - deodorant - de-odour. The things you learn.

6 July 2010

A week of Models Own polish

I was trying so hard to be good this month, and was approaching the til in Boots with little more than some wax strips and a box of hayfever tablets in my basket, when alas, out of the corner of my eye, I aspied the Models Own stand, and its array of delectable, brightly coloured nail polishes at a tempting £5 each (plus a free buffer with each polish!).

I purchased three colours:

1. Fuzzy Peach - As I don't have any oranges / peaches in my collection and it looked like it would go great with my tan.
2. Pure Purple - As I don't have any purple creams in my collection - just the gooptastic and sparkly Sexy Divide by Essie.
3. Blue Lagoon - As I don't have any blues in my collection. Well maybe a navy, and some blue-greens. But no blue blues.

I liked all of the colours, though with the possible exception of Pure Purple, probably not enough to repurchase in the unlikely event that I finish any of them. The consistency and application was.... okay. Better than Essie, worse than OPI (again Pure Purple applied the easiest). A bit thick and gloopy but definitely workable (two coats definitely needed). However the thing that put me off a bit was the smell - utterly overpowering chemical smell, more like nail polish remover than polish. I know that nail polish by its nature is smelly, chemically and generally quite nasty, but this was another level. It made me wonder whether this would cause more damage to my nails than a less offensive smelling polish.

The staying power isn't great either, all three chipped after a day and I conducted a highly scientific experiment using a different top coat with Pure Purple to determine whether it was the polish or top coat to blame - the former it seems.

Fuzzy  Peach
This applied a bit brighter and more neon than it looked it the pot (an than it looks in these pics). Despite feeling a little bit young and 80s, I liked wearing this for a couple of days as a way of adding a bit of brightness to neutral outfits.

I also liked the clash of Fuzzy Peach with the coral shade Brook St by Nails Inc on my toes - I blogged about that shade here.

Pure Purple
My favourite shade of the bunch. It's a lovely mid-purple cream, nothing fancy but just a very nice, modern looking shade. Generally I'm not a fan of purple nails but I think I'll wear this a lot come autumn / winter.

Blue Lagoon
The blue was just a little too unsophisticated to me. If it was a cream, it might have looked quite chic but the shimmer edged it dangerously into 'mutton' territory. My hairdresser did say he liked it but he was wearing white shorts, pink socks and brogues at the time so I may have to discard his judgement! It did look nice with my tan though and again a great complimentary colour for a coral pedicure. In fact I think this might work better for me as a pedicure colour.

Overall verdict
Although not blown away by the consistency (and smell), this range presents an affordable way to experiment with colour. I'll probably buy a couple more shades as they do have an interesting and fairly extensive range of colours and my experience with Pure Purple was encouraging - I like the look of Peach Sherbert, Beth's Blue (I am yet to add a lilac to my collection, may have missed the boat on that one a bit!) and particularly Utopia, which looks like a lovely light gray-lilac. You can view all of the shades here.

Models Own is available from Boots stores and online at ASOS and www.modelsownit.com. The free five sided buffers that come with the polishes in Boots are also pretty good - and a pretty good bargain considering you'd pay around £3 for a buffer anyway.

5 July 2010

Blink Brow Bar, Fenwick, New Bond Street

£17. There, I've said it. It's out in the open. I spent £17 getting my eyebrows threaded. What can I say? It was a Saturday afternoon, I needed them done as a matter of urgency, I was in the West End and I plumped for Fenwick as I figured it would be less busy than any of the big department stores on Oxford Street. It was that or follow the man that loiters round Oxford Circus with the big yellow sign advertising threading, waxing and other grooming services.

Blink Brow Bar in Fenwick is located in the beauty hall. It's efficiently run with four or five threaders working at once. You can book in advance (even on line) or just turn up and if they're busy they can put you on a waiting list. On a Saturday afternoon I had a reasonable 15 minute wait, which unsurprisingly I was easily able to while away in the beauty hall (I now have two E. Coudray perfumes on my beauty wishlist)/

I was very pleased with the results. It was the least painful threading experience I've had, and the results were fantastic. My straggly, uneven brows were transformed, with my threader even managing to get the really short hairs (snapping a few threads in the process!). So overall, brilliant, and a nice browbone massage at the end too, but I'm just not sure the experience justified the £17 charge - it just seems extortionate to me, especially considering it only takes about five minutes and the results of threading are actually relatively short-lived.

Having said that, if I was desperate, I would probably go back again, as at least I'd be confident of getting good results.

What do you guys think - am I crazy? Where do you get your brows threaded and how much do you pay??

Blink Brow Bars are located in several department stores in London and across the UK - see http://www.blinkbrowbar.com/ for details.