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