Tuesday 17 August 2010

Product Review: Crabtree & Evelyn Iris EDT

I've just been sent the new fragrance by Crabtree & Evelyn and I have to say, I'm impressed.

Described as a single note fragrance, Iris, as the name suggests is a classic floral which I've discovered is not to Mr. SkinDeep's liking ("it smells like old ladies").

Iris rhizome, better known as Orris Root, has a long history of being used in fragrance and it is this essence which forms the overall impression of the scent.

Top notes of zesty Bergamot and Cassis don't really leave much of an impression, although it's certainly the sweet Cassis which is the dominant of the two.

The base notes are detailed in the press release as being a blend of Sandalwood, Patchouli (which I normally detest), Vetiver, Musk (again, a Saturday job in The Body Shop when I was younger has put me off this long-term) and Cedarwood, yet I have to say, the combination works and I really like the scent. It's subtle and sophisticated.

The packaging features an illustration of the Iris flower which could be twee and staid but the heavy, square bottle adds a vintage impression which just screams to be displayed on a traditional dressing table. I love the story behind the illustration- it was designed by Bella Towse, a graduate from Central Saint Martin's who was inspired by her parents' Sussex garden and it's fantastic to see that C&E are supporting young, British talent in this way. The only aspect which could be improved upon is the lid- unfortunately, it's a plastic purple- something more luxurious would have added a more premium feel.

I normally opt for Eau de Parfums but for a reasonably priced option (£24 for 100ml), this EDT is a good choice, particularly if you're looking for something a little more offbeat than the standard brands. There's a number of products within the range for those who scent-layer- from lotions, creams and soaps (all of which, I'm delighted to say, are free from parabens, mineral oils and the like) to the more traditional C&E offerings of drawer liners and room spray.


Sunday 15 August 2010

Creme de la Mer: Range Review

Some time ago, I was sent products to trial by the Creme de la Mer press office and it's taken me a while to blog about the results, the sole reason being that this is undeniably a luxury range with prices to match so I wanted to take my time with the trial in order to write a truly honest review.
I've been following the regime, starting with The Cleansing Foam and using The Hydrating Infusion, The Regenerating Serum, The Eye Concentrate and finishing with the infamous Creme.
I've been using The Lip Balm pretty much every single day and the pot has lasted me just over a year so I won't comment other than to say that it's one of my favourite beauty products. Conversely, I've tried a couple of products from the bodycare range and weirdly, have failed to fall in love with them.
I can honestly say that I'm delighted with the results- my skin looks model-clear to the extent that I've been able to go without make-up most days. I don't just worry about obvious blemishes but also about the texture of my skin, which is dehydrated and touch-sensitive but which has greatly improved. I admit that I've never had bad skin (touch wood), my main complaints in the past have been redness around my nose, some stress pimples along my forehead or occasional hormonal breakouts on my chin, and of course, everyone's skin is different so I can only comment on the results which I've observed.
Probably the only aspect which I don't like about following this regime is the need to apply a separate SPF- I'm always rushing about in the morning so prefer one which is integrated into my moisturiser.
I'm approaching 30 and am conscious that the time has come to reassess my skincare needs- I'm hugely paranoid about a deep-set line in the middle of my forehead starting to appear and although everyone else claims not to see it, I know that prevention at an early stage is the best method of treatment and besides, the beauty industry exists because of women's personal insecurities! I do believe that following the regime, in particular, using The Eye Concentrate has helped with this.
On the subject of price, I've actually been surprised at how long the products have lasted. They are of high quality and a little goes a long way so I'd say you get a good 3 months worth of use, at the very least, from each product so if you're looking to justify the expense, price per use is a good excuse! The Regenerating Serum has been the first to run out so I'm planning to continue following the regime without this to see if I'm as impressed with the results. At £210 for the bottle, it's the most expensive product from the regime (not based on quantity) and I might draw the line at forking out that much, despite the results but otherwise, I'd happily put my money where my mouth is.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Newsflash: Illamasqua launches flagship store in London's Soho

Someone please hide my credit cards... Illamasqua is launching its first standalone shop.
Set to open in September, the store will be located, fittingly, in the heart of London's Soho.

If you are yet to discover Illamasqua, I'd suggest popping into the new flagship store, or if you can't wait that long, head to a concession where one of the professional make-up artists can talk you through the brand. Despite already being a fan due to the impressive formulas and intense pigments, I visited the lovely Adam in the Selfridges branch a month or so ago and my make-over truly converted me.

In my job, my face is my canvas so I was surprised to hear from Adam that many people are afraid to experiment with make-up. If there's one brand which demands a curiosity, it's this and he suggests setting aside half an hour a week to play and try out new looks. It's make-up, not a tattoo... it'll wash off! If ever there was a season to rediscover make-up, this is it as the daunting, polished and immaculate styles of the past few seasons make way for a new grunge which is slightly smudged around the edges and endearingly imperfect.

I absolutely fell in love with Adam's enthusiasm- the artists on the counters really do live & breathe the brand and are encouraged to take jobs as professional make-up artists in their spare time. Unlike stuffy, traditional make-up counters where the women have to wear a given number of the brand's colours on their faces, I really felt that Illamasqua encourages the original. This isn't paint-by-numbers but boy, does the make-up ever look incredible. Adam shared tricks of the trade with me, e.g. combining textures and showed me how to recreate the "new smoky eye" and his clear love for the brand quickly rubbed off.

The brand has quickly earnt a loyal following- it is particularly popular in the goth community and in fact, the brand's logo features the vampire symbol. Its cult status has been recognised in the US, where it is sold in Sephora- remarkable for such a young brand (it launched in November 2008)! Joe Corre, Vivienne Westwood's son and founder of Agent Provocateur was so taken with the brand that he has put his money where his mouth is and become a key investor, perfectly summarising the mood of the brand, "Working with Illamasqua has felt like an adrenalin rush injection into the industry...a fantastically creative company looking at beauty through a completely new lens."

The flagship will feature a rotating exhibition area to showcase limited edition products in collaboration with the charity, S.O.P.H.I.E. as well as a unique make-up school, offering evening and day-time courses... I've seen the list and I want to go on them all!

I adore their website so I literally cannot wait to see what they come up with for the window displays- I'm expecting something spectacular!

Wednesday 4 August 2010

For Wannabe Oompa Lumpas only...

As a professional writer, there's an unwritten expectation to sugarcoat the truth about some brands, be it due to a PR relationship or the brand being a profitable advertiser. With this in mind, it's with some trepidation that I write my first "bad" review of a product- I hope that it will be read with respect for the honesty which is an inherant part of a blog and not taken as a lack of gratitude following much support from this PR.

I asked one of my go-to testers to trial Philosophy's The Big Skinny Self-Tanning Firming Cream and I'm sorry to report that the results were disappointing.
I'm normally a huge fan of Philosophy, particularly their guilt-free treat inspired sets which the child in me requests on my Christmas wish list every year. I adore the sentiments on the packaging and they're spot-on with the font and branding, which has been much-copied.

The Big Skinny Self-Tanning Firming Cream follows the fab packaging and delicious, food-inspired scents which the brand has become known for... this one smells of chocolate and is presented in a functional tube.
My tester is no stranger to fake tanning and so her opinion is a trusted one. She reported back that the formula took quite a long time to dry onto the skin, compared to the luxury brands which she is familiar with. Despite knowing her for her bronzed skin, I had to laugh when we met to discuss the trial- wow, somebody give this girl some exfoliator! She'd followed the usual tanning rules of exfoliating first, etc.. but the colour was streaky and a very unnatural, almost luminous orange- a truly ridiculous shade. "I look like a carrot that has been half peeled" came her damning summary. Needless to say, she hasn't and won't be testing this for sufficient time to comment on the firming powers.
Disappointing- sorry!

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Elemis Fragrance Launch

Hot on the heels of their signature fragrance making it's debut in April, Elemis have announced a second Eau de Parfum, "Exotic", launching this September.

Elemis exotic perfume I've had the pleasure of testing a sample and am delighted to report that it'll be worth the wait. Although I liked the signature fragrance, a fresh and citrussy blend, this is much more what I was expecting from Elemis. Renowned for their Exotic bodycare line (I'm not the only beauty writer who counts their Moisture Melt as a favourite product), this follows similar mysterious, heady scents.
The bottle is very simplistic, following the same design as their signature scent yet in purple packaging. This has benefits- the creation would have been speedy, they can presumably use the same supplier and it's nice for customers to be able to collect a purse-friendly (in terms of size) family of scents. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the chosen presentation yet having said this, I'd have preferred to see something better suited to the name. For example, they could have had such fun with the design, looking to the packaging of their bodycare range for inspiration.

I love that they've scoured the globe in the search for essences to incoporate. Spicy top notes of Pink Pepper, Clove Bud Oil from the Comores Islands and Sri Lankan Cinnamon Bark set the tone, transporting the wearer to exotic landscapes. Heart notes of nighttime blooms such as Ylang Ylang, White Tuberose and Indian Jasmine give it a very apparent floral vibe which settles into a sensual, woody base with notes of Frankiscence, Sandalwood, Cedarwood from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Somali Incense adding interest. It's described as "intoxicating" and I really do think that's a great description- although it's launching in September, I personally think it's beautiful for balmy, late summer nights or a romantic date.
I'm actually quite disappointed that this isn't available in a larger size (it's £35 for 28ml) as over the course of my trial, I've really fallen for this and am zooming through the bottle at a worrying rate... Elemis, if you're listening/reading, I'd love to see this in a candle format too!
If you like your fragrances to be floral orientals, this is one for you.

Monday 2 August 2010

Product Review: Invisible Zinc ESP SPF 30

Apologies for my silence readers... I have just returned from holiday which proved the perfect time to trial Aussie brand, Invisible Zinc. The PR had kindly given me a selection of samples to trial but I opted for the Environmental Skin Protector SPF 30.

I'm something of a fanatic when it comes to SPF- I wear it every single day of the year, regardless of the weather in the quest to protect my skin against aging so new protectors do tend to grab my interest.
As a general rule, I prefer natural products so it stands to reason that I'd choose physical over chemical sunscreens but I have to admit that this is one of those areas where I don't mind if a product isn't particularly natural- I'm looking for results, without compromise.
Elle Macpherson is the face (& body, of course) of the brand in her homeland, Australia whilst it launched in the UK recently with mother & daughter, Jerry Hall & Georgia May Jagger as the spokeswomen. I'm not sure of the thought process behind this, other than grabbing attention in a busy marketplace and highlighting that it's a prestigious brand.
As the name suggests, Invisible Zinc is a physical sunscreen based on a high level (20%) of zinc to act as a barrier against both UVA & UVB rays. There is a tendancy for physical blocks to leave a ghostly white sheen and although there is no escaping this, it does what it says on the tin and is, for the main part invisible.
I've tried a lot of sunscreens in my time and have to admit that I was impressed with this product. The packaging is a little chunky for travel, with a sporty vibe- I'd prefer a slimline tube as opposed to this pump bottle but it is functional and for me, this is the only negative. The blurb states that it "feels like a moisturiser, works like a sunscreen" and I honestly can't think of a better way to describe it. It's a wonderfully, lightweight formula which is easy to apply, sinks into skin quickly and doesn't leave a greasy feeling. It really is a pleasure to use! I was impressed with protection offered- of course, everyone is different but I did feel that SPF 30 was perfect for my holiday in the sun. I haven't tried wearing this under make-up but I'm confident that it wouldn't be a problem, based on the texture and there are other products, e.g. powder or tinted moisturisers, within the range if this is how you'd prefer to wear your SPF.
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