Tuesday 30 November 2010

M.A.C. marks World AIDS Day

MAC Viva Glam

December 1st marks World AIDS Day so tomorrow I'll be prouding donning my favourite M.A.C. red lipstick for the worthy occasion.
M.A.C.'s relationship with World AIDS Day goes way back... the M.A.C. AIDS Fund was founded to raise funds and awareness for the disease, challenging opinion one Viva Glam lipstick at a time. Their Viva Glam campaigns, featuring celebrities, the latest being the wonderfully quirky Cyndi Lauper and the ubiquitous Lady Gaga, have become iconic & instantly recognisable within the industry. The http://www.macaidsfund.org/ website is well worth a visit as it gives an eye-opening insight into what charitable efforts can be achieved from the sale of each cult lipstick.
MAC Viva Glam lipstick

Since the concept started, M.A.C. UK & Eire has raised in excess of £4.4million.
MAC Viva Glam Lipstick
It's great to see that M.A.C.'s commitment to the cause goes further than simply a product opportunity as they will also be giving up time tomorrow with make-up artists from London, Edinburgh and Dublin downing brushes and put on their red ribbons in a company-wide volunteer effort. Rather than decorating faces, tomorrow they'll be decorating nominated service areas and meeting rooms used by London's Positive East and Edinburgh's Waverley Centre charities. In Dublin, they'll be joining Open Heart House charity's inaugrual "Sleep Out" event.

As a child of the '80s, AIDS has always been in my consciousness and I can still recall hearing the news that the great Freddy Mercury had passed away. Yet for many, this is a modern disease which sadly remains widely misunderstood and viewed as a huge taboo... the only way to fight this is by talking openly about it so go on, do your little Viva Glam bit to show your support tomorrow.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

£83,000 Nail Polish, Anyone?

The beauty world is abuzz with news of the most expensive nail polish ever, Models Own Gold Rush, which launched this week at the breathtaking price of £83,000.

Pitched as something for the person who has everything, in reality, the nail polish can hardly be described as anything other than a massive publicity stunt, which is proving very successful! I've been a fan of Models Own since earlier this year, when I first trialled one of their polishes and was impressed with the range of colours, relatively good lasting effects and affordable prices (a standard nail polish is £5), yet it seems the brand hasn't captured people's interest to the extent it deserves...until now.

Models Own Nail Polish
So why so expensive? Although the polish itself is a glimmering gold, which resembles gold leaf and sparkles to remind of diamonds, it's actually the packaging which has resulted in such a heafty price tag. The lid is hand-crafted from an ingot of solid yellow gold and weighs nearly 100g! The lid is then inlaid with 1,118 diamonds.
Needless to say, the polish won't be available from your local Boots branch- such an opulent product requires a fittingly exclusive sales environment and Frost of London, New Bond Street has been selected. For us mere mortals, a rather more affordable version, Gold Rush Ready to Wear, £5 will be available at http://www.modelsownit.com/ from mid December.

Monday 22 November 2010

The Sanctuary Skincare Review

The lovely PR for The Sanctuary sent me some of their new Brightening Facial products a while ago and I've finally gotten around to trialling a selection. I'm now regretting having waited so long!

This really is a fab range; great packaging, great price point & a wonderful concept for anyone looking to recreate a spa treatment at home. My hot tip for a Christmas present is their Brightening Facial in a Box, £16, which would make a nice gift for someone who deserves to take time out for themself or a beauty addict who perhaps you can't afford to treat to a full-on spa experience.

I tested the Polishing Hot Cloth Cleanser and Radiance Exfoliator which are both contained within the Facial in a Box. I can't comment on the long-term effects of these as I haven't been using them for long enough as yet but am highly impressed so far!

I'm a big fan of hot cloth cleansers although I do find them somewhat time consuming which means that I tend to use a speedy wash in the mornings and do a thorough cleanse before bed when I feel my skin really needs it. They can range quite significantly in price so I'm impressed with the value for money offered by The Sanctuary's version at just £9.99 for 125ml. Even if you've never tried a hot cloth cleanser, the packaging gives clear instructions so I'd definitely recommend this to beginners- in fact, I've (reluctantly) passed my sample onto my mum who has never tried a hot cloth cleanser before.

To start, you need to open pores by applying a warm muslin cloth (supplied) to skin. I like the ritualistic aspect of this, combined with the knowledge that I'll be benefitting from a really deep cleanse as a result.

Then, the creamy cleanser should be massaged onto the face. For those who are accustomed to balm style hot cloth cleansers, you should be aware that this is a cream, not a balm so it lacks the indulgence factor of "melting" into skin yet still feels really hydrating and gentle. It has a comforting botanical scent.

Next, you use the muslin cloth to massage off the cream, using circular motions. This has a gentle exfoliating effect. For an extra thorough cleanse, you can repeat these steps. I'm not sure I'd bother on a daily basis but it's certainly an idea on weekends when you have more time, if your skin feels particularly "dirty" after a day wearing full make-up in the city or when your skin needs some extra care & attention. To finish, close pores by splashing the face with cold water. Thumbs up!

I absolutely swear by regular exfoliation- for me, it's an integral part of a good skincare regime but personally, I don't tend to like physical (i.e. granular) exfoliators, preferring more intensive chemical ones which don't feel scratchy on the skin. I still stand by this but if I were to use a granular exfoliant, I'd happily go with The Sanctuary Radiance Exfoliator, which I used after cleansing my skin per the steps above. It's a standard exfoliator with apricot granules and grape seed acting as the physical exfoliant suspended within a gel base. I was a little surprised to discover that it's the same price (£9.99 for 100ml) as the cleanser & you get less, as on first impressions, it seems that the cleanser is a higher quality product with more work having gone into it. I suppose you have to bear in mind that you wouldn't exfoliate every day so this would last longer. However, once I looked a little more closely, I was impressed to note that the exfoliator combines the physcial exfoliants with fruit acid extracts of pumpkin, pineapple and papaya to generate cell renewal so you're essentially getting a double-action exfoliator for your money. It does offer an impressive exfoliation with the standard benefits of leaving skin texture improved & aiding absorption of products such as moisturiser. My favourite thing about this product is undoubtably the incredible, lemony scent which is super uplifting.

I've noticed on the website http://www.thesanctuary.co.uk/ that selected items from the range are currently included in a 3 for 2 offer. I'm not sure how long this is on for but it seems like a good excuse to try the range!

Before this trial, I'd only used the wonderful body products from The Sanctuary- I'm delighted with this range and am swiftly becoming a devotee!

Thursday 18 November 2010

Liz Earle to open in Leeds

Liz Earle shop
So, it turns out that Liz Earle is hugely popular "oop North" and following customer demand, a standalone shop is to open in Leeds' historic Victoria Quarter next week (w/c 22nd November).
Having never been into a Liz Earle shop myself (the image is a stock one of the London store), I imagine them to be wonderfully fragrant and serene places. After all, the brand is one of Britain's most popular natural ranges.
I'm told that the shop interior will be inspired by the brand's Isle of Wight heritage, with pebbles, natural stone flooring and aged cedar shingle walls. The centrepiece to the store will be a "botanical staircase" (whatever that means!), reflective of the natural ingredients used in the products and leading to the second floor. For me, the most exciting aspect of the store is this second floor where a botanical research library with books to peruse and an ingredients bar, created to encourage learning are located.

This seems a fitting time to mention that I've recently been trialling the brand's newly launched, albeit years in development, haircare range, namely their Botanical Shine Conditioner for Normal Hair. The internet is awash with raves of the range and it's no secret that I'm very specific in my haircare requirements- my hair is my beauty bugbear so I'm ridiculously fussy when it comes to products & perhaps I'm not best placed to be reviewing this. Natural haircare is notoriously tough to get right and I have to say in terms of market placement, they are (as Liz Earle tends to be, e.g. with customer offers, etc..) right on the money with this. The Botanical Shine Conditioner is sufficiently thick that a little goes a long way so the 200ml tube will last & last, which at a very reasonable £7.50 makes this a great value for money option in my opinion. I like that there's also a 50ml trial version for £4 as well. There's no question that this is packed with natural botanicals- meadow foam oil to condition, Kenyan yangu oil to smooth & soften, blue seakale and apple & orange extracts to boost shine- the intoxicating scent hits you as soon as you open the flip top lid. I loved this aspect of the conditioner, particularly as it makes it ideal for lethalgic mornings! What's more, the scent lingers delicately on the hair throughout the day which Mr. Skin Deep complimented me on and let's be frank, who doesn't love great smelling hair?!
The conditioner is really smoothing which is a major bonus when it comes to frizz prone locks and has the added benefit of making styling a breeze but I'm afraid that the conditioner was simply too rich for my stupidly fine hair- I found that it made it too soft, with a flyaway effect although I will say that it rinsed out beautifully. I'd love to hear what others have made of this range... it is something which I'd recommend as, although I personally haven't gotten on with it as well as I'd hoped, I can appreciate what's essentially a good product when I see one!

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Brazilians... what the magazines don't tell you.

There's no delicate way to write this post and those who know me can account for the fact that I'm pretty honest and open in my approach so prudish types, read on with caution...

Brazilian bikini waxes have been en vogue for a number of years now so following a recent appointment with the lovely folks at Ministry of Waxing, I was surprised to discover whilst chatting with some girlfriends over cocktails, how uncommon the treatment remains amongst the average girl. In fact, out of approx. 10 of us, it was only my least groomed friend who was familiar with the treatment- clearly she's more groomed than her low maintainance approach ("I've never bought moisturiser") would suggest! Whilst the magazines rave about the treatment, what it actually entails seems to have remained a mystery.

I cannot stress strongly enough just how impressed I was with the treatment itself and the professionalism of the girls at Ministry of Waxing- I would recommend them to anyone, particularly "waxing virgins" and let me tell you, this is definitely the kind of treatment where you want to be in the hands of the experts!
For those who don't know, this isn't a treatment for the shy. It's incredibly intimate (all clothing on the bottom half is removed, there are no paper knickers & yes there's touching- in fairness, it's probably worse for the therapist!) & whilst obviously not as physically invasive as a smear test, there's no denying that all notions of modesty go straight out of the window! Clearly, it's a treatment which is going to hurt but the combination of hot wild berry & chocolate wax and cooling, antibacterial compresses take the sting out of it. They've cleverly thought of details such as offering a squeezy animal stress ball to make the treatment more bearable and the therapists are pros at making you feel relaxed. Don't be alarmed when they ask you to turn over, just as you're thinking "they must be done now", it's all part of the full Brazilian package! A soothing gel is applied afterwards along with aftercare tips such as a reminder to exfoliate to avoid ingrown hairs.
The salon itself is centrally located in Covent Garden, with a cool, industrial vibe. It's not perfect- they need covered bins in the treatment rooms for a start but with treatments where the results speak for themselves, these minor details can be easily overlooked.
For those looking for a less invasive hair removal, their sister company, Browhaus, has just opened next door offering a range of "eye" treatments including threading, eyelash tinting, etc.. Personally, I'm yet to find a threader to rival the wonderful Dal Sohal of Browse so I'm not sure I'd necessarily go out of my way but certainly, they do a reasonable job if you're in the area.

Sunday 14 November 2010

H & M Homewares

The fashion world may be abuzz with talk of Lanvin's signature collection for H&M but I'll be avoiding the scrum and instead, bulk-buying from their fab new Homewares collection. The Scandinavians already have a reputation for both quality design and mainstream homewares (Ikea, anyone?) so it's really unsurprising that the chain has decided to expand into this arena. In keeping with the fashion and beauty lines, the homewares are trend led and affordable. These adorable guest towels, featuring a beauty themed design
are hanging by my wash basin as a type and at £2.99 for 2, this could be the start of a new habit...wallets at the ready!

Friday 12 November 2010

Jeff Koons for Kiehl's

Kielh's Creme de Corps I do love a special edition so when I saw this bottle of Kiehl's cult Creme de Corps emblazoned with designs by controversial artist, Jeff Koons, it was lust at first sight.
Creme de Corps is one of Kiehl's bestselling products and it's wonderfully indulgent. I admit that it's not a product I use every day- preferring the speedy application of easily absorbed body oils but I enjoy it when I have time to slather it on & truly believe that no bathroom should be without a bottle. Proceeds from the sale of this limited edition version will benefit charities for missing & exploited children so there's no better time to invest if you have been wanting to try it out.

Available at www.beautyexpert.co.uk
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