Friday, 21 November 2014

Friday Video - Make-up Christmas Gift Ideas

I thought it may be helpful to see some of the products I've recommended as Christmas gift ideas...

I look a bit aggressive in the thumbnail but this is meant to be helpful not scary

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Best Pedicure I've Ever Had

Do not take this statement lightly. I would love to pretend to be one of those low maintenance women who can say they once got a pedicure because they got a free voucher. I'm not. I love pedicures and I will use anything as an excuse to have one. Pregnancy is the best I've come up with so far especially awesome that I literally couldn't touch my feet or get shoes on them past 6 months so I had to wear flip-flops and it would have been rude of me to not have nicely done feet as they were on show all the time. Even if they were three times their normal size and seemingly made of dough. I love manicure's too but can live without them but the bliss of having someone else deal with and rub my feet is something I find a necessity especially since having Ned. The bliss of an hour with a cup of tea and a magazine while technically doing something. I mean I can't wander around whilst my nails are being done. That would be silly.

My love of a pedicure does not mean that I get them regularly however, no no, my mostly-stay-at-home-mum bank account doesn't stretch to such luxuries on a regular basis but my sister and I decided it would be nice to treat my mum when she came up to London on her birthday in September. We didn't have a lot of time so a pedicure seemed like the perfect thing but where in Chiswick? There were a number of options and I left it up to my sister to books it having mentioned a couple of places I thought looked good. She chose The Beauty Lounge on Turnham Green Terrace and without knowing it we walked in to the best pedicure I've ever had.

I actually think it was a fab place to choose for a birthday as it looks pretty lovely and chic but that's not what was so fantastic. What makes this place worth mentioning (let it be noted I don't review every beauty treatment I have on this blog) is that we had our nails done on September 13th and I eventually removed the nail varnish on November 8th not because it needed it - there was not even the smallest of chips - but because my nails had grown so much there were huge half moons of pink toe showing. I suppose I should have left it on to see just how long it lasted but I can't bear bare toes. I had cut them and still no chip. That is amazing longevity of polish and therefore value for money. And it wasn't just me - my mum came to stay and said 'is your toe nail polish still on?' she'd been on a beach holiday and hers was still going strong.

The pedicure itself (we had the Beauty Lounge Pedicure) wasn't the cheapest at £35 for an hour but this was properly done even without knowing how long the colour was going to last. There's a lovely range of Essie and OPI colours to choose from (I took my own from Butter London) and your feet are soaked in lovely hot water - so often it can be tepid-cold which is hardly relaxing or I would have thought very helpful at softening the skin. I am also a big fan of the use of those terrifying razor-blade things rather than a file - such is the dryness of my feet - but they used a file and got my feet completely smooth. The massage was done properly and for long enough and the colour perfect, beautiful and long lasting. 

If you are in West London and want to go somewhere were they really know what they are doing, have incredible service and long-lasting results go to the Beauty Lounge on Turnham Green Terrace.

p.s I spoke to my mother about writing this post and she said she eventually removed hers on the 18th November because the regrowth was more than the colour and there was still not a chip to be seen. She confirms it to be the best pedicure she's ever had.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas - Make-up

Buying make-up for someone else is really difficult but it can be done with clever buying and maybe a bit of sneakiness. If you are too scared to buy actual make-up then I’ve put some brushes and other things below which are fantastic too. 

My husband has a tendency to panic-buy things whilst out Christmas shopping, if you do this to then my advice is to go somewhere with a lot of counters (Selfridges, House of Fraser, Debenhams) find someone on a make-up counter who's make-up you like and ask them what they'd recommend. Remember you don't have to buy it though!

If you are brave enough to buy a foundation (remember you won’t be able to return it once it’s opened) then a bit of spying on what make-up they own already will help. Look at all the foundations they own and write down the brand, the name of the foundation and the colour (so for example MAC, Face and Body, N20). The brand and the name should be obvious, the colour which may be a number, will be on the bottom or the back. If in doubt take pictures on your phone. Any make-up counter worker worth their salt should be able to match you a colour if you take them these details. 

I will add this to the list as soon as its available.I will also add things as and when I think of them.

  • EM-J Company – Everything you could possibly want if you are a professional make-up artist but also lovely personal brush wraps. I’m a huge Jiminy fan myself but there is really is something for everyone in these designs.
  •  Rimmel ScandalEyes Shadow Stick Eye shadow pencils are the latest trend and these are a great budget buy/stocking filler. Available in lots of lovely colours very long lasting considering the price. I have Bluffing which would suit all eye colours. . 

  • CharlotteTilbury – there are more suggestions on my ‘What I’d Like’ recommendations but from what I've tried these are my top two. Filmstar Bronze & Glow – this suits all skin tones I’ve tried it on. The packaging is fabulous and would be a real treat for anyone who’s into make-up. Make-up Bag – this would be a lovely stocking alternative, stocking filler or present. I don’t have one of these by my god I want one.
  • Urban Decay Naked Palette – I love this palette (and all the Naked Palettes) but for me it’s the original here that is the best to give as a gift for sheer variety of colours so something for everyone.

  • Diorskin Star Fluid Foundation If you are brave enough then this is a beautiful foundation that would make a lovely present (festively named!). It’s quite a full coverage so only get this for someone if they are a wearer of foundation! 
  • Too Faced Cat Eyes Palette - some really gorgeous colours for those who love a bit of drama wet and dry formulas, matte and shimmer this is incredibly versatile with one of my absolute favourite gold/bronze shimmers from any palette. 

Friday, 7 November 2014

Friday Video - Quick Review of Maybelline Better Skin Concealer

Constantly on the hunt for a great high street concealer and this one is good for the £5.99 price tag. Definitely one of the best I've tried... not entirely convinced by the 'better skin' claims. Please forgive my lack of lipstick.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

I will be doing some Christmas gift suggestion posts...

I always always get asked what to get people for Christmas so this year I thought I would do a few posts with my gift ideas for different kinds of people from make-up addicts to your mother-in-law, book lovers to the outdoorsy types - I’m hoping there should be something for everyone here. It’s been really tricky to do so I’ve tried to do a full range of ideas for each topic including stocking fillers to the rather more extravagant presents and, unless otherwise stated I’ve stuck to things I’ve tried and tested myself (or someone I know and trust has recommended). The last post is going to be what I’d like – this may seem like an extravagant hint to my husband (Hi Joe) but in fact it’s a list of things that I as a woman in my 30’s with 2 dogs, 1 child, (currently) 1 husband, living in London and an enthusiast of lots of things would like and make-up/beauty products that I haven’t tried. 

There was going to be a post every day in November but then I remembered the above list of dependents and didn't want to die from blogging so the posts will go up as and when they are ready and I'll also add to them if anything else springs to mind so if you need to find them you can just choose 'Christmas Gift Ideas' from the tag list on the right!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

My Current Morning Skincare Routine - October 2014

This is something that changes quite a lot but I feel that I've found a combination of products that really work well for my skin and what it needs at the moment. I've done separate reviews on some of these products (there will be links below) and I might do a video on my YouTube channel to go with this post eventually but I thought it would be useful to have it all written down somewhere... so here it is!

Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser - when I first tried this I wasn't that sure, it felt almost drying on my skin but now my skin is generally less dehydrated it's really doing a lovely job of cleansing my skin every morning. And I do prefer to use this in the morning, I want a rich balm cleanser in the evening. £35

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads - to brighten, tone and exfoliate, these are gentle enough to use every day but really effective. You get sixty pads per pot and since using them I've had no more dry patches on my forehead and visibly brighter skin. You can read my full review of them here. £20.50

Pixi Glow Tonic

Pixi Glow Tonic - this has become a cult product and is the one to go for if you want a cleanser with no alcohol in it. This is my absolute favourite desert island toner, I trust it completely. Gently exfoliating it removes dead skin cells for healthier looking skin - you can read my full review of it here. £18

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum - again the difference in my skin since using this has been incredible. A real morning boost, quickly absorbed. I've done a separate review of this here. Not cheap worth the money, and frankly a lot cheaper than a lot of serums out there. £18-£65

Yves Rocher Inositol Vegetal - I've been trying to write a full review on this for ages but I just never seem to get round to it and it's possible to find much info on it from Yves Rocher. I love this product.I use it most mornings and it's made my skin noticeably more radiant after consistent use. It contains citrus and AHA's to renew and resurface. Currently £6.50 instead of £19
Yves Rocher Inositol Vegetal

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes

I wasn't going to review this for two reasons. The first was that I used to work for the publishers so it may seem like sucking up and the second is that everyone seems to have reviewed it but then I thought... this is my blog and I'll do what I bloody well like.

Pretty Honest: The Straight-Talking Beauty Companion has basically made me question whether I should keep blogging at all. When I started this blog in 2006 it was partly because I was forever being asked advice by my friends (mostly based on the obscene amount of products I would buy) and thought if I put it down in writing it would be there as an online reference. Now all you need to know is here in one book. Not that my blog is anywhere near the standard of Sali's writing and knowledge but it's where I hope I'm heading, because it's based on a deep need for knowledge about beauty, skincare and an almost obsessive interest that I don't actually think is that common. Yes there are tons of beauty blogs out there but I wonder how many of the writers relentlessly read and research the ingredients in all their products so they can know more about how everything actually works. I am one of these people. And so is Sali Hughes.

When I first heard about this book it was described to me, and I've heard Sali describe it, as a series of essays it put me off rather. I didn't want to read essays on someone's opinion on skincare and make-up. This is not what it is. Yes I suppose technically you could call it essays but the book does not read like that. It is sections on everything from your daily skincare routine (with all skin types properly covered) to anti-aging, foundation to blusher, bridal make-up, pregnancy and pretty much everything in between.

There are a few things I don't agree with. I do believe that toners work though I think that Sali is referring to the old style of toners where as now more and more are containing acids so when she refers to acid exfoliators I think of that as my toner. And I am going to continue using (mens) disposable razors to shave my legs. But what I love most about this book is how it has completely captivated so many people - nearly all my female friends are reading it, my Twitter friends are all over it and changing their skin routines and the way they approach make-up. It found a gap in the beauty market and it fits perfectly.

This is not all down to Sali's reputation as a beauty writer but it's the style in which this book is written. No nonsense, no fuss, no extra words, no slang words removed by the editors (that I can see), not that she uses 'slang' but you feel that this is written as if she were sitting on the edge of the bath in your bathroom telling you what to do with your eyebrows, how to wear a red lip or what ingredient you actually need in your 'anti-aging' products.There is not too much information, just enough, really just what you need to know.

The production of Pretty Honest: The Straight-Talking Beauty Companion is absolutely beautiful, the photographs perfect and the layout easy to follow - the whole book has a very polished but personal feel. I wish I had a teenage girl relative that I could give this book to, I wish this book had been available to me when I was younger - though I love having it now. It fits all ages, all skin types, all personality types. I think this is my book of the year.

You can see Sali talking about her book here and watch lots of lovely videos by her on the rest of her YouTube channel, and at a number of signings and events. Probably best to follow her on Twitter to get the latest info.

Monday, 6 October 2014


I am a make-up artist but I am a huge, huge believer in, and fan of, skincare. If you ensure that your skin is the best it possibly can be the better your make-up will look and the less you will need (if you want less...) but for many people it seems a cheaper, quicker fix to neglect skincare and slap on more make-up.

I can completely understand why this is. You get immediate results from make-up. Spend £30 on a foundation you've tested on the back of your hand in the shop and see it working as soon as you use it. Spend £30 on a serum and, well who knows if it's ever going to work at all? But that's why I write this blog. I'm here to help. 

Since I started concentrating on my skincare my skin looks and feels so much better but it takes a while to work out what your skin needs and when. If you have problem skin it's really worth going to a skincare specialist and seeing what they recommend and what's on offer - some brands you can only get from a salon so it is worth doing some research if you think you need something tougher. There are also some great brands available at more affordable prices on the high street so you don't always need to spend ridiculous amounts to get the best results though I have yet to find a high street serum to beat the more high-end ones I've tried.

If I can convince one of my friends to cleanse, tone and moisturise I'm very unlikely to be able to get them to add a serum into the mix but using a serum has been a big game changer for me. So I've done a little bit of research.

What is a serum and why use one?
Serums have a high concentrations of certain active ingredients (hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C or glycolic acid for example) to give intensive focus on one or two things like anti-aging, dry skin etc. Moisturisers are formulated to be absorbed into the very top layer of the skin but also add a barrier against the elements and whereas serums have smaller molecules to be easily absorbed deeply into the skin. Serums are more expensive than moisturisers because they are more concentrated but you need less product and you don't have to use it every day if you can't afford to.

Why shouldn't you use a serum?
People with eczema or rosacea may want to avoid serums - these conditions weaken the skin barrier and therefore serums can cause irritation. There are some that say they are fine for use with eczema and other skin conditions but I would definitely find a way to try them out before you buy.

When to use a serum?
Apply after cleansing and toning before your moisturiser (after your eye cream if you use it). But your skin will only absorb what it needs so don't use so much, a pea-size amount is usually enough. If you have sensitive skin then it's best to wait ten minutes after cleansing to apply the serum. As with all skincare take it down your neck and decollete.

You can see some serums working pretty much immediately but it's best to use them consistently to see the best results.

Which serum to use?
Oily skins - will want a water-based serum and you may want to use it instead of a moisturiser so you are getting an intensive treatment without over-loading the skin.
Dry skin - can use water- or oil-based serums. Retinol can help accelerate cellular renewal and brighten the skin and make it appear more luminous but can irritate if used too much. Essential oils and fatty acids can help the skin repair itself overnight and make sure it's barrier function is working. If you have dry skin then you should use a serum and a moisturiser.
Anti-wrinkle - you need to choose an anti-oxident rich serum (Vitamin C for example) as these work well at preventing oxidative strain from pollution and UV which also makes them ideal for use in the morning. Peptides will help boost collagen and elastin production and restore firmness to the skin.

A few serums that you may want to look into trying out...

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster - I've done a full review of this which you can read here. I love this and think it suits all skin types. It's water based so good for oily skins but is really rich in vitamin C so fantastic for dry or more mature skins. If you are not sure which one to go for this is the one I'd recommend £47.
Sunday Riley Juno - I haven't tried this but I am desperate to, I've heard nothing but good things about it. Rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9 and Vitamin C so this suits dry and mature skins. It's one of the most expensive at £98.
Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate - best for use overnight and actually great for normal to oily skins (my sister loves this one and she has combination skin) though if you have an oily skin you may want to skip moisturising afterwards. Full of plant oils this award winning serum is available in 3 different sizes, the smallest being 2ml (£6) so you can try this before you have to buy the full size of it.£6-£40.50
Elizabeth Arden Advanced Night Repair Sychronized Recovery Complex II - yet another one I haven't-yet-but-want-to-try. For all skin types, a reformulation of an original product that a lot of people swore by, this version has stepped it up a notch. To be used before moisturising at night (obviously) this serum is another multi-award winner. £49
Sisley - I haven't tried any of these serums but I trust Sisley when it comes to skincare and have heard great things about their Black Rose products so worth having a look if you are already a fan or wanting to try something out from their range. From an eye-watering £138
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