Love at first swipe

Sweet lord this stuff is amazeballs.

I loved Eyeko mascara before the rebrand (previous review here) but I LOVE LOVE it now... Just wanted to let you know that this stuff makes people ask me if I'm wearing false lashes (I'm not) and where (WHERE!) can they buy it STAT.

More to come... review + before & after and all that noise to show you exactly why you'll be wearing this in 2012.

I recently met the lovely founders Nina and Max and think they've done a pretty great thing for womankind.

xox

TRIED AND TESTED | Ortanic airbrush tan

I HAVE a secret to share... until April 2011, I'd never had a spray tan.

Not one.

Poor little old me, right?

For a beauty writer, though, to admit that is like a chef to admit they've never scrambled an egg. It's a somewhat (in context, people) embarrassing confession.

But there's a reason for my shying away from such activities.

How many women just looked plain orange after a spray tan? Most. Even the ones with all the money in the world to spend on the most expensive faux tans.

Even when faded down to a more natural hue, there's always a hint of Tango.

Plus, it's expensive. Um, there are plenty other things I'm happy to spend 40 quid on... per week.

And, for that wad of ten pound notes or ten dollar bills, you get a slightly neon color that last only days, making it more expensive than that gym membership you don't ever use. If you do it every week, that's a couple thousand quid down the drain.

And I've heard time and again about the horrors of the patchiness that comes with the fading process. I already have a hard enough time looking put together on a daily basis and don't need big brown patches on my legs and chest, like a bipedal Jersey cow, to make getting ready even more of a process. 

But... last month I had a wedding to attend in Cancun.

This time I wasn't going to be the ghostly pale girl in a bikini, garnering looks of pity, amid a sea of caramel-coloured hard bodies. The thing is, I do tan, but I'm never in the bleeding sun long enough to do so anymore! I longingly look at pictures from my youth sometimes, where I'm a shade of brown no helicopter parent would ever let their children achieve nowadays.

In my adult life, I'd never openly cared about being pale in a bathing suit. Sure I'd feel a twinge of jealously when a gaggle of tan girls would saunter by on the beach in Hvar or some exotic friend would seem to turn an even more exotic brown from just 20 minutes in the sun. But that twinge, I figured, was just part of being a girl (and human), so I never really caved.

This trip my vanity won out and I was ready to fake a bronzed glow for the sake of suddenly needy ego.

And, to be honest, my curiosity just sort of got the best of me. Here's this thing that I am constantly hearing about, talking about, analyzing, etc. and I'd just mentally circled the idea of fake tanning like a cautious animal. I was ready to pounce.

So I researched and researched some more. Because lord knows I wasn't sitting in the sun to develop a real tan (not that there is any sun in Chicago in April or May).

Two real options cropped up -- Mystic Tan or Ortanic. Ortanic being new, offering a $10 savings for first timers and having piles of rave reviews I decided to give it a go.

Plus, it was next to Whole Foods and I needed to do a shop.

DESCRIPTION

At the moment, Ortanic is, surprisingly, only in Chicago -- not a city known for being a beauty trendsetter or hub for that matter.

It's housed in various FFC gyms and each location has it's own, secluded room with heat lamps, ventilated booths, a no-nonsense, hand-held airbrush system, full length mirror and dozens of bottles of color (to be hand mixed by your technician).

Lauren was the technician I had that day, and boy I was glad I did. Turns out she's a trained makeup artist and avid Ortanic fan, so she was a dab hand at application and able to custom mix a shade for me based on where I was going, my natural skin tone and what I wanted (to look like I'd already been in Mexico for two weeks).

I stripped bare, although some women (and men, although I bet less so with the latter) bewilderingly leave on underwear. Seriously, girls, just take it all off. Do you really want panty lines included with your faux tan? Save the modesty for somewhere else.

You stand in the both while the technician hooks up your color to the airbrush. Then, arms out, she paints each section of your body (front, back, left side, right side, face, feet, sides of hands) methodically so that you end up with super even color everywhere.

The product smells nice and I didn't feel the least bit asphyxiated during the process.

From start to finish it might have taken 10 minutes and I was able to put on my clothes and go. There is only the gentlest of a cross sell on one of their DIY tan extender products, and she was very quick to let it go when I said no thank you.

Throughout the day, the product they applied deepened in color (I had it done at noon). It is visible when they spray it on, so be forewarned that you will look a bit like Magda from Something About Mary (as one of my sister's so charitably pointed out) while it develops. Most girls, it seems, get it done in the evening and then go straight home so they can sleep in it and shower in the morning.

If you can't do that, simply suck it up and rock a deep bronze for 8 to 10 hours, after which you can wash it off, revealing a super even, very natural (and brown, not orange) tan.

While you wait out those 8 to 10 hours you do have to be careful not to sweat or get your skin wet too.

Lauren advised to avoid very hot water (so hot showers, hot tubs, etc.) and moisturize like mad to maintain a good tan as long as possible.

Even though I went diving once in the sea before the wedding, the tan stayed up, possibly thanks to my religious moisturizing, aversion to hot water and hyper-quick showers.

My airbrush tan was, by far and away, the best accessory I brought with me to Mexico.

THE GOOD

Great, natural color, quick, lasts for 5 days, fades evenly, technicians with experience, custom-mixed color, very few ingredients, didn't smell terrible...

THE MEH

Magda-esque bronze you sport for 8 to 10 hours after it's done, too pricey to have done every week, lasts for 3 to 5 days not 7 to 10, only available in Chicago... and this last one: the name implies the product is organic BUT there's no indication or outright statement saying as much. They also utilize a lot of green on the website (images of trees, leaves, etc.), which isn't super honest use of imagery if the formula isn't, indeed, 'green' or organic.

THE DETAILS

Ortanic is available at FFC Chicago locations for $47 (bulk discounts available).

TRIED AND TESTED | Madara Decocare Tinting Fluids

IT'S ALWAYS a bit surprising to me that so many beauty brands are only available in specific markets even in our global age. It's one of the advantages of being a trans-Atlantic beauty writer -- I know about so many products, brands and services before they hit new markets, giving me a fantastic edge in the cut-throat world of freelancing.

But it's also a disadvantage when I find myself in one country for a long stretch and happen to run out of something that I can't get there.

That was the case recently in the US with my Madara Decocare Moon Flower Tinting Fluid.

It's only available in 16 stores coast to coast, and I needed it that day.

Turns out that the one nearest to me -- 30 minutes by car on the highway -- just started carrying a tiny cross-section of the brand consisting of only the Tinting Fluids and Tinting Lipglosses.

HA-LE-LU-JAH.

I love the product so much I didn't bat an eyelash at an hour-long round trip drive (even with current petrol prices) to buy it. Um, so, my verdict is clearly pre-mature (as the review is below). I think both the brand and this product are swell.

Perhaps I have a future in franchising Madara stores? Surely, at the very least, as a blog spokesperson!

DESCRIPTION


Latvian brand Madara bleeped to life on my beauty radar when my business partners and I were contacted about carrying the range on the website we were then setting up. And I've been hooked in the four years since.

Madara is the Latvian name for wild madders, which are abundant in local meadows.

The brand is certified organic (ECOCERT) and has several product lines: ecoface, decocare, ecobody, ecohair and ecobaby.

The Moon Flower Tinting Fluid (50ml) has a slightly lighter and more liquid texture than tinted moisturiser. It goes on slightly slick, like a light lotion, and gives very sheer flesh-toned tint/coverage and all-over highlighting that's great for summer usage or those looking to gently even out their complexions with a product that can double as a light moisturiser.

The active ingredients are: Baltic algae, chamomile, plantain, rose water and St.John's-wort, as well as cocoa, jojoba. Colour and shimmer are obtained from natural plant minerals and mica.

Full ingredient list:

Aqua, Alcohol, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil*, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Distillate*, Glycerin*, Theobroma Cacao Seed (Cocoa) Butter*, Cetearyl Alcohol, Hypericum Perforatum (St. John's Wort) Extract*, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Extract*, Chamomilla Recutita (Camomile) Extract*, Algae Extract, Plantago Major (Plantain Leaf) Extract*, Cetearyl Glucoside, Capryloyl Glycine, Stearic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide***, Xantan Gum, Aroma**, Citral**, Eugenol**, Limonene**, Linalool** [+/- (may contain), Mica (CI 77019), Titanium Dioxide (CI77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)]***

* ingredients issued from Organic Agriculture;
** natural essential oils;
*** inorganic substances and/or pure mineral pigments;
99,875% of the total ingredients are of a natural origin;
13,86% of the total ingredients are issued from Organic Agriculture;
Natural and Organic cosmetic certified by ECOCERT SAS – B.P. 47 F-32600 according to ECOCERT Standards.

THE GOOD

Wonderful coverage and evening out of skin tone even though it's incredibly sheer; 99.9% natural; smells like a forest; does indeed minimize the appearance of fine lines due to its illuminating and highlighting properties.


THE MEH

The price is a bit steep for 50ml so don't go wild with pumps per application or you'll find you're spending like 3 quid each time you use it. One pump should be enough to cover the face and the neck.

Also probably not great for those with super oily skin as I bet it won't stay put.

THE VERDICT

It's what I've been using as my sole foundation since I ran out of my RMS un-Cover Up, and before then I used it almost daily anyway because it's awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Particularly great during the spring and summer when you want to use as few products as possible as it multi-tasks as a highlighter, illuminator, foundation and moisturiser.

 

THE DETAILS

Madara Decocare Tinting Fluids (50ml) available from $49.95 in the US and £23.00 in the UK

TRIED AND TESTED | Nude Skincare Advanced Cellular Renewal Serum

I'VE HAD a bottle of this stuff on my bathroom shelf for quite a while, and I've been using it regularly. The texture is slightly watery. The color is opaque white. It has a slight fragrance, almost like powdery clean laundry. It's a bit slippy and feels nice going on although I needed a bit extra. It sinks it pretty rapidly and, unlike some other serums, doesn't leave a sticky film.

THE CLAIM

"With the highest concentration of Probiotic Technology in the NUDE range, this breakthrough serum uses three bio-available technologies proven to help the skin repair itself.

ADVANCED PROBIOTC TECHNOLOGY
NUDE’s Advanced Probiotic Technology repairs cellular damage and corrects ageing. 
Clinically proven to:
• 70% increase in cellular renewal
• 50% reduction in cellular damage
• 35% decrease in irritation

BIOACTIVE PEPTIDES
Powerful Bioactive Peptides help stimulate Collagen, Hyaluronic Acid and Fibronectin production, restructuring the cellular matrix to firm the skin and reduce the depth of wrinkles.

COMPLETE HYALURONIC ACID SYSTEM
NUDE has created a unique three way system to optimise Hyaluronic Acid within the skin
• A concentrated dose of Hyaluronic Acid instantly plumps and smoothes
• Bioactive Peptides boost natural synthesis of Hyaluronic Acid"

THE DOSAGE

For someone with perennially dehydrated skin the recommended dosage of 3 to 4 drops wasn't enough. I needed about double that to cover my face, neck and decolletage. 

MY RESULTS

Well, I think I started using it at the wrong time. My skin is schizophrenic during the winter. It flakes off. It peels. It turns red. It gets inflamed.

If I didn't know this post was about the state of my complexion, I'd think someone was describing the symptoms of an uncomfortable STD.

Nope.

It's what winter does to MY FACE.

So I'm sad to say I didn't see much of a difference in my skin. If anything, I seemed to have slightly heightened irritation in the places that my skin flares up during the winter (forehead, around the temples and cheekbones in a C-shape around my eye). But, then again, only very few things do work on my skin during the winter. Very. Few. And one of them is a triple-antibiotic cream.

From the sound of the other reviews, if you don't have problem skin like mine, it's a pretty brilliant product. My skin is fickle.

FOLLOW UP

I'm going to save the second half of the bottle and give it a go when the temperature rises above 45 and the air's not bone dry.

VERDICT

Erm, I'm not comfortable saying... okay, okay. For me, right now, it's not a must-have. But I really really want it to be someday. Just not today.

Other reviews on Nude Skincare Advanced Cellular Renewal Serum

 

TRIED AND TESTED | Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Lash Multiplying Mascara

Wow.

This stuff makes my lashes look as long as the legs of a supermodel.

I previously thought DiorShow Black Out was the only premium mascara on the market that could achieve such a look. Eyeko was a close second for a tubing/more moderately priced product.

Not so anymore. The Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Lash Multiplying Mascara formula is smooth -- not clumpy or dry. The color is an inky black. Eyelashes are coated in just a few swipes. A bit too much might be deposited, particlarly on corner bottom lashes as you're trying to wing out upper corner lashes, but it's not a deal breaker.

It's been my go-to since it showed up in my mailbox a few weeks ago. 

If you have long, fine, blonde lashes like mine this stuff'll make your eyes pop and your lashes look so long people will ask you if you're wearing falsies. Again, a question I only got when wearing DiorShow Black Out in past.

Not sure what you did to your formula, Estee Lauder, but it's magical.

We weren't going to post anything here until we finished the re-design, but, sheesh. You make a mascara that goes on like this and we have to say something.

Check out the other mascaras we swoon over.

TRIED AND TESTED | Super serums reviewed #2

Alpha H Liquid Gold Intensive Night Repair Serum Special Edition

AS A beauty writer, I rarely stay with a product to the bitter end. Only the truly amazing make it to the point where I've sawed open the container with a bread knife just to scrape out the last dollop before chucking it away.

Alpha-H's Liquid Gold Intensive Night Repair Serum has now been in my skincare routine since October -- already a feat of endurance for a product in my beauty cabinet.

It's a water-based serum with 14% Glycolic Acid (that's the key... HIGH % of the good stuff) along with Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Hyaluronic Acid (Sodium Hyaluronate) and palmitoyl tripeptide-5 (aka PEPTIDES). It's like no Child Left Behind but for your skin -- no anti-ageing benefit left behind! 

The Triple Vitamin Threat (or, as they call it, Triple Vitamin Therapy, but I like 'threat' better) of Vites A, E and B3 accelerates cell turnover (Vitamin A diminishes fine lines, wrinkles and imperfections), eases redness, inflammation and acne (thank you, Mr. B3) and E moisturises and heals (none of that taut, tight feeling after this is applied). Your skin is elastic and comfy as it should be. Hyaluronic Acid attracts water to your parched skin, plumping it and, for you injectable junkies out there, it's the key ingredient in both Juvederm and Restylane.

The Glycolic is a teeny tiny AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid... remember when that was a buzz word in beauty?), so not only does it act as a resurfacer for your skin by breaking down dead skin cells and sloughing them away, it's also the carrier/delivery system for the other wonderful ingredients in this formula. 

And this stuff is pH balanced, because the skin needs to stay slightly acidic to be truly healthy (read all about the acid mantle here). Perfect.

[Editor's note: Apparently, nicotinic acid rather than Niacinamide helps with wound healing and hyper-pigmentation because it can bind to cells, according to a PR who emailed me. I don't have studies in front of me either way right now, but if any science types out there want to add their two cents, please do! For the time being, I sort of still believe Niacinamide helps, as I did hear it from the horse's mouth (Dr. Nick Lowe whose products also use Niacinamide) not more than a few months ago.]

It tingles when you apply it, but it doesn't actually irritate or inflame the skin, not even acne or Rosacea. And that warm, tingly sensation dissipates after the product absorbs and dries on the skin, leaving you with a good base to apply the rest of your beauty kit.

The Texture?

It's gel-like, although a bit slick... not unlike (don't cringe)... personal lube.

Thankfully, it does more for the wrinkles than slapping on a bit of Astroglide would around the eyes.

The directions say to use 2 to 3 pumps every other night. 3 is one too many for me. And remember: your face doesn't end at your jawline! Apply it all the way down your neck and chest too. Your face pretty much stops where your nipples start.

There are little beads suspended in the vivid orange gel (that would be the encapsulated, high-dose Vitamin E, then), and the serum comes in an airless pump that is clear so you can see how much is left. (Don't you just hate when you have NO IDEA how much of something is left? Drives me bonkers.) Plus, no air making contact with the formula means it'll stay fresher for longer. 

Long-Term Effect?

Let's start by saying this product should be used with regularity over time. Like exercise and a good diet will, over time, have a cumulative effect on your figure, so to will this product have such an effect on skin texture, appearance and overall evenness over time.

I have seen -- from October to February -- diminished fine lines, more even skin tone, less redness, acne that heals more rapidly, smoother to the touch, Rosacea less inflamed and a whole host of other good things.

The fine lines around my eyes -- quite visible a year ago -- are only apparent to the naked eye if I lean in really close to examine them... and smile. Not bad, huh?

Short-Term Effect?

Because, well, yes, the beauty of this (beauty) product is that there is, along with the cumulative long-term benefits, something to be gained in the short term as well. Hurrah! That almost never happens with skincare.

When I apply this at night, even on top of severely inflamed Rosacea or acne, I wake up the next morning with an even skin tone that looks smooth and calm (which certainly wasn't the case the night before) yet isn't taut, dry or flaking as it would with, say, Benzoyl Peroxide or a prescription Vitamin A cream. This promotes good change in the skin and doesn't make you pay for it dearly during the process with a complexion that's even more embarrassing than the one that prompted to you start using the product in the first place. 

In fact, Liquid Gold Intensive Night Serum is one of the only things that has ever helped my Rosacea. Even better than the s**t on the shelves that's marketed as being specifically formulated for Rosacea. Those products? Fail. This product? Winning (as Charlie Sheen would say).

Nothing else has had both such immediate and long-lasting results on my skin.

Must-have or Nice-to-have?

Absolutely, without a doubt, will-stockpile-if-they-threaten-to-discontinue MUST-HAVE product. Use it regularly and it will change your face for the better. It's taken a handful of years off of mine. I'm only sad I didn't come across it five years earlier.

I'd look like a teenager right now if I had. As it stands, I probably look about 26 and I'm in my 30s. That, my friends, suits me just fine.

Hot tip

Alpha-H is in Fern Skincare in Belsize Park on England's Lane. It's a lovely space in a lovely neighbourhood with amazing products and treatments. Go there. Now.

Where to buy

Available at virtually all online boutiques, including Beautyexpert.co.uk, Mankind.co.uk, Hqhair.com, Lookfantatic.com, QVC et al.

TRIED AND TESTED | Super serums reviewed

THIS HAS been a long post in the making.

It's not easy (I know, smallest violin in the world...) trialing all these serums. Each takes several weeks, it's near impossible to control for all the other variables in life and sometimes it's hard to tell whether any change in your complexion is down to the jam-packed active ingredients in your products or, say, a monthly shift in hormones, lack of sleep, new exercise routine, drinking too much... whatever. It, just like your products, all affects the skin.

Since October, we've been trialing all of the products below. There are a few amazing products we'll use forever, some that didn't quite make the cut (or visible difference) on the lightly lined, still acneic, sometimes oily but perennially dry skin of a 30 year-old prone to rosacea during the winter. (Meaning, they might work for you but if you fit that narrow description, they probably won't).

Some are nice-to-have but not need-to-have and we know there are thousands of other serums out there that many of you swear by, have forever sworn off or are entirely indifferent towards.

We might get to those someday but for now, here's what we have to say about...

Burt's Bees Radiance Serum

 

I've seen with my own eyes the raw ingredients that go into this mixture.

More natural than, say, Megan Fox... by a looooong shot (99.86% natural). 

In fact, its ingredient list is downright hippie-tastic (Water, glycerin, alcohol denat., royal jelly, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, glucose, xanthan gum, phenoxyethanol, sodium chloride, glucose oxidase, lactoperoxidase, caramel).

The big dose of coveted Royal Jelly delivers vitamins, minerals and amino acids, Licorice is great for those who flush easily or have skin redness problems (read: ROSACEA). Glycerin attracts water to the skin. Phenoxyethanol is used as the stabilizing agent (or one of them), which some fervent organic types eschew, but, when needs must. It's that or parabens, ladies.

It's marketed as anti-ageing.

The texture?

Super watery so very unlike the highly viscous nature of most serums. The dosage and application instructions are respectively a few drops and patted onto the face.

But who can rub just a few drops of water all over his/her face!? I added the drops to my night cream and massage it in or added it to a cocktail of other serums and smeared it around.

The short-term effect?

A bit of instant luminosity to the skin although it feels slightly tacky once on the skin but the skin also does feel much more moisturised than it does pre-application.

The long-term effect?

 Calmer, less ruddy skin, slight evening out of overall skin tone. I didn't notice a different in fine lines or acne.

Must-have or nice-to-have?

I would say really nice-to-have. It would make a great addition to a skincare routine added to your daily moisturiser or nightly treatment. Plus, it's one of the few products that will have Royal Jelly in such a concentrated amount and, having seen the Royal Jelly in the Burt's Bees lab, I can tell you it's the real deal.

Random association:

One of Roald Dahl's brilliantly dark stories in Tales of the Unexpected is titled Royal Jelly. A must-read for any diehard Dahl or, indeed, Royal Jelly fans out there.


Do you have a favourite serum? Something you can't live without? Do share!

 

Stay tuned for the upcoming super serum reviews:

Nude Skincare Advanced Cellular Renewal Serum

Dr. Nick Lowe Super Lifting Serum

Olay Regenerist 3 Point Super Serum

Filogra 30ml Meso+ absolute anti-ageing serum

Russell Organics Camelia, Kukui, Seabuckthorn and Rosehip Oils

Somme Institute Serum (Step 3)

Alpha H Liquid Gold Intensive Night Repair Serum

TRIED AND TESTED | Hourglass Femme Rouge Velvet Creme Lipstick

What > Femme Rouge Velvet Creme Lipstick from luxe LA mineral brand Hourglass in Nocturnal

True color > Lighter (in weight) than rendered online. A medium-deep berry mauve. Cool undertones. Gorgeous. Works day and night.

Texture > Super creamy with good pigment and just a hint of sheen on the finish.

Staying power > Last through an entire cup of coffee. Would need re-application during the day (although not at the frequency of a gloss or less-pigmented lipstick) because of the creamy texture.

Application technique > Apply once, blot well, and apply second coat by dabbing it on, fixing any errors or smudging out a bit with finger. No liner.

Wear > Super smooth. Lips feel moisturized, plumps. No dryness or caking, no tugging on the lip when applied.

**********

Plus > Texture, staying power for a cream lipstick, great pigment, luxuriously heavy metal case, they're refillable, perfume free.

Minus > Can't find full ingredient list online. Wouldn't call it 'light as air' as suggested on their site, but certainly not heavy, nor waxy.

Conclusion > A gorgeous cream lippie in brilliantly pigmented shades that feels more like Nuxe Reve de Miel than a lipstick.

Other reviews:

Hourglass Femme Rouge Velvet Creme Lipstick (£22/$30), available on Zuneta in the UK and Hourglass Online in the US.

TRIED & TESTED | Delo Water-Boosting Caps

I KNOW everyone's supposed to go mental over the Harrod's Food Hall, but, for me, it's the Selfridges Food Hall that makes me get a little spend-crazy. It's bursting with edible treasures, arranges in walls of vibrant colors and wrapping. Rows of diaphanous merengues abutt beautiful cakes and pastel rounds of chocolate across from exotic coral slabs of sushi-grade salmon. Bottles of viscous, amber Karo syrup rub shoulders with pots of glowing English mustard. In the mix, between Yo Sushi and the bakery you'll find the modern, minimal, bright and tiny boxes housing Delo Water-Boosting Caps.

Inside each is a mix of plant concentrates and extracts. Screw it onto the mouth of your water bottle (French half-litre is what they're made for) and the seal breaks, releasing the extracts into l'eau. Extracts include Ginseng, Acerola, Guarana, Ginger, Galagal, Cardamom, Carrot, Rosehip, Mallow, Hawthorn, Orange Blossom, Yerba Mate, Green Tea, Mango, Kiwi, Lychee, Bitter Orange, Walnut and Calamint.

Energy, Sexy, Slim, Sun and De-Stress are the options. I've used and like both the Energy and De-Stress on a regular basis since their launch at the Colette Water Bar in 2007.

If you're looking for the benefits of herbal tea or supplments on the run, this might be the thing for you. Plus, it's hard not to be a sucker for their pretty packaging, like a moth to the fire...

Delo Water-Boosting Caps

TRIED AND TESTED | Top 5 natural winter skincare combos

Beautywoome.com contributor Julia Rebaudo gets her skin armed and ready for the winter weather to come. Check out her top picks to from natural brands for the best moisture boost this cold season.

WINTER SKIN needs a little extra TLC to protect against the cold weather and dry indoor heat. What a better (and simple) plan of attack is there than to double up the hydrating routine? I’m already a big fan of layering on a facial oil or serum before moisturising – nothing beats it for day-long hydration and happy skin. I’ve been testing what’s on offer to give me this one-two hydration punch from the natural skincare brands, and here are the best of the bunch.

Read More

FROM THE FRONT | Tom Ford Private Blend Lipsticks

THERE'S BEEN a lot of debate on the beauty blogs about whether Tom Ford’s £35 luxury Private Blend lipsticks, launched back in April, are worth it. So we decided to go and check them out for ourselves.

PACKAGING AND TUBE


Wonderful old-school Hollywood glamour in off-white and gold trimming that, yes, feels good to pick-up and hold. Extremely pleasing to the eye and excellent for showing off – this is the kind of lipstick you want to nonchalantly pull out of your handbag in a fancy restaurant.

Read More

TRIED & TESTED | Yummie Tummie leggings

AT THE launch for Vital Juice Chicago a couple of weeks ago, we guests were given pretty great swag bags. Now, no offence, America, but you do pretty sub-standard swag compared to the UK.

OFTEN times they're simply stuffed with marketing materials and sachets of samples smaller than those on offer at beauty counters. Yes, I understand that we're not entitled to amazing goody bags but you think I'm going to write up something that's actually worth less to me than the effort to carry it home? Nope.

I'VE walked away with bags bursting at the seams in the UK, to go home and promptly trial what's inside, followed by a write up. I think brands are missing a trick in the US, with their lackluster goody bags.

However, Vital Juice clearly gets the game, and so did the brands (mostly) in their goody bags. Because I'm using the things I received and writing about them in various outlets. The Jurlique Citrus Silk Finishing Powder, the Blurb.com gift certificate, the Lara Bars, Karyn's lip balm and dark chocolate, Yum Nuts, Lemon Detox tea, Baggu bag (I love you, Baggu).... and a Yummie Tummie gift certificate for $100.

I promptly went online and purchased a pair of Yummie Tummie shaping leggings when I got home and now have to shout from the rooftops about them.

You see, they are a-ma-zing. Truly. 

Read More

TRIED & TESTED | Beauté liqui-gel stains

JESSICA LOVES THIS… Because there’s nothing better than a burst of bright, refreshing colour on those pavement-melting summer days. Get a beautiful, natural flush with berry Harlot and sanguine Fever or go bright and cheery with coral Neon and pink Flouron that are bang on trend for spring/ summer 2010. The multi-tasking lip and cheek liquid-gel stain is the perfect consistency (not a liquid, not a gel), size (perfect for that holiday carry-on or your handbag), easily blendable and long lasting. Between these four, there’s a stain that looks good on every skin tone and one that works for every mood or occasion.

READ THE FULL PIECE AT BECAUSEMAGAZINE.COM

TRIED&TESTED | Philips Lumea for the hair down there

This week, fearless Ali Taylor tries at-home laser hair removal for the pages of beautywoome.com. Find out if you can fry your follicles while having a cuppa in your kitchen or if, indeed, it's best done under a doctor's supervision!

SO, PHILIPS LUMEA is a home laser hair removal device. I tested it over an eight-week period – one session per fortnight - under the supervision of the lovely Philips people. The way it works? Well, it’s startlingly simple. There is a screen – like a mini TV screen - which houses the Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology at the end of the curvaceous L-shaped hand-held. You press the screen against your skin and work your way through the affected area bit by bit, zapping as you go.  It feels a little hot, or like the feeling of an elastic band pinging against your skin, but not what you’d call painful. And let’s face it, when it comes to hair removal; no pain no gain, eh?

We were instructed to shave before the first session so that you can apply the laser to a clean area. I wasn’t too happy about this – through bitter experience I’m a waxer when it comes to the bikini area; shaving is rash central for me. I went ahead though and was excited to see the results. It took less than ten minutes to do my bikini line. You pick a setting according to your skin and hair colour (there are five settings) and can adjust them as you go depending on how sensitive the area is. You literally press ONE button before moving onto the next bit. It’s unbelievably easy and, of course, mess free.

I inspected the area closely over the next week and sure enough the hair started to grow back pretty much as normal but this is usual, apparently. Between session two and three, though, there was a massive difference. I had very patchy re-growth and nowhere near the discomfort you usually experience from shaving ‘down there’. It was amazing – I was excited... Is that sad?

By the last session, week four, there was virtually no re-growth and I used my final fling to really give that sucker a good going over. It’s not stayed completely hair free in the past four weeks but the re-growth has been minimal and not an, erm, patch on what it would normally be like. I reckon two more sessions would see the back of it for good. Now that is really something – and just in time for holiday season.

Hair removal nirvana, needless to say, doesn’t come cheap. It’ll set you back £399 (buy at Boots, John Lewis or Amazon) but compare this to the amount spent on waxing over the years and how much it would cost for a similar treatment in a salon, it’s not bad at all.

For more info on how it stops the hair from growing, see British Beauty Blogger's review in The Telegraph here.

I will be investing.

SPA WATCH | Elemis Modern Skin Facial

Beautywoome.com's intrepid beauty reporter Julia Rebaudo is on the London beat this week, testing out Elemis's Modern Skin Facial....

DESCRIPTION: Elemis – Modern Skin Facial The Facial

Not an anti-aging treatment, Elemis’ new Modern Skin Facial is designed for the younger lady, in her 20s and 30s, who’s skin suffers from the stresses of living in a polluted city environment, enduring the woes of public transport and of course the unavoidable post-work drinks, patchy diet, snacking on the go and detrimental sugar hits. Claims to raise mineral levels, regenerate skin cells, re-balance sebum levels, reduce rosacea and boost radiance.

 

THE TREATMENT

It takes a few minutes to adjust to the relaxed pace and comforting but hushed tones of the Elemis Day Spa just off bustling New Bond Street (bustling all the more due to a mobbed sale at the Mulberry store…). A refreshing water in a bowl-like cup in hand, I fill out a form detailing my skincare habits and lifestyle before the Sicilian Lola does a complexion analysis of my face in a futuristic-looking white machine.

The scan charts spots and small blackheads (all 14 of them I’m surprised to note, as they are really not visible to the eye, phew) wrinkles, texture, pores and UV spots. I’m slightly horrified by the UV exposure, as I’ve been panicking about burning my face a few weeks ago in LA, but unfortunately the analysis does not detail sun damage. Lola says overall I’m in good shape and takes me up to the darkened, sleek treatment room. I change into a robe – this always makes things feel so much more luxurious and relaxing – before slipping between the patterned blankets.

And what can I say, I am then subjected to one of the most glorious facial experiences ever. At first I’m a little put out there is no extraction (I always feel a little cheated without blackhead removal) but I quickly realise this facial is not about pain or feeling uncomfortable. My face is cleansed and toned before being expertly and lengthily massaged and then toned some more with one of my new favourite Elemis products -- the Papaya Enzyme Peel.

Next up another new favourite, the Visible Brilliance Radiance Serum (which I have successfully incorporated into my daily skincare by slipping on before my regular moisturiser) is applied before the Mineral-Rich Peel Off Mask and a delicious dry scalp massage. More toning, Cellular Recovery Skin Bliss Capsule and then another mask, the Exotic Cream Moisturising Mask accompanied by a blissful neck and shoulder massage. Lola wraps things up with an eye serum and moisturiser. She also tells me I have excellent skin texture.

The procedure may sound quite straightforward but it was executed with such confident expertise and real, genuine care that I was gutted to leave. Also the products themselves must be pretty special given the excellent result (see below).

 

THE RESULT

First off I check my face out in a handheld mirror while still lying down. I’m struck by how balanced the tone of my skin looks. I’ve never seen it look like this without makeup or a tan. I leave the spa without applying any makeup whatsoever. I meet a friend an hour later in Covent Garden, she immediately says how good I look. Result. I’m thrilled. I check myself out in a pub mirror and am really pleased at how fresh and radiant my skin is looking. Then as we leave the pub, a young man comes up to me and asks if he can take me out for a coffee, “You look so pretty!” he says. Double result. Graciously I decline, but you are now looking at an Elemis Modern Skin Facial superfan. I can’t wait to have another.

This is a perfect pre-special-do facial as you will be left looking refreshed and fabulous with no risk of redness or outbreaks.

Available at the Elemis spas and salons nationwide from: £50-£90 for 60 mins www.elemis.com

TRIED & TESTED | Prtty Peaushun

ALL THE hubbub in the blogosphere and oh-so-serious beauty pages of the broadsheets right now is about getting out those glow-in-the-dark gams for spring. You know the ones. Yours. Mine. Pasty, ashy, almost beyond hope. They've been shut away from the sun for so long, you're certain they make Gollum look positively tan next to you. Mine are so white that my blonde leg hairs look black (maybe that was TMI)...

Still, tis the season to reveal legs to the world. Rather than just put them out there as is, garnering a collective gasp of horror, I'm taking matters into my own hands/onto my own legs and leaving the house with something presentable from mid-thigh and below this year. Fake tanning might still be a foreign concept to me and my (nearly) 30 years, but, dammit, my white legs will hold their own against the Tango-ed girls of this world if I have something to say about it! In fact, legs that aren't a subtle shade of Jersey Shore look quite nice and it would be a relief to see a few more ladies rocking a natural, rather than scientific, skin tone. However, that's a topic for another post. Back to my long-neglected legs. 

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TRIED & TESTED | Maca powder

 

WE'RE ON a health kick over here. Can you tell? Yes, yes, all part of rehabilitating my dormant self-preservation habits, the ones that were lost while starting a business and, erm, living full-time in London because, well, it's London. There was too much going on to care about my abs. That said, I lived on a heavenly diet of fresh fruit and veg there (heavenly, peppery rocket everyday that's sadly not available over here. I dream about you, oh, London rocket...).

But, I am no longer there full time and practicing my version of pub culture does not sit well with America's sedentary lifestyle. When I had to walk 30 minutes to the pub, had a partly liquid dinner (coupled with some roasted veg) and then walk home again, well, that was alright, wasn't it? Kept me slim and social. There's no such thing in the U.S., so that half bottle of wine the husband I drink at night goes right to the widening hips. Or went to them, I should say. The buck stopped about a month ago, when I got off that wine-soaked arse, joined the gym, starting leaving the house during (gasp) daylight hours (the life of an American freelancer living outside of SF or NY is a decidedly anti-social, lonely one) and mixing a few magical ingredients into my food (which is, I'll have you know, mostly vegan this month (thank you for suggesting it, husband)). One of them being Maca Root. Why? Let me tell you...

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TRIED & TESTED | Eyeko mascara

THERE ARE not many pictures of me, period. Perhaps my camera shyness with haunt me later in life, but it's just not for me. However, a recent project required my mug in front of a camera. There were no stylists on hand to do makeup (except for the fabulous Lynne and her impromptu powdering. Thank you!) or wardrobe -- just me, my jet-lag and makeup kit, in which I had my trusty mascara. Some people have seen one of the pics and keep commenting on my lashes so it is high time I do a review of the wunder-mascara that makes them look good (without curling or priming).

DESCRIPTION

Eyeko is a cutesy (in fact the strap line is London's Cutest Beauty), Manga-themed British makeup company. Probably more at home in the makeup bags of teenagers than a grown woman, I have (of course) grown to love it. The Eyeko mascara comes in a silver tube (much like Cargo cosmetics), with a wand of wide and widely spaced bristles and in black. There's a Manga girl on the tube but otherwise, it's pretty discreet.

THE GOOD

Your eyelashes will look AMAZING (long, separated, black), it's cheaper than most drugstore varieties nowadays, the formula doesn't flake AND (I mean, can it get any better?!) it's a TUBING FORMULA (whether intended or not) so it slides right off your lashes at night, leaving absolutely no mess. The perfect 10 of mascaras.

THE BAD

Not a single thing. Not one. Even the Manga girl on the tube is fine. In fact, she's a downright good advertisement for the product inside and the results you'll get, unlike most mascara ads where the models/actresses have to wear fake lashes to advertise the product.

THE PRICE 

8 teeny tiny pounds. 

Buy Eyeko mascara here.