Lancôme 'All I Want This Christmas' Advent Calendar

Monday, 31 October 2011

Daily spoils: 25 reasons to get up in December

I've just bought BB's first ever chocolate advent calendar in readiness for December but for a grown-up, uber-glamorous version (without the sugar rush), here's one to add to your wish-list. Crammed with gorgeous cosmetic eye-candy from Lancôme, Giorgio Armani, Kiehl's, Shu Uemura, Viktor & Rolf and Yves Saint Laurent it doesn't come cheap (£80!), but I guess you could say it's the gift that will keep on giving - to YOU ;) 

The Lancôme All I Want This Christmas advent calendar is on sale now and available exclusively online at Selfridges and Selfridges stores nationwide.

Trick O Treat - Jessica Nails Halloween Collection

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Pumpkin Patch

And now for a bit of freaky fun - MWAH HA HA HA!  Generally there's so much tat in the shops come Halloween - lacerated plastic finger anyone? - that I just can't be bothered to buy into it. Last year poor, deprived BB wore a t-shirt depicting a shrouded illustration with the slogan 'I love my mummy.' This year I'm going to make more of an effort. I may shred up a sheet and draw eyes on it...

Even spookier, I'm almost - shock and very real horror - tempted to embrace the spirit of all things spectral myself with this limited edition Halloween nail collection from Jessica. I haven't seen these varnishes in the flesh, so to speak, but I do own a frightening amount of Jessica nail polishes and the quality and depth of colour is always super-duper. Pumpkin Patch, a punchy orange, would be the obvious choice to pay homage to the tradition of Trick or Treat but for a manicure you can wear beyond the witching hour Batty, a black with flecks of multi-toned glitter (above right), would probably be your safest bet. Whatever ghoulish goings-on you've got planned for Halloween be sure to have a horrid time. When the phone rings, just don't answer it... 

*Also shown from left are: Witches Brew and Ghostess With The Mostess. Jessica 'Trick O Treat' Halloween nail shades (15ml) are available priced £7.95 from and approved salons nationwide. 

Review - Lacura Concealer Pen, £3.59

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A lovely friend of a friend introduced me to the Lacura Beauty range back in August. We were wandering around Aldi in a Wembley industrial park, as you do, looking for something for the annoying, wheat-free person (me), who doesn't do scran-from-a-van to scoff before heading on to see TAKE THAT!! (woo - Mexican wave). Though my mind was giddy from hunger - and the anticipation of seeing Howard et al. - I did note M's throw-away comment that the Lacura concealer was really quite good. 

One woman's 'quite good' is another woman's 'can't live without.' If you're ever just sick and tired of looking sick and tired then this could be for you. Having tried scores of under eye concealers in my career as a beauty journalist, Lacura's is - for the money - my current no-contest favourite.

The packaging alone must be worth 3 quid; it has the luxury look and feel of casing at the top-end of the market. The brush tip is good quality and holds its shape, the formulation is fluid but thick enough to deliver excellent coverage that doesn't go patchy. There's a good level of light reflection and it makes an excellent base for eyeshadow. 

Superb value: the packaging alone looks worth - £3.59

But, and here's the rub, despite being a fab little product there is still some dark shadow show-through. Very few under eye concealers completely cover unless you go for heavy (read: obvious), camouflage or have time to add in colour correction first - see the end of the post. I'm going to hop on my high horse here and say that it's absolutely OK for a face to retain a bit of natural shadow. There's nothing more unnatural and frankly odd-looking than an under eye area blanked out with a ton of concealer. It can actually make your eyes appear smaller. 

Below is my very first attempt at a before and after picture. The sun came out briefly so the lighting did change in the bathroom - and I am no David Bailey - but I reckon that my exhausted eye looks a whole lot fresher. What do you think? Would you try/have you tried Lacura? x

                                 Oh sigh, bleary eye
Oh my, perkier eye

* Lacura Beauty is available at Aldi stores nationwide.

TIP: paint concealer under the eyes and leave to sit for 30-seconds to allow the product to 'grab.' Then, gently press into the skin with the pad of your finger or stipple over the area with a flat, synthetic concealer brush. The idea is to keep the product where you applied it rather than moving it out to the sides of the eyes. Don't forget to apply to the shadows in the recesses nearest the bridge of the nose and also at the outer corner of the eyes where the lash lines meet and there can be redness and discolouration. 

Also recommended:

* Benefit Erase Paste, £19.50. This is my go-to concealer for those periods of child illness/extreme sleep deprivation. It has a thick, tacky consistency meaning it stays put where you need it most but softens out onto the skin to a coverage level that, whilst fairly heavy-duty, isn't cakey. I love the fact that as the day wears on - and make-up fatigue sets in - you can press over the area with your finger tip and it blends back to being as good as new. Available in three shades which all have a 'melon' undertone to neutralise darkness. 

* Garnier Caffeine Anti-Dark Circles 2-in-1 Roll-on, £9.99. An oldie but still a goodie. Instant brightening results and deceptively effective coverage. On a truly tired day it's not enough for my dark circles but if you don't really wear make-up and simply want something to freshen up your eye area it's worth a go.

* Bobbi Brown Corrector, £17. The product for super-hard to conceal shadows. Corrector is a cream base - with either a pink or peach undertone - applied beneath concealer to counteract the appearance of stubborn discolouration. Available in 11 shades spanning most skin tones it's the big-guns option for when you need serious help. If you are a Bobbi foundation fan you can check out your match via the online Face Shade Guide. Otherwise, I'd recommend braving the counter bare-eyed for a professional colour corrective consultation.

Genki Konnyaku Cleansing Sponges

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Recently, I attended a fantastic press launch for a new natural beauty website and met lots of inspiring, product-passionate people from fascinating ranges. It was particularly enjoyable because it's rare to meet the actual bods behind brands without some smoke and mirrors spin, so it made for an event that I came away feeling genuinely enthused about. The day also brought together two of my favourite things - beauty and complementary therapies - so I was a very happy bunny indeed. (You'll be hearing more about Nutri Beauty in the coming weeks as I've a huge box of wholesome goodies to get through and will be reviewing, in due course, the 'best bits'). 

After having a rootle around said box, I reached for the least attractive item. A colourless, stiff-looking cleansing sponge with little - seemingly - to remark upon. I felt awfully sorry for its plainness. Can't put my finger on why, but it reminded me of a friend at school who could never drop a singleton crisp in case it felt lonely. 

From right; original for normal/sensitive skin
& French pink clay for dry skin

Konnyaku (yup, I did Google it's provenance), is a type of Southeast Asian potato; high in fibre, minerals and natural water content. Apparently popular in Japan as an exfoliating sponge, it is also the main ingredient in Konnyaku noodles. Cleansing with noodles? now there's a novel concept. 

Bamboo charcoal for oily complexions

When soaked in water the Genki sponge is soft, dense and squidgy with a fibrous feel that's more exfoliating than a muslin cloth but nowhere near as abrasive as a loofah - thankfully! Used with cream cleanser it's incredibly effective at removing make-up and grime leaving the skin brighter, fresher and super-smooth. Which reminds me never to judge a potato on its peel or a book by its cover. In this case, the 'booby prize' played a blinder.                                                                                                                        
*Genki Konnyaku Cleansing Sponge is £9.99 and available at 

Bobbi Brown - 20th Anniversary Lip Palette

Friday, 14 October 2011

For once, I'm not going to talk the talk because this rather special party-in-a-palette speaks for itself. Housing the first ten lip shades launched by Bobbi Brown in 1991 and ten contemporary brights for 2011 (I'm loving Candied Red and Cosmic Lily), it's like a lipstick lucky-dip you just can't go wrong with. And therein lies the success of arguably the most goof-proof, prettifying cosmetics range ever. What was flattering, easy-wear and modern two decades ago continues - in past and present incarnations - to be flattering, easy-wear and modern now

Two decades of lipstick brilliance

The 20th Anniversary Lip Palette, £43 (a wowser Christmas gift idea - nudge, nudge, wink, wink), is available on-line and at Bobbi Brown counters nationwide. View the shades in all their glory here.

The year was 1991


As a long-time Bobbi fan I thought I'd share a snap of little old me - aged sweet 17 - wearing the lipstick shade Beige (top row; second from left), from Bobbi's eponymous collection. Where did that baby face, natural hair colour and 20 years go? Life really IS what happens when you're not looking. Never a truer word spoken.

Cinderela B Goes To The Ball

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

It's been one of those ugly-sister weeks where I've felt tired and drab; more like an old husk than a human being. Everything has been going wrong. In my woe-is-me state I decided a nice sparkly treat was in order and swung by - as I do on such occasions - the local gift boutique before collecting BB from nursery. I've been bringing the boy to this particular shop (heavy on the Cath Kidston and Woman & Home type furnishings), since the days when his eyes were milk-drunk and navy blue. 

Cinderela B snake chain earrings from
 the glitterati collection, £25

With BB in tow I shop with a tunnel vision approach since there's no time for the subtler pleasures of browsing. When I'm alone I get to potter, pause and hear myself think - it's quite a thrill. Fired-up with the promise of a purchase I spotted these Cinderela B earrings (pictured above) which tick all the gift-to-self boxes. A little bit sexy with the gold-plated chain detail, enough of a statement to feel fashion-forward, just the right amount of weight, glitz and glamour... SOLD! to the lady on the edge. Chip and pin - kerching!

One of the things I love best about reading blogs, blogging and sharing via social media is the way in which shiny gems of information are unearthed and passed on; word of mouth becomes word of Facebook and Twitter. So, I'm going to do a little shout out and say that I'd highly recommend a look at the rest of the range. The pieces are beautiful, unusual and - considering the quality - very accessibly priced. I'm pleased as punch with my earrings. 

If your treat budget is heftier head straight on down to the Couture Vintage collection. Here, you'll find stunning, one-off designs created using assorted vintage 1920's to 1980's jewellery components. I'm in love with this Mad Men-esque necklace which debuts a selection of chains and blue marble set in glass, dating from the 1950's.

Indigo necklace from the couture vintage collection, £170

Fit for a princess packaging

Such limited-edition luxury is surely guaranteed to give the most fraught days a fairytale ending. Wouldn't you just feel like the belle of the ball?

Fantasy Lashes

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

'Peacock' lashes: symbolising auspicious and lucky days

Whilst I'm not suggesting styling these out at baby group or on the school-run (though it would be naughty fun, no?),  I thought you might like a looksy at PAPERSELF's fabulous faux lashes - I've never seen anything quite like them before. Inspired by the Chinese art of paper cutting the designs have an intricate, filigree effect that is absolutely gorgeous.

'Peach blossom' lashes: a symbol of love and romance

My particular fantasy-favourite is this delicate fringe of peach blossom. In reality, I just wish I had the occasion - and outfit - to wear them myself. 

PAPERSELF eyelashes are available at PAPERSELFASOS and Buy Eyelashes - styles priced between £10.50 - £12.50. Choose from six full lash and five corner lash designs.
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