If 1950s Nail Polish Could Swatch

Thursday, 24 May 2012

One of my favourite evening pastimes is firing up the iPad and sofa-surfing eBay for vintage cosmetics and collectibles whilst the husband scours eBay on his iPhone for bike parts. Hey, we all have hobbies :)

Two recent wins have caused great excitement (for me, not him), especially as they were both under £5 including postage. I love the thrill of a fiver find (p&p included) on eBay. One is quite unlike anything I've ever seen before and needs more research before I post about its provenance, the other is this rather beautiful example of L'Onglex nail polish.

Floral fancy: a blast from nail polish past

Retro magazine adverts I've unearthed online date similar L'Onglex Polishes to around the 1940s/1950s. I've got a feeling this is mid to late 1940s but will hedge my bets and plump for early 1950s.

The bottle is heavyweight, glamorous glass and the reverse has a sophisticated cross-etched pattern. There's also a genius indent designed to steady the fingertips during painting. How very ladylike.

From the typography on the front of the bottle, to the illustrated Adele-esque nail (which admittedly looks more like a candle than a human digit), this is vintage beauty perfection and makes 21st century nail polish packaging seem bland by comparison. 


What it does appear to have in common with its contemporaries however is the formulation; a bright, glossy candy-apple red tint that I reckon would apply - saturated but sheerly - like the current Jelly nail trend.

I tried (and failed) to twist open, steam open and finally prise open the cap thinking it would be fun to flout health and safety rules and swatch a piece of 60-year-old nail polish history. But damn it, it wouldn't budge. The vintage genie in the bottle remains disappointingly corked. Some you win, then you lose. x

Frugal Friday: *Jergens Naturals Extra Softening Moisturising Hand Cream...

Friday, 18 May 2012

...With Shea Butter (*longest product description ever - maybe)

Frugal friday: the first worthy contender 

Welcome to a new regular post that I hope to bring to you every Friday (crosses fingers, but not behind my back OK) celebrating the 'cheap seats' of beauty. The budget buys, purse-friendly pick-me-ups and supermarket sweeps of the cosmetics world. Every product featured on Frugal Friday will be priced under £10 and my aim is to stay nearer the fiver mark. After all, who doesn't love a bargain?

Today we're kicking off with an everyday essential - hand cream - and this one is seriously good. I'm not familiar with the Jergens brand (other than having seen it advertised in American magazines), but my hands have been crispier than a Peking duck, it was on offer at Sainbury's and the USP of 95% natural ingredients suckered me in. 

From top left: a creamy consistency; emulsifying to a liquid lotion;
 non-slippy hands 15 seconds later; smoother, fresher skin

The good stuff: LOVE the texture. It's moisturising but not greasy and straight away emulsifies into a light/liquid lotion significantly cutting down on the hand-wringing, jeans-wiping activity often required with thicker, waxier formulations. I counted 15 seconds from 'wet' hands to dry, slip-free hands. Impressive.

At this price point - £2.99, I REPEAT £2.99 - the ingredients are surprising. Water and glycerin (one delivering moisture, the other attracting it) are at the top of the list. Soya oil, shea butter, yoghurt extract, chamomile extract, lavender extract and cottonseed oil are other interesting additions that caught my eye. Despite the 'naturals' tag there are still chemicals and preservatives in the formula but they feature much less (and presumably at a much lower ratio) than you might expect to see in a generic, bog-standard hand cream. 

Budget beauty: an out of the ordinary ingredients list
(click on image to view - sorry, slightly out of focus!)

The not so good stuff: I really (and this is my personal opinion) dislike the fragrance. It's very sweet. Think vanilla sponge, drizzled with thick caramel, piped with Chantilly cream and topped with forest fruits. Bleurgh. However, since scents are so subjective - and I'm a weirdo when it comes to fragrance liking masculine, smoky, leathery notes - this feminine, bakery confection was never going to do anything other than make my kind of nose nauseous. It is fair to say that someone who likes fruitier/sweet scents might find it nothing short of dreamy. I think one of my bestie's Kerry *waves* would absolutely love it :)

The final verdict: Brilliant price, fantastic skin-softening performance but not so keen on the fragrance. 

Do you have a #FrugalFriday favourite product? x

Pukka Ayurveda Nourishing Brightener - The Nitty Gritty

Friday, 11 May 2012


I shed tears (almost) when The Body Shop discontinued their Aduzki Bean Facial Scrub. Ah, the nostalgia of the talc-dispenser tub, the technicality of mixing powder with water to a skin-smarting consistency. Adzuki treated your face like a meanie but boy did it get a dull complexion looking lively. This was an iconic, tough love scrub and there has forever been a gap in my beauty treatment arsenal. Until now...

Pukka Nourishing Brightener is nowhere near as abrasive as Adzuki (which is probably a good things since Adzuki was a baaad thing), but it's the nearest I've come to grain-based exfoliation in a long time. It leaves your skin seriously soft, matte - something that I've never come across in an exfoliant before - and as smooth as a baby's bottom.

Pukka Skincare follows the principles of Ayurveda, reflected in the concentrated herbal blends. To smell (and in the case of Nourishing Brightener) feel something that is proudly pungent, earthy and slightly twiggy, we're talking ground roots, spices and nuts here folk, and to then contemplate rubbing it onto your face seems refreshingly back to basics and novel.

Of course, you do need to mix it with a carrier before putting 'soil' to skin. The directions recommend water or cleanser but I would definitely advise mixing one teaspoon of powder with a good dollop of cream cleanser before you set to work. For me, the water option is a little too scratchy. How times have changed.


There are some really interesting potent ingredients packed into the pot. Almond seed powder - the base of the brightener - replenishes, moisturises and is probably the ingredient that leaves the skin feeling so matte and silky smooth. Bilberry fruit extract and Licorice root powder have an antioxidant and brightening effect whilst Gotu Kola, Manjishtha root powder and Asparagus powder all have anti-inflammatory, purifying properties. Neem leaf powder has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial benefits whilst turmeric helps to even skin tone and fight acne infections. Finally, Nourishing Brightener also contains Spirulina, an all round skin superfood.

On the downside, this exfoliator doesn't apply to the skin in a particularly aesthetically pleasing way. Mixed, it has the appearance of the end result of a dog's troubled digestive system after eating berries. It also turns the sink/bathwater green-ish.

On the upside, it is one of the best exfoliators I have ever used. Like compost for your complexion every ingredient - did I mention it's 100% organic - is there for the greater, face-fuelling good. There are no fillers or chemical synthetics.

I'd highly recommend a look at Pukka if you fancy slotting some genuinely high-percentage organic products into your regime or, if what you put on your skin - for whatever reason - matters. x

Pukka Ayurveda Nourishing Brightener is £13 (15ml) from www.pukkaherbs.com

When I Thought I Could Be A Make-up Artist

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Found in a dusty box in the loft: contact sheets from a photo shoot that formed the final assessment of a short Introduction To Film Make-up course I took at The London College Of Fashion in 2000. The 'concept' of the maquillage and styling was Geisha meets Dior (John Galliano) and now I'm wondering why I didn't print a couple of frames as the result wasn't as bad as I remember it being. 

Geisha girl with a touch of boy george

At the time I was in my mid-twenties and working in my first job as a magazine beauty editor. I wanted to learn, understand and absorb everything I could about make-up application and technique and how it related to lighting, film and processing. These were the days when photographers were holding-out against expensive digital set-ups and you never quite knew what would be captured on film. I remember warming developing Polaroids under my armpit impatient for the magic to unfold. It was what made editorial so exciting. 

It didn't take me long to realise that I wouldn't be giving up the day job - I was never going to be an actual make-up artist - but the course did help me to appreciate the huge talent and versatility of those I was lucky enough to go on to work with. 

I can't remember the name of the model (who was a LCF degree course student), the photographer or the hairdresser, so am unable give credit other than to say they were all very patient and professional.

If I were to do it again I'd keep the make-up exactly the same (I remember using a lot of white Kryolan Aquacolor, M.A.C and Make Up Forever) but would lose the flowers in the model's hands, pull-up on the posture and crop in tighter. One of the hardest lessons to learn as a stylist is recognising when what you think is just about enough is really a tiny bit too much. But hey, I was only starting out and now I know better. Mostly. x

Sweets For My Sweet

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

When last weeks rain stopped play BB and I turned our hands to baking. I use the term 'baking' lightly as this generally involves him purposefully stirring a few ingredients around in a separate bowl with the wrong end of teaspoon - which drives me nuts - whilst I provide the elbow grease and clear up the mess.


These little cakes were destined to go into the oven in pirate cupcake cases but, at the last minute, BB came over all red-of-face and shouty when pressed to part with them (as 3-year olds do), so I unearthed some mini silicone muffin moulds whilst thinking calm, loving thoughts

Raindrops outside, sprinkles inside: BB samples his work

We used a basic, fool-proof BBC Food fairy cake recipe but replaced the self-raising flour with a wholemeal version after discovering that the former had a sell-by date of May 2010. Let's not talk about my cupboard-keeping shall we...

His lordship isn't a fan of icing but was quite specific about requiring sprinkles, which presented a small challenge. I offered up a dilute lemon icing drizzle that had just enough stickiness to catch the sprinkles but not enough of a traditional icing appearance to be detected by BB's hawk-eye and jabbing, judgemental finger. 

And the verdict from himself? 'Mmmmmm.Yummy.'

Do you have a child-friendly, easy-peasy recipe you like cooking on cabin fever days? x

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