21 December 2010


Hi everyone,
My daughter and I have had suspected swine flu. After a week of feeling like Hell, we're getting better, but we're still very tired, snotty and coughing constantly. So Beauty Cult is taking a break over Christmas while we both recover fully. Have a happy Christmas, and I'll see you all in the New Year.

5 December 2010

Ask a beauty expert

Have you got any burning questions that you'd like to ask a beauty industry expert? Well here's your chance to get it answered!

P&G, the company behind some of the biggest names in the industry including Max Factor, Olay, Clairol, Pantene, Sebastian and Sassoon, are hosting a live online event, where you can put questions to their team of beauty brand ambassadors.

When is it?
6pm Tuesday 7th December

Who'll be there?
  • H&S ­- Peter Lux - Creative Beauty Director for H&S
  • Max Factor & Caroline Barnes - Award Winning Make-up Artist
  • Olay & Kathy Rogerson, P&G Technical Expert
  • Pantene Pro V & Kathy Rogerson, P&G Technical Expert
  • Clairol & Kathy Rogerson, P&G Technical Expert
  • Silvikrin & Michael Douglas - Wellaflex Silvikrin Creative Director
  • Braun & Nicola Joss
  • Gillette Venus & Nicola Joss
  • Oral B & Dr. James Russell - TV Dentist & Oral B Ambassador
  • Sebastian Professional & Carly Roberts - Lead Creative Colourist from Marc Antoni & Dom Capel - Creative Stylist for Sebastian Professional
  • Wella Professionals Colour & Cristal Ludqvist - Creative Colour Director at HOB Salons
  • Wella Professionals Care & Style & Desmond Murray - Atherton Cox and Wella Care & Style UK ambassador
  • Sassoon Professional & Bruce Masefield - UK Creative Director for Sassoon Professional
How do I join in?

So there you go, easy peasy. You can register now to save you time on Tuesday, and I'd start thinking about your questions in advance. If you need a bit of inspiration, here's what I'm going to ask.

To Desmond Murry of Wella Professionals Care & Style: "Can damaged hair ever be repaired, or does the damage have to grow out?"

To Kathy Rogerson, of Olay: "Why did Olay change its name from Ulay?" (sorry, but product name changes bug me, I'd like to know how brands justify them).

And finally I'll ask Dr James Russell: "Do you believe they'll ever be a home tooth whitening product that can match a professional dentist treatment?"

So there is it, a simple way to get your questions answered by some of the big brand insiders.

* This is a sponsored post for P&G via Handpicked Media.

1 December 2010

Organic Colour Systems: a new way of hair colouring

I've put my hair through a lot. Colouring, straightening, Yuko, IHR, daily blow-drying...so it's not surprising it's in poor condition.

It’s true that some of these things I could avoid. But as a very dark brunette who's going very, very grey, colouring is a must, so I have to have my roots done at least every 6 weeks.

To top it all, I have an incredibly sensitive scalp. Hair dye tends to sting when it's been on for more than 5mins, and for the next two - five days I'm generally very itchy and flaky. And when I say flaky I mean I probably lose an entire layer of skin on my scalp. It’s unpleasant, and it's a lot to go through to cover the grey.

So you can see why I was intrigued to find out about Organic Colour Systems from Herb UK, a completely new way of colouring hair. This system contains really low levels of PPD, whic is the stuff that's in all permanent hair colours, to make it, well permanent. Organic Colour Systems contain 0.6%, but according to EU regulations, dyes can contain up to 6%. PPD is the ingredient most people who have reactions to hair dye are allergic to, and to make it even more tricky, it's one of those ingredients that can have a cumulative effect, one day you don't react, the next your head swells up.

I was lucky enough to go to Karine Jackson's salon to try out Organic Colour Systems. I was sent a skin test beforehand just to be sure I wouldn't have a reaction to the colour, and in all my years of having my hair coloured, this is something that’s never happened before!

My stylist, Arash, explained the processes to me. Unlike standard hair colours which are put on to dry hair, this system is put onto wet, just washed hair. After the wash my hair was wrapped in a hotel towel to open up the cuticles and prepare the hair for the colour. Once the colour is on you’re popped under the heat while it develops. Unlike normal dyes, it smells lovely, a sort of herby liquorice smell.

I was on high alert for my scalp stinging, and although it prickled very slightly, it was nothing compared to what I've put up with in the past.

I was really pleased with the colour, which matched my previous shade well – and yet managed to look a tad more natural. Even Mr Beauty Cult commented on how natural it looked, so it must be true!

Now normally the itching begins the next day. So I waited, and waited. And there was nothing. Just as I was about to jump up and down the joy, three days later the flaking began. When I brushed my hair mid way through the day I could see large flakes, and this carried on for about 36 hours or so and is now (five days later) just a small amount of small flakes. This might sound bad to you, but to me it’s much better than my usual experience. There was no itching, no scratching, and no sore areas from itching too much.

Plus, using the Organic Colour System means I’m doing less damage to my hair, and hopefully long term its condition will improve.

The lovely Karine is determined to get to the bottom of the problems, so she’s invited me back again in 6 weeks when we’ll hopefully solve my itchy head issues once and for all. She’s also recommended I get a Mason and Pearson brush, and give my hair and scalp a good brush daily to really exfoliate it.

I’ll report back again after that! I’ll also let you know how well the colour lasts – though at the moment it’s looking great.

A colour with Arash costs £64, and a cut £33.50 if done with colour, or £43.50 on it’s own.

To find an Organic Colour Systems salon near you call 01590 613490

The Karine Jackon salon is gorgeous, and I'd highly recommend Arash.

Karine Jackson
24 Litchfield Street, London WC2H 9NJ 
020 7836 0300

24 November 2010

All of a flutter: M2 Lashes duo

We all want longer, fuller lashes. I'm pretty spoilt; mine are long and quite thick. But I'd still like more! Luckily, there are two new products for me to try.

M2 Beaute has a duo of products that claim to show results after 6-8 weeks.

1) Eyelash Activating Serum
Apply direct to the base of the lash line on the upper eyelids in the evening after cleansing. It comes with a fine brush, so it's easy to get it in the right place.
2) Eyelash Revitalizing Gloss
Apply morning and evening directly onto the lashes - it comes with a mascara wand, so it's simple to apply and only takes a moment to dry before you can apply mascara.

Now it's pricey stuff, the Eyelash Activating Serum is £120, and the Eyelash Revitalizing Gloss is £45. So you would expect to see serious results. So I'll update you as to how I get on. In the meantime, the lovely Cosmetic Candy is also running a trial, complete with very detailed 'before' pics of her lashes. Check it out here.

If you want to try it for yourself, the M2 Beaute range is available from Harrods, or online.

18 November 2010

Organic Surge: beauty with a conscience

I've noticed the Organic Surge range in Waitrose lately, but didn't pay it a huge amount of attention because a) I'm a skincare snob and only use fairly high end skincare products and b) at the time I didn't need any shower gel, hand soap etc. But what I didn't know about the brand, is that they have ethics.

Organic Surge has a mission to create a better life for the most under privileged people in Africa.  Through profits made from sales, Organic Surge has donated funds to help provide accommodation, food, medical services and education for people in genuine need.

Alan MacKenzie (pictured above), Founder of Organic Surge tells us: "We are proud that, in 2009, Organic Surge donations funded the Baby Care Unit in Kenya Children's Home in Nairobi. The Baby Care Unit cares for 48 sick or abandoned children, from newborns to two-year-olds and Organic Surge funded all costs for nursing care, food and staff for the full year."

Now I think that's pretty amazing. But what I'm truly amazed about is that they don't shout this message from the rooftops. I'm more likely to buy products if I genuinely believe that the company making them is trying to make the world a better place, not just line the pockets of their shareholders.

What's more, if you buy any three Organic Surge skincare products from Boots between now and 25th November 2010, you can get £10 back from Organic Surge just by keeping your receipt, filling out a form online, and sending the form and receipt to Organic Surge by the end of this year.

I haven't tried this range yet, but I'm going to. Because if a beauty company can be based on more than superficiality then that's something I want to be a part of.

UPDATE: I have now tried the Tropical Bergamot Hand & Nail Cream - gorgeous, feels like a high end products (& I have been using Creme De La Mer), and Spiced Lily foaming Bath - wonderfully relaxing and left my skin super soft.

Now here's a pic of the products so you know what to look out for when shopping in Boots, Waitrose, John Lewis or Ocado.

17 November 2010

All I want for Christmas...

I'm posting this just in case my husband happens to be reading. Subtle eh? All I want for Christmas are these two gorgeous items.

These Alex Monroe earrings match a necklace I was given for my birthday. I love it, and have been lusting over the earrings ever since.

The bag is from Whistles, a fabulous soft grey leather which will work for everyday use or for evenings.  Nuff said.

So what do you want for Christmas?

16 November 2010

Sisley pre and post party facials

Christmas is hard on your skin. Cold weather, central heating, alcohol, lack of sleep and party make-up all put your skin through it's paces - just at that time of year when we want to be looking great. 

Help is at hand as Sisley have come up with a gem of an idea with their pre and post party facials. These two express facials especially developed with the Christmas party season in mind.

In a nutshell, the Pre Party Preparation facial smooths, refines and plumps up the skin making it perfect for make-up applicaiton. The Post Party Recovery facial gets you back into condition the morning after, rehydrating, adding vitamins and minerals and generally undoing the damage that alcohol and lack of sleep can do to your skin.

Both facials are available at the Sisley counter in Selfridges London. A £35 booking fee applies, but it's redeemable agaist two of more Sisley skincare products if bought on the day.

If you want to be super-organised you can pre-book your facial for before or after your next big party night. Call 020 7318 3475 to make a booking.

15 November 2010

Win a pair of Etre Touchy Gloves!

Want to win some fab gloves? Well look no further! 

You may have seen my post singing the praises of Etre Touchy Gloves. As a long time cold hand sufferer, these gloves have been a revelation to me.

The clever little fellas keep your hands warm and allow you to keep texting, iPading and telephoning to your hearts content. They are made with 100% lambs wool, so they're lovely and soft, and come in a range of nifty colours and designs.

They also allow you to eat cake, go fishing, use chopsticks or take photos, all while keeping your hands toasty! Just think what fun you could have :)

The very lovely people at Etre are giving away three pairs of these fab gloves (worth £19.99 a pair) all you have to do to be in with a chance of winning a pair is follow this blog and add a comment to this post telling me what your favourite handcream is. Easy eh?

Rules: Only one entry person.
You must follow the Beauty Cult  blog to enter
Winners must reply to notification of winning within 48 hours, otherwise we'll pick another winner.
Only open to UK residents (sorry).
Competition closes at Midday (GMT) on 29th November 2010

Elemis Instant Refreshing Gel

I was sent this product a year or so ago by Elemis, and to be honest, didn't really know what to do with it.

Last weekend I was (rather stupidly) running down a steep muddy hill wearing a pair of wedge boots. It's the sort of thing you do when you've got a seven year old (well maybe not the wedge boots, but I don't wear flats). Anyway, I fell and twisted my ankle, ouch. And I felt like a fool.

At home that evening it was really hurting, and a couple of paracetamol didn't really help. Then I remembered this product. It contains arnica, witch hazel and birch and Elemis say 'it is perfect for tired legs and muscle tension'. I applied a thin layer and it really helped. It cooled down the whole area AND helped the pain. I used it morning and night for a few more days and I'm sure it really helped my sore ankle get better faster.

Now at £27 it's a little pricey to have in your first aid kit. But it has many others uses including cooling your legs on long haul flights, to soothe aching muscles after exercise, or to help relax at bedtime.

Instant Refreshing Gel is available online at Time to Spa, or from your usual Elemis counters.

11 November 2010

Etre Touchy Gloves

I get very cold hands. (actually hands and feet, but we'll save feet for a future post). And I do LOVE my iPhone. I own lots of gloves, some cheap, some expensive, some with fingers, some without. The fundamental problem with gloves is that in order to keep your hands really warm (surely their main purpose?) they need fingers, and gloved fingers can't do all the stuff that fingers are supposed to do. Therein lies the problem.

Enter Etre's Touchy Gloves; they're normal woolly gloves, with the ends of the thumb and digit finger missing. Simple idea, yet it makes such a difference. Not only can use my iPhone and iPad (I know, I'm such an Apple girl) with these babies on, but I can also rummage in the bottom of my bag, find my keys and open my front door in them - result.

Yes the ends of my thumb and finger get a little chilly, but I scrunch my hands up when I'm not texting or whatever. It's a small price to pay. On the tube today a woman opposite me could not stop staring at my gloves, either she wants some, or she's some sort of hand freak.

They come in many nifty colour combinations, but the lovely PR people for Etre sent me the black with grey tips, which I love. In fact they're just like the ones in this picture of someone using an iPad, which isn't me as my nails are purple today and my hands are much smaller than those.

They're £19.99 which isn't cheap for gloves, but at least you'll get lots of wear out of them, if like me, you usually buy gloves that end up living in the bottom of your handbag.

You can see the whole range on the Etre shop site.

10 November 2010

Beautyuk Metallic Sparks

I'm going through a green phase. Green eye shadows and liners are my current favs, but it's great to find a cheap and cheerful version that does what it says and doesn't irritate my eyes.

Beautyuk's Metallic Eye Sparks are fat, soft eye pencils which you can use as liner or as shadow. I've got the green (no surprise there) I applied a quick line on my lids, and it looks like a cross between the two - with just enough colour and definition to highlight my eyes in a daytime kind of way.

It costs £2.49, in fact the whole Beautyuk range is cheap as chips, with most items averaging at a few quid and the most expensive around £5. You can find them online at www.beautyukcosmetics.com, or in Superdrug.

Watch out for a BeautyUK and Beauty Cult competition in the new year for your chance to win some of these goodies.

9 November 2010

The Beauty Cult guide to surviving flu

I've had flu. I'm not a hypochondriac, and I'm not prone to exaggeration. This was actual flu. A friend shared her definition of flu: If you are lying on the sofa feeling terrible and you see a £50 note blowing about in your garden, do you get up and get it. And the answer was no, because I was just too ill.

Flu, or even a bad cold, takes its toll on your entire body. My skin and hair really suffered, so what beauty products (when I could be arsed to apply them) did step up to the mark?

Kamillosan Ointment
My number one flu saviour is one of my favourite products of all time. And also one of the cheapest I own. Best known as a nipple cream for breastfeeding mums, I first bought this as a nappy rash cream for my daughter, but she's a grown-up seven year old now, and I still buy this cream for as it has infinite uses.

Blowing your nose (repeatedly) makes the skin on your nose dry, red and sore, we all know that. Kamillosan Ointment, applied in copious amounts at night time, and thinly throughout the day when you've got the sniffles, works wonders to avoid Rudolph syndrome.

I have also used this cream for: eczema, dry skin, those weird rashes kids get and no one can explain, on scabby knees etc to stop my daughter picking them, on the random dry skin she gets behind her ears and on my face after a VI Peel (ouch). Seriously, this stuff rocks. And it's got no nasties in it and costs around £4 from any chemist.

Karin Herzog Oxygen Body 3%
This cream actually pushes oxygen into the skin, and oxygen is anti bacterial, anti viral and generally a fantastic thing for the body. I applied this to my neck (I had a very sore and swollen throat) during my flu, and definitely felt the benefit. It's £35 from KarinHerzog.co.uk, lasts ages and has a multitide of other uses including detoxing, getting rid of stretch marks and scars, acne, sun damage and sun burn.

Jan Marini Anti Oxidants Recover E
However crap you feel, apply a night cream. Colds and flu your skin really dehydrate your skin, and this cream puts the moisture back in like nothing else I've ever tried. It's around £40 for a small pot, but a little goes a long way. I don't use this evey night, just when my skin feels like it needs some extra tlc.

Macadamia Healing Oil Hair Treatment
I raved about this stuff before, and with good reason. My already dry, knackered hair really suffered last week. I was too ill to wash my hair every day, but when I did an application of this stuff put lots of moisture back into my sorry looking locks. It's getting harder to track this product down, I've just ordered some from Luxuryhaircare.com, great site - ordered on Sunday, they're delivering on Tuesday.

So, what else did I learn during my week of flu?
  • Loose Women is best when Kate Thornton is presenting.
  • No medicine helps, so don't waste your money, you just need to sweat it out (nice).
  • Not wearing make-up for five days makes wearing it again more fun.
  • My husband is not a natural nurse.

30 October 2010

A fishy story: Perricone MD Cold Plasma

It's taken my until the grand old age of 39 to get my skin under control. So I'm always wary of trying new skincare products. 

However, I was recently sent a pot of Perricone MD Cold Plasma cream, and feeling brave, I thought I'd give it a go. 

This is a face cream for all skin types, but it's main aim is to combat the signs of ageing. I quote "Cold Plasma addresses the 10 most visible signs of ageing: wrinkles, enlarged pores, dryness, discolouration, redness, uneven skin tone, impurities, loss of firmness, loss of smoothness and loss of radiance". Now that's quite a claim. 

My current skincare regime (which I'll go into in more detail in a future post) uses Karin Herzog Oxygen products, and they've not only combatted the problems I've had with spots, but they've helped keep the years at bay as well - and for my age, my lines are pretty minimal. But at my age you can't be too careful, so I was willing to introduce Cold Plasma cream to my routine.

The first thing you notice about the product is the smell. As a young child I was force fed tablespoons of cod liver oil. And this is like smearing the stuff on your face. Basically, it bloody stinks. Now apparantly this is due to the fish oils it contains - so the smell makes sense. And really I'm happy they haven't covered the smell with fragrance which could cause a reaction.

Due to it's stinky nature I chose to just use this cream at night (the instructions say morning and night). It says you can apply a moisturiser over the top, and on occasions I've used my usual night cream afterwards, especially during the old weather. Straight away I feel a difference - the next morning my skin was softer and incredibly smooth - not only could I feel this but I noticed the difference as I applied my make-up. I've been using it for 10 days now, and I'm going to keep going until I've used it all, so I'll report back on any further differences, but so far I'm impressed.

I don't think I could cope with the smell day and night, and to be honest, I don't feel a twice a day application is needed. I'm pleased with the results, but there's a downside. Mr Beauty Cult says it stinks, and he's right to say so. So it doesn't do your love life any favours. But then isn't there always a price to pay for beautiful skin?

And talking of price, this is not cheap stuff. In fact even in the luxury skincare market it's up there in the higher price bracket at £120 for 30ml. If you do want to take the plunge, you can order it online, but I'd have a go at getting a sample first.

26 October 2010

Philip Kingsley Re-Moisurizing range

Regular readers will know all about the trouble I have with my dry hair. If you don't, read these posts and you be up-to-date.
Help My Hair Is Broken
War of the Hair Oils
Elasticizer review

After reading my rather sad review of Philip Kingsley's Elasticizer, the lovely PR people sent me some more from the range to try and prove me wrong :) So this week I've been testing the Re-Moistuizing range, as well as Elasticizer Extreme.

I've always stayed away from moisturising shampoo, as it never makes my hair feel really clean. There's only one thing worse than dry hair, and that's oily roots and dry rest-of-hair. So I tend to use a balancing shampoo and then a rich moisturiser.

But I've used both the shampoo and conditioner in this range and I was pretty impressed. Lovely fresh smell, and my hair is definitely softer after using them. However after a few days (I wash my hair every day) I did find my roots were slightly greasy, so I suspect that the Moisture Balancing shampoo may be better suited to my hair.

However, I'm still not convinced by Elasticizer (Extreme in this case). I know, I know, it's a cult product, but I'm just not seeing the results I'd expect with it. I've used it in the shower, I've used it as a special treatment and wrapped my head in the shower cap for 20mins, and although softer, my hair is no better than after 5 mins with either the Macadamia Deep Repair Masque or Moroccan Intense Hydrating Mask. So I'll stick with those until I find a true miracle product.

If you've got dry hair and never get greasy roots, I'd recommend the Philip Kingsley Re-Moistuizing range, you can find them online here.

22 October 2010

Macadamia vs Moroccan - war of the hair oils!

Regular readers will know all about my mission to repair my very damaged hair. If you've missed out on my whinges about it, read this post, as this is another instalment.

This week I've been trying the Moroccan Oil range. I'm a big fan of the Macadamia range, and I imagined this would be similar, but there are some differences, so I thought it would be worth comparing the two.

I use Macadamia Deep Repair Masque as a daily conditioner, yes that's how dry my hair is, and so far on this quest, it's the best product I've tried. It smells lovely, is very thick and rich and leaves my hair feeling in the best condition it's been in in years. But I HAVE to use it every day.

Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment is a great product. You apply it to wet hair and then dry as usual. It smells lovely, feels great and really helps smooth and soften my hair.
The Moroccan Hair Oil comes in a really cool medicinal looking bottle, and smells utterly divine. Seriously, I could sniff this stuff all day.

The Intense Hydrating Mask doesn't smell as yummy as the oil, it has a more artificial fragrance, and it's not as thick as the Macadamia. I used it in the shower, leaving on for around 7 mins. To be honest I know I'll get a better result if I leave it on longer, and although I try to do a deep conditioning treatment once a week, I need a product that's going to help on a day-to-day basis, as I'm a busy girl.

I then use the oil on wet hair, and dry it in. Both products (the Macadamia and the Moroccan oil) claim to reduce drying time, and I really think they do. Both have a similar effect on my hair, it's much, much softer than usual but the Moroccan leaves it a little fluffy, with the Macademia it tends to be more well behaved.

I get a good result with both of these ranges, and I'd recommend them to anyone who needs to put some moisture back into their hair, but I do think that Macademia has the edge over Moroccan. However, while they're working in the short term, my worry is that the condition of my hair isn't vastly improving overall - and that's something I really need to fix.

So my quest continues, further updates soon!

21 October 2010

Paula's Choice Slip Into Silk Body Lotion

For as long as I've been writing about beauty products, Paula's Begoun's book Don't Go To The Beauty Counter Without Me has been sitting on my desk.

It's a bible for the beauty industry, containing no-nonsense reviews of thousands of cosmetic and skincare products. Paula cuts to the chase, summing up the strengths and weaknesses of each brand and then going into product by product detail. She is the goddess of beauty product reviews.

It's an American book (mine is, there may be a UK version) but most of the products are also available in the UK, and she covers British brands like Boots and Rimmel London.

However, what I didn't know if that Paula's own range of products is available in the UK. After a chat on Twitter (she's @PaulasChoice), I'm now using Paula's Choice Slip Into Silk Body Lotion every day.

I'm not a big fan of body creams, I hate how many of them either have a strong perfume or a medicinal smell, and I can't bear the sticky feeling they leave behind. I'm also lazy, and as body creams are for bits of my body that are usually covered up, I just can't be bothered. But boy does my body need them, especially now the weather has got so chilly.

This cream doesn’t contain any fragrance, but it's natural ingredients give it a very subtle smell which is really lovely. What I love most about it is that one minute after applying it and it's totally vanished. There's not a hint of residue or stickiness, but my skin feels healthy and soft.

It also contains antioxidants, so I can feel smug that I'm doing my skin long term good, not just smoothing over the cracks.

The Paula's Choice range contains a huge variety of products, I've also got the Lip Exfoliant and Lip Recovery Balm, which I'll test soon.

Slip Into Silk Body Lotion is £16.75 from Paula's Choice UK

19 October 2010

Help my hair is broken!

This is no exaggeration. Years of abuse has left my hair damaged beyond belief. You'd think I'd know better wouldn't you? But no, I'm a fool. A fool with broken hair.

So let's assess the damage.

I have very dark hair, the darkest brown without being black. And I started to go grey at around 26, so now, at 39, I really can't go more than 5 weeks without having my roots re-coloured. These days I always go to a salon, but once upon a time I also coloured it myself. So that doesn't help.

I also have inbetweeny hair. Naturally it's neither straight nor curly, so I've been in a constant battle with it to straighten things out. This had led to:

Using straightening irons for 20 years.

Yuko straightening system, twice. Once was great, once was ok (as in hair was straight) but it did dry the ends out.

IHR straightening, twice. Once was truly great. The second, a few years later was terrible. I'm still suffering the consequences, literally broken hair, frizzy dried out areas, just awful.

Brazilian Keratin permanent blow dry, twice. Once left me with a scaly, itchy scalp, but my hair was great. The second time it was kept away from scalp (but  itchy, flaky problem still happened) and really dried out the ends.

My current survival system is:
Kerastase Bain Divalent Balancing shampoo
Macadamia Deep Repair Mask
Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment

And as of last night I'm adding Origins Organics Hair Treatment Oil as an overnight treatment, which I'm currently pleased with. But for me the real test is whether it stays soft during the day, or just gets drier and drier as the day progresses. So I'll update you on this one.

I also get a trim every five weeks.

But really this is just maintenance, things aren't getting worse, but they're sure not getting any better. So if anyone out there knows how to save my hair please let me know, I'll really try anything.

PS I've Just found out that Origins Organic Hair Oil is now only available via the Boots website, not from Origins stores or counters. Shame, I'm liking it so far.

18 October 2010

Philip Kingsley Elasticizer

I always feel terribly let down when a cult product doesn't live up to the hype, and Philip Kingsley  Elasticizer has been a big let down.

I've ranted about my hair before. It's dry, brittle, over processed, and pretty sad. I'd been meaning to give Elasticizer a go for ages, so when some arrived on my desk I was keen to try it.

Rather than apply like a normal conditioner, you use Elasticizer before you shampoo. You can apply in the shower and leave it on for a few minutes or leave it for 25-30mins covered with a shower cap (which is supplied). Now admittedly I haven't tried the shower cap part, and maybe I should, but I did leave it on for at least 7mins and I really can't see much difference. The results from using my trusty Macadamia Deep Repair Mask are much better.

Maybe I'm just impatient, but I expected a better result. I should try the full shower cap on for 30mins routine, but it's hard enough to schedule a 30mins hair treatment in without being really sure it's going to give me a glossy mane!

Which cult beauty products have you found disappointing?

14 October 2010

Is this the ultimate lip balm?

As winter comes we all need to take a look at our skincare regime and make sure we're ready to survive the cold. For me, lips and hands suffer the most, so I was just a tad excited when Creme De La Mer's newly re-packaged lip balm arrived on my desk.

The skin on our lips turns over more than 4 times the speed of facial skin, so it needs extra protection, and many lip balms just aren't up to the job. My daughter is a little obsessed with lip balms, but recently I've realised that all the flavoured, tinted, sweet smelling balms she was using we actually drying out her lips. So we've chucked them all out and moved over to Carmex, a great product, but it's not glamorous.

The first thing to note about Creme De La Mer's lipbalm is the packaging. It's a gorgeous little pot with a silver lid. It also smells divine. It's a strange mix of vanilla and mint, sounds weird? smells fav. It's also makes your lips tingle slightly.

You can use it daily, or as an overnight treatment (which I haven't tried yet). Personally I'll keep mine in my handbag, as not only does it make my lips feel moisturised and smooth, but I feel just a little bit pleased with myself when I get it out of my make-up bag.

Of course there's a downside, it's £36 for 9g. But it's definitely worth putting on your Christmas list, or buying for your best friend. Until this little pot runs out, the Carmex is just for the kids.

And if anyone has a glamorous alternative to Body Shop Hemp hand cream for my dry hands, please let me know!

11 October 2010

Current obsession: green eye products

I've been a strictly grey/black/brown eye products kind girl for like, well forever. But recently I've been experimenting with green.

Once upon a time I thought of green eye shadows and liners are strictly for 1970's housewives, but either greens are getting better, or I've become a 1970's housewife...

My eyes are very, very dark brown - almost black, and I'm finding the greens can give them a little more sparkle.

Today's green haul:

Urban Decay Eye Shadow in Mildew (has there ever been a more hideous colour name?)

Pixi Lid & Line in Smoky Olive

And of course, my favourite Stila Convertible Eye Colour.

So what's your opinion of green eye products? 

10 October 2010

The best mascara ever?

There's one make-up product I buy again, and again, and again, and that's Bobbi Brown's No Smudge mascara.

Now this doesn't mean I don't flirt with other brands, I'm a make-up junkie so it's only natural that sometimes I'm led astray. But even if I'm initially impressed with another mascara, I always return to No Smudge.

Sometimes I think I might need a bit more volume, a bit more length or a bit more glamour, but essentially what I need is a mascara that stays put ALL day long, that is TOTALLY waterproof (No Smudge has stayed put during a funeral, now that's staying power), doesn't smudge AT ALL, makes my eye lashes look glossy, healthy and full and doesn't irritate my eyes.

No Smudge does all these things fantastcially well, so maybe one day I'll stop flriting with other brands and just accept that this is the best mascara ever.

Bobbi Brown No Smudge waterproof mascara, available in black at £17.50.

8 October 2010

Miracle product: Eve Lom Dynaspot

I've spent most of my life searching for the ultimate spot zapper. And now, at the grand old age of 39, I think I've found it.

It was a random purchase. I forgot my cleanser on a weekend away (dur) and popped into Space NK to get some Eve Lom as a stop gap. Like most of us I get break outs at the worst possible time, and I could already feel that I was likely to wake up with a huge spot the next day. So when I noticed there was now an Eve Lom spot product, I thought it was worth a punt.

The ingredients aren't particularly revolutionary, they include tea tree oil, salicylic acid and zinc oxide plus herby things like yarrow extract, fennel, camomile and balm mint. You apply it and then let it dry, and it leaves a white/pink crusty layer on your skin (a bit like calomine lotion). Not pretty. The instructions claim you can brush this layer gently off and apply make-up over the top, but I've found this a little messy. However as an overnight spot treatment it's totally amazing. Apply and leave to dry, then if you get chance apply a second layer. Seriously, spots are gone, or at least majorly reduced, by the next morning.

I used to use Mario Badescu's Drying Lotion, which shrinks spots but leaves dry patches on my skin. But this Eve Lom product is so, so much better. Pricey at £18.50, but well worth it for the results.

7 October 2010

Beauty Flash Balm with added bling

For one week only (actually 6 days as I should have published this yesterday), you can grab yourself a limited edition Clarins Beauty Flash Balm with a glittering Swarovski cap!

I'm not going to blather on about the wonders of Beauty Flash Balm, we all know everyone should have some in their cupboard for those days when you've got a hangover, had no sleep, got a cold etc. It perks up skin like nothing else, it's a beauty editors fav, an utter classic etc etc. Fact is, it works.

So if you want a spangly, blingy version, head over the Clarins online asap!

5 October 2010

Elemis Cedarwood Candle

Oh I do love a nice candle. 

Mr Beauty Cult would have a melt down (ha, get it?) if he ever discovered how much money I can spend on candles. I try and limit myself to rummaging in TK Maxx for most of them (you can find some beauties if you check every week) but I can't help the occasional splurge, my absolute favourite being Diptyque (in Baie, if I have a preference).

So I was very excited when the lovely people at Elemis sent me their Cedarwood Spa Candle to try. It's beautifully packaging in a pink box with bow. The candle comes in a black glass jar with a silver lid, very classy. The scent is a mixture of cedarwood, eucalyptus and rosemary, refreshing, yet relaxing at the same time - and most importantly not overpowering.
Plus all Elemis candles are made with 100% natural oils.

I think at £25 this candle is a bit of a bargain. Yes I know £25 isn't cheap, but cheap candles generally smell cheap, so they're money wasted. And I've been known to blow £36 on a Diptique.

It's perfect for sprucing up the living room for autumn, or as a fab birthday present for a girlfriend. If you fancy one, you can order Elemis candles online.

4 October 2010

Add a drop to your favourite beverage...

I struggle to feel truly healthy. I do some of the right things, I eat healthily, I don't smoke (anymore). But I do some things really badly. I exercise once a week at most, I buy supplements and forget to take them, I drink too much wine.

So I'm always on the look out for ways to cheat, to be healthy without putting in the effort.

Health Drops are a liquid supplement, you just need one drop, and it can be mixed into a drink. I'm going to quote the press release here: "Just squeeze one drop into a bottle of water or your favourite beverage and the potent formulation of nutrients, vitamins and minerals will be quickly absorbed to support detoxification, increase antioxidant levels, and promote and support a healthy immune system." 

Hmm favourite beverage....do you think red wine would count?

I've been sent Antiox, and a tiny 1ml serving of this stuff contains the same amount of antioxidants as 15 cups of green tea. And it's created from 'botanicals' - to you and I this is a mixture of teas, bilberry, pomegranate and other healthy bits & bobs. You can hardly taste it in water, perhaps a slight hint of green tea, but if you added to a bottle of water you really wouldn’t know it was there.

The thing that I find slightly odd about these supplements is that they're sold in Harvey Nicks rather than a health food shop. The press info says that "Functionalab joins the dots between nutrition, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals by approaching beauty from the perspective of health". Hmm what do you think about that? I'm sure being healthy does make us appear more beautiful, but I'm not sure about blurring the lines to this extent. Maybe women these days want to buy their supplements alongside their skin care, but to me it's still a little odd.

However, a few days in and I'm committed to taking Antox every day. I'm successfully fighting off a cold which Mr Beauty Cult and our daughter have succumbed to. So maybe it's the antioxidants helping me, or maybe I'll come down with it tomorrow, or maybe I just don't get colds that often.

The fact is, these days we all need to up the amount of antioxidants in our diet, I've had two people close to me diagnosed with cancer in the last year, so I'm ready to start taking this stuff seriously. Plus the retro looking little dropper bottle does look cool in the cupboard. 

2 October 2010

WEN Re Moist Intensive Hair Treatment

Guthy-Renker was not a name that meant anything to me, but I’ve just been sent a batch of products which all originate from them, so I thought I’d look into who they are.

It seems that they’re an online distribution company, you can order individual products or become a member for added discounts, free gifts etc, or you can order larger batches of products – skincare kits, three months worth of hair care etc, which you can either pay for in one hit, or by monthly payments. They run TV campaigns in the US, with slick infomercials, and I imagine they shift a lot of products doing so! Many of their brands are celebrity fronted, and the one I’m talking about today is WEN by Chaz Dean (an LA based celebrity hair dresser).

I have troublesome hair. It's my fault, I've been mean to it. It's coloured every five weeks, and I've experimented with every form of straightening treatment out there. The end result is that it's super dry. I'm not just talking the usual sort of dry, I mean so dry that I have to use intensive treatment masques as daily conditioner.

I also have a super sensitive scalp, and many products make it itch and flake.

My currently routine is working pretty well. It goes like this, Kerastase Bain Divalent Balancing shampoo (simply the best shampoo I have ever used), followed by Macadamia Deep Repair Mask (left on as long as possible, twice a week if I have time I wrap it in cling film for 10mins), finishing with Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment (two pumps when wet, then one more once dry). Not only is this complicated, but it's very expensive!

So when I was asked to try a WEN by Chaz Dean hair treatment, I was curious, but not overly confident it could cope with my dry frizzy main. I was sent the Cucumber Aloe Re Moist Intensive Hair Treatment, not the kind of flavours I associate with moisturing, but a lovely smell.

I used it in the shower, so it was probably on my hair for 10mins. It's easy to apply, thick enough that it doesn't just escape through your fingers as you scoop it up (as I've found the Keratase deep conditioners do) and really does smell gorgeous.

When towel dried my hair was easy to brush, but once brushed through I did still use my Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment.

The result? I'm really impressed, my hair was soft and shiny, it still needed a little oil after drying, but then it is really damaged. Most impressive, it stayed moisturised through the day whereas often it gets dryer and dryer as the day goes on. It also smelt fab. I'd definitely use this again.

Chaz Dean's real USP (sorry hate that expression!) is his cleansing conditioner, a whole new approach to hair washing that's detergent and  sodium laurel sulphate free, it's said to form a cream on the hair which cleans and conditions at once. I'm curious about this, so may experiment with it in future.

For more info on WEN, take a look at their website.

I'll be looking at a few other lines from Guthy-Renker over the coming weeks.

WEN by Chaz Dean Re Moist Intensive Hair Treatment Cucumber Aloe £18.95 (112g)

Kerastase Bain Divalent Balancing shampoo (250ml) £14
Macadamia Deep Repair Mask (125ml) £24
Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment (125ml) £27.50
All prices approximate - shop around for the best prices.

UPDATE 18/10/10
I've used up most of this pot now, and I'm not as convinced. Repeated use didn't seem to be improving the condition of my hair, and unless I use a lot (and I mean a lot), my hair is dry again by the evening. So my quest for the ultimate hair treatment continues....until I find something better I'm back on the Macadamia Deep Repair Mask each and every day.

You might also like my review of Philip Kingsley Elasticizer

1 October 2010

Can mineral water make you look younger?

A recent study has show that drinking Willow Water, a mineral water from the Lake District, can reduce the appearance  of wrinkles. Now, this is the sort of press release that really makes me sceptical!

We all know that drinking water, and generally staying hydrated keeps skin looking more plumped up, and therefore naturally reduced the appearance of wrinkles. So where's the story?
The trial took 54 men and women aged between 24 and 43, half of them were given 1.5 litres of Willow Water to drink per day, the other half drank 1.5 litres of a 'leading brand of mineral water'. Curiously, the results even shocked the medics involved in the trial.
Harley Street doctor Peter Ashby, FRCS, said he had been surprised when he analysed subjects’ complexions: “I must admit I was sceptical when I was first told about the study – I thought it was going to be a waste of time but in all honesty I was amazed that those drinking Willow Water did see an extra improvement in their wrinkles” 

After eight weeks the doctors found an average 20% reduction in the appearance of wrinkles across the entire study, with women showing an average 24% reduction. However, and perhaps proving that none of us drink enough water, the placebo group also saw a reduction in their wrinkles - by 19%.

So the women in the group's  wrinkles were 5% more reduced that those who just drank standard mineral water. Apparantly this is due to the
salicin and high levels of calcium in the water. Salicin is an anti-inflammatory agent that is produced from willow bark. It's closely related in chemical make-up to aspirin, and when consumed, it is metabolized to salicylic acid - the very same stuff that's put into many anti-ageing creams.

While that's scientifically interesting - I'm not sure it's a significant enough amount to justify buying one particular type of water. But then again maybe if I was particularly troubled by wrinkles I'd give it a go, I hear on the grapevine that the girls from Coronation Street are all trying it.

Willow Water is priced at around £1.80 for a 1.5 litre bottle, or you can get a discount buying in bulk from their website.

And if it's not for you, at least make sure you drink a couple of litres of something every day - and alcohol, tea and coffee don't count!

29 September 2010

Could I look as good as Cindy Crawford?

Today I was sent two products from Cindy Crawford's beauty line - Meaningful Beauty.

Now personally, I'm suspicious of celeb branded products of any sort. I nearly died with irritation when the only oven dish that suited my needs was a Jamie Oliver one. If something's good, it should just be good, no need for the celeb branding. But maybe that's just me.

I've spent some time on the Meaningful Beauty website, and watched a very cheesy video with clips of ladies with perfect skin describing how they now have perfect skin like the 'icon' Cindy Crawford. Don't watch it, it's enough to put you off the brand before you've tried it.

But I'm going to try and put my cynicism aside. The range was developed with Dr John-Louis Sebagh, the famous cosmetic surgeon who is the brains behind the Dr Sebagh range. So there are serious credentials here, way beyond those of a model with fabulous skin.

I was sent the Eye Creme (why not cream? is Cindy Crawford French? I don't think so) and Glowing Serum, and I do need a new eye cream and I definitely need some glow. Reading the ingredients list there's nothing worrying, so I'm not concerned I'll get a reaction. Plus the Glowing Serum contains Vitamin C, and I've just been reading about the benefits of stabilised vitamin C  in beauty products - so I'm willing to give these a go.

So who knows, maybe they will make me look as good as Cindy, I mean we've got a lot in common, both 40ish (she's actually older than me, ha!), both married with kids, both....oh bugger that's where the similarities end. I'll give them a go and report back.

27 September 2010

Origins VitaZing with Mangosteen - could it be magic?

Already a cult product in the USA, Origins VitaZing has just hit the UK. And it's easy to see why our American friends love it so much.

It's marketed as an energy boosting moisturiser, but it's so much more. It contains a mineral pigment, which is invisible at first, but releases a subtle sheer colour which adapts to your skintone, giving your skin a fresher - more awake appearance. Sounds impossible? Well I thought so, but then I tried it, and this baby really does what it says on the tube.

It might sound like something concocted out of nasty chemicals, but even on my hyper sensitive skin Origins products have always been brilliant, and this one is no different. So I'd recommend for others with skin of a sensitive disposition.

Use in place of your usual moisturiser, (it's SPF 15, which is a bonus)). Today I've only had a few hours sleep, so I experimented with dabbing it on on top of my make-up at lunch time to give my skin an extra boost. Probably not something the professionals would recommend, but at least it helped me brave the playground at school pick up.

So could it be magic? well it's the closest thing to magic I've tried in a while - though I'm still not sure what a mangosteen is!

VitaZing is available from Selfridges London during September, and nationwide from October 1st 2010 for £25.

24 September 2010

Beauty stuff that sits on my desk

My desk is a tip. I'm not over egging it here, if it wasn't so messy I could find my camera battery recharge lead and take a photo of it for you. Amongst the chaos lurks various beauty products that for some reason or other never make it off my desk.

So here's the list:

Rococo Nail Apparal (packaging only) 
time on desk 2 months
This was a nail varnish I bought from Space NK in Bath on a romantic weekend away. My hubby decided this was the perfect weekend to buy himself a new guitar (his 7th), so I needed to shop. The nail varnish (Brown Button) was so-so, but the packaging is devine, never has more effort been put into packaging nail varnish.

Dr Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Serum (unopened) 
time on desk - 8 months
I love this stuff but laziness has stopped me moving it into the bathroom and actually using it. I'm happy with my skincare routine at the moment, and because I often work on auto pilot, I just can't seem to remember to incorporate this stuff.

Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector (almost empty) 
time on desk - 6 months
The only thing that really helps my hands during the winter when they get painfully dry. Has probably been lurking here since last winter. Must get more.

Good Skin Instant Lightening Eye Cream (opened once, applied to hand)
time on desk 10 months
No idea if this is any good as applying to hand isn't best test. I only suffer from dark shadows after a particularly heavy weekend and my social life has been nearly non-existent lately so haven't had reason to try.

Oh and my Anika haul from previous post, as I'm too lazy to take them back to the bathroom - time on desk 1 day

So what beauty products lurk on your desk?

23 September 2010

Italian make-up haul part one: Anika

Anyone heard of Anika Cosmetics? Nope, nor had I until a few weeks ago!

I'm lucky to spend a fair bit of time in Italy, and on a recent trip I came across a cosmetics shop I haven't seen before - Anika - in a shopping centre. We're talking cheap-as-chips cosmetics here, my haul of two eyeliners, one eyeshadow and one nail varnish came in at 8 euros. Cheap it may be, but in typical Italian style it was a gorgeous shop, with a gorgeous (if somewhat overly made-up) girl behind the counter.

So what did I think? The eyeliners are pretty good - not as lovely as my beloved Stilla, but for a couple of euros a good buy, and they didn't irritate my sensitive eyes. Plus they have a smudger at one end, which I always like. The eye shadow is a fab colour, a shiny grey with a pinkish hue, but it doens't last that well. The nail varnish is a fantastic colour, a sort of purpley pink (photo coming, camera battery just died) and after two coats has a lovely texture. Considering I never wear rubber gloves, wash my hands 300 times a day and do the gardening it survived for four days - good going in my book.

If anyone has seen Anika for sale anywhere else let me know, otherwise I'll be back there next time I'm in Italy stocking up!

PS For the detail lovers among you, the shopping centre in question was just outside Latiano, in Puglia, Southern Italy.

22 September 2010

Yipee for copycat nail colours!

OK, for the purposes of any legal people, I'm 100% positive that this fabulous collection of nail colours is 'inspired' by Chanel's Khaki collection, and is in no way copied. But isn't it great that affordable brands are bringing out stylish colours almost as quickly as the high end brands?
Personally, I love Chanel's colours, but I've never been impressed with the quality of the nail polishes finding that they chip easily and just don't last as well as other brands. So however cool the shade, I'm not going to rush out and spend a small fortune on a product I don't think lasts.
So here's the latest offering from Models Own, the Car Key Collection (great pun eh). Are they gorgeous or what? I'm not going to show you on my nail because I'm pants at applying nail varnish. But these little lovelies are only £5 each, so go grab some and try them out yourselves.
Beauty Cult is currently sporting Becca's Brown on both fingers and toes, and in a word, it rocks.
Models Own is available from larger Boots stores or online at www.modelsownit.com

21 September 2010

Love of the week: Stila Convertible Eye Colour

I'm all for an easy ride when it comes to make-up. Getting me and my seven year-old daughter out of the house on time is always a challenge, and I will never, ever set foot in the school playground without make-up on, so anything that makes life easier is worth a try.
I've loved my Stila Convertible Eye Colour in Slate for a long time (in fact I'm on my second one), it's perfect for creating smokey eyes in a millisecond, but personally I find it too dark for daytime use. On a whim I bought (yes bought! it does happen sometimes) another in Ivy. It's a greyish green, not a colour I've ever tried before, as I've always thought green eyeshadow was made for middle aged women, but on my very dark (some might say freakishly dark) eyes the effect is great!
For those of you who haven't played with one of these, it's an eyeshadow, eyeliner and smudger all-in-one, and it's foolproof.
I bought mine from Look Fantastic

Let's get ready to rumble...

Ok crap title, but after 6 months or neglect, Beauty Cult is waking up again, so forgive me for the cheesy headline.
Let me know what you want me to write about, having problems with your skin? can't find the perfect lipgloss? just want to tell me about an amazing new product? And if not I'll just let you know what's happening in the beauty world.