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!