14 December 2011

Life got in the way: An apology

I've neglected my blog. I've neglected by blog so much I'm ashamed of myself.

To cut a long and tedious story short, this last 6 months have been manic. But next year is looking more settled, bright and organised.

So I will get back to this. I promise.


6 July 2011

Skin Science - Lunchbreak Lift

I really loved the Skin Science products I tested recently, so I'm happy to report that on 17th, 18th and 19th July the Skin Science Lunchbreak Lift facial is available in Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London.

It's a 30min treatment which promises to leave skin energised, plumped, lifted and glowing - and all for only £30 which is redeemable against any Skin Science products purchased on the day. Personally I'd go for the Bio Active 24hr Protective Complex Cream with SPF 15, it's fabulous.

Call  020 7235 5000 Ext: 2705 to book your appointment.

4 July 2011

Customer service: or what to expect when things go wrong

Sometimes, in the world of hair (and beauty), stuff goes wrong.

There are many reasons. People make mistakes. We have nasty reactions to things we had no idea could be a problem. We forget to disclose every other treatment we’ve had to the stylist - the list goes on.

But this post isn’t about blame; it’s about customer service, because for me, a truly great salon is one that knows how to handle things if they do end up with a disaster on their hands. 

Us beauty writer types aren’t immune. I’ve spent many years trying to improve the condition of my hair, but a recent hair disaster has finally taught me to think seriously before trying yet another revolutionary treatment.

I had a semi Brocato treatment at Equus, and it was lovely. So lovely in fact that I went ahead and booked in for the longer lasting version, the Curl Interuppted Smoothing, which theoretically should have worked, but was, without shadow of a doubt, a very bad decision. Yet not as bad as what happened to this cat.

The salon did ask me all the usual questions about colour, previous treatments etc, and I answered honestly. But I didn’t do my own research, or, if I’m honest, really think through the consequences of it not working. 

After the treatment you leave it 48 hours before washing. And it was at this point that it became clear my hair was damaged. To cut to the chase I needed two inches cutting off. Gulp.

Now, first things first, Equus were brilliant. I was VERY upset but Jack Howard is the perfect salon manager. He made it clear that his priority was to make sure my hair sorted out as soon as possible, and also to work out what went wrong. 

I'm not naming the stylist here because I don't think it's relevant. What's done is done, and I feel all parties (including Brocato, the stylist, Jack, and even me) have taken responsibility for what happened and besides, after everyone's best efforts we're still not 100% sure what went wrong. Though that’s frustrating, I’ve realised that blame isn’t going to fix my hair, but that Jack is.

So back to my original point – salon customer service. Since my hair disaster I have received the most exemplary service from Equus imaginable. Jack made a commitment to work with me until we are both 100% happy with my hair, and he’s honoring it. I’ve been back every six weeks for colour and trims, and in one instance a blow dry and manicure when I was heading to my hairdresser friend’s 40th birthday party. I’ve also been supplied with a huge box of home use products from Brocato.

I’m relieved to say my hair is now well on the way to recovery. Regular trims and some gorgeous balayage colour from Jack, alongside conditioning treatments means we’ve made great progress. Yes it is two inches shorter, and although initially that was a shock, I’ve actually come to really like it this length.

As I said, sometimes things do go wrong, and anyone going for a treatment should discuss any risks with their stylist, research the products, read reviews and ask for a patch test where possible. But remember, even when you’ve done all these things, there’s still a small chance that a treatment won’t be perfect for you.

But if you do have a disaster, or even if you’re just not totally happy with the result - the sign of a good salon and hairdresser is their commitment to work with you to put things right.

As Jack says: “Nobody likes it if something goes wrong but it doesn't mean that the hairdresser/client relationship is over. If anything it can be strengthened by the right attitude and skills of the salon.”

How else could I explain how the manager of the salon where I experienced some problems with a treatment, has now become someone I’d call a friend. Now that’s customer service.

21 June 2011

Priori Advanced AHA Daily Defense SPF30

I'm always on the look out for a daily face cream with a high SPF.

My requirements are:
Not too greasy
Doesn't give me spots
Isn't jam packed full of chemicals
Doesn't give me sore red patches
Doesn't leave a white residue
Doesn't cost as much as a weekend break.

Lately, even creams that I used to like have given me problems, I recently re-puchased Origins A Perfect World SPF 25, which I used to love. Now it gives me spots. Very annoying.

So I was very keen to try this new product from Priori. I have a fair bit of sun damage, in my teens I really believed that coconut oil was all I needed all summer long. If only I could go back and shake myself. So now I'm ultra careful, but decent levels of SPF can be tricky when you've got sensitive skin.

You don't need much of this cream, I'd recommend squeezing a small blob onto the palm and warming it by rubbing between your hands to thin it a little before applying. On me, it does sting/tingle slightly when I first apply it - which is sometimes a sign I'll get a reaction - but the feeling quickly goes, and luckily I've had no bad reaction at all. No spots, no soreness, no greasiness.

It also contains AHA, so it's targeting the signs of ageing I already have, as well as helping protect me from the sun.

Another bonus - it's only £17. It's not that easy to track down , so call 0845 555 2121 for stockist info.

20 June 2011

YOUTH - supplements to help stop ageing, by Dr Sister

Regular readers will recognise the name Dr Daniel Sister as being my go-to man for ahem, let's called it 'aesthetic maintenance'. 

He's a very respected doctor, who specialises in non-invasive cosmetic procedures, from injectables to peels, hormone balancing to lipotherapy.  He's utterly honest and trustworthy, with a reputation for not going ahead with procedures he things unnecessary - a breathe of fresh air in the beauty industry.

As well as introducing groundbreaking new treatments into the UK, Dr Sister has been working on a food supplement aimed at stimulating the production of growth hormones. Growth hormones deplete as we age - our body make less and less - leaving us to age as, amongst other things, our skin looses elasticity - so taking a supplement to boost production seems like a no-brainer.

Although similar products have been available before, this is the first time there's genuinely been enough of the right stuff in one capsule to show any benefit. This is because rather than mixing with up with other ingredients, the focus of this capsule to just on boosting production of growth hormones and YOUTH does this through a combination of amino acids and marine plant extracts.

YOUTH is available through Beauty Works West (which is also where he practices) and is £59 for one months supply or £150 for a three month supply. You should be able to see a difference in around six weeks but the effects are cumulative, so you will need to keep taking them.

Personally I'd recommend a consultation with Dr Sister to discuss how you are ageing and make sure it's the right thing for you. Go see him, have a chat, and tell him I sent you x

16 June 2011

Miracle product: Dr Lewinn's Renunail

It's rare that I rave about a product quite this much, but this particular product is truly fabulous.

My nails were going through a scrappy phase. Breaking, flaking, never getting to any length. Generally looking sad and uncared for, no matter how much effort I went to. But this all changed with, quite honestly, the very best nail product I have ever tried.

Dr Lewinn's Renunail Nail Strengthener goes on like clear nail polish. Put two coats on to start with, and then apply another layer every day for five days. You don't remove each day, just build up layer on layer, which gives a lovely finish. Then remove and start again. Repeat three times, then allow your nails to 'rest' for one - two weeks.

Oh and I also massaged Renunail Nourishing Oil into my cuticles after each coat has dried.

My nails are now, quite simply, fantastic. Even a manicurist has asked me my secret.

Dr Lewinn's Renunail Nail Strengthener come in a double size bottle (30ml) and retails at £21.
Renunail Nourishing Oil is £13 for 15ml.

I don't normally over-plug where to go and buy stuff, but I really, really want you to buy this, so it's available from Debenhams and other retailers, call 01892 750850 for details.

Without a doubt, one of the best beauty products I have ever tried.

Paul Mitchell giveaway!

It's time for a summer giveaway!
The lovely people at Paul Mitchell Luxury Hair Care are offering 5 lucky Beauty Cult readers a set of holiday style essentials worth a whopping £24.99!  Packed in the limited edition drawstring wash bag (very handy for your holidays) is Shampoo One® for a gentle tropical wash, The Conditioner™ for multi-use leave-in moisture (a great summer product), Soft Sculpting Spray Gel® for a soft natural style and Freeze and Shine Super Spray® for lasting shine and hold with essential UV protection to help look after your hair in the summer sun.
To win a set just follow Beauty Cult and leave a comment including your email address or twitter name. Oh and if you want to tell me your ultimate holiday beauty product that'd be smashing.
Closing date is midnight 30th June 2011. UK only.  I'm picking the winners and my decision is final. So there.
Plus - if you visit a participating Paul Mitchell salon and purchase any four Paul Mitchell 100ml products you'll receive the fab candy stripped wash bag worth £8.99 absolutely free! Yes Free! Available at participating salons throughout July and August 2011.

And the winners are: 


Thanks for entering, I'll be in touch to arrange for you to receive your prizes! 

9 June 2011

Can this beard trimmer handle Mr Beauty Cult's beard?

I like a hairy man, and luckily Mr Beauty Cult has a fair bit of facial hair, which over the years has developed from rock star side-burns, through to designer stubble and on to his current, rather dashing, short beard. 

The thing with a short beard (I've learnt this through hearing his almost daily rants) is that it takes maintenance. And as with any beauty task, maintenance requires the right tools. So when I was offered a Remington MB4110 Beard Trimmer Stubble kit to try, I though this might be the beard trimmer to stop the whinging...

So now I'll hand over to Mr Beauty Cult.

"I own four beard trimmers, none of which I like.

Actually there is one that I quite like, but I lost its charger on holiday so now it's useless. Instead of buying a new charger for it, which would have cost the best part of 20 quid, I bought a cheap beard trimmer from Boots' own range. Being cheap, it's not powerful enough and chews up my beard rather than trimming it. Basically it's useless.

I do have a travel Remmington which I was pretty happy with except that the trimmer guard never fitted properly and eventually snapped in half rendering it, you guessed it? Useless, well almost; I still use it for a close trim around the upper lip and nostrils.

So how will this new Remmington MB4110 fare against the challenge of my beard. Things get off to a bad start because the ubiquitous numbering system used by every beard trimmer I've ever used, which tells the user how close the trim guard is set, is missing. It's been replaced by a fine measurement wheel, but I only realise this after I've shaved a big tramline into my cheek. 

I don't like this new fine measurement system. How am I supposed to know the exact measurement I want my beard to be, down to the millimetre? All I know is my neck and moustache are a 3 and my cheeks are a 4. Anyway enough about that. Once you master the fine measurement this trimmer is actually pretty impressive. It is well made, powerful enough, slim enough for travel and can even be charged by USB which might seem like a novelty at first, but I suspect will prove very useful for my various trips abroad."

So there we have it. He did have a strop about the measurement system, and believe me, as male strops go it was a big one. But overall he's impressed. And he's a hard man to please. So if you fancy letting your man grow a beard, get his the Remington MB4110 Beard Trimmer Stubble kit so you don't have to listen to his daily moans about beard maintenance. 

And for all you clean shaven fans out there - you don't know what you're missing :)

24 May 2011

My oh my another luxury brand that I love - Skin Science

It's been a long time since I've risked a new moisturiser, I'm not a girl who takes skincare risks easily, and let's face it, every time you try a new skincare product there's a little bit of risk involved.

Skin Science is a new brand from Norway, which is said to be inspired by the marine life along the country's Arctic coastline. It contains ingredients which scientists claim have a radical effect on the skin. These include - 
Spermine - an antioxidant estimated to be 25-30times more powerful than vitamin E
Omergatri - an omega-3 product from Atlantic salmon, but a nano-encapsulating version that's odourless and can be delivered deep into the skin
Zonase X - a natural exfoliant from salon embryos - discovered because salmon hatchery workers have smooth hands, despite working in freezing cold water

I tried the Bio Active 24hr Protective Complex Cream with SPF15. I've rarely used the same face cream during the day and at night - but actually this really does the job. It's not too heavy to apply make-up over (actually it creates a lovely base), and although it feels a little light for a night cream, my skin doesn't feel dehydrated in the morning. Personally for me, SPF 15 isn’t enough through the summer, but that’s a personal niggle. After two weeks of use my skin is looking better than it has in a long time, even though I've been going through a particularly busy/stressful time (normally enough to knock my complexion for six).

But the real gem in this range is Bio Active Instant Replenishment Complex. It’s a set of seven little tiny ampoules are used after peels or laser treatment, can be used as a complete course, or anytime your skin needs a pick-me-up. Just use half of an ampoule in morning and half at night. I've in love. They really make a huge difference to my skin making it much softer, smoother and far more radiant. I’d recommend exfoliating before use to really feel the benefit.

Also I used a tiny dab a day on a scar/dry patch from a particularly nasty spot, and it vanished in days.

This stuff isn't cheap,  I know I say that often, but there you go. But the results are great, so in this case, you get what you pay for.

Bio Active 24hr Protective Complex Cream with SPF15 is £85 and the Bio Active Instant Replenishment Complex is  £120

Skin Science is exclusive to Harvey Nichols nationwide and the range also includes a mask, eye cream, serum and a moisturiser aimed at older skin (not sure why I wasn't sent this, perhaps the PR company missed my rants about turning 40 this year?).

17 May 2011

Origins gift set - fab purchase!

I wandered into Harrods the other day in search of an Origins moisturiser with high SPF. I went for A Perfect World Age-defense with SPF 25, as I've used it before, it's just about the highest SPF I can tolerate with getting a nasty rash.

Now usually I come away from beauty counters having spent three times as much as I thought I'd spend. But not today. The lovely, if slightly overly made up Origins Lady (the most black eyeliner I've seen during the day time since a daytime Siousxie and the Banshees gig), showed me that currently you can buy A Perfect World as part of a gift set for only £1 more than it costs alone. So for £32 I got:

A Perfect World SPF 25 50ml
A Perfect World Antioxidant Cleanser 50ml (hubby loves this)
Clear Improvement Mask 50ml (again, Mr Beauty Cult is a fan)
A Perfect World Eye Treatment 5ml (ok sample size, but still it all helps)
And a cute little facial sponge, which I've not tried it yet.

Quite simple, the best beauty bargain I've come across in a long time.

There's more info on the Origins website, and the offer is not exclusive to Harrods, so get shopping!

27 April 2011

Decleor Expression De L'Age Relaxing Eye Cream

This is a lesson in NOT listening to the lady behind the counter.

I LOVE this eye cream. I've raved about it many times before. However, recently when I went to buy some more, it was out of stock. So I allowed myself to be convinced that Decleor's Experience De L'Age Triple Action Eye and Lip Cream was even better. Big mistake. It's not better at all. It's not terrible, but it's not half the product this is. But lady behind the Decleor counter was clearly after a sale, and I was suckered in.

Lessons learnt:
1) It's good to try new products but ask for samples, especially when considering £43 eye creams.
2) If something works brilliantly well for you, stick with it.
3) Decleor Expression De L'Age Relaxing Eye Cream is the best eye cream ever, it hydrates, firms and make me look wide awake when really I'm a walking zombie.

For more info try the Decleor website.

6 April 2011

Jack Howard: Hair genius

Recently I was moaning about my hair on Twitter. There's nothing unusual in this, apart from this time someone listened, and that someone was hair genius Jack Howard.

Jack felt he could help my dry, frazzled hair, so I promptly turned up at his salon the following week and put my hair in his hands.

With over 25years experience in salons, Jack has spent the last 17years in America, working with many well known personalities from the world of news and politics. As a senior portfolio artist for L'Oreal Professional Jack has also taught across the United States.

These days Jack is the manager of Equus Hair. One of London's oldest salons, Equus was established in 1953, and a few of its clients look like they've been regulars since then. But this is a salon going through a transition, and Jack is at the heart of it, breathing new life into what was something of an institution.

So what did he make of my hair? Well for once I got an honest answer. Too many hairdressers have claimed that the right products, changing the hair dye used, using chemicals, not using chemicals etc would change the fact that my hair (in some sections) grows dry and frizzy. After a good rummage through my hair, Jack could see that it really does just grow in bad condition. And it always will, but with help, I could learn how to manage it.

We started with my colour. I'm a dark brunette, but these days my colour has started to look brassy within 3 weeks of colouring (maybe something to do with turning 40?) so Jack suggested some changes. Rather than a solid colour, like I usually have, Jack recommended two formulas - one at the front and one for the back, he then highlighted with foils and his 'secret formula' to control the brassiness.

At the same time I was also treated to a Knightsbridge manicure by Ines. My nails are painted in Essie Luxedo, which rocks so much I order some online the same evening.

I then met Jack's colleague Darren Eaton, a smoothing maestro, for a Semi Brocato Curl Interrupted treatment. Unlike other smoothing treatments, this contains none of the nasties associated with brazilian blow dries, in fact it's so gentle that Darren doesn't need to wear gloves.

After a quick trim, stylist Arturo (brooding and Spanish), blow dries and runs some special vibrating straighteners through my hair to seal in the treatment. I'm advised not to wash my hair for 48 hours, and to only use sulphate free shampoo.

So how was it?

Well the whole experience was glorious. The salon is fabulous, and despite some of the regular clientele literally dripping with gold and royal wedding invitations, it's very down to earth and comfortable. Jack and his team could not have made more of an effort to make me welcome. My hair is great. I'll admit it's a shade lighter than I'm used to, but I think Jack was nudging me in the direction of something a little more flattering for my age!

I've had loads of compliments, friends have wanted to know who did my hair. Even the hubby is impressed.

The Brocato has definitely improved the condition of my hair, it's softer, less frizzy and easier to manage. It's still not perfect, but it's manageability I'm trying to achieve not perfection. And this is only the four week version, I'm popping back next week for the more intensive version.

Jack Howard really knows hair. He understands it inside out, he's a master of colour with some secret formulas and tricks up his sleeve. He's not just a hairdresser, he's a hair genius. Plus he's a lovely guy!

Equua is not cheap. It's not even mid-range. But you do get what you pay for.

A tint starts at £99, the foils at £75 for a face frame.
Brocato Semi Curl Interrupted £120
Knightsbridge manicure £35

Oh and my manicure lasted for 6 days - a record for me!

Jack also specialises in Balayage, a method of highlighting that gives amazing natural results.

For more information visit the Equus websiteJack's own website or follow Jack at @jackhowarduk or Darren at @darreneatonHair

25 March 2011

Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger

My hair is shocking. I won't go into detail here, because frankly I've ranted about it enough already. Let's just say I'm always on the look out for products that will breathe life back into my stressed, frazzled locks.

This new range from Paul Mitchell promises to do just that. The key ingredient here is the awapuhi, which is a type of ginger plant found commonly through India, Polynesia and Hawaii. Hawaiian women squeeze the juice from the flowers to use as a shampoo and conditioner - and oh if only my hair looked anything like a Hawaiian ladies....

To give them even more clout, these products also contain 'KeraTriplex', Paul Mitchell's own Keratin blend, and as we all know, keratin is vital for strong, healthy, shiny hair.

I tried the Moisturising Lather Shampoo, Keratin Cream Rinse, Keratin Intensive Treatment and Styling Treatment Oil.

I really love this shampoo. It's a struggle to find a shampoo that's kind on dry hair, but doesn't leave you with greasy roots, but this is perfect. It's also got a fab scent - a bit like ginger beer, perfect for waking you up in the shower.

The Keratin Intensive Treatment is recommended for use weekly, and the first time I used it I had good results - with my hair feeling softer and smoother than it had in ages. Next day (yes I have to wash my hair daily, mainly as it dries out over the course of 24hrs), I moved onto the Keratin Cream Rinse, and unfortunately this wasn't enough for the really dry areas of my hair, so from that day on I've used the Cream Rinse all over, and the Intensive Treatment on the areas I know need extra care.

As for the Styling Treatment Oil, you can apply to towel dried hair, but this method didn't work for me, leaving my hair a little heavy. However it does work really well as a moisture top up through the day, disappearing into my hair but leaving it more manageable.

Now we're not talking miracles here. My hair is still shocking. But it's less shocking that it was a week ago, and we can't expect miracles overnight can we? And other than my trusty combo of Kerastase Bain Divalent Balancing shampoo and Macadamia Deep Repair Mask, I've not found anything else that can even get me through one day without literally wanting to tear my hair out. 

The lovely people at Paul Mitchell tell me that with time the overall condition of my hair should improve, but of course as I started from such a bad place, this will take a while!

Moisturising Lather Shampoo 250ml £15.95
Keratin Cream Rinse 250ml £17.95
Keratin Intensive Treatment 150ml £22.95
Styling Treatment Oil 100ml £24.95

The range also includes a Texturizing Sea Spray, as I to look messy and windswept at the best of times this wouldn't be for more, plus there's a Shine Spray and Finishing Spray.

All products are available from Paul Mitchell salons.

17 March 2011

A chance to meet Space NK's founder!

We all love Space NK. I never fail to get a little bit excited when I visit a store, and I know most of my readers share that feeling, so the chance to meet the founder is a great opportunity.

Nicky Kinnaird, founder of Space NK, is visiting the UK to make some rare public appearances at selected Space NK stores over the next few weeks....and what's better she'll help you make sure you're buying the very best products for you!

Appointments to meet Nicky need to be booked (contact your local store), and cost £60, but the price is redeemable against products in store. So if you’re heading out to buy beauty products anyway it's a no brainer, you'll be spending £60 on products that you can be sure are right for you.

Consultations with Nicky last for 15mins, and as an added bonus you’ll also get a 30min make-up lesson with a professional.

17th March - Loughton – 10-2pm
18th March - Kingston 10-2pm
23rd March - Glasgow - 10-2pm
24th March – Edinburgh, George St - 10-2pm
25th March - Cobham – 10-2pm
31st March – London, Northcote Rd – 10-2pm

2 March 2011

What do I want for mothers day? Frontcover Rainbow Eyes

Mothers day presents aren't always up to much. I know, I know, it's the thought that counts. And yes, I AM an ungrateful mother, but how many jewellery boxes made out of old tissue boxes does a woman need?

If you want to truly impress your mum this Mothers Day (yes I mean you Bonnie, I know you're reading this), then pop down to Boots and buy her the Rainbow Eyes Reborn set. It's 25 eye colours in one set, yup 25...plus applicators and Shadowline which cleverly turns any eyeshadow into an eyeliner. Oh and it's half price for Mothers Day at only £15. I know you only get £2.50 pocket money, but I'm expecting Daddy to pay.

I do, however, love a handmade Mothers Day card.

Find out more at www.frontcovercosmetics.com

28 February 2011

Confessions of a (nearly) 40 year old: Botox

It's my last week of being a 30-something, so I thought I'd make a confession. I've been having Botox for around 4 years now, and you know what? it's bloody great. 

In my mid 30's I developed deep frown lines between my eyebrows. Yes I know, just stopping frowning and squinting may have helped, but I'm not great with will power, and by the time I realised how miserable the lines were making me, the damage was done. 

Some lines just age you, which is bad enough. But frown lines can change your expression, giving the impression of grumpiness in an otherwise cheerful person. So I decided to bite the bullet and get something done about it. 

Now, I wouldn't recommend that anyone go ahead with a cosmetic procedure without doing a serious amount of research. I'm lucky enough to work in the beauty industry, so a few not-so-discrete enquiries led me to the make an appointment with the lovely Dr Daniel Sister. 

Dr Sister is a charming Frenchman who works out of Beauty Works West. He's got an amazing reputation, and he well deserves it. He's the master of the subtle look, no one comes out of his clinic with that frozen look and he has been known to turn away people who he doesn't believe need the injections. He's also 100% honest, and although he's told me there are areas where I didn't need it, he also pointed out those that could do with a little help.

So what else can I tell you about Botox? Well it hurts a little, but needles in your face do tend to sting! I generally get a headache later the same day, but then I get considerably less headaches for the next few months. The first time I had Botox it only lasted 4 months, but since then my facial muscles don't fight so much, and now I go every 8 - 9months. You don't feel any different, except when you look in the mirror.  Don't expect immediate results. The official lines tend to be that the effects kick in around 5 days after you've been injected, but for me it can take two weeks to get to the end result.

No one has ever directly noticed I've had it, but I do always get comments that I look healthy and happy within a few weeks of a top-up.

The cost depends on how much you need and where you go, and the price should never be a factor when making your decision. Botox should never be cheap (if it is, be suspicious) and it MUST be done by a doctor with serious cosmetic experience, no matter what anyone tells you. So choose your doctor wisely, get recommendations, go for a consultation and don't expect to be injected the first time - don't rush into anything. 

Botox isn't for everyone. Some people firmly believe in ageing naturally, and I can respect that. But it does work for me, and I've never regretted my decision.

So what do you think? Would you? Have you?

22 February 2011

All For Eve

 Just a quick post to make sure that every single one of you knows about All For Eve!

I ordered the five piece set from QVC recently (which, ahem, does not make me a TV shopping nutcase, but rather a sensible beauty product lover I'll have you know), for the astonishingly cheap price of £21.79.

All For Eve was set up by beauty entrepreneur George Hammer (the man behind Sanctuary Spa, introducing Aveda into the UK and Urban Retreat at Harrods), with the intention of raising money for and awareness of gynaecological cancer - ALL of the net profits from All For Eve are donated to The Eve Appeal, so when you buy these products you are truly making a difference to the lives of all women.

The set contains; body butter, bath & shower gel, body scrub, hand cream and a rather sumptuous red lipstick (designed by Daniel Sandler).

In a nutshell, these are fabulous products. In particular I love the body butter. I'm a fussy so-and-so with body creams but this is gorgeous, ultra fine consistency but super-rich and moisturising.

So what are you waiting for? Order some now, for yourself and for your friends, and revel in the knowledge that beauty products CAN make a difference.

The All For Eve website
All For Eve on QVC

17 February 2011

TommyGuns Jasmine & Wild Nettle Range

I've bored you all for too long about my dry hair, so I'll cut to the chase on this one. TommyGuns Jasmine & Wild Nettle is developed for thirsty, dry, undernourished, or coloured hair, so for me (with all of those problems) it was definitely worth a shot.

The problem with most shampoos for dry hair is that they give me a greasy scalp. It doesn't go hand-in-hand that if your hair is dry so is your scalp, so often dry hair shampoos leave me with greasy roots. I also find they can leave my hair lacking in body - yes it needs the extra moisture, but you still want movement and body in it.

I've been using (the very pricey) Kerastase Specifique Bain Divalent Shampoo for years to help with this problem - it does a great job of making sure the roots feel super-clean, and the ends get moisturised. I've struggled to find another shampoo that does the job half as well.

I've only been using these TommyGuns products for a few days, but so far they're doing really well. Not only does my hair feel clean and soft, but my frizzy dry bits feel manageable and my hair has more body that usual.

I’m going to keep going with these and report back in a few weeks.

* Update March 1st 2010
As I wash my hair daily I'm finding the shampoo a little rich on the roots. My dry ends are enjoying the moisture, but when used daily my roots are a bit greasy. However, a few times a week is fab.

TommyGuns Jasmine & Wild Nettle Shampoo and Conditioner are £5.50 each, available from Waitrose, John Lewis, Ocado and www.tommygunshaircare.com

15 February 2011

Boo Boo Velvet Hands

Boo Boo is one of my nicknames for my little girl. Let me explain. She's called Bonnie, which became Bonnie Boo (due to her resemblance to Boo in Monsters Inc),  which turned into Boo Boo. Daft, but it works. So when I heard of a range of products called Boo Boo I was keen to find out more.

Boo Boo is a 'mummy and baby range'; it's free of parabens, sulphates, TEA, petrochemicals, synthetic colours, PEGS and DEA, so it's pure and natural stuff.

The range now includes a hand wash and hand cream, which not only smell gorgeous, but do a fab job of keeping my hard working hands clean and soft.

Key ingredients include marshmallow root extract, white water lily and centella - a herb that's claimed to firm and strengthen the skin. It's all good stuff, and I've enjoyed testing them.

The trouble is although I'm a mum, I'm not really a 'mummy' any more. My girl is going to be eight soon, and I'm soooo over anything that looks like it's been designed for parents. These are great products, but I'm stumped as to why they've been packaged up like nappy cream.

I'm a sucker for hand washes and hand creams. But if it's going to be out on display in my house, then I like it to look good. Currently on display in my kitchen you'll find the classic Neils Yard blue glass bottles, so you'll get where I'm coming from. So although I love these products, for me they lose out on aesthetics. However if you're a yummy mummy you'd be a fool not to invest in some because my hands really are beautifully soft since I've been testing them. Plus my daughter thinks it's very cool that there are products names after her.

Boo Boo Velvet Hands (£10.99) and Velvet Hand Wash (£9.99) are available from Harrods, Wholefoods or online at www.boobooshop.com

14 February 2011

Burt's Bees & Alex Monroe support British Beekeepers

Regular readers will know I'm a huge fan of Alex Monroe jewellery. I love designs that are inspired by nature, yet have a truly modern original feel.

I always keep a look out for new Alex Monroe designs, so I was very excited when a press released popped into my inbox announcing a collaboration between Alex Monroe and Burt’s Bees to further the cause of the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA).

This gorgeous honey bee and flower necklace will be available from March 1st 2011 priced at £165, and £30 from each sale is donated directly to the BBKA.
Available online at www.alexmonroe.com

10 February 2011

Miracle product: Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil

I'm not moaning (well just a little), but my life can be a bit stressful.

Like most women my age I juggle. I run my own business, have a young child, do voluntary work, plus I'm in charge of all the usual house/life admin. So it's not surprising that sometimes I find it hard to relax.

There's nothing like a deep, relaxing bath to help you wind down, but since discovering Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil, I'm desperate for more bath time. 

A glorious blend of sandalwood, vetivert and camomile, just one capful in a bath seems to have magical properties. You lie back and inhale the fantastic smell....and you can actually feel the stress leaving your body!

Apparently this stuff was first created in 1986, so that means I've been missing out on feeling this good for 25 years!

It's not cheap at £37 for 55ml, but just one capful is all you need, is each bath only costs £1.85. And seriously, I usually need heavily medicating to get this relaxed. For a truly indulgent bath, drink a glass of red while you're in there.

Available online or from stockists UK wide.

9 February 2011

Organic Surge Colour Protect

I love Organic Surge. In a nutshell they're affordable products that aren't full of chemicals and are made by a company with a conscience. And they work. Read my last Organic Surge post for more background on the brand. 

So my latest Organic Surge test is Colour Protect, a shampoo and conditioner aimed at reducing colour fade and keeping colour treated hair in tip-top condition.

My hair is coloured every six weeks, it's very dry, but grows super fast, so keeping it in good condition is always a challenge. 

 When I used these products I did need to add my usual Macademia Deep Repair Mask, but if you knew how dry my hair was, you wouldn't be at all surprised.

When using any sodium lauryl sulphate free shampoo, remember that it won't foam up in the way that most shampoos do, but this doesn't mean it's not working, and it doesn't mean you need to use more than normal. It can be tricky to get used to, but they really can get your hair as clean as a super foamy product.

This is a great set of hair care, and at only £4.99 each, they give results that you would usually only expect from professional products with a much higher price. My hair is super shiny and the colour still looks great 4 weeks later. Plus I've used them on my daughter, as it makes me feel like a better mummy to use chemical free products on her long lovely hair.

The Organic Surge hair range also includes Blonde Boost, Volume Boost, Moisture Boost and Shine Boost, all are available from Organicsurge.com.

Elemis Melting Cleansing Gel

I never feel that my face is clean unless water has been splashed on it, so I hate cleansers you remove with cotton wool and always favour those that need a muslin cloth and water.

My favourite cleanser of all time is Eve Lom, a close second is Karin Herzog's Professional Cleanser. But now Elemis have brought out a contender with their new product, Melting Cleansing Gel.

It's a similar proposition, you massage it into the face and remove with 'warm mitts' er...or a muslin cloth.

Key ingredients include the 'it' oil of the moment - argan, plus rice silk, assai fruit and rosemary leaf.

For me it's a close runner up to my favourites, it leaves my skin feeling deep-down clean, and it doesn't dry it out or leave a residue. Elemis claim it's suitable for all skin types, and as with the Eve Lom, I think this is probably true and that sensitive skins may really feel the benefit.

Elemis Melting Cleansing Gel is on sale this month, RRP £19.40 for 125ml, which makes it a cheaper option than many.  Get yours from TimetoSpa or any of the usual Elemis outlets.

27 January 2011

Miracle product: Golden Silk Oil

 I like a multi-tasking natural product, so I was keen to try Golden Silk Oil, which claims it can be used on the face, hands, body and hair.

It's natural camellia oil, extracted from camellia flowers; though don't be mistaken into thinking it smells floral, as it has virtually no fragrance. 

Camellia oil has been used by the Japanese for centuries, and as well as healing the skin, it's claimed to have the ability to balance sebum in human skin that can be caused by diet, pollution, hormonal imbalance or ageing. It contains vitamins A, B, C and D as well as a host of other good stuff such as beta-carotene.

So far I'm loving this little bottle of oil. I've used it on my face at night in place of night cream and woke the next morning to super soft, hydrated skin. I've used it on dry lips, where again it's totally sorted them out. I've even used it under make-up, it absorbs really easily and provides a great base for foundation.

Best of all I've been using it on my hands, not only is it sorting out their constant dryness, but my nails are better than they've been in months. My nails really tend to suffer through the winter, they become dry and brittle and split easily; nothing has ever come close to sorting them out before. Right now, after only a week of using Gold Silk Oil, they're long and strong.

Approved by the Vegan Society, this oil is so gentle it can even be used on kids (it would be fab as a baby massage oil).

You can buy Golden Silk Oil from www.gentlebodycare.co.uk, and it costs £11.50 for a 30ml bottle.

Nivea Pure & Natural

 Sponsored post
It's good to see that the larger, high street beauty brands are launching more natural based products, and the latest contender is Nivea with it's Pure & Natural range.

The range includes face, body and hand care, and the products contain 95% natural ingredients and are free from parabens, silicones, colourants and mineral oil

An ingredient that features in many of these products is Argan oil, a great source of Vitamin E and a natural antioxidant.  Nivea say it's long been a beauty secret of  Berber women from Moroccan, and have sourced their aragon oil from a cooperative in Mogador the Argan Oil which supports the Berber Women and provides the rural population with a stable income. 

Nivea Pure & Natural is affordable on even a small beauty budget, starting at just £1.99 for the lip balm, £3.05 for the handcream and £8.49 for the anti-ageing day cream.

Something I'm particularly impressed about is that all the Pure & Natural cartons include the FSC logo, signifying recycled, sustainable materials and responsible forestry management.  The containers are also smaller to ensure they take up as little space as possible, reducing the number of transport journeys required. 

Nivea Pure & Natural is on sale from February 20th, 2011. 
Find out more at www.nivea.co.uk

Please note this is a sponsored post for Nivea, in conjunction with the lovely people at Handpicked Media.

15 January 2011

Kiss it Better

Cancer is a scary thought for all of us, but as a parent, I can't possibly imagine how devastating it would be to find out your child has cancer. But the fact remains that cancer is the biggest disease affecting children today. A chilling thought.

The Kiss it Better campaign raises money to fund research into the causes and treatments of childhood cancer.

It's the brainchild of a former beauty editor, Carmel Allen, whose daughter was treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital (who treat one 1 in 9 kids with cancer) for neuroblastoma.

Carmel explains: "The premise was really simple, Kiss it Better is something every parent says and does when their child is sick or injured. I wanted to turn Josephine’s experience into something positive and to help make a difference to the lives of children with cancer everywhere."

This year Clinique have created a special limited edition Smoothie Kisses Lip Gloss set, featuring the latest launch from Clinique, Vitamin C Lip Smoothie Antioxidant Lip Colour. This fabulous set of four glosses is sold in a cute pink bag, and is available exclusively through House of Fraser (nationwide, UK) during February, with £4 from every purchase going to the Kiss It Better campaign (£2 donated by Clinique, £2 donated by House of Frazer). The set retails at £22.50.

If this set doesn't float your boat, a £2 donation will able apply to all Clinique lipsticks or lipglosses sold at House of Fraser stpres nationwide (UK) throughout February 2011 (£1 donated by Clinique and £1 by House of Fraser). So there's no excuse not to buy something!

If you can't make it into store, try House of Fraser and the Clinique website.

To find out more about Kiss It Better, or to donate to Great Ormond Street Hospital, visit this website.

13 January 2011

Elemis’ Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow

A run of illness, busyness and generally not looking after myself has left me looking a bit shabby. The bits everyone can see - hair, face, hands, haven't done too badly, but the rest of me...well it's an embarrassment.

So, a plan of action:

1) To shed a few pounds. I must stop eating biscuits.
2) To tone up. I went to yoga this week and I'm doing a 5 mile walk with friends tomorrow.
3) To scrub up. I need to start using a fabulous body scrub!

Lounging in a luxurious bath is not enough for my sorry-for-itself skin, I need buffing up! Enter Elemis' Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow.

Unlike similar products it doesn't separate before use, so you don't have to stir it before sticking your hand in. Take just a small amount in your hands and rub it onto your body (be careful not to drop great blobs of it in the bath like I did the first time - oh the waste!). It smells divine, has a salty, yet oily feel and does wonders for your skin. Pay extra attention to knees and elbows, but rub it all over for silky soft skin.

It contains three oils, Kukui Oil which has restructuring properties as well as sought-after anti-ageing and softening virtues, Japanese Camellia Oil which is easily absorbed into the skin to nourish and condition and is rich in plant collagen and Jojoba Oil to moisturise and regenerate the skin.

Add to that lime peel and ginger (which is subtle, I'm not a big fan of the smell usually), plus the essential sea salt for making the scrub, well scrubby, and you've got yourself a fab product. Plus is comes in a glamorous red tub, which will brighten up any bathroom.

£35.80 for a 410g tub, which look set to last for months. Buy via Time to Spa, or from Elemis counters.

Finally back!

Sorry I've been missing in action for so long.

My daughter and I both had the dreaded swine flu, and yes, it is as bad as they say.

Then we went away for New Year (Center Parcs rocks), the just after we got back my daughter broke her little finger. So after a weekend in two hospitals and two sets of X-rays later, I have a seven-year-old who's actually revelling in not being able to do anything for herself. Seriously, her finger is strapped up and doesn't hurt as she can't move it, but she's loving the attention.

Anyway, enough moaning, it's a new year, and I have products on my desk that I need to try and tell you about...so I'm just going to get on with it!