Beauty Without Fuss

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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Love Story - The Musical

Or, time for something completely different.

No, I haven't gone completely crazy, one of my very first posts on this here blog was about opera, which I don't think anyone ever read, so I think it's okay for me to talk about my love of musical theatre here too.  And, I do love it. Growing up we were banned from watching musicals in my house, as my mum hated them - used to say that "people just don't do that" whenever people burst into song.  As a result, as an adult, it's entirely possible that I love them a bit too much.  I may have more musical soundtracks on my ipod than is entirely healthy, but hey, a good tune is a good tune!

However, I have to admit that when the opportunity to watch a preview of Love Story, which has been made into a musical by Howard Goodall and Stephen Clark, and has been produced by Michael Ball came up this week, I boggled a bit.  "But how's that going to work?" I wondered to myself, imagining such delights as the "Leukemia Boogie Woogie" and other such nonsense.

Luckily, the starkly staged, surprisingly non-schmaltzy musical bypasses such cheese (aside from during the Pasta song, which is actually rather amusing, and it's a tune I've had in my head ever since) and is played both well, and admirably straight.  The one act chamber-musical zips by, drawing you into the heart of the piece, and making you care for the characters, in spite of their flaws, and almost eradicates the memory of the incredibly saccharine seventies film it's based on.

Everyone knows how it ends, of course - and if you don't, they tell you in the first few minutes - and this should, realistically, stop you getting that engrossed in the story, but I don't mind admitting that I had the biggest, most painful lumps in my throat throughout the last 20 minutes of the show, and I am one of the biggest cynics of all time.  And, I had something in my eye - yes, something in my eye, dammit - at several points, too.

I adored the simple costuming of the characters and Emma Williams (who plays Jenny) has one of the most gorgeous wardrobes I've seen in a long time. I wasn't too sure that choosing to signify her illness via the cunning use of a cardigan was a great idea though.  It's a simple motif, but hey, Cardigan of Death?  Hmn ...

If I have a criticism of the play, it would be that Michael Xavier, whilst more than adequate, isn't actually good-looking enough to play Oliver.  Shallow, perhaps, but hey, I'm a beauty blogger, sue me. It was just always in the back of my mind that - as written - Oliver is a bit of a boor (not to mention a bore, but that's more the fault of the source material than the play), and it's hard to see why Jenny would be so dazzled with him in the first place.  Your mileage, as always, may vary.

So, why did they do it?  The answer is, I guess, because they could.  And they did it well, if you ask me, I didn't roll my eyes once.  And,  I haven't enjoyed crying so much in ages.

Find out more about Love Story on Stage here. Or you can see their facebook page here.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Review - No74 Hair and Beauty

There are some salons that you visit and you just know they've been designed straight from a catalogue of hairdresser cliches.  And then there are those that when you first wander through the doors, you know that they've been a labour of love from start to finish.

No74 Hair and Beauty is one of the latter.  Situated in Clerkenwell, yet feeling like you've wandered into a luxurious country house hotel, No74 is a tiny oasis of peace and beauty in the heart of the City.  Opened a year ago, Michael Reichelt has poured his heart and soul into creating what has to be one of the most gorgeous and calming salons it's ever been my pleasure to walk into.  Michael was recently voted "Entrepreneur of the Year" in the recent Creative Head It List awards, and it's not hard to see why!

Last week, I popped along to try out their Grand Classique facial, which features Yon-Ka products. Yon-Ka are rapidly garnering themselves a cult reputation, created in 1957, the products are largely botanical, and very therapeutic, and are, of course, allegedly used by lots of Hollywood celebrities!

The Grand Classique facial lasts 75 minutes and costs £70 (which, if you ask me, is a bit of a bargain bearing in mind the location), and consists of several cleansings, a mild peel,  steaming, extractions if required/requested, sprays with botanical oils, a mask and lots and lots of wonderfully soothing massage.  I enjoyed my facial very much, it's a very "tingle"-making facial, leading me to worry about blotchiness and redness, but my fears were unfounded, and I left the salon with a glowing complexion - even though my skin is going through one of its periodic greasier than a greasy thing phases), and singing spirits.  My skin has been very soft and smooth ever since too, no irritating breakouts!

It's very refreshing to go to a truly independent salon, who carry out a full range of hair and beauty services, and I've been privileged to be able to visit a few this year, I doubt I'll ever be able to go back to a chair hairdresser again!  No74 is a wonderful location, full of people who love their jobs, and  I hear on the grapevine that one of their latest additions to the team is a former stylist on X Factor, so you need to pop along and get your own celebrity-style makeover! 

The Fine Print: Get Lippie was a guest of No74 Hair and Beauty, and would like to thank Brett and Renata for an amazing experience, you guys rock.

Friday, 1 October 2010

YSL Belle D'Opium

Launched in what must be one of the prettiest bottles I've seen all year, Belle D'Opium is the latest fragrance from Yves St Laurent.

A "sister" scent to the original Opium, this is lighter, and designed - I guess - to be more of a complement to the current trend for the fruity-musky-woody stews that are all you can smell in modern fragrance these days.

Which is a shame.  I loved the original Opium, my father used to buy it for my mum by the bucket load (in massive duty-free flacons), and the heavy, heady, spicy oriental scent of carnations and smoke perfumes many of my memories.  Belle D'Opium has, sadly, about as much in common with the original Opium as I do with Cindy Crawford.

It starts off well, not too sweet, slightly dry and a bit flowery, but not overly so, and for the first 15 minutes or so it's perfectly  ... pleasant.  Inoffensive. No spices, no headiness, no intense desire to keep sniffing, and work out what the notes are, as you get with some perfumes, just ... niceness. A little warmth, maybe, but it's hard to tell how this is supposed to remind you of Opium at all, outside of the name.

Then, on my skin, it simply  ... disappears.  Completely.  Totally.  Utterly. It disappears with such a total and abrupt thoroughness that upon occasion I've completely forgotten that I'd applied it in the first place and then an hour later I've applied something completely different. And, get this, when I have, the scents have never clashed, that's how thorough a nothingness is left behind once the top notes wear off.

It's a shame that such a beautiful bottle with such a historic name behind it smells so  ... gone.

The Fine Print: This was a PR sample I wanted to love.  Sorry peeps!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Review - Webster Whiteman

One of the most surreal - and proudest! - moments of my blogging "career" to date was being invited to judge one of the awards for this year's Creative Head Most Wanted awards.  I don't, in all honesty consider myself a hair blogger, but I can't deny that I am interested in hair, hairdressing and styling, so it was a great honour to be asked.

I was judging the Online Salon category, (click here for a full list of winners), and one of the finalists in my category was the team at Webster Whiteman,  I think I may have been more disappointed  than them when they didn't win the award, as I thought their website was a great one, it introduced the team beautifully, and gave a real sense of what the salon is all about.  Go check out their "meet the team" page, which is a great example of a salon with a great sense of humour!

So, when my roots needed sorting out recently (seriously, it's such a bind being an elderly brunette, you know),  I popped along to the comfy, and wonderfully unpretentious, Webster Whitman salon in the heart of Mayfair, just to see if their real life presence was as good as their online one.

I have to say that I wasn't disappointed in the slightest, the entire team is friendly, welcoming, and delightfully down to earth.  Even though the salon is situated slap bang in one of the ritziest areas of London, it's not at all intimidating, and throughout my three hours in the salon (which flew!), I was amazed at the assortment of diverse characters the salon manages to attract, from ladies who lunch to busy businessmen, to the occasionally slightly stressed and vaguely pre-occupied beauty blogger.

I think a large part of this is down to the staff, I chatted to the owners Darren Webster and Lisa Whiteman, who were both busy on the floor themselves, and I had a wonderful time in the hands of award-winning colourist Claire and also with Becky who did my blow-dry.  Both girls are amazing talents, and I won't be surprised if Becky is going to be a rising star in her own right one day, certainly someone who can teach me how to blow dry my fringe properly in a way I can actually remember a couple of weeks later certainly deserves a medal!

So, how did they do?  Well, I was happy with the last cut I received at the Chapel, and I'm still kind of in love with the highlights I had then too, but I was in desperate need of having my horrific roots covered up, so Claire and I  had a chat about covering them up, then blending them in via a semi-permanent shade throughout the lengths, so I wouldn't lose the highlighted effect.  I have to say that I think this has worked magnificently, my hair is shinier, my roots aren't grey, and I still have a gorgeous lightly sun-dappled effect:

As for the blow dry - and my love for a good "bouncy" blow-dry is becoming legendary in certain circles - with Becky, this is the result, full-bodied, but still wonderfully natural-looking, and full of shine:

Love it.  To the team at WebsterWhiteman, thank you very much.

The Fine Print: This knackered beauty-blogger was a guest of Webster Whitman, and is very grateful.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Review - Guerlain Lingerie de Peau Foundation

My quest for a Holy Grail foundation goes on, this time around I'm trying Guerlain's Lingerie de Peau, which is their latest release, and it was released a couple of weeks ago. After a while swatching in-store, I settled on shade no2, Beige Clair, which is a slightly more pink-based shade than I'd ordinarily wear, but the lighting in the shop make picking colours way more difficult than it should be.

This is what Guerlain have to say about it:

"Silk and linen weave themselves into a second skin

Selected from among the most luxurious textile fibres, silk and linen combine their complementary qualities, weaving an imperceptible veil of perfection on the surface of the skin in a voluptuous sensation of comfort and drapes the complexion in a silky radiance that captures an reflects the light.  Ultra-mattifying powders and pigments are woven into the linen to help refine the texture of the skin and give it a velvety softness.  On the skin itself nothing is visible except the natural appearance of a perfect complexion."

Housed in a handsome glass bottle, with a monogrammed lid, the bottle has a proper pump to help you get it out. It's a foundation that is prone to separating in the bottle, so it really needs a good shake up before you use it.

Here you can see that I didn't shake it quite enough before I pumped it onto my hand, I generally find that one full pump is just about the right amount for my face and onto my neck (for blending purposes).  It's a very light, very liquid-y foundation, which spreads extremely easily on the skin, it has great slip.

This shows the partially blended foundation, as you can see, a little amount of this goes a very long way.  It blends very easily, and just needs a tiny hint of powder to set it.  I've been using my Guerlain Meteorites over the top, as I find it's very difficult to over-apply that one.

Once on the skin and set, you get the most delightful finish, sheeny without being too glowy, or even (heaven forfend) "greasy".  It's practically invisible in use, and evens out your skintone wonderfully.  I adore the finish, not too matte, not too shiny, it's a really lovely foundation.

That said, it's lasting power is merely average, I do find that it really needs either a good re-powdering around 3pm (I tend to apply around 6.30, 7am, though, which is actually around 8 hours wear) or a little reapplication.

This is a definite re-buy for me, I like it a great deal more than my Chanel Pro-Lumiere, as it feels a lot lighter on the skin, and doesn't appear to oxidise very much - if at all.

What's been a great foundation find for you recently?

The Fine Print: I bought this.  I was actually looking for the new Guerlain palettes, but they're not available till the first week of September, dammit!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Review - Halston Woman Amber

This, gentle reader, is the perfume release I've been waiting for.  The fact that I didn't know anything about it until two weeks ago is neither here nor there.

If you've read any of my perfume reviews lately, you'll know that I've been disappointed with all the fruity/woodsy/musky SWEET perfumes I've been sniffing over the last couple of weeks, and have been longing to smell something a little more grown up.  This has been the perfect antidote to perfume generic-itis this summer.

On first sniff, it smells deliciously of aldehydes (those artificial notes that smell of "perfume", instead of specific ingredients, think Chanel No19, but softer and rounder), notifying you from the very start that this is not a perfume for those who like their perfumes to scream of fruit. Or soap.  Allegedly, there is mandarin and redcurrant in the top notes, but I don't get them, there's a slight citrus note under the aldehyde, but it's not as sharp as one would expect. It's dry, rather than sharp, like a Campari, rather than a Martini Rosso.  After it's settled on the skin, and the dry, aldehydic notes have died off a little, it's warm and powdery with a hint of tuberose (there are meant to be rose petals in there, but it's not floral, not really), and, in the final stretch, there are hints of sweet sandalwood and possibly a touch of musk. Sophisticated ... but I'm not sure it's sexy. MrLippie just mumbles about "nice" when I wear it, but I like it a great deal.

It smells, to me, once again, of the seventies (it is very different to, but reminds me unexpectedly of, untitled by Maison Martin Margiela which I reviewed a few months ago), it's an exceptionally feminine perfume without being in anyway girly, flowery, fruity, or sweet, likewise, it doesn't patronise the wearer by trying to be the definition of femininity, for which we should all be truly thankful.

Halston Woman Amber is exclusively available from Harrods and costs from £65.

The Fine Print: Sample arrived unrequested, but very welcome.  You will all please notice that I have not mentioned how the bottle looks like a winky.  Thank you.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Review Roundup!

Even if I do say it myself, living in Get Lippie headquarters does have some advantages for the poor harrassed girlies who have to put up with some of my less savoury habits.  Recently, I gave my glamorous housemate Kerry (you may remember her from this makeover) a bag of bits and pieces and asked her for her thoughts.  Here's what she came up with:

Anne Semonin Global anti-aging cream

A £130 face cream.  This is exciting stuff!!  When I was generously asked to try this by the gorgeous Ms. Lippie I must admit I wondered what amazing things would happen when this was applied.  Skin like Angelina Jolie surely?!!.  So I set about slapping this on religiously every morning & evening… :o)

The product comes in a very smart silver lidded pot, quite scientific looking but definitely dressing table friendly.  It smells a little unusual for a face cream – sort of milky sweet.  And actually when I first dipped a finger in the pot, the texture reminded me of a lovely smooth vanilla yoghurt, which I found quite pleasant.  I hasten to add though that it doesn’t actually smell like one!!

When I applied it (to freshly washed skin) it felt nice and smooth.  It doesn’t sink in very quickly and after a few moments of massaging it into my skin it started to feel a little tacky and sticky.  I did  briefly worry that it wouldn’t actually sink in well enough and I would be left with a sticky face but after a few seconds more it was absolutely fine.  Although, I would still leave it 5 mins before trying top apply anything over the top.

After 10 mins my face felt very well moisturised and very lovely and plump, and I think this would be great on drier skins.  I am quite willing to believe it would plump up those lines and wrinkles.

However, despite being described as for all skin types, my confused skin (like combination skin types – but, well, more confused), found it a little too heavy and eventually even started to break out.  So, unfortunately, I will not get to find out whether I could have ever had that A-list skin…

One other note.  It doesn’t appear to contain an SPF, which for most people these days, especially those looking for an anti-aging product is a must.  Perhaps you could use it as night cream only.
Orly Nail lacquer - Shade: Lola
I have only good things to say about this gorgeous nail polish!!  I have only had the pleasure of trying this once before, whilst having a manicure at a well known spa, who have unfortunately now developed their own range.  Since then I have found it quite hard to get hold of so this is the first bottle I have owned.  Well actually, I swiped 2 bottles given the opportunity and a couple of cocktails…  but that’s our little secret… ;o)

Firstly, the colour ‘Lola’ is gorgeous.  A bright corally pink.  Coral colours are in fashion apparently if you are in the know about these things… :o)

The polish is great to apply.  This is due to several factors: A good texture with no gloopyness but gives good even coverage, a slim brush which doesn’t pick up too much product and has a nice rounded end to give a nice shape at the base of the nail.  And most of all, I absolutely love it’s rubberised lid which gives brilliant control over the brush and is comfortable to hold (with no cramp from trying to grip the lid too hard).

I applied a base cost, two coats of polish and a top coat.  The first coat gives a good coverage but for a strong colour like this you still definitely need two coats.

The varnish dries quickly and with a fast dry top coat I was good to go (touch dry) in a minute or two (please note this was not scientifically timed…)

I have only applied the polish this afternoon so I can’t report on it’s staying power yet.  I seem to remember that it had chipped by the day after at the spa.  But I was at a spa (swimming pool, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi… back in the pool… you get my drift).  It was tough (for the nail polish, not for me) so I’m not sure any polish would stand up well in those conditions.

I have my eye on several other colours so please Orly start selling these where I can buy them…

Dirty Works Get set go – mini luxuries

This is a cute little miniatures set containing a 100ml each of body wash, body scrub & body lotion, all in pastel blue and yellow, spotty or stripy bottles, with the obligatory glamorous girl on the bottle.

The whole set smells basically of shea butter.  I’m not a fan of this smell and find it a little sickly, but it’s not overpowering, so if you like that smell it would be fine.

I took the set to the gym with me to try out.

The ‘all of a lather’ body wash is a straightforward shower gel.  It doesn’t lather up particularly well so it doesn’t feel that luxurious.  It also doesn’t feel particularly moisturising.  But I smelt clean & fresh afterwards so I think it did a perfectly good job for a body wash…

The ‘buff your stuff’ body scrub is based in oil (sweet almond oil), which made me nervous as I find oil based scrubs can leave a greasy residue on my skin and leave me feeling like I need another shower.  But actually it washed away quite cleanly.  It exfoliated well, but the sugar is a little scratchy.  Also, all of the sugar had sunk to the bottom of the bottle, so the first few handfuls were just oil.  I had to give it a good shake!

The ‘bare necessity ‘body lotion was my favourite of the set.  It has a nice creamy texture, a light smell and sank in quickly, leaving me able to get dressed straight away without feeling at all greasy.

All in all, it is a cute looking, functional little set in the perfect size bottles for a gym bag or a weekend away.

Melvita Face Cleansing Foam (anti-pollution care) & Eye Contour Gel

The face wash is really a very pleasant product to use.  I have been using it after the gym in the mornings for a few weeks now… 

It is essentially a face wash and needs to be applied to a damp face and then rinsed off with water.

It was a bit of a surprise when it came out as a light foam (it does say that on the bottle, so it shouldn’t have been really!) and then disappeared quite rapidly when I applied it to my face.  I am used to using much thicker feeling face washes.  Especially after the gym, I want something that feels like it washes all the muck and grime away properly.  Once I got used to the texture though, I really enjoyed using it.

The foam smells fresh and herbal and it left my skin feeling clean, but without any hint of dryness or tightness that you can get with a lot of face washes.  And I will certainly keep using it to the end of the bottle.

The eye gel is for bags, shadows and wrinkles.  I am lucky enough not to really suffer from any of these things (apart from the odd laughter line developing in a bad light) so it is difficult to say how much effect the gel had on these.  However, I suspect it is too light to have any meaningful effect on existing wrinkles.

It is a lovely light textured gel, which feels refreshing and lightly moisturising with a very light neutral scent.  It sinks in well with no greasy feeling and can be massaged around the eye for a few seconds before it does to de-puff. (like the magazines tell you :o))

The skin around my eyes did feel slightly tighter after using, so it may well be good for keeping the bags at bay.  And perhaps I will keep using it, just in case it can work a little bit of magic on those crows feet…

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Review - Thierry Mugler Womanity

Caviar.  It's always the first thing that occurs to you when you think of how a woman smells, isn't it? No?  Well, in spite of it's much touted "figs'n'caviar" reputation, it won't be the first thing you think about when you sniff Womanity, either, don't worry.  Neither will figs, actually, but more about that later.

The first thing I think about when I smell Womanity is, oddly, pink grapefuits and sawdust.  Womanity definitely opens with fruit, pink fruits, berries, and hints of citrus, then dries down a little to a sweeter, creamier scent, then eventually settles into a woody skin-scent that stays a lot closer to you than you'd expect from it's rather loud opening.

The caviar note is only really around in the perfumes mid-stages, there's no real hint of fish (genuinely), but there is an odd, salty note that kind of sits above the fruity scent.  It's not unpleasant - in fact, in itself, it's rather intriguing, and impossible to place - but ... I'm not sure it works.  On a scent strip, the fragrance never really dries down to get to the woodsy finish, and the odd, salty note stays pretty strident throughout.  On the skin it does eventually settle, but for me, it's just a note that the perfume doesn't quite need. 

I think the effort to include a salty, and truly savoury note into a feminine perfume is an interesting one, but I'm not sure it works over what is, to be frank, a fairly generic fruity base. The bathing products (shower gel and body lotion) work don't include the caviar accord, and - interestingly - work all the better for it.  The body lotion in particular is a refreshing grapefruit and berry scent, and is quite refreshing as a result, an excellent, albeit inoffensive summer-time scent.

I've not mentioned the fig, as in all the various guises of this perfume, I couldn't pick up the scent at all.  I'm a huge fan of Philosykos from Diptyque (one of my two go-to summer fragrances) and I was disappointed that Womanity didn't live up to its figgy promise. I think if the scent had been greener, less pink with fruit, and more laden with mystery, rather than trying to be a mishmash of opposites (Figs! Caviar! Salt! Fruit!), for me, it might have worked better.  I'll be keeping the bathing products in my routine though, as without the caviar, they're really lovely. And I like the bottle, I think it's a thing of beauty, refillable too.

I suspect, actually, that this will be a big hit with those who love their fruity perfumes.  As fruity/woodsy scents go, this isn't a bad one, and I think if you like that sort of thing, you'll love this.  It's just not me.  I like my perfume to become part of my smell, rather than people being able to say "you smell of  ... <insert random name of food item here>".  It'll probably sell by the bucketload, as it's definitely a great perfume if you like that sort of thing.

I'm not even going to mention the name, mmmkay?  Or the migraine of a website. So there.

The Fine Print: Samples were provided for review. Sorry Thierry! If you've made it this far, and would like to try the perfume for yourself, then the first two people to email me with their shipping address will be sent sample sizes of all three products mentioned in this review.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Review - Giorgio Armani Face Fabric Foundation

This review alongside this one finally made me take the plunge into buying a Giorgio Armani foundation.  I adore my Blushing Fabric blushers, so when I was in Selfridges lately, I thought I'd complete the set.

A 40ml tube will set you back £29 which is fairly expensive, but you use so little that I estimate that the tube will last quite a while.  It's not a full-coverage foundation, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's meant to echo how real skin looks, for a "makeupLESS" look.  It's a thick mousse-y style foundation, but it's whisper-light on the face. Here's how it appears on my skin - compared to how my skin looks without help (for which I apologise, please don't look too hard at my pores in the pic at left, thank you):

As you can see, it smoothes out my skin tone, makes it look, well, less pink. I find it adds a softly "powdered" effect to my skin, but on really hot days, it does have a tendency to disappear fairly quickly, and, because of it's light coverage, I find it's better for "good skin" days.  But, I LOVE this foundation beyond all reasonableness in spite of that. Why?  Because it's chock-full of silicones, and it makes my pores disappear when I'm wearing it.  Seriously, click on the picture above to enlarge it, if you don't believe me.  Just, you know, don't say you weren't warned.  If I need a heavier coverage, I layer it over my beloved Bobbi Brown Tinted Moisturising Balm, which gives this just a little more "oomph".

Of course, if you're at all sensitive to silicones then this is most definitely not the foundation for you, but if you're looking for a light-coverage foundation which will negate the need for a primer, then this is one of the best you'll find. It comes in 8 shades, (I'm shade two), but the coverage is so light and "realistic" that an exact match with this foundation isn't as important as it might be with full coverage foundations.

Giorgio Armani cosmetics are available from Selfridges.

The Fine Print: I bought this.  And I'd do it again, I tell you.  AGAIN!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Review - Summerlicious at The Chapel, Islington

At times, I'm truly reminded that mine is a somewhat charmed life. Recently, I spent the most delightful four hours in the company of Billie, Kay and Kim at the Chapel Hair salon in Islington, and was made to feel so much at home, that I didn't really want to leave.

Having read up a little before my visit about the "trend-setting" owners Billie Crago and Georgia Denton, discovering that the salon has won at least five "Salon of the Year" awards, and reading about how "cool" the design of the salon itself was, I don't think I can be blamed for being a little apprehensive about my upcoming appointment.  Add in the fact that on the day itself I was running a little late for my appointment, I was expecting a sniffy reception at the very least.  I could not have been more delightfully put wrong, from the super-friendly receptionist who set me up with a drink and a gratefully received Tunnocks teacake, to my colourist Billlie, my stylist Kim, and my mani/pedi diva Kay, everyone was friendly, relaxed, chatty, and a joy to spend the afternoon with.

I was there to trial their "Summerlicious" offering, which aims to get you ready for your holidays, or just get you all spruced up for the warmer weather. For a special price of £200, Summerlicious includes the salon's signature "floating" highlights, a pedicure, manicure, a makeup consultation and, of course a cut and blowdry.  On arrival, you're whisked into the consultation area (above), for a chat about your likes, dislikes, skintone, hair requirements (mine was, deal with the madness, and make me look less dull, please), and colour requests for nail polishes, and just general chitchat about how the salon works.

Once all that's decided, your summerlicious appointment starts with your pedicure. These take place in the dedicated colour room, which is in the basement of the salon.  Equipped with sofas, footrests, and a fireplace, it's a wonderful little cave to rest and relax in.  Kay, the salon's beauty person, is simply an amazing therapist, chatty and friendly, with an astonishing knowledge of brands and products, talking to her was a joy, so much so that I almost forgot she was playing with my feet.  You regular readers will all know how I feel about feet, so I won't go on about it here again, but suffice it to say that Kay took all my quirks into account and this was probably the pedicure that's had the least amount of flinching and wincing (on my behalf!) as a result.  The salon use Leighton Denny manicure products, and my toes were painted a fetching milky coral-peach shade called Just Perfect.  It is.

Billie was taking care of my colour, which basically meant taking care of my grey roots - I've been greying since I was 18, and I find it infuriating - and then using her signature "floating" highlight technique to do the rest.  This technique is great for darker hair, as the lights start further down the hair (slightly away from the scalp) therefore minimising regrowth, avoiding totally that attractive stripy look on your parting, and just imparting a sunkissed glow towards the ends of your hair.  Aimed at mimicking a natural sun-bleached effect, they're far less obvious than traditional highlights, and less high maintenance as a result.  Billie very clearly knows her stuff, and was happy to talk all through the technical aspects of the treatments of the salon, and her passion for her craft was apparent at all times (ask her about her head collection!).  While Billie was applying the colour, Kay was painting my fingernails, and it was also obvious that these people are a real team who enjoy working together a great deal.

Once your nails are painted, and your highlights are in place, you're led to a sofa by the fireplace with a glass of wine and a magazine whilst your colour is developing. Most relaxing, and much better than being left in front of the mirror to stare blankly at yourself.  Billie had prescribed a particular "Chemistry" moisturising treatment for my hair type once the highlights were rinsed off, which has left me with silkysoft hair, and I was off to see Kim for my cut.  Kim has curly hair herself, so I knew I was in safe hands, during my consultation I'd noticed that Kim understood my concerns with my "mad" hair completely, and so I was happy to just leave her to the cutting whilst I was chatting to Kay again about summer makeup trends (which is again, all part of the service) She also gave me a great blowdry, bouncy and full without being too bouffant.

Even after four hours in the salon, all too soon it was time to leave, but all good things come to an end, I guess. Admittedly I was leaving a lot more relaxed - and groomed! - than I was when I arrived, which is always good thing, bearing in mind my natural state of being!

So-so things about The Chapel:
The name Summerlicious.  It's a simply amazing offer, but the name makes it sound a bit cheesy.

Good things about The Chapel:
Lockers for your bags, a simple, but absolutely brilliant idea.
Keys for said lockers on bracelets so you don't lose them.
The salon itself is beautiful but not at all intimidating when you're in there. Make sure you check out the Hollywood bathroom ...

Great things about The Chapel:
The staff.
The service.
The pricing structure - for all hair services, you are charged by the hour, no matter what you're having done, you have a consultation before hand (free) and you're told how long it will take, plus if your service doesn't take the whole time, you pay less.
Summerlicious itself.  An utter bargain, and a real treat!

Oh yeah, the traditional look at my hair (this is a couple of days later, and all styling errors are my responsibility as a result):

Summerlicious costs £200 and takes approximately 3.5 to 4 hours.  The offer is running till September, so book it quickly! You can have a look at the Chapel website here, and their blog is here.

The Fine Print: Get Lippie was invited along as a guest of the salon, for review purposes.  I really have to stop talking about my mad barnet, as I suspect I'm on some sort of "insane" hair marketing list and that's how people find me.


Monday, 19 July 2010

Review - Clarisonic (First Thoughts)

Ever since I read Gemma's Clarisonic Diaries posts about her experiences of using a handset for a month over on London Beauty Review a while ago, I've wanted one of these sonic beauties!  A couple of weeks ago though, this desire was cemented by the amazingly talented Jody Bloch at the Fern Skin Clinic, who told me that a Clarisonic would definitely help me with some dry skin issues I've been suffering from lately.

It took me a little while to get my hands on one, but I finally have one in my sticky little paws, and, after a week of use, I thought it might be interesting to get some thoughts down about how using a giant toothbrush Clarisonic to clean my face has been.

Here is what Clarisonic claim for themselves (from the Clarisonic website):

Benefits beyond just clean skin: Clarisonic improves the appearance of skin tone and reduces the appearance of pore size

Clarisonic is the sonic technology proven to gently yet effectively loosen dirt and oil to clear your pores. The Clarisonic Cleansing System uses a patented sonic frequency of more than 300 movements per second to clean, soften and smooth your skin. In just 60 seconds a day, the Clarisonic micro-massage action cleans more than twice as effectively as manual cleansing.

Clarisonic Sonic Cleansing Benefits

  • Removes 6x more makeup than manual cleansing
  • Leaves skin feeling and looking smoother
  • Cleanses so well that products absorb better
  • Gentle enough for twice daily use
  • Helps reduce oily areas, dry skin patches and blemishes
  • Helps reduce the appearance of visible pores
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles 
I've been using mine twice a day for the last week, with an old favourite cleanser (Nude's Facial Cleansing Oil), and, I have to say, I've been astonished at how much I love using this thing. Essentially, you apply your cleanser to your damp skin, then, after wetting the brush head with warm water, you move it in small circles over your skin, moving to different parts of the face when the handset beeps.  Once the brush turns itself off, I usually go over my skin with a warm facecloth and remove any last traces of cleanser that are left behind, and give myself a little steam-treatment too.
So, how have I found it? Well, after my operation, I'd been quite openly complaining about my dull, grey, flaky skin, which not even my usual hot-cloth method of skin-cleansing had been able to shift.  In addition, I've been "suffering" from a constant patch of dry, flaky skin on my forehead for a matter of months that has been driving me bananas - it was diagnosed by a couple of people recently as "lipid dryness", meaning that oil wasn't able to penetrate beyond the most superficial layer of my skin.  From the first use, Clarisonic has helped with both of those problems. 

My dry patch has disappeared, and my skin has been uniformly more even in tone, and it's soft. So soft that it feels like velvet!  I do find that my skin most definitely feels a lot cleaner when I use the handset, and from the first use (for me), it's been a bit of a revelation. I've also found that I don't need to exfoliate at all.  Astonishing.  Astonishing enough for me to actually look forward to cleansing my face as a result!
Now, has my skin been visibly changed for the better?  I can't in all honesty say so.  Yet.  MrLippie hasn't noticed any difference in my skin (then again, he'd only really notice a change in my skintone if I suddenly dyed it to match his London Irish rugby shirt, to be honest).  Skin creams certainly seem to sink in better after using it, and  I think this might be raising their efficiency slightly.  Oils, in particular just seem to vanish into my face with only the bare minimum of massaging, and my skin has been brighter as a result.  The main skin oil that I'm using at the moment is Liz Earle's Superskin concentrate, by the way, I just adore the neroli-scent as a night treatment.

Things I don't like: it takes a long time to charge - when it first arrives, you have to charge it for 24 hours before you can use it, and, I've found it can be tricky trying to change the programming.  It has three speeds, which are very easy to sort out, but moving it from a 1 minute timed setting, to a 2 minute timed setting or a setting without a timer can be difficult.  So difficult, in fact, that mine appears to be stuck on the 2 minute timer, and I can't, for the life of me, figure out how to get it back onto a one minute timer!  This is eating up my battery life, which ties back into my point about it taking a long time to charge! It's also on the pricey side, coming in at £150 for a face-only version, or £175 for a face and body unit. You can pick one up from Selfridges, Harrods, or SpaceNK.  That said though, a course of facials would cost a similar amount, and, this is something that I feel is definitely going to make a big change to  my routine, so, on a cost per use basis, it actually works out pretty cheap.  I've always believed that getting your cleansing right is the key to any skin routine, and, well this is a big step along that route.

Overall, I'm exceptionally impressed, and I'm looking forward to seeing if the coming weeks bring any differences to my face that other people can notice ...

The Fine Print: Unit was accidentally provided for review purposes.  Long story, it involves Selfridges, a champagne cocktail or two, another encounter with me talking WAY too much to Daniel Sandler and some lightly embarrassed gatecrashing.  Probably best not to ask ...

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Review - Alpha H facial

Yesterday's post was about a blissful spa, so full of relaxation that I genuinely think the treatments - though enjoyable - are entirely secondary to the spa itself.  Today's post is about a spa that's more or less the exact opposite, putting great treatments front and centre, but entirely fabulous nonetheless.

Fern Skin Clinic are the only spa in the country licensed to carry out Alpha H facials, and boy, these people take their facials seriously. I first learned about Alpha H products when they launched on QVC about a decade ago, I was suffering from adult onset acne at the time, and I'd heard that the products were amazing for "troubled" skin.  Sadly, at that time I couldn't afford to buy the products, and by the time I could, I'd solved my acne issues (mainly by swapping away from foaming cleansers, but that's a blog post for another time).  After that, I guess they just kind of dropped off my radar, after all, my skin was no longer "troubled".

Fast forward a few years to a chance meeting with the people behind the brand recently and I was put right,  Alpha H is actually suitable for everyone, and has great results for both troubled and "less troubled" skin.  I was offered a facial so I could out some of their claims to the test.  I trotted off for a facial with Jody Bloch at the aforementioned Fern Clinic, and put my face on the line.  Honestly, the things I do for you people ...

The clinic is clean, modern, a little stark, but no less relaxing a space for that, beds are comfortable, and the staff are warm, friendly, and very, very professional. After filling in an exceptionally thorough medical form, Jody chatted to me about my skin, my concerns and put together a personalised facial prescription for me.

Now, I have to say that these facials are very results-oriented, if you're expecting a couple of passes with a cleanser, and a relaxing massage, you're going to be very surprised disappointed. After two cleansings (one with a Clarisonic, more about which tomorrow), a pineapple and papaya enzyme mask was applied and my face was wrapped in clingfilm.  Yes, really.  Then, after a thorough massage with an age delay oil, it was onto extractions.  This HURT.  Seriously, imagine someone digging around the pores of your nose with a safety pin, that's what it feels like.  But, oh! The results! Then, a calming and soothing mask, a wonderful hand and arm massage, and my face was ready to face a moisturiser.

And what a face I ended up with!  Well, obviously it was the same face I went in with, but you know what I mean ... I'd expected red blotchiness and greasy splots of nastiness (yes, ******  facials, I'm looking at you, £150, and left looking like I'd spent 90 minutes rubbing myself with a block of nettle-studded lard), but what looked back at me was rosy glowing plumpness and smoothness.  I went without foundation for the best part of a week after (seriously unheard of for me), and spent several days marvelling at my temporary state of porelessness.

I'm seriously considering going back every week from now until the end of time. I've just bought a selection of Alpha H products as a result of the facial - I should make it clear that no one at the clinic pushed me to buy them at the time, something I always appreciate - and I'm looking forward to them arriving so I can use them for myself!

Products used:
Balancing Cleanser
Micro Cleanse
Pineapple & Papaya Enzyme Mask
Age Delay Oil
Calming & Soothing Mask
Balancing Moisturiser

I've heard good things about their moisturiser with factor 50+ sunscreen too, from no less than Lisa Eldridge, so I'm going to be tracking down a bottle of that very soon ... Alpha H products are available from Beauty Expert, QVC and HQ Hair

The Fine Print: Get Lippie was invited to Fern Skin Clinic as a guest of Alpha H.  That all sounds so fancy, dunnit?  I have since, however, bought my not inconsiderable bodyweight in products.  They're *that* good.  Full review as and when I get around to it.

Friday, 25 June 2010

He's Baaaaaaack!

Yes, MrLippie is back reviewing again.  And I think he may have been drinking! Take a look at his latest post over on Ape to Gentleman, and don't forget to let him know what you think.  All the filth in the final paragraph has nothing to do with me, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  So there.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Review - Andrew Barton Salon Covent Garden

I've been a bit obsessed with hair this year, I can't deny it. I've had four visits to different salons since Christmas (which is at least three more than usual, I'm notorious for leaving it far too long between visits), and, hand on heart, there's only one of them I'd definitely go back to.  And that is this one.

I was invited along for a pre-birthday hair makeover by the Andrew Barton team last week - in spite of all my other salon visits recently, it can't be denied that I've been in a bit of a hair rut the last year or two - and I was delighted to pop along to see what they could do.  If the name seems familiar to you, that will be because Andrew Barton himself is the hair stylist responsible for those amazing transformations you see on Ten Years Younger.  Unfortunately, Andrew wasn't available on the day of my visit, but I was left in the more than capable hands of Tracey and Declan, and neither myself nor my hair have any complaints about it!

The salon itself is monochromatically decorated, with hints of wit - have to say I adored the flock wallpaper with the dog silhouettes all over it -  being a fan of the monochrome, I felt right at home! I found the salon quite restful, and it was nice to have a little respite from the pounding dance music that a lot of salons pour into your ears in order to make your visit appear cool'n'trendy.  Prior to my appointment, I'd attended a consultation with Declan and had a colour test (the salon only uses Redken products, and I hadn't had a colour with Redken products for a while) to ensure I wasn't allergic to anything.  Declan and I had a good chat about the state of my hair (back to it's usual insanity), and my attitude towards styling (non-existant). Declan took all of this in his stride, and suggested a style that works with my hairs own natural tendencies, and also discussed some colouring options.

On the day itself, I was delighted to be recognised by other staff members who I'd chatted to briefly during my consultation visit, and was gratified to see that Declan, my stylist, and Tracey, my colourist, (who hadn't been available on the consult day) had obviously chatted about my requirements in the meantime - or if they hadn't, they were remarkably in tune with one another! - we decided to not change my colour too drastically, but even up the ends and the roots, and add in a few subtle highlights to break up the colour around the front.  There was nothing drastically wrong with the colour as previously done, but I'd been aware that my hair was looking rather "block-y" and heavy recently, and I wanted to add some movement.  Both Tracey and Declan got what I was trying to explain right away, and I have to say that they are both extremely talented at taking some vague, mumbled instructions about "boringness" and "heaviness" and taking on board both appropriateness for lifestyle, and appearance, and turning that into a hairstyle.

Staff were friendly, professional, and very easy to chat to, there was no pretentiousness, snootiness or patronising of the clients, all things other salons are occasionally guilty of (sometimes all three in one go, with an added side order of rubbishness. I'm naming no names, but this post might remind you of how annoying any and all of those things are).  It's the small touches that make a salon friendly, and re-visitable, and the Andrew Barton salon has these in spades.  Everyone took a turn in manning reception, anyone and everyone offered to make drinks, and I noticed all of the team taking their turn in cleaning up after themselves too, it was nice not to see a stressed out "junior" doing all the donkey-work.  Most importantly, these guys seem like a team, one who genuinely enjoy working together and, after a few disappointing and/or stressful visits to salons this year, it was a refreshing delight to see and be part of.

As for my hair, well, I love it. It's a bit darker than I anticipated (considering I had highlights!), and a little shorter than I was expecting after the consult, but both the cut and the colour work very well, it's very shiny, and just it feels so much lighter and bouncier, it's almost like a new head of hair! It's garnered lots of compliments, so, sometimes, I guess it's okay to just trust the stylist. You just need to pick your stylist carefully ...  

Andrew Barton isn't a cheap salon - although considering the location, it's reasonable in context. Colour services start from £60 and go up to around £170 dependent on both the service requested, and the technical level of your stylist.  Ask for Tracey and Declan, tell them I said hello.  And warn them that I'll be back.

The Fine Print: Service was provided free of charge as a pre-birthday review opportunity. I'll pay next time though, you betcha.  And I'll be stealing that wallpaper. And possibly one of the backwash chairs. All pictures in this post - aside from the one of my ugly mug - were shamelessly stolen from the Andrew Barton website.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Review - Skin.NY Skincare

Remember this post? I had a little rant about the Utter Drivel that was written on the boxes, then said I'd be trying the creams out for six weeks, so I could see if they would turn me into Ava Gardner overnight.  Well, 28 nights, but you catch my drift ...

Well, I signed up to try them for six weeks, but I am here to announce that I failed. I'm sorry.  I tried, I really did, but I only lasted two weeks. 

The box warns that you might feel a mild tingling sensation when you use it, I never had that, but what I did get as a result of using the cream was worse.  Much worse.  After about ten days, (in which I really did think my skin was softer as a result of using it, even though there were no visible differences), I found my skin was actually getting worse. Greasy, patchy, red, coarse - seriously, my chin and forehead were resembling sandpaper - and my pores (which according to the bumpf should have been refining themselves) were gaping.  And gopping, but never mind. I've also noticed milia under the skin around my eyes, which I've never had before, and it's been quite distressing.

It's possible that I was having some sort of reaction to the cream, so I stopped using it, as there was a risk that I could permanently damage my skin if I kept it in my routine, and no skin care trial is worth that. So, I'm sorry, lovely readers, I stopped using a cream before my self-imposed time-scale was up. I'm very disappointed with myself!  I've gone back to some tried and tested products (including Mir, Pai and Nude) and I've been treating myself with some Clarins as prescribed by the amazing Caroline over at Beautymouth (do you read her yet?  If not, you really, really should, there's nothing she doesn't know about skin, and she's sharing her knowledge with you, so go read her!) and that seems to be helping with the greasiness and the pores, and Avene water spray (as recommended by BritishBeautyBlogger) is helping with the redness. It's the first time in a long time that my skin has reacted in such a way to a cream, but I've been reminded that my skin is pretty sensitive, I guess. It's calmer now, but it's going to be a while before I introduce any new products.

So, er ... yeah. It didn't work for me, but that doesn't mean it won't work for you.  I think, in all honesty, that it was just a bit too rich for my skin - which in a way is good news!  I don't need radical cosmetic intervention! - Will you try? And what symptoms would make you stop using a product?

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Review - Armani Code for Men

Well, it's been a while since he popped up, and I did embarrass him this week by outing his new-found love of candles, so I thought it was time he reviewed something else. Today's post is by my fluffy wuffy bunnykins Mr Lippie.  Please say hello:


I'm not a big wearer of scents, I think we've established that. If you didn't know it from yesterday's post (rolleyes) you certainly know now. However, somehow, I seem to have been landed with a quite nifty bottle of Armani Code, and after the first experimental sniff a couple of weeks ago, I thought I could potentially give it a whirl.

Firstly, a brief look at the packaging - the bottle itself. A very sleek black bottle that curves outwards gently at the base and top, with the brand name fairly discreetly at the base of the bottle. Nice. One minor bit of criticism - the lid, whilst going for the gunmetal grey look, is still, noticeably, plastic. I admit, you don't want to spend lots on a piece of kit that is no doubt going to get dropped, scraped, possibly lost, etc, etc, etc...but it just jars a bit with the look of the rest of the bottle. Still, nevermind, onto the scent itself!

It's....intriguing. And that's not a cop-out, I assure you. It's fresh...but there's a hint of something behind it. The scent, is, I would say, very definitely masculine - not aggressively so, but more subtle. Not quite an old-school James Bond smooth scent, but definitely several leagues above the occasional nasal assaults you find emanating from salesmen. I'd normally say used car salesmen, but, to be fair, the teenage wunderkids you find in mobile phone shops tend to pile it on with little or no regard to whether the customer has an interest in staying concious during the sales pitch. Where was I? Ah yes, the scent. Smelling this puts me in mind of a cocktail bar - not one with a dress code or something, or anything horribly 80s-tastic, but somewhere comfortable, relatively unselfconcious, and with enough presence of mind to keep things low-key and chilled. I like it, basically.

It lasts quite well - I would say a whole morning - and there's still hints of it there, which isn't unpleasant. I'm not sure how much this will retail at, but it looks like it'll last a good 2/3 months, so I would say it's probably a reasonable choice for a gift/impulse buy/attempt to make your boyfriend smell nice/general hint to change his ways...I'll be using it for awhile yet, so I'm sure GetLippie won't have too many objections!

And finally, because I said I would, the summary: 

Less whale bottom, more chilled cocktail bar. And if that doesn't make you like it, what will? ;-)


So there you go.  Armani Code is available from all good perfumeries (trans: department stores) and costs around £43.

The Small Print: Samples were sent for review. But actually, I take no responsibility for the content of this post anyway, as MrL won't wear the stuff when I'm near him.  I suspect he's worried about me trying to re-enact the Denim adverts. That or he drank it.

Monday, 29 March 2010


I bought these just after Christmas for the bargain price of about £15, I love the post-Christmas sales, I think the normal retail price of this little lot is about £30!  There's a double size shower gel, a  full-size body butter and a trial-size handcream.

So, why has it take me till nearly April to review them?  Well, they're just a bit meh.  I've read a lot of raves about the Bliss Spa, and I guess I was expecting miraculous things from their products. 

I have to say that the scent is wonderful, redolent of freshly cut oranges, undercut with the merest hint of spicy white pepper which all makes the shower gel one of the most refreshing ways to wake yourself up in the morning.  Sadly, it's stuffed full of SLS and parabens, and as a result, I find it (a little) irritating on my already-prone-to-dryness shins.  I still use it though, being both a sucker for punishment and slightly addicted to spicy, citrussy scents. It does bubble up nicely, and a little of this on a shower-lily really does go a very long way!

Likewise, the hand cream and body butter are chock-full of parabens too, which is a real shame, it means I can't use them as often as I'd like to because they can make me sting a little bit if I use them too much, or too often.  Lovely lingering scent though.  I've heard tell that the body butter is chock-full of glitter, but if it is, it must be microscopic, because I've not noticed it at all!

Personally, I wouldn't buy these at full price to be honest, there's nothing in there that you can't find in products which are a lot cheaper, and there's a few chemical nasties in there that might irritate more sensitive souls, but if you want a great-smelling refreshing shower experience, and you aren't bothered by the cheap ingredients, you'll love it!

Have you tried Bliss products?  Is there something from the range that you think will change my mind?

Monday, 15 February 2010

Review - Perricone MD Cold Plasma

Oh, bad reviews pain me, they really do ...

At a blogger event recently, we were given a jar each of Perricone MD Cold Plasma cream to take away and try for ourselves.  As it retails for approximately £120 a jar, I was pretty excited to get this, as I knew one of my housemates would adore to try it.

Perricone MD are very proud of this cream, and it's taken them a long time to get it to market.  Now, Perricone make some very strong claims about this product, it targets TEN signs of ageing (why is it that every time a new anti-ageing cream comes out, there are more signs of ageing that it'll work on? Coincidence?) and indeed, it has a patented neuro-peptide delivery system, all of which go toward justifying the high price tag.

So ... does it work? Well, the answer to that is ... dunno.  Here's Helen to give us the skinny:

"One of the good things about sharing a house with Ms Lippie is that lots of goodies arrive for us to try out.  When the call came out for a tester for a £120 face cream – Dr P’s Cold Plasma cream, I leapt at the chance.  I was asked to try it out for a week with a picture to be taken of before and afterwards and then continue for a longer period to see what happens.

First impressions were that it’s a nice package, nothing too garish and a nice glass tub frosted, but quite small.  On opening, the cream is a lovely smooth texture, a pleasant smell and cool to the touch.

I started using it instead of my normal moisturising cream on the Monday.  The cream absorbed well, you didn’t require too much and it left my skin soft and smooth.  It certainly appeared to feed my skin as well as my other moisturising creams do normally. 

However, about an hour later, whilst sitting on the tube on the way to work, I noticed a strange smell. A bit like how your fingers would smell after shelling cooked shrimps.  I thought it could have been one of my fellow travellers and thought nothing more of it.  On the second day I used the cream again, still pleased with the results, pleasant smell in the pot and so on.  An hour later, I noticed the strange smell again, but I was with different travelling companions, so what could it be?  I wiped my face and realised it was coming from me.

This made me have second thoughts about wanting to continue to use the cream.  I don’t want people to think that I ordinarily, or habitually, smell of fish!  I decided to continue to use it in case the results were so good that I could ignore the aroma.  After a week of use, my skin still felt well nourished, and less dry, but not spectacularly enough that the smell faded into the background.

Overall, the cream works well, with as much moisture being absorbed as other creams I have used previously, and if the smell doesn’t appear for you or doesn’t worry you, and you don’t mind paying £120 for a small pot, then this is a worthwhile investment, however for me the smell is just too much to continue with.

So, er, there you have it. Incidentally, Helen was not aware of Perricone's salmon-related ingredients at the time of testing  ...

What's the most you've ever spent on a face-cream?  Did it work? Was it worth the investment?

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Review - Liz Earle

Liz Earle were kind enough to send me some of their products to try out recently, I thought it was about time I had a fresh look at the brand, so was happy to give them the once over.  Here's what I thought of their basic skin-care products.

Cleanse and Polish 

I first tried C&P about 10 years ago, and I remember not loving it then. At the time I was addicted to foaming face-washes and thought that the soft-feeling skin I got after using this eucalyptus-scented cream was "wrong" somehow and gave up using it without really a second thought.

Now though, after spending many years re-educating myself to remove those oil-stripping facial washes from my routine, and using oils to cleanse my face instead, I do like this stuff a great deal.  For the uninitiated,  you spread a glob (scientific term there) of the cream over your face, then use a muslin cloth dipped in hot water to remove it.  I've found it spreads easily, removes even the toughest waterproof mascara and leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth. I'm delighted to have rediscovered it, and will be using it as my go-to cleanser from now on.  Liz Earle was the brand that introduced me to the hot-cloth cleansing method - which I've used in the decade since first using the cream, no matter what cleanser I've used since! - so on some level I owe a great deal to the brand for at least teaching me one good habit!

Instant Boost Skin Tonic 

Okay, it's possible I'm not the best person to review this product, I don't really like the smell, and - if I'm being really honest - I don't, in all honesty think toner is a necessary step in a cleansing routine, particularly if you're already rinsing off your cleanser with water, and a cloth anyway.  But, if you like toners, then it's likely you'll like this one.  It has a herbal scent, and I find it nice and refreshing, but I find that it's just one more step in my routine, and so ... I tend to skip it.  I have put some in an atomiser though, and I find spraying a little over a too-powdery or too-matte foundation helps me stop looking cakey.

Superskin Moisturiser
Oh, how I love this stuff! It's a fragrance-free moisturiser full of ingredients such as borage and pomegranate alongside cranberry seed and rosehip oils.  My winter-parched skin has just been drinking this stuff up over the last month, and it's something I can totally see myself buying again.  I find it leaves my skin silky smooth and velvety, without leaving a greasy film like so many moisturisers geared towards dry skin tend to do. 

I've also been trying a few other products, but I'll bring you reviews on those later.  What do you think of Liz Earle products?  Will you be giving them a try?

Monday, 1 February 2010

Lip of the Day - OCC Lip Tar NSFW

So, I'm back in the land of the lap-topped, and I couldn't be more relieved!  I'll do a more full review of IMATS later (I enjoyed it, but I have some serious reservations about how it was organised, to be honest) but I wanted to show these little babies off, as I think they might be my new very favourite things ...

Here's the skinny: "A stunning new innovation in lip color, OCC Lip Tar combines the longevity of a lipstick, with the ease of application of a gloss. Goes on slick and moist, and dries down to a satin finish. Ultra-saturated in color, OCC Lip Tar contains an unprecedented amount of pigment, so a little goes a very, very long way."

They're not kidding, to get full-lip coverage, you need only the very tiniest amount, seriously!  One thing you do not do when applying these is squeeze the tube ... you'll regret it!  You get seriously opaque lip coverage in one coat, and a lovely sheen when you apply too, but it is best to use a brush.  Here's how they look on the skin:


Sorry it's out of focus there, but you get a good idea of the colours, I bought Feathered, Katricia and Petty Beige for mixing purposes, I doubt they're colours I could ever wear, but I'm looking forward to trying out Safety Orange!  In case you're in any doubt how far these go, before I removed the swatches, I mixed them all together to see what I got:
Surprisingly not bad, I think I'll call this shade Sunburn!  It could have gone a lot further, but I feared I'd be stained all the way up to the elbows, and that's not a good look.
I wore NSFW with just a hint of mascara yesterday, I really, really like this shade, and how it feels on my lips, the product is totally weightless and not at all greasy (unlike say, Rouge Volupte - sorry, I really don't understand the fuss about those!), and lasts surprisingly well.  The really good thing about the application is that if it starts to wear off, you can just press your lips together a little and the colour will replenish itself a little from the movement.

This is how NSFW looks on the lips:


Please excuse my lips looking a little chapped there, if you've been following me on Twitter you'll know I've not been well for the last few days, and I've been chewing my lips in a slightly distracted fashion.

Do you have any Lip Tars? How do you wear them?

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