Beauty Without Fuss

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Nail of the Day - China Glaze Emerald FItzgerald

Another beauty from the Vintage Vixens collection, this one:

A deep, dark glassy green that doesn't appear black on the nails, I adore this shade. It's not - quite - a Christmassy green, but rather it reminds me of an expensive car paint job.  I was worried it would give me lobster hands, but luckily, it doesn't!

Picture shows two coats over China Glaze sticky base coat, and no topcoat, as I used China Glaze drying drops to finish it off, I like them because they don't shrink the polish beneath as with Seche Vite, and they smell of wintergreen, which makes a nice change for a nail product!

Wear is incredible.  I wore this polish whilst building half of Ikea's finest furniture over the weekend and only had to replace the polish on one nail that I broke when I was messing about with a claw hammer.  Tools are not toys, people!

I found this bottle all alone on a shelf at my local Sally's and had to give it a home. I picked up most of the rest of the Vintage Vixen collection at a trade show a few months ago, and had somehow overlooked this one.  I think it cost me about £4.  Bargain!

Monday 29 November 2010

Browhaus Lashes in Bloom - Eyelash Extensions

So impressed was I with my initial visit to Browhaus, that I recently went back at my own expense and got myself kitted out with some eyelash extensions.

Browhaus will do your lashes to your exact specification, natural, full, curly, long, however you want them!  I asked for full-on dramatic lashes, hoping to replicate the effect I always want from mascaras and am always disappointed with not achieving!  I love the effect they achieved, and I'll be honest, I'm beginning to wonder how I'll live without them!

The process isn't that difficult, but it is pretty time consuming.  Your lower eyelashes are taped down (to avoid them getting stuck to the glue they use on the upper lashes), and individual lashes are glued to your own lashes.  I opted for individual lashes, but they do have an "express" service, which uses clusters of fake lashes to speed the process up a little.

I actually found the process - once the taping was sorted - very relaxing, and as the heated beds are so comfortable at Browhaus, I did find myself dropping off to sleep once or twice!

Things you need to know:

You will need to change your cleansing routine, oil free eye make up removers, and avoid the soaking the lashes - I use Amie Eye Makeup Remover, on a cotton bud.

Do not use mascara.  Anything oil or wax-based on the lashes will soften the bonds of the glue, and cause your new lashes to fall out.

Your new lashes are not made of hair, and will take a day or two to get used to, they're more stiff than natural lashes, and you might find that you can see more of them than you do your natural lashes.  Try not to fiddle with them!

Try not to put your new lashes directly under the spray of the shower, again the hot water will loosen the bonds.

Your new lashes will fall out with the natural growth of your own lashes underneath.  This is perfectly normal, and nothing to worry about, but you can expect to need to have your lashes filled in slightly every 2-4 weeks, depending on your natural rate of growth. Infills at Browhaus cost just £10.

I had a few problems during my first week with some of the lashes on my right eye dropping off for no good reason, but Browhaus offer a service where if you have any problems whatsoever during the initial seven days then you can go back to the store and have them fixed/altered/infilled or even removed for free.  I went back and got mine infilled after a week, and have had no problems since.

Lash in Bloom eyelash extensions normally cost £58, but currently there is a special offer at Browhaus where you can get extensions and eyebrow threading together for just £45, which is a bargain in anyone's book!

I love 'em!

Sunday 28 November 2010

Sparkle And Shade

The always lovely Emily over at Sparkle & Shade asked me to take part in her "Inspirational Interviews" series this weekend.  I was very flattered - and amused - to be asked to take part, and loved answering the questions!

You can see what I had to say for myself here: Sparkle & Shade's Inspirational Interview

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Christmas Countdown - Bits and bobs

Continuing my Christmas gift guide, here are some other bits and bobs that I thought might make great gifts for people (including me!).

First of all, one of the more prettily packaged palettes I've seen this season:

Dior Minaudiere

I actually bought one of these for my mum last week, having seen it on a variety of US blogs recently, but if you follow me on Twitter at all, you'll know it was stolen from me when I was mugged last week.  I'm fine, but I'm still heartbroken that I lost this.  Containing three toning eyeshadows and two lipglosses, these are destined to be a collectors item of the future, I think.  They cost £59 from Debenhams, and are well worth the investment, just tuck the Dior bag well away in your shopping!

Jonathan Ward Candles

I mention Jonathan at any possible opportunity, I realise, but for me, his really have become the standard against which I measure all candles.  Clean burning, organic, lovingly presented and always gloriously scented, Jonathan's candles are extremely difficult to beat.  In particular at the moment I'm enjoying the Amber & Spice collection, of which I cleared Wholefoods out of almost its entire stock, recently!  Even the £20 "gift size" candle burns for an extremely long time, and doesn't look at all miserly. Very highly recommended indeed.

Incidentally, Tom Ford has recently introduced a range of candles based on his Private Blend Collection of scents, and I think the Tuscan Leather would be a great addition to my candle wall!

Affordable makeup-wise, ELF makeup is difficult to beat and they've brought out a lovely range of eyeshadow sets for Christmas this year:

I've got my hands on a couple of these sets already, and I think they're astonishing value at £3.50 for the sets of six shadows, to £9 for a set of 32, to £15 for a set of 100!  I adore their Studio line of brushes too, and think that a lot of pro lines will find it hard to compete with their quality at only £3.50 each.

And finally - it's not beauty related, I know, but this IS a beauty, believe you me! - there is this:

Yes, it's a filofax, but to be precise it is the Filofax Gourmet Society giftbox, which contains an organiser (in either the grape that you see here, or Slate Grey), a pen, and a year's membership to the Gourmet Society which gets you up to 50% in thousands of restaurants around the UK.  I was the lucky recipient of one of these a couple of weeks ago, and it has been in daily use ever since, I can't imagine life without it.  This normally retails at £43 (and is a bargain even then, as the Gourmet Society membership alone costs more than that) but is currently on special offer on the filofax website at £38.  I know at least three people who'd love one of these, and probably more!

So, that's it for my Christmas gift guide (for now), I may add to it later ... what are you thinking of getting people?

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Christmas Countdown - Hair

Continuing the gift guide theme for this week, I've moved onto gifts for hair.  Truly, for me, there are only two contenders this year, and they're expensive, admittedly, so hold onto your hats ...

Cloud Nine The O - Gift of Volume.

Coming in at a whopping £199, this is an amazing gift.  I first saw TheO way back in June, and was astonished at the technology on display.  Essentially, TheO is a set of heated rollers, but with a big difference, the round base you see at the back there remains cool, and the rollers are popped into it one by one to heat up, which takes approximately exactly four seconds per roller.  I've not seen anything like it, and this pack which contains TheO, three sets of rollers (normally bought separately) a carrying case and a bottle of amplifying spray is actually good value.  TheO normally retails at £149 alone.  I'm actually trialling one of these at the moment, so look out for a full review very soon.

And now you've seen that, feast your eyes on this:

GHD Midnight Deluxe Set

I've seen this in the flesh, and I think that hands down this is one of the most beautifully packaged gift sets I've laid eyes on this year.  Presented in a gorgeous taffeta-covered trinket box, the set contains a travel hair-dryer, sectioning clips, a gorgeous little mirror, a heat-resistant carry case (which rolls out into a mat during use) for the - also included  - new GHD "Gold" styler.  This new styler promises smoother gliding over the hair and cooler handles. At a cost of £149, I think anyone would be delighted when unwrapping this, me included!

The Fine Print: Again, links provided for information purposes only, and are not affliate links.

Monday 22 November 2010

Christmas Countdown - Gift sets

This week, I'm mainly going to be showing you a mixture of stuff I'm getting for people for Christmas, and the odd piece of random stuff that I want for Christmas myself ...

For Him:
Neals Yard Smooth gift set:

Yes, I'm starting of with a present for a male, I thought why not?  Costing £27, this set includes face wash, moisturiser, body wash and shaving cream, and is an ideal way to introduce organic and natural products to the men in your life.  The smell isn't too overwhelmingly "aromatherapy", they're rather neutral, in fact, but this remains a good value set filled with award winning products from Neal's Yard, I swear by their Frankincense Hydrator at this time of year, and this little box is definitely ending up under my tree for someone this Christmas!

For Her:
Sanctuary Spa Kyphi and Mande Luxury Body Treat Set.

Costing just £20 this is an ideal set for someone who can't make it to The Sanctuary themselves, filled as it is with a selection of The Sanctuary's signature spa treats.  The set contains:  Sensuous Body Souffle, Sensuous Bath Creme,  Sensuous Body Scrub all  in the Mande Lular scent, alongside Kyphi Honey & Lotus Nourishing Bath Creme, with some Kyphi Shea and Almond Body Lotion.  They kindly add in a "Spa Skin Body Polisher", which is a shower puff to you and me.  Personally, I love the good-sized red vanity case you get with this, just hoping the recipient this one is going to this year.

 For Me:

Tom Ford Black Orchid gift set:

Yes, I've mentioned this one before.  But I still want it.  A lipstick, a nail varnish and perfume, all named Black Orchid, this is a gift set to treasure.  And, I promise, I will...

The Fine Print: No samples harmed in the writing of this guide - all links provided for imformation purposes only, and are not affiliate links.

Friday 19 November 2010

NotD: Deborah Lippmann - Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Deborah Lippmann is famous for her glitter polishes. I don't like glitter, alas, but this shade (created for Pat Benatar) is, as they say: "right up my street".

A glorious "blue steel" shade (why yes, I am doing my best Zoolander impression as I type this!), this was a total dream to apply, silky, not too thick, and opaque in two coats:

In some lights it's dark blue, in others it's grey, and in still others it's a gloriously twinkly delight:

Love it. I'm wearing it for a board meeting later today. I think Pat Benatar would approve.

Pics show two coats over Orly Bonder base coat and Seche Vite on top, which accounts for the tipwear. Deborah Lippmann polishes are available exclusively from House of Fraser Apothecaries in the UK.

Thursday 18 November 2010


I am genetically incapable of plucking my own eyebrows, I make a mess of it leaving them uneven and prone to bald spots.  Add in my general poor eyesight, and the fact that I'm a total cack handed muppet anyway, and it's mainly just a recipe for disaster, so I just pay someone to do it for me.  I can't leave them to their own devices, as then I would look like this:

For the last few years, I've been a regular at Malika in Westfield, as I've found that in there it doesn't matter who you see, you always get a damn good threading.  I do not, under any circumstances, ever get my brows waxed anymore after being left once with the most surprised expression in the world for several months after a therapist got a bit over-excited with the spatula!

Last week, however, I was invited to pop along to Browhaus for a complimentary threading (and a bit of a tweeze) in their newly opened premises at Floral Street in Covent Garden, and, I have to say that I was very, very impressed.  Housed in the same building as the Ministry of Waxing, the entire complex is devoted to depilation of every kind, and they do it very, very well. 

My therapist, Ellie, was very friendly, and very obviously knew precisely what she was doing, and I'm happy to report that it was the most pain-free threading I've ever had.  Whilst the girls as Malika also know what they are doing, they can be a little ... erm ... brusque in style, bless 'em!  I also loved the heated chairs, which were perfect for falling asleep in.  Well, they would have been had someone not been, you know, ripping tiny hairs out of my face ...

Browhaus also had some great offers on, normally a brow-threading will cost you £15, but if you buy ten (and I'm tempted, believe you me) it will only cost you £100 - which you can pay in two instalments - and you can just pop in for shapings as and when you like.  They also do lash extensions, which I'm also really, really interested in.  I love my new eyebrow shape, which is a little rounder and softer than what I'm used to from Malika, and I'll definitely be back, especially as it's just on my (work) doorstep.

Thank you Browhaus!  Just wish you didn't have the visual cliff on the way in, it's an horrific entrance for vertigo sufferers!

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Top Shop Lipsticks

 I'm a makeup snob.  I know it, and I rarely make any apologies for it!  However, I do like a little look around makeup from the high street every now and again.  Now, I am old enough to remember TopShop's original range of makeup (which, if memory serves was based around rip-offs homages of Nars Multiples, I still have both the silver and the gold one around somewhere, which, as they must be almost 15 years old now is rather disgusting now I come to think of it), and I was under the impression that Top Shop's makeup range wasn't for me.  Well, it turns out I was wrong.  And right, but more about that later ...

I was unexpectedly sent two of the latest lipsticks from the range, and I've been rather pleasantly surprised by the quality.  Ruthless and Beguiled are bang on the "goth lips" trend for this winter, Ruthless being a deep purple, and beguiled being a red:

Swatched, here's how they look:

As you can see Beguiled swatches rather lighter than you'd expect from the bullet shot, and Ruthless isn't actually black ...

On the lips:

Love Beguiled, and I've worn it a lot since it appeared.  I find the texture velvety and moisturising, and it's non-staining too.


Ruthless won't ever be worn outside of the house, unless I want to give MrLippie a shock, he nearly had a heart attack when he saw me in this!  All I can say is that ... well, it didn't look as bad as I anticipated, but ... I don't think I'll be wearing it for work any time soon.

All in all a definite two thumbs up for the formula - and I like the quirky packaging, though for some reason I was under the impression that these were originally presented in cardboard tubes, mine are in matte metal tubes - but, as I suspect that the only things in Top Shop that would fit me are the lipsticks, I don't think I'll be picking any more up, unless you can buy them online!

Lipsticks are £8 each and available from Top Shop stores now.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Chanel Ombre D'eau: #757 Splash

I love a bit of Chanel.  Some of my more regular readers might have noticed.  I'm also a massive fan of their Ombre D'eau eyeshadows, finding the colours gorgeously complex (in the main), and also rather more long lasting than Chanel's powder shadows.

The latest release in this format is number 757,also called "Splash".  It's the second one I've purchased this year, the first was Torrent (a beautifully sludgy khaki shade with beautiful iridescence) from the Spring Kaska Beige collection, and that's been in heavy rotation ever since.  Splash is a bronze-y taupe, with a metallic sheen:

It's rather more dark-seeming in the bottle than on the skin, but it's a very wearable shade - if you like sludge colours!  On swatching, it seemed rather familar, so I swatched it next to my beloved Shu Uemura Brown 805:

As you can see, the Shu (on the left there) is rather lighter, and a little more shimmery.  Then I thought that it reminded me of Chanel's Taupe Grise, and so, I swatched that too:

In the bottle, Splash looks a lot more like Taupe Grise, but once on the skin, it definitely loses the greyish cast, and takes on more bronze.  As you can see, the Taupe Grise (far right) looks far more grey, and definitely has a touch of purple in the undertone.

Under slightly different lighting conditions, you can see the differences more clearly.

I like to wear the Ombre D'eaus sheered out on the eyelid, and this is how it looks after six or seven hours on the eyelids:

I'm wearing it here with Guerlain Oriental Metal on the waterline.  I didn't really have a burning desire to pick up any of the rest of the Chanel holiday collection - it was a bit too PINK for me - but will you b getting any?

Monday 15 November 2010

An open letter to a hairdresser ...

When I made my first visit to a hairdresser for blogging purposes last year, I wrote this:

"I find the thought of trying out a new hair salon pretty terrifying, I've been known to hang around outside salons for ages trying to pluck up the courage to actually walk in and make an appointment!   As a result, it's entirely possible I don't visit the hairdresser as often as I might."

And, even this year, when I've been to many hair events, met many hairdressers, and even judged a national hairdressing competition, I stand by those words.  I've met, talked to, and had my hair done by many amazing hairdressers this year, and for every individual who has worked miracles with my insane thatch, sadly, I do still find the ones that reduce me to a quivering jelly of inadequacy and incoherence.  In fact, I do - still - find the thought of walking into a new salon absolutely terrifying, because, not only do I live in fear of the Bad Haircut, I also live in fear of the Bitchy Stylist.

In all honesty there is only one thing worse in a hair salon than the Bad Haircut/Style/Colour and that is the hairdresser who, if you draw their attention to the problem, makes it feel like it's entirely YOUR fault.

This, therefore, is an open letter to every hairstylist who has ever belittled a client in the name of protecting their own reputation:

Dear Hairdresser,

In today's recession-hit times, a new hairdo becomes an even bigger investment of both time and money for your clients. A new client walks over your threshold in a strange mixture  of anticipation of an hour or three of pampering, and utter terror that things will go wrong.  We save up our pennies, and hope that this time - oh, this time - will be the time we come out of the salon with the haircut of our dreams, that we will, in fact, come out looking like Nicole Kidman, Nigella Lawson or Kate Moss, and not like the frumpy knackered accountant who walked in.  Ironically, we all know it won't happen, but, under the circumstances, we'll generally settle for "looking better than we did when we walked in".  It's a compromise we'll usually all be happy with.

Occasionally, things do go wrong, and, when they happen, I'd like to suggest the following steps not to take when the disgruntled customer walks over the threshold:

1) Do not greet the customer with the words "What did you do?".  Nine times out of ten, the only thing the customer will have done is exactly what you told them to do.  The only thing this question will elicit is the feeling that you have assumed the customer is an incapable idiot.  It will also make them anxious, and, also, make them defensive.  Things will not go well during the conversation if you make the customer uncomfortable just for walking through the door.

2) Do not, whatever you do, sneer at whatever the customer says in response to the question posed in step one.  It's bad enough that you've already made the customer feel incapable of looking after their hair, do not then compound that feeling by making your dislike of the poor creature with the terrible hair you created plain to see, as well.

3) Do not then use any of the following phrases: "well, it's not ... horrendous/dreadful/terrible/disgusting/awful/as bad as you think".  What this phrase actually means is that whichever adjective you've chosen to describe your clients hair as "not" being, is the first word that sprang to your mind, and now you're denying it to yourself.  If your client has plucked up the courage to complain about what you've done to their hair, and the best thing you, the stylist who created the situation can think of to describe it is "not horrendous" then, well ... it suggest that actually, you've got a pretty dreadful hairdo, to be honest.

4) Please, please, please at this point, do not patronise the client.  If you've already committed the errors in points 1), 2) and 3) then patronising your client at this point will just put the tin lid on things.  Calling her love/darling/sweetheart or anything of that ilk is just going to make your client angry.  You know her name, please use it.  Also if you can possibly avoid it, try not to contradict your client at this point too.

Things you might want to do:

1) Apologise.  No one wants a disappointing haircut/style/colour.  But, if your client has taken time out of their day to come show you their disappointing hair, then the least you can do is apologise for them having to come back to see you.  Clients, particularly upset ones can indeed be a pain in the backside to deal with, but I guarantee that the majority of people who do complain are in genuine distress about their hair, and it would be nice to show you have some empathy with them.

2) Listen to the client.  Why are they unhappy?  Is it something that can be fixed quickly, there and then?  If it is, offer to do it.  Are they unhappy because it genuinely is something that went wrong, or is it something very simple that won't take much to sort out.  If you do not listen to what your client is telling you, and assume that everyone who comes back into your salon is purely after something for nothing, then you are just going to make the clients with genuine problems very, very unhappy.  Remember that no one knows their hair like the person attached to it, and if they say there is a problem with the condition, then it's likely that they are right.

(We all know the statistic that a happy client tells one person about a good experience, but an unhappy client will tell seven people, right?)

3) Be prepared to offer the client a second opinion.  And if you do, be prepared for that client to want the person who offers a second opinion to fix the situation - particularly if you went through the stages 1-4 above.

4) Be gracious.  Please don't treat a complaining customer like a criminal. 

5) fix the problem.  I think this one is fairly self explanatory.

Love and kisses,
Lippie xx

An open PS to clients: Don't be a pain in the bum when complaining, stylists are only doing their job, remember?

So there you have it.  Does anyone else have anything they'd like to add?

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Shu Uemura - Pleasure of Japanese Bath

Shu are (in)famous for their cleansing oils, but did you know they also have a range of bathing oils?  I didn't until recently, and I spotted these little bottles hiding out in a corner of the Shu store in Covent Garden a few weeks back, and had to try one.  First released 10 years ago, the oils are back, and they're a little different to a lot of other bath oils I've been trying recently.

First of all, the scents veer away a little bit from the traditional "aromatherapy" scents, which is nice.  There are four varieties: Hinoki, which is cypress-scented, Sakura which is cherry blossom, Shobu is iris, and Yuzu is a kind of Japanese citrus.  They're not overly scented, but they disperse beautifully in the water, creating a milky opalescent bathing experience.  My bath has LEDs in the bottom, and when they're combined with the milky water, it really makes for an unusual light show!

They disperse completely, so there's no oil-scum left and it doesn't leave for a slippery bath.  My oil is the Hinoki, which is vaguely herbal-smelling, and with a hint of pine, I find it relaxing to bathe in, and the oils leave my skin soft and moisturised without feeling at all greasy.

The bath oils cost £22 and are available direct from Shu Uemura shops and concessions, sadly, I can't find anywhere that stocks this stuff online in the UK, if you find somewhere, will you let me know?

The Fine Print: PR sample.  Kinda.  I offered to pay!

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Purple FotD

Just a random FotD that I haven't posted earlier, I love this purple shadow from Daniel Sandler,  I've posted about it before, I think it really makes the colour of my eyes stand out:

When I'm not wearing my beloved taupes and neutrals, purple is my default "go-to" shade (my favourite smokey eye is a purple one), it's a great shade, and this is a great shadow, this lasted all day - no primer - and, iirc, also lasted through a little bout of crying without running all over my face.

Foundation is Guerlain Lingerie de Peau, blush is Daniel Sandlers Mineral blush in Natural Beauty, and I'm just wearing a touch of balm on my lips.

What's your "go-to" shade?

Monday 8 November 2010


Sorry, got all lolcats for a minute there, but I just wanted to announce the winner of my L'Occitane giveaway!

The winner is ....


Please drop me an email with your full name and address, lovely, and I'll ensure that the powers-that-be get the parcel out to you this week.

Lots of lovely entries this time around, thank you everyone for taking the time and trouble to enter!

Friday 5 November 2010

Nail of the Day: Andrea Fulerton Foxy Lady

I've been waiting for Andrea to get this range into the shops since last March!  I was lucky enough to get my nails done by this lovely lady at an event and we had a really good natter, so when I found out the range was finally available at Superdrug, I leapt to collect some bits and pieces.  I love that alongside some great polish shades, Andrea has really thought the nail painting process though, and brought out some great tools for both creating nail art, and making your application neater and easier!

The first thing I've really taken a good look at is the Colour Layering System in Foxy Lady. Essentially a double ended nail polish, featuring (in this case) one opaque metallic copper, and a shimmering sheer purple shot through with beautiful turquoise shimmer at the other end.  The idea is that you can either wear the shades alone, or layer them one over the other to create different effects, for example:

L-R Copper alone, Shimmer alone, Shimmer over Copper, Copper over shimmer. All show two coats.

Application was fine and smooth, and the polishes are very quick-drying.  I liked playing with them a lot, trying to figure out which combinations I liked best.  The brush is a standard round brush (no pro-wide brushes here, which is a shame, as I'm increasingly finding I like a flat brush for varnish application).  I think you can see from the picture above that the polishes work best when you layer the shimmer over the metallic polish, and you do get a very lovely "twinkly" effect on the nails under different lighting effects.

In fact, I liked the effect so much that I immediately applied a full manicure of the turquoise over the copper - a combination that I chose because I couldn't see, at all, how that could possibly work together - and my nails are a kind of turquoise-y-purple-y-gold-ish shade that is very hard to describe - Sometimes it's bronze, sometimes pink, sometimes lilac, sometimes purple, it depends on the light!  Lots of depth, lots of twinkles, lots of interest, and yet, not too in your face you could wear it to the office.  Which I am, in fact, planning to do.

What I also like about these polishes is that they're not really mini-sized bottles.  A full-size bottle of Andrea Fulerton polish will cost you £4.99, and contains 5.5mls.  Each of the bottles of polish in the Colour Layering System contains 4.4mls, and they cost £7.99.  Ml for ml, that is exactly the same price.  Ordinarily when bottling polish in smaller containers companies take the opportunity to double - or even triple - the ml for ml price!  Bravo Andrea for not doing that, and making sure that the bottles are a decent size in the first place.

I'll bring you some reviews of the rest of the bits I have soon, I especially love the pop up nail varnish remover bottle!  Andrea Fulerton products are available from Superdrug

The Fine Print: Products came to me via an arcane and mystical process I could not possibly describe publicly.  Links are not affliliates, what kind of girl do you take me for?  [rhetorical]

Thursday 4 November 2010

Review - Tom Ford Tuscan Leather

Alongside minty fragrances, I'm a sucker for something with a hint of leather.  Tom Ford Tuscan Leather, however, doesn't contain a hint of leather, it's a full-on smack in the face with a driving glove.

My first introduction to leather scents was with Serge Lutens (or, dear old Uncle Serge as I refer to him for some reason) Daim Blond, to me, everytime I sniff it - I don't own a bottle - I think it's the very essence of how a suede rose would smell, if such a thing existed.

Tuscan Leather isn't as lady-like - or as genteel - when first sprayed it is the very essence of a leather armchair that's spent many years in the corner of a gentlemens' drinking den, absorbing the aromas of brandy and cigars.  And, of course, with a hint of the leather itself underneath.  This isn't for everyone, but for me, I adore it.  It's another "dry" scent, without much in the way of sweetness on my skin (although one of the notes a lot of people talk about is raspberry), and I like it all the more for that.  It's masculine-seeming on first spray, but the dry down turns it more into a skin-scent, meaning you have to get close to smell the notes, and you will occasionally be able to smell yourself.  I have a scarf that's been impregnated with the smell of this now, and it's something I occasionally wrap around myself and sniff just for the pure pleasure of it.

Ironically, on MrLippie, it smells a little sweeter, and a little less "gentlemanly" as a result.  I didn't tell him what it was when I first sprayed him with it and he thought it was interesting and familiar, then muttered something about new cars ...

Tom Ford Private Collection Tuscan Leather retails for £115, and is available from Selfridges.

The Fine Print: Revoo written from samples.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Guerlain Rouge G - B62 Betsy

I love my Rouge G's, I already own a red, and a pink and I wanted something a little more neutral this time around. 

Enter Betsy.  In the bullet, a rather intense mauve shade, it's actually rather more sheer than it might appear on first look:

This is one of the B range of Rouge G's, which have a lighter, more sheer texture, and feel rather more like a tinted lip balm than a lipstick.  I find them highly emollient, and, even though I have to apply slightly more often than I do than I do with a regular Rouge G, I think it's worth it when you get the right shade. On me, this is a "my lips but better" shade which I find works better for a smoky eye than a traditional "nude" shade, as it still adds a little definition, and doesn't make me look anemic.

Rouge G's are expensive, there is no denying it, but for me, they're worth every penny, as an investment piece there are very few lipsticks that look as expensive as this.  I adore the packaging - and, whilst I might have had my head turned slightly by Tom Ford and his crack habit lately, Rouge G will always come top of the expensive lipstick league tables for me.

The Fine Print: Debenhams Oxford St provided me with this fine example of a lipstick for only TWENTY FIVE of your earth pounds.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

John Frieda Precision Foam Colour

I'm a little paranoid about home hair colour.  One too many colouring disasters has left me totally unable, these days, to even think about using a box dye myself.

I've lost count of the towels I've ruined, the ears I've dyed to match my hair (and scalp), the grouting I've spattered with various shades of black, red and blue - long story, don't ask - and, the patchy results always but always drive me nuts.  When you have long, dark hair that has been greying since your 18th birthday (as mine has) it can be difficult to use, particularly on the roots around the back of the head, as I'm not a contortionist!

So, when I was invited to preview a range of home hair dyes from John Frieda I was somewhat sceptical, particularly when we were told that this was something "entirely new" in the field, then found out it was a foam.  I remember foam dyes when they were first introduced in the 80's.  Invariably a shade of red, the only thing they coloured in any way was your skin.  Certainly, they never made any difference whatsoever to my hair!

However, having watched a model use the product live in front of my eyes, I have to say I was impressed with the results I saw recently, so much so that I inveigled a member of my own family to try my sample box.  Essentially, the colourant is a mousse, you mix a dye and accelerant together in a bottle, then add a nozzle applicator and squeeze it to release the contents. 

The bottle:

This is actually after it had been in use - these were the dregs!

Here's the hair we started off with:

Some serious rootage there.  I know that feeling well ...

In progress:

And after:

I have to say, I'm very impressed.  Major points in the colour's favour:

Low smell - it barely smells of anything at all.
Ease of use - my model was packed off to the bathroom with just the box and a 7-yr old "helper" and left to fend for herself, she soon figured it out!
Non-drip - once this stuff is on your hair, it doesn't budge.  Maison Lippie is a palace of white, floors, walls, seats and surfaces (it's beautiful, but not the most practical place to dye your hair, really) and there wasn't a single drip anywhere at the end of the process.  No marks in the bathroom, and no trace of her progress anywhere else in the place, either.
Non-staining - any dye that got on skin (my model was determined to dye her ears black for some reason) was very easily removed with just a baby-wipe.  There were no stains left on skin anywhere.
Short developing time - the entire process was done and dusted in less than an hour.  45 minutes if you don't include drying time.
Good results - Now, whilst the results weren't perfect (we didn't leave the dye on the roots alone for quite long enough, so even though the grey was entirely covered, it was a tiny bit lighter than the ends - this was pure operator error), they were much better than expected.

So, even though the John Frieda Precision Foam Colour is a tiny bit more expensive than most box dyes - it retails at £9.99 from the likes of Boots and Superdrug - my model was impressed enough to change her regular box dye for it.  My mum has one of the blonde ones, I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to seeing how she gets along with with it!  I've dyed her hair for years, and find it such a boring chore, this foam may be the one to change all that!

The Fine Print: PR Sample - but a very welcome one.

Monday 1 November 2010

Review - L'Occitane Fleur Cherie Make Up

On Friday, I said I was giving away a set of L'Occitane goodies, so now is the time for me to tell you a little more about them.

I'm actually giving you this set:

Which contains a lipgloss locket, full size eau de toilette and soap, plus brightening face-powder pearls.  It's a cute little set, which I've enjoyed using a great deal recently - I adore the smell of neroli (Fleur Cherie is scented with orange blossom), and the scent of the products (except the lipgloss, which is unscented) is light, refreshing and just lovely.

The powder pearls are very pretty:

Lightly scented with orange blossom, the peach and apricot pearls give a light glow to the skin - they're not dark enough to be a fake-tan product, although they will give a lovely golden-sheen on darker skin.  I use these in place of blusher.

The lipglosses that you get in the fob, are essentially clear, with a hint of sparkle, as you'll see in the FOTD later.

But this is not the whole of the range, like the peony range of cosmetics L'Occitane brought out last year, there's a few more colour cosmetics available, and I've been trying those too.  I was sent an eyeshadow duo, an eyeliner and a lipstick to try, and here they are:

This is lipstick in Rose Sequin, eyeshadow in Bleu Damasse, and eyeliner in Noir Velours.  I've actually found myself impressed with them (with some caveats, as you'll discover), the shadow is smooth and velvety, with excellent pigmentation, and very good lasting power, I found that without a primer, the shadow stayed in place for around 10-12 hours, needing only a light smush with my fingers to get rid of the (minimal) creasing. The liner is very black, and very smudgy, however, it's lasting power isn't quite as good as the shadows, and I found it had run a bit after about six hours. The lipstick is a lovely, lovely shade, but it's very sheer, so won't be for everyone, also, I've found that the cardboard packaging, whilst adorable, isn't the most robust packaging in the world.  It's nice and moisturising on though, so while it doesn't last, it's actually nice to reapply quite regularly.

Here's the face of the day I created with the shadows, liner, face powder and the lipglosses from the fob:

Foundation is Estee Lauder Double Wear Light in shade 2.

The Fine Print: samples were provided for review.  You didn't think I'd do a giveaway of untried products, did you?
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