Beauty Without Fuss

Friday 28 February 2014

Illamasqua Glamore Collection - Lips and Tips

By Laurin

I don't remember it myself, but my birth certificate tells me I entered this world in 1978. That makes me, Laurin Emily Taylor, 35 ½.  My mental age on the other hand clocks in somewhere around 80. I like early nights and stern disapproval and I'm counting the days until my physical age (and bank balance) allows me to genuinely rock a Chanel suit. I plan to wear it on hot summer days with red lips and a sneer as I sit on my front porch shaking my well-manicured fist at the neighbourhood urchins and screaming, "GET OFF MY LAWN!" until my manservant Raoul rushes out of the house to place a cool cloth on my fevered brow and lead me gently indoors for my afternoon repose (I've thought this through - it's essential to have a retirement plan, ladies).

Back here on planet Earth in the year 2014, my 9-5 often demands my presence in a kitchen, where the rigours of the job take mercy on no woman's nails. I love the polished look of nail varnish and lipstick, but it all seems like such a faff when you know your manicure will only look great for 24 hours, tops. My one attempt at gel ended with most of my nail bed sitting in a pile on my carpet after I gave in to the urge to pick at a chip. What I long for is a forgiving nail varnish that goes on easily, dries quickly and doesn't take require a professional to remove.

Enter the Illamasqua Glamore Collection, three brand new shades of ultra-dense, highly textured glitter nail varnishes and complimentary shades of satin-finish lipstick. I spent the week road testing two of the varnish shades: Fire Rose, a disco-flamingo shade of pink, and Trilliant, a champagne gold with the slightest tint of rose. There is also a juicy tangerine, Marquise, which I suspect would be brilliant for poolside lounging this summer.

If you're a bit cack-handed AND impatient, these are brilliant. The glitter particles are rough and chunky enough that they easily disguise a less-than-perfect application technique, and they are so dense that one coat does the trick. Even better, they are completely dry after 15 minutes, so you can get on with zesting lemons for your martini or sticking pins into voodoo dolls or whatever it is you like to do on Tuesday nights (don’t try picking a piece of Parma ham out of your back tooth with your index finger, though - this is may cause damage to your new manicure. Or so I hear).

Last week was a bit hectic, so I ended up putting my Fire Rose manicure through the paces at work: dish washing, gaffer tape picking, typing, parcel wrestling, vegetable chopping and every other not-so-glamorous job that gets thrown my way in the office. There are no miracles to report, I'm afraid. By the end of day three, the tips of my nails were starting to show some wear and tear, though there was no serious chipping. Time to start again: unlike other glitter polishes I've tried, Glamore comes off relatively easily. I was advised to wrap my nails in acetone soaked cotton wool and a layer of tin foil for 15 minutes before removing, but I found it wasn't necessary. It came off with Cutex and a bit of elbow grease, leaving my nails ready for Trilliant:

Of course my future self would never leave the house without a slick of bold lipstick, and the Glamore collection has that covered as well. The three shades of satin finish lipstick are designed to complement (but not match exactly) the nail varnishes. Satin finish is new territory for Illamasqua, who are known for their dramatic matte lipsticks. I've spent the week trialling Soaked, a bold orange and Luster, a shocking candy pink (there is also Glissade, a deep fuchsia). As you would expect, these are high-pigment, statement making colours, but they both feel soft and moisturising on my lips. My only quibble is with the packaging. It's perfectly serviceable, but for £16.50 a pop, I'd like something a bit more weighty and less plastic.

If you're already an Illamasqua fan, the Glamore collection will no doubt be right up your street. But if like me, you've always hung back around the Bobbi Brown counter with all the flattering neutrals, the nail varnishes are a great way to join the brights party without frightening the horses, and the finish of the glitter is rough and edgy enough that you needn't worry you'll look like a five year old who's just been let loose in Claire's Accessories. As for the lipsticks, the shock of bold colour in the middle of my face is going to take some getting used to. But I think I'm well on my way to being a lipstick lover. I have to be. My future self will accept no less.

The Illamasqua Glamore Collection launches in store on February 27th. Nail varnishes Fire Rose, Trilliant and Marquise are £15 each. Lipsticks Soaked, Luster and Glissade are £16.50 each.

The fine print: PR samples.

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Thursday 27 February 2014

Benefit Brow Arch March

By Luke

I am very lucky indeed to be a volunteer for the amazing beauty industry charity, Look Good Feel Better.

If you are not familiar with the charity, you can read all about them here, but in a nutshell, women undergoing cancer treatment are able to spend a bit of time in a room full of other women in a similar situation, compare notes, chat, network, and at the same time are able to have some expert advice about their beauty routine from rather amazing volunteers.

There is a goody bag provided by various brands who have kindly donated products which consist of everything any woman would need to look and feel beautiful, let alone when you’re losing your hair, eyebrow, lashes, and having to live with the effects of cancer treatment.

The workshops are rather incredible, and one thing that has been brought home to me from doing these workshops is that there is nothing stronger (or louder or more fun) than a group of women talking about makeup and skincare. At a time in their lives where they are at their most vulnerable, both physically and emotionally, bonds are formed that serve only to make the whole process of survival a lot more bearable, and it truly is a privilege to witness and be a part of.

One of the biggest and boldest of beauty brands, Benefit alongside Debenhams, are teaming up to support LGFB.  Every year in March, when you visit a Brow Bar at any Debenhams Benefit counter, you will receive a complimentary brow shape (normally £11.50), for a charitable donation of at least £5 which will go to the Look Good Feel Better charity.

In addition to this, Benefit are planning to hold a fundraising March through the streets of London passing all major landmark Arches (see what they’ve done there?) on Sunday March 9th. 

The participating ‘Arch Angels’ will be asked to start with minimal makeup, and join the pit stops en route to have little beauty treatments along the way , not dissimilar to those undertaken at a Look Good Feel Better workshop. By the end of the march you will look AMAZING!

A worthy cause indeed!

For more information, visit, and if you get involved, you can tweet @BrowArchMarch and hashtag the same.

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Friday 21 February 2014

Footnotes - A Margaret Dabbs Pedicure.

By Tindara

Like a lot of people I have become addicted to the delights of the nail shop. Ubiquitous and reasonably priced, it has become the norm for me, in spring and summer months at least, to succumb to the regular pedicure. It seems we’re not squeamish about someone coming at our feet with a scalpel these days. But I hear there are pedicures and PEDICURES.

At Christmas, my very generous sister presented me with a voucher for a medical pedicure and polish at Margaret Dabbs Foot Clinic & Nail Spa where you can routinely see a podiatrist for a medical pedicure as well as a nail technician for nail polish. My sister was waxing lyrical about how amazing the experience was and I had read that it really was the best pedicure you could get in London. I saved up my voucher till the depths of a miserable cold, wet winter for when I needed cheering up, so obviously, I took myself off there this week.

When I got there, I was welcomed in by the receptionist who put me at my ease straight away, and pretty quickly my podiatrist Chloe called me into one of the treatment rooms with the whizzy chairs to start on my feet. It was super comfortable and I was asked if I wanted a drink or anything and she set to work. I was really impressed, not only did she talk to me a lot about any health issues associated with my feet - I’m a type 2 diabetic - she really did have an attention to detail that you don’t get with a regular pedicure. It was scrupulously clean too - she ripped open packets of newly sterilized instruments while working away. Once my feet were moisturized to within an inch of their lives I was given a couple of those foamy spa flip-flops and taken back to the main lobby manicure area for the next bit.

With a pot of tea at my side I relaxed while nail technician Kaiah expertly painted my nails a lovely bright red. I’m pretty unimaginative when it comes to nails colours for my toes. I always come back to reds. I also managed to smoosh up one of my big toes on the dryer but Kaiah just wiped it and did over without missing a beat. She even managed to do my tiny toenails precisely. Anyone who has painted my toenails remarks on how difficult this is, those toes are small, I can’t help it, my husband says I should live in a town called Smallfoot Tennesee, mucho apologies to nail technicians everywhere. Mea maxima culpa.

The only niggle for me was that I would’ve liked to stay in the treatment room for the nail polish part - I feel self-conscious being in a wider room visible to those popping their head in to enquire about appointments, though I know it’s perfectly common scenario in nail shops and some spas. I thought, perhaps the polish would be more part of the whole rather than an add-on to the medical pedicure here in a more luxe environment. Having said all that though, it really is a fantastic pedicure, the best I’ve ever had, and well worth the price tag for an occasional treat. Go go go.

Margaret Dabbs treatments are available at Margaret Dabbs Foot Clinic & Nail Spa, Margaret Dabbs Sole Spa at Liberty.

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Thursday 20 February 2014

Parfumerie Générale Tubéreuse Couture 17

By Laurin

Pierre Guillaume is a busy boy. Since the launch of his first perfume brand Parfumerie Générale in 2002, he has produced more than 73 different perfumes under three different brands. By my count, that's an average of six per year, or one every two months. I once forgot to change my bed sheets for two months, so to say I’m impressed with this man’s dedication to his vision is something of an understatement.

And yet, with such a prolific body of work, you've probably never heard of Parfumerie Générale. The brand seems to fly under the radar of all but the most dedicated fragrance obsessives, playing the quietly confident middle sister to the good-at-everything-she tries older sister of Frederic Malle's Editions de Parfums, and the brassy, blinged-up younger sister, By Kilian. The simple black and cream bottles sit studiously on their shelves, concentrating on the job at hand which is simply to make you smell fabulous. There isn’t a futuristic room diffuser or a snake-embellished clutch to be seen between them. When curious customers ask me to sum up the brand for them, I used to tell them that its real strength is gourmands and hyper-real foodie fragrances, excitedly pulling out Musc Maori’s technicolor chocolate and instant toothache Praline de Santal. Rookie mistake. The brand actually houses something for all tastes, from pretty fresh florals to evocative orientals to spicy chypres and even a rump-grinding dirty musk thrown in for good measure. Each creation plays its own tune, the music swelling up together like a grand symphony.

 If the brand itself is an orchestra, then Tubéreuse Couture is undoubtedly the cymbals. Tuberoses and I had a difficult beginning during my first forays into perfumery. For no reason I can think of, I loudly professed to anyone who would listen (which was precisely nobody) that I despised tuberose, hated it, that tuberose was RUINING MY LIFE. It was far too cloying, too sickly sweet and definitely had WAY too much wobbly cleavage on show. Shut up, I’d never even smelled a tuberose. Now, guess what? I love tuberose, I can’t get enough tuberose, tuberose is the BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME. Tuberose can be cloying and sickly sweet, but in the right hands it can also be sophisticated, erotic, narcotic or just a screaming good time.

A screaming good time is what you’re signing up for when you take your first spray of Tubéreuse Couture. A bubblegum-snapping camphorous tuberose rockets up your nose, followed closely by the raspy hiss of spun sugar and overripe banana. Having worn itself out on a manic sugar-high by lunch, the fragrance then went for a siesta, exhaling sighs of tuberose softened by the wet heat of jasmine, woody papyrus and a touch of creamy ylang. But by the time I was ready to leave work, the fragrance was wide awake and ready to party again. I could almost feel it grabbing me by the coat sleeve and pulling me towards a taxi bellowing, “LET’S GO DANCING! COME ON!”
But I am marching determinedly towards the comforts of middle age, and I like my bed. So Tubéreuse Couture went to the party without me, dressed to the nines and ready to shake it. Does she still have too much wobbly cleavage on show? Without a doubt. But I’ve learned to love her for it.
Tubéreuse Couture is £81.50 for 50ml. Samples and full bottles are available to purchase at Les Senteurs

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Wednesday 19 February 2014

Smashbox Full Exposure Palette

By Luke

There are a lot of palettes out there at the minute with all of those easy to use, neutral browny grey shades that no one can really live without.

By far the best I have seen is this one, with no less than 14 colours in it, in two finishes, WITH two brushes AND a guide for different shaped eyes on how to get the most out of all the colours without those all too common left in the palette coz I’m not sure how to use it colours.

The top layer has the nicest shades of bone, to taupe, brown and black in a lighter wash of shimmer, and the bottom has almost exactly the same colours, ALMOST but not quite for variety, in a fabulous shades of matte. Perfect.

This went straight into the kit, and if I can’t do a natural eye right through to a smoky eye with this baby, I need to hang up my brush belt.

Available from, and Boots stores, now and costs a measly £36.

Own it.

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Wednesday 12 February 2014

Gateway Drug: Dior Oud Ispahan

By Laurin

I meant to write something completely different for my introductory "Get Lippie" post. But as I was writing last week during quiet moments in the shop, I began to feel like I was sitting down to watch a play halfway through the first act. I need to tell you how I got here, because I can hardly believe it myself.

I know the exact time it happened: July 14th, 2012. About 12:40pm. Early for lunch with a friend in Marylebone, I took a detour through the fragrance hall at Selfridges, and that decision changed my life.

I think it was the softly glowing pink liquid that caught my eye. It certainly wasn’t the rather stark, sturdy bottle. Dior had just launched Oud Ispahan earlier that year as part of their more exclusive "La Collection Privée" and a jewel-like displayof bottles sat enticingly near the entrance to the Dior Fragrance Lounge.

The official notes are rose, oud, patchouli, sandalwood and labdanum, but I could have told you precisely none of that 18 months ago. All I knew was that when I sprayed it on my wrist, that I was instantly transformed into a languid, heavy-lidded seductress with the power to ensnare helpless suitors with one bat of my fluttering eyelashes (well - IN MY MIND). Make no mistake - I am about as far from the Thousand and One Nights as you can possibly get. I am a blonde-haired, green-eyed girl from coastal Alabama who could potentially be mistaken for a transvestite in heels. I'm more likely to swear at you than I am to whisper sweet nothings your ear. But this, I discovered that day, is the transformative power of fragrance, to make you into the person you never imagined you could be, if only until the clock strikes midnight and your rainbow whirl of silk scarves turns back into a Gap jumper.

Oud Ispahan is not original. The combination of rose and oud is a classic one in Eastern perfumery, and it has been done to death in recent years, from the inarguably beautiful but eye-wateringly expensive Kilian Rose Oud, to the slightlyless grand but more accessible Body Shop Rose Oud (creativity, it seems, is not a priority when naming your oud perfume).

But sometimes ignorance is bliss when it comes to fragrance (who really wants to hear that Caron's Tabac Blond is but a shadow of its former glory when time machines are still in dreadfully short supply?) and to my fresh nose, Oud Ispahan smelled like the most haunting evocation of hazy desert sands and gold-leaved minarets this side of the Persian Gulf. A transparent, shimmering rose coupled with the raw, inner-thigh heat of oud, the nose-tingling prickle of patchouli and the richness of sandalwood smelled to me then like nothing ever had before.  I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. Later that afternoon, I lay in bed sniffing my wrist three hours and listening to a low buzz in my head that I later came to realise foretold  that I was about to spend an ill-advised amount of money in a completely frivolous manner. Less than 24 hours later I found myself back in the Dior Lounge armed with a MasterCard and a wilful disregard for my bank balance.

Words like "cheap" and "value for money" take on new meaning in niche perfumery. If you love it and you can afford it (even as a treat), it's good value for money. So I'm going to stick my neck out and declare that at £125 for 125ml, Oud Ispahan is excellent value for money. A couple of sprays carry on all day, and into the next. The sillage is epic - it's about as close as you can get to a fanfare of trumpets announcing your arrival. And it makes people SWOON. You know the scene in the English Patient where Juliette Binoche tells charred Ralph Fiennes that she would summon her husband by playing the piano? I'm pretty sure I will summon my husband by wearing Oud Ispahan. Well, my next husband,that is.

After making such an unexpectedly extravagant purchase, I should have gone home and enjoyed my newfound love for the next year. But that's not what happened. Instead, I picked up a book that had lain untouched on my bookcase for the last two years entitled Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, fell down the rabbit hole of niche fragrance, and a year, thirty bottles and a dozen new friends later, landed in a Saturday job in a perfumery in Marble Arch to support my financially ruinous hobby. Frankly, a drug habit would have been cheaper. But whatever, I can quit at any time. Honest.

Oud Ispahan and the rest of Dior’s La Collection Privée are available at Selfridges, Harrods and Dior Boutiques.


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Tuesday 11 February 2014

Meet the Team!

I mentioned recently that I was making some changes to Get Lippie, and we're finally ready to announce them!  Life has got in the way of blogging a bit recently (and by life, I actually mean "work", so I won't bore you with the details) and it has become increasingly obvious that I've needed a hand to keep up with my ever--more-absorbing "hobby ... with that in mind, I'm delighted to announce that some of my amazing friends are joining me here on the "editorial team"!

I'm delighted that a few of my favourite people from the internets have decided to join Get Lippie, and here they are, introducing themselves in their own inimitable way ...:

Tindara Sidoti-Mcnary

Art and film geek, feminist, fatshionista and London flâneur, works in architecture and engineering, likes lipstick. Find her @Tindara 
(Tindara is practically the only person on the planet who likes lipstick more than I do - a perfect fit for Get Lippie!)

Laurin Galdis Taylor

I had a chance encounter with a bottle of Oud Ispahan on July 14th, 2012 and instantly fell headlong down the rabbit hole of niche fragrance, landing nearly a year later with a Saturday job in a London perfumery. When I'm not pursuing my financially ruinous hobby, I get paid to eat cakes in the name of "research". It's not such a bad life, really. " Find her @laurinemily

(I met Laurin via a perfume group on Facebook - I've admired her enigmatic yet passionate updates for quite some time, looking forward to seeing more of her in-depth writing!)

And last - but very most definitely NOT least! 

Luke Stephens

(or, to give him his full name: LukeStephensMakeupArtist)

Raised in Rangoon by wild monkeys, he fled in a crate on a pirate ship to England, where he ran up and down the country screaming like a banshee until he was about 14. When he calmed down, and took a few slaps in the face, his precociousness knew no bounds and he picked up a twig and started to daub coloured goo and fat onto peoples faces for food. Something he continues to do to this day for the benefit of those people on the telebox, and in clothes magazines and the like.

His work in making people look different, and his knowledge of beauty, like his sense of humour, is second to none (see:precocious), and he was asked to be guest Beauty Editor at a magazine, where he remained chained in a cage and had products thrown at him from a safe distance for nearly three years. Upon his release he vowed world domination, but mysteriously disappeared to continue painting faces. He now occasionally scrawls his thoughts and findings down for the delectation of other people, and is rarely allowed civilized human beings. Only models. Find him @LukeStephensMUA

(sorry Luke, this bio was too good to waste!  The translation is that, basically, Luke is a makeup artist and a damn good one.  I've been at many an event with Luke, and he's very often a voice of sanity in what can be a strangely pink and fluffy world ... )

So there you have it!  We'll be back with a more regular posting schedule from next week, we've got tonnes of ideas! But don't worry, I'm not going anywhere, I'll still be pottering about and writing whenever I can, but for the foreseeable, Get Lippie is now a four-author blog. 

Looking forward to it!

The Fine Print: No PRs, or makeup artists were harmed in the writing of this post.  I suspect I'm going to get a punch from a particular makeup artist nect time he sees me though ... wish me luck!

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Wednesday 5 February 2014

Jasmine Awards 2013

A couple of years ago, I owned - quite literally - about two bottles of perfume: Chanel Crystalle and my constantly replenished bottle of Aromatics Elixir.  I would have owned a bottle of Acqua di Parma too, but I'd run out, and hadn't (still haven't - whoops!) replaced it yet.  In early 2011 after reading Perfumes: The A-Z Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, Project Perfume (and a new obsession) was borne, and I've been writing regularly about fragrance ever since. 

I love writing about fragrance, it's very different to writing about makeup, more abstract, and it allows me to set my inner creative-writing ponce out on the loose, albeit slightly.   I've been extremely lucky to have made some wonderful friends through the perfume blogging world, and I'm always amused that this little beauty blog occasionally gets to hobnob with some of the best fragrance writers around - they've been a hugely welcoming bunch, and happy to say that some of them have crossed the divide from mere fellow fume-nerds (of which I still consider myself very much a fledgling) into actual real-life friends!

To say my approach to fragrance-writing is irreverent would be a  .... slight ... understatement (Tom Ford's output regularly reduces me to writing so insanely that I'm astonished the brand are still speaking to me, frankly) so you can  imagine my surprise this week then when the nominations for the Jasmine Awards were announced, and I discovered that I'd been shortlisted for one!  They're hugely prestigious, and cover both online and traditional print perfume journalism, previous winners include Jo Fairley, who is an inspiration of mine!

I'm shortlisted for a prize in the "Best Digital Perfume Experience" category for a piece I wrote for Basenotes last year, about wearing perfumes from the poundshop. Yes, really.  It's a bit different to the other pieces in the same category, featuring, as it does, nothing that most people in their right minds would ever want to buy, but it's a piece that I hugely enjoyed writing, and hey, it also let me torture my husband for an entire week, and who wouldn't like that?  

If you want to read the other pieces nominated in the same category (and I recommend that you do, there's a couple of gems - besides mine, of course!), you can find them here:

-The Pound Shop Fragrance Challenge by Louise Woollam for
- YSL release The Oriental Collection by Katie Chutzpah for
- Tom Ford releases London by Katie Chutzpah for
- The Scent Matrix by Teo van den Broeke for Esquire Weekly
- The Perfect Good Book and Candle Combos by Joanna McGarry for
- The New Niche in Perfumery? A Return to the Classics by Joanna McGarry for
- Men’s Fragrances for Women by Annabel Meggeson for Red Online

I'll be at the ceremony, practising my best "Oscars Best Supporting Actress Nominee Smiling Through the Defeat" face on March 12.  I'll keep you posted!

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Monday 3 February 2014

BaByliss Pro Perfect Curl

 Somewhere, down deep inside Lippie Mansions is a graveyard.  A dark and forbidding place, it is where hair gadgets go to die.  There are straighteners, wands, tongs, dryers, brushes, brushes that spin, brushes that don't spin but do heat up, special combs of all kinds, heated curlers, rollers what you are supposed to sleep in, bits of string you're meant to tie your curls into, crimpers, wavers, totem poles, seriously all kinds of things, all of which are completely useless to me.  Many is the time I've thought that someone should start a support group for cack-handed muppets with insane hair and a slight tendency towards clumsiness.

Luckily, I no longer need that group, thanks to the BaByliss Pro Perfect Curl.  I was lent one a couple of weeks ago so I could try it out, and now I'm in love.  If I could leave my husband for a gadget, this would be the one ...

Seriously!  It's so simple, so easy to use, and gives such great results, it's A M A Z I N G.  I've never had such good hair, either so simply, or so quickly.  It's as simple to use as a pair of straighteners, because basically, the machine does all the work for you.  All you do is feed your hair into the round section at the end, hold it closed till the machine beeps, then out drops a perfect curl (do you think the clue is in the name?), keep going till your entire head of hair is curled, and there you go!  Here's how it worked on my hair:

This is what my hair looks like when airdryed and combed through.  Scheckshy, no? Apologies for not wearing any makeup here ... anyhoo, this is what one curl looks like after going through the Perfect Curl (and after a bunch of liner and lipstick got applied too):

Simple, and took less than 10 seconds to form without snagging, tangling or burning my fingers.

You keep forming curls until your entire head is covered, in my case, this takes around 15 minutes.  Bear in mind, I have a TONNE of hair though:

Now, if you like the Taja Sevelle (google is your friend if you don't understand my 20 year old cultural references) look that I'm sporting here, you could stop at this point and just spray yourself with a bit of hair spray and go. It was a bit ... severe ... for my taste, so I shook it out a bit:

And then a bit more:

Because I like it messy, frankly.  Best of all, if you use a decent heat spray, your curls will last several days:

This is, without doubt, a life (and, indeed, hair)-changing gadget, I love it.  By experimenting with the various heat and timing settings you'll find the one that gives the curls you like best, lower heat and a shorter time in the curler will give you looser waves, higher heat and longer time will give you tighter, more ringlet-y curls.

I've had the Perfect Curl for a couple of weeks now, and my hair has been commented on a LOT in that time, a hell of a lot, even by people who tend not to notice this things at all.  Bosses, and the like, you know.  I've even had a few people find themselves unable to resist touching it!  They're dead now. Worst part of all of this is the price, the BaByliss Perfect Curl Pro is around £200 or so, but you can pick up the similar BaByliss Curl Secret (which is identical bar a heat setting or so) from around £120 at Boots.

Now, how to tell my husband that I've replaced him ....

The Fine Print:  I was lent the Babyliss Pro Perfect Curl for two weeks only - and there were hot, salty tears on giving it back, I can tell you.  One of these is now currently on my wishlist.  Which contains one thing.  THIS.  Do you hear me, BaByliss??????

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