Friday, 1 December 2017

Daughter of the Soil Marula Hand Gift Set

The first thing I really want to write about this hand care duo is this: Yum.
Both products are chai tea scented, so I knew I was going to love the smell before I even opened the box, but the fragrance really is next-level deliciousness.
The duo features a conditioning hand cleanser and delicate hand lotion that both smell like warm, delicious, comforting chai tea. Not Starbucks-Chai-Latte sweet but rather spiced and aromatic with the perfect hint of sweetness to round things off. I imagine the scent would appeal to most because it's not sickly saccharine at all - just lovely and warming.
Both products have the same African 'miracle' ingredient at their core - that being Marula Oil. Marula Oil supports the skin in retaining the right balance of hydration and also helps to lock in moisture, so it makes perfect sense to include it in body care products.
The wash leaves hands feeling clean but not stripped at all and the lotion is rich, creamy and non-greasy.
Daughter of the soil hand wash and hand lotion

As you can see, the hand wash and lotion are both presented in rather chic 250ml white and copper pump bottles so they'll undoubtedly add a little touch of style to the bathroom. The hand lotion would look pretty glam on your bedside table too!

Beautiful products aside, Daughter of the Soil has a lovely backstory.
CEO Maria Magembe was inspired to create Daughter of the Soil by her great-grandmother Onyang, who was a strong and influential woman in her Eastern Ugandan community.
Onyang believed in the powers and benefits of nature, so Maria began to create skincare products from local botanicals to honour her great-grandmother's legacy. The meaning behind the actual name of the brand also has family origins - Daughter of the Soil is a phrase that Maria's father used to describe his four girls. How lovely is that?
The 'British-blended, African-heritage' brand uses 100% naturally derived ingredients, with all products free from any harsh synthetic additives, so if you have sensitive skin it's definitely a brand to check out.

The Daughter of the Soil Hand Gift Set is £30 and you can discover the rest of the brand's beautiful products and gift sets online at Daughter of the Soil.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

DHC Astaxanthin Collagen All in One Gel

Ever wondered why flamingos are pink? It turns out that it's down to a compound in the algae that they eat called Astaxanthin, which also happens to be one of nature's most powerful antioxidants.
Considered to be around 6,000 times more potent than Vitamin C, Astaxanthin is also the key ingredient in this multitasking gel from DHC.

DHC Astaxanthin Collagen Gel
DHC Astaxanthin Collagen Gel

Using Astaxanthin harvested from a freshwater green algae, the all in one gel is designed to tone, moisturise, hydrate and brighten. Featuring hyaluronic acid, collagen and elastin, the gel helps to firm the skin and uphold its natural moisture levels.
The gel has a wobbly, blancmange-like texture, which I personally think really adds to the joy of the product. After all, it's a nice break from the classic rich cream texture and who doesn't want their skincare to resemble some kind of pudding?
As with all of DHC's core skincare products, the gel is fragrance free (though does have a very slight, sort of sweet naturally occurring scent).
I've really enjoyed using this over the past few weeks. I'll admit I've not used it religiously but when I have, I've felt a little difference in my skin. After using it overnight, I've noticed a slight plumping sort of effect come morning and my face feels less 'tight'. Just as a sidenote, since I've been breastfeeding my son, I seem to become dehydrated overnight because drinking litres of water in the wee hours to keep my water supplies up just doesn't happen, so I often get up in the morning and have this horrible tightness on the skin on my face. With the Astaxanthin, the tight feeling is definitely less noticeable. I hope that makes some kind of sense.
The gel-cream is lightweight and absorbs quickly, so its ideal for use both day and night.

The full ingredients:
water/aqua/eau, butylene glycol, caprylic/capric triglyceride, glycerin, hydrogenated palm oil, hydrolyzed collagen, pentylene glycol, squalane, hoplostethus/orange roughy oil/huile d’hoplostète orange, glycel stearate SE, tocotrienols, batyl alcohol, tocopherol, porphyridium polysaccharide, phenoxyethanol, carbomer, potassium hydroxide, cetearyl alcohol, hydrolyzed elastin, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, stearyl glycyrrhetinate, cetearyl glucoside, allantoin, sodium hyaluronate, alcohol, beer extract, polyglyceryl-10 oleate, placental protein, haematococcus pluvialis extract, hydrolyzed royal jelly protein, polyglyceryl-10 stearate, lactoferrin, lysolecithin, rape shushi yu (JTN), lactic acid

DHC Astaxanthin Collagen All-In-One-Gel is £40 at DHC and Escentual. *It's currently £34 at DHC until the end of the month.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Benefit They're Real! Red On Lipstick

The latest lippy offering from Benefit claims to be universally flattering so I was keen to get it on my lips, like, yesterday.
Thus far, the title of the perfect red lipstick has belonged solely to my beloved Mac Ruby Woo (it truly is universal in it's flattering abilities) and I was interested to see how Red On would measure up.
First up, Red On is presented in an entirely different way to what we've become accustomed to when it comes to lipsticks. It comes in a pot complete with kitsch embossed lips and it's very own little brush to apply it - quite a controversial move, packaging wise, considering how rich the colour is.
Speaking of colour, Red On is seriously red. This is not sheer or forgiving. It's unashamedly, mega, hugely red and it means business. In other words, it's pretty richly pigmented.
Benefit Red On Lipstick
Benefit Red On Lipstick

A selling point of Red On is that it goes on creamy and smooth then 'sets' to a matte state, where it should remain for quite some time.
After I applied it for the first time I went and indulged in a festive hot chocolate from Cafe Nero and while there was a definite lipstick mark left behind on the cup, the look of the lipstick on my lips was not compromised.
I feel like maybe I didn't give the lipstick quite enough time to set before the impromptu hot chocolate test because about ten minutes later it had dried down to a lovely, matte look that felt very, very light on the lips. Lesson learned.
Wearing Benefit Red On Lipstick

As mentioned, Red On is supplied with a little tapered brush. Benefit recommend that you pick up a little product on the brush and line your lips before filling them in with smooth, even strokes. While I did find it a bit fiddly and a little more time consuming than swiping on lipstick straight from the bullet, I do think it's a nice touch and adds something extra to the whole ritual of doing your makeup.
A blue-undertoned red, the lipstick is not only an instant smile brightener and easily buildable but I'd imagine it really would suit virtually any complexion - much like my beloved Ruby Woo. In terms of longevity, once it dried it was pretty much budge proof and I felt pretty confident going about my business without worrying about it migrating to my teeth. A definite win in my book.
Could Red On really be the perfect red? I dare say it might just be.
You can find Benefit They're Real! Red On for an RRP of £16.50 at Boots and anywhere that sells Benefit.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Greatest Showman Beauty Box by Latest in Beauty

Latest in Beauty often come out with great value special edition boxes and this one is no exception. This time, Latest in Beauty are celebrating Twentieth Century Fox's The Greatest Showman which is released after Christmas and stars my fellow countryman Hugh Jackman as well as Zac Efron and the very beautiful Zendaya.
The Greatest Showman Beauty Box by Latest in Beauty

Valued at over £145, The Greatest Showman Beauty Box is a true showstopper and is brimming with gorgeous, high quality beauty bits from respected brands. Max Factor, the makeup artist sponsor of the film, features heavily and the box also includes treats from Show Beauty ( a must-try if you love sweet smelling hair products), Nails Inc, Spectrum, James Read, Espa, Wetbrush and Miller Harris.
Inside the box you will find:
Max Factor Facefinity All Day Flawless Primer
Max Factor Lash Crown Mascara
Max Factor Creme Bronzer
Max Factor Colour Elixir Honey Lacquer Smooth and Shine in Honey Nude (I LOVE this gloss)
Show Beauty Riche Grooming Balm (Smells so good!)
Nails Inc Snowglobe Nail Polish in New Globe Walk or Special Effect Nail Polish in Savoy Row
Spectrum Collections Small Rain Glow Fan Brush A10
James Read Sleep Mask Tan
The Wet Brush Detangle Brush
Espa Overnight Hydration Therapy
Miller Harris Rose Silence Eau de Parfum
The Greatest Showman Beauty Box by Latest in Beauty

As you can see, it really is brilliant value for money with absolutely no 'filler' products in site. The Latest in Beauty The Greatest Showman Beauty Box would also make a stunning gift this Christmas for the beauty lover in your life. The box retails for £40 and is available at Latest in Beauty. If you're tempted, be quick- there are only 1000 in existence!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Missguided Babe Power Atomizer Set

I'll put my hand up and admit that this scent really caught me off guard! When I first heard about the Babe Power fragrance from Missguided, I didn't really give it too much thought. I just assumed the scent would be a little too 'young' for me and I've actually never tried any high street type clothing retailer's own branded fragrances before. However, at first sniff I was impressed. Fragrance is sooo subjective and so personal - one person's trash is another's treasure etc - and I'm happy to say that personally I find Babe Power to be a fun, pretty and deceptively sophisticated scent.
Missguided Babe Power Perfume Travel Set

I say deceptive because at first it comes across as very sweet and for a split second I thought it could only be for those who like their fragrances really sugary. But in that same moment it becomes something altogether more grown-up and oddly... comforting. I'm certainly no fragrance expert by any means but I know what I'm drawn to- often gourmand-esque scents- and to me, Babe Power rivals some of the classic (and expensive) sweeter perfumes. It's little wonder really that it's been such a popular fragrance this year.

The perfume has a gorgeous sort of edible sweetness to it at first (think baked dessert type treats and candyfloss) that's complemented beautifully by a baby-powdery edge. I think it's the powdery element that I find oddly comforting actually. The official notes of Missguided Babe Power Eau de Parfum are:
Gourmand Vanilla, Musk, Amber Crystals, Citrus Fusion, Moss, Heliotrope, Orange Blossom, Peony, Jasmine, Grapefruit Zest, Sour Cherry, Pink Pepper, Crisp Apple, Pineapple, Rhubarb and Absinthe.
The set I have here features a mini 15ml twist-up version of the cylindrical, rose gold 'can' design and a 15ml refill. Pretty perfect for travel/ stashing in your handbag or coat pocket and really perfect for gifting.
You can find the Babe Power Atomizer Set at Missguided.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Black Jeans - An A/W Staple | Ad

When I was a teenager, my wardrobe consisted of about 90 percent black clothing. Black tops, black jeans, little black dresses, black coats, even black socks- when it came to my clothing, the darker the garment, the more likely I was to wear it. Fast forward a decade or two and these days, while I no longer fear colour, my black clothing items still remain my staple pieces that I reach for more often than not. I'm particularly fond of black jeans and skirts because they can easily be dressed up or down and complement virtually anything I fancy wearing up top. I pretty much live in black jeans in Autumn/ Winter as not only do they keep my legs toasty, they make me feel confident and comfortable and instantly 'put together'.
My only bugbear with my beloved black jeans (and tops for that matter) is that they do need to be washed and therefore over time lose that dark richness that makes them so appealing in the first place. I want my black clothes to stay black but I also obviously want to be able to wash them regularly without fearing the dreaded fade.
Surf Perfect Black Liquid
Jeans: *Topshop, Belt: H&M, Cardigan: ASOS

This is where Surf Perfect Black Detergent comes in. Specially designed to keep your dark clothes looking newer for longer, Surf Perfect Black is aptly named as it's the perfect laundry detergent for lovers of black and darker coloured clothing. Suitable for all dark clothes, Surf Perfect Black helps to prevent that fading we've all come to expect after washing our fave dark gladrags more than a few times. It's always a bit disheartening when I pull out one of my most comfortable black vests to wear only to notice that it lacks the vibrancy it used to have and looks frankly too dull and well loved to ever see the light of day again! So a product designed to keep my treasured dark items looking fresh and new for longer is definitely something I can get on board with.
Call me fickle but the scent of my laundry products is pretty important to me (Rich and I often have a sneaky sniff in the supermarket before choosing our detergents and fabric softener) and I can definitely put my hand up and say that Surf Perfect Black smells pretty superb with its exotic midnight orchid lily scent. Scent-appeal aside, the big question is does Surf Perfect Black come through with the goods and do what it says it does? Can it really keep my dark clothes looking new for longer? 
In the image below you can see the results of Surf Perfect Black in action. The jeans are all the same pair of black jeans I’m wearing in the photo above - the pair at the top is brand new, the pair in the middle has been washed twenty times with Surf Perfect Black liquid and the bottom pair has been washed twenty times with a powder detergent. 
Surf Perfect Black Liquid Jeans Test

I think we can all agree there's a pretty clear difference - the pair that has been washed with the powder detergent are significantly more faded and have lost those indigo dyes that are often first to go when washing black clothes leaving it looking a bit grey/brownish. As an avid wearer of black and dark clothing, I'm pretty excited by the revelation that is Surf Perfect Black. I know that's a little dramatic because we're talking about laundry detergent here, but it's the little pleasures in life that make all the difference, right?
Surf Perfect Black Liquid

If you like your darks dark and want to keep your own black jeans looking new for longer, keep an eye out for Surf Perfect Black next time you're in your local supermarket. Surf Perfect Black is available in selected Tesco, ASDA and Sainsbury's and is also available to purchase online here.

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Surf Perfect Black

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Aequill Juniper Berry and Cedarwood Candle

The first thing you should know about this candle is that it smells likes a double gin and tonic. I could even go as far as saying that the Juniper and Cedarwood Candle smells like enjoying a gin and tonic by the fireplace. That probably sounds a bit contrived but if you could smell this, you'd totally understand!
Gin is made from Juniper berries so it makes sense that the fragrance is going to somewhat resemble the cocktail while the addition of Cedarwood creates that toasty Autumnal feel.

Aequill Juniper Berry and Cedarwood Candle

Perfect for candle lovers who enjoy rich, woody fragrances, the candle also features notes of Bergamot and Vetiver to complete the scent beautifully.
The Juniper Berry and Cedarwood Candle is part of Aequill's 'Mum's Aromatherapy Shop' range which founder Jintana Khieochuam created after being inspired by helping her mum blend essential oils in her beauty shop.
Other candles in the range include Grapefruit and Vetiver, Lavender and Marjoram, Lemon and Rose Geranium and Orange and Ylang Ylang. The candles are paraffin wax based for optimum scent throw.

I think the backstory of Aequill as a brand is quite nice- Jintana was born in Thailand and moved to London with her mother who owned a beauty therapy clinic. Growing up, Jintana was surrounded by essential oils and was intrigued by their therapeutic properties. Her interest in essential oils coupled with an obsession with candles gave way to the inception of Aequill, which is based on the idea that old and new worlds need to collide for a sustainable balance. Like the rest of the range, the Juniper Berry and Cedarwood Candle is presented in a 100% recycled glass jar and is hand poured. The traditional apothecary feel of the packaging is inspired by Jintana's first job in a chemist.
To finish, each box is hand-stamped with a wax seal. Gorgeous. Aequill 'Mum's Aromatherapy Shop' candles are available in regular (approx 200g) for £24 and travel size (approx 100g) for £14. Interestingly, Aequill also offer an eco-refill service which I think is a very cool touch.
You can read more about Aequill and find stockists here.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Halloween Offerings at The Bentall Centre

Call me predictable but Autumn is definitely my favourite time of year. There's something so undeniably special about crisp, cool days and evenings spent snuggled up and cosy. On top of the beautiful weather, we have Halloween to look forward to and now that I'm a mum I've got a feeling I'll be getting into the spirit a little more from now on- whether I like it or not! I recently visited The Bentall Centre in Kingston to check out how the centre's various stores are marking this October 31st. Claire's is one shop that always comes through with the goods when it comes to playing dress up and their offerings this Halloween are no exception. They have many different options for kids and grownups alike; from wigs and gory or glamorous makeup to unicorn headbands, Claire's have got you covered. For a subtle touch of spook, Aussie brand Kikki K have a pair of very cute ceramic ghost ornaments available in two sizes as well as a kitsch ghostly tote bag and Halloween bunting.
Halloween Bunting from Kikki K £6.00. Image from
Ghost ornaments £4.75 each and Ghost Tote £9. Images from

If Halloween treats you can drink are more your thing, pop into Whittard of Chelsea and check out their spooky seasonal delights - the Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate is SO GOOD and the Toffee Apple Fruit Infusion Tea is guaranteed to satisfy the most discerning sweet tooth.
Whittard Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate and Toffee Apple Tea. £7 each. I knew that owl wearing a witches hat would come in handy one day...

During my visit to The Bentall Centre, I inevitably ended up in the Bentall's beauty hall which is probably my favourite haunt when I'm in Kingston (see what I did there?). I spent some time with the team at NARS to find out how to get a subtly spooky, perfectly wearable Halloween look. The MUA, Vanessa, used an assortment of brown and red toned shadows on my eyes for something less predictable and softer than a classic black smoky eye. As my eyes are quite hooded, Vanessa showed me some tips to open them up (matte shades are the way to go) and I had a little bit of subtle contouring, my brows were filled and given more definition before the look was finished with a nude lip achieved with NARS' new Powermatte Lip Pigment. The formula of this felt impressively light on the lips and had enough staying power to remain intact after I scoffed a large burrito from the recently opened lunch hotspot Tortilla!

If you're after something creepy, kooky and all-together spooky, chances are you'll find it at The Bentall Centre in Kingston this Halloween. You can visit The Bentall Centre at Wood Street, Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 1TP.

I received a gift card and makeup application. Views my own.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Juliette Armand Skincare

I really enjoy discovering skincare brands that were previously unfamiliar to me so when I received an email about Greek brand Juliette Armand, my interest was certainly piqued. Juliette Armand is not a new brand, in fact it was established in 1992 and has enjoyed success in the rest of Europe and South America and remained virtually unknown in the UK market - but that's about to change. The brand was created by Michalis Papaefstratiou and Loulia Armagou, two chemists who wanted to enter the beauty industry and develop new formulas while applying personal values to their laboratory work. The entire skincare range is based on quality ingredients and effective formulas and includes lines specific to conditions such as acne and sensitivity and features products focused on a range of areas such as anti-aging and oil control.
I've had three products to try from the Juliette Armand Elements range including a cleanser, hyaluronic acid serum and moisturiser so I've really been able to get stuck in and gain some good understanding of the brand's products in general.
juliette armand hydra cleansing milk

Juliette Armand Hyaluronic Serumjuliette armand moisturiser

First up, the Hydra Cleansing Milk. I've used this as a 'first cleanse'  on a few occasions to remove makeup and general griminess and found it to be perfectly effective and also impressively gentle. Recommended for combination, dry, 'normal' and sensitive skin, the mild milk contains chamomile extract and green aloe to moisturise the skin while the trademarked cleansing complex ingredient removes dirt and makeup. What exactly constitutes this mysterious trademarked cleansing component? I actually cannot for the life of me find out what it is so I think it must be a closely guarded secret! Rest assured though that this brand does not include anything that the green beauty movement might refer to as nasties (parabens, mineral oil, propylene glycol). It's worth mentioning that the Hydra Cleansing Milk effectively removed eye makeup too.
I love me a Hyaluronic Acid Serum and this one from Juliette Armand rivals some of the more expensive versions I've tried in terms of texture and how it feels on the skin. We know by now that hyaluronic acid is incredibly hydrating and is a brilliant addition to skincare regimes, especially for those with dry and dehydrated skins. The acid can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water and is slow release so it's a brilliant option for all day or night hydration.
The serum is beautifully lightweight, non-greasy and fast absorbing, perfectly prepping the skin for moisturiser. 
The Juliette Armand Extra Moisturising 24h Cream is designed to provide intense hydration for normal, dry and dehydrated skins. The cream features hyaluronic acid, collagen exclusively of marine origin and an ingredient called Moist 24. Moist 24  is extracted from a plant that grows in Asia and Oceania called Imperata Cylindrical. This plant grows and thrives in extremely dry weather conditions due to its ability to retain water. I for one am glad that the collagen in this is marine collagen because I really do get a bit squeamish over 'pig collagen' products! Designed to plump out fine lines and restore the skin's moisture balance, the moisturising cream is a pleasure to use as it's quite rich and creamy yet absorbs well.

After using the Juliette Armand regime, my skin feels soft and plump, which is exactly the effect I'm after really. I like how simple the products seem at face value, even though a tremendous amount of research and formulation has gone into each one. When I first started writing about these products, the word that kept coming to mind is 'inoffensive' so I'm just going to go ahead and use that word I guess! The products I tried are virtually scent free and gentle, so I imagine they'd appeal to most people. The Juliette Armand brand has a pretty extensive range of different products including a cacao peeling cream, scrub mask and colour control cream to name just a few.
You can find out more about Juliette Armand and purchase products in the UK at Naturastudios.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

3 Struggles of Having a Fringe (and how to deal)

So you've taken the plunge and allowed a hairdresser to get scissor-happy across your forehead. Your fringe sits perfectly and frames your features just right. Then a day or so later you WASH YOUR HAIR and think that maybe going for the chop wasn't such a fabulous idea after all...

I've had a fringe on and off since the age of 7. Full and thick, short and blunt, to the side, cut by my mum and lopsided, choppy and textured- you name the fringe, I've had it. With all this experience of fringe-bearing I know all about the very real struggles that come with a slab of hair hanging over your forehead. 

The Cowlick

I have a cowlick on the right hand side of my fringe and the struggle is real. Letting my hair air dry results in a lovely straight fringe three quarters of the way across my forehead then BAM a random chunk of fringe that curves off to the side in a sort of 90's boyband floppy-curtain-hair way. If I am just air-drying my hair (which 99% of the time is my hair drying method...) I just use kirby grips/ bobby pins to sort of train the cowlick bit to lay more flat. I have naturally straight hair so more often than not, just pinning the fringe across to one side with a couple of grips for a few hours or while I do my makeup makes it look a bit less wayward. After years of having various fringes I have come to appreciate that hair grips are almost essential when you have a fringe.

The Grease Factor

Greasy hair is just not nice is it? But a greasy fringe? Heinous! Fringes oil up quickly because they are pretty much in constant contact with one's forehead, and there's not a whole lot you can do to avoid the inevitable - you can delay it though with this nifty trick. Powder your forehead. That's right, once you've finished doing your make up, sweep some translucent and mattifying powder across your forehead to keep excess oil at bay and away from your fringe. Any sort of powder will do but from my experience, those designed for oily skin work best. If your fringe still gets greasy quickly and you're not into washing your hair everyday, keep in mind that there's no law against tying or pinning your hair back and just washing your fringe when you feel it needs it. Also, dry shampoo used sparingly will sort you out if you don't have the time or inclination to wash your bangs.

Growing Pains

There's no denying that growing out a fringe is generally pretty awkward and tedious. They seem to grow so quickly too don't they! Growing out a fringe is another scenario where hair grips are your best friend - sometimes there is no other option than to pin it back and hope for the best. In the past, I've braided a growing-out fringe with the rest of my hair to keep it out of my face (hairspray helps in this situation to stop the shorter bits of hair popping out) and also rolled/ twisted the fringe back before pinning. Once the fringe is getting a bit of length to it, start 'training' it over to one side by brushing it to an angle (like a long side fringe) and adding a bit of product to keep it in place. If the growing out phase is just too annoying, head back to your hairdresser for a fringe trim and tidy up - most will do it for free or for around £5 - £10.

While fringes can be annoying to maintain and often add more time to your morning routine, the extra effort is totally worth it. I love that I just look a bit more polished when I'm sporting a fringe even when I'm wearing ludicrously odd socks and have baby drool down my front.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Farmacy Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer

I'm an absolute sucker for sweet sounding beauty products (and by that I mean literally sweet) so it was pretty much inevitable that I was going to want to try the Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer from green beauty brand Farmacy.
Farmacy is particularly interesting because they are a true farm-to-face beauty brand, meaning they use ingredients in their products that are cultivated from their very own farm. The brand's signature ingredient, Echinacea GreenEnvy Honey is created by bees buzzing around on the farm and is incidentally the star component in the Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer. 

Gel-cream in texture, the moisturizer combines a Triple Hyaluronic Acid Complex, royal jelly, propolis and the GreenEnvy, which is high in Cichoric Acid - a natural antioxidant - and is blended with honey for a hydrating effect. The moisturizer also features a concoction of non-GMO fermented soy, meadowfoam and camellia seed oils, mistletoe (!), and Japanese blood grass (!!).
The real icing on the cake is the inclusion of tiny Cupuacu butter beads which melt on application to provide long lasting moisture. Cupuacu butter is high in fatty acids and therefore helps to soften and moisturise the skin.

As well as imparting an instant glowing, dewy look, Honey Drop boosts moisture levels and over time is designed to improve the firmness and elasticity of the skin. At the moment I am alternating between this and three other moisturisers, so I can't accurately comment on the effects of long term use but can confirm that this feels really, really lovely on the skin. Even though Honey Drop has the word 'lightweight' in the title, I still expected it to be heavy for some reason - I suppose because it looks quite thick and creamy- but it really isn't. It manages to feel almost weightless on (even when I've gone a bit overboard and applied what can only be described as a 'dollop') and manages to give a bit of glow without any of the grease. In terms of scent, this cream really doesn't smell of an awful lot, just a slightly clean and subtle honey-esque fragrance so don't expect (or fear) an overpowering sweet fragrance. To top it all off, the extremely pretty, semi-rustic looking heavy glass jar is complete with a magnetic metal spatula that sticks to the lid. Ingenious. 

You can find Farmacy Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer in the UK at Cult Beauty for £38 for 50ml.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Social Season with The Bentall Centre Kingston

Summer may be officially over but we are off on our first proper holiday with the baby today.
We've gone away in September/October for the past two years and so far have found the weather to be ideal around that time of year- pleasantly warm rather than blisteringly hot- so it should be the ideal temperature for a little one. It was great timing, then, that I was recently invited down to The Bentall Centre to see if I could find a few bits to take away on holiday with me. If you've got a social event coming up and have a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear (you know how it is), The Bentall Centre is a great place to start really. Boasting an impressive range of clothing stores such as H&M, Superdry and Hollister as well as the plethora of brands on offer in Bentalls within The Bentall Centre, you're sure to find something perfect for any occasion. We are holidaying in Crete so I was on the hunt for flowy fabrics and beautiful bikinis to clothe my post-partum body. H&M is pretty reliable for on-trend, affordable pieces as well as classic basics, so I spent a while scouring the racks for something to make me feel like a Grecian Goddess. Or something like that.
I've always wanted a classic cotton Kaftan that can be dressed up with a bit of jewellery or left plain as a simple beach or poolside cover up and this one from H&M fits the bill perfectly. I also needed something to actually wear underneath the kaftan so chose this blue patterned bikini- it's a bit Missoni-esque I think and very different to what I might normally go for.

The Bentall Centre isn't just about shopping- they have a brilliant selection of places to eat too. We refueled at Restaurant on 3 which is in Bentalls within The Bentall Centre. We shared a quiche to start and for mains I had vege lasagna which hit the spot and Rich enjoyed rotisserie chicken with all the trimmings. Not only does Restaurant on 3 serve a range of varied and tasty food, it also has a lovely relaxed atmosphere which is especially welcome when you have an unpredictable 4 month old on your hands.
After lunch I went and got lost in one of my favourite places within The Bentall Centre- the beauty hall in Bentalls. This place is home to all the usual suspects including MAC, Estée Lauder, Clarins, YSL and more and also features Tom Ford, La Mer and La Prairie- an absolute dream for any skincare and makeup lover. It's very, very difficult to leave empty handed so obviously I didn't- a browse of the Charlotte Tilbury counter resulted in me leaving with a lip pencil in Iconic Nude for a toned down lip look that I know won't budge after a dolmade or two.

To find something perfect for yourself this social season, head down to The Bentall Centre at Wood Street, Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 1TP.

I was invited to The Bentall Centre and gifted a gift card. Words and opinions my own.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

3 Reasons to Love Clarins Renew-Plus Body Serum

Body lotions are generally not something I give that much thought to (I'm more of a facial skincare person you know) but there is one particular body-beautifier that I firmly consider as a desert island staple. Clarins Renew Plus Body Serum does it for me every time and is one of those products I have and will continue to purchase myself/ request from Santa for three very good reasons:

Clarins renew-plus body serum

It makes my skin feel great

The gel-creme texture of the concentrated serum sinks into my skin almost instantly and has a welcome cooling effect that's perfect after a hot shower or bath. I hate the feeling of heavy lotions on my body during summer so Renew Plus is an ideal option for warm weather - it really does absorb so quickly that there's no waiting around in the nude, willing it to dry so I can put clothes on! That's not to say I don't use it equally as much when it's cold though. Once applied, the result is smooth, silky feeling skin that almost rivals my 4 month old in terms of softness. Almost

It smells gorgeous

Ok, I know that scent is a very subjective thing and I'm sure that there are some people who don't love the delicious fragrance of Renew Plus. Personally, I adore the powdery, timeless scent of the Serum and feel like it adds a glamorous touch to the act of moisturizing my limbs. If you don't like fragrance in your body products, this probably won't be your cup of tea, but personally I really like the scent and feel like it is just as wearable for an eighteen year old as it is for someone in their seventies.  The lotion also makes my pajamas (read: one of Rich's old shirts) smell lovely too as the scent tends to transfer slightly.

It improves the texture of my skin

Many people rave about Clarins Renew Plus Body Serum as a solution to rid themselves of Keratosis Pilaris and I've got to say the rumours are true. After a couple of weeks of using Renew Plus, my upper arms are significantly smoother with just a few chicken-skin-esque spots remaining- and that's not even using it every day. The serum effectively combats KP because it contains a pre-retinol and Wintergreen extract which both work to gently remove dead skin cells. In other words, it sort of 'unplugs' the keratin build-up from the hair follicles that cause the little raised bumps.

Because the Body Serum is quite concentrated, I don't use a lot at a time and only really reserve it for my arms. It's not exactly cheap but it is certainly cheerful so I'll continue to use it both for its beautiful scent and skin smoothing effect- it really is a little luxury for the body.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Biologique Recherche Facial at Aesthetics Lab

Finding the balance between relaxing and effective beauty treatments is a true skill and Primrose Hill clinic Aesthetics Lab have certainly mastered it. I was recently invited along to try one of Aesthetics Lab's coveted facial treatments, so armed with high expectations and overwhelming excitement at the prospect of lying down for an hour sans baby, I popped down to find out what all the fuss is about.
Nestled among the cafes and boutiques of Primrose Hill's Regents Park Road, Aesthetics Lab offers a range of beauty treatments and procedures for the face and body. From facials and peels to semi-permanent makeup, nose reshaping, lip enhancements and vaginal rejuvenation, Aesthetics Lab is the one-stop beauty destination for the who's who of North West London and beyond. My visit on this occasion was all about the face - an area I have admittedly neglected a bit since having my baby- so I was more than a little happy to have a professional assess my skin and give it some much needed attention. 
Aesthetics Lab
The front of house area is chic, clean and modern.

The Treatment

On arrival, I was given a warm welcome and offered refreshments while I filled out my pre-consultation form before my Aesthetician for the day, Joanna, came to collect me and showed me the way to one of the treatment rooms. After a thorough consultation in which we discussed what I wanted to gain from the treatment, I was left alone for a few minutes to get comfy. After analyzing my skin, Joanna commented that she could tell I sleep on my right side as I had deeper lines on that side of my face (I know right!) and recommended we try the Biologique Recherche facial. Now, I'd never tried any Biologique Recherche products before but had wanted to for years, so I was really happy my maiden voyage with the luxe French skincare brand was going to be via a pair of skilled and professional hands. The facial began with the gentle removal of my makeup using Lait VIP O2 and introduction massage (which nearly resulted in me falling asleep five minutes in) followed by application of the coveted lotion P50V to exfoliate. 
L'Eauxygenante was then misted over my face to hydrate and oxygenate the skin. Following this, my Aesthetician applied a mixture of Soin Lissant lotion and powder using the unique Biologique Recherche application technique. Made up of sculpting movements, combined with quick pulsing strokes, the sensation was unlike anything I'd experienced before in a facial. The technique is like an amazing sort of facial massage and there's nothing dainty about it. It's not delicate but I didn't find it uncomfortable in the slightest, it does definitely feel like it's actually doing something though!
Biomagic and Biosensible masks were then applied ( I love the feeling of a mask being brushed expertly onto my face) and I was treated to the most beautifully relaxing neck and shoulder massage while my skin absorbed the goodness. Once the masks were removed, Serum Extraits Tissulaires provided the perfect finishing touch before I was put under an LED light for an extra boost.
Aesthetics Lab
One of the beautiful treatment rooms at Aesthetics Lab

Time flies when you're completely blissed out and before I knew it, it was all over and it was time for me to check out the results in the mirror. I came to Aesthetics Lab as a sleep-deprived, rather shabby looking new mother with dark bags under my eyes and left with a brighter, tighter, lifted complexion. My cheekbones were suddenly visible and I could totally see why A-list Londoners visit Aesthetics Lab for a pre-red carpet treatment. Aesthetics Lab certainly proved that facials can be effective and still be wonderfully relaxing. I'll certainly be back!
For more information and to read about their range of treatments, visit the Aesthetics Lab site or drop in to see the team at 128 Regents Park Road, Primrose Hill, London NW1 8XL. You can read about the facial treatments they offer here.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Bio-Extracts Eye Contour Collection

I love the concept of bespoke skincare so the Eye Contour Collection from vegan brand Bio-Extracts really appeals to me. The idea of this little set is to personalize the eye contour cream to suit your needs by using the 'boosts' and mixing them with the cream.
Bio-Extracts Cream and Boosts
The boosts are Brightening Boost and Lift and Firm Boost and are packaged in cool syringe-style tubes that deliver a shot of serum to be mixed in with the cream.
Contained in a sturdy tub with a clever and hygienic dispensing mechanism in the lid, the Eye Contour Age Defying Cream has been designed to bring instant hydration to the eye area and is said to even be effective on very dry or mature skins. It also happens to smell spectacular. I realize how odd that may sound- after all, eye care products aren't usually renowned for their fragrance, but this just smells so great (kind of fresh and fruity) that I couldn't not mention it. The cream features the brand's signature Multi-Lamellar System® which Bio-Extracts explain as: 'Liquid crystals (100% vegetal origin) which match the lamellar structure of the skin itself. They act as a ‘second skin’ and help to restore the barrier of damaged skin. Ultra-mild and highly pure, they build an excellent tolerance for even the most sensitive skins. Strong water binders, sugar esters bring natural moisturisation to the skin.'
As well as smelling amazing, the cream is non-greasy and absorbs beautifully. It also has a slight yet very welcome cooling effect. A lovely product in its own right, the cream acts as the base to which you add the booster serums- as mentioned the cream and serums are mixed on the lid before application.
Bio-Extracts Eye Contour Cream
Bio-Extracts Eye Contour Boost
Back to the Boosters - thin and watery in consistency, the serums can be mixed with the cream one at a time or blended together. The Brightening Boost is recommended for use in the morning as it's designed to create a wide-awake, refreshed look. The serum contains Elderberry Flower which aids in pigmentation reduction and has anti-oxidant and anti-inflamatory properties.
Designed for use at night, the Lift & Firm Boost has been formulated to increase the elasticity and firmness of the skin. The serum features Snake Flower extract (a succulent similar to Aloe) which has been shown to boost collagen.
For more information about the Eye Contour Collection and the other Bio-Extracts products, visit the Bio-Extracts site

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Dermatude Meta Therapy Skincare

Meta Therapy is a 'facelift alternative' that combines skin rejuvenation, anti-aging, hydration and recovery in one unique treatment. Standing for Medical and Esthetical Tissue Activation, Meta Therapy is 100% natural and offers visible results without the use of fillers, botox and other invasive techniques. The brand behind the Meta Therapy concept is Dermatude and they've also developed a range of skincare products to both complement the Meta Therapy treatment and use as stand alone products. I have the Dermatude Stem Cell Reactivator Serum and Active Hydra Booster Cream and have dipped into both on and off for a good few months now. For some reason I had assumed that as they are complementary to the professional Meta Therapy treatment that they would feel a bit 'clinical' to use, but they are actually quite luxurious!

Dermatude Stem Cell Reactivator Serum

Dermatude Meta Therapy Skincare Review
The concentrated formula contains PhtyoCellTech Malus Domestica - which is a 'liposomal preparation' of Swiss apple stem cells - and Q10. The apple stem cell preparation stimulates the production of new skin cells and provides a firming effect while antioxidant Q10 works to reduce signs of aging. The Reactivator Serum feels like water on the skin and contains tiny micro-capsules that burst on application.

It's unscented, so suitable for people who are irritated by fragranced skincare products. The serum can be used anytime but I mainly put on a pump or two at night under my night cream. It has an instantly quenching effect which is very, very welcome at the moment because my skin has been unbelievably dry since I had my baby three months ago. You can find out more about the Stem Cell Reactivator Serum here.

Dermatude Active Hydra Booster Cream

Dermatude Meta Therapy Skincare Review
This rich cream is another total skin thirst quencher. Delectably thick, the cream is packed with Sodium Hyaluronate which is similar to Hyaluronic Acid but has a smaller molecule and is therefore absorbed into the skin more easily. Ideal for dehydrated skin (like mine *cough*), the rich cream contains Shea Butter and Sunflower Oil and is also fragrance free.
I reach for this cream when my skin is feeling really tight and dried out and it's just like giving it a big glass of water. You can find out more about the Active Hydra Booster Cream on the Dermatude site.

For more information about Dermatude as a brand as well as their innovative Meta Therapy treatments, visit the website here.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

With a name like that, there was simply no way I wasn't going to buy Sol de Janeiro's Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. It's incredibly clever marketing on the one hand but on the other, it's also a really lovely product. Sol de Janeiro is a US brand all about Brazilian beauty philosophies with a strong emphasis on caring for and maintaining the appearance of the bum bum (pronounced boom boom in Brazil) and this pot of cream has reached cult status thanks to its cheeky name, creamy formula and delectable scent. 
brazilian bum bum cream

Designed to be applied to your bum bum and anywhere else that you want to firm up and add a little shimmer to, the Bum Bum Cream is rich in Guarana, which is high in caffeine and said to stimulate circulation to keep bottoms smooth and tight! Personally, my butt is going to need a lot more help than what any cosmetic can possibly offer but it's a really nice product all the same.
The cream features a blend of Cupuacu butter, Coconut Oil, Brazil Nut and Acai to nourish and soften and is spiked with a tiny amount of Mica for a subtle shimmer - the perfect finishing touch to an already beautiful formula I think.
brazilian bum bum cream

brazilian bum bum cream

The cream is thick and absorbs beautifully but the real kicker for me is the scent. Sweet mercy, this stuff smells delicious. Officially, the scent of the Bum Bum Cream is pistachio and salted caramel but I reckon it also has a bit of a sexy, almost boozy fragrance note in there somewhere. Maybe a bit like an alcoholic milkshake? I find that the scent does linger but dries down to something much more subtle than how it starts, so even if you're not a great fan of smells-like-you-could-eat-it fragrances, you'll probably still enjoy using the cream.
While I haven't used the Bum Bum Cream often enough (or paid enough attention) to comment on how well it firms the skin, it's still an absolute winner in my book and a definite recommendation for the summer and beyond.
I have the travel sized 75ml version of the Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Cream (£18), which is brilliant if you're off on holidays or you'd like to try it without hurting your wallet but it's also available in a large 240ml tub (£44).
I bought the Bum Bum Cream from Cult Beauty but you can also find it at Selfridges.

Friday, 9 June 2017

New Aurelia Body Cleanser + Serum

Aurelia Probiotic Skincare is one of those natural skincare brands that I have loved watching grow over the years. It really has gone from strength to strength and earned itself quite the reputation for its collection of effective natural skincare formulas. With that in mind, it's so great to see the award-winning brand adding to their range of bodycare products that will undoubtedly be just as covetable as the original lotions and potions that started it all.

To me, warm weather calls for refreshing bath and body products and the new Aurelia body products are a beautiful example of this. Zingy, uplifting, citrusy formulas are the perfect accompaniment to warm summer days and offer the ideal antidote to sweat and humidity. Housed in a convenient pump-action bottle, the Aurelia Restorative Cream Body Cleanser (£32) strikes a perfect balance between zesty refreshment and nourishing hydration thanks to a combination of geranium, clementine, rosemary and mandarin steam distilled essential oils.
The sulphate free formula offers a surprisingly generous lather from the aloe vera and Sodium cocoyl isethionate base (Sodium cocoyl isethionate is a gentle surfactant derived from coconut oil). 
Packed full of botanical ingredients including baobab and hibiscus, the bio-organic Cleanser is equally as refreshing when used first thing in the morning as it is soothing and comforting when I lather up with it before bed. I also find the scent to be quite unisex- not overly floral or typically feminine- so it's a perfect cleanser to leave in your shower for all to enjoy (if you can resist keeping it all for yourself, obviously). A really lovely point about this cleanser is that it leaves me feeling fresh, uplifted and above all, clean, but doesn't make my skin feel tight or 'stripped' in the slightest. Win.

The Firm & Replenish Body Serum (£48) is the perfect follow up product to use after the Restorative Cleanser. Featuring a similarly zesty citrus vibe, the serum is designed to be smoothed all over the body for an intensely nourishing, lifting effect. Featuring the same pump bottle design as the cleanser, the milky serum contains mandarin, angelica, bergamot and cedar wood blended with a coconut oil derivative and sweet almond oil for fast absorption that leaves skin silky. Since I had my baby in April, my skin has been so incredibly DRY so I'm really enjoying the hydrating and soothing effect of the serum without the heaviness of a thick body butter, which is a feeling I really can't tolerate as soon as the temperature gets above about 20 degrees! For now I've been using the Firm & Replenish Body Serum on my arms and legs but once my c-section scar has healed properly I imagine I will be slathering this liberally on my tummy and abdomen in an effort to firm things up a bit. It's worth mentioning that this is apparently a fantastic product for mums-to-be to keep growing bellies moisturised and supple.

If you're keen to try the new Restorative Cream Body Cleanser and the Firm & Replenish Body Serum (or anything from the bodycare collection really) I have a little treat for you - just enter the code BODY15 at the checkout for 15% off anything from the Bodycare range. Valid until 30th June 2017.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Dafna's Personal Skincare Nutrition Night Treatment

I love an eco-luxe skincare product and this rich, buttery night treatment really is no exception.
Dafna's Nutrition Night Treatment is one of those products that pretty much ticks every box for me; Natural? Check. Effective? Check. Luxury? Check. Great scent? Check!
Housed in a decadently heavy black glass jar, Nutrition comprises of 21 natural active ingredients including essential oils and botanical extracts and has a subtle yet utterly heavenly scent that perfectly complements the overall vibe of the cream- that is, natural and distinctly luxurious.
Dafna's Nutrition Night Treatment
Dafna's Nutrition Night Treatment

Active ingredients include ginseng, propolis, green tea, reishi, and rosewood and vanilla SOIL registered essential oils blended in a rich base of silky shea butter, glycerin, rosa damascena flower water, rosehip seed oil, macadamia seed oil, olive oil, argan oil and jojoba seed oil. The result is a gorgeously thick, almost caramel hued cream that instantly moisturises and sinks into the skin quickly. At first glance, I assumed that Nutrition would leave an oily feeling on my skin- it is super rich after all- but it really doesn't. In fact, to use a cliched phrase I type far too much on this blog, my skin really does drink this up. In other words, it absorbs like a dream. Because the texture is so thick, only a pea-sized amount is needed for my whole face and neck. Nutrition is part of Dafna's DR2 wellness range, which is a collection of products developed to counteract the environmental stressors that come with city living - perfect if you live in London really! The cream is designed to protect the skin from free radicals and strengthen its natural defences, build collagen and elastin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and hydrate the skin. Nutrition also has aroma-therapeutic benefits and brings a sense of calm and wellbeing when applied. I was surprised by the scent when I first tried it, actually, because it is really quite subtle so not likely to alienate skin care lovers who aren't all that keen on heavily scented products for the face. 
Overall, Nutrition is a truly stunning creation, so it's little wonder that it's quickly gaining cult status.
Dafna's Nutrition Night Treatment recently won a Beauty Shortlist award in the Best Night Cream category and is available at Dafna Skincare and Content Beauty and Wellbeing where it retails for £75.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Three Tubing Mascaras You Need to Try

Weirdly, I don't actually have a favourite mascara. I guess I just get bored easily and brands are constantly releasing new and improved formulas and high tech wands and brushes that promise to lengthen, curl or volumise lashes and I inevitably get sucked in and want to try what's new. While I can't say I have a favourite particular mascara, years of trying out various high street and high end offerings has led to the discovery of a favourite formula; tubing. Tubing mascaras are not a very new concept but the 'tube' formula is being adopted by more and more brands due to its staying power and ease of removal.
tubing mascaras

Tubing mascaras use polymer formulas that encase individual lashes rather than painting them, so they are generally a good option if you don't want to deal with smudges (and who does, really) and want a mascara that requires minimal effort to remove. Tubing mascaras generally remove easily with just a little warm water to loosen the bonds, so little to no rubbing is required- great for sensitive eyes and arguably better for the condition of the lashes themselves.
My first experience with the formula involved a miniature sized tube of Clinique Lash Power which I think may have been a magazine freebie or part of a gift with purchase. I remember being a little bit mesmerized by how odd it felt when taking the mascara off- like each eyelash had been wearing it's own little rubbery suit of sorts- and how there was no evidence of the dreaded panda eye in sight.
Since that first wear of Clinique Lash Power, tubing formulas have been one of my favourite types of mascara to use so I'm always keen to try tubing offerings from various brands. These are my current tubing mascaras I have on rotation right now:

DHC Perfect Pro Double Protection Mascara

DHC Double Protection Mascara

I find the simplicity of this DHC mascara quite refreshing. The sleek, silver packaging and minimalist design perfectly complement the small brush which seems to easily grab every lash. Apparently this is Emma Watson's favourite mascara and I totally get why-  it's really, really easy to use and utilizes Japanese tubing technology to add volume and length to every lash. This mascara lasts ages on means I've even put in and taken out contact lenses with it on. The small brush and non-smudge formula make it perfect for doing bottom lashes too. £15.90 at Escentual.

L'Oreal Double Extension Mascara

L'Oreal Double Extension Mascara

I rather enjoy the two-step ritual of applying this mascara. First priming the lashes with the white conditioning base coat that contains little fibres and then sealing the deal with the inky black mascara. This mascara gives great 'length' due in part to the fibers in the base coat so it's a worthwhile option if your lashes are on the shorter side. The longevity is decent too but I did find it a little more difficult to remove than the other two tubers. £11.29 at Boots.

Eyeko Black Magic Mascara

Eyeko Black Magic Mascara

Eyeko are pretty well know for their excellent tubing mascaras and Black Magic is no exception. Featuring a sizable curved brush, this mascara curls and lifts the lashes in one go and the formula dries pretty quickly once on the lashes. I really like the packaging of Eyeko mascaras in general- the squeeze tube means you get the most bang for your buck as you can almost get to every last drop before giving up and getting another tube. £17.50 at Marks and Spencer.

Like virtually all tubing mascaras, these three remove easily with just warm water. I found DHC Perfect Pro Double Protect Mascara removes the quickest though and (just like Emma Watson) I would say is my favourite out of the bunch for every day use.