Thursday, 24 March 2011

Gotta love the French....Vichy's Home Run

If you're a regular reader of The Mouth you'll know of my love for all things French. Especially skincare. There's hardly a brand emanating out of France that I won't use/don't love or rate in some way. And I'm not just talking about high-end.

I'm talking about pharmacy-led brands: Avene, La Roche Posay, Bioderma, Lierac, Nuxe, Biotherm and Vichy to name a few. All of those brands have 'hero' products that you will find on a lot of dressing tables and in most makeup bags in France.

I've used Vichy on and off for a number of years depending on the season and my skin and their latest release has caught my attention.

LiftActiv Derm Source claims to target the papillary dermis (the sandwich between the epidermis and the dermis) which is essentially the home of the collagen fibres - or as I like to call that area - the scaffolding of the face.
It uses an ingredient called rhamnouse which is sugar derived from the uncaria plant species and when applied topically plumps the skin and restores elasticity to an older skin. Hence this is recommended for 35 upwards.

I use the word claim because I haven't been trying it long enough to verify it for you based on MY skin but first impressions are good. Lovely, actually.

It goes on smooth, absorbs nicely - but not too quickly, and does have a fairly immediate effect with regard to glow, plumpness and smoothness. And it smells like nice sun cream - random but true.

My first thought is a recommendation - but if you're a Vichy fan you'll probably love it from the off.

It officially launches in April but you don't have to wait that long. are expecting stock tomorrow and are offering a 15% discount if you fancy getting in there early.

Enjoy. I am.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Elemis freshskin

I love a little Elemis - they were the first entry in the Mouth Hall of Fame and have consistently provided high quality, well-thought-out, must-have products.

Yesterday I attended the launch of their newest range - freshskin.

Aimed at teens - 20's, freshskin aims to not only fix those 'inbetweener' skins, but educate (refreshingly in a non-patronising way) younger peeps in the how-to's and how-not-to's.

Launching with a Gentle Face Wash, Exfoliating Face Wash, AM and PM Moisturisers, Eye Gel, Lip Balm, Cleansing Wipes and a genius Face Mask Duo that frankly, they need to make in an old, mature pack for the Mums of said teens - 20's, the range starts at a beyond reasonable £8.00 and goes up to £22.00.

With elemis's heritage and reputation I would spend that on my teenagers' skin - no hesitation.

I have given the products to one of my teenagers to trial and will be feeding back the outcome - if I can get more than a grunt out of him.

In the meantime if you want to get your hands on the ENTIRE range packaged in this far too adorable polka dot vanity case - worth £99.00 - keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming giveaway right here.

Elemis freshskin launches in the UK on 14th April.

All eyes on Mister Sandler

Right I know you know I don't 'do' makeup. Well, not much and not really on here.

But I cleared through all my makeup at the weekend to sort some more goods out for Give and Makeup and found this:

You know when you find something and think 'Ooh I forgot I had THIS!'. Yeah. That.

Designed to be used for those hard-to-reach lashes and the lower lashes - this does exactly what it says on the tube. Easy application, doesn't end up all over your cheeks and my bug bear with mascaras - does NOT regurgitate its entire contents on every pull of the wand out of the tube.

All you lovely peeps raving about the influx of lower lash mascaras onto the market need to get your ta-tas in action and buy this. 

That is all.

The quite fabulous BabyJet Mascara is available on beautique for a bargainous £12.80 - might want to hide your credit card before you go on that site though....

The Smaller Print: Its highly likely I didn't pay for this mascara. It's even more likely that I blatantly stole it from a PR cupboard. It is however, extremely likely that I will hand over real money for my next one and stop being a kleptomaniac. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


I first received some Rituals last year as a gift and have to confess I was a bit of a product snob when I received it.  I'm not entirely sure why but I had always walked past the Rituals shops and not really entertained the thought of going inside.

To be honest I'm a little conflicted about the marketing of Rituals. The products that I have tried from the range have all been good enough to sell on their own merit but the different 'rituals' can be a little confusing. At least, confusing to ME...

All of that aside, as I said, the products are good - really good. So far I have used 3 items from the range and they all perform well.
I am especially liking this shower gel.  Firstly, you only need a minute amount, it exits the pump as a gel and very quickly explodes into a silky soft foam - not unlike a shaving foam - but a good one.

It spreads easily, is not sticky and cleanses gently without stripping the skin and leaving it tight and dry. And it's affordable. £6.50 for a 200ml tin, it comes in 4 flavours (I think?). Also good for smaller members of the family - although they prefer..

Bubbles... The Energy Bubbles again are soft, non-drying and give good foam - enough foam to keep the small people happy too.

Although my favourite, rather predictably, is a body butter. Except it's not a butter - it's whipped cream - at least in texture.
Magic Touch Ultra Rich Whipped Body Cream really does have the texture of just-whipped cream. It's really light without losing any of its hydrating capabilities and absorbs almost on contact - which is a bonus if you need to get dressed immediately. It also retails around £10.00 so is very reasonable.

So the verdict on Rituals? Good products, great as gifts, confusing message - at least for numpties like me. I would suggest visiting a store and talking to one of their assistants or using the John Lewis website - which I found simple to use. *relieved*

Rituals is available in John Lewis and on their own website.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Brand Focus: Caudalie

Caudalie is based around the anti-oxidant properties of grape seed polyphenols and first went on sale in 1995. If you are still unsure as to what an anti-oxidant does, it protects the skin from free radicals and thus slows down the signs of aging. If you are unsure what free radicals do: slice an apple in half, leave one half open to the elements and cover one half in lemon juice. Check back on them half an hour later (in theory) and you will see that the one covered in lemon juice retains its firmness and colour. The exposed apple will be brown and shrinking. That is what free radicals do to your skin.

I first worked with Caudalie about 14 years ago and have used two of their products on a regular basis ever since. The Beauty Elixir has become a staple on my shelf and I am lost without it.

I use it at the toner stage of my routines in the mornings - mainly when my acne rosacea is having a flare-up and nearly always in Summer. It balances containing rosemary, mint and melissa with glycerin and orange blossom and although designed to 'smooth features, tighten pores, and give the complexion a burst of radiance' I find that it literally dries up my spots. I can feel it working - in a good way - and my spots are worse when I run out. N.B. Just make sure you CLOSE YOUR EYES when you spray it. Don't ask.

My other staple is the Nourishing Body Lotion.

Although the Vine Body Butter is newer to the range and richer in texture, this body lotion never fails to disappoint. It smells gorgeous, is not sticky going on, leaves no residue and your skin feels just as hydrated at the end of the day. Love.

In 2006 Caudalie stepped up their game and made the commitment to be free of all of the following: parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, phthalates, mineral oils, artificial colouring and animal ingredients. Not bad going.

And then last year, they made their move in to the prestige market with the release of Premier Cru, which for the first time contained 3 of their patented ingredients: titrated Resveratrol, Viniferine from grapevines and grape-seed Polyphenols.  Premier Cru was an instant sell-out and won Marie Claire's Prix de Excellence 2010 leading almost inevitably, to the release of Premier Cru The Eye Cream.
Caudalie say:
This unique combination of the three Caudalie exclusive patents and of the best anti-ageing research make this elixir of youth perform wonders on all signs of ageing: wrinkles, dark circles, puffiness, lack of radiance and firmness, leaving the eyes with a renewed youthfulness. 

Whilst I haven't been using it long enough to form an absolute opinion, amongst other things - what I am impressed with is that it gives the 'radiance' without (from what I can see) using Bismuth Oxychloride. This ingredient is the reason a lot of people can't use certain eyeshadows/creams or even in some cases, mineral makeup. It is widely used in the industry as a light reflecting particle and a lot of people are allergic to it without knowing - they may experience itchiness or redness and put it down to the product as a whole - not realising it's that ingredient.
First impressions are that it definitely reduces puffiness, increases firmness and plumps up wrinkles - the dark circles it is still contending with but will update a little further down the line when it has had more time to work its (highly anticipated) magic.

Caudalie is available at SpaceNK, John Lewis and Online at the usual suspects.

CEW Finds and Favourites - Living Proof Full Thickening Cream

I was sceptical when I first put this on my hair. I have a lot of hair. A lot of fine hair. A lot of very coloured, very fine hair. When I backcomb I make Amy Winehouse look restrained. My hairdresser usually has to do something like this to get ANY kind of volume:

Although clearly perfect if I want to go to a fancy dress party as a member of the B52's - this look doesn't exactly work dans Le Office.

So am thrilled to say that this little beaute of a product is currently rocking my world:

This cream reaches places that no other 'thickening' cream has so far. It gives bounce, volume and yes, makes me feel like I have a head full of hair without feeling tacky, sticky or looking greasy after 1/2 a day. I use about a 20p size and apply it all over my hair.

Living Proof says:
Full Thickening Cream is a lightweight formula that features Poly Beta Amino Ester-1, a new technology invented by our scientists that creates a micro-pattern of thickening points on each strand.
I say:
It works - to the point of almost being a revelation. I highly recommend.

I have to admit I have previously tended to stick to the big chemist chains when buying styling products for my hair. Which probably explains my lack of success thus far. This product sells in SpaceNK for £20 (ouch). But based on its performance so far - not only will I be purchasing - I'll be putting this in my basket too:

Living Proof are silicone and paraben free - full inci:

Water/Aqua/Eau - Poly Beta Amino Ester-1 (Hair thickening active) - Fragrance/Parfum (Fragrance) - Polyacrylate-13 (Viscosity increasing agent) - Myristyl Alcohol (Emulsifier/Light conditioning agent) - Xanthan Gum (Viscosity increasing agent) - Polyisobutene (Viscosity increasing agent) - Oleth-10 (Emulsifier) - PPG-2 Myristyl Ether Propionate (Light conditioning agent) - Phenoxyethanol (Perservative) - Polysorbate 20 (Emulsifier) - Methylisothiazolinone (Preservative) - Linalool (Fragrance Component) - Citronellol (Fragrance Component) - Limonene (Fragrance Component) - Butylphenyl Methylpropional (Fragrance Component) - Citral (Fragrance Component) - Geraniol (Fragrance Component)

Friday, 4 March 2011

Tales from the other side of the till - Arab Season

To normal people there are four seasons. In the life of luxury retail - in London - there are five.

Repeat after me: Winter, Spring, Summer, Arab, Autumn

Remember this famous scene in Sex and the City 2 when the mysterious ladies all reveal themselves to be wearing head-to-toe designer gear in the backstreets of the souq?

When this scene came up in the movie all of my girlfriends laughed in a 'Yeah RIGHT' way - not me. That kind of thing happens every day during Arab season in stores all over London. No REALLY.

Arab season is basically what retailers call the period of High Summer when a large number of Middle Eastern visitors converge on the capital city because A: it is too hot in their country and B: they can afford a nice holiday to get away from A and finally C: they can have a nice jolly before the strict observance of Ramadan begins.

This is serious stuff for London retailers. Although most high-end stores will benefit it's really the big 3 that get paid the most attention. Selfridges because of its proximity to Edgware Road and well, it's Selfridges - and Harrods and Harvey Nichols because they are - at least in Arab shopper terms - Ground Zero.

And their needs are catered to, planned for, budgeted against and have a wide reaching affect across all divisions of the store - dictating opening hours, marketing, launches, exclusives and even sale dates. Most of the big retailers traditionally start their Summer sales the first week of July. Not this year. This year they will all have their sales in full throttle by mid-end June latest. Why? Because Ramadan is scheduled to begin somewhere around the beginning of August (Ramadan is dependent on the lunar cycle) which means the visitors will all have flown home by the last week in July. So bring the sale forward - longer time for visitors to shop. And boy do they shop.

Middle Eastern Ladies have very particular tastes - all of which are taken into consideration by brands when planning launches and exclusives for that period. Because the traditional muslim dress requires that the Ladies cover at least their bodies and hair - makeup and especially fragrance, are the only ways left for them to express themselves while still respecting their religion.

It is for those reasons that the fragrances of choice are heavy - this is not a group of customers that want a light, zesty fragrance. Favourite key ingredients are oud, amber, vanilla, patchouli, musk and rose. Any type of rose - the bigger and stronger - the better.

It's no coincidence that Jo Malone launched the Cologne Intense range - 'inspired by' the Middle East in Harrods.

Photo 'borrowed' from Jo Malone's website.

Likewise if you were in Harvey Nichols when the very savvy Estee Lauder launched Tom Ford's Private Blend exclusively during Arab season you would have seen a scrum of burqa's not unlike a group of certain beauty bloggers at an open bar.

And why do they have such an effect on business? Volume. I once had to ring round every Chantecaille outlet in the UK and arrange for every single available bottle of their Rose de Mai to be sent to the Dorchester for the attention of a certain middle eastern customer who was buying them for his wives. I did my monthly sales forecast in one hour. If it's new, expensive, designer and/or unavailable in the Middle East - it will be on their shopping list.

So come the Summer, head to Knightsbridge, grab a chair in Noura's - the best baklava in London - and say Marhaba!