Thursday, 25 July 2013

I'm doing something I NEVER do.

Tomorrow I am heading out for a long overdue break. I mean really long overdue. We haven't been abroad as a family in 18 years. EIGHTEEN years. I know.

So: I will be Instagramming like a crazy person and will be on twitter for a little each day - but I have very limited access to WI-FI *insert cheerleaders* and so will not be updating the blog nor replying to comments. 

For those readers that are fairly new - you may or may not know that this blog is still currently my sideline - I work full-time in the beauty industry. 
Had I been more organised I would have scheduled posts etc - but I am still - at 9pm on my birthday, the night before I go away, working, having packed nothing. So that won't be happening.

When I return I have meetings ahoy scheduled for things like YouTube and will be amping up the blog even more so towards the end of the please just give me this couple of weeks to rest, sunbathe, swim, sunbathe, hang out with my faimly, sunbathe and basically get my head together.

Thank you for an amazing year so far on this blog. I truly appreciate each and every one of you. Even you trolls. You make me remember that I'm very blessed not to have such a sad shitty attitude and to genuinely feel empathy towards my fellow man. I truly wish you everything you clearly resent in others. 

As for the rest of you lovely, supportive, wonderful, engaging people: I'm worried you may miss me. So here:

You're welcome.

See you in August!!!

I will respond to the Lauder comments when I get back - unless I get near wi-fi* and out of my husband's sight for long enough to crack on while I'm there! ;)

*Nobody tells Jim. 

Estee Lauder New Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II

Regular readers of this site will know that I have never understood the 'all-worshiping-never-questioning' adoration that most beauty journalists had for ANR. I even blogged as much in one of my most read posts:  

It always seemed that any time there was a 'Top 10 Must-Have' article in the beauty press it included this. Almost by default. Yawn.

Well. Now I can get on board the ANR bandwagon. I've been trialing this for a while and....

This has been completely reformulated and it's bloody good. There. I said it.

It's a much lighter consistency - not quite as silicone-heavy as the previous formulation felt. It absorbs nicely leaving the skin glowing - not 'tacky' as before.

To be honest I've learned from experience writing reviews on here that you could care less about the science. Equally I have zero interest in just regurgitating a press release. Yawn. 
In that way having a blog is exactly the same as being on counter - customers (you) want to know: 
  1. What will it do for me
  2. How will my skin look in the morning?
  3. Is it suitable for my skin type/age/concerns? 
  4. Is it worth the money? No really - is it worth the money?

For your pleasure:
  1. It will attempt to remedy the damage done to your skin during the day whilst you sleep - so while you're having a kip this will communicate with your skin, soak it with hyaluronic acid, slow down the visible signs of aging, reduce the appearance of your lines and wrinkles, even out your skin tone, put the rubbish out for the night and tidy up. 
  2. Glowing (like your kitchen after you've put the rubbish out and had a tidy up), rested, fresh.
    Like you've had sleep. 
  3. Yes - this is the most interesting part for me. Lauder have tested this on over 1000 women including Caucasian, Black, Indian, Hispanic, Asian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. It has been tested on all skin types and ages. It is oil and fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, thus suitable for sensitive and acnaic skins - my most-asked question.
  4. In a nutshell, yes. There are far too many overpriced products on the market for my liking these days - this is not one of them. 
This is so far from the original (to my mind) that if you blind tested people who use it they would not recognise it. That's not to scare those of you that already adore it - this just takes it to another level.

I would buy it. 

New Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II starts at £48.00 for 30ml and is available on in August. Don't buy it yet - that's not this one! 

* Press sample. And a shout out to the Lauder team who, knowing my feelings about the previous formulation, believed in their product enough to put it in my hands and say 'TRUST US'. *kudos*

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm - review and Hall of Fame entry

OK so the downside of constantly recommending (unintentionally) brands that are only available in limited distribution is a lot of unhappy readers contacting me from the US (mostly) to say 'Erm excuse me. I can't buy that!' 

While I was in NYC recently I finally picked this up. At first glance it's fairly inconspicuous - even on the shelf. You have to really look to find it. It's hidden amongst green boxes and taller bottles. It comes as is, no box, no shrink wrap, no inner protection. I would open it before you buy to make sure it is fingerprint free.

That aside:

This is a great cleanser. If you have been searching for a balm cleanser, or used some that may have broken you out or are perhaps intolerant of essential oils in products, this could be for you.

What's in it?

That formula is apparently what makes lard - because that is what this balm looks like. Lard. Not a bad thing - just an observation.

What's NOT in it?

Fragrance, mineral oil, animal by-products, essential oils

Who is it for?

Pretty much anyone - but it will be especially good for people who are completely intolerant of essential oils or synthetic fragrance or who find other balm cleansers too clogging.
In my opinion: Suitable for the most sensitive and the most acnaic.

What's good about it?

This is probably about the best balm cleanser you will find for price, functionality and efficacy.
  • It removes everything - even waterproof - easily, quickly and with no faff.
  • Leaves the skin completely clean and soft - does not leave an oily film behind.
  • A small amount goes a long way.
  • Brilliant for massage.
  • Economical
  • I suspect its probably the best balm available for sensitive skins (I can't promise anything - it's a general observation)

What's not so good about it?

The only thing that may put you off using this long term is the total lack of fragrance. I personally can get past it as the rest of my routine is pretty fragrance-heavy. There is no 'aaaahhhhhh' when you put it on the skin. It's functional. Not faffy. 
If it was a man it wouldn't be buying you a drink - it would just say 'Alrighty then off we go'.

How much is it?

£21.00 for 125ml. $28.00 in US.

I cannot recommend this cleanser highly enough. Everyone should have one. For those days when you want no faff, just function.

There are more Clinique recommendations to come. (For regular readers: I know. Who'd have thought?) From me.

Available from 


Also: the US Clinique website says 'Follow with your Clinique 3 Step'. 

Do not do that.

I may be enjoying the ride on the Clinique train but I have not completely taken leave of my senses.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

balance Me Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm (and Radiance Face Oil - secret spot weapon)

balance Me (their spelling) are an old favourite - if you like 'natural' products that really are 'natural' - this brand is for you.

What is it?

The Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm is the balm cleanser in their range and is lush. Note: If you used this when it first launched (as I did) and hated it because of the huge pieces of oats in it (as I did) fear not - it was very quickly reformulated and now has the very softest of oatmeal grain - soft enough to use around the eyes. Give it another go.

What's in it?

Well, you could look at the balance Me website as they have a full inci listing for every product clearly labelled.    *JAZZ HANDS, tips hat to balance Me team*
No 'active ingredients' nonsense - just the full list. For your ease though:

Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, Colloidal oatmeal, Cera alba (unrefined beeswax), Mangifera indica (mango) seed butter, Butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter***, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) butter, Polyglyceryl-4 caprate, Oleic/Linoleic/Linolenic polyglycerides, Hydroxystearic/Linolenic/Oleic polyglycerides, Rubus chamaemorus (cloudberry) seed extract, Cocos nucifera (virgin coconut) oil***, Aleurites moluccana (kukui) oil, Rosa canina (rosehip) fruit oil, Camellia oleifera (camellia) oil, Citrus reticulata (mandarin red)*, Litsea cubeba (litsea may chang)*, Citrus aurantium amara (petitgrain)*, Anthemis nobilis (Roman chamomile)*, Cananga odorata (ylang ylang)*, Coriandrum sativum (coriander)*, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) extract, Limonene**, Linalool**, Citral *natural pure essential oil **naturally occurring in essential oils ***certified organic ingredient

Who is it for?

Labelled as 'normal to dry/sensitive' - although the shea butter and beeswax content feels quite refined and shouldn't therefore break out any oily/combo skins.

What's good about it?
  • lovely texture - perfect for massage
  • doesn't emulsify into a runny milk - holds its form
  • does not sting the eyes - at all (on me)
  • removes makeup but I would still use a pre-cleanse oil over eye area first
  • doesn't leave oily residue
  • affordable!

What's bad about it?

I'm ignoring the muslin cloth. 

How much is it?

Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm is £20.00 for 125ml (I know!) - £20.00! available from 

Highly recommended.

While you're there:

If you are someone who suffers from spots/breakouts/acne and slaps on toothpaste (loads gun) or nappy cream (fires gun) - use the above instead. This little rollerball is on my bedside and in my MU bag. Any sign of a zit and it gets rolled to death. Continuous use of an oil like this one is much better for your skin and your spots - and helps prevent scarring - in essence if you use this it will either:
  • bring the spot to a head without scarring - OR
  • make it completely disperse before it comes to a head
  • Also helps heal scarring old and new (remember scars can only be helped without machinery intervention if they are still red/pink, showing blood circulation - this will not fix the scar on your knee that you did when you were 6).

Everyone should have one. £15.00 from  - the 10ml size is the rollerball.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Aromatherapy Associates Soothing Cleansing Balm

Apologies for the lack of posts. My NY business trip ended in food poisoning which made the jet lag worse which meant I was asleep forever when I returned - blah blah blah. I'm back now. Albeit feeling delicate. 

Cracking on with the promised reviews of pretty much every cleanser I have in my possession - first up is Aromatherapy Associates Soothing Cleansing Balm (middle, above). I had planned to go alphabetical - and I've already done Alpha H. 

What is it?
'A gentle yet effective balm to wipe away impurities and make-up, resulting in a clean, smooth and fresh complexion. A caring blend of Omega rich oils ensure that your skin is cleansed and hydrated, while liquorice and camomile leave your skin feeling calm and soothed.'

What's in it?


Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Glyceryl Cocoate, Oleyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Germ Oil, Glyceryl Dibehenate, Tribehenin, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Seed Oil, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Glycerryl Behenate, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Fragaria Ananassa (Strawberry) Seed Oil, Benzyl Alcohol, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Ximenia Americana Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli) Oil, Anthemis Nobilis (Roman Camomile) Oil, Chamomilla Recutita (German Camomile) Oil, Fusanus Spicatus (Australian Sandalwood) Oil, Limonene* *Natural Essential Oil Contents **Natural Plant Extracts

Who is it for?
All skin types including sensitive.

What's good about it?
This is a lovely balm.
  • Very gentle
  • Not abrasive
  • Very emollient
  • Smells lovely
  • Leaves skin soft, not at all dry

What's bad about it?

Nothing really. It's not great with eye makeup (on me) so I tend to use this after a pre-cleanse oil or first cleanse, but others say it's fine for their eye makeup - including Ms Hughes. :) 

How much is it?

Currently reduced from £36.00 to £27.00 on 


*PR Sample

Friday, 5 July 2013

Brace yourselves NYC

I'm heading to NYC for business on Saturday. Staying in the fabulous New Jersey over the weekend with one of my favourite people ever (shout-out to the Starbucks crew) - and then moving in to town early in the week.

I'll be hitting up as many pharmacies/stores as possible while I'm there - I always do - but I've had so many requests from US readers that I think I'd be disowned if I didn't.

I'll be Instagramming non-stop as per usual and if I can get to a PC I'll update the blog as I go along.

*already booked excess baggage*

Filofax to the rescue

I admitted defeat a couple of weeks ago. My diary/notebook/list pad just wasn't keeping me on the straight and narrow. I've long been a fan of Filofax but the past couple of years was trying the whole diary/other pads of paper combo and it just wasn't happening. 

Thank God for the lovely Filofax that jumped to my rescue with this beauty.

The Osterley is the perfect A5 size - so big enough to be able to see/write but not too big and overpowering to carry around. I'm annoyed with myself for not going back to it sooner. 

Now I have everything in one place - with tabs for business/blog/home - everything. I'm loving having the Day to a Page back too. So much easier!

 I know some of you are as obsessed with stationery as me - trust me - this is gorgeous.

The Filofax Osterley is £190.00 and comes in Grey, Orange and Plum. Available from

*The Osterley was PR sample - I purchased all of the inserts/diary.

Monday, 1 July 2013

New system and better layouts

Hi Everyone,

Apologies if you are waiting for an answer on the Yes or No post. At the moment there are so many comments that you have to click 'Load More' 5 times to see my answers. Ridiculous - and something I have never experienced before.

I am working on a new comment system that should be able to better support the amount of traffic the site is now getting. 

Thank you for your patience.

I'm coming back I promise!