Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Anne Semonin Atelier - Paris

About 12 years ago I had a two hour facial with Ewa Berkmann for Anne Semonin in Claridges. It was my second Anne Semonin facial at the time, and it was brilliant. No faff, thorough and intense.
When I mentioned in a video a while back that the Anne Semonin facial was the 'best I have ever had' - they got in touch and invited me to Paris - to meet with Ewa again. I nearly got whiplash again such was the speed that I replied.

The Atelier in Rue des Petits Champs is the original home of the Anne Semonin brand opening over 30 years ago.
I had the cryotherapy treatments for both face and body - and they did not disappoint.

If you are in Paris/travelling to Paris and are partial to a great treatment, I highly recommend you investigate the treatments available at Anne Semonin.

And if you're lucky enough to catch Ewa there, say hello from me. :)

Le Volume Ultra-Noir de Chanel

Just a quick one for those of you not on Instagram. This mascara from Chanel is BRILLIANT. Properly, utterly brilliant.

Doesn't deposit too much onto the brush, always a pet hate of mine - and doesn't go dry after a week.


£25.00 - available at all Chanel outlets including

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Currently reading.....

After mentioning in yesterday's post that I like to curl up in fresh bedding with a good book, I had a few requests asking for my current reading list. Truth be told, I don't have one. I have books. Piles and piles of books. They're generally broken into a few categories - namely, murder, music, people, photography and self-help. And cooking. Always the cooking.

The 700 Nimes Road in the picture above is the photographic account of Elizabeth Taylor's house during her last days (taken with her full permission - this is not TMZ). I love nosying in people's houses and this is no exception. There are some peeks inside on this week's vlog.

Haven't read all of the above yet, but I've picked through most of them. I've moved Grace and Amy to my bedside to make sure I get properly into those ones.

Betty Halbreich was the personal shopper at Bergdorf's for years. Her memoirs are a great insight into the high-end lifestyle of shoppers and the industry in general. This article is a great intro to her if you weren't aware of her previously:

The rock biographies I read just for the laughs. The Dirt by Motley Crue and Tommyland take some beating for the depravity and filth content though.  If that's your thing... ;)

People in business are always a good bet for hints and tips if running your own business is what you do/want to do. The Arianna Huffington one is a tad slow for me, the Aliza Licht one a little 'young' - all worth a quick browse though.

Hidden at the top of this pile is the Marie Kondo Tidying book. It thrills me that one of the best selling books in the UK is a book on tidying. Now all we need is a Dettol candle and I'll be all set.

Annnd a little murder to finish things off. After all, if you can't read murder curled up in bed all cosy, when can you??

Monday, 28 September 2015

Bloody LOVE Autumn!

It suddenly occurred to me this weekend that I was back in 'the zone'. And by that, I mean that I was actually out of the funk that had been suffocating me in recent weeks and getting things DONE. I only managed a blog post on average every other day in September, whereas in August, it was literally twice as busy on here.

I don't know whether it was linked to the children going back to school, my PA going back to Uni (how rude), the end of the summer, or all three, but I didn't know whether I was coming or going for a few weeks there.

I started feeling better towards the end of last week, culminating in a three day clear-out at home.

This all got me thinking about how much I love the change of seasons - I tend to do this a few times a year - and in particular, what I love about autumn....
  • Weekends. My weekends are now family time only. I'm not panicking about blogging or social media anymore. I spent a little too much time this year being 'around' the kids but not 'present' if you know what I mean. I say that, but they have better social lives than us anyway - and are frequently out with their mates - which means I become a taxi service most Saturdays and leaves...
  • Sundays - I love Sundays all year round, but autumn and winter have their own unique 'feel'. I hanker down in the kitchen with my telly and literally potter all day. Clean/cook/do the washing/iron/read/sort - all day. Lovely. The house smells of Dettol and roast chicken. Which is much nicer than it sounds. you'll have to trust me.
  • A definite distinction between day and evening. During the summer months I would frequently catch myself sitting at the computer at 10pm. 'It's still light', I figured. No. Now I'm aiming to be done by 6pm. It's not easy, but I need the break from social and emails, even if it's for a few hours.
  • Stew and Roasts. As busy as everyone is, Sundays tend to be the day for family meals. Massive stews and huge roasts are my forte. And they take ages, which means I get to spend loads of time in the kitchen...
  • Cook books. New ones are always released at this time of year, and I buy them all. I very rarely actually use them, but I love reading them.
  • Telly - Strictly, Downton, Bond and Darling Buds of May. Ok that last one is not new, just my Sunday guilty pleasure.
  • Country music. As the weather gets colder, the country playlist gets updated and played on a loop. Poor Mr Hirons.
  • More gigs - that aren't festivals. With the exception of the C2C festival in March, I've outgrown festivals. If they're outdoors, it's usually raining, and frankly, the toilets are enough to keep me away for the rest of my born days. All festival toilets should be torched. And don't get me started on 'glamping'. No. Just no. Everyone starts properly touring in the Autumn and it's far more civilised for my snobby old arse.
  • Skincare switchouts! If you're changing your coats, you need to change your skincare. Obviously there will be more on that on the blog this month, in the meantime read this to keep you going
  • Clothing clear-outs. Everything that I didn't wear last autumn, or wore out over the summer, goes. I'm not sentimental about clothes. I have my wedding dress, Max's christening outfit - and that's it. Everything else is new (ish). Really old things make me itchy. One of my phobias. EEWWW.
    Over the last few days I have sorted out my wardrobe and half of the Mr's wardrobe - don't tell him that though - filling four black bin bags for charity.
  • New clothes! Jeans and jumpers and coats and macs and socks and SCARVES. Lush.
  • I also started the sorting of my makeup and skincare in my bedroom - if you saw this video with Sali Hughes you'll know that was no mean feat. I've kept to my one in, one out, policy and now have a lot of product/clothing and bedding for Give and Makeup. A lot. And to those of you asking what I do with all of the product in particular, it all gets given away to Refuge. I never do blog sales.
  • The kids room. If my children want anything new for Christmas they have to have a massive sort through of everything that can be given to charity by October/November. We've worked like maniacs for 25 years to make sure our children have more than we did, and they do, in abundance, but they are being raised knowing that there are plenty of children in need. If you want something, you have to work for it, and until you can work, mindful service for others is what we expect. (When did this turn into a parenting ramble?) I digress. Ava also had a huge sort and their room is now ready for autumn. Safe to say Ava is her mother's child. That child loves a black bin bag and some cleaning sprays. Thanks be to Jeebus.
  • Bedtime. Cosy, clean, bedding, fresh pyjamas, a mug of tea (or three) and a good book. It's a miracle I ever leave the room to be honest.
  • New books. I have a stockpile of new books to get through. And I cannot bloody wait.
What have I forgotten about?

Sunday, 27 September 2015


I've neglected the blog this week. Apologies. Have a great Sunday and I'll see you here tomorrow. Promise. :)

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Stem Cells - the nonsense continues

Nearly three years ago I wrote this post about stem cells and the utter nonsense of brands claiming that plant stem cells can 'reactivate stem cells'.

I don't usually repeat posts of this nature - but these claims are getting more and more outrageous and when I am offered a £100 spray - a spray - that says 'phyto-stem cell extract protects and activates dermal stem cells', frankly I call bullshit. In their defence, at least this particular brand says 'dermal', unlike a lot of others, who randomly throw the words 'stem cells', 'repair', 'reactivate' and 'regenerate' around like it's nothing.

This is my friend Lorraine.

Lorraine was my much-talked about favourite Clarins consultant who got me my first interview in the beauty industry for Aveda. I got the job. The rest is history and one of the reasons you are reading this.

Eleven years ago, when we were both working on the shop floor in Fenwick, Lorraine was paralysed when a man jumped off a balcony in a nightclub and landed directly on top of her.

The words 'stem cell' and 'regenerate' and 'repair' matter a lot to Lorraine and her family and friends.

So I hope you'll forgive me for losing my patience when I see the words banded about so freely by brands to sell skincare, when nothing, nothing - so far - repairs human stem cells in that way. Certainly not some cells extracted from your hydrangea bush.

If you have £100 to spend on a 'stem cell' spray, perhaps you might consider donating it to Spinal Research instead. At least there, we may, eventually, get a result.

More information on Lorraine, the Cure Girls and spinal research can be found here:

In the meantime, if you're using the cells taken from a plant stem in skincare, please make it exceedingly clear to your consumer that you in no way expect those products to actually affect human stem cells. It's a nonsense.

Sorry for the rant. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Recommended Facialists - Teresa Tarmey

I've had a lot of facials. A LOT. At one point in my career, my job was testing every facial in town. I know. Hard work, but someone had to do it. As much as I love giving facials, my current back and ongoing whiplash situation mean it would be foolhardy and unwise for me to give facials in the near future. Certainly not in 2015. So I thought I would post about my favourite facialists - and share the joy. ;)

Last week, at the invitation of Cloud 9 Solutions, Teresa Tarmey pummelled my skin within an inch of its life. And it was glorious. Teresa's massage is the closest I have found to my own. Intense, targeted and firm. No messing about. That's where our similarities end however, as Teresa also offers peels, laser for pigmentation issues, LED light therapy, skin rejuvenation therapy and the Venus Viva treatment. She's truly brilliant.

And the best part? No faff. We bonded over our lack of desire for arm and hand massages and long neck massages during a 'facial'. Like I said in one of my earliest posts, 'please fix my face, if I want a body massage that's what I'll book in for'. Teresa gets more done in an hour than most do in two.

I'm almost loathe to tell you about it - she's already hard to see, I don't want to make it even harder, but I am always asked about facialists that I recommend, and I cannot recommend Teresa highly enough. She's based in North London, and is worth the trip if you don't live nearby.

Cloud 9 Skin Solutions

Sunday, 20 September 2015


Wow I haven't blogged since Tuesday. Sorry chaps. I'll try and get my head together this week and pay more attention to the blog. Promise.

In the meantime, Here's me full of snot, crying, having a great facial, getting my car back and speaking at The Body Shop at Home Christmas Conference - CRAZINESS. We won't discuss Duran Duran and Michael Kors. Rude.

See you next week!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Quick Smokey Eye with Hannah from Bobbi Brown

After Hannah and the team had finished filming the video last week, I told asked her to stick around and give me a full smokey eye - which happily, she did!

It's really quick, unlike our first video LOL.

Hope you enjoy!

This video is not sponsored. It's just an added extra I asked Hannah to do.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

VLOG WEEK 2 - Meeting Joan Collins, Behind the scenes at QVC and my meltdown

Well THAT was busy. Events, behind the scenes at QVC, Emilia's birthday party and meeting JOAN COLLINS.

Also: me having a meltdown at the kids. That will probably be a regular occurrence on my vlogs, just an FYI.  Oh AND - my love of bleach and Dettol. Also regular.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

New Video! What's New/What I'm currently LOVING!

Hello!!!! So as I had everything set up for after the Bobbi video, I thought I'd take advantage and film a video I'd been planning for a while - a mixture of current faves and what's new?. 

Hope you like. Product listing is in the description box under the video. :)

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Winners of the First Aid Beauty Giveaways

The winners of the First Aid Beauty giveaway are.........

Blog - Marguerite Campbell - USA
Instagram - the_beauty_vine  - Australia

Thank you to everyone that entered! 

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Public Service Announcement - Pixi launch on QVC UK

Courtesy Matthew Carasella

This just in: tomorrow evening (Wednesday) at 8pm, during Alison Young's Beauty Night in, Pixi are launching on QVC UK.

Tune in to see what delights await you dear reader.

In the meantime, we can neither confirm or deny rumours that one or both of these women will be present.

Look how professional we are.

One thing's for sure. This week's vlog will be interesting. :)

*Pixi are one of my business clients. But they're on here because I want you to know about the availability on QVC, not because they pay for special treatment on the blog. I don't do that. As you know.

Bobbi Brown Intensive Serum Corrector and Concealer

I think everyone I know owns a Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick. And Bone eyeshadow. And quite possibly the original Corrector and Concealer kit. Where I was absolutely on board with the first two, I hadn't, until last week, got on board with Corrector and Concealer. Instead of being sensible, and asking the always amazingly talented team on-counter specifically how to use them, I would bungle through, using, I now know, the wrong colour and most importantly, in the wrong order. Duh.

Last week, to highlight the exclusive launch of the new Intensive Skin Serum Corrector and Concealer at John Lewis, I filmed a 'Secret to Perfect Skin' tutorial with the gorgeous Hannah from Bobbi's Pro team. You literally see my lightbulb moment on screen. It's really not that difficult Hirons.

Regular readers will know that I am anaemic, and always suffer with dark circles. Always. It's the first place I go to when applying concealer. The joy of the new Intensive Serum Corrector and Concealer is that it is designed to target all of the causes of dark circles around the eyes that I am asked about the most often namely aging, illness, excess pigmentation, irritation and dehydration. 
They're beyond easy to use and the effect is immediate, looking more like you on a good day, than you wearing a ton of makeup.

Case in point:

The eye on the left is wearing the new Corrector and Concealer, right eye is my usual darkness. 

You can watch Hannah and my clearly much-needed lesson here – and further details on the products are below.

  • Designed for all skin types.
  • There are 16 Corrector Shades and 15 Concealer Shades
  • Available Exclusively at John Lewis and from 1st-16th September.
  • Book complimentary Secret to Perfect Skin Makeup Lesson at any John Lewis Counter nationwide.
  • Bobbi Brown's Makeup Artists are available to help you find your perfect shades of new Intensive Skin Serum Corrector & Concealer. Visit or call a Bobbi Brown counter in John Lewis now for a complimentary Secret to Perfect Skin Makeup Lesson.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Bobbi Brown via Mode Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Bobbi Brown.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Carey Lander and Sarcoma UK

My friend Sali Hughes wrote this beautiful piece of love for one of her close friends Carey Lander and her hideous but inspiring battle against osteosarcoma. 

Please do have a read.

Carey's Just Giving page is here: and you can purchase the beautiful Carey Rouge We Are Faux lashes here:

Thank you.

Much love to you Carey from all of us Hirons. x

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Weekly Vlog No.1!

Hi Everyone! Ok so I vlogged last week! While I don't have tons of time to film individual videos I thought it would be an idea to vlog my day to day at the moment - and then see how it goes. I also have a crappy memory so it's another way to keep a diary for me. :)

Let me know your thoughts. Unless they're horrible. In which case don't. :)

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Pixi Skintreats Evening - Thursday 10th September

Join me next Thursday 10th September in Pixi's flagship store in Central London to celebrate the launch of Pixi's brilliant new Skintreats range.
There is an entire day of events planned including skin consultations and makeovers from the amazingly talented Pixi team from the minute they open the doors at 10am until 8pm in the evening. There will be discounts and goodie bags on the day for people that purchase and I will be rocking up at around 5pm to hang out and play with all the products.

No ticket is necessary. Just turn up on the day. Pixi have extended the hours to enable those of you that want to come before work or during lunch etc to experience the event.

Pixi Beauty
22A Foubert's Place
London W1F 7PW

Thursday 10th September 10am - 8pm.
I'll be there 5pm-8pm.

Hope to see some of you there!

*Pixi are one of my clients, but this is 'blog' work. Just to be clear.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Quick Quides: How to read an ingredients label

The first thing I do when I pick up a product is look at the label. Ingredients are listed in order from the highest concentrate until you hit the ingredients at a less than 1% level. The problem is that you have no way of knowing where that magic 1% level is. More of that later.
SO: I by no means know every ingredient or what it does, but there are a few key things that I personally look out for - namely:
  • mineral oil - listed as petrolatum, paraffinum liquidum or good old 'mineral oil' - I'm not a fan, if you are, crack on, but I see it as a red flag in 99% of situations.
  • palm oil - Whether the brand says it's 'sustainable' or not, there are too many problems with palm oil for me at the moment. I don't completely rule out using a product that contains it in small quantities, but I do try and politely ask the brand questions before I post about it re: their source and if they plan to replace it with an alternative. I know I'm in a fortunate position to be able to do that, but for you - if you haven't already, you may want to look into it, do your own research, make your own thoughts. 
  • alcohol - this is not cut and dry, if alcohol is the main ingredient or in the top three, I look carefully at the other ingredients. I'm talking straight alcohol, not all of the variants. An example would be Clinique Clarifying Lotion 4: Water, Alcohol Denat., Salicylic Acid, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Trehelose, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA-Copper, BHT, Phenoxyethanol, Benzophenone-4, Green 5 - some nice ingredients, but too much alcohol.
  • phenoxyethanol - this I use as a guide for %s. Phenoxyethanol, along with parabens, is not allowed to be in formulas at an amount higher than 1%. So you know that anything listed after either of those, is less than 1%. So..... if a brand is harping on and on about their massively 'active' ingredients (see previous post), and they all come after phenoxyethanol or parabens, they may not be that 'active'. There will always be exceptions, such as retinols, which are frequently at a strength of 0.3 or 0.5% - but in general, peptides, vitamins and the majority of other actives, you would mostly want them higher than 1%. Mostly. Not always - like I said, it's not an exact science.
Obviously, parabens and phenoxyethanol are not in all products - but where you do see them, it would be preferable to keep the bulk of the other ingredients listed prior to them - as in the example below:

Zelens Brightening Serum: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Squalane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Sodium Hyaluronate, Superoxide Dismutase, Thioctic Acid, Ubiquinone, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Bisabolol, Perilla Frutescens Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Pinus Strobus Bark Extract, Echinacea Angustifolia Leaf Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Dimethylmethoxy Chromanol, Hydrolyzed Sesame Protein PG-Propyl Methylsilanediol, Tripeptide-1, Lactic Acid, Polyacrylamide, Phenoxyethanol, Dimethicone, Acrylates Copolymer, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Laureth-7, Ethylhexylglycerin, Polysilicone-11, VP/Polycarbamyl Polyglycol Ester, Butylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Parfum (Fragrance), Linalool

The Zelens serum is front-heavy. The serum below however, is not, it's back-heavy:

Kate Somerville Mega-C Dual Radiance Serum - the Omega formula: Water, Neopentyl Glycol Diethylhexanoate, Propanediol, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Diisopropyl Dimer Dilinoleate, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Fragrance (Parfum), HDI/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Phenoxyethanol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Xanthan Gum, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Calcium Pantothenate, Niacinamide, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Lecithin, Maltodextrin, Pyridoxine HCl, Silica, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Starch Octenyl Succinate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocotrienols, Adenosine, Sea Whip Extract, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide

A lot of the good stuff is listed after Pheno - and fragrance is listed higher than it. (I do like this serum though - proving there are no definites.)
  • Fragrance - personally, I'm ok with fragrance in general but I know some of you are not, so in your case, keep an eye on how high it is in the inci list, and bear in mind that fragrance can contain hundreds of ingredients - and all be listed as 'fragrance'. If essential oils are your concern, they will be listed individually and easy to spot.
That's it for an overview of what I look for at a glance. Bear in mind, this list is EU and UK relevant. The USA is another ballgame and an entirely different minefield altogether. The FDA are nowhere near as stringent as the EU with ingredients and %s. 
If you have any questions leave me a comment and I will answer what I can and refer you to relevant people/authorities if I'm unsure.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Beauty Myths No.16 - Active vs 'Inactive' Ingredient

What used to relate purely to ingredients that qualify as drugs, is now used as a marketing tool industry-wide and to say that the terms 'active' and 'inactive' are overused and abused by marketing departments everywhere is an understatement.

Active ingredients - traditionally, when used in products considered drugs i.e. SPF products - are 'any component of a drug product intended to provide therapeutic and pharmacological activity in direct effect to a diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or to affect the structure or any function of the body of humans.' 
Depending on your country, retinoids, acids, sunscreens like oxybenzone and avobenzone are all considered 'active'.
They are considered active enough to change the structure of the skin. Take prescription strength retinoids. In a product like that, the vitamin A will be classed as the drug and therefore 'active' and the rest of the ingredients are 'inactive' because they make up the formula/emulsify/are the delivery system and do not actually change the structure of skin at all. A lot of ingredients considered truly 'active' will have a maximum % that they are allowed to be used at in any formula.

Inactive ingredients - officially, are 'any component of a drug product other than the active ingredients.'

However, we are now seeing the words 'active' and 'inactive' bounded about everywhere as the general rule, not the exception to be used only in the case of drugs.

A brand will say 'active' ingredients are peptides, vitamin c, seaweed, whale sperm, witch's warts...pick something. What they actually mean when they say this is 'what we are charging you the big bucks for'.
Inactive ingredients are all too often completely glossed over, ignored or relegated to the very smallest font on the pack and except in the rarest of circumstances, essentially mean 'the bulk of the product' i.e. water/carrier oils etc.

The potential problems arise when unknowing customers purchase something assuming that 'inactive' means 'has no effect on the skin'. Just because something doesn't change the structure of the skin ('active') does not mean that something does not affect the skin. 

Alcohol, fragrance and silicones, for example, are all 'inactive' ingredients, yet the ones I am asked about the most from readers. You can bet that a high level of alcohol in a product will be 'active' on your skin in some way.

If a bacon sandwich was skincare, the bacon would be labelled on the pack as the 'active' ingredient, but the bread would certainly be an active ingredient to someone with a gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy.

Ignore the marketing hype, read the ingredients label. That's where you see what is likely to be an 'inactive' ingredient that could actually be something 'active' for you to look out for.

Some brands have started using bold type for their 'active' ingredients in their inci lists in order to make them stand out. Clever, but not if you know what you are looking at. 

Tomorrow: how to read an ingredients label.