Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Kate Somerville Goat Milk De-Puffing Eye Balm

Describe the brand in five words.
Clinical. Desert Island Products. Results.

What is it?
An eye balm suited to de-puffing and cooling.

Who is it for?
Everyone, but you may find it particularly helpful if you're in a hot, airless environment - i.e. offices, teachers, nurses, doctors etc - and obviously airplanes! 

What’s in it?
Water, Propanediol, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Glycerin, Sodium Stearate, Di-PPG-2 Myreth-10 Adipate, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Goat Milk Powder, Lactose, Milk Protein, Manuka (Leptospermum) Honey Extract, Jojoba Oil PEG-150 Esters, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Seed Extract, Polianthes Tuberosa Callus Extract, Hydrolyzed Lupine Protein, Menthoxypropanediol, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Lactic Acid

What's not in it?

Possibly acne/allergy/troubling for some ingredients?
milk, lactic acid

Natural? Organic? Man made? Vegan?
man-made and natural

Tested on animals/sold in territories that advocate testing?

How does it smell?
Fresh - not overpowering of milk!

How does it feel on the skin?/Absorption rate?
Extremely light, hydrating, but not 'liquidy', so doesn't interrupt makeup.

How do you use it?/Where to use in your routine?
Literally apply straight from the bullet on to the area. Either as your eye product or on its own throughout the day.

How long before you should see results?
It will depend entirely on how bad your eyes are/feel. Puffiness will go down over the day but they will feel energized immediately.

How long did I test it for?
I've had this since January.

How much is it? /Size/Approximate cost per usage?
0.3 ozs/8.5grams. I honestly couldn't tell you how long it will last. I still have mine, it doesn't appear to have gone down massively but I only use it sporadically. I would imagine it lasting at least 2 months if used regularly.

What’s good about it?
I would say this is for you if you suffer from tired eyes, or have really oily eyes and don't want to use a traditional 'cream' textured product. The concealer stick applicator style is conducive to great application and it stays moist and doesn't dry out. 

What’s not so good about it?
If you have genetically puffy eyes, this will not be enough. If you are temporarily puffy it should work quite well. It's helpful for me when I'm travelling.
Eyes are the most individual part of the face to treat - and therefore the hardest. What works for some, may have zero effect on others. Everything from bags, to discolouration, to fine lines and 'crinkles' - those particularly enjoyable creased wrinkles that you get in the eye area, can show up based on a multitude of reasons, be it genetic, environmental, lifestyle or hormones. For that reason it is hard to give a sweeping 'one size fits all' recommendation.
If you can test this, I would do so. If you know that Somerville products suit you, you should be able to buy untested.

Works well with?
This can be used with any other products, including makeup, which sits happily underneath it without shifting.

What’s the website like?
I've raved about the website before. It's fantastic. Full of information and lists ingredients:

Would I purchase/repurchase?
Yes. I travel a lot. And it doesn't count as a liquid. HURRAH!

Similar products?
Not really. If you can think of any let me know in the comments.

Kate Somerville Goat Milk De-Puffing Eye Balm is $38.00 and available and

*this post contains affiliate links. I do not work with Kate Somerville in any way.

See my full disclaimer here:

The views expressed on this site are the author's own and are provided for informational purposes only. The author makes no warranties about the suitability of any product or treatment referenced or reviewed here for any person other than herself and any reliance placed on these reviews or references by you is done so solely at your own risk. Nothing on this site shall be construed as providing dermatological, medical or other such advice and you are always advised to seek the advice of a suitable professional should you have any such concerns.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Dr Dennis Gross Winners

The winners of the Dr Dennis Gross Giveaway are:
  1. Rachael Edwards - UK
  2. Barbara Cohen - UK
  3. Colleen Boudreau - USA
  4. Athanasia Kasimati - Greece
  5. Cecilia Espinoza - Mexico
  6. Natasha Blatter - Switzerland
  7. Julia Stern - USA
  8. Susann Rosendahl - Germany

Look out for emails. Thank you Dennis Gross Skincare! :)

Friday, 23 September 2016

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser

Describe the brand in five words.
Niche. Clean. Indie (no pun intended). New. Fresh.

What is it?
A cleanser.

Who is it for?
Anyone - particularly good for dull skins, mature skins.

What’s in it?
Purified Water, Decyl Glucoside (Veg. Oils & Sugar), Disodium Coco-Glucoside Citrate, Coco Glucoside Oleaste (Coconut and Sunflower Oil), Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein*, Xanthan Gum, Fragaria Chiloensis Seed Oil (Strawberry), Lycopene, Phenoxyethanol and Ethylhexylglycerin (both derived from natural sources)
*Note: contains gluten

What's not in it?

Possibly acne/allergy/troubling for some ingredients?
not really

Natural? Organic? Man made? Vegan?

Tested on animals/sold in territories that advocate testing?
No/No - Indie Lee has the leaping bunny seal

How does it smell?
Soft and mildly fruity.

How does it feel on the skin?/Absorption rate?
It's a gel-like texture - doesn't absorb.

How do you use it?/Where to use in your routine?
'Apply to wet skin. Rinse completely with warm water.'

I apply to dry skin, add a little water, massage in and then flannel off.

How long before you should see results?
Immediately, being a cleanser :)

How long did I test it for?
I've had it for about 6 weeks.

How much is it? /Size/Approximate cost per usage?
£29.95/$32.00 for 118ml.

What’s good about it?
A lovely cleanser that does what it says on the box. This is about the closest I get to a foaming cleanser. If you're looking for something to wean you off your traditional 'foam' products, this is one to consider. Much more gentle, but still efficacious. Although they say this will remove makeup, this is an obvious morning or second PM cleanser for me. I wouldn't waste it using it to remove makeup. Smells lovely and fresh, leaves skin soft and comfortable.

What’s not so good about it?
Nothing really. Good size, gorgeous packaging and excellent contents in the bottle itself. I wouldn't use daily if you were really dry, you'd be better off with the Rosehip Cleanser IMO.

Works well with?
The CoQ10 Toner in the range is really lovely and I do use it in place of acids on occasion, usually when I'm using the cleanser. Although you obviously don't have to :)

What’s the website like?
Nice. Basic, clean and fresh with just enough information and no 'faff'. And full ingredient listings.

Would I purchase/repurchase?
Absolutely. I bought this along with most of the range from and would repurchase.

Similar products?
OM Skincare Pure Glow Cleanser
Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip
REN Rosa Centifolia Gel Cleanser

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser is £29.95 or $32.00 and available from and which ships worldwide.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Beauty Uniforms aka Dinner Ladies on counter

After my Love Letter to Beauty Departments earlier this month, I've spent quite a lot of time in department stores. 

Beauty Halls are an ever-changing machine, space is at a premium and brands spend a fortune on installations and keeping things fresh. Selfridges changes its counters more frequently than M&S rearrange their food department.

So here's my question: why don't they do something for their poor members of staff stuck in outdated, polyester, 80s uniforms that rather than scream 'Hi Lovely Customer! Respect me, trust me. I'm a professional!', pathetically weep 'Lord Have Mercy I hate this uniform please don't look at me.'.

Years ago I worked for a well-known brand for about 6 weeks. This particular brand has the theme of red running through their marketing/uniform. In my time with the company I wore my uniform maybe three times. It was always 'at the cleaners'. Bad Caroline. I couldn't do it. I would turn up for work in a fitted head-to-toe black suit with red lips and nails and a sleek ponytail every day, and told the staff they could do the same. Bad Manager Caroline. The department manager and store loved it. Our sales went up. Staff were noticeably happier in their work. And more comfortable. In our uniforms we looked like tomatoes. Sweaty, polyester-armpit tomatoes. No.

Tabards. Oh tabards. The less said about them the better. Burn them. Leave them with the dinner ladies, at least they protect their clothes from kids throwing food. No danger of that with moisturisers. Customers can be awkward but they generally refrain from throwing a product at you. 

Therapists. When did it become au fait to stick us in these things:

Look at this lovely lady. Stuck in a wraparound-tabard-from-hell and polyester elastic-waisted trousers. Sweaty, uncomfortable, hot, ugly. 

Which brings me to......

When I was in Harvey Nichols last week, the new department was shiny and brand spanking new. Brands had used real innovation with LED lights, massive installations with video content, iPads, everything modern. And in the middle of it was Clinique. 
Please, for the love of reality, ditch the white lab coats. Unless of course you've started employing lab technicians or doctors without telling us.

Although I suppose it could be worse. You could be an air stewardess in the 70s.

*this post was inspired by two separate conversations with buying directors from the biggest department stores in London. It's not just me being a grumpy ex-counter girl. ;)

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Ordinary - a few words from Brandon

In six and a half years of blogging I have never had so many requests to review a brand. Ever. The Ordinary has certainly hit the industry with a bang. A big bang. 

Brandon Truaxe, the Founder of Deciem, The Abnormal Beauty Company, and the parent company behind Grow Gorgeous, NIOD, Hylamide, Hand Chemistry and so many others, has traditionally been very kind to this blog and its readers, and he has once again taken some time to answer some of my initial thoughts/questions. Do bear in mind that I know Brandon, and therefore the questions are a little more 'direct' than they perhaps may have been if I was talking to a stranger. He doesn't mind. :)

Why have you made the Ordinary?
Because brands, big and small, continue to disguise commodity innovation for ingenuity through creative use of packaging, communication and pricing. It had to be done. No one in the world of vitamins can charge $300 for a tin of vitamin A tablets because that industry comes with more transparency but you can easily find virtually the same formulations ranging from $5 to $500+ in the world of beauty.

How have you made it so affordable?
We have applied our very standard margin % across all the products in The Ordinary and, in fact, our average margin % in The Ordinary is far higher than, say, NIOD's Flavanone Mud, which has our lowest margin to make it sensibly priced. For example, very high purity Niacinamide costs under $10 per KG and so the cost of all materials in Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is under $1 (£0.5). Most of the cost actually goes into compounding, testing (inbound and outbound) and retail costs/margins. We haven't cut any margin % and The Ordinary is a sustainable model.

How do the %s of actives compare with the rest of the Deciem range?
If we use an active ingredient, we almost always use it at the highest, or a very high, concentration, regardless of the brand and The Ordinary is no exception. Our other brands simply have different approaches in the ingredients they use (some are over $5m per KG) and their combinations (it's a nightmare to stabilise all of the ingredients in NIOD NEC). I am not sure that any of The Ordinary formulations can actually include any more % of the actives used (chemically or legally).

Are you worried that people will buy the Ordinary and that it will hit the sales of your more expensive brands?
Not at all because any offering we have that is more expensive is not so because the "brand" is more expensive but because the product offers something else. If any product from The Ordinary was offered under NIOD or Hylamide, its price would have been the same. The Ordinary is not a mass-market brand and it actually targets a very educated audience (just look at the product names) irrespective of budget who understands ingredients and does not allow marketing to win over very clear science.

Would you have been able to produce the Ordinary without the sales/income stream from Deciem e.g. selling Grow Gorgeous? 
Beauty is still a business, while I completely agree about £500 creams etc, surely brands are allowed to make a profit?
Any business requires capital to start—whether it's tax-paid money, loans, investments or revenue stream - makes no difference. DECIEM has been fortunate to be successful and we have invested our resources to create The Ordinary amongst many other things. Selling Grow Gorgeous was done to have the cash to open DECIEM stores globally not to fund new brands. Yes, beauty is a business and yes brands are allowed to make a profit: The Ordinary has a higher profit margin than many NIOD products and I shared an example cost breakdown. But no, it does not make sense for a brand to sell a simple commodity formula that costs $1 to make for $500 while the rest of the world operates on less greedy margins. The Ordinary is a very serious business and is not formed as a charity or to make a point.

So there you have it. The Ordinary is here to stay, a serious brand, not temporary, not gimmicky, the real deal. The proof will be in the pudding and repeat business. I strongly suspect The Ordinary to fly. I know Brandon and know that he would never put something to market that didn't work. It would go against his DNA. I personally would've preferred the products to be less confusing than NIOD, but those of you hoping for an easy-to-read 'serum' explaining when to use it and what with, you're out of luck. The products are still labelled very scientifically with what they are made up of, rather than what they will actually do for you.
See 'Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F (coming soon)' for example.

Brandon is absolutely right on one score, I know brands that charge nearly £500 for a 50ml moisturiser that cost 8€ a kilo to make. Ridiculous.
While there is an absolute need for more transparency and brilliant affordable products, I do wonder if Brandon, being a geeky male (sorry Brandon - but you know what I mean! It's a compliment. :) ) is potentially underestimating the pleasurable side of skincare. Yes it's a necessity and there should be affordable options - lots of them - but I still think people will continue to pay for their favourites in the same way that we do for fashion and pretty much everything else we consume.
Having Shoe Direct provides an affordable option for a necessity, it doesn't stop Louboutin, Adidas and Clarks from their huge trade.


The Ordinary is available from and

Sunday, 18 September 2016


The winners of the Murad Giveaway are:
  1. Helene Frost
  2. Gemma Delaney
  3. Lorraine O'Grady
  4. Nikki Pickering
  5. Orla (orlskeenan)
  6. Amy Hughes
  7. Suzy Burrage
  8. Liz Ottaway
  9. Niall Kavanagh
  10. Iris Waldburger
CONGRATULATIONS ALL! You'll get an email from me in the next day. :)

Thank you Murad. 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Saturday Giveaway - Dr Dennis Gross Peel Pads

My love for Dennis Gross pads is well-known, I've been using and loving them for years, and I'll be talking about them more on the blog this week. 

To get you in the mood, Dr Dennis Gross is offering 8 lucky readers the opportunity to win both the Alpha-Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel and the Ferulic + Wrinkle Recovery Peel. And it's open Worldwide!

To enter just leave your email address via Rafflecopter below. As always, your name won't be given to anyone, you won't get spammed and you can enter every day.

The Doc is King of Peel Pads, and the Extra-Strength have been in my arsenal since they launched. Containing seven acids: Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Cytric Acid, Salicylic Acid and Willowbark Extract, they are hardcore. In the best way.
The Wrinkle + Ferulic are more targeted anti-ageing and aid cellular turnover and skin firming. Both are brilliant and a must-have.

To enter:

Leave your details in Rafflecopter below when prompted. That's it. GOOD LUCK EVERYONE! And thank you Dennis Gross!
  • Open Internationally
  • You can enter once a day
  • Eight winners of two prizes
  • Prizes will be sent directly from the brand
  • Open from Midnight 16th September through to Friday 23rd at 11:59pm.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Hall of Fame - Dermalux LED Phototherapy

After I posted another picture of a client under the lamp yesterday I had quite a few questions about LED and what it entails. As it's currently one of my favourite machines (after my dishwasher ;) ), I thought I'd give you a very brief lowdown so that you can seek out the treatments in your local area.

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode and works on the principle that light, used in the correct, clinical way, is massively beneficial to the skin. While we usually associate light exposure with negative effects such as skin ageing and damage, light can have massively positive influences on your body. It helps produce vitamin D - which 1 in 5 of us in the UK are deficient in*, boosts energy and serotonin levels, and also promotes healing, reduces inflammation and pain and can prevent tissue damage.

LED Phototherapy is known for its regenerating and anti-inflammatory properties. Research has shown that it increases collagen production, destroys acne-causing bacteria, reduces inflammation, improves skin tone, texture and clarity and can ease muscular and joint pain.
(As an aside, if you're a sun addict, this is one way to get the benefits that you feel after sun exposure without the obvious downsides.)

In a treatment, it's the perfect way to round off an aggressive procedure, whether or not that is peels, micro-needling, dermaplaning, or invasive needle work, hence why it's so popular.

When LED was first around, I personally found the machines a little harsh - or unrefined. They would trigger headaches in me and I just never really got on board with them. The newer versions - and especially the Dermalux machine, are honestly brilliant. Both in terms of ease-of-use for a therapist and the results for the clients.

The joy of this is that you can lie/sit down for 20 minutes and get up and go back to work. It's one of the few treatments that you genuinely can do on a break.

I mainly use it on two settings: skin rejuvenation and varying types of acne.

Dermalux has separate programmes for all of the following:

Skin Rejuvenation
Sun Damage
Acne and Problem Skin
Rosacea and Redness
Eczema, Psoriasis and Dermatitis
Sensitive and Inflammatory conditions
Wound Healing and Scarring
Restoring Radiance

and can be used on all ages, all skin types, all skin colours.

It's super effective when used as a course, and makes the perfect pre-wedding course of treatments for brides-to-be, or people with big events to attend because the effect is immediate and there is no down time. You walk out glowing. Literally.

For acne sufferers, you're looking more at blue light, same machine, different colour of light. The effects are genuinely noticeable, especially when you have the treatments regularly, starting with an intensive course, then reducing down to maintenance appointments.

Dermalux have a clinic locator on their website - Clinic Locator that you can use to find your nearest clinic offering their services.
They are not available in the US yet, but I think they're looking into that market at the moment.**

Honestly, try one. I love it. If I could afford it I'd buy one for my house.
On that note, I know there are hand-held devices for use at home. I haven't used them. I will look into them, but in the short term, have a treatment with a pro and see how your skin reacts to the machine. Speak to your therapist. It's my experience that once something is in your house you don't use it as much, and that defeats the object..

More information on Dermalux can be found here: 

Here's to glowing skin! 

*latest figures from the NHS, who now recommend year-round supplementation - source
**there are other LED machines available but I cannot vouch for them in the same way, as I haven't used them professionally.

Not sponsored in any way. I use the Dermalux in Teresa Tarmey's clinic but have no business affiliation with the company. It's just bloody good. More info on Teresa's clinic is here:

The views expressed on this site are the author's own and are provided for informational purposes only. The author makes no warranties about the suitability of any product or treatment referenced or reviewed here for any person other than herself and any reliance placed on these reviews or references by you is done so solely at your own risk. Nothing on this site shall be construed as providing dermatological, medical or other such advice and you are always advised to seek the advice of a suitable professional should you have any such concerns.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Charlotte Tilbury Scent of a Dream

A Charlotte Tilbury fragrance was always going to be interesting. I never know what to expect from a fragrance that doesn't come from a traditional 'nose', but this is beautiful. 

The Tilbury machine is able to stir up more frenzy around launches than any other I know, bar maybe Chanel - and this has been no different. Kate Moss is the face and honestly, I think this is the best I've seen her look.
Not gonna lie - it helps that they use one of my favourite songs in the video.

As to the fragrance itself? It didn't disappoint. The Mr walked in just after it had arrived and said 'OOH something smells nice in there...!'. That says it all. This is not a fragrance for days I'm doing facials. It's far too strong. This is a date night fragrance. Not for the faint-hearted. It would not be out of place in Guerlain. It's old-fashioned, but not dated. The bottle is classical, heavy.

Scent of a Dream sits in the Floral Chypre category:

Top Notes include:
Saffron, Mandarin, Bergamot

Muguet, Orange Flower, Rose Oil, Tea Rose, Green Ivy, Magnolia

'Psychoactive' base Notes:
The ‘pheromone’ notes are activated by body heat, lasting up to 9 hours – 
Precious Woods, Cistus, Amber, Castoreum, Musks

I don't know about the pheromone story, I've heard it before. Molecule and Philosophy in particular, have been at it for years. Fragrance and your olfactory system incite memories, that's the joy of them for me. 

Scent of a Dream is sexy. It's heavy-hitting. It's bold. Whether or not it makes someone fancy you or not I don't know. Unless you look like Kate Moss obvs.

Scent of a Dream is priced between £49.00 and £96.00 and is available from Selfridges and

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Beauty Myths No. 19 - 'Pat dry'

This may seem like a strange one, so the context is important. I am always asked about routines and the order of using products. 
There are some things that make it onto packaging purely because NPD and marketing departments regurgitate the same advice time and time again, simply because it's what they've done before.

Obviously the main culprit is on cleanser packaging, or in cleansing routines when it says that after cleansing, you 'rinse off, then pat dry'. 
If you're soaking wet after a shower, you may want to lightly dry your face, mainly so you can see, but here's the thing: in an ideal world, you want a damp face. 
If you use your flannels and follow my routines, your skin will be damp once you've cleansed, you go from there straight to the next stage. Whether that's acids or spritzs, no need to pat dry. A damp skin is a great skin to work on. Seal in the moisture with your following products. 

There is one big exception: vitamin A.

Retinols, especially prescription strength ones, are applied to a dry skin after cleansing. I cleanse, remove it with a flannel, and leave my skin to air for a few minutes (usually enough time to make tea, not hours) before I apply the retinoid. Then I use whatever else I'm using on top. 

Patting the skin dry is not necessary. Damp dry is good.

Go straight in.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Saturday Giveaway - Murad Hydro-Dynamic Giveaway

One of my favourite releases this year, Murad's Hydro-Dynamic Quenching Essence and Ultimate Moisture are pretty perfect in many ways. Between them they are suitable for all skin conditions from dehydrated to reddened, from oily to dry. You can't go wrong. They work perfectly well with any serum, any oil and any treatments. I use them on my clients every week to hydrate/calm the skin after treatments.

And now the lovely people at Murad are offering TEN lucky winners in UK/Ireland the chance to win both of them. To enter simply leave your email address via Rafflecopter below. It won't be used for any mailing lists/marketing. It isn't given to the brands, it's only used for me to contact you should you win. And you can enter every day if you want to.

Good Luck everyone! Thank you Murad.

T&Cs are listed on the app but are basically:

  • UK/Ireland only
  • 10 x winners
  • Prize will be sent directly from the brand
  • You can enter daily

The Giveaway runs until 11.59pm next Friday 16th September.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My giveaways are not paid for, nor do I use affiliate links on them. If you are a brand interested in holding a giveaway you can email here.

*comments are closed to save confusion on how to enter

Friday, 9 September 2016

A love letter to Beauty Departments

After the atrocious 'service' (and I use the word loosely) I had the misfortune of experiencing at Boots recently, I've been even more aware of customer service - or lack thereof - across the board.
Surely in this online age and with the 'grab-n-go' mentality that seems to be here to stay, it doesn't mean that we're forgetting how to deal face-to-face with customers? Or are we now simply cutting out human interaction altogether?
It's one thing to offer self-select beauty and self-service tills. It's quite another to make that the only option available to your customers*.


I can see that there is a desire for some self-service tills in busy stores to relieve pressure on tills and offer an alternative for people who have no desire to chit-chat and need to get back to their desk. I mean, I won't use them, but I can see that they have their place. More so when it comes to a sandwich and crisps at lunch.

For me, they will never, ever replace human interaction and traditional 'customer service'. Because that's what it's about, your customer. Not your bottom line, not your shareholder, your customer.
You could look at it and say self-service tills save money. Personally I look at them and see the members of staff they've replaced. Don't tell me that you can't afford staff. You can. You just have to make less profit. And who knows? Maybe if you offered the service, you'd make more money, and keep your shareholders and your customers happy.

I'm in the middle of reading Estee Lauder's 'A Success Story'. I love a good biography/industry book. Yes, it's a book about how she built her business, but she mentions 'customers' on nearly every page. This is a brand built on service. (As an aside, she also throws some brilliant, funny, shade on her competitors and it is well worth a read. It's available here.)

The holding of a customer's hand is classic Lauder technique.

Mrs Lauder doing her thing.
Selfridges Beauty Hall of old.

Selfridges today

I have always loved a good beauty hall. I can wander for hours, literally whole days, looking at what's new, including the fixtures and new counters, new brands and the most fun for me, people watching. I love watching the interaction between sales people and customers. It's my thing. I get it. It seems weird if it's not your thing. But I love it. Admittedly, I may be biased. I was raised around beauty counters.

Mum doing her thing in her first beauty job in Liverpool in the 60s.

Nana doing her thing on a different counter in the 60s.

Whenever I travel, the first place I hit is the department stores. In New York I can spend an entire day doing Bergdorfs and Barneys beauty halls. Another day doing the Ulta/Target/Duane Reade Holy Trinity.
I love beauty, I love (most) people, I love beauty customers, I love beauty teams. That experience cannot be replaced with a till that shouts at you about unexpected items in a baggage area.

Beauty halls in huge department stores have massively upped their game and continue to do so. The competition from online is fierce, so you need to give people a reason to walk through your doors.
The main one for me will always be the experience. Dealing with knowledgeable staff, holding everything in my hand, trying it on my skin, swatching powders, trying lipsticks, reading ingredients labels, talking to the staff, it's all part of the fun.

Adding apothecary-style units to beauty halls in department stores has, for me, added to the entire experience, because you will still have to pay for it at a till with a live, human being manning it. All of the self-select areas of beauty have staff in them that are trained in the brands on offer. It's the modern way to do beauty.

On top of that, we now have services. All of them.

Harvey Nichols Beauty Lounge

Harvey Nichols London recently opened their Beauty Lounge, offering hair, nails, brows, lashes, henna, infusions, three beauty rooms and LED therapy. It's insane. A dedicated entrance means it's literally open dawn til dusk. It's a one-stop shop if you have an event.

Liberty recently refurbed their beauty halls, making even more room for the beautiful niche brands they are famous for. Byredo, Frederic Malle, Surratt, Le Labo, just a few of the standouts, and now Skin Laundry has arrived fresh from L.A. offering 15 minute laser & light facial for busy people on the go. Facials and a Blink Bar mean you can fix your face from top to bottom in a couple of hours.

Liberty in all it's glory.

Selfridges also has everything. Face, hair, body, brands, nails. The whole caboodle.

I love it. I love all of it. Every time I walk through a beauty hall is like the first time.

The new Liberty hall.

No, it's not always perfect, yes, staff have bad days and can be obnoxious and not very well-trained. But I'd rather a person having a bad day that can be trained than a wall of machines any day.

Further info:

Harvey Nichols Beauty Lounge

Not a sponsored post, no affiliate links.
Photographs other than mine were sourced from Pinterest, if you are the source please let me know and I will happily update.

*Twitter friends will be aware that I recently tried to spend money (the pre-holiday shop) in Boots to be faced with only self-service tills, no human beings were available. Literally. A manager pointed to the self-service machines as if I was an alien while he did paperwork on his clipboard and said 'the tills aren't open'. I attempted the self-serve tills and when it started giving me grief about unexpected items in the bagging area on the third item, I lost all patience. I left it all there. Walked out. They watched me leave the shop (kids in tow) rather than open a till to serve me. I wasn't being a diva. That's not me. I was being a busy, stressed-out customer, keeping kids amused while we shopped everything from skincare to suncream to hairspray to deodorant and tampax. We went to Superdrug for the essentials and I bought the rest from dept stores.

If your store is open, your tills should be open.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Chanel Fall 2016 - Le Rouge Collection 1

So this went on counter while I was on holiday, hence the late posting, but for someone as obsessed with red as yours truly, I couldn't let it slip under the radar. With Kristen Stewart as the face, and a gorgeous one at that, and Chanel's Global Creative Makeup and Colour Designer Lucia Pica at the helm, Le Rouge Collection 1 is gorgeous.

Putting paid to the idea that you can't 'do' red on the eyes, these colours have just enough hint of red, showcased as an undercurrent in pencils and shadows that are so wearable that Mother removed the eyeshadow palette from my hand quicker than a poker dealer at the table when she saw it. I haven't seen it since.

Nails are an easy red to do, but this being Chanel, they had to go a step further and trot out Rouge Radical - a new nail gloss, that should be transparent, but isn't. A Limited Edition, it's a hugely shiny gloss that leaves the nails singing. Yes, I used the word 'singing' about a nail polish.

This being Chanel, lips are front and centre. The boldest poppy to the darkest black cherry, my favourite Coco Chanel saying is 'Mettez du rouge et attaquez' or a tad less exciting in english: 'Put on lipstick and attack' and this collection reminded me of that. I've worn a bright lip ever since I went to the presentation of the collection to meet Lucia Pica. A woman, incidentally, who walked the length of the room and shook the hand of every single attendee on the day, winning over this cynical businesswoman immediately. This is her first collection for Chanel, and if this is anything to go on, more greatness awaits.

Chanel Le Rouge Collection 1 is available now from in the UK and Nordstrom in the USA.

Bobbi Brown City Collection

It's one thing when your kids make you feel old, it's quite another when you realise that Bobbi Brown is 25 this year. The brand, not the woman. Obvs. The City Collection Palettes, released to celebrate the anniversary, are quite possibly my favourite release of hers in all that time. Each palette is adorned with illustrations of the city in question by fashion designer-turned-illustrator Richard Haines. And they are lovely.

There are usually a couple of standouts when collections like this are released. In this case all three palettes are great, with a mix of really wearable colours. 


Paris is two mattes, two shimmers and French Pink blush.


New York is possibly the most 'daytime', with three mattes and one light, golden shimmer shadow. The blush is Tawny.


Not being biased, but London, with the inclusion of the Rich Navy eye shadow and Nectar Blush just steals it for Best in Show.

There are three Limited Edition Long-Wear Gel Eyeliners and three new Luxe Lip Colors, Parisien Red being the winner.

The City Collection is exclusive to Harrods and available here. The must-have palettes are £45.00, Gel Eyeliners £19.00 and Lips £25.00.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Victoria Beckham x Estee Lauder First Thoughts

Prepare yourselves for an onslaught of all things Beckham/Lauder next week as Victoria Beckham launches her new Limited Edition range with Estee Lauder.

Safe to say, from what I've seen so far, it's a knockout. No BS.

This is no 'take what we have off the shelf and stick a designer name on it' range. Aesthetically it may be the best 'designer' range I have ever seen. VB knows exactly what she is doing.

The packaging is, with one exception, spectacular. I do not use that word freely. The compacts are heavy, really heavy. Gold with ribbed leather, they have the very satisfying 'clunk' when closed, and feel like my Grandmother's compact collection from the 1950s. When the marketing says that Victoria has been collecting them for years, I believe it. I do the same and these are reminiscent of ones I have in my stash. They are to my mind, unique on the market at the moment.

The products:

One skincare/makeup hybrid, two face products, seven eye, four lip (at my counting!).

The eyeshadow powders - Eye Metals - are beautifully pigmented and super-soft. Colours are gold and metallic blackened green. The Kajal Duo is pretty near as perfect a smoky liner that I've come across.

The lipstick packaging is the only blip for me. It's super-lightweight, insubstantial and doesn't sit with the rest of the range. No 'clunk' here.

Obviously my main interest is in the Morning Aura Illuminating Creme. Part moisturiser, part primer, it contains micro-pearls to brighten and illuminate the skin. At £68.00, I won't be using it on my legs a la VB in this month's Vogue, but I will be smothering my face in it tout de suite. I'll feedback with comparisons on all things glow in upcoming reviews.

This is supposed to be a Limited Edition collection, but far too much time, thought and money has gone into this for it not to become a permanent collection. Watch this space.

I was too old for The Spice Girls and the only thing that Victoria Beckham designs that would fit me are handbags and scarves. Until now. Bravo.

Victoria Beckham x Estee Lauder is available from September 13th exclusively from Selfridges, Estee Lauder online and and prices range from £22.00 to £68.00.