Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Dr. Hauschka Lip Balm: Can it replace my REN Biomimetic Lip Honey?

A few weeks ago, I went out to replenish my supply of REN Biomimetic Lip Honey, which is my favourite lip balm ever. However, I suspected something fishy was going on when I couldn't find it on the usually well-stocked shelves at Liberty. A sales assistant told me that they didn't have any stock because REN Biomimetic Lip Honey is being reformulated and won't be back for a while. Reformulated??? Why? Why would they do that? Apparently they're making it minty... I hate minty lip balms <shakes fist>.

So I ended up buying Dr. Hauschka Lip Balm instead. <sigh> This is going to be a lacklustre (and hopefully short) review I'm afraid... I'm still too in shock from the REN Lip Honey reformulation news.

This Dr. Hauschka Lip Balm is another "natural" lip balm... no mineral oils etc, but it just reminds me why I loved the REN lip balm so much. "Natural" lip balms can often be too thin-textured, too floral-scented, and this balm is exactly that.

I don't like it. It's too flowery-tasting to put around my mouth, and it doesn't have the right balance of oil and wax to make it moisturising but also long-lasting.

The pot is narrow and deep, meaning that the only way I can get any of the product out is by gouging it out with the outside of a fingernail, which is kind of gross, and makes ugly marks like in the picture below.

The full ingredients of Dr. Hauschka Lip Balm are:

Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Beeswax/Cera Flava,Arachis Hypogaea (Peanut) Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil,Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Anthyllis Vulneraria Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Hypericum Perforatum (St. John'swort) Extract, Silk/Serica Powder, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Lecithin, Fragrance/Parfum (Essential Oil), Citronellol, Geraniol, Linalool, Farnesol, Benzyl Benzoate, Citral, Eugenol, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate.

This pot cost me £10.50, so it was quite expensive as well (but I think the same as REN Biomimetic Lip Honey).

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

My first fish pedicure at Aqua Sheko fish spa: Review

Today I had my first ever fish pedicure at Aqua Sheko, a trendy new "fish spa" in Kensington, London. I was very excited to try out this unusual pedicure treatment which involves plunging feet into a tank full of Garra Rufa fish which then suck and nibble away dead skin cells. It's been massive in Japan for years.

If you're fish phobic, you probably don't want to read on!

So apparently, these Garra Rufa fish are found in hot springs in Turkey and have been used for softening and cleansing the skin of bathers for centuries. Their suction−cup mouths gently lift away dry skin without damaging the healthy new cells underneath, to reveal soft, supple and smooth skin. So they get a good feed, while your feet are exfoliated. Everyone's a winner!

When I arrived at Aqua Sheko, my feet were washed by a very sweet therapist (the poor thing having to touch my sweaty, swollen, sock-marked feet after a long, hot day!). I was then sat on a comfy seat at my very own tank.

I did squeal embarrassingly loudly when I first dipped my feet in. These fish are not shy - they get straight in there! Below is a photo of some of the fish having a good nibble on my unattractively swollen feet. You can click on the photo to enlarge it to see their hungry little faces.

And below is a video of the fish darting around (I took the sound off because it's just chatter from surrounding customers). They move pretty fast!

The sucking and nibbling doesn't hurt at all... I would describe it as a bit of a "pins and needles" feeling. Kind of tickly and tingling. Not at all painful, and actually quite pleasant! And the fish didn't just go for obvious areas of dead skin, they nibbled all over, even my ankles!

While despairing at my swollen, sock-marked feet, I noticed the girl next to me (who had started a while before me) already had very nice feet... slim-looking and well-presented. She also had noticeably fewer fish attacking her than I had. The fish must have been disappointed with her lack of dry, uncared-for skin!

The fish started to get full and lose their appetite on me towards the end of the 30 minutes, with only a handful still sucking away rather than the entire shoal.

When my treatment was up, my feet were washed and dried again, leaving me with baby soft, light-feeling feet. I could still see the moderately dry skin on my heels, but the entire surface area of my feet (including the topsides and soles) felt smoothed over. Meaning, if I were to put a pair of tights on, I would no longer snag them all the way down while shoving my scaly foot through. Now there's an attractive image for you.

A fish pedicure including a relaxing foot massage at Aqua Sheko normally costs £45, or £30 for the express 25-minute fish pedicure and feet wash. However, I paid just £12 for a 30 minute fish pedicure (no massage) through (not an affiliate link). If you haven't heard of Wahanda MobDeals, honestly, where have you been?? So there's a daily deal where if enough people sign up (and they always do), the deal's on, and everyone gets a top quality spa treatment for a jaw-droppingly low price. It's a no-brainer really. But just remember to book your appointments early because when there's 900 or so sign-ups, the convenient time slots fill up fast.

You can find out more about the fish pedicure at

So what do you reckon? Will you be having a fish pedicure any time soon? Go on... it's fun! I went alone, but it'd be great for a girly laugh!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Swishy, curly hair courtesy of Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light

Above is probably the best shot I've ever seen of my usually boring straight hair, thanks to a complimentary wash and styling session at the Pantene Pro-V stand at the Clothes Show 2010 yesterday. Nice evening sunlight too outside our house.

My hair was washed and conditioned using the new Aqua Light Lightweight Nourishing Shampoo and Aqua Light Lighweight Nourishing Conditioner from Pantene Pro-V. Aqua Light, available in shops from late July, is designed to leave virtually no residue and virtually no weight, just light, airy, swishy hair.

My hair was then styled by Lara-Zee, assistant to top hair stylist, Sam McKnight, who used tongs to create my bouncy loose curls. Despite just the lightest mist of hairspray, and my curls still look perfect one day on (I was expecting them to drop within hours like they usually do!).

I've never been a big fan of Pantene... the last time I used it was in the '90s when it was first launched. I found the shampoos too harsh (especially the clarifying shampoo which was basically like using washing up detergent) and the conditioners too silicone-laden, wreaking all sorts of havoc on my damaged hair and sensitive scalp.

However, I have to say I am quite impressed with the Aqua Light range. It does indeed leave the hair feeling fresh, lightweight and swishy. I also think the reason why my curls have lasted so well is that there's no excess product weighing the curls down.

The Aqua Light range is especially suitable for people with well-behaved, fine to normal hair, who dislike the weighed-down feeling after using conditioner, but still want the nourishment benefits of using conditioner. Both the shampoo and conditioner are designed to rinse clean in seconds. It's not moisturising enough for dry, damaged or coarse hair though.

So, if you like to pick up your shampoo and conditioner with your groceries, you could do worse than try the new Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light shampoo and conditioner (there is also a leave-in Lightweight Nourishing Mist to detangle hair without weighing it down). The price will be comparable to other Pantene products, so around £3 per bottle (sorry, I can't find the actual price anywhere because the products are not out till late July!).

Pantene Aqua Light Shampoo, Conditioner and Nourishing Mist

A quick scan of the ingredients, and these products don't look anything like the Pantene I used to know (silicones are no longer the second ingredient after water!)...

The full ingredients of Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light Lightweight Nourishing Shampoo:

Aqua, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Sodium Xylenesulfate, Parfum, Cocamide MEA, Sodium Benzoate, Tetrasodium EDTA, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Panthenol, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Benzyl Salicylate, Magnesium Nitrate, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxalehyde, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Magnesium Chloride, Methylisothiazolinone, Fumaric Acid.

The full ingredients of Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light Lightweight Nourishing Conditioner:

Aqua, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alchohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Ethyhexyldimonium Methosulfate, Parfum, Benzyl Alcohol, Bis-Aminopropyl Dimethicone, Isopropyl Alcohol, Disodium EDTA, Panthenol, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Butyphenyl Methylpropional, Linalool, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Magnesium Nitrate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Magnesium Chloride, Methyisothiazolinone.

The full ingredients of Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light Lightweight Nourishing Mist:

Aqua, Isododecane, Parfum, Isopropyl Alcohol, Panthenol, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Cetrimomium Chloride, Polyquaternium-6, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Polysorbate 20, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Linalool, Hexyl Cinnamal, PEG-20 Glyceryl Laurate, Limonene, Benzyl Salicylate, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Geraniol, Citronellol, Linoleic Acid, Tocopherol, Hydroxycitronellal, CI 61565, Retinyl Palmitate, Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate, Helianthus Annus Seed Oil, CI 40800, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Sisley Phyto Teint Éclat Fluid Foundation review: Worth the £60?

I bought this Sisley Phyto Teint Éclat Fluid Foundation in my quest for a silicone-based foundation that has moderate coverage to make my skin look flawless, but that also looks and feels like real skin when it's on, and photographs well. If you're a regular reader, you'll remember that I loved Face Atelier Ultra Foundation (read my review here) but kept ending up with a bit too much oil breakthrough on my T-zone. I hoped that this Sisley foundation would have the same "wow"-factor but with a bit more oil control (having the oil-absorbing ingredient, silica, high up in the ingredients list).

The shade I bought was "Soft beige (shade 2)". It's the standard neutral beige (no pink or yellow) I always match with. Just as a side story, when I first picked up a sample of this in-store to take home to try properly, the sales assistant tried to fob me off with the next shade up ("Sand", shade 2+), which is a dark, yellow-based beige, despite me having already used the testers to work out that I was "Soft beige". I suspect she saw that I was of Asian ethnicity and assumed that thus I must be yellow. This isn't the first time a sales assistant or make-up artist has made this assumption... and it has started to really annoy me!

This foundation is described as oil-free and long lasting. The full blurb:

"Luminous coverage for an even and natural-looking complexion. Hydrates and mattifies, light is reflected, minimizing surface imperfections and fine lines."

The consistency of this foundation is thin and needs to be shaken to ensure the silicones and water are properly mixed before application. But don't worry, there is a ball bearing in the pump bottle to speed things up. The smell is strong... almost like pot pourri.

Unlike the Face Atelier Ultra Foundation which is completely foolproof to apply, I found out that it is possible to apply too much of Sisley Phyto Teint Éclat because it dries so quickly. If I don't blend it quickly enough, it can look a bit dry on my skin and thus look less like real skin. Also, this foundation accentuates flaky patches so I don't think it would be suitable for anyone with very dry skin.

However, as long as I don't dispense too much from the pump bottle, and if I spread the foundation quickly, the finish is really nice. It dries almost to a fine, powdery finish which is matte but not too dry-looking. I don't think it has the same "wow"-factor as Face Atelier Ultra Foundation but I think that's because it's matte rather than dewy, so it's never going to look as instantly radiant.

The coverage is medium... it evens out my skin tone very well and knocks out a lot of my natural colour (leaving me looking flat until I've applied blusher). It's not as good as Face Atelier at dark circle coverage though. See below for a "before" photo and "after" photos where I am wearing the foundation and no other make-up (not even my usual finishing powder).

Above, naked face.

Above, after applying Sisley Phyto Éclat Fluid Foundation with my fingers. No flash.

Above, a few hours later with camera flash.

Above, another photo using flash, in different lighting.

Having seen these photos, I think where this foundation really impresses is under flash photography. I like the way my skin looks so even and not shiny in the last two photos.

In terms of being long-lasting, it's not too bad... better than Face Atelier Ultra Foundation at holding up against oil through the day, but not as good as L'Oréal Matte Morphose which pretty much looks perfect for 12 hours or more.

So... is it worth £60? Hmmmmm... that's a tough one. Honestly, it's a nice foundation but I don't think it is 5x better than L'Oréal Matte Morphose (which costs around £12) or 2x better than Face Atelier (which costs £32).

Hmmm... my quest for the perfect foundation continues. If only I could combine all the features of the above-mentioned products.

The full ingredients of Sisley Phyto Teint Éclat Fluid Foundation are:

Water/Eau(Aqua), Cyclopentasiloxane, Propylene Glycol, Silica, Dimethicone, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone (Dimethicone Copolyol), Polyethylene, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Chloride, Beeswax/Cire D'Abeille (Cera Alba), Phenoxyethanol, Acrylates Copolymer, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, Tilia Cordata Flower Extract, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Gardenia Florida Extract, Methylparaben, Fragrance (Parfum), Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben. May contain [+/-: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)]. (cont. benzyl benzoate, benzyl salicylate, cinnamyl alcohol, citronellol, coumarin, eugenol, geraniol, hexyl cinnamal, hydroxycitronellal, limonene, linalool, alpha-isomethyl ionone).

By the way, if you're wondering how I can justify spending so much on a foundation, I don't have a particular limit on face products if they work (ok, maybe if it's like £100+). Face and skin products seem to last so damn long (sometimes annoyingly long when I just want to move on to the next product!) that the cost per wear is nothing really... compared to frivolously buying loads of lipsticks or nail polishes that I might only use a handful of times.

Update (9th August 2010): I'm still using this foundation regularly and I am liking it more and more. It takes a bit of trial and error in terms of which moisturiser/primer to use underneath, but when it's done right, the foundation stays flawless even after a long day, and the colour is a perfect match for me. Definitely worth the price!

Update (27th October 2010): My skin has got drier coming up to Winter and I'm finding this Sisley foundation harder to apply and I'm having to "drag" on my skin more when I'm trying to blend it. I've put it to the side for now, and am back on the Face Atelier Ultra Foundation until further notice!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Clinique Lash Power Mascara Long-Wearing Formula: A true zero smudge mascara

I've recently been testing out the Clinique Lash Power Mascara which is a "tubing" style mascara. If you've never tried a tubing mascara, they basically coat a plastic-like formula onto your lashes instead of "painting" them like traditional mascaras. Once applied, the tubes stay put with literally zero smudging until you remove them. To remove tubing mascaras, all you need a bit of a warm water to loosen up the tubes, which then slide off easily with your fingertips.

Tubing mascaras are not a new concept. I was a devout fan of Blinc mascara for many years... it was the only mascara I'd ever used that didn't smudge underneath my eyes.

Anyway, back to Clinique's Lash Power Mascara specifically. The wand is slim and precise, making it easy to reach every lash without getting mascara all over and around my eyelids. The brush doesn't come out loaded with mascara, so it's never going to give a dramatic false lash look. However, the product description says that it lengthens and creates pretty lashes that will last through rain, sweat, humidity and tears.

Clinique Lash Power Mascara wand

Below are the before and after photos of using Clinique Lash Power Mascara. In the "before" picture, I have already curled my poker straight lashes.

Clinique Lash Power Mascara before

Above, my naked but curled lashes.

Clinique Lash Power Mascara after

Above, my lashes with one coat of Clinique Lash Power Mascara in Black Onyx.

As you will have noticed from my photos, the effect of the mascara is entirely natural. There is no added volume or thickness, and the lengthening is very subtle. However, it does make my lashes a shiny black colour (as opposed to my usual dull lash colour), and I assume this is what Clinique counts as "pretty lashes".

I'm not really in the market for a "natural-looking" mascara - I like mascaras that create big, thick, long lashes in one swipe (my current favourite is L'Oréal Lash Architect Midnight Black). However, one thing that has really impressed me with Lash Power is that it doesn't drop the curl. All the tubing mascaras I've ever used always used to flatten out a curl in seconds, whereas Clinique Lash Power Mascara actually locks in the curl.

As I prefer bolder lashes, I won't be using Clinique Lash Power on its own, but I'll be using it over the top of standard mascaras for long days when I need to look fresh until bedtime. I find that tubing mascaras are brilliant for "sealing off" standard mascara and preventing smudging from watery or oily eyes. That way I get long, thick lashes that literally don't smudge all day.

So there's two types of people who will like this mascara... those of you who have long, thick lashes already but just need a non-smudgy mascara to darken them, and those of you who have a perfect mascara already but wish it didn't smudge as much.

Oh, you'll also like this mascara if you already use and like tubing mascaras, but are looking for one that will hold an artificially-created curl and lock it in.

Clinique Lash Power Mascara costs £14.50.

Disclosure: This mascara was provided free of charge as a PR sample.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Follower giveaway! 16x sets of Andrea Face Spa Revitalizing Peel-off Masques to win (UK-only)

Update (9th July 2010): This giveaway has ended but keep your eyes peeled for more!

Remember my post a month ago on the amazing Andrea Face Spa Revitalizing Peel-off Masque I found in New York? Well, I had 48 of these bad boys shipped over from the States to give away to my UK followers. I'm splitting these so that 16 winners receive 3 masques each.

I'll be holding an international giveaway very soon I promise, but this one's just for my UK buddies because we just can't get hold of these over here without paying crazy shipping costs.

Also, to make sure both old and new followers feel appreciated, 10 winners will be randomly generated from old followers, and 6 from new followers.

To enter, just fill in the form below by the 9th July 2010 and let me know how to get in touch with you. Good luck!

Just to be clear, your entries won't be published. I'll be the only person who can see your answers, and I'll only ever use them for conducting this giveaway.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Face Atelier Ultra Foundation: Review plus before & after photos

From left to right, #2 Ivory, #3 Wheat , #4 Sand, #6 Honey

This week, I developed an obsession with finding a good "high definition" foundation. My latest trial being the Face Atelier Ultra Foundation of which I ordered the above generous samples from

Just to give you a quick background on my foundation usage, I rarely wear foundation because my skin texture and tone is mostly ok, I just need concealer under my eyes and around my nose, plus some finishing power to prevent shine through the day. However, I want to find a good foundation to use on my wedding day. My make-up artist used Dior Airflash in my trial, which looked fantastic in her photos but quite dry and crease-y in real life on my over-animated face. So I'm looking for a foundation which has medium to high coverage but still looks like my own skin, which moves with my face, and doesn't dry out or crease up. But more importantly, I want it to look absolutely flawless in photos, with radiance but not shine. So... I'm not asking for too much really.

Oh, and I prefer silicone-based foundations. I find they look the most like real skin. I like Yaby Liquid Foundation but it's too light coverage for the wedding, and L'Oréal Matte Morphose which is brilliant and more coverage than Yaby, but I wouldn't mind even more coverage.

Ok, so here's how Face Atelier describe the Ultra Foundation:

Ultra Foundation is a silicone-based emulsion that floats on top of the skin, doesn’t crease or flake, and lasts all day long. Hydrating yet oil-free, it obscures tiny lines and pores to ensure a smooth finish. No primer needed! It's built into Ultra Foundation, thanks to the super sophisticated, silicone-based formula. Another bonus - it sets without powder, preserving the youthful, dewy finish.

Before I go on, you'll probably want to know what I look like completely bare-faced. Here I am, parading my sun-induced freckles, dark circles and discolouration around my nose (probably caused by overenthusiastic spot-picking as a teen):


And below are the four shades I ordered heavily swatched on my jawline. The shade I decided was the best match was #3 Wheat (the second one along), which is your bog-standard beige. No noticeable pink or yellow tone.

Face Atelier Ultra Foundation swatches
From left to right, #2 Ivory, #3 Wheat , #4 Sand, #6 Honey

Face Atelier Ultra Foundation is a primer/foundation 2-in-1 so I applied it straight over my moisturiser, using my fingers. Apparently you get the best finish using a Beautyblender but sadly I don't have one. The formula is very runny and needs to be shaken before use (silicone is lighter than pigment).

As I would expect with a silicone-based foundation, it blends seamlessly on the skin and really, really does look and feel like real skin. It doesn't matter how much I put on, or how slow I am to blend it, it never looks dry, chalky or cakey. And it feels really lightweight too... I can completely forget I'm wearing foundation.

The coverage is like a magic airbrushing wand being waved over the skin, evening out discolouration and lightening up shadows. The coverage is medium to high, depending on how it's applied (medium if you're applying it with fingers, but I guess it would be higher if you use a brush). In the photo below, I have only applied the foundation on one side of my face. My freckles definitely still show through (but are blurred and less visible), but the foundation has concealed my dark circles and nose blotchiness with just one quick layer. I didn't even feel the need to wear concealer on top.

Face Atelier Ultra Foundation before and after

I did of course finish off applying the foundation to the rest of my face... and below is the finished result, before any finishing powder. While the finish is genuinely flawless, it was a bit too dewy for me to feel comfortable not using finishing powder, so I used ELF High Definition Powder to prevent the shine getting too much later in the day.

Face Atelier Ultra Foundation after

By the end of the day, while my skin did still look pretty flawless (the foundation is both oil and water-resistant), I did notice some oil breakthrough on my forehead and nose. That's my only complaint about this foundation... it doesn't mop up excess oil (which L'Oréal Matte Morphose does). So while my face was greasy, I took the opportunity to take a photo with flash, just to check how shiny I would look. It's not too bad, but still greasier than I'd like. I look a bit of a weird colour in this photo because I'd tried out a new bronzer and hadn't quite got the hang of it.

Face Atelier Ultra Foundation after with flash

I think I will try a few more "high definition" foundations before purchasing a full-sized bottle of Face Atelier Ultra Foundation. I've tried this one twice (the second time with Bare Escentuals Prime Time underneath), and both times I've become a little too shiny through the day for my liking.

The full ingredients of Face Atelier Ultra Foundation are:

Cyclomethicone, Water, Glycerin, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Hexyl Laurate, Cetyl Dimethicone Copolyol, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Quaternium-18 Hectorite, Propylene Carbonate, Cellulose Gum, Nylon-12, Tribehenin, Lauroyl Lysine, Tristearin, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben. May Contain: Ci77891/Titanium Dioxide, Ci77492 Ci77491 Ci77499/Iron Oxides, Mica Ci77019

If you're interested in trying Face Atelier Ultra Foundation, you can contact Cult Beauty or Pro Makeup Store (both UK sites), to order some shade samples. The little pots are so generous, you can probably get about a week's worth of use out of each! A full-size bottle costs £32 for 30ml.

You can read more about the Ultra Foundation on the Face Atelier website.

Update (28th October 2010): My skin has got a bit drier coming up to Winter and I have have dug out my old sample pot of Face Atelier (yep - it's still going!). I have to say it's perfect for my skin at the moment and I don't get the same oil breakthrough at the end of the day that I had experienced the last time I tried it. I had also forgotten how amazing it is at airbrushing the skin and leaving it flawless all day! I also noticed that Pro Makeup Store has started selling sample pots online here as has Coco Beau here.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Soap & Glory Fab Pore Hot Cloth Cleanser: Alternative to Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish?

I finally bought Soap & Glory The Fab Pore Hot Cloth Cleanser (£8.99 for 100ml) in Boots, which I've been itching to try because of how similar the major ingredients are to Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser (read my review here). Liz, you know I love Cleanse & Polish, but it's not very convenient get hold of sometimes!

I use this Soap & Glory hot cloth cleanser in the same way as any other hot cloth cleanser... I massage a blob over my face for a minute or two, concentrating on areas more prone to congestion, and then wipe or massage it all off with a warm, damp muslin cloth (a decent one is included in the pack). I finish by rinsing with warm water.

This cleanser smells like a Neal's Yard store... an aromatic whiff of lavender, orange and clary essential oils. Very pleasant indeed, not at all syrupy and artificial like most Soap & Glory products.

The texture of this cleanser is creamy and silky (compared to the matte cream you get with Liz Earle). It has a nice slip to it and doesn't dry out on the face too quickly (good for longer massage time).

Soap & Glory Fab Pore Hot Cloth Cleanser

I always remove my make-up and superficial dirt with a Boots No7 face wipe before deep-cleansing with hot cloth cleansers, but I find that hot cloth cleansers are great for removing make-up too if you prefer a simpler cleansing routine. All those oils are great for melting off make-up - even mascara.

Compared to Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, the Soap & Glory cleanser seems to leave my skin softer. This is either because the Soap & Glory formula doesn't rinse off as cleanly as Cleanse & Polish, or because Cleanse & Polish is very slightly more drying (perhaps the eucalyptus oil?).

None of the above is a criticism of either brand - both products leave my skin feeling amazingly clean and soft, but I would say Soap & Glory is a little more moisturising and softening for dehydrated skins, and those with normal to oily skins will probably prefer the totally stark naked skin feeling that Liz Earle achieves.

As my skin is quite dry, I'm going to be reaching more for Soap & Glory Hot Cloth Cleanser - it honestly makes my skin feel like a baby's butt cheeks!

However, to help you decide which product is right for you, here is a summary of each product:

Soap & Glory The Fab Pore Hot Cloth Cleanser
Slightly cheaper, easier to get hold of (most Boots stores), more softening, smells of orange and lavender oils, studenty packaging that will clash with everything in any nice grown-up's bathroom.

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser
A bit more expensive, difficult to get hold of (only John Lewis, Liz Earle stores etc), leaves the skin feeling very clean and decongested, smells of eucalyptus oil which people will love or hate, spa-like packaging that makes you feel like a posh old lady (ah, my dream).

The full ingredients of Soap & Glory The Fab Pore Hot Cloth Cleanser are:

Aqua (Water), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Esters, Sorbitan Stearate, Polysorbate 60, Synthetic Beeswax, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Leaf Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Panthenol, Disodium EDTA, Linalool, Caprylyl Glycol, Methylparaben.

Suspiciously similar to Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish right? It's clearly a copycat of a cult product, but I have to say Soap & Glory have done a brilliant job of creating their own version of an already great product.

Some other hot cloth cleansers on the high street are the Sanctuary Perfectly Polished Hot Cloth Cleanser which I reviewed here, and Boots No7 Radiance Boosting Hot Cloth Cleanser which I haven't bothered to try because it doesn't contain any nice, smelly essential oils like the others (which is probably why it's the cheapest of the bunch at £8.75 for 200ml).

If you still haven't tried a hot cloth cleanser, I beg you to try it just once, no matter what skin type you have. Contrary to common belief, hot cloth cleansers are great for deep cleaning and decongesting even oily skin. I've managed to "turn" a lot of my sceptical friends round to the idea of hot cloth cleansing and they're raving advocates now too.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Tom Pecheux revamps Estée Lauder Pure Color and WOW it's hot

Estée Lauder Pure Color eyeshadows and lipgloss

A couple of weeks ago, I previewed the 24 new eyeshadows and 24 (yes, 24!) new lip glosses that debut the next generation of Estée Lauder Pure Color make-up. This exciting refresh of the Pure Color line  showcases the recent arrival of French make-up artist, Tom Pecheux (notably credited with transforming Shiseido into a modern beauty empire by 2006), as Estée Lauder's new Creative Make-up Director. And boy, did he get it right.

I took away a few shades to try out, and having finally got round to testing them out properly, I can safely say that I love the new Pure Color collection!

The three eyeshadows I chose were "Tempting Mocha" (shimmer), "Ivy Envy" (satin) and "Midnight Star" (metallic). The swatches are below.

Estée Lauder Pure Color eyeshadows swatches

Each eyeshadow comes in a chic, gold, mirrored compact which looks like something from a Bond Street jeweller's window (and makes me feel like a proper woman when I'm holding one). But aside from the sophisticated packaging, the first thing I noticed about these eyeshadows was how smooth and velvety they were to touch. The second observation was how evenly they applied and how buildable the shades were. Each shade is easily switched from being a wash of colour, to a bold foil of colour, with just another one or two swipes.

"Tempting Mocha" is a light, bruised-toned taupe, with subtle shimmer. I'd say it's quite cool-toned.

"Ivy Envy" is a luminous forest green colour. It's one of the "satin" shades which means it has a low lustre texture to create a soft sheen. The satin finish is perfect for this colour because it lets the colour come through more than if it was a shimmer.

"Midnight Star" is a dramatic dark blue. It's from the "metallic" range, but I'd describe it more as a high shimmer shade. This shade feels less silky that the other two I have, because the shimmer is actually quite gritty (careful with fall-out!).

For the last two days, I have worn "Tempting Mocha" over my entire eyelid to just above the crease, with "Ivy Envy" as a shadow liner (see photo below). I've been pairing this look with a brown eyeliner on my waterline in the form of Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Eye Pencil in "Coffee" (my long-standing, favourite eyeliner).

Ever since meeting Ivan Castro from Le Métier de Beauté, I've realised what a difference a bit of complementary colour can make to my eyes. I find that this green (like the emerald shade that Ivan demonstrated), makes my brown eyes stand out more. I tried this look on my similar-looking sister at the weekend, and with one eye lined in green and one in brown, the difference is astounding. The "green-rimmed" eye actually calls out for an audience.

Estée Lauder Pure Color eyeshadow

The staying power of these shadows is immense. After photographing the swatches, it actually hurt when I tried to rub them off the skin on the back of my hand - the shadows are that hardy! I ended up having to use a full-on eye make-up remover to shift the colour. Applied in the morning, the colour still looks pretty much perfect at the end of the day, even under my eyes where I would normally have noticeable smudging and creasing due to the many strange facial contortions I create when I'm talking, laughing or just concentrating.

And finally, the lip gloss. The shade I took away was "Simply Pink" which is an innocent, soft, nude pink colour. The new Pure Color range has three types of lip glosses, "shine", "shimmer" and "sparkle". "Simply Pink" is of the "shine" variety which means it's juicy-looking without any shimmer. It's medium opacity - not so sheer that it just looks like I have licked my lips, but not so completely opaque that I look washed out.

This is the BEST LIP GLOSS EVER!! EVER!! This gloss is hydrating, non-sticky, non-tacky, non-smelly and long lasting. But Estée Lauder have also managed to do something with the pigment that actually makes my lips look fuller and less "bleh" than usual. I've decided that this is the lipgloss I will be wearing on my wedding day later this summer... so it must be good!

Here is the full look I have been sporting.

Estée Lauder Pure Color eyeshadows and lipgloss face

I really, really recommend that you take a look at these new products next time you're passing an Estée Lauder counter. With 24 eyeshadows and 24 lip glosses, I can't imagine there not being something for everyone. The lip glosses are out now, and the eyeshadows will be out in July. The lip glosses are priced at £16 and the eyeshadows will be £15.50, which suddenly seems quite cheap compared to the Le Métier de Beauté products I've been eyeing up lately!

Disclaimer: These eyeshadows and lip gloss were provided to me free of charge as PR samples. The eye pencil is my own. All opinions are as always unbiased and my own (I just talk a lot when I like something)...

Friday, 4 June 2010

My summer look created by Ivan Castro of Le Métier de Beauté: Photos

On my lunch break today, I skipped over to Liberty for my eagerly anticipated appointment with Ivan Castro, Global Artist for Le Métier de Beauté, to learn about the new "Endless Summer" collection.  I was really looking forward to meeting Ivan (visiting from LA), whose background in the fashion, editorial and celebrity world is nothing short of impressive. And he didn't disappoint! Here are some photos from the session (click to enlarge), but read all the way to the bottom for my thoughts on the look he created...

Le Métier de Beauté make-up artist Ivan Castro applies base

Above, Ivan creates a perfectly luminous base using Soft Touch Tinted Moisturiser (shade 1), Classic Flawless Finish Concealer (shade 5), Classic Flawless Finish Loose Powder (translucent), Blushing Bronzed Duet (Traviata) and Bella Bronzer Liquid Illuminator.

Le Métier de Beauté make-up artist Ivan Castro applies eyeshadow

Above, Ivan uses True Colour Eye Shadow in "Jade" (jewel-toned emerald green) as a shadow liner.

Le Métier de Beauté make-up artist Ivan Castro applies eyeshadow as liner

Above, Ivan lines my lower eyes with True Colour Eye Shadow in "Jade" and "Platinum" (silver), and lines my waterline with Dualistic Eye Pencil in "Tamarack" (a glimmering, metallic bronze).

Le Métier de Beauté make-up artist Ivan Castro applies mascara

Above, my upper lashes are coated with Anamorphic Lash Mascara in "Midnight Blue" (a navy-black shade to highlight brown eyes).

Le Métier de Beauté make-up artist Ivan Castro applies lip colour

Above, my lips are lined and coloured in with Dualistic Lip Liner in "Rouge".

Le Métier de Beauté make-up artist Ivan Castro applies lipgloss

Above, Lip Crème Lip Gloss in "Manhattan" (beige nude) is dabbed on. A fantastic, non-sticky gloss.

Le Métier de Beauté make-up artist Ivan Castro finished look

Above, the finished look after a touch of True Colour Eye Shadow "Innocence" as a highlighter. (That "stuck-on" nose effect is from a spotlight directly above me... haha)

Le Métier de Beauté make-up artist Ivan Castro finished look with colour chart

Above, look how pleased I am with the completed face chart that Ivan creates for me!

I was wonderstruck with Ivan's attention to detail (even down to painstakingly creating the face chart as if it was a real face - loved that!) and approach to creating a look that would complement my features. My base was totally flawless, with a glow that made me look as if I'd been on a Maldivian holiday, thanks to the dewy tinted moisturiser and bronzing shades used to contour my face.

I also loved the jewel-toned emerald green and silver eye make-up Ivan used to enhance my brown eyes. I would never have thought to use those colours individually to line my eyes, let alone both together. But it looked fabulous and I couldn't stop admiring his perfectly drawn lines in the mirror. The navy mascara was a first for me too - it looks black on, but gives a secret little oomph.

Le Métier de Beauté is known for being priced at the premium end (face products cost between £40-£50, eye and lip products start from £20), but when you see and use the products in real life, you can see why they're not short of brand advocates. Every single product and colour has clearly been well thought through and artfully crafted. Remember when I raved about the Crème Fresh Tints?

If you need to perfect a glowy, bronzed look for the summer, have a gander at the Le Métier de Beauté counter next time you're near the Liberty London store, or online at where you'll find a limited selection of products. You won't be disappointed!

Oh, and a big thank you to Ivan for the beautifully constructed look and a brilliant time, and also to Olly, my favourite colleague who diligently took a gazillion photos of the session!
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