Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Finally had my hair cut! B:Zar, London

BZar, London

I finally had my twice-yearly haircut today (although "trim" is probably the right word here, seeing as no-one will actually notice I've had anything done). I always know when I desperately need a cut because the chore of washing and blowdrying my hair starts feeling even more so arduous due to the weight of my hair. Not to mention the tangly split ends.

I'd been to B:Zar (Berwick Street, Soho) before and was really pleased with the cut. My stylist, Miz (next to me in the photos!), is guaranteed to put a smile on your face if she ever cuts your hair - she's very funny! All the stylists are from Japan, so they know how to deal with my thick, non-bendy, straight hair. I don't even have to describe my hair... Miz knows exactly how to thin it out so that it sits and moves nicely, rather than just hanging there like a heavy curtain.

Miz enlisted the help of another stylist to help her blow dry my hair (haha do I have that much hair that I need two people to blow dry it at the same time??). They blow dried my hair around round brushes to add loose curls to the ends. I love having hair like this - it makes me feel like the girls in Japan with the impeccably coloured and curled hair that I can never do myself. Shame I'll have to wash it at some point.

I really like the B:Zar salon. It feels urban and a little gritty - you don't get fancy drinks or annoying stylists who ask you whether you're going on holiday (why do they always ask that??). I don't feel like I'm on a conveyor belt there. Everyone clearly cares about their handiwork and they won't rest until they've perfected every single strand of hair.

I paid £38 for my wash, cut and blow dry... which seems pretty bargainous for the amount of care they put into my hair. It includes some "interesting" head and shoulder massages too!

Now that I've had my hair cut, I can rest for another six months. I'm having my hair highlighted at Aveda again next week too... I'm planning to go a bit lighter. I just hope it doesn't go orange!

If you're interested in having your hair cut at B:Zar, they have a website at And don't feel like you need to be of Asian ethinicity or a girl to go there by the way! I've sent loads of friends there, including my boyfriend, and they've all been very happy with their experiences.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Meeting Cat Deeley, the new Pantene Pro-V ambassador

Cat Deeley Pantene Pro-V ambassador

My boyfriend just glanced over at my screen and said "You've turned into a giant Pantene bottle!" to which I responded plainly, "Yes. There's no way I can be in the same photo as Cat Deeley. She's too pretty."

Today, Cat Deeley was unveiled in the UK as the new ambassador for Pantene Pro-V. Specifically, she's promoting the new Pantene Aqua Light range (see my recent experience with Pantene Aqua Light here).

Cat Deeley looked gorgeous at the Dorchester hotel this evening in London. You know how some celebs look craggy and overly made-up in real life? Well, Cat doesn't. Annoyingly, she looks even better in real life... a true, natural beauty, with bone structure and hair I would kill for. Not to mention the tiniest, most delicate ankles I've ever seen. Who is this woman?? Bambi???

Here are a few photos I took of Cat while she answered questions about life in LA, her beauty regime etc. She seemed very sweet.

Cat Deeley Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light

Cat Deeley Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light

Cat Deeley Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light

Pantene Aqua Light is now out in the usual places you find Pantene (Boots, Superdrug, supermarkets etc) with prices around the £3 mark. I actually really, really like the Lightweight Nourishing Conditioner. I honestly never thought I'd ever say I liked a Pantene product but this range actually does what it says on the tin. If detangles and lightly conditions my long hair without weighing it down (but still smoothes down those sticky-up bits around my parting). It rinses out clean and doesn't seem to leave any residue on my hair or scalp, meaning that I can go even longer without washing it (I can regularly leave it for 3 days before washing).

This is not a silicone-free range, but the silicones have been formulated to be as water-soluble as possible in order to give that clean-rinsed feeling. I usually avoid silicone-laden hair products because they make my scalp (and the top of my back) itchy and bumpy, but I don't get this problem with the Aqua Light range.

There are a couple of other products which I haven't tried yet which are the Lightweight Nourishing Mist and the Lightweight Nourishment Treatment (a weekly rinse-out treatment conditioner). I'm still not sure what benefits the leave-in spray will give me (I'm a rinse-out girl), but I am looking forward to trying the treatment conditioner.

By the way, I was discussing whether Cat Deeley does actually use Pantene Aqua Light... I mean, does she really have bottles of it in her bathroom that she reaches for in the mornings? But then I realised that I am probably even more of a haircare snob than she is, and I'm currently willingly choosing to use Pantene Aqua Light over my old favourites. Call me naïve, but I like to think that she does genuinely like the range.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

A very handy false lash applicator from ELF

Yesterday I received my order of the ELF Hollywood Eyelashes kit which is part of their "Studio" range. I bought the kit for £3.50 purely for the lash applicator contraption, but it also comes with a lash stand, eyelash glue and a set of false lashes..

I was looking for a lash applicator clip because I am seriously rubbish at applying false lashes but I love the look of them. I've never got the hang of sticking on strip lashes using my fingers or tweezers - it's just too difficult to see where I'm going, and then the lashes end up wonky and shoddily stuck down on the ends.

Here's the lash applicator that comes in the kit. It's appalling quality - proper cheap tat. However, it does the job. It's basically just a curved clamp that will grip fake lashes in the shape that you need them, freeing up your other hand. The ends are rubbery to give a tighter grip and to not cause too much pain if you end up jabbing yourself in the eye.

ELF Hollywood Eyelashes lash applicator

The lash stand is another piece of tat that turns out to be quite handy. It keeps your fake lashes in an optimally curved shape, ready to be lifted out in that same shape.

The stand looks pointless but honestly, it's quite useful! When I grasp onto the lashes with the applicator clip, they're perfectly curved (I have slightly rugby ball shaped eyeballs so I need quite a deep curve on strip lashes).

Once the lashes are secured in the applicator clip, it's then easy to apply glue along the spine of the lashes. However, the glue that comes in the kit is godawful - it smells rancid, is thick and clumpy and doesn't adhere to anything. It's literally useless as a glue so I just use my normal Eyelure lash glue.

The lash applicator makes it so much easier and faster for me to apply strip lashes... I can actually see where I'm going, and it frees up my other hand which I can then use to precisely stick the ends in place. The clip doesn't completely eradicate the need to use fingers but it will really speed up the sticking-down process.

I also tried the false lashes that came in the kit which are really nasty but I put them on anyway for the sake of a full review. The lashes look ultra cheap and have visible adhesive all over them from where they've been secured down in the packaging. They also have that drag queen sheen to them when you look at them from above. I don't think anyone could actually leave the house wearing them.

Anyway, here's a before photo:

And here's the after photo ("styled with lash inserts" haha):

ELF Hollywood Eyelashes

I recommend this lash applicator clip and lash stand for anyone who struggles to apply strip lashes using just their fingers. There are a few other brands that sell similar lash applicator tools, including Ardell, Sally's and Japonesque, but this ELF kit was the easiest to get hold of at the time. There are also loads of generic-branded lash applicators on eBay which cost virtually nothing and are shipped from Asia if you are patient enough (I wasn't!).

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

New products I'm using to lighten hyperpigmentation and dark circles

Over the last week, I've been testing two high-tech products designed to deal with hyperpigmentation and undereye dark circles. These are Murad Active Radiance Serum (RRP £85) and GoodSkin Labs Eyliplex-2 Eye Lift + Circle Reducer (RRP £29.99). This is just a quick "FYI" post as it is obviously too early to see results of either product.

I've had dark circles for as long as I can remember. I haven't left the house without undereye concealer since I was about 13! It sometimes crosses my mind that I'm just being paranoid, but I've also noticed make-up artists slathering on loads of concealer under my eyes (a proper, thick, creasey amount of it), as if they think I have abnormally dark undereye circles. Even the quality make-up artists who are meant to know "less is more".

My hyperpigmentation (manifested as "freckles" splattered across the tops of my cheeks) is a more recent development. I'm prone to hyperpigmentation anyway due to my Asian background (my mum has always been self-conscious about her plentiful freckles), but I've stupidly been a bit too slack in the past with reapplying facial sunscreen frequently enough on holidays. My freckles used to fade along with the tan, but over the last couple of years these pesky dark spots have stayed put despite me wearing daily SPF 30. If only I could turn back time eh?

As a reminder, this is what my freckles and dark circles look like without the slap (as usual, click to enlarge). Hopefully at least one of these two products will give me a successful "after" photo!:

Murad Active Radiance Serum

Murad Active Radiance Serum was launched last year as part of a range of solutions for age spots and uneven skin tone. This serum is designed to protect skin from environmental ageing and encourage the repair of sun damage to brighten dull, uneven skin caused by hyperpigmentation. It also supposedly helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, but I'm more interested in the lightening of dark spots at the moment.

Murad claim the serum is clinically proven to brighten and renew the skin in one week by improving natural radiance and clarity, and that it has 50 times the potency of Vitamin C than prior generations (not sure of what). Along with glycolic acid as the second ingredient, this serum means business. I have high hopes for it, so watch out for a detailed review of it soon!

My initial impressions of the serum are that it is easily absorbed and non-greasy (it's not a moisturising type). The instructions are to use it morning and evening under your moisturiser but I only use it in the evenings because I don't like the idea of using chemical exfoliants in the daytime, especially in the summer. In the mornings, I make sure to use a high protection sunscreen (read my review of Boots No7 Anti-Dark Spot Facial Sun Protection SPF 30 here).

Below are the full ingredients of Murad Active Radiance Serum. I don't normally use products containing glycolic acid because my chin area is sensitive to it and comes up in tiny bumps. However, I am using this serum only across the tops of my cheeks and my nose, and my skin seems happy so far.

Water (Aqua), Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Glycerin, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Hydrolyzed Myrtus Communis Leaf Extract, Enantia Chlorantha Bark Extract, Oleanolic Acid, Ectoin, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Zinc Gluconate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Biotin, Mannitol, Chitosan Ascorbate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Sodium PCA, Betaine, Sorbitol, Glycine, Alanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Arginine, Lysine, Glutamic Acid, Methyl Diisopropyl Propionamide, Ethyl Menthane Carboxamide, Menthyl Lactate, Lauryl Laurate, Polysorbate 20, Ethylhexylglycerin, Corn Starch Modified, Xanthan Gum, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Limonene, Linalool, Fragrance (Parfum), Yellow 5 (CI 19140), Orange 4 (CI 15510).

By the way, in the US, Murad sell a slightly more powerful age spot lightening product called Age Spot & Pigment Lightening Gel (see the product page at Sephora here) which contains 2% hydroquinone (a skin lightening agent). However, beauty products containing hydroquinone have been banned in the UK since 2001 due to concerns over its safety. The Murad Active Radiance Serum I am using does not contain hydroquinone, just so you know.

GoodSkin Labs Eyliplex-2 Eye Lift + Circle Reducer

You might have seen this product on the shelves at Boots. It comes with two separate chambers and comprises a day gel and a night balm. It looks like a comedy over-sized contact lens case.

Together, these two treatments are designed to smooth, lift and firm as well as remedy dark circles. I think the Fast-Acting Day Gel is more for lifting and de-puffing, but it's the Long-Lasting Night Balm that I am interested in because it contains an ingredient called "Haloxyl PFE™" which is apparently a powerful extract derived from the passionflower to help reduce the appearance of dark circles while I'm sleeping.

Having only used this product for a week so far, I'm not expecting to see miracles, but my first impressions are positive. Both the day gel and night balm are easily absorbed yet moisturising. The gel does in fact feel quite tightening if you are looking for that instant lifting effect. Look out for my full review sometime in the near future!

Here are the full ingredients of GoodSkin Labs Eyliplex-2 Eye Lift + Circle Reduce (click on the photo to enlarge):

If you can't wait for my usual long-winded reviews, you can find out more about these products at and

Disclaimer: PR samples.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Bright Whites review: 45-minute teeth whitening with no sensitivity?

A month ago, I took advantage of another Wahanda MobDeal. This time, it was a Bright Whites 45-minute teeth whitening treatment for just £85 (instead of the usual £199). The Brite Whites treatment uses Gentle Touch Whitening which claims to achieve visibly whiter teeth without using hydrogen peroxide or UV light, and without causing tooth sensitivity.

I'd already had my teeth whitened back in 2002 when it was still a relatively new concept in the UK. It had cost me £700 for one-hour laser whitening with BriteSmile (the leading laser whitening brand at the time). I'd always had a massive complex about my teeth. Prior to 2002, they were naturally very yellow (my adult teeth just grew like that, it was nothing to do with staining!), and both my top canine teeth twisted forward due to overcrowding. At the time, I felt loaded because not only was I working in a call centre over my university summer hols where the pay was high due to the sheer soul-destroying nature of the job, but I was also living with my parents. Armed with my bags of cash, I got my teeth "fixed". In a nutshell, I went up eight shades on the tooth colour chart to off-the-chart white, and I had my canines filed down and veneered. (I was too impatient to get braces.)

I was ecstatic with the results at the time - my teeth looked like Wrigley's Extra pieces in photos. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but having whiter teeth really does freshen up the face! Plus I no longer had to recoil on seeing photos of my clunky, yellow smile.

Eight years on, the whiteness of my teeth inevitably faded a bit, especially my canine teeth because porcelain veneers stain faster than natural tooth enamel. Not to mention that the dentin (the dark stuff behind the filed-down enamel) and the cement behind the porcelain veneers can both stain and show through the veneers over time. So I didn't need much persuading to get my teeth whitened again for just £85.

The treatment at the salon was as expected. I had to lie back wearing goggles and have my mouth clamped apart to expose as much of my front and bottom teeth as possible (it's uncomfortable but not painful). The therapist, Nicole, mixed then applied a gel over the visible surface of my teeth, then placed a special, non-UV lamp in front of my teeth to accelerate the whitening. After 15 minutes, she cleaned the gel off, and then started the process again. This was done three times.

The whole 45-minute process is completely pain-free (albeit slightly drool-y). When I had BriteSmile done eight years ago, it was actually quite painful... the hydrogen peroxide made my teeth really sensitive during the treatment and for months after (I couldn't smile outdoors in the winter, not kidding). Another big difference with other whitening systems is that Brite Smile doesn't use a UV lamp to accelerate the bleaching effect (for those worried about UV damage).

When Nicole was done, she measured my teeth against the colour chart and apparently I went up a couple of shades (there was never going to be as extreme a jump as when I originally had my teeth whitened), but I couldn't see much difference. Admittedly my teeth did look a more even colour, but the whitening effect wasn't noticeable. Someone I know had the Brite Whites treatment recently too and ended up with a similar result... negligible whitening, but a more even colour.

One thing I was worried about was whether my porcelain veneers would whiten because there's conflicting information on the internet about whether veneers can be whitened. Luckily I found out that they can be whitened (but only up to their original colour). They're still a little darker than my other front teeth though.

After the treatment, I was told to go on a "white food diet" for two days because my tooth enamel would be extra porous for a couple of days after, and thus much more susceptible to staining. This was hard. I felt very malnourished living off white bread, white rice, porridge and bananas.

I was also sold a couple of products (DioxiBrite Toothpaste and White Lasting) to help prevent re-staining and to re-strengthen the enamel. I paid something like £39.50 for what was basically two tubes of toothpaste . With my newly porous teeth, I didn't want to risk having more yellow teeth than I started out, did I? Both of these products are based on the same whitening technology as the gels that were used during my treatment. The bottles each dispense two different gels that mix together and activate when you brush your teeth. I was told to use the White Lasting every morning and evening for two weeks, and then once a week from then on. You can click to enlarge the below photos to read more about them.

All in all, I am disappointed by the lacklustre whitening effect of Brite Whites. My teeth aren't visibly whiter, just a bit more even-coloured. If I'd paid full price, I would have been pretty annoyed! I had hoped that the whitening might show more after a couple of weeks of using the toothpaste and White Lasting. But nope . I like the way Bright Whites doesn't bring on pangs of sensitivity pain during or after the treatment, but that's about it!

By the way, I bet you thought the photo at the beginning of the post was a "before" photo! Well, it's not, it's the "after" photo from a wedding I went to a couple of weeks ago! .

It seems like I'm not the only one disappointed with the Bright Whites treatment... Read more reviews at Wahanda here.

You can find out more about Brite Whites at

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Epsom salts: Detox while soaking in the bath

Epsom salts

I recently lugged home this 3kg bag of Epsom salts from The Garden Pharmacy in Covent Garden (where it costs £6 for this huge bag). I've been buying Epsom salts for several years to use as a detoxing soak.

If you haven't tried bathing in Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) before, I really recommend it. There are loads of uses and reputed benefits of Epsom salts, but I mainly use it in the bath for the following benefits:

  • The water is softened
  • My skin is soothed
  • My skin feels noticeably amazingly soft and silky afterward
  • Magnesium sulphate supposedly draws out toxins and water retention
  • The magnesium can supposedly be absorbed through the skin to increase serotonin (happy hormones) to reduce stress and to help me sleep

I add about two cups of Epsom salts to a warm bath and it instantly makes the water feel silky. Two cups sounds like a lot, but it really is such cheap stuff anyway. I'll try to soak for at least 20 minutes to give the Epsom salts a chance to soften my skin and to be absorbed.

Epsom salts in hand

There will always be people who dispute the health claims of bathing in Epsom salts, but I personally notice real results from using it. Sometimes I get out of the bath and almost faint from being too relaxed. One time, I climbed out of the bath, dried myself off and managed to dizzily stagger to the foot of my bed where I fell asleep lying down on my back with my feet still on the floor. I slept so well that night though (once I'd got into bed properly).

I also often find that I continue to sweat buckets from all over my body and face for ages after a Epsom salt bath... and it's definitely not from the heat of the water. It's like my body is forcing out all the built-up toxins and water retention that I've accumulated over time. And I do actually feel less bloated and a little more svelte after all that sweating!

The skin softening is pretty miraculous too... Even if you don't notice any of the above effects after an Epsom salt bath, I can guarantee that your skin will at least feel amazingly soft and stroke-able!

You'll find Epsom salts in some pharmacies... usually you'll need to ask for it over the counter. I once found a couple of boxes of magnesium sulphate on the shelves at Boots, where the boxes were plainly labelled in large text "FOR TREATMENT OF CONSTIPATION". I felt a bit embarrassed with two of those big boxes in my basket. I must have looked really constipated. If you're wondering about what it can do for constipation, apparently it can be taken orally in small doses to help things move along. Anyway, that was years ago so I'm not sure if you can still get it from Boots.

You can also buy Epsom salts online, but shipping costs are high due to the weight.

Have you ever tried bathing in Epsom salt?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

New Montagne Jeunesse natural lip balms: No petroleum here

Montagne Jeunesse natural lip balms

I picked up some new "natural" lip balms from Montagne Jeunesse last month and have only recently had a chance to look at them properly. I was really pleased to come across these. In the US, they're spoilt for choice when it comes to non-petroleum lip balm sticks. Their drugstores have entire aisles stacked with nice lip balms in twist-up tubes. In the UK, the only easily attained brand is Burts Bees (too waxy for me). Otherwise, we have to search (and often pay) a little more for balms from brands like Weleda, Yes to Carrots, Badger Balm, REN, Dr Hauschka and Dr Bronner's.

I bought the Montagne Jeunesse lip balms in the variants, "Sore Lips" (shea butter and mango), "Weather Screen" (wheatgerm and shea butter) and "Cracked Lips" (cranberry and aloe vera). There was also a "Chocolate Balm" and "Healing Balm".

Montagne Jeunesse lip balms

These balms are a nice, smooth consistency, not too hard and waxy like Burts Bees and not too squishy. However, they are slightly over-scented for my taste. "Sore Lips" tastes like mango sorbet, "Weather Screen" tastes like shea butter, and "Cracked Lips" tastes likes berries. I prefer unscented balms like Dr. Bronners Organic Lip Balm Naked.

In terms of moisturising properties, they're pretty average, and they do definitely leave an overly waxy film on the lips which I am very conscious of post-application. They're not as moisturising as my REN Biomimetic Perfect Lip Honey although to be fair, it's not categorised as a twist-up stick balm.

I bought these balms for £1 each when I visited the Montagne Jeunesse stand at the Clothes Show last month. But I see they're £2.99 normally, and you'll probably find them in convenient places like Superdrug and Boots.

These are reasonably-priced lip balm sticks that are handy for keeping around the house, at work, in handbags etc... but when I run out, I'll be going back for more Dr. Bronners Organic Lip Balm Naked, or I might try Badger Balm Lip Balm Stick Unscented.

The full ingredients of each of the balms I bought are:

Montagne Jeunesse Sore Lips lip balm

Beeswax (Cire d'abeille), Prunus armeniaca (Apricot) kernel oil, Olea europaea (Olive) fruit oil, Prunus amygdalus dulcis (Sweet almond oil), Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) seed butter, Daucus carota sativa (Carrot) seed oil, Butyrospermum parkii (Shea butter), Aroma (Flavor), Carthamus tinctorius (Safflower) oil, Mangifera indica (Mango) seed oil, Glycyrrhiza glabra (Liquorice) leaf extract, Aloe Barbardensis (Aloe vera) leaf extract.

Montagne Jeunesse Weather Screen lip balm

Beeswax (Cire d'abeille), Prunus armeniaca (Apricot) kernel oil, Olea europaea (Olive) fruit oil, Prunus amygdalus dulcis (Sweet almond oil), Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) seed butter, Butyrospermum parkii (Shea butter), Aroma (Flavor), Triticum vulgare (Wheat) germ oil, Piper Nigrum (Black pepper) seed oil, Carthamus tinctorius (Safflower) oil, Aloe barbardensis (Aloe vera) leaf extract, *Limonene, *Linalool.
*Natural components of pepper oil.

Montagne Jeunesse Cracked Lips lip balm

Beeswax (Cire d'abeille), Prunus armeniaca (Apricot) kernel oil, Olea europaea (Olive) fruit oil, Prunus amygdalus dulcis (Sweet almond oil), Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) seed butter, Aroma (Flavor), Butyrospermum parkii (Shea butter), Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) seed oil, Carthamus tinctorius (Safflower) oil, Vaccinium macrocarpon (Cranberry) seed oil, Linalool, Beetroot juice / Jus de betterave, Maltodextrin, Aloe barbardensis (Aloe vera) leaf extract, Salix alba (White Willow) bark extract.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Forest Secrets iRejuvenate Face Oil and Serum: A literally glowing review

A couple of weeks ago, I met Dr Barbara Olioso, the founder of Forest Secrets Skincare. A professional chemist with over 10 years' experience developing natural and organic skin care products for high end brands, Barbara went solo three years ago to develop her own range of 100% natural skin care, free from parabens, silicones. PEGs, petrochemicals, hydrogenated ingredients, synthetic fragrances and colours and GMO.

Clearly very passionate about sourcing only the highest quality organic and eco-friendly ingredients to use on the skin (I'll get onto the impressive list of ingredients further down), Barbara showed me her Forest Secrets iRejuvenate range which comprises just two products, iRejuvenate Step 1 Lifting Pro-Youth Face Oil and iRejuvenate Step 2 Regenerating Skin Serum. Not surprisingly, the potent ingredients Barbara has chosen to use come with a premium price tag... each 30ml dropper bottle costs £36.50 (or £66 when you buy both together).

The concept of the Forest Secrets iRejuvenate range is that it is a personalised skin care system. The theory is that each individual tailors their own anti-age moisturiser by simply blending Step 1 (the oil) and Step 2 (the serum), responding to their skin's daily, seasonal and hormonal needs.

The face oil and serum are designed to completely replace your usual moisturising cream or lotion. It seemed quite alien to me to use facial oils rather than creams, but Barbara despairs of creams which she explains contain waxes that sit on top of the skin rather than being absorbed, which in turn clogs the pores and depletes the skin of its natural oils.

iRejuvenate Step 1 Lifting Pro-Youth Face Oil is a luxurious, sheer textured oil that is instantly absorbed to revive the complexion and leave the skin toned and velvet soft, with a high performance blend of botanical oils, plant extracts, phytosterols, flavonoids and antioxidant vitamins A, C and E. The purpose of this "step" is to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, promote elasticity and regenerate collagen.

iRejuvenate Step 2 Regenerating Skin Serum is a refreshing velvety textured serum with ingredients such as super-algae Chlorella peptides and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and repair the skin, diffuse redness and minimise dark circles. This step is designed to provide a delicate veil of moisture and restore lost radiance and luminosity to the complexion.

Below, each bottle has a precise dropper so you only dispense as much as you need.

Below, one drop of Step 1 and one drop of Step 2 on the back of my hand to demonstrate how far a little goes.

Below, the oils massaged in... see, no greasiness.

My review

I've been using the iRejuvenate system for a week, and I am truly converted. My skin hasn't glowed like this since I was a teenager. I really wasn't expecting a massive difference in my skin because I'm already very disciplined with my skin care and use very carefully chosen products (as you know from all my detailed reviews!). But I noticed a difference the first time I used these products. My skin literally glows (as if I've just had a facial), and seems more toned, rested and healthy.

The Step 1 Lifting Pro-Youth Face Oil (the orange bottle) feels like a traditional facial oil, very moisturising and nourishing. It has a luxurious but subtle rose and jasmine scent. The Step 2 Regenerating Skin Serum doesn't feel like an oil at all (it's in an aloe vera base). The serum sinks in immediately and doesn't have the same "lubricating" properties as the face oil. Both the oil and serum absorb quickly into the skin without any greasy or tacky residue, to leave noticeably soft, healthy-looking skin. It does genuinely feel like all the nutrients are being absorbed and are feeding my skin, rather than just sitting on top of my skin.

The descriptions "Step 1" and "Step 2" are quite misleading, because these products aren't as far as I know, designed to be applied one after the other. Rather, they are blended together on the skin.

I started off blending the oil and serum in the palm of my hand before applying it to my face, but I found that I ended up with too much product leftover on my hand that I couldn't transfer to my face. So now, I just drop the oils directly only areas of my face and mix and massage them quickly before they drip off my face. I'm sure Barbara will recoil at the thought of me doing this instead of blending them in my hand, but I just don't deem the palms of my hands worthy of such premium skin care!

I actually asked her whether "a person" could pre-mix the two products into a container (rather than blending them every morning and evening). Her response was that the oils are more stable when they are packaged separately (less chance for chemical reactions to take place), meaning that the benefits of the ingredients are retained for much longer. So she recommends not pre-mixing into a container unless it's going to be used within a day.

I use an equal mix of the oil and serum as my skin is only mildly dry now that it's Summer. But I'll usually finish off with a bit more of the oil on the fine lines around my eyes where the skin is more dry. I really like the way I can customise my "moisturiser" this way. Apparently, those with combination skin can apply just the serum to their T-zones if they want to keep that area oil-free.

One thing to be careful with these products is not to apply too much around the eyes because I find that my eyes sting if I accidentally apply too much and a teeny, invisible bit drips into my eyes (it's obviously much runnier than a cream-based moisturiser).

A tiny bit of these products goes a long way. These bottles are reputed to last at least 6 months, but I actually think mine will last even longer based on my current levels of usage. iRejuvenate is perfect as a night treatment, because it feels like a real overnight treat. But it's also great as a lightweight moisturiser under sunscreen in the morning too.

So in conclusion, everyone needs to try this! If you're still not sure, you can buy two 3ml trial sized bottles for a bargainous £5, which I reckon will last you around three weeks. I'd recommend getting the 3ml bottles even if you already have the full size bottles because they're much more convenient for travelling.

You can find out more about Forest Secrets Skincare at You can currently buy iRejuvenate (full size and trial samples) there directly, or alternatively from or I really, really recommend that you at least try the 3ml sample bottles! The shipping costs for the samples seem to be cheapest at MyPure and they also ship abroad too, if you're not in the UK.

And for all you fellow ingredient-philes, the full ingredients are:

iRejuvenate Step 1 Lifting Pro-Youth Face Oil

Silybum marianum (Milk thistle) seed oil, Argania spinosa (Argan) kernel oil**, Brassica campestris (Brassica rapa), Prunus armenica (Apricot) kernel oil,* Linum usitatissimum (Flaxseed) oil, Rosa canina (Rosehip) fruit oil*, Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) seed oil, Oryza sativa (Rice) bran extract, Trichilia emetica (Mafura) seed butter** ,Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) leaf extract, Rosa damascena (Rose) extract, Lecithin, Jasminum sambac (Jasmine) extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Eclipta prostrata, Lupinus albus (Lupin) seed extract, Ascorbyl palmitate (Vitamin C ester), Melia azadirachta (Neem) leaf extract, Citric acid, Betula alba (Birch) bud extract, Citronellol, Eugenol, Farnesol, Geraniol, Benzyl alcohol, Linalool From natural essential oils).

** organic and fair trade

iRejuvenate Step 2 Regenerating Skin Serum

Aloe barbadensis leaf juice**, Glycerin, Aqua (Water), Mimosa tenuiflora bark extract, Melia azadirachta (Neem) leaf extract, Vitex agnus castus extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Sodium hyaluronate (from bio sources), Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, Lactic acid, Xanthan gum, Lonicera japonica (Honeysuckle) extract, Cyclodextrine, Rhizobian gum, Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric triglyceride.

** organic and fair trade

Below are some more photos of the outer packaging, for those of you enjoy gorging on product descriptions and ingredient lists as much as me. Just click on the photos to enlarge.

Disclaimer: I took home these products free of charge to test out. When I run out in around six months, I will without doubt be buying more!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Restylane nose reshaping: Lunch break nose job anyone?

I was talking to a nice lady from Restylane recently (a PR-related, not personal event). I think she was actually meant to be promoting the new Restylane skin care range, but I was far too consumed with the abundant before and after photos of Restylane filler patients to be paying attention to skin care!

The treatment I was most intrigued about and for which I asked the most head-bobbingly excitable questions was the non-surgical nose reshaping treatment. I'd read about this non-invasive "lunch break nose job" earlier in the year from an article in the Guardian and was curious back then, but didn't at the time have someone sitting in front of me to fire questions at.

So most people know that Restylane is an injectable dermal filler containing hyaluronic acid (a substance we already naturally have in our bodies). It's most widely known for enhancing lips and plumping out wrinkles, but I was fascinated to learn about the more extreme "reshaping" that can be achieved with Restylane, for example to give a more prominent chin or to straighten a bumpy nose.

I didn't know this, but there are actually seven different products in the Restylane dermal filler range with varying viscosities, designed to work at different levels in the skin (basically, it's not the same stuff used for the lips as other parts of the face).

In the case of nose-reshaping, the gel is injected deep under the numbed skin then moulded and sculpted by the surgeon's fingers. Apparently this is much more precise than a surgical nose job, and within 15 minutes the job is done. Plus the patient is awake the whole time so they can guide the shape ("maybe a little more to the right... no sorry too much, a little to the left again").

With just a bit of filler, bumps and hooks can be straightened out by building out the surrounding recessed areas, and rounded or droopy nasal tips can be lifted and defined. It can supposedly even make large noses appear smaller by straightening their profile.

Unlike injections around the swelling-prone lip area, any initial redness, swelling or tenderness around the nose diminishes within hours or days at the most, which is why patients can be back at work immediately after their "nose job".

The cost of nose-reshaping starts around £400. Results last around a year to a year and a half, after which time the hyaluronic acid gel is broken down and absorbed safely into the body. Apparently Restylane topups are required more frequently in areas which are constantly moving, like our lips, but the nose is relatively stationary. Each subsequent treatment lasts longer than the previous one.

I must admit, during the conversation, she made Restylane sound so everyday, so normal... as if having a Restylane filler treatment is just like having a facial. I came away thinking "ooh I could have that done, and that, and that...." I mean, Restylane is temporary after all. Isn't it just like going to the salon and getting highlights? Plus hyaluronic acid is found naturally in the body and not derived from animals, meaning a very low chance of an allergic reaction (Can you tell I'm trying to convince myself?).

I don't know... my nose tilts to one side and I've always wished the tip (which I can barely call a "tip" because it's more like a rounded ball) was more raised and defined. I'd love to know what I'd look like with a more symmetrical, straighter nose. But do I have the guts to make an appointment with the supposed nose-reshaping specialist? I'm not sure! (Although I went as far as to get his contact details.) And more importantly, would I admit to anyone that I'd had it done? I'm not sure on that either!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

BIG favour to ask! Please nominate me in the Cosmo Blog Awards!

After reading today that has already received 4,000 nominations for their first Cosmo Blog Awards, I almost decided not to even attempt to get nominated. But what the hell, there's no harm in putting out a little request for a favour!

So my sweet, loyal readers, if you like my humble little blog and deem it worthy of a nomination in the Beauty category, please, please, please vote for it in the Cosmo Blog Awards... I would be eternally grateful!

All you have to do is:

  1. Go to:
  2. Select the category "Beauty"
  3. Paste in my blog URL (
  4. Write a short message about why you're nominating my blog

OK, that's all. Thank you!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Précision Nail Lacquer: 117 gorgeous shades of pro quality polish

Earlier this week I was speaking to a couple of girls who introduced me to Précision Nail Lacquer, the high gloss, fast-drying nail colour brand from Lamoon Beauty. The Précision brand is only now being rolled out in the UK after years of cult status in the USA, and is set to challenge OPI in the pro quality nail polish market.

The photo above is of the very juicy Colour FX Summer 2010 collection that they gave to me to try. From left to right, Wait a Melon for Me (CO2), Surfin' in Maliblue (CO5), Honey Dew This (CO4), The Next "It" Girl (CO1), Pink with a Wink (CO6), Pur-fect FX (CO3).

These are some seriously nice nail polishes! Lamoon Beauty have clearly put a lot of thought into the bottle as well as the formulation. Précision Nail Lacquer is formulated to be long-lasting and chip-resistant, as well as proudly free from toluene, formaldehyde and DBP (Dibutyl Phthalate).

I'm not sure why other brands don't do this, but the handle has been designed with grooves for an easier grip. The brush strands are extra silky, and I love the way they give perfectly even coverage with no streaks.

Today, I wore the flamingo pink shade, Pink with a Wink, on my toes (just the three toes that showed through my peep-toe boots, mind). And on my hands, I wore the beautiful and super trendy coral shade, Wait a Melon for Me.

I just asked my boyfriend "Do you think like my nails" to which he replied "They're so glossy! Why don't you quote me. It'll add more credibility." Hmmm...

Here is an appalling photo I took (not proper "sunlight" photos I'm afraid) of Wait a Melon for Me. I am wearing two coats with no base product. With the artificial lighting and bad photography, the shade looks orange, but in real life it's a really, really nice coral with pink tones... like the second photo down which I took from the web.

Below is what the colour looks like in real life (and what it should've looked like above if I was a better photographer). Perfect coral or what??

Oh, and the best thing about Précision Nail Lacquer? It's £5.99 for a whopping 16ml! The first thing I said when I picked up a bottle was "wow it's massive!". Look at it compared to a Le Métier de Beauté nail polish which is £10 for 4ml... awww baby nail polish...

You can purchase any of the (currently) 117 Précision Nail Lacquer shades from, where you'll also find a range of Précision nail treatment products. I like the sound of the Ridgefiller.

Disclaimer: These polishes were provided free of charge.
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