Friday, 26 November 2010

Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream review: A face scrub like no other

Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream

I'm on my third tube of Caudalie Buffing Cream and yet this is the first time I am featuring it on its very own blog post. I've been buying and using it for years so I'm not really sure why it's taken my so long to write about it! I'd already taken photos and everything.

I first bought this exfoliator when I was going through a dry skin phase a couple of winters ago. It was the first time in my life where I looked in the mirror and thought "wow my skin actually looks grey". The skin around my nose was particularly flaky due to where I was using foaming face washes at the time which were stripping my skin (whoops, don't worry I'm now using Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser).

I don't like harsh, gritty scrubs or the ones that dry the skin out at the same time as exfoliating which is just completely counterproductive (e.g. scrubs which contain SLS or too much drying clay). After trawling through reviews of (what felt like) hundreds of exfoliating products, I bought Caudalie Buffing Cream which seemed a little different from the usual face scrubs.

The product description:

Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream restores radiance leaving your skin soft and clean. Containing an effective mix of grape-seed oil, jojoba microbeads and honey, Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream awakens your complexion's radiance and the skin is left soft and clean.

The formula is rich and creamy (the jojoba oil, grape seed oil and honey feature high up in the ingredients list), with small but densely packed microbeads. The product name, "buffing cream" is spot-on. Calling it a "scrub" feels wrong because it really does feel like a cream that gently buffs the skin without scrubbing and scratching the skin (I always tell my friends off for using St. Ives face scrubs... they're so bad for the skin! You know who you are!!).

The density of the little microbeads in the formula is perfect. With some face scrubs, by the time I've spread them over my face, it feels like I've only got a couple of grains per cheek. Whereas the microbeads in Caudalie Buffing cream are distributed really well and you only need a small amount of the product to cover the face. The microbeads are tiny and not at all scratchy... definitely more "buff-y".

Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream formula

This buffing cream is designed to be used on a damp face after cleansing as with most face scrubs (the water gives it more slip and makes it go further), and rinses off cleanly. Although it might feel as if there is still some product left on the skin because the skin feels so silky after being "buffed".

Each time after using Caudalie Buffing Cream, my skin looks and feels noticeably softer, and it really glows. Any flaky patches are gone. My moisturisers also then go on better and absorb faster. I still notice the effects for days after using it, my skin just feels so much smoother even if it was seemingly alright to start with.

That's why I'm on my third tube and haven't used any other "face scrub" since..

If you still haven't found your "holy grail" exfoliating product, I really recommend trying Caudalie Buffing Cream. I can't imagine anyone of any skin type being disappointed with it! It's also great for sensitive skin because it's so gentle (yet still super duper effective).

The RRP of Caudalie Buffing Cream is £18 for 60ml (2 oz). In the UK, I usually buy it from where it is £15.30 delivered. In the States, it's $30 from Sephora although FeelUnique does ship worldwide for free if you want to save a few dollars.

The full ingredients of Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream are:

Aqua (Water), Hexyldecyl Stearate*, Cellulose*, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil*, Glycerin*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil*, Mel (Honey), Cetearyl Wheat Bran Glycosides*, Cetearyl Alcohol*, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Parfum (Fragrance), Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol*, Butylene Glycol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Phospholipids*, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate*, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract*, Citric Acid*, Benzyl Benzoate, Citral, Citronellol, Coumarin, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool.
*Plant Origin

Monday, 22 November 2010

Pupa Multivitamin AEF Breast Enhancer Treatment Cream: Final review

I feel guilty about the lateness of this updated review because loads of people have been asking how it's going. You can read my initial review here if you missed it. It took me this long to write the review because I had a three weeks off from it when I forgot to take the tube with me on honeymoon, and thus had to start the 8-week trial again (luckily the tube was still going strong!).

I can now say I've given the Pupa Breast Enhancer a fair trial. But sadly, if there has been any significant increase in the size of my bust, it's certainly not noticeable!

I still think there is something to be said for the firming and "roundening" effect, but I guess the price will put most people off (£47 for a tube that will last about four months of twice daily use) especially when the effects only last as long as you keep the applications going.

I'm sure there must be success stories out there otherwise the product wouldn't be selling as well as it is. But personally I've given up on it! And I'm actually glad because it means one less product I have to apply during my morning and evening beauty regime.

Oh well, I'm still glad I got to try it!

Disclosure: PR sample

Comfort shopping and more boots

I spent most of today moping around feeling sorry for myself after my husband flew back to London last night. However, having decided I should really leave the apartment at least once before going back to bed, I did some late night shopping. Onwards and upwards! The shops in New York don't close early on a Sunday... nope, that would be politically incorrect.

I'm not usually a comfort shopper but the shops here are so conducive to spending money. The stores are spacious and well laid out, with not-in-an-annoying-way friendly shop assistants who are seem to genuinely want to help (and not just because their manager might be watching them).

I've been buying lots of things in preparation for the bitterly cold winter that everyone keeps telling me I'm going to experience here. I've even ordered my first knee length puffer/down coat. I'm looking forward to wearing it and walking around the city feeling like I'm wrapped in a duvet with a belt around the middle.

I've also bought more boots. I love boots. Unlike "shoes", boots stay on my feet even if they don't fit perfectly and they make me feel all cosy and protected from the elements. I love the smell of nice leather boots too.

These are the boots I've bought this week (all images are from the online stores as I still don't have my camera!)...

Marc Fisher "Afoot" boots

Marc Fisher Afoot Boots

Marc Fisher Afoot Boots

I got these from Macy's where they were on sale from $169 to $118. The leather is really soft and flexible so the boots hug my legs snugly (I usually get weird gaps at the top with most boots I try on). The cuffs lie flat so don't add too much bulk.

More detail on the Macy's website.

Banana Republic equestrian rain boots

Banana Republic Roman esquestrian rain boots

I kept having to double check with myself that these are actually rubber wellies and not leather because they don't feel like normal wellies. I have a pair of "biker-style" wellies which are really thick and clumpy and actually a little uncomfortable to walk in because of that. But these look and wear just like normal leather boots but with the benefit of being waterproof (except the brown trim at the top which is fake leather).

I thought they'd be great because I always feel so frumpy and out-of-place in my old wellies.

The soles don't have a deep tread so they're probably not the best wellies for when it starts to snow and get icy, but they're perfect for when it's raining heavily and I don't want to ruin my other boots. And they really do look like normal boots, not like farmer wellies.

These boots are $98 from Banana Republic but they had 25% off everything in store today.

More detail on the Banana Republic website.

By the way, people here seem to refer to boots in the singular sense... e.g. "that's a great looking boot". It's funny and quite infectious.

Friday, 19 November 2010

New York update

Scene from Friends series 1 episode 5

Helloooooo from NYC! Having been here for almost a week, I feel I should write an update before I get to that point where I think "hmmmm the moment's passed now.." which I get to often with beauty blogging because I've left something too long and my thoughts are no longer fresh or coherent.

The weather's been really mild here and was gloriously sunny at the weekend. I'm gradually settling in here and the city's starting to feel familiar already. I haven't felt homesick yet, but I will probably feel more lost when my husband flies back to the UK tomorrow. Although at least he was here for work so I got used to not having him around and having to explore the surroundings by myself.

I'm staying in a temporary studio apartment in midtown - it's not the most homely area to live in (it's a bit like living in Picadilly Circus) but it's pretty convenient so I can't complain. I have complained however about the guy next door who seems to chain smoke from the moment he wakes up to when he goes to sleep. The cigarette smell permeates the apartment through the bathroom vent... it's like being in a pub before they banned smoking indoors!

The studio looks like a hotel room with kitchen facilities on the side. Every day is breakfast (and lunch and dinner if I've stayed in) in bed due to lack of seating area and free space. Actually there are a couple of chairs but they're by the desk which is completely covered in my toiletries. When I need to do laundry, there are shared washing and dryer machines in the building to use. My room came with one of those Friends-style plastic laundry baskets to carry my laundry back and forth. Such delight!

I'll be looking to find a proper apartment to move into by the beginning of January. I've had a look at some of the popular neighbourhoods like East Village, Greenwich Village, West Village, Chelsea, Meatpacking District, DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights, and my favourites so far are any of the Village areas. Chelsea was really nice but probably a tad over budget. It looked super expensive. Brooklyn Heights was really cute but not that much cheaper (and more inconvenient to get to) than say East Village.

I have no idea how the apartment rental market works here... how best to look for places, how many brokers I should be using, how fast the best rentals get snapped up etc. So that'll be a learning experience. I'm looking forward to moving into a proper place and making it into a home though. I want to start shopping in Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel!

I'm doing some work for my previous company in their new NYC office from Monday onwards, which will help keep me occupied and get me meeting people, plus replenish my bank account which I have been ploughing into over the last four months or so.

So that's my update for now. As if this post wasn't long enough and irrelevant enough to its "beauty blog" roots, I'm going to list some of the things I've noticed about NYC from being here for a week (most of them relating to mundanities of life, which all suddenly feel new again).


There is just so much more variety here for clothes and shoes compared to the UK. It seems like most brands have a petite section (although they keep the petite styles frumpy as if they think it's only old ladies who are short).

Shoe shopping is a breeze... it just requires one trip to any big department store where it's impossible to not find something to buy (even when you have awkwardly small and wide feet like mine). It's like the shoe lounge of Selfridges but 10x bigger and with better size ranges.

I'm not even going to talk about the countless drugstores and Sephoras that have everything beauty-related you could ever want. They make even the biggest Boots store in London look like a small chemist. I still don't understand why one city needs quite so many drugstores though... most are empty inside.

The returns policies in the States are notoriously lax, so I'm looking forward to that. My friend once got a cash refund on a pair of boots she'd worn for about three years but had never quite got them to "wear in" and feel comfortable. She didn't even have a receipt! Nor was it possible to prove that she'd bought them in that department store... but they gave her a full refund nevertheless. Madness!


When I first arrived, I was utterly confused as to where locals buy their groceries - grocery stores are rare except in very residential areas and even if you find one, food prices are roughly 2-3x higher than in the UK. However, I found "Trader Joe's" which seemed relatively reasonably-priced, filled my trolley and got them to deliver it all to my door later that evening for just $6.95. Oh, and all the shop assistants are so unbelievably friendly and helpful... no scowling Tesco shop assistants here!

The microwaves in this country are some seriously powerful machines and huge to boot. I get the impression they are used for more than just reheating by most people.


People generally seem much more confident, laid back and friendly here than in London. If I look lost for even a split second, someone will stop and ask if I need directions. People are noticeably more groomed here too, male and female. I feel slightly ashamed of my un-manicured fingernails and lately, of my clothes that have veered towards the more "comfortable" rather than stylish side. Hey, it's my first week and I've needed to do a lot of walking!

I haven't come across the US-equivalent of chavs or drunkards here yet. Everything opens till late, restaurants don't bat an eyelid if you turn up at 11pm, and indeed, normal people (not rowdy groups) will continue to walk in for long after.

People are generally very open here... people I've just met casually offer invitations like "we should do brunch/lunch/dinner" and share with me places they've found for eating out, shoe repairs, manicures etc. It's nice.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones over here have had me complaining like an old biddy. My God, this country is SO BEHIND with mobile phones and phone plans! It's not just the fact that they still charge for incoming calls and incoming texts... I can just about deal with that in my head. Let's just say they make it as difficult as possible for consumers to get a good deal or the handset they want. It's particularly bad if you need to use data on your phone. I went with a T-Mobile prepaid simcard in the end so I could continue using my iPhone... but the amount I'll be paying a month is 5x higher than my plan in the UK, for a worse package.

I found a small shop at 1 E 28th St (just off Fifth Avenue) called "Today's Mobile" that will unlock an iPhone in an hour for $35.

I've also embarrassingly had to use the word "cell phone" on several occasions.

Getting around

It's pretty easy to get around in NYC once you get used to the layout, but it gets a little more complicated around the Village areas where the easy grid layout suddenly stops and streets start having names rather than numbers. I have a famously bad sense of direction so I really should get hold of a map.

I keep getting bamboozled by Metro station entrances. The other day, I ended up walking in very high heels for 20 blocks because I could only see entrances for "Uptown" but needed to go "Downtown". In the end, I gave up and walked. It was peak time, so no taxis were available either.

Taxis are much, much cheaper than in London (perhaps 3x cheaper?), thus I feel less guilty using them when I'm being lazy. They're fast too as long as it's not peak hours.

People don't seem to take buses as readily as the subway, I guess because they're not as fast for long distances. But I love buses for getting from one end of the city to the other... it means I can stare out of the window and get more of a feel of the orientation of the city, rather than blindly travelling underground.

There's a lot of ambient noise where I am at the moment... lots of horn honking, and charity collectors ringing their bells, droning "Happy holidays.." It feels like stepping into a sitcom or film based in NYC. The background noise feels oddly familiar.

Despite NYC being so densely packed, the air feels less polluted than London air. If I walk around London for thirty minutes and maybe take a short Tube journey, my face gets covered in all these black sooty bits that spread into sooty streaks if I try to wipe them off. Really disgusting. And don't get me started on when I blow my nose after a day in London! I haven't had the same problems in NYC at all.

Any regrets?

None at all! I love it here so far. It seems like an amazing city. I would have preferred it to be a little easier on my personal life side of things, but as I keep telling myself, it'll all work out in the end.

Phew this was a long post, I wonder whether anyone's still reading. Oh well it's nice to get it down... maybe I'll read this in a few years' time and cringe at myself for being so uncool in such a cool city.

I've managed to leave my camera behind in London, as well as a huge box of beauty products I need to review. But luckily I took a load of photos in bulk before I left, so I can still manage a few beauty posts until I ship my stuff over. I've been purposely avoiding Sephora while I've been here because I can't cope with any more clutter in my apartment!

Anyway, readers who have got this far, I hope all is well wherever you are reading this from!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Goodbye London!!

A leaving gift from my friend Olly.. MONKEYS!!!

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have spotted that today is my last day in London and am flying out to New York tomorrow morning for the next instalment of my life. It hasn't really set in yet that I'm leaving. As usual, I have left the bulk of my packing to the last minute and I have a hundred chores to do before I go (so why I'm still online I don't know).

I have seen as many of my close friends as possible over the last couple of weeks, but apart from that, I am leaving quietly (I hate goodbyes!) so it feels like I'm just going away for a long holiday. I will also be blogging as usual when I'm there!

Moving to the U.S. has been on the cards all year and it's not happening quite as planned (I have to leave my husband behind for an undetermined length of time... two, three months or more(?) until he sorts some stuff out at work), but hopefully things will fall into place.

I have been feeling very nostalgic about London today, knowing that it is my last day here for a while. I've been here for five years but it feels much longer.

I know I am rambling in order to procrastinate from going back to my groan-inducing todo list, so I have written a little list for myself to remember the good times in London...

London is...

Where I fell into an industry I love and worked with the most incredible people, a few of whom I now count as my closest friends...

Where I've watched my friends move down and settle, get married and have babies...

Where I met my now husband...

Where I bought a huge 3-burner gas barbecue from eBay for those rare but glorious summer days we've had...

Where I might as well have started smoking with the amount of carcinogens I breathed in on the Tube...

Where I innocently started a beauty blog a year ago to record my beauty purchases and was unexpectedly thrown into the beauty blogging community where I have had so much fun and met the nicest people who I will genuinely miss (it's not the same on Twitter!)...

Where I got used to people calling me "Beauty Scribbler" when they meet me in person instead of "Helen"...

Where I grew into myself...

The best city in the world to eat out - nowhere else comes close...

The best city ever to spend your 20's.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Mineral oil-free body lotions from Lavera, Akin and Dr. Organic

Mineral oil-free body lotions from Lavera, Akin and Dr. Organic

People always ask me why I don't use products containing mineral oil (generally paraffinum liquidum and petrolatum). I started avoiding mineral oil over ten years ago because I found that when I used products containing it (mostly body lotions and lip balms), my skin would immediately get painfully dry and my normally well-behaved lips would start flaking and bleeding. Not to mention the giant under-the-skin spots I got from trying Bio Oil on my face when it first came out!

I know many people use mineral oil-based beauty products without any problems, so it's just one of those things I personally avoid but try not to preach about. I don't believe topical mineral oil is harmful to our bodies, just that it doesn't add moisture to the skin in any way. It's merely a barrier that stops existing moisture from escaping (and from coming in), which isn't particularly helpful when my body seems to be incapable of producing any natural moisture itself!

Dil from SCforM (Skin Care for Men) explains more about this "barrier" on his must-read Vaseline petroleum jelly myth-busting blog post here.

Here are a few body lotions that are free from mineral oil that I have been using recently and can highly recommend. Unlike body butters, these body lotions moisturise without leaving a sticky, greasy layer on the skin that never absorbs.

Lavera Body Spa Rose Garden Body Lotion

Lavera Rose Garden Body Lotion

Lavera Rose Garden Body Lotion is a thick, white lotion that absorbs easily and leaves no residue on the skin. It smells very strongly of roses and Turkish Delight so you might want to choose one of the many other variants of the lotion if you hate that smell!

Alcohol features quite high up in the ingredients list, presumably to act as a natural preservative as well as to assist with the quick absorption. I was expecting the lotion to be slightly drying because of the alcohol but it's still very moisturising and leaves the skin feeling supple, fresh and clean-feeling.

Lavera Body Lotion costs £7.45 for 150ml and also comes in coconut, honey, lemon, lime, orange, apricot and lavender versions. Lavera can often be found in health stores if you do a quick search on Google, there are countless of online stores (too many to list!) to buy from, usually at slightly less than the RRP. A good place to start is where the body lotions start from £6.70 delivered.

The full ingredients of Lavera Rose Garden Body Lotion are:

Water (Aqua), Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil*, Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Rosa Moschata Oil*, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil*, Glyceryl Stearate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Xanthan Gum, Lecithin, Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterols, Tocopherol, Lysolecithin, Rosa Damascena Flower Water*, Myrtus Communis Water*, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ascorbic Acid, Fragrance (Parfum)**, Citral**, Citronellol**, Eugenol**, Geraniol**, Linalool**.
* ingredients from certified organic agriculture
** natural essential oils

A'kin Unscented Replenishing Body Moist

Akin Unscented Replenishing Body Moist lotion

A'kin Unscented Replenishing Body Moist is designed to moisturise, soothe and protect sensitive skin. Of the three lotions, this has the most appealing product description if you are blighted with all-over dry skin:

"Deeply calming moisturising lotion with echium oil, the premier source of omega 9, 3 & 6 essential fatty acids, and moisturising certified organic shea butter, vitamin B5, jojoba and avocado oils to help calm and soothe the most sensitive of skins. Perfect to use for skin that has suffered trauma such as wind damage, sunburn and those with fragile, sensitive skin or chemical and environmental sensitivities."

This lotion is not as thick as the Lavera lotion and spreads faster. It absorbs well but also leaves a very light and matte, protective barrier on the skin. Of the three lotions, this feels the most emollient, hydrating and moisturising. It leaves my skin the most baby soft it has ever been in my adult life.

I love that this body lotion is unscented but on initial application, it does smell a bit like melted butter due to all the natural butters and oils in the formula. Fortunately this slightly unusual scent doesn't linger!

This creamy, protecting body lotion is perfect for winter when my skin gets completely sapped of any natural moisture by the dry air, central heating and cold winds. A definite must-have!

A'kin Unscented Replenishing Body Moist has an RRP of £11.99 for 200ml and again is available at various health stores (find stockists here) and at countless online stores, the cheapest I have found is £9.99 delivered at There is also a Lavender & Geranium scented version available.

The full ingredients of A'kin Unscented Replenishing Body Moist are:

Aqua (purified Australian water*), cetearyl alcohol (botanical source ), glycerin (botanical source), sodium stearoyl lactylate (botanical source), sorbitol (botanical source), glyceryl stearate (botanical source), persia gratissima (avocado) oil (certified organic cold pressed Australian grown), butyrospermum parkii (certified organic shea butter), lecithin (from GMO free soy bean), macadamia ternifolia seed oil (cold pressed Australian grown), panthenol (pro Vit B5), simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil (cold pressed Australian grown), squalane (from olives), echium plantagineum seed oil, carotenoids (from marine algae), tocopheryl acetate (Vit E) (botanical source), ascorbyl palmitate, persia gratissima (avocado) oil unsaponifiables, xanthan gum, tocopherol, hydrogenated palm glycerides citrate, stearic acid (botanical source), sodium isostearoyl lactylate (botanical source), behenyl alcohol (from GMO free rapeseed), glyceryl laurate (botanical source), caprylic/capric triglyceride (botanical source), sodium citrate (botanical source), sodium gluconate (from GMO free corn), phenoxyethanol, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, fusanus spiactus wood (West Australian sandalwood) oil, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract, farnesol#.
*BP standard #from essential oils

Dr. Organic Royal Jelly Skin Lotion

Dr. Organic Royal Jelly Skin Lotion

Dr. Organic Royal Jelly Skin Lotion is a "rich firming skin moisturiser" which claims anti-ageing and firming properties as well as just hydration, being jam-packed with organic ingredients such as royal jelly, honey, red clover extract, olive oil, cocoa butter, shea butter etc.

This body lotion is very fluid and easily absorbed. It hydrates while being absolutely non-greasy and leaves my skin feeling smooth and silky. I can't say much for the firming or anti-ageing claims but just the potential bonus is good enough for me.

If you like to be able to slap on your body lotion across your entire body in a matter of seconds, this is perfect.

The scent is lightly "botanic" smelling... if you've ever caught a whiff of "royal jelly" ranges from Boots or supermarkets, this scent will be familiar. It is perhaps a little old-ladyish but not at all offensive.

Dr. Organic body lotions can be found in Holland & Barrett stores or at where you'll find them for just £6.99 for 200ml and where you'll also find versions in the Manuka Honey, Aloe Vera, Tea Tree, Pomegranate, Lavender, Rose Otto and Vitamin E ranges as well. They're well worth a look!

The full ingredients of Dr. Organic Royal Jelly Skin Lotion are:

Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, Aqua, Dicaprylyl ether, Polyglyceryl-3 methyglucose distearate, Glycerin, Caprylic/capric triglyceride, Isocetyl palmitate, Cetearyl alcohol, Myristyl myristate, Olea europaea (Olive) oil unsaponifiables, Theobroma cacao seed butter, Butyrospernum parkii butter, Olea europaea fruit oil, Glyceryl caprylate, Tocopherol/helianthus annuus seed oil, Honey extract, Glycyrrhetinic acid, Retinyl palmitate, Xanthan gum, Chondrus crispus extract, Juniperus virginiana (Cedarwood) oil, Citrus medica limonum (Lemon) peel oil, Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium) oil, Pogostemon cablin (Patchouli) oil, Citrus aurantium amara (Bitter orange) leaf oil, Santalum album (Sandalwood) oil, Parfum*, Mel extract, Trifolium pratense flower extract, Calluna vulgaris flower extract, Royal jelly extract, Sodium benzoate, Potassium sorbate, Sodium phytate, Citric acid, Ascorbic acid, Limonene, Geraniol, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool, Citronellol, Hexyl cinnamal. *Natural and food grade.


If you have very dry, sensitive skin that needs protection against the elements, I'd recommend A'kin Unscented Replenishing Body Moist; If you need an anti-ageing, non-greasy lotion that you can slap on quickly without compromising on hydration, you'll love Dr. Organic Skin Lotion; and if you are really into your essential oils and smellies, you should check out Lavera Body Spa Body Lotion.

Disclaimer: PR samples

Friday, 5 November 2010

Clinique Holiday 2010 Strawberry Fudge Colour Collection: Mmmm... fudge...

Clinique Holiday 2010 Strawberry Fudge

I love the name of Clinique's latest limited edition collection.. not only does the politically correct term "Holiday" as in what us Brits simply call "Christmas" make me smile (cue my jovial attempt at an American accent... "Haaaappy Holidays!"), but the words "Strawberry Fudge" also conjure up images in my mind of pretty pinks and browns. Altogether very sweet and cosy.

Limited Edition Strawberry Fudge Holiday Compact

RRP £25

Clinique Holiday 2010 Strawberry Fudge Compact

Inside the substantially-sized mirrored compact, we're treated to an eyeshadow trio and a powder blush. All shades are neutral-toned.

Clinique Holiday 2010 Strawberry Fudge Compact shades

I'm not a pink eyeshadow wearer, so I was surprised to find that I actually liked the soft pink in this compact. Once applied, it takes on a light golden shimmer which lights up the eyes and from certain angles doesn't look pink at all. The eyeshadow trio also comprises a shimmering chocolate brown and a matte, slate shade.

All the eyeshadows are very lightweight and as I've come to associate with Clinique eyeshadows, not especially pigmented (if you're used to more pigmented brands). The matte slate shade is particularly difficult to get a deep colour but the smoky colour can be built up by patting on layers, which is great if you usually find black eyeshadows too scary to use.

The eyeshadows last very well through the day (over primer) and stay intact even through a few tears (tried and tested no less!).

I found the matte blush on first impression (i.e. swiping with a finger) to be as difficult to pick up as the slate eyeshadow, but it was quite pigmented once I was using a brush to apply it onto my cheeks. And I love the colour - it's the colour of naturally flushed cheeks. I believe the shade already exists as Clinique's Soft Pressed Powder Blusher in "New Clover".

Clinique Holiday 2010 Strawberry Fudge Compact swatches
Eyeshadow swatches on top row, blush swatch on bottom row

Defining Liner for Lips in "Plush Pink"

RRP £12.50

Clinique Defining Liner for Lips in Plush Pink

I use lip liner a lot. I actually prefer lip liner to lipstick because lipstick slides all over the place, dries out my lips and rarely lasts long. On the other hand, using lip liner to line and fill in my lips makes any gloss I apply over the top more opaque and long-lasting.

The shade of this liner is quite similar to the lip liners I usually use... nudey, rosy pink. I find the pencil lead quite "hard" and it doesn't glide like some other liners I used (e.g. from NYX or Le Métier de Beauté). But the benefit of the texture is that it won't slide once it's on.

I was wondering why the lid of the pencil was so bulbous and realised there was a handy sharpener hidden inside!

Vitamin C Lip Smoothie Antioxidant Lip Colour in "Strawberry Bliss"

RRP £13.50

Clinique Vitamin C Lip Smoothie Antioxidant Lip Colour in Strawberry Bliss

This mineral oil-free, super-shiny, moisturising gloss gets a juicy new shade for the party season. I'd describe the shade as a pomegranate pink with flecks of gold shimmer. Very pretty and polished.

The gloss itself is smooth and comfortable to wear with no stickiness or tackiness. For a gloss, it lasts a long time (hours), especially if worn over lip liner. It does actually feel quite conditioning too.

Full marks for being 100% fragrance-free too. I don't like flavoured lip products... ick.

The full ingredients of Vitamin C Lip Smoothie Antioxidant Lip Colour are:

Triiosostearyl citrate, Hydrogenated polyisobutene, Octyldodecanol, Microcrystalline, Wax / Cera microcristallina / Cire microcristalline, Butyrospernum parkii (shea butter), Punica granatum (pomegranate) sterols, Polyethylene, Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, Theobroma grandiflorum seed butter, Disteardimonium hectorite, Euterpe oleracea sterols, Lecithin, Linolenic acid, Caprylyl glycol, Lauryl PCA, Hexylene Glycol, Oleic acid, Tocopheryl acetate, Calcium sodium borosilicate, Phenoxyethanol, [+/- Mica, Titanium dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Red 28 Lake (CI 45410), Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Red 22 Lake (CI 45380), Red 30 Lake (CI 73360), Carmine (CI 75470), Bismuth oxychloride (CI 77163), Red 3 Lake (CI 17200), Red 6 (CI 15850), Yellow 6 Lake (CI 15985)] [ILN35542].

Clinique Holiday 2010 Strawberry Fudge lip swatches
Left to right, Defining Liner in "Plush Pink", Vitamin C Lip Smoothie in "Strawberry Bliss"

High Lengths Mascara

RRP £12.50

Clinique High Lengths Mascara brush close-up

Clinique High Lengths Mascara (alcohol-free I should note) looked promising with its curved "willow" wand applicator designed to follow the natural curvature of the eyes. The theory is that the fine-toothed comb can then grab each lash at its root.

The curved wand is indeed easy to use on the upper lashes but I found it almost impossible to load a decent amount of mascara onto my lashes. I ended up trying to build it up with layers but ended up with spindly lashes instead of the plush ones that I covet. The lengthening effect was mediocre.

Clinique High Lengths Mascara on lashes close-up

I found the shape of the brush very, very difficult to handle on my lower lashes. A lot of hand switching and contortion was required.

The mascara is the type that melts slightly in heat and dissolves in water so I don't think it'd be great in hot, humid climates.

This mascara is for you if you like natural-looking lashes and if you think the wand applicator shape would substantially improve your application of mascara.

I've tried several Clinique mascara and I'm yet to find one that I want to use again. Maybe they're just not for me! I've also noticed that my lashes fare better with traditional bristle wand applicators rather than the plastic comb types.

Clinique Holiday 2010 Strawberry Fudge applied

Other products used:

Face Atelier Ultra Foundation in "Wheat"
Varama Cover Cream in "VC1" and "VC3" as concealer
Urban Decay Razor Sharp Ultra Definition Powder
UNE Eye Brow Accent Pencil in "B04"
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eyeliner Pencil in "Zero"

The Clinique 2010 Holiday Strawberry Fudge Collection is available at Clinique counters from 12th November 2010. Will you be checking it out?

Disclaimer: PR samples

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Dr. Nick Lowe The Secret is Out Lifting Cream SPF15: A review

I always find it difficult reviewing moisturisers. It's not the physical writing up of my reviews that makes it hard, but more the fact that for most consumers, moisturiser is traditionally the one element of skin care we really want to get right and thus the part of our regimes we invest most of our time and money in.

I feel a duty to give my readers information to help them make the right purchasing decision for their own skin but very few moisturisers actually make a real difference beyond hydration, regardless of miracle claims and impressive price tags. It truly bores me to write about products which are perfectly fine, but not in any way better or worse than hundreds of other products out there.

The more expensive the product, the harder it is to write about it because I know the conclusion will be something wishy washy like "It's a nice product to use but only time will tell if it does anything special but if you have £80 to spare you can always take the brand's word for it and cross your fingers..."

I've been getting a lot of emails lately from readers who really, really want to be sure they're making the right skin care decisions. They're not beauty writers with unlimited pots of expensive face creams at their disposal... they're real people who need confirmation that they're spending their hard-earned cash wisely. How could I possibly recommend skin care willy nilly knowing that?

That's why there are very few moisturiser reviews on my blog, despite me always having around four on the go. Aside from the immediate impressions of ingredients, absorption and hydration, moisturisers are almost impossible to critique and "value". Not to mention the fact that every person's skin will respond differently.

However, I have recently started using The Secret is Out Lifting Cream from the Dr. Nick Lowe range and I can tell you in tangible terms why it's made it onto my skin.

The man behind the brand

I got to meet Dr. Nick Lowe last week and it turns out he's a real person. Not only that, but he's actually an internationally-renowned and still practising dermatologist with 30 years' experience of extensive testing and research.

When he did his little background talk, he kept it succinct and didn't try to "sell", but what I found most compelling was how realistic he was about skin issues. When I asked his advice on a very specific issue I had with my skin, he went into dermatologist mode and gave some unexpectedly serious advice (involving lifestyle, genetics and prescription-only topical treatments) rather than pushing his own product range and promising miracles.

In contrast, I'd earlier had the opportunity to meet the founders of another skin care brand and I actually went away feeling disappointed. This high-end brand that I'd always thought of positively seemed to be run by a couple of charismatic marketing guys with no real knowledge of their own products. It was honestly that feeling of being being taken for a fool.

So it was refreshing to meet the down-to-earth Dr. Nick Lowe who seemed to know what he was talking about, and who I get the impression wouldn't want to sully his hard-earned reputation with a range of products he didn't personally create.

Approved UVA protection

During the summer, I used a sunscreen (Boots No7 Anti-Dark Spot Facial Sun Protection SPF 30) every day instead of moisturiser because I didn't trust the supposed UVA protection in my moisturisers which all lacked approved UVA "star" ratings. There's no point wearing a moisturiser with an SPF if it's not doing a good job of blocking the UVA rays that cause premature ageing and hyperpigmentation.

The day creams in the Dr. Nick Lowe range have all been approved for their UVA protection. The Secret is Out Lifting Cream has a 3-star UVA rating as well as SPF 15 which is more than necessary in grey old London. Although I'd obviously use a proper sunscreen in stronger sun.

The Dr. Nick Lowe range is currently only available in Boots and we all know Boots have a very rigorous approach to sun protection (all Boots own-brand sunscreens have 5-star UVA protection and Boots No.7 Protect & Perfect Day Cream now also has 5-star UVA protection).

Moisture without white, shiny patches

My skin gets really dry in winter. Last winter I bought Clarins HydraQuench Cream SPF15 which was great at moisturising my dehydrated, lifeless skin but I came to realise that it also had the effect of giving me big white, shiny patches across my face.

Dr. Nick Lowe The Secret is Out Lifting Cream is just as hydrating and softening as Clarins HydraQuench Cream but without the great big shine patches. In noting this, I remembered Dr. Nick Lowe mentioning that he wanted to create a range that was suitable for all ethnicities - he didn't want his products to create white casts on darker skins for example.

In terms of consistency and texture, the cream feels (and smells) like those old Pond's creams from the 80's (I have no idea what Pond's products are like now). It's rich, heavy and comforting. Note this cream is for dry or mature skin only.

I also find that my skin continues to look hydrated throughout the entire day.

That's it for now.

Like I said, it's very difficult reviewing the anti-ageing qualities of a moisturiser. But I'll give you the official blurb of the product (and cross my fingers)...

"More than just a superior moisturiser this multi-benefit SPF15 lifting day cream targets several signs of skin ageing. New generation peptides and powerful hydrators work with the Anti Age Cranley Complex to help deliver firming, toning, vital hydration and UVA / UVB protection. With regular use the appearance of skin is left more even-toned, replenished, softer and younger looking.

Anti Wrinkle + Firming - New generation peptides Matrixyl®, ChroNOlineTM and Argireline® to help reduce instantly, and over the long term, the apperarance of fine lines and wrinkles

Superior Moisture - Advanced hydrators, Hyaluramine® and Hydralys®, return vital moisture to the skin and encourage skin's natural collagen production. With time, the skin recovers its supple and elastic qualities

SPF15 and advanced UVA / UVB protection system - Helps protect skin against cellular damage caused by sun, smoke and pollution

Anti Age Cranley Complex combining potent anti-antioxidants Ferulic Acid, Pomegranate and Raspberry with Vitamins A, C and E"

There are also some "proven effectiveness" claims of 79% of consumers agreeing their wrinkles appeared reduced and skin looked firmer after 4 weeks, based on an independent consumer test of 50 women aged 25-70. However, I always take these studies with a pinch of salt. I'm pretty sure the comparisons are always versus people using no product at all as opposed to a different product. Duh, of course the testers using moisturiser are going to see more effect than the people not using moisturiser at all.

The full ingredients of Dr. Nick Lowe The Secret is Out Lifting Cream are:

Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Octocrylene, Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, Bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cetearyl olivate, Dimethicone, Sorbitan olivate, Glyceryl polymethacrylate, Hydrolyzed glycosaminoglycans, Butyrospermum parkii (Shea butter), Phenoxyethanol, Polyacrylamide, Pullulan, Methylparaben, C13-14 isoparaffin, Parfum (Fragrance), Propylene glycol, Butylene glycol, Rubus idaeus (Raspberry) leaf extract, Cucumis melo (Melon) fruit extract, Ferulic acid, Propylparaben, Punica granatum (Pomegranate) extract, Sodium lactate, Algae extract, Laureth-7, Disodium EDTA, Phospholipids, Sodium benzoate, Sodium hydroxide, Potassium sorbate, BHT, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Retinyl palmitate, Quaternium-15, Caprooyl tetrapeptide-3, Dextran, EDTA, Tocopheryl acetate, Ascorbyl palmitate, Palmitoyl oligopeptide, Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7.

The Secret is Out Lifting Cream is from the "Anti Age" range and costs £24.95 for 50ml. For more details and to buy online, have a look at the product page at or the product page or just pop into your local Boots store where there will probably be a tester pot for you to dip your fingers into.

Disclaimer: PR sample
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