Tuesday, 13 December 2011

AHAVA - The Gift of Small Pleasures

They say the best things come in small packages! So if you're looking for a Christmas present for someone special tick another gift off that never-ending list with this gorgeous AHAVA The Gift of Small Pleasures set.

Each set contains a Mineral Body Lotion (40ml); All in One Toning Cleanser (30ml); Purifying Mud Mask (25g); Mineral Hand Cream (20ml) and Essential Day Moisturizer for Normal to Dry Skin (15ml), all presented in a pretty AHAVA cosmetic bag.

This stylish set would make a lovely gift for a Mum, sister or girlfriend, or anyone who loves quality cosmetics. The Mineral Hand Cream and Body Cream are rich and beautifully scented and leave skin feeling like silk. The cleanser, mud mask and moisturiser are a great introduction to the AHAVA facial skincare range. They're also the perfect way to see what a difference these products packed with Dead Sea minerals can make to your skin before investing in a full size product. Skin will see in the New Year feeling fresh, healthy and smooth... what better gift is there to give than that?!

AHAVA The Gift of Small Pleasures costs £25 and is available from www.ahava.co.uk

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Rescue me! Rescue Cream & Balm

Every now and again, a product drops through my door at precisely the right moment, and this week, Bach's Original Flower Remedies Rescue Cream and Rescue Balm did just that!

I've had a terrible cold (and have a big family wedding to go to tomorrow) so I've been battling trying to soothe my chapped lips and the dry flaky skin around my nose, as well as coping with all the pre-Christmas stress of having too much to do and too little time!

The dinky pot of Rescue Balm with natural flower essences has been everywhere with me in my handbag this week and has been a lifesaver for my dry lips, smoothing away flakes, and has offered me fantastic protection against the harsh wintry winds. It can also be massaged into temples although in my stressed-out state I haven't had a minute to try that yet!

I've also been trying out the perfume-free Rescue Cream, an intensive moisturiser which is designed to re-hydrate dry, rough and sensitive skin. Just like the balm, the cream also contains Rescue's classic combination of five flower essences - Cherry Plum, Impatiens, Star of Bethlehem, Rock Rose and Clematis, together with the cleansing essence, Crab Apple. So, you're not only getting a gorgeous, intensive yet light, moisturiser that you can use everywhere from the face to hands and body, the essences work to soothe jangled nerves too.

For anyone feeling stressed at the moment (who isn't?!), I'd highly recommend taking a couple of minutes out to take the stress test on the Rescue website www.rescueremedy.co.uk. I scored 12 out of 15 and received a message saying 'We're worried about you!' How will you score?

Rescue Balm (£6.05 for a 5g pot) and Rescue Cream (prices start at £5.65 for a 30g tube) are available from Boots, Holland and Barrett, Lloyds Pharmacy and Waitrose stores and all good independent health food and pharmacy stores. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Rituals... Earl's Secret - Black Tea & Bergamot

Just lately I've been a bit bored with my usual cup of builder's tea so decided to stir things up a little!

I swapped my usual cuppa for a refreshing delicate brew of Rituals Earl's Secret Black Tea & Bergamot, a sophisticated and refreshing Chinese Earl Grey tea, blended with natural bergamot extract. Get me!

Not only that, the Rituals philosophy and approach to life is definitely one I'm aiming to embrace. It's all about learning how to turn life's everyday hum-drum routines, like putting the kettle on, and turning them into life's simple pleasures. And with such beautifully packaged teas on the side in the kitchen, I think it's a very good place to start!

The aromatic tea range also includes Rose Wisdom with ginger (good for sore throats and easing nasal congestion), Sweet Gingko, a tea for bedtime, and refreshing Hamman Mint. There's also comforting Emperor's Dream, uplifting Jasmine Delight, Cape Delight rooibos tea and energising Keemum Lime. All are beautifully packaged in tins of 50 tea bags (£11.90) with luxury refill boxes of 20 also available (£4.50).

The new tea collection is available in all Rituals stores and a selected department stores.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The best stress-busting bath oil EVER!

If I was asked to pick one product to keep me un-frazzled during the festive season, this Bath and Shower Oil from Aromatherapy Associates, would be, without question, the one! It's like an aromatherapy 'anaesthetic' with the most euphoric floral fragrance of geranium, frankincense and rose to restore hassled minds and fill us full of positivity and calm.

I put this powerful Support blend to the test this week after a particularly emotionally fraught day Christmas shopping in York, followed by meeting a tight feature deadline, attending a parent's evening and finishing off making two school nativity costumes! I took half an hour out early evening for a lovely deep bath steeped in this beautiful blend, then felt so composed and calm I powered on through with writing my Christmas cards! It's relaxing but restoring and uplifting too and digs deep to help you find those reserves of energy you sometimes have to draw on just to get things done. A bath in this is like waking up refreshed after a deep and restful sleep!

One capful in the bath is all that's needed, or you can apply it to the body before showering too. I love the way the scent lingers on your super-soft skin after your bath (it's the coconut oil that leaves skin silky smooth), so you're wafting around in a relaxing aroma long after you've left the bathroom! It's divine and I know I'm going to have a much more relaxing Christmas because of it! I can't think of a better gift for someone special, who you'd like to lavish with some serious TLC.

£37 for 55ml, available from www.aromatherapyassociates.com

LUSH - new minature set of Gorilla Perfume fragrances!

I'm probably what you'd call a bit of a perfume flirt! I'm not faithful to one specific fragrance or brand, I prefer to flit merrily depending on my mood and what the day or evening holds. 

This miniature set of eight 2ml exclusive fragrances from Lush is perfect for someone like me who prefers to try before I buy a full-size bottle, and I always like to take the time to see how a perfume develops on my skin.

This lovely little box contains one each of the following fragrances:

1000 Kisses - exquisite, delicate blossoms combined with citrus and resins. Expresses the complexities of true love.

Ginger - crisp and true with exotic mimosa, rose and jasmine too.
Ladyboy - my personal favourite! It's a quirky amber-based scent that despite the eyebrow-raising name is sophisticated and stylish. Contains banana and seeweed too. Sounds bizarre but it's gorgeous.

Love - young sweet and flirty with tempting apples and spice. Exhilarating!

Superworld Unknown - inspired by candyfloss and bubbles, combines citrus and chocolate. An escapist scent.

Cocktail - a lovely evening scent, think sipping a cocktail in a chic bar.

The Smell of Weather Turning - the most intriguing in the box for me. It's a thunderstorm in reverse. Starts with fresh rain on greenery then develops into something smokier and darker, with hay and woods in the final stages. Really unusual and lovely.

B Scent - Rose and crisp citrus. Stylish and feminine. 

No-one does fun and quirky quite as well as Lush for me, their products and packaging always lift my spirits. This would make a fab stocking filler for a girlfriend, or a top secret santa gift. Or, just treat yourself!

Order online at www.lush.co.uk, priced £19.95

Friday, 28 October 2011

help:clear skin from Works With Water - drink your way to better skin!

This 100% natural skin supplement (now available in Superdrug) helps to clear spots and blemishes, all you have to do is drink it! I've been trying it out over the past month (it's recommended to take 1 sachet of this milk protein supplement powder daily for at least 4-6 weeks) and although I was very sceptical at first, since stopping using it, I can see my spotty skin coming back so I've come to the conclusion it works for me!

So how does it work? Each sachet of help:clear skin contains Praventin, a bioactive protein, rich in lactoferrin from milk protein, which has been shown to reduce the development of the bacteria responsible for many skin impurities, helping to prevent the formation of blemishes due to its antimicrobial effects.

All you have to do is dissolve the powder in at least 350ml of a non-carbonated drink such as water, milk, juice, even tea or coffee, or you can add to foods such as soup, yoghurt or cereal. It doesn't taste of anything at all so it's really easy to take.

I combined using help:clear skin with using a new skincare routine (Clinique's Anti-Blemish range) during a particularly stressful breakout of hormonal-related spots. To begin with, if anything my skin became worse as the new routine set in but by around week three, I started to see good results. I remember one day going out of the house completely foundation free (absolutely unheard of for me!) as my skin looked so clear, glowing and spot free! My skin became so clear I had the confidence to switch to a tinted moisturiser, another first for me.

As my month's supply ran out over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed my skin reverting back slightly to the occasional blemished state, and those annoying bumps under make-up starting to show. So I'll definitely be picking up some more packs from Superdrug, Boots, Waitrose or Holland & Barrett and seeing if they continue working their magic. £9.99 for seven sachets. Well worth a go in conjunction with a thorough skincare routine.

help:clear skin is also available from www.workswithwater.co.uk

Yes To Blueberries - Age Refresh Smoothing Daily Cleanser

Here's a gentle fruity cleanser for anyone looking to brighten and refresh their skin and achieve a more youthful look. Why blueberries? They're a secret anti-ageing weapon! Rich in anti-oxidants, these juicy fruits help fight the formation of free radicals that can damage the skin's microstructure. 

If, like me, you like your skin to feel really soft after cleansing, you'll love the coconut oil in this cleanser, a natural moisturiser which leaves skin feeling supple and smooth. And who couldn't do with a little refreshing and brightening too? The apple and lemon peel get to work on improving the skin's surface, sweeping away dirt to reveal fresher looking skin.

I've been massaging this lovely creamy formulation into my skin nightly (which in turn boosts circulation and gets skin glowing) then rinsing away with warm water to reveal clean skin that's super-soft, fresh and healthy. It's gorgeous on these cold darker nights when skin's screaming out for more moisture and something a little more nourishing. 

A few dry patches I had around the nose area have completely disappeared since using this. I've found it gives me much-needed extra hydration to my skin during the winter months. For best results follow during the day with Yes To Blueberries Intensive Firming Repair Moisturiser and at night with Yes To Blueberries Intensive Moisturising Night Repair Cream, both £19.99 for 50ml.

Yes To Blueberries Smoothing Daily Cleanser is available from www.victoriahealth.com priced £12.99.

 The Yes To range also includes Yes To Carrots, Yes To Tomatoes and Yes To Cucumbers.

Ogario London Revive & Shine Shampoo and Conditioner - just gorgeous!

Last Saturday I had my hair cut into a chic little bob which I love but I've struggled a bit since to re-create the sleek, shiny look I had when I left the salon ... until now! Perfectly timed, this super-stylish duo from Ogario London - a brand new launch - dropped through my door and has been my hair saviour ever since.

Personally speaking, this shampoo and conditioner have made the arm-aching job of blow-drying and styling my hair at home a million times easier. They help smooth and defrizz my hair as I dry, and the shine, OMG, it's amazing. My hair is now soft, silky and swingy ... it hasn't felt this full of health and bounce for ages. The compliments are already coming in on how glossy it looks!

The uplifting blend of eight essential oils in the shampoo and conditioner linger on the hair and are really refreshing in the shower too, especially in the morning (imagine the lush steamy scent which includes a subtle blend of lime, bergamot, orange and cedar). The unique Protein Protect formula is also packed with plant extracts, vitamins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants, all the nutrients hair needs.

The shampoo contains baobab, rooibos and nettle and lathers up into tiny creamy bubbles, which become creamier the more you massage into your scalp, it's just divine! The thick luscious conditioner, with hibiscus and horsetail, contains nourishing avocado oil too which is great for achieving a glass-like gleam. Hair combs through effortlessly after use, not a single tangle in sight!

The passion and wisdom that has gone into this exciting new product range really shines through. It's a complete gem and I hope, like my 'new' hair, it continues to go from strength to strength!

Ogario London products are available to buy online at www.ogariolondon.com

Revive and Shine Shampoo, for normal hair, £14.50
Revive and Shine Conditioner, for normal hair, £18.50

The range also includes a Hydrate and Shine Shampoo and a Hydrate and Shine Conditioner for dry/coloured hair (same prices as above), and a Restore and Shine Hair Masque for all hair types, £26.50.


Friday, 7 October 2011

City chic nails from Miners!

So here we are on a cold and blustery Friday afternoon ... who fancies being whisked off to New York, Bangok, Paris or London this weekend?

Wishful thinking maybe, so here's the next best thing! Inspired by some of the world's most cosmopolitan cities, check out the four brand new nail shades for autumn/winter 11 from Miners! 

There's London's Calling, a demure goes-with-everything grey; Bangok Blues, a chic and classy navy; Fairytale of New York, for a green fashion fix, and my personal favourite, Weekend in Paris, a fruity berry shade. Also pictured below is Plum, guaranteed to brighten up any dull wintery day. Gorgeous!

£2.99 each, available from www.minerscosmetics.co.uk

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Northern Lights Soap by Lush

When we're experiencing hot October days like today, we all need a crisp fresh soap to cool off with at the end of a sticky day ... and here's my absolute favourite, Lush's Northern Lights. 

So called because it's creator was inspired by the colourful auroras of the Northern Lights, this zingy soap combines lime and pine for a mood-lifting shower and squeaky-clean feel. Even the sight of this perky soap lifts my mood, it's fab! 

For your slice of freshness in the shower, pop in to Lush or visit www.lush.co.uk

£3.25 per 100g.

On the lash - Mary Kay's Lash Love mascara!

OMG, this is a marvellous mascara! I had an inkling it was going to be good when I heard that Anne Hathaway's make-up artist, Lee Pycroft, loved it, and I've got to say it's show-stoppingly good!

My eyelashes are pretty long and dark already (get me!) but this gem makes them look amazing. I tried the black (a deep, velvety and intense black) which lengthened, separated and defined like a dream. The brush is so precise that I found I could angle and lift the lashes at the outer corners to give that 'feline' look ... it looked liked I'd applied individual lashes at the corners. Not a single lash was missed, even the tiniest ones.

It doesn't run, smudge or flake and personally I found it lasted from the moment I put it on in the morning to when I removed it again at night. I loved the way it intensified the whole eye area but without that heavy, clogged up lash look.

There's a brown and a waterproof formulation too ... this is one mascara I'll definitely be investing in again and again! If you're looking for a new mascara and fancy a change, I'd highly recommend giving this 'magic wand' a go!

Order yours via the Mary Kay website, £16, www.marykay.co.uk


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

AHAVA Purifying Mud Mask - a fantastic pore unclogger!

Just lately I've been searching for a really deep cleansing facial mask that will help restore my skin's natural balance and clear up existing blemishes. Finally, I've hit on a face mask that really does bring those annoying trapped-under-the-skin spots to the surface once and for all and calm down the skin to a fresher, healthier state.

I have been using AHAVA's Time to Clear Purifying Mud Mask after thoroughly cleansing, exfoliating and steaming the skin (just over a bowl of water with essential oils added) to open the pores. It's a gentle clay-enriched formula containing a blend of minerals from the Dead Sea which smooths nicely onto the skin. It works to absorb toxins and removes impurities. All it takes is 2-3 minutes once or twice a week.

The following day after using this product, I found deep-set impurities rose almost magically to the surface of the skin so that I could then extract them easily myself. After 3-4 weeks of use my skin is much clearer, with fewer blocked pores, and is feeling much more even and cleaner than it has done in a long time. Combining it with the steaming really helps as the mask has lots of lovely open pores to start cleaning out!

Also worth a mention in my quest to find a pore-unclogging facial mask is Living Nature's Deep Cleansing Mask, another clay-based purifying mask which is particularly suitable for acne prone skin. £18.40 from www.livingnature.com

AHAVA Time to Clear Purifying Mud Mask, £20, available from www.ahava.co.uk

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Just Soaps of the Earth - Cleanser & Moisturiser

I just knew when I blogged about Just Soap's gorgeous Organic Citrus Zing Shampoo back in April that this was definitely a brand to watch out for. Just lately, The Times and The Telegraph have picked up on this lovely niche company, too, who specialise in natural handmade skincare products.

I've got a simple yet effective skincare routine going at the moment, using a cleanser and moisturiser from Just Soaps of the Earth, that I thought I'd share with you.

I'm cleansing using the Melon & Papaya cleansing lotion, which is in fact - rather than a creamy cleanser as you might expect - a light oil-based cleanser. Initially, the concept of cleansing my sensitive, combination skin with oil seemed a little bit at odds with what I was trying to achieve (fresh, clean, non-oily skin) but I'm finding this cleanser not only gives a deep-down cleanse, it leaves skin feeling comfortably moisturised and plumped up too.

The Papaya Seed oil in the cleanser contains an enzyme, Papain, which works to dissolve excess sebum and loosen dead skin cells. It's certainly working to soothe and clear my congested, stressed skin at the moment. It also contains Watermelon Seed oil, a lovely light oil which gently dissolves impurties.

I'm enjoying smoothing one pump of the product over my dry face and neck and then, at the same time as cleansing, giving my face a facial massage to boost circulation and aid lymphatic drainage. I simply then buff the face using a soft damp muslin cloth and rinse away. It would make a therapeutic oil to use as a massage medium for a facialist, with the added bonus that it's actually cleansing the skin too.

It's lovely to use in the evening before bed because the aroma is delicious. There's soothing calendula and decongesting eucalyptus in there too, to help clarify skin.

After such a decadant cleanse, I'm finding that a light simple, almost non-scented, moisurising cream, like the natural Just Soaps of the Earth Facial Moisturising Cream with Aloe Vera & Calendula fits the bill perfectly. It sinks into the skin effortlessly and leaves skin feeling comfortable and calm.

Just Soaps of the Earth Melon & Papya Cleansing Lotion, 50ml, £6.50, and Calendula Facial Moisturiser, 60ml, £6.95, are both available from www.justsoapsoftheearth.co.uk

Friday, 2 September 2011

VIVO make-up - the new colour-tastic range at Tesco!

I'll hold my hands up and admit that, despite my love of all things beauty related, I am pretty scared of colour cosmetics. I never seem to have the surplus cash to splash out and experiment with the latest fashion colours, and always stick to my tried-and-tested trusty brown eye shadows and nude lip glosses. That is until now ...! 

Next time you're trawling around Tesco with your trolley and fancy a little make-up pick-me-up, I urge you to check out the fab new cosmetics line currently hitting the shelves - VIVO. With prices starting at £1.50, everyone, me included, can afford to pop a goodie in with the weekly shop!

The Baked Shimmer Palette (above), £6, is the stand-out product for me and features four exquisite marbled eye shadows and an accompanying blusher. I tried Paparazzi (which with it's colour-popping shimmer shades is a break away from my usual safe neutrals) but it was surprisingly easy to get right. The double-ended applicator allows for a great deal of precision, and the little mirror built into the case is just right for checking out how you're doing.

If, like me, you're a bit daunted by catwalk-inspired colourful shades and being 'alive with colour' as the tag line of the brand promises (eek!), rest assured you can use as little as you like to still create a fresh new look. I found just a light sweep of the purple/lilac/blue from the Paparazzi palette opened up my eyes no end and the teal green also looked great. They are lovely strong pigments, so if subtle is not your style and you prefer a more dramatic look, there's always that option too.

All the fail-safe colours are there too amongst the vibrancy, including rich chocolate, mink and espresso individual shadows, plus there's a collection of five trio eyeshadow palettes (£2.50 each) for creating the perfect smoky eye. The Innocence trio (below) is perfect and in shades I know I'd use again and again.

The range spans all the make-up essentials, from primer, foundation, concealer and powder, through highlighters, bronzers and blushers, to lip glosses, lipsticks and a full range for eyes including shadows, mascaras, liquid liners, kohl pencils, a brow kit and false lashes. With prices ranging from £1.50 for an individual eyeshadow, kohl pencils and mascaras to £5 for a baked bronzer and £6 for a skin-prepping primer, what's not to like?

VIVO is an affordable, inspiring and exciting new range which has opened my eyes to being more experimental with colour, safe in the knowledge I'm not spending a fortune!

Available from Tesco stores nationwide.

Kiwiherb Organic Calendula Ointment

Here's a cute little pot of Calendula goodness that offers a healthy dose of healing properties! It's potent but extremely gentle too, and entirely natural. So gentle in fact that it can be used on babies too, even newborns.

Created in New Zealand by medical herbalist Phil Rasmussen, Organic Calendula Ointment from Kiwiherb Herbal Remedies, is a practitioner-strength blend of organic calendula flowers and lavender essential oil in a base of organic sunflower oil and beeswax.

It's a handy little pot to have to hand as it works on a myriad of things. From dry skin, chapped lips and sunburn to dermatitis on hands, eczema, skin rashes and prickly heat - even cuts and grazes to speed healing - it's wonderfully soothing and has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic healing properties. New mums will also be interested to hear it can also be used on nappy rash, cradle cap and chapped nipples.

Personally I've been using it on my cuticles as a cuticle balm and it's softened them up so they're now nice and supple and my nails look healthier too. I've also used it to soothe dry patches on my face (caused by my over zealous application of a spot cream!) and found it really nourishing on my lips too.

Organic Calendula Ointment, £7.09 for 30g, is available from www.lifeplan.co.uk. For more info visit www.kiwiherb.co.uk

Queen Sensitive Skin Oil - fit for a Queen!

When I first blogged about Queen Cosmetics - experts in sensitive skin - back in March, my blog was buzzing with readers eager to find out more about this niche range, founded by three eminent dermatologists back in  1927. The response was quite remarkable, so here's another review for those of you who suffer with skin which is super-allergic or have a sensitive skin condition.

Queen Sensitive Skin Oil is a hard-working, multi-tasking product you'll reach for again and again as an ultra-safe bet if you're prone to skin flare ups. It's a simple blend of Paraffinum Liquidum (mineral oil), Arachis Hypogea (peanut/groundnut oil) and Prunus Dulcis (sweet almond oil) and is soothing, nourishing and protecting on the skin.  

It's lovely to smooth on as a body lotion, leaving skin satiny smooth. A quick sweep over the skin brings even the dryest areas back to life, leaving skin looking healthier and younger with a subtle sheen. It can also be used as an after-sun lotion to moisturise the skin and help prolong the life of a tan.
I found it particularly soothing after shaving my legs, after which my skin is always ridiculously sensitive, and I also liked it for removing wax residue after home waxing as it works well on post-wax skin redness.

I've also used it in the bath, mixing together a cap full of oil, a cap full of milk (which acts as emulsifier to mix the two together and stop the oil floating on the surface of the water). You could also add a couple of drops of essential oils to the mix, depending on the sensitivity of your skin, to make a super-soothing and skin nourishing aromatherapy bath.

Queen Sensitive Skin Oil would also make a safe and gentle oil for therapists to use as a body massage medium on clients with sensitive skin. 

  Queen Sensitive Skin Oil, £17.65 for 250ml, is available from www.queen-cosmetics.com

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

AHAVA Mineral Foot Cream - the best foot cream I have ever tried!

Finding a good foot cream is one of my life's missions! Having worked as a beautician, I've worked my way through many a professional foot cream (OPI is the most effective and most-loved by clients in my experience - the OPI green foot file is amazing at sloughing off dry skin!) right through to pharmacy-based brands like Flexitol (another fab brand for smoothing rough heels) but this Mineral Foot Cream from AHAVA's Dead Sea Water range tops the lot.

I've hit upon a seriously good product here for anyone with rough cracked soles, or those who simply like to look after their feet and give them the TLC they deserve.

For me, this foot cream combines the beautiful packaging and silky smooth  formulation of a spa brand with the results-driven efficacy of an advanced chemist-based treatment. After just one application my feet felt like I'd just stepped out of the salon having indulged in a spa pedicure. They felt so smooth (like wearing a pair of silk stockings!), delicately scented and had a  lovely light, cool 'walking on air' feeling.

What was really impressive was that silky soft feeling lasted, even after I'd showered, right through to the next day when I re-applied. The gorgeous scent lingers too, it's a beautiful light, almost powdery-smelling fragrance, which smells really comforting, just lovely!

I've also noticed a huge difference in my hands since using the cream, my cuticles are smoother and my nails have grown quicker.

It's also really handy for smoothing onto heels before you go out wearing strappy sandals. It re-hydrates dry heels instantly, leaving them looking so much more attractive, and with regular use gets to work on banishing those unsightly cracks for good.

Just like all the products in the AHAVA range, the cream is packed full of the natural skin-friendly elements found in the nutrient-rich Dead Sea region, including the area's mineral-filled water, mud, salt and plants. Perfect ingredients for hydrating the skin, increasing moisture and restoring skin balance. The range is paraben free, contains no harsh synthetic ingredients and is free from petroleum-based ingredients, making them suitable for sensitive skin too. 

I'm blown away by how good this product is, and I think you will be too. 

As a PS to this post, I've recently been trying out the AHAVA Mineral Hand Cream too, a luxurious, pampering treat for the hands which is just as divine. It's infused with aromatic green plum and sandalwood and smells delicious. It's as effective as the foot cream, leaving hands feeling like they're covered in silk, and the scent lingers on the hands throughout the day.  

If you'd like to experience hands and feet at their softest, smoothest and most supple best, click here www.ahava.co.uk

AHAVA Mineral Foot Cream, £13.30, for 100ml.
AHAVA Mineral Hand Cream, £13.30 for 100ml.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Living Nature's fabulous Firming Flax Serum

My ears pricked up when I heard about Living Nature's Firming Flax Serum, not only because I love any product which promises smoother skin with finer lines, but because it recently won Best Skin Serum in the Natural Health magazine Beauty Awards 2011 - the Oscar's of the natural beauty industry - quite an accolade!

I've had to seriously re-think my skincare regime lately. The years are ticking by and, at 37, those fine lines and wrinkles are definitely starting to show! I wanted to add something into my nightly routine that would be a little more powerful and potent than my average moisturiser, and a product that would get to work overnight, helping the skin to repair and replenish itself. What better time to put this 100 per cent pure, oil-free product, described as 'Nature's Wrinkle Defence,' to the test.

The Harakeke Flax, a native plant of New Zealand, is not an ingredient I was familiar with, and to be honest didn't sound that appealing until I read about all the clever things it can actually do! Hailed by Living Nature as more powerful than aloe vera, this plant feeds moisture along its leaves, and can do the same for our skin to leave us with a firmer, smoother complexion. It also acts as a mild astringent, causing the pores to contact, which prevents moisture loss and therefore can reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

I've been smoothing it on after cleansing every evening for a few weeks now as part of my new anti-ageing routine (you could use it in the mornings too), making sure I apply over expression lines around the eye area, upper lip area and also on the neck. I've also been sleeping on my silk pillow which doesn't wick products like serums away from the skin during sleep like a cotton pillow can.

It's very nourishing due to the addition of active Manuka honey, and the rosehip oil is rejuvenating on the skin, too. The scent is subtle and the formulation is light, silky smooth and a joy to apply, sinking into the skin effortlessly. You can apply a moisturiser, such as the Living Nature Nourishing Night Cream, over the top too, but I've been using it on its own.

My skin now looks as if it's had a visible moisture boost, with the dullness I put down to age (and stress) replaced with a brighter more youthful glow. For such a small and simple tweak to my nightly skincare routine, adding this potent product has made a big difference. It's well worth the investment, whatever your skin type.

Living Nature's Firming Flax Serum is available from www.livingnature.com
priced £22.45 for 13ml.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Elf - Flawless Finish Foundation and Matte Lip Colour

Eyeslipsface.co.uk ... if I had a spare tenner and wanted a new make-up look, that's where I'd be clicking! Just lately I've been trying out the lovely new elf Flawless Finish Foundation, £6.50, and the Matte Lip Colour, £3.50, two fine products at jaw-dropping prices!

This lightweight and oil free Flawless Finish Foundation, complete with SPF 15, has a semi-matte finish and can be blended according to how your skin is on any particular day. If you want a silky sheer effect, blend it in completely with your brush or sponge, or for those days when you need a little help, simpy blend in less for fuller coverage and to even out skin tone.

It comes in a lovely matte glass chunky square bottle with a pump dispenser and looks far more expensive than £6.50! It's slightly perfumed when first applied but if you're not a fan of scents, it's only a light fresh smell which quickly fades. 

I tried shade Porcelain, the fairest shade, as I tend to be the lightest on any foundation colour range. It was pretty light, even on me, so I think the next shade, Sand, would probably be spot on. For other skin tones there are also four more shades, Buff, Caramel, Almond and Coco, so there's bound to be something to suit.

It's easy to apply and blend, even when using fingers, and stays put throughout the day. I liked the semi-matte finish for reducing shine, expecially on sunny days, and the SPF 15 gets a big thumbs up from me!

Elf's Matte Lip Colour finished off the flawless base perfectly. It's a twist-up jumbo sized pencil (hurrah no need to sharpen!) which makes filling in lips a dream as it's much speedier than a traditional-sized lip pencil. It has a lovely creamy yet matte texture, enriched with vitamins A, C and E for lovely luscious and hydrated lips. Personally I've been wearing it with a gloss over the top, which I know defeats the object of the matte effect, but it works well either way! I've been testing out Natural, a suit-all shade, perfect for daytime, but three other gorgeous shades are available - Coral, Tea Rose and Praline, for just £3.50 each.

I've also got my eye on the Matte Finisher Clear Nail Polish which turns shiny nails a fashionable matte, just £1.50!

Got a spare tenner and fancy a pick-me-up treat? Visit www.eyeslipsface.co.uk to buy a few make-up goodies for yourself today!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The Active Honey Co. - healing honey in a tube!

Now here's a little tube that packs a potent punch ... The Active Honey Co. Antiseptic Honey 20+. It's a 100 per cent natural healing honey which gets to work on a range of everyday skin problems, from spots and pimples, rashes and eczema to minor burns, sunburn, cuts and grazes. Definitely one for the holiday first aid bag!

I think most of us beauty buffs have heard of Manuka honey before and its antiseptic properties, but research shows this honey (gathered from hives in the forests of southern Chile) outperforms Manuka honey in its curative powers. 

I've often wondered how honey works on healing. Apparently it has a natural drawing action on the skin to remove moisture from wounds which makes it difficult for microbes to survive and inhibits the growth of bacteria.

This honey also releases its powers over a sustained period, so skin is receiving its antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antiseptic powers long after its applied. Good to know if you're applying to a stubborn spot before bedtime as you can relax safe in the knowledge it'll keep on fighting the problem during the night!

So what did I think? To begin with, having read that it can be used to 'moisturse and nourish dry skin,' I slathered it on to my dry and sun-parched lower legs, only to find it a bit sticky ... it reminded me of the sugaring paste you can get for sugaring your legs! So I abandoned that idea and used it instead, (probably more as the manufacturers intended) on a smaller area of stubborn spots on my cheek area.

Three weeks in, I'm really impressed. It's gentle and soothing on the skin yet still gets deep down to the root of the problem to draw out and dry out the spots. The honey didn't dry my skin out at all whereas a traditional spot cream containing Benzoyl peroxide probably would. The area is calmer and clearer and I noticed it took the redness down instantly which is a huge plus. Personally, I don't think it's a product you can wear under make-up (it's a bit too sticky!) but it's brilliant as part of a nightly skin care routine and gives us natural product lovers a refreshing alternative to tea tree oil!

The Active Honey Co. Antiseptic Honey 20+ is available from Boots, Morrisons and pharmacies and independent health food stores nationwide, priced £7 for 30g. Or buy online at  www.lifeplan.co.uk

Friday, 22 July 2011

A tropical treasure - Connock London's Kukui Oil Comforting Body Wash

When I say 'tropical treasure,' I don't mean sickly-sweet coconut, pineapples and dancing hula hula girls! Quite the opposite. The understated yet expensive-smelling fragrance of Connock London's Kukui Oil Comforting Body Wash transported me to an exclusive Hawaiian spa retreat, where luxury reigns and skilled therapists work their magic under the shade of the palm trees. It's the kind of product I could imagine using post-massage in a secluded lava shower, surrounded by tropical island blossoms at an elegant island hideway.

As a child, founder of Connock London, Amanda Connock, says it was her father - a supplier of speciality ingredients to perfumers and the cosmetics industry - who first ignited her passion for the beauty industry. When she wasn't making her own perfumes from rose and cherry blossoms in the garden, she'd be blending scents in her father's office and listening to his stories of the exotic ingredients he'd unearthed in far flung corners of the world. It's this life-long passion which I believe really shines through to make this range truly special.

Kukui oil has been used by Hawaiians for centuries and traditionally newborn babies were bathed in the oil to protect them from sun, wind and harsh salt water. The body wash (a lovely moisture-rich gel in a pump-action dispenser) left my skin feeling extraordinarily silky soft, thanks to the papaya extract which really did dissolve dead skin cells. It was really soothing on my sensitive skin too, aided by the addition of the Aloe Vera, and Vitamin E.

The delicious scent lingers on the skin for hours afterwards, and I found the Body Wash made either a refreshing shower or a relaxing exotic soak at the end of a busy day. For a truly indulgent bath time, there's also an exquisite body oil in a beautiful glass decanter which turns the bath water milky soft, as well as a nourishing body lotion, creamy soaps, an exotically-scented candle and a multi-tasking Wonder Balm. 

A stunningly well thought out range which delivers on style, efficacy and quality of ingredients. Highly recommended.

Connock London Kukui Oil Comforting Body Wash, £22.50 for 300ml. Prices range from £18.50 for the Wonder Balm to £42.90 for the Soothing Bath Oil.

Visit www.connocklondon.com to purchase or to find out more.