Time for Tea

There's nothing I like more in this life than a good cup of tea. (OK, maybe a cold beer on a warm summer's day, but we're talking non-alcoholic, good behaviour type stuff.) My kitchen cupboard is stuffed to the brim with every type of Twinings tea bag that's possibly available, even leading me to request a tea organiser for Christmas. (I'm 28 not 80, but sometimes I surprise myself.) My other big love in life is a good scarf... If you've ever met me then you'll know that I rarely go scarf-less, even at the height of summer. There's something that makes me feel all snuggly with a big bit of cloth around my neck and shoulders, instantly vamping up an otherwise boring outfit. So imagine my delight when I found out two of my loves had metaphorically married - Twinings has created a scarf all of its very own!


Iconic British tea brand has teamed up with another British icon, Alice Temperley, to design a limited edition silk scarf that's available from tomorrow. Alice hand painted the beautiful design herself, representing the journey from China to London with the original Earl Grey blend back in 1831. The blue colours are truly stunning and the size (over a meter square) of the humongous scarf pretty astounding - every girl needs one of these bad boys. Only 1000 have been made so if you're after one you better nab yourself one quickly through the Twinings or Temperley website. At £115 it's not an impulse purchase, but a small price to pay to be part of something so iconically British that will inevitably be worth its weight in gold in a few years time. Personally, I'm hoping K-Middy will be sporting one on her Canadian tour... we can only hope.


You can see some lovely ladies modelling the scarf here:
What I Wore Today
Alex Loves

The face (and nails) of...

It's quite usual for a celeb to be signed up as the face of a brand, but the nails of a brand...? That's a new one on me. The lady that graces our telly box every weekend on T4, parading her swish and swanky style and effortless chic has been announced as the new face/nails of Nails Inc. Yep, Jameela Jamil has got another notch on that growing bedpost by endorsing her very own brand of beauty products.

Personally I think this is a great move by a brand that can be seen as a little bit stuffy and high street. It's no OPI, but the colour range is great and they have a fab marketing team behind them coming up with all these collaborations and promotions. Jameela is young, cool, approachable and relevant - plus she's known to play with makeup and always has her nails painted. Thumbs up from me.

What do you think of the latest 'face'?

In a Rush

Last week I went to have my hair done at RUSH salon on Oxford Street. I've been to a few of their salons around London in the past and am always impressed by the level of service you get and how well you're looked after. This visit was no exception... especially as I arrived nearly an hour early and was swiftly ushered into a chair to start the pampering process. My hair needed a bit of a tidy up, nothing drastic, and a re-work of the colour that had started to grow out.

I do like hairdressers to give me recommendations, as well as asking me what I think I'd like, so we jointly decided to go for a really deep red colour that would really suit my fair complexion - especially as red seems to be the hot colour of the moment! On top of the colour my stylist also recommended a tinted wash to really make it 'pop' and shine, so I'd have a really striking and healthy looking barnet. Job done. So as I sat in the hairdressing chair having my colour applied delicately, I was looked after with a drinks menu, nibbles and all the weeks magazines... tip top service that proves it's the little things that make a difference.



A wash, condition and massage later and I was ready to fall asleep. The 'wash bar' area is kept round the back, away from the hustle and bustle of the salon, and is perfectly relaxing with its dark colour scheme and subtle music. Having your hair washed and your scalp massaged is supposed to chill you out, so there's nothing worse than feeling like you're in the middle of the salon and everyone's watching you. It almost feels like you're at a day spa with the treatment you get and the zen that's created.

So then it was off to have the snip and get my style looking top notch... It's always beneficial when your stylist asks you questions about what you like, how you normally style your hair and what products/tools you use - how else will they get your head looking like you and not some strange hairdresser monster that you don't recognise and hour later? I hate coming out of the salon not feeling 'like me', so this kind of approach is invaluable. The result was just a more polished and refined version of what happens (on a good day) in the morning, rather than something that's completely unachievable at home.




I do love a RUSH salon because everyone there is always so welcoming, approachable and genuinely seems to care about what you want and making you happy. The little details make a big difference - the free refreshments, magazines that aren't a year out of date and a relaxing head massage - especially as they keep a record of your colour on their system so you always know what color combination you had last time you visited. These records go on a central database, so whatever RUSH salon you visit, they'll know exactly what kind of treatment you'll need. No faffing, no drama, just a lovely salon that leaves you just as you'd hope - feeling fabulous.

RUSH salons are nationwide. For your nearest salon and information on prices and services, visit their website.

Super Shine

I came across Bliss products by accident. I was staying in an uber swanky hotel and these were the complementary products left in the bathroom for me to try. Being the quick thinking lass that I am, I decided to sweep them into my bag to test another time as they were perfect sizes for a long weekend away. So test them I did. The Supershine Shampoo and Conditioning Rinse smell amazing - really citrus and fresh - and have got many a complement from friends going into the bathroom after me, asking what products I've been using to create such a fabulous scent! The zingyness of them really help to wake you up and uplift your senses in the shower, as well as making your hair smell delicately delicious for the rest of the day.


The shampoo contains wheat proteins and anti-static actives to leave your locks glossier. It foams really well, particularly as you only need a little to get a great lather, and leaves your hair feeling (literally) squeaky clean. The conditioner quickly tames tangles and adds shine, making hair feel strong and bouncy all in one. With these two products my hair felt weightless, refreshed, kept its style, seemed extra shiny and easy to style. These aren't the most technical of products, but their good ingredients and basic claims mean they could be a staple for all hair types. I've really enjoyed using them and would definitely buy the full sized bottles for myself.

The shampoo and conditioner are available together (250ml sizes) for £23.50, as well as in a trial pack with four other items (100ml sizes) for £20.00. Available online and through department stores.

The Only Way Is Blogging

TOWIB now has its very own home: www.towib.blogspot.com

I've set up a TOWIB blog so that all the information about the upcoming event is held in one place, giving you details on the venue, what to expect, the itinerary from the day and much more. It will also be a place to post photos and thoughts after the event in preparation for the next one!

Please take the time to pop over and follow, as well as saying hi on twitter: @TOWIB1

Palmer's Cocoa Butter: NEW skincare

Palmer's Cocoa butter has become renowned for its scent and buttery goodness. Not only just the rich moisturiser, the range has been expanding into lip care, body scrubs and now skincare. I popped down to check out the new products in the week, in particular to see if they still had the famous scent... FYI, they do! The new range consists of a face scrub, calming facial lotion, cleansing gel, eye cream and night repair cream, all keeping consistent with the simple and easily identifiable Palmer's design. Although the iconic scent is still there, it's much lighter than the body products. It would be a bit strange having a face full of cocoa, so I'm glad they've decided to tone it down and make it more of a hint than an overwhelming scent.


The 'hero product' facial lotion is light, absorbs quickly and contains MLE technology, which basically mimics the skin's own structure to repair and moisturise. This MLE technology is pretty fantastic, (I had experience of developing a product with this in a few years ago so I know it works) as it not only helps to repair the skin, but prevents further drying or damage when used over time. The lotion also helps to reduce redness and irritation, as well as calming stressed skin thanks to its chamomile, aloe vera and milk proteins. All this in a product that costs £5.95 - amazing. I love it because it absorbs in seconds, leaving skin feeling smooth and silky with no residue. The eye cream is formulated with retinol and peptides to target fine lines and wrinkles, but seeing as I don't have any of these yet I can't tell you how effective it is! The formula is gentle and non-irritating though, absorbing really fast into the skin to cool and soothe. A perfect accompaniment to the facial lotion.


The daily cleansing gel is possibly my least favourite as it smells a bit chemical. You can tell they've tried to add in some of the cocoa scent, but with this kind of product it doesn't really work. The formula itself is perfectly pleasant, foaming and cleaning as expected, but it just doesn't 'wow' me like the other products. However, the facial scrub more than makes up for it - this is what Palmer's is all about! Rich, luxurious and full of cocoa beans, it's what I expected and more from a Palmer's facial scrub. If you've used the body scrub then you'll know exactly what to expect, as it's basically just a lighter formula. I love how the beads are strong enough to really work around your face, giving you a good scrub workout. It contains all kinds of good things too, including aloe vera, milk proteins, evening primrose and vitamin E, to make sure you're really treating your skin to a caring scrub session.


I haven't tried the night cream as yet, so that will come in a separate review, but it contains retinol and shea butter too. It appears to be formulated with anti-ageing properties in mind, but with a night cream you can't really go wrong if it's going to impart intensive moisture into your skin. I think this new range of Palmer's skincare is pretty ace to be honest - reasonably priced, great ingredients, subtle smell and absorbs quickly to leave soft, smooth skin. I was a bit dubious how they could transfer amazing body products into delicate facial care, but they've done it with ease. None of the products cost more than £7.00 either, meaning you won't break the bank if you were to haul every single one in! I can't wait to see what they've got coming up next... Maybe a Palmer's chocolate bar? (I dream.)


Cleansing Gel RRP £3.95, Facial Lotion and Facial Scrub RRP £5.95, Night Renewal Cream and Eye Cream RRP £6.95. The range is exclusively available from Superdrug, with the night and eye cream being launched in the next few months.

A week in makeup

I'm forever going away for long weekends and attempting to pack up my life into a very small case. I've managed to downgrade my hair straighteners and hairdryer into mini versions, even collecting travel sized bathroom products and managing to only pack the essential three pairs of shoes I need. The one thing that never seems to reduce in size is my makeup bag. When I go away I want different makeup for the day, for a casual night in the pub, for a heavy night on the town... cue a makeup bag the size of a small child. This is where the amazing Pixi set 'Week of Wakeup Makeup' set comes in very handy.


The fabulous set contains a different 'look' for every day of the week, which includes three eyeshadows, a blush/bronzer and a lipgloss. (The blushers even have the name of the week stamped into them for a bit of guidance... like those 'day of the week' undies your Mum buys you.) All the shades are really neutral and wearable, (neutral browns, greys and beiges) so there are no scary shades that you wouldn't be seen dead in - of course you can always mix and match the days and colours to create an individual look as you wish. It's not the law you know.



What I love about this set though is how the little drawers underneath pull out to reveal even more goodies. So much makeup in such a small box, perfect for taking away with you or even for dragging to festivals... although the box is card so it may get a bit soggy if the British weather doesn't hold up. I'm new to Pixi makeup, but I'm really impressed with the pigment of the eyeshadows and the smoothness of the blushers; the lipglosses are average and nothing to warble on about though, but they're a nice addition to complete the set. Not only would this make an ace gift for a loved one, but a pretty fabulous pay day splurge for yourself too.



The 'Week of Wakeup Makeup' is currently exclusively available from ASOS priced £25.00

Doing the Cha Cha

If someone asked all you beauty addicts out there to name their top ten iconic 'never go out of style' products, then I guarantee Benefit's classic Benetint would be there. The brand added the Posietint version a few years back, offering something a bit subtler and girlie for the ladies that like a bit of a pink flush. Now in 2011 they expand their range of lip and cheek stains even further with Cha Cha Tint - a mango-tinted stain to give you flushed cheeks with a bit of an attitude. Sometimes Benetint can be too dark, Posietint to pink and the classic blush boxes not enough... this is wear the beautiful Cha Cha comes in as it offers a subtle punch of colour that's perfect for this time of year.


The formula, as always, is smudge and waterproof so that once it's on, it's on. When applying make sure you add a few dots to the apple of your cheek, blending upwards into your hairline to create a natural glow. Be careful to blend quickly though, as this stain does literally stain and you don't want to look like an army man with stripes on your cheeks. I've compared it to Posietint (which I love and wear regularly) and you can tell the difference in hue. Although initially quite intimidating, when applied to the lips and cheeks you get a gorgeous colour that is universally beautiful on all skin tones.

L: Posietint R: Cha Cha Tint (blended & non-blended)

To launch this fabulous new addition to the Benefit range, the lovely Maggie and Annie (daughters and nieces of the founders) came over to the UK to see us and tell us all about the new product. It's great to see that the business is still very much in the family and that they care so much about the products. Not only that, we were treated to Cha Cha dancers who took over Spitalfields market for the evening, dancing away and even getting some of the more unfortunate bloggers up for a boogie! Benefit are never ones to do anything by halves...

Maggie - daughter/niece of the founders & Global Creative Authority 
Annie - daughter/niece of the founders & Global Creative Authority

Cha Cha Tint is available now online and in Benefit boutiques priced at £24.50

Nivea - Get Closer

How important are your mates to you? Well according to research commissioned by Nivea, they're vital for our health! (This is what the guy in charge, Professor Beattie, said anyway!) Yes, really  - there’s scientific research to prove it. In fact, studies show not staying connected poses similar risks to your health as high blood pressure, obesity and even smoking – your friends really do have that much impact. Not only does a close group of friends act as a shoulder to cry on, a drinking network and provide entertainment on those nights where you just want to watch The X Factor and eat popcorn, it also can offer the following benefits:

  • A healthier heart: close social contact helps lower blood pressure and overall risk of heart disease.
  • Lower risk of cancer: one study found women without a strong social and emotional support network were nine times more likely to be diagnosed with a malignant breast tumour during routine screening.
  • Better mental health: loneliness and social isolation are major risk factors for conditions ranging from depression and anxiety to Alzheimer’s disease. 


There are probably several interlinking reasons for all this, say scientists, but whatever the reasons, it’s clear being close to others is as important for our health as getting our five-a-day and hitting the gym. So NIVEA are encouraging us all to value our relationships and prioritise ‘us time’ with our nearest and dearest with their 'Million Moments of Closeness' campaign. To get involved you just have to upload photos of you with your mates, mum, siblings, partner or even dog, to the Nivea facebook page: facebook.com/niveauk



You can also look out for the roadshows happening over the summer where you can jump into a photo booth and have your picture instantly uploaded. But the best part is whether you share your photos on Facebook or at the roadshow, you’re in with the chance to win - every day! Professor Beattie will choose a picture of the day, and the winner will receive one of 100 prizes worth £100. That's a pretty good reason to get snapping and play around on facebook a bit more!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Nivea.

Visible Effects

I've become a massive moisturiser fiend, obsessively applying it morning and night to my limbs like a ritual. It's probably the product I get through most of, slapping it on and pouring big blobs onto my skin, practically bathing in it come bed time. One of the moisturisers I'm loving at the moment is the new Visible Effects from Dove. I've always like their tinted moisturisers, but this new range takes it a step further by creating something special - the multi-layer complex imparts moisture deep down in the skin for 'improvements you can really see'. Although this type of technology has been popping up in a few brands, I really like the Dove version as it's really light, non-greasy and is easy to rub into the skin.


It's the perfect kind of moisturiser for using overnight too as it gets deep down into the layers you can't see, leaving you with super soft skin in the morning. A lot of moisturisers leave residue or a greasy feeling the next day, but the Visible Effects is absorbed really quickly meaning you not only wake up with soft (clean) limbs, but also go to bed not feeling like you're going to stick to the sheets. I've noticed a big difference to my arms since using this - they're really soft, possibly the softest they've ever been, and my fake tan has been going on so much better. The formula is so light and silky that it's a pleasure to apply, especially with the handy squeeze bottle which gets it just where you want it.

At £3.66 in Boots for 250ml this is a snip too!

Sun-believeable?

With a name like Sunbelieveable you'd have high hopes for a pretty ace tan. The new fake tan from nail guru Leighton Denny has already won The Times editor's choice award and had pretty good comments from the beauty experts in the know, but I wanted to try it for myself. The Sunbelieveable 'Tan Me' mousse was the first on my list, particularly as it claims to be odourless, streak free and quick drying. The product itself comes in an easy to use pump bottle that squirts out the foam easily and without mess, meaning its easy to get it onto the mitt and applied where you want.


The mitt itself is one of the strangest I've ever seen - made of a black velveteen type material on the outside and a black plastic on the inside... I hated it. Not only does the black colour mean you have no idea how much tan you've still got on the mitt, but the material collects dust and grime like a bugger which only ends up mixed in with your tan. The material malts too, meaning you have a slight black hairy coating on your skin as you work in the tan, which isn't in the slightest bit appealing. The black plastic coating on the inside also makes it a pain in the bum to change hands quickly (like I always do when applying tan) as you get stuck in it like Batgirl in her spandex. It's the biggest pain and I have no idea why they've provided such a hideous mitt to go with the product - I totally recommend you get your own from elsewhere!


The tan itself is a whole other issue because it comes out in a shade I like to call 'baby poo green'. In my book fake tans are supposed to be brown, but this for some reason comes with a pretty ugly green tinge that makes you look a bit ill. It was highly amusing to my friends on Saturday when I applied a layer and was told I looked seasick. Not a good look. Sunbelieveable say that it has been "created with an in-built golden glow for an immediate sun-kissed appearance" - unless you get that glow while travelling on a ferry and forgetting your seasickness tablets, you're not gonna want to go out in public with this on.

Not the best picture (it's hard to get a good colour representation)  

So how did it look when it was washed off? Hmmm, ok. Well it didn't look green when it washed off, which was a bonus, but it also didn't leave me with the golden glow I was hoping. It was so subtle I wondered if I'd actually dreamt applying it, leaving me with the slightest tint of colour that I could probably get from a bronzer or gradual tan lotion. Slightly disappointing. It didn't streak or look patchy (which was a huge plus after thinking I was going to end up with flecks of white where the malted mitt had been!) but it just didn't fit with my expectations. Coming from a guru like Leighton Denny I just expected more, especially as it's not cheap at £30 for only 200ml. I think there are loads of other tans out there that are better value and provide a more luxurious, rich tan, so I'll be giving this a miss from now on. *sad face*

The power of light

Hair removal can be a hairy issue. If you're unfortunate enough to have a large gorilla growing on your limbs then I'm sure you spend many hours perusing the shelves of chemists trying to find something to help. Shaving may not be enough, epilating may be too painful and waxing may be too messy... what other options are there?! Well Boots have launched the Smooth Skin Plus system, an intense light therapy which can offer permanent hair reduction and removal. This kind of therapy has traditionally only been available in salons or spas, so bringing it home for you to do yourself is something of a revolution.

Image courtesy of Beauty Scribbler

The system works by directing an extremely short, intense pulse of filtered light into the skin. The light is absorbed by the coloured pigments in and surrounding the hair and disables the hair follicle, which prevents hair re-growth. It claims to reduce or remove hair in 6-12 weeks, using the system weekly for maximum impact. You start by using the skin tone checker to check which setting you're best to use - I've got pretty pale skin so I'm best suited to the palest setting - and then adjust the handheld device accordingly. You have to shave the area you want to treat first so that the light is absorbed into the hair follicle directly and not the actual hair. (Also, don't epilate like I did the first time as there's no hair there at all! D'oh.)


The system comes with a tube of Activator Gel which you spread sparingly across your skin to act as a barrier and guide for the light. It's a bit like applying hair removal cream as it's a bit messy and feels a bit stupid, but the gel itself is practically odour free and not at all greasy. You do have to do a pretty good job of cleaning up after though! All you do is place the light panel against the area of skin you want to treat and press the button, emitting a very quick flash of light into the hair follicle. It's not completely pain free - it feels like a slight electric shock - but it's not what I'd call painful. It is quite hard to get the light in the right area or to have the patience to do a large area of skin, so I gave up on my legs and concentrated on smaller areas like armpits! If you've got a big issue with hairy pins and you have the patience to use this on that area, then good on you... but for me it's a bit tiresome and difficult to keep track of where I've already blasted.


It's easy to use as the handheld device is light and easy to hold, plus the pain is minimal. It seems like a great idea to bring a more intense and long-term solution to hair removal out of the salon and into the home. At £399 it's by no means a cheap product to buy on a whim, but if you have issues that you're desperate to address (or have won the lottery) then this may be what you're after. It comes packaged in a lovely vanity case that could be used for something else too, plus all your accessories and instructions that you need to get out of it. I'm going to be using this over the next few months to see if it actually gets rid of unsightly hair and is worth the pretty huge investment. I just hope it doesn't slip and I end up with half an eyebrow or something.


Available from Boots for £399 (although frequently on offer with £50/£100 off) For more information, full description, info booklet and more visit the Boots website.

NB - This isn't suitable for very dark skintones. Check your skin against the guide on the box to check if it's suitable for you to use.
 

The Only Way Is Blogging

Many of you may already know about this, but for those of you who have missed the boat on this one, there's a new event in town by the name of The Only Way Is Blogging (or TOWIB for short.) A while back I decided that I wanted to organise an event of my own which wasn't 'invite only' or open to a select few. I've noticed blogging becoming more segregated over the last six months ago, so I wanted to create something to bring us all back together to celebrate the hard work we put in and the amazing stuff that gets produced. TOWIB is an event open to absolutely anybody, whether you're a blogging pro, newbie or have just considered setting up your own blog. By bringing everyone back together I hope to re-instate that community feeling that some of us have lost over the past few months... I for one miss catching up with people on a weekly basis!

Date: Saturday 16th July
Time: 12.00 - 5.00
Venue: Pitcher and Piano, Holborn

TOWIB will be held in central London on a Saturday afternoon to make it easy for everyone (hopefully) to get to. At present the plan is to have a few activities happening alongside general chit chat and consumption of food and wine. I'm currently organising a blogger panel Q&A with some of the most well regarded and successful bloggers so everyone can ask that burning question, as well as getting to meet the faces behind the URLs. I'm also planning on having a hair, makeup and body brand present to offer advice, makeovers, talks on the product and offer samples to take home with you. Over the next week hopefully everything will be confirmed, but in the meantime check out the facebook event for all the details! Hope to see you there.

Try before you buy...

Buying a new perfume is always a bit of a challenge. Standing at the perfume counter and sniffing fifty different scents can become a chore, as well as getting extremely confusing. How many of you have purchased a bottle of something exotic that you thought you loved, got it home and actually you didn't like it at all? Escentual.com have taken the worry out of choosing a new fragrance by having their very own sample sets available. They change all the time, but at the moment there's a set of 24 Etat Libre d'Orange samples for £24.95 and a 10 sample set of Cartier fragrances for only a tenner! This gives you the flexibility to try before you buy, as well as being able to change your scent on a daily basis if you're so inclined.


Even more exciting though, is that they also have samples of hair, skin and body products too! Not only can you test out fabulous smells, but also that new hair product you wonder works and that fake tan everyones been raving about. For £4.00 you can get a mini mitt and a bottle of He-Shi or for £3.00 a ten day trial pack of Bare Minerals. Not only that though - whatever you buy from the sample selection, you'll also get a voucher to the same value so you can save the amount off the full size product. That means you're effectively getting the samples for free! What's not to love?

For all the latest offers and to keep a track of what's available check the website here.

Five things I learnt at Liz Earle

I popped over to the Isle of Wight this week, so while I was there I thought it only good and proper to swing by the Queen of the Isle, Liz Earle, and say hello. I was treated to a sneaky peek behind the scenes, meeting all the very important people that bring fab products to your door, so I wanted to share with you five things I managed to learn while I was there...


1. The customer care team consists of thirty people manning the phone lines from 8.30am until 10.00pm, so you can call them up for a chat at your convenience. (They also work through until 1am manning the phone lines for the USA, so that's dedication!) Not only can you place your order with them over the phone, you can also ask them questions about the products, pick their brains for recommendations or get technical advice. These people know what they're talking about and give the brand a personal touch!

2. There's a Liz Earle ebay account where you can buy products at discount prices! Rather than trying to buy products from a dodgy seller in Brighton (no offense Brighton) who's had the tube of cream for a year by a windowsill, get it direct from the source. Liz Earle sell quality 'seconds' on ebay through their sellers account for a few quid cheaper, simply because the logo may be a bit wonky or the cap a little bit wobbly. The product inside is still the same (i.e. perfect) so you can try a new product or stock up on the classics while saving a few bob. Find the ebay account here.

3. When you get your beautifully packaged and wrapped products delivered to your door it puts a smile on your face, doesn't it? That's because there's a massive operation of wrappers in Liz Earle HQ whose job it is to wrap each product individually, making it look perfect. Every single product is wrapped in a different way and it takes up to six months to be fully trained. I was in awe of the speed in which they were wrapping - I even had a go at wrapping a bottle of Cleanse & Polish myself and it's not easy!

4. There's a reason that the products from Liz Earle are so effective and beautiful to use... it takes years to develop them! The hair care range was six years in the making, purely because the team behind it wasn't willing to compromise on the quality, performance or ingredients used. They may only bring out a few products a year (if that) but those products will be perfect in every way by the time they get to you. All of the design and development is done in-house so the people closest to the brand are putting in the leg work. I heard a sneaky whisper that there are some ace products in the pipeline, plus I got to see the Christmas sets in prototype! (FYI they include a design of little fir trees and crowns...)

5. A lot of companies say they're focused on the environment and their impact on the wider world, but Liz Earle really are. Not only is their HQ an eco-building that generates energy itself, but they're also building an extension that will have one whole side covered in greenery... That's gonna look pretty awesome! Everything is thought of and taken into consideration - even the flakes of packing foam you get in your order are so pure and natural you can eat them. They've remained close to their roots even after all these years and even still have their beach house that was their very first base. It's rare you find a company so lovely as this today.

The Liz Earle beach patio... even though it's a bit soggy here!

The Cleanse & Polish packing line.

My wrapped C&P... Not perfect, but not bad.

So that's what I learnt on my tour of Liz Earle HQ. Everyone there is so lovely it's really no surprise that the products are doing so phenomenally well and a Cleanse and Polish is sold every six seconds. It's fab to know there's a person at the end of a phone (or on the receiving end of an email) so you know your order is being looked after. My little trip just made me love Liz that little bit more.

The Wrinkle Challenge

Those of you who have wrinkles, (sorry, I'm not one of you.. yet!) do you believe the claims companies make about helping you wipe the years off with only a moisturiser for a weapon? According to Garnier, 71% of people don't believe the claims companies make, which isn't surprising really in a world that's focused on making outrageous propositions and including ingredients we can't pronounce. Garnier are putting the power back into your hands by encouraging the general public to test out their Ultra Lift cream without spending a penny. They're giving away free 14 day sample kits of the Ultra Lift day cream, which also includes a 'wrinkle reader' so wrinkles can be measured on day 1 and 14 for comparison! There's absolutely nothing to lose. You can request your free sample on their website, leaving your feedback and comments after the 14 day trial. I think this is such a good idea, having the confidence to get Lady Bloggs to try the product for themselves before they commit to buying it. Bravo, Garnier, Bravo.


For full details and to request your sample visit their website:  www.ultraliftchallenge.co.uk

A touch of light

YSL's cult product Touche Eclat has been a staple of makeup bags across the land for years. However, the limit of one shade being available in the UK has caused no end of problems for those of us with a slightly paler or darker skin tone than the average. For a while now people have been telling me about these secret shades they've found at airports and across the pond in the USA, but until now it's always been a mysterious legend to me. I don't believe things until I see it with my own eyes...


I'm happy to let you know that YSL have now launched a whole six shades of Touche Eclat exclusively with Selfridges, so we can all get our perfect match and a little touch of light. In addition to the current shade, they also have 1.5, 2, 3, 5 and 6 which gives the perfect spectrum of hues suitable for all. (I have no idea what happened to 4 - I'm guessing Beyonce stole it for her album name.) It's fantastic to see a brand like this embracing the need of cosmetics for all, especially as the Touche Eclat is such an iconic product. I could totally wear all of the shades except 5 and 6, depending on the time of year and how dark my bags are! As always, the formula is light and creamy and amazing at lightening dark patches. Get some now!


Cha-Cha Tint

If you're a Benefit fan then you must love their famous lip and cheek stains. Well they're about to launch another one, entitled Cha-Cha-Tint, that's full of Mango Madness. The launch is coming up next week, but for the time being here's a sneak preview from the guys and gals at Benefit of what you've got to look forward to. I bloody love their videos!

Get Flighty

A smaller collection than usual, MAC's latest offering for summer is 'Flighty' which is all about creating bold colour on eyes. The promotional shot is pretty impressive and I have to say I love it a lot. It totally reminds me of Amazonian tropics and peacocks... I'm not too sure if that's what was intended though! The main product in the collection is Big Bounce Shadow, a creamy fluid formula that's intended to create a big result. "Elevate your state of mind with a high-altitude collection of sensually spongy watercolour whipped mousse cream shadows that fly higher than gravity's rainbow. A new formula innovation in luminescent washes that build from sheer to medium easily."


The formula is very liquid and fluid, meaning you have to use it sparingly and carefully to not end up with eyeshadow all over your face. It applies like a cool cream and blends well, as well as building up a stronger colour with layers. It does take a while to dry so it's best to apply when you have time to hang around and create a strong result. What I do really like are the subtle shimmers and sparkles that catch the light and create a 3D effect. I've been using shade 'Luxury Torch' which is described as a 'violet with gold pearl', which is a colour I wouldn't normally use but it really works with a strong black liner for a smokey, sexy look.




The only thing that's annoying is the fact that it's in a giant pot, meaning you have to be uber careful and stingy with the amount you pick up either on your finger or brush. A little goes a long, long way! These shadows are available in 16 different colours from teals and greens, to purple and blues so you can create a rainbow of eye looks at your pleasure. Priced at £13.50 I don't think it's overpriced either as you do get a huge pot to keep you going for a while. Get down to your nearest MAC counter pronto though as they're only available for a limited time. (Probably before they're re-packaged in a year and launched as something else!)

Seeds of something beautiful

Hidden away in the Plaza of Covent Garden is a little French perfumery that's full of beautiful things to discover. This isn't just another perfume shop, this is a world that makes you feel like Alice after she's fallen through to Wonderland. It's all dark and sexy displays, lines of delicious scents to take in, bookcases of candles and piles of perfumery bibles if you want to do your research. L'Artisan Parfumeur is a gorgeous find that I can't believe I haven't noticed until now. The traditional Parisian boutique was established in 1976 and built its fragrance house on the basis of using the purest ingredients and creating the most unique and striking scents. As I wondered around the store I saw (and smelt) so many fabulous things that I'm certain there's something for every nose and palette.




Their latest collection, Les Jardins Secrets, takes its inspiration from nature and the natural world: "L’Artisan Parfumeur is celebrated for its unique and stylish interpretations of the natural world. This selection of fragrances is inspired by the abundant richness of materials in gardens, fields, meadows and flowers in all their beauty. Each of these perfumes highlights the skill and talent of the perfumers and the extraordinary variety of materials used to create such beautiful windows into the natural world." There are seven scents in the collection, including Fleur d'Oranger (A scent for lazy summer days; refreshing and green,) Mimosa por Moi (A delicately rendered floral portrait of the mimosa tree,) and Mure et Musc (Juicy blackberries and musk; a L'Artisan Parfumeur icon.) I would literally wear any one of these scents as they're all fresh, fruity and perfect for summer.




To celebrate the new collection, L'Artisan Parfumeur are launching a very special promotion. With every visit to their boutiques (or purchase online) you'll be given a special packet of seeds which you're encouraged to plant. By documenting your seeds progress online on their facebook page or through twitter using the hashtag #jardinsecrets, you'll be able to take part in a competition to win the whole collection. The very best 'garden' chosen by the judges will be given all seven scents so the winner can smell beautiful all year round. How lovely is that? As soon as I find a plant pot and some soil (I'm not a gardener and I live in a flat!) I'll be showing you the progress of my seeds and talking about the scents in more detail. But for now, make sure you explore their beautiful website: www.artisanparfumeur.com

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