October’s definitely one of those in-between months. Not quite chilly, not really that warm…I find myself reaching for skincare that nourishes and balances.

Superdrug creams
Superdrug Optimum PhytoDeluxe Day Cream and Night Cream (£14.99 each, currently Buy One, Get One Free)
It’s been hard to ignore this latest skincare launch, as it’s been all over the beauty press. Getting your new product noticed in a crowded marketplace can be a challenge. If your product is going to stand out, it needs a hook. Luckily for Superdrug, their hook is pretty darn persuasive. These are no ordinary face creams – they contain a super-luxurious ingredient: Black Diamond Truffle.
Putting truffle extract on your face may sound utterly bonkers, but Superdrug is definitely onto something. Black Diamond Truffle is the same prized ingredient used in the Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv range.
Along with its unique flavour and high price tag, it has been discovered that the black truffle renews the skin’s ability to fight the ageing process, giving the skin cells the energy they need to repair themselves, hence they look younger for longer.
Superdrug combine their Black Diamond Truffle Extract with PhytoDeluxe – a specially created formula containing a potent terapeptide. Especially good for mature skin, this beautifully nourishing formula is surprisingly lightweight. My skin has definitely felt much smoother since I’ve started using it. I usually rely on peels and masks to refine my skin’s texture, so was very surprised to see such a marked difference with a moisturiser that costs less than £15. It has the feel and finish of a much more expensive product. Superdrug have a great track record of creating their on-brand products, and the PhytoDeluxe range offers real value for money in terms of the results it delivers. As they’re currently on a Buy One, Get One Free – get both. It’d be rude not to.

Cowshed shampoos
Cowshed shampoo and conditioner (Volumising / Strengthening / Balancing / Smoothing) – £16 per shampoo, £18 per conditioner
Thanks to a bumper yield at TK Maxx, I managed to get my paws on some Cowshed hair products. I’m already a fan of their skincare, so was intrigued to give their haircare a try.
I bought the balancing, volumising and strengthening shampoos as my hair tends to be quite contrary and has different needs on different days. I started off with the strengthening shampoo and was totally blown away by the formulation: a rich, creamy lather that rinsed cleanly away. I have quite thick hair, which I realise may be the dream for some, but I have found that some shampoos end up getting clogged in my hair: and half-washed hair and an itchy scalp is no-one’s dream.
The Cowshed products are free from petrochemicals, sulphates and parabens. I have found ‘natural’ beauty products somewhat hit and miss with regards to performance, for every Tata Harper there’s at least a dozen brands that just don’t measure up. However, Cowshed are a terrific example of what happens when you get the basics right. The work done on the formulations is self-evident: I’ve used both body care and skincare products from this range, and everything has worked exactly as it’s supposed to.
The Cowshed shampoos really suit my hair, rinsing quickly through but not leaving my hair feeling stripped. The volumising shampoo is a real thing of beauty; gently adding volume just where it’s needed. My hair feels nourished and has its ‘bounce’ back which is glorious after months of frustration with other products.
My only gripe, and it’s a small one, is that Cowshed don’t offer a shampoo for colour-treated hair, which would frankly cover all my bases. But if you want a shampoo that gives you great hair every time, Cowshed really is worth checking out.

Elemis mask

Elemis Herbal Lavender Repair Mask – £30 (plus another much-loved faithful, the Liz Earle Intensive Nourishing Treatment Mask, £15)
I do love a new product, but equally, you really can’t beat an old favourite. Elemis is one of the first ‘serious’ skincare ranges I used. Their philosophy of using plant extracts to create balance in the skin worked really well for my skin in my twenties, and I still use it now just a few years later (cough).
The smell of the Herbal Repair mask is so evocative; Marcel Proust could have written a book about it. Containing Rosemary, Thyme and Lavender essential oils, it’s excellent at working on congested skin. Using a clay base, the mask deep cleans and rebalances, taking care of any redness and irritation as well as soothing blemishes. It’s a great all-rounder for when your skin is feeling a bit out of sorts.
While Elemis have grown to become a company at the sharp end of skincare innovation, I still find their ‘basics’ incredibly effective. Every aspect of the mask has been thought about: the lavender is gorgeously calming as it gets to work; it’s all part of Elemis’ holistic approach to skincare. This face mask is the beauty equivalent of a cosy cashmere blanket: reassuring, comforting and perfect for this time of year.

Pixi oil
Pixi Rose Oil Blend – £26
Another recent launch – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am a total sucker for face oils. I’m also a sucker for any product with a rose scent. Needless to say, my purchase of this new product was a foregone conclusion.
Containing a blend of sweet almond, rosehip, jojoba and rose geranium oils, the scent of this oil is absolutely amazing. It needs to be made into a perfume, it’s that good. But as with all things Pixi, there’s more to this product than just a great smell. The oil sits somewhere between light and mid-weight – even if you’re quite heavy handed with it, the oil sinks in well to the skin, nourishing without leaving a residue. It’s a perfect choice if you’re new to face oils; the ingredients are all tried-and-tested hydrators.
If there’s any negative with this product, it’s the fact that I now feel compelled to seek out other items in the Pixi range….Overnight Serum…I’m coming for you!
Skyn Iceland Icelandic Relief Eye Cream with Glacial Flower Extract – £30
They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but I got this eye cream free of charge as part of a store promotion, when I purchased the Skyn Arctic Face Oil (see? Obsessed).
I didn’t have particularly high hopes for this product as a result, but it just goes to show what I know. Turns out Icelandic Relief is a gorgeous little number that my eyes are immensely grateful for.
The genius part of this product is that it contains Saponaria Pumila, a plant extract that tackles dark circles, puffiness and signs of ageing. Saponaria is a flowering plant that survived the Ice Age (really) by adapting to extreme climates. It helps to stimulate cell renewal, improving the skin’s appearance from the inside out.
I’m surprised in researching this product that Skyn don’t make more of the eye cream’s hydrating properties – it plumps out fine lines beautifully and comforts dry, tired eyes. I dab on a little in the evening, and it instantly soothes and cools. In the morning, it gets to work on dark circles, making me look well rested (even if I don’t feel it).
This eye cream has become an invaluable part of my skincare routine – and when the time comes, I will definitely be repurchasing.


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Eve Lom Intense Hydration Serum – £75 (plus Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum; £22.50 and Hylamide Booster Sensitive Fix Serum; £18)
This is a beauty range normally beyond my budget, but a canny bargain courtesy of TK Maxx made this Eve Lom wonder part of my skincare collection.
I do have a bit of a thing for hydrating serums, as they do treat my dehydrated skin particularly well. While the Vichy Aqualia Thermal Dynamic Hydration Serum is fabulous value at £22.50, I was intrigued to try a product higher up the price ladder to see how it compared.
Using Hyaluronic Acid as its main ingredient, the Intense Hydration Serum claims to increase your skin’s moisture levels by ‘up to 20% in just two hours’. I was somewhat curious to see if a £75 serum could really deliver results worthy of its price tag.
There can often be the slightest margin between a good product and a great one, but Eve Lom has created a serum that performs head and shoulders above its competitors. The hydrating effect is instant, plumping out the skin with a surge of moisture. But what makes this product special is that it really does make a long-term difference to your skin’s hydration levels – I use this a couple of times a week, and it really has made a difference to the look and feel of my skin. Many hydration products work as a quick fix – and do a great job – but the price you pay for this serum is reflected in the quality of product.
Recommended for normal / dry skins, I’d say this would be a must-have for anyone whose major skin concern is dehydration. It really does tackle the problem head-on, and delivers the level of results you’d expect from a prestige brand. Any future purchases for me will have to be reserved for a lottery win, but if you’ve got the budget – the serum is well worth it.
That’s it for another month…next time I anticipate pre-Xmas madness. Will I manage to get my mitts on the M&S Beauty Advent Calendar?? The anticipation…



I do love this time of year; there’s enough of a nip in the air to warrant me digging out my scarves, all the Oscar-bait films start getting released…and best of all, my skin begins to settle down after the summer.

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(l-r: Superfacialist by Una Brennan Probiotic Overnight Skin Recovery Cream, £15.99; Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Treatment; Organic Surge Extra Care Radiance Recovery Night Cream with Safflower Oil, £22.50)

Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Treatment (£42)
I hate to boast, but I pretty much have the perfect skin for this product. Stubborn, enlarged pores, patches of roughly-textured skin….as far as Ole Henriksen’s Invigorating Night Treatment is concerned – my face is the tops.
The science behind this product is complicated, but the overall mission is simple: to rehydrate and refine skin that’s out of balance. The star ingredient is a complex of Alpha Hydroxy Acids, which aim to refine and brighten your skin. This treatment balances skin tone, diminishes fine lines and works to regulate overactive sebaceous glands. Basically, it’s a bit of a wonder product.
The beauty of this treatment is that it can be worn underneath your regular night cream – it is a lightweight gel texture that sinks into the skin, leaving room for additional product on top.
It’s similar in feel to another favourite of mine, Superdrug’s Naturally Radiant Glycolic Peel. The Ole Henriksen version gives a more immediate ‘wow’ in terms of results, but then we are talking about £42 versus £5.99. With the best will in the world, these products will never be on a par with each other, but if you are on a budget, the Superdrug Overnight Peel certainly stands on its own merit.
I am kicking myself for not trying this product sooner – its refining effect on the skin is virtually immediate, smoothing rough patches and tackling those enlarged pores. I’ve never experienced a product that acts so quickly. The reason I walked past this product so many times was the name. To me ‘invigorating’ can be a bit of a danger word in terms of skincare. I was unsure as to how active this product would be, as I have had issues with sensitivity in the past. It was thanks to a timely peruse of QVC and a few reassuring words from their beauty expert Alison Young that convinced me that while the product’s name might be slightly misleading, the product itself certainly had something of value to offer.
If you’re worried about sensitivity issues, I would urge you to look past the product name – this gel coolly glides onto the skin– there is no ‘invigorating’ effect to report. The most I have experienced is a very gentle warming sensation on the skin. The more I use this product, the more I love it. It’s rare to find a product that exceeds its own claims, but Invigorating Night Treatment does exactly that.

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(l-r: The Body Shop Intensely Revitalising Facial Oil; Melvita Avocado Oil, £16; Skyn Arctic Face Oil, £30)

The Body Shop Oils of Life Intensely Revitalising Facial Oil (£28)
Yes, with that product title, The Body Shop is making some mighty claims for the newest addition to its skincare range. However, I’ve already been impressed with their Oils of Life range, having succumbed to the joys of their Japanese Camellia Body Cream.
When I heard they were releasing a facial oil, I must admit I was slightly concerned. The popularity of facial oils as part of a skincare routine has seen many brands jumping on the bandwagon and results have been mixed. For every well-thought-out product, there’s another that’s been rushed out to cash in on the trend – and it shows.
However, I had high hopes that The Body Shop would do us proud – and I’m pleased to say they have. This facial oil is a simple blend primarily based of three cold-pressed oils: Black Cumin, Camellia and Rosehip. Also containing a blend of essential oils including Rosemary and Lavender, this aromatic oil has everything you need to revive and restore your skin to its best.
What I noticed immediately about this product is the consistency. Incredibly lightweight, this is a dry oil; perfect for those new to this type of product. A couple of drops are more than enough, and it sinks in effortlessly into the skin. It’s a beautifully-balanced oil, soothing dry patches whilst not sitting heavily on areas that need less help. It brings back radiance to a tired skin and nourishes a dry skin. But I think this would be an excellent introduction for anyone who wants to slot a facial oil into their routine. The sophisticated blend of oils alone extends far beyond its £28 price tag.
I know that there are some who miss the cheap and cheerful qualities of The Body Shop from years ago, but I have to say if this new direction means products of this quality for a decent price – I’m all in.

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(l-r: Garner Ultimate Blends Glow Replenisher; Burt’s Bees Very Volumising Pomnegranate Conditioner, £11.99; OGX  Kukui Oil Conditioner, £6.99)

Garnier Ultimate Blends Glow Replenisher Intensive (£4.49)
As someone who colours their hair on a regular basis, I’m always on the lookout for a good hair conditioning treatment – and if it can get to work in 5 minutes or less – so much the better.
I picked up one of Garnier’s Ultimate Blends intensives, as it contains Japanese Camellia Oil – which I’m currently obsessed with (the smell alone…) Also containing nourishing Argan Oil, this intensive conditioner not only smells divine but it really does a great job at tackling dry hair –without weighing it down or leaving behind tons of residue.
The best bit about this product is that it’s designed to get work in 60 seconds. I tend to leave it on for a little bit longer, but the result is the same: soft, shiny hair. For less than a fiver, this is my budget buy of the month.

Clarins Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector in ’Rosewood’ (£18)
Yes, at £18 this definitely qualifies as a luxury purchase, but trust me when I say that this product has no equal.
I do love tinted lip balms, especially as the weather starts to turn, and I’ve tried and tested some of the best out there (Burts Bees, Elizabeth Arden – take a bow). But when beauty writer Sali Hughes recommended the Clarins lip perfector in one of her weekly columns for The Guardian, I took note.
Being a total Hughes-ist, I also plumped for the shade she was wearing in the article as well, as it appeared to be the ideal pink-neutral combination that you’re always looking for, but never seem to find.
I paid my money, and nervously applied. Unfortunately for my bank account, Sali Hughes was absolutely spot-on – this product is a triumph. Containing wild mango butter to prevent dehydration, this balm is a sensational blend of colour and care. It soothes like the best balm in the world, but the gorgeous shade and chic packaging are reassuringly luxe, as you would expect from one of the world’s best make-up brands. The lip perfector doesn’t rub off or move around, and best of all, doesn’t feel thick or heavy. It’s a really easy wear – definitely one to try if you’ve not got on with lip balms before.
There are plenty of similar products available, and they are good at what they do. But Clarins my friend – you’re on another level altogether.

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(l-r: Grown Alchemist Hydra-Restore Cleanser; Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Limited Edition with Jasmine & Osmanthus, £19.99; Bliss The Youth as We Know It Anti-Ageing Cleanser)

Grown Alchemist Hydra-Restore Cream Cleanser (£29)
I’ve been wanting to try this brand for a while now, and a chance peruse of Amazon got me a tube of skincare loveliness.
Grown Alchemist is an Australian brand known for their organic formulas and chicer-than-chic aluminium packaging. They are one of the brands of the moment, garnering column inches from the beauty press and bloggers alike. But with all cult brands where there’s a lot of hype, I did wonder if the product itself would stand up to scrutiny. I’ve given it a test-run, and so far – I’m pretty much wowed.
The texture of the cleanser is key to its brilliance – smooth, creamy but not too heavy, I found you need a very small amount as the formula’s so concentrated. It works around the skin beautifully, needing very little effort from you – which is a definite plus at 6.30 in the morning. Containing Yarrow and Plantago extract, the actives are there to combat breakouts and soothe dry skin.
I have to say my skin really did glow after using this and it felt properly deep-down clean without being stripped. I hadn’t slept particularly well that night, and any redness and irritation had gone as well. The aroma of the cleanser is gorgeously luxe; an earthy, herbal scent that makes it brilliant for men and women. But what I really did pick up on with this cleanser is how everything is there for a reason. Even the chic packaging has been chosen because aluminium protects the integrity of the product’s botanical ingredients.
It may be a cult brand, but if this cleanser is anything to go by, Grown Alchemist ‘s beauty is more than skin deep.

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(l-r: Balance Me Restore and Replenish Cream Cleanser sample size, RRP £18 for 125ml; MyChelle Creamy Pumpkin Cleanser; Oilology Therapeutic Grade Coconut Oil, £7.99 at TK Maxx)

Mychelle Creamy Pumpkin Cleanser 130ml (available on Amazon, £14)
I couldn’t do September favourites without mentioning pumpkin! While I can’t get my head around Pumpkin Spice Latte (sorry Starbucks), at this time of year, the scent of pumpkin is too good to ignore.
A vegan friendly brand, Mychelle is an American range that has been raved about on beauty blogs. I was delighted to find it available on Amazon – and as I was in the market for a new cleanser, I made this my inaugural purchase.
Containing exfoliating enzymes to help refine the skin’s surface and Blue Green Algae to help reduce irritation, this cleanser makes a pretty good case for being a bona fide multi-tasker.
Advertised for dry skin and those with anti-ageing concerns, the first thing I noticed about this cleanser (other than the spicy pumpkin scent) was the creamy texture. While my skin’s definitely veering towards needing a cream-based cleanser, I still find some too heavy for me. This product, however, has a consistency that sits somewhere in the middle. It’s nice and pliable – ideal for giving your face a thorough morning cleanse, but if you have super-dry skin, I would recommend adding a drop of coconut oil to give it a bit of added richness and comfort.
The cleanser rinses away quickly and easily, and its claims for hydrating the skin are definitely well-founded. My skin after cleansing feels soothed and cared for, but any dirt and grime have been efficiently dealt with.
I don’t know whether this formulation would be suitable for oilier skin, but if you sit within the combination-dry-normal range, I’d say this cleanser has something to offer you. Whilst not wanting to be a beauty enabler, but if you do have oily skin, I have heard good things about Mychelle’s Fruit Enzyme Cleanser….and on that shameless note, I bid you farewell.


While I normally review red-carpet en masse, this year’s Emmy’s stood out not for dominant trends, shapes or colours. This was a red-carpet populated by women who had something to say.
January Jones, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Sofia Vergara and Laverne Cox between them illustrate how to communicate to your audience, using nothing but needle and thread. They tell us stories of daring and love for high fashion; a passion for old-school glamour and a determination to dress as one’s most authentic self. This wasn’t a red-carpet about where the dress came from, but why it was chosen in the first place.This was a red-carpet all about the journey.

S Vergara Emmys 2015

Sofia Vergara, Emmys 2015
Translating your personal brand into a recognisable style is a talent some stars have perfected better than others. Sofia Vergara immediately springs to mind here: a devotee of classic Hollywood glamour, she arrived at the Emmys in a shimmering, beaded gown by St. Johns. Nothing was unexpected: everything about Sofia’s look, from head to toe, was resolutely on-message.
With the emphasis on curve-hugging detail and feminine, glossy locks, Vergara is a creature of habit, and that habit is old-school, hard-core glamour. With no apologies made: Vergara gave us exactly what we wanted. While other stars flit between styles – one year giving us ethereal and floaty, the next, glitz and dazzle – Vergara intelligently works with her public image rather than against it. The result? A body of red-carpet work that shows a woman who is clear about who she is. Working regularly with designers such as Vera Wang and Donna Karan, Vergara appreciates the value of insight that comes from a woman dressing women. Her red-carpet appearances in Vera Wang are perfect examples: Wang’s years of experience working as a bridal designer has made her highly intuitive in making the most of the female form. Vergara, whilst never particularly wanting for confidence, always seems to stand a little taller in these designs.
Vergara’s love of glamour has seen her collaborate with the glamour-makers of the fashion world: Zuhair Murad and Roberto Cavalli are designers almost tailor-made for Sofia. Neither steps too far away from that sweet high-glamour spot. When you do gorgeous fishtail gowns as standard, why turn your back on the headline grabbers?

Sofia Vergara 2011 Emmys

Sofia Vergara, Emmys 2011
Vergara’s love of the limelight is tempered with smartly applied make-up and hair: her best looks are when these are softly played, with a light touch. While the dress scoops all the attention, the hair and make-up is the support act – essential to create that sense of balance. While you won’t get fashion-forward with Sofia, her commitment to glamour is steadfast and true. You can see that commitment in her red-carpet choices: when she steps out in front of the cameras, echoes of Ava Gardner and Rita Hayworth are never far behind. The transformative power of Hollywood is alive and well in Vergara – and she’s not afraid to tell you all about it.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus attends the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Emmys 2015

A style trajectory can, like Vergara, be very clearly defined from the start – others take time to develop. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has had over 20 years to do just this, from Seinfeld to Veep, and her red-carpet look has been carefully honed and refined, creating a look that challenges our pre-conceptions of ‘age appropriate’.
Aged 54, Louis-Dreyfus opts for a no-excuses, form-fitting look that really is only for the fearless. Her collaboration with Narciso Rodriguez has proved how important it is for red-carpet fashion to find a designer that understands your shape: some of Julia’s most notable looks have been the result of her partnership with Rodriguez. Making the most of Julia’s petite frame, Rodriguez has used block colour to great effect, creating an elongated silhouette that looks effortless, rather than a conspicuous attempt to add height. The emphasis on sleek, contemporary lines has meant that Louis-Dreyfus remains modern regardless of what’s happening on the catwalk. Even her move to Carolina Herrera last year saw Louis-Dreyfus in stunning form: shoulders back and confidence high. The idea that women in Hollywood become invisible after 50 meets glorious and robust opposition in Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She’s in no hurry to take a back seat. With ‘Modern Family’’s Julie Bowen, Julia took the black gown from red-carpet basic to top of the Best Dressed List.

JLD Golden Globes 2014

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Golden Globes 2014
This year’s look at the Emmy’s is one of Julia’s best, with Louis-Dreyfus going to designer Safiyaa. Winning her fourth Emmy for her role as Selina Meyer, Julia accessorised to perfection: if you’re going to win for that part of a lifetime, do so in fabulous Chopard earrings.
While Vergara and Louis-Dreyfus extolled the virtues of knowing thyself, getting to know who you are for some can be a journey on a whole new level, requiring courage and grace.
Star of ‘Orange is the New Black’, Laverne Cox has not only emerged as a powerful voice in the transgender community, she has blossomed from red-carpet newcomer to seasoned regular before our eyes.

Laverne Cox emmys 2015

Laverne Cox, Emmys 2015
From her earliest appearances, Laverne’s red-carpet journey has been a real evolution of style and substance. Her appearance at this year’s Emmy’s represented a real turning point –helped in part by modern, cool design from Calvin Klein.
With Calvin Klein, there is literally nowhere to hide: with the sparest of details on display, it’s just you and some expertly-cut jersey against the world. Sublime in its simplicity, Laverne has dropped the excessive glitzy detail of previous years, in favour of gorgeous colour and fine tailoring. It is what Calvin Klein does best: comfort and sophistication in equal measure. These designs have been worn by some of the biggest names in Hollywood, and by wearing Calvin Klein; you are announcing that you possess some serious star power. Laverne’s bravado in donning the Klein proves that she is ready to meet your gaze head-on. No dazzle, no distractions – just stunning beauty. Laverne’s style journey has been extraordinary to watch, and if you were after a moment at the Emmy’s – this surely had to be it.

Laverne Cox SAG Awards 2015

Laverne Cox, Screen Actors’ Guild Awards 2015
In close analysis, this was a red-carpet revived by a sense of joie de vivre, and no-one exemplified this standard better than January Jones. We have seen her tackle some of fashion’s most daring ideas (I refer you to her space-age chic gown from Versace; Emmys 2009 – still relevant, still absolutely gorgeous). But this year, marking her final appearance under the Mad Men banner, Jones went all out to leave a lasting impression.

January Jones Emmys 2009

January Jones, Emmys 2009
Jones’ emerald jumpsuit, from Ulyana Sergeenko Couture, ticked every box when it came to creating a stir: vibrant colour? Check. Bold silhouette? Definitely. January was almost unique in her decision to forego the gown, and this beautifully-tailored jumpsuit was determined to steal some of the glory away from the more traditionally-garbed attendees.
This look stood apart from the rest of the red-carpet for its refusal to lean on previous form. She’s done nothing quite like this; there was no reference point to cling to; this was January Jones creating an interpretation of elegance that was dynamic, fresh and bold. January’s parting shot as Betty Draper is not just farewell to a complex character, but a hint of what’s to come. For someone whose style is always looking forward, we shouldn’t be surprised that Jones has her gaze firmly set on the future.

January Jones Emmys 2015

January Jones, Emmys 2015
It’s fair to say that inspiration was not in short supply this year; this was not a red-carpet to be packed up and forgotten. 2015 demanded scrutiny – and yes – judgement. You may not have liked all the looks on show, but that was the point. This was fashion communicating loud and clear the true motivations behind a red-carpet choice. Sensuality, eccentricity, bravery and flair – all worn with absolute commitment; all worn to tell you that story. This has been one of the most personal red-carpets for a long time, and it’s been truly memorable.



Ikarov Anti-Ageing Face Oil (available on http://www.amazon.co.uk)
This product underwent a baptism of fire as I decided to start using it during a mini-heatwave, and boy, did it deliver. My skin loved this face oil; it refreshed and soothed my skin, reducing the appearance of pores in my t-zone (which is no mean feat).
Containing jojoba and grape-seed oils, this oil calmed my skin which tends to get out of sorts during hot weather – there was a slight mattifying effect but my skin never felt taut or uncomfortable.
A few drops gently patted onto the skin before moisturiser, this face oil was a great alternative when I felt I needed something more substantial than a serum. I would also use this as a night-time treatment if my skin felt out of balance or a few pesky blemishes started to appear.

Superdrug Naturally Radiant Glycolic Overnight Peel – £5.99
You may have thought of Superdrug as just a place to stock up on basics; a great port of call for when you need one of everything.
However, look a little closer, and Superdrug has a wealth of own-brand skincare that is just waiting to be explored. Superdrug’s philosophy of offering excellent value for money has spilled over into the creation of its own-brand ranges, and their Naturally Radiant selection is a particularly good example of how Superdrug gets it right.
Featuring a great budget radiance balm, this range takes ingredients from Nature and combines them with the latest innovations in skincare science to create products that use the best of both worlds to get results.
My favourite of this range has to be the Glycolic Overnight Peel. It combines Kiwi and Mulberry extracts to revive the skin, with a glycolic acid (a powerful AHA) to refine the skin’s surface, leaving it brighter and more radiant.
I bought this on a whim – it was on offer at the time, even cheaper than its £5.99 price tag. Glycolic acid is terrific at tackling skin problems – bumps, patches of pigment – and my skin is pretty much the ideal candidate for this type of product. In addition to regular exfoliation, I use peels and treatments to smooth my skin as, left to its own devices; it will take on an extremely bumpy, uneven appearance which can’t be disguised by make-up or wishful thinking.
It’s one of my major skin concerns, so anything new that claims to deal with this issue comes up on my radar sooner or later.
The peel is designed (rather obviously) to be used at night. Applied in a thin layer to clean skin before bed, it then does its work overnight and you cleanse as normal in the morning. The only thing to note with this type of product is that you will need to be extra vigilant about using SPF as the peel will make your skin temporarily more vulnerable to sun damage.
The texture of this product is a clear, lightweight gel. Comfortable to apply even in the height of summer, a small amount spread over the face (and décolleté area – my personal tip) is all you need to know about application.
Despite being under £10, this product really does deliver. I’ve used this several times now and each morning, I’ve woken up to find my skin visibly improved. My pores are reduced in appearance; my skin looks brighter and more refined. The rough, uneven patches are much reduced, leaving smoother skin in its place.
It’s genuinely a bit of a wonder product, and one I’m very glad I found.

Sukin Protein Conditioner (available on http://www.amazon.co.uk)
Thanks to my regular snuffling around in TK Maxx, I do come across some fantastic brands that otherwise I wouldn’t know about.
Sukin is an Australian brand, specialising in organic products. I have bought (and loved) their cream cleanser, so when I spotted a big bottle of conditioner with Sukin’s name on it loitering on the TK shelves – I grabbed it.
This conditioner concentrates on putting back protein into hair, strengthening it from within. Containing rice and wheat proteins, plus avocado, jojoba, rosehip and Vitamin E to seal in moisture, this is a great workhouse product.
What I particularly love about this conditioner is that it strikes a balance between strengthening damaged hair, and being light enough to use daily. I’ve even used it as a treatment, applying a thicker layer and leaving it on for 10 minutes before rinsing. It leaves your hair thoroughly conditioned without weighing it down, and at 500ml, it’s a great price for a substantial amount of product.

Weleda Wild Rose Pampering Body Lotion – £19.95
I’m not normally one for celebrity endorsements, if anything, just the opposite. I can’t tell you how upset I was when I found out that I used the same brand of lip gloss as Paris Hilton (even down to the same shade…honestly…mortifying).
Anyway, when I heard that this Weleda body lotion had got the nod from Victoria Beckham herself, I was intrigued as she’s got a reputation for enjoying a quality body product (she’s previously endorsed Elemis’ excellent Camellia oil for use during pregnancy). I love Weleda’s body oils, so it stood to reason that I’d probably enjoy their lotions too.
Containing organic wild rose and jojoba oils, this body lotion is loaded with essential fatty acids. Not only are they absorbed beautifully by the skin, but they help maintain the skin’s elasticity. I’m a sucker for rose scents, and what I love about this body lotion is how delicate the scent is – there’s nothing worse than a big old fake rose scent and this Weleda lotion smells just how roses should (and do) smell: fresh, natural and unpretentious.
As I would expect from Weleda, the consistency of the product is such that I can use relatively small amounts but still enjoy a good dose of hydration. It’s luxurious stuff, but gives a lot in return. Body care is one of those areas where what you spend is really down to personal preference, as you can find brilliant products on a shoestring. I’ll still enjoy my Garnier Firming lotion, but for moments when I want to feel seriously pampered – it’s got to be Weleda.

Nourish Argan & Kale Anti-Ageing Hand Cream – £12
I do love hand creams, although I tend to stay loyal to a couple of brands – my usual picks are from L’Occitane or Soap & Glory, and it takes a lot for me to stray.
I purchased this hand cream during a sales event, and this was a total leap of faith after being somewhat disappointed with Nourish’s Kale Enzymatic Exfoliating Cleanser.
Luckily, the hand cream has surpassed my expectations – so much so I’ve found myself reaching for it time and again. It will be the perfect evening accompaniment to Simon Cowell’s incredulous eyebrows on X Factor. At 75% certified organic content, this hand cream contains Argan Oil and Kale Oil extract along with Sicilian Neroli. With the Kale Oil containing Vitamins A and C, it’s also noted for its antioxidant properties, all of which are good news for the skin. Good old Kale – not only a superfood, it’s great used topically as well. The hand cream is a brilliant treatment for dry hands – if I’ve been doing housework (rare) and washing my hands frequently, this treatment is simply great at tackling dryness. It really does soothe moisture-starved skin, and thanks to the high oil content, sinks in easily without leaving a residue. I would describe the texture of this hand cream as being quite dense, so therefore whatever amount you would normally use, I’d halve it. This makes the hand cream pretty good value – the tube, though it seems small, lasts for ages as you need very little each time. Superfood for the skin? I’m sold.

Nourish Argan Skin Rescue – £21
Nourish are definitely two for two this month. I picked this up after dithering over whether I really needed another facial oil. (The answer of course being, yes you do. You can never have too many. They’re awesome).
While my skin’s now quite used to the wonders of Rosehip oil, I’ve been a late arrival to the Argan oil phenomenon. Used to tackle dry, damaged hair, the oil is quite the multi-tasker and does similarly great things for your skin.
Argan oil is a natural collagen enhancer – giving your skin that youthful ‘bounce’ while protecting it from further visible signs of ageing. It glides onto the skin beautifully and sinks in easily.
Where this product comes into its own for me is in its ability to inhibit dehydration. This is one of my major skin concerns, and anything that tackles my wayward hydration levels gets my vote. My skin just feels happier when I use this oil – the name ‘Skin Rescue’ – describes this product perfectly.

Real Techniques Retractable Bronzer Brush (£13.99)
My last favourite of this month makes the list because it’s a product of genius. In the summer, I do like a bit of colour – and after much searching, I have found that Chanel Les Beiges powder gives the perfect payoff of shade and glow for pale skin.
The next issue was how to apply this on the go. The Chanel compact is a thing of beauty, and I wouldn’t want to cart it around in my bag lest it got damaged as I do have a well-deserved reputation for a clumsy little monkey. I then found the Real Techniques retractable brush.
Perfect for travel, you load the product onto the brush, close it, and off you go. Apply when needed – everyone’s a winner.
The design of this brush is outstanding – it’s simple but effective – the product stays on the brush until required and then can be whisked away, stored safely until needed again. If you’re already familiar with the quality of Real Techniques’ brushes, the retractable brush is of the same standard. It applies colour evenly and the width of the brush head gives you ultimate control over what amount of product goes where.
Although it’s listed as a bronzer brush, I’ve found that with a light stippling motion this can easily apply powder blusher too. I’m already a devotee of Real Techniques’ foundation brushes (so quick, SO easy) but the ingenuity of this retractable brush has meant it’s now become a make-up bag regular.


For this series, I’m focusing on products that help you make the most of summer. This week, it’s the (what turned out to be) rather extensive world of body care.


Also featured (l-r): Soap & Glory Orangeasm Limited Edition Body Exfoliating Body Polish £8; Bliss Super Minty Soap’n Scrub £25.50; Cowshed Grumpy Cow Uplifting Body Scrub (part of Xmas set). Currently on sale – £12 for full 200ml size

Bliss Hot Salt Scrub – £30.50
I’m not afraid to admit it: I do enjoy a good scrubbing. Out of every step in a body care routine, scrubs have the power to be genuinely transformative. Dry, flaky skin can be banished in seconds; the lovely scaly build-up from a winter of tights and denial is gone.
I’ve found with body scrubs that price is no indicator of quality: good, bad or otherwise. I’ve tried expensive scrubs – some were incredible, others were just disappointing. By the same token, some of the best scrubs I’ve ever used have cost under £10.
But for me, when it comes to scrubs, the best of the best comes from Bliss. I think this is a brand that has really got their body care sorted – the body butters are phenomenal, but the scrubs are stars in their own right.
The Bliss Hot Salt Scrub offers a master class in getting the basics right. Containing Rosemary and Eucalyptus oils, this invigorating scrub heats up on contact with the skin, offering a spa-like experience. The sea salts are substantial enough to give your skin a good buffing, but are never scratchy. When they make contact with water, the salt grains dissolve cleanly away for a smooth finish.
The formulation is oil-free, but doesn’t dry the skin out – extracts of glycerin and algae keep the skin soft and hydrated. It’s a well-thought-out formula that delivers salon-quality results. The heady aromas of Rosemary and Eucalyptus tip this scrub into the realms of luxury – Bliss really have thought about the whole ritual of body care and made it into something truly enjoyable. If you’ve shied away from scrubs before, there’s now a wealth of options out there that turn a beauty chore into a hedonistic delight.
Other scrubs include: Rituals Hammam Hot Scrub £19; Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Scrub £8; Champneys Spa Indulgence Distant Shores Body Scrub £10

Toning Body Oil

Balance Me Super Toning Body Oil – £20
I’m a bit of a soft-sell on body oils, as I have been so thoroughly converted to their usefulness in skincare. The reason I have selected this is not because I think it will transform your wobbly bits into a paragon of firm, toned virtue, but because the ingredients will make for a delicious antidote to humid, muggy weather which seems to be a regular feature of British summers.
Just take in the list of ingredients: juniper, bergamot, geranium, lavender…the juniper and bergamot will lift your mood while the lavender and geranium will soothe frazzled nerves. Ideal as a post-shower treatment, apply this oil to slightly damp skin (the ‘slip’ to the skin will make the product go further). Also containing moisturising Jojoba and Sweet Almond oils – known for their essential fatty acids – this oil will condition your skin beautifully. It’s perfect for those times in-between days on the beach, smoothing and hydrating any patches of dry skin.

This oil is marketed by Balance Me as a means of keeping ‘the visible signs of cellulite at bay’. To be fair to Balance Me, just the physical application of the body oil will boost your circulation, giving your skin a peachy, youthful glow. If you want your skin to be hydrated and looking its best, a good body oil is an excellent way to go. You might think of oils as heavy, but these plant-based oils are lightweight and leave the skin silky to the touch. They are ideal for summer as they provide a thin layer of moisture, but one that packs a seriously hydrating punch.

The real plus point of this product for me is the quality of the ingredients – Balance Me make great skincare and that same level of attention gets applied to their body care range. No corners have been cut – this body oil goes all out to impress. The gorgeous blend of aromatics makes this a real luxury item – but I’d be tempted to think of this as an essential. It is summer, after all.

Other body oils include: Weleda Citrus Refreshing Body Oil £13.95; Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Body Oil; £7.99; Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Body Oil £35


Also featured (l-r): Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Body Cream £7.99; Korres Japanese Rose Body Butter £12.50; Garnier Body Oil Beauty Oil-Infused Nourishing Lotion (Dry Skin) £5.25; Weleda Wild Rose Pampering Body Lotion £19.95; Dead Sea Spa Magik Silky Smooth Body Lotion £7.70

Korres Fig Body Butter – £12.50
For all the things I don’t heart about warm weather, I do love that fragrance intensifies in the heat, making it truly one of the joys of summer. Fresh, invigorating fragrance becomes the perfect accompaniment to endless summer afternoons, with heady florals hanging in the air for a touch of decadence. I really should be writing the voiceovers for perfume ads.
I love scented body products, and ones that combine brilliant moisturising properties with glorious fragrance are just the best.
Korres, for my money, do the best body butters out there. These are plenty of half-hearted moisturisers around, but Korres make butters of substance. Thick, intensely moisturising with a huge range of scents, these hydrators are perfect not only for getting to grips with dry patches (elbows, heels and knees) but light enough to apply all over.

With the scent of freshly-cut figs (courtesy of actual fig extract), this body butter contains Shea Butter, plus Sunflower, Almond and Avocado oils. Not just a smart choice for hydration, Shea Butter also protects the skin against environmental aggressors (that’s extreme weather to you and me).
These body butters make light work of moisturising the body – for a post-holiday treat they would be perfect for keeping your skin soft and supple and you don’t need to apply much either. The intensively nourishing formula means a little goes a long way. It may not be the cheapest option out there, but Korres really gives you value for money. Can you tell it’s my favourite?
Other body creams include: Garnier Body Repair Anti-Dryness Restoring Moisturiser Extra Dry Skin £6; Pai Comfrey & Calendula Body Cream £22; First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream £22

Nourish Golden Glow Toning Body Shimmer 100ml_1404911916

Nourish Golden Glow Toning Body Shimmer – £25
And finally…it’s completely non-essential and totally decadent, but body shimmers are growing in popularity. Whether layered on top of a tan or your skin au naturel, shimmers really have come of age. For those of us who remember the Body Glitter Years; fear not. This is a whole different breed of product. They are now a sophisticated means of achieving glow – a beautiful addition for a summer evening.
The superiority of these formulas now means that you don’t have to be as careful with shimmer as you had to be in the past. The particles are so much finer, that it can be applied to larger areas of the body (legs, arms) rather than pinpointing smaller areas such as collarbones. Of course, how shimmery you want to get is entirely personal preference, but the risk of looking like a glitter ball is much reduced. Such are the miracles of modern technology.
Nourish, to my mind, is a vastly underrated beauty brand, and one well worth getting to know better. Their Golden Glow is produced by light-reflecting particles that bounce off the skin. Using golden resins of frankincense and myrrh (really), this formula contains a phyto-active marine extract to help boost the skin’s suppleness. The impressive ingredients don’t stop there – this formulation also contains super-hydrating hyaluronic acid and tri-peptides which stimulate the skin to produce more collagen. The result? Younger looking skin with a glow that’s refined, not garish. I told you shimmers had got fancy.

Other body shimmers include: Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Usage Dry Oil – Golden Shimmer £34; Roger & Gallet Bois d’Orange Crème Sublime £15; Elemis Total Glow Bronzing Body Lotion £34.50
You’ll notice that there’s no mention of cellulite treatments in this blog post. The reason for that is fairly simple: I don’t believe they offer anything of value to the consumer. Putting body politics aside for the moment, there’s no definitive way to treat cellulite, because it’s not a medical condition that needs to be alleviated –it’s a natural occurrence. Some men even have it. They do! Honest! If you want to improve the look of your skin, boosting your circulation can help. That doesn’t involve expensive creams or oils – dry brushing is more than enough.
Dry brushing should be done on dry skin, using gentle, sweeping strokes up towards the heart. If you’re going to go down the dry brush route, it’s worth giving your whole body the once over as an improvement in circulation really does give the skin a nice, healthy bloom.
The only other way to minimise the appearance of ‘orange peel’ skin is the boring stuff: reduce your caffeine and salt intake, regular exercise, be kind to small animals…all the stuff we know we should be doing but real life gets in the way.
The reality is if you have cellulite, you’re pretty much stuck with it. You have two options: spend your days bemoaning the fact, buying products that simply won’t work; or you can make peace with it. You and your cellulite don’t have to get along, but the sanest way forward is to find a way to live with each other.


Also featured (l-r): Sans Soucis Pomegranate Conditioning Body Oil; Burt’s Bees Lemon & Vitamin E Bath and Body Oil £9.99; Superdrug Vitamin E Creamy Oil Body Lotion £3.99; Boots Ingredients Coconut Body Oil £2.54
There’s been a lot mentioned in the press about being ‘beach body ready’. The concept of course is nonsense. If you have a body, and you’ve remembered to pack the SPF, you’re by definition ready for the beach. This summer, do yourself a favour and just forget about the bits that wobble, sag, or pucker. Put them to the back of your mind – the same place where you store ‘reasons to give up coffee’ and ‘algebra’. The fact that you’re able to sit on a beach and enjoy the sunshine means you are, in terms Charlie Sheen will understand, winning already. Summer is short, and none of us are perfect. Stop finding fault with yourself – if you have a fully functioning, reasonably healthy body – you’re lucky- and it’s time to start appreciating that.
I believe that beauty should be about enjoyment, not chastisement. The products I have chosen are not aids to creating that slim, tanned silhouette and I make no apology for that. My notion of body care is products that give something back. If a product isn’t a joy to use, it belongs in the bin.
I will continue with a Summer Essentials series – although I don’t anticipate a blog post on blush sticks getting quite as political…



Rose Floral Water

The Aromatherapy Shop Organic Rose Floral Water 250ml (£7.95)
Just to prove I’m not all about fancy labels and big budgets, this little beauty has snuck into my Picks of the Week just for being such a darn gorgeous product.
This may be the easiest skincare product I’ve ever described: it’s organic Bulgarian Rose water. That’s it. This can be used a number of ways; it’s excellent for treating irritated skin and calming breakouts. Alternatively, you can use a small amount as your daily skin tonic. It’s a skin-friendly alternative to all those alcohol-laden toners on the market. Ideal for this time of year, the gently cooling rose water soothes hot, tired skin – I’d recommend decanting some of this into a spritz bottle for holidays and travel over the summer. Your face will thank you!
Made by a small firm based in Somerset, this may look like a no-frills product, but as soon as you open the bottle, you are left in no doubt that this is a beautifully crafted piece of skincare. The scent is authentic and nothing short of divine. But more importantly, the product lives up to its promises. This is definitely going on my repurchase list – it’s an absolute gem.



Palmers Coconut Formula Strengthening Leave-in Conditioner (£4.99 http://www.amazon.co.uk)

As summer really gets underway, I tend to get a little more vigilant about keeping up my day-to-day routines. I move away from intensive conditioning treatments that kept my hair from venturing into frizzball territory over winter, and into the quick, nice and easy leave-in conditioners.
Palmers wouldn’t normally be on my radar for haircare, but I found this product – beloved by hundreds on Amazon – quite by accident. The glowing reviews aside, I was in the market for a leave-in conditioner, and one that you spritz on and just leave has to be the height of convenience.
Containing Coconut Oil, Vitamin E and Keratin, this may sound like a heavy-duty product, but the formula is incredibly lightweight. Gently spritzed into freshly washed hair, this is a conditioner that really covers all the bases. My hair is left shiny and under control, but without any product residue weighing it down. It’s a product that’s a pleasure to use, and just makes my hair look better each time. You can’t say fairer than that.


Antipodes oil

Also featured: Rosehip Plus Rosehip Oil Certified Organic (£7.99); Good Things Argan Oil Perfecting Facial Oil (£6.99)

Antipodes Divine Face Oil Certified Organic Avocado Oil and Rosehip (£19.99)
I’ve long been a fan of organic skincare brand, Antipodes. Launched in 2006, any brand that manages to stick around this long – and not only maintain its profile but actively grow in popularity – has to be doing something right.
Containing 100% pure avocado oil (with its naturally occurring chlorophyll content – an excellent antioxidant), Antipodes give you real bang for your buck with this product. It also contains essential fatty acids, such as Omega 9, which are essential for healthy, hydrated and supple skin.
What I love most about this oil is its versatility. There are some face oils I will reserve for night-time as their texture is a smidge too intense and not right for day. Antipodes’ oil goes on beautifully over serums and under moisturiser for a daytime routine, and applied at night, this doesn’t sit heavily on the skin. Antipodes have created a face oil that absorbs well, whilst really getting to grips with dryness and dehydration. As my skin ages, I can feel this oil giving me long-lasting nourishment. My skin always seems far more balanced on days when I use this face oil. A good product should always leave you feeling on an even keel, and Antipodes products strike the balance between making their presence felt, and quietly getting on with the job in hand. If you’re thinking about including face oils in your skincare routine, this is a pretty great place to start.


Bedhead shampoo

Also featured (l-r: Klorane Peony Shampoo approx £7; Argan5+ Deep Repair Shampoo approx £11)

Bed Head TIGI Colour Goddess Oil-Infused Shampoo (£16.95 for 750ml)
I regularly colour my hair, but the battle is always on to fight the fade. Most hair colourists will tell you that choosing your conditioner should be the priority, simply because it spends more time on your hair. But there’s definitely an argument to be made for buying a quality shampoo.
If you have thick, densely-textured hair like myself –getting a shampoo that rinses cleanly and efficiently is worth its weight in gold. Bed Head has been a brand I’ve discovered that my hair really seems to get on with, and who am I to break up a beautiful friendship?
Another plus for this shampoo is the array of ingredients aimed at not only protecting colour, but improving the condition of the hair itself. Colour Goddess contains Sweet Almond Oil, Coconut Oil, pro-vitamin B5 and Keratin (an essential protein for healthy hair). This oil-infused shampoo nourishes without weighing the hair down, and leaves it in great condition. Since using this product, my hair has been shinier, smoother but most importantly, stronger. I am prone to breakage, and Colour Goddess has definitely made a difference.
As a final note, take in that bottle size again – 750ml. This bottle is so huge it’s practically visible from space. The good news is that Bed Head gives you massive value for money; even someone with very long hair would get a good six months’ use out of this bottle.


Korres lip butter

Korres Mandarin Lip Butter Stick SPF15 (£8)
When it comes to the virtues of lip butters, I’m already sold. I own a couple of the Korres lip butters in pots (so dinky, so cute), but when it comes to summer, I opt for the sticks every time. Portable, with an adorable print on every tube, these are perfect summer staples.
As you would expect with Korres, the packaging and the great line of colours form just part of the story. Packed with quality ingredients, and a perfectly-judged, easy-to-wear texture, Korres delivers a fun product that has serious skincare at its core.
Containing mandarin oil, shea butter and sunflower waxes, this lip butter goes above and beyond what you would expect from a product in this price range. Offering not only SPF15 protection, but ingredients that deliver long-lasting soothing and hydrating care, these are not only a summer staple, but a year-round must-have.