Friday, 31 August 2007

#48 GO-LD Figure

Fans of Benefit may have noticed a disconcerting new trend. The brand that used to launch the sporadic, niche innovation seems to have switched into top gear and is now peddling products faster than you can say the words 'Press Release'. Now, I'm hardly against new bootie - I mean, news is how I make my money - but it's always startling when a brand's inventory goes from selective, to exhaustive, in a matter of months.

Having launched the Love Your Look range - which is, in itself, a complete make-up capsule, the last six months have also seen the birth of That Gal - a primer; D'Finer, D'Liner - for lips; California Kissin' - teeth-whitening lipgloss; Cupid's Bow - a lip-shaping set; Gee That Was Quick - a speedy make-up remover and You Clean Up Nice - a face wash. That's a hell of a lot of loot.

Anyway, lest I get off the point, the latest newbie is 24K - a 'sexy gold lipgloss' and 'sexy gold lipstick'. Now, I love gold. There has not been a summer in living memory which has not involved, at some point, a golden, shimmering body oil - (Nuxe, Sisley, Nars) - but I've never ventured to wear the shade on my lips. The problem is often that gold 'shimmer' actually translates as a strong statement, that wears off to a patchy, glitter-stuck-on-dry-looking-lips result. This has happened in the past and I feared a foray into 24K would be no different. I was sort of right. The 24K lipstick feels good - it glides on and is pleasantly emollient BUT the colour itself is rather outweighed by the glitter content. So, in soft, flattering, evening lamp light, it looks pretty and shimmery, but in the cold light of day, the actual glitter particles are easily discernible whereas the sheer golden hue itself is not. The lipgloss fared slightly better because its viscosity makes lips look seductively 'wet shiny', rather than 'dry spangly', but as with all glosses, it lasts about as long as it takes to drink a cup of tea and then you're left with bits of glitter stuck to gloss-less lips. It's not a Benefit slur as such - it's a common problem with glitter-infused products.

In the same gilted vein, Guerlain (LVMH owns both Guerlain & Benefit, if anyone's interested....) has gone all out with a flurry of precious products, which include L'OR - 'a radiance concentrate with pure gold' - which acts as a make-up base and Forever Gold - a super spangly powder for face and body. L'OR will appeal to anyone living on credit and gagging for the new Chanel 2.55. In truth, it's a bit of a gimmick - the gold particles float enticingly in the clear liquid, but dissolve on contact with skin in much the same way as anything else - no trace is left behind - precious maybe, but lacking in mettle. The serum is also very heavily fragranced, which will put a lot of people off and having used it before a night out a couple of times, I'm not convinced by it's radiance-enhancing properties. I think the promise is bigger than the product. On the other hand - and at the opposite end of the shimmer scale - Forever Gold is a powder-filled atomiser, that you 'puff' onto your skin where it leaves a very sparkly veil. Mine half exploded in the box, so when I opened it for the first time it left layers of scented fairy dust over my new black pinafore, which have proven a bugger to get out. Now, it's certainly true that if you want to gleam and glitter your way into a room, you could do a lot worse than this. And I'm sure it'll go down a storm at Xmas, when everyone lets loose. BUT, I have to say, for me, if it's visible to the naked eye, leaves a Tinkerbell-esque trace in the air and doesn't resemble anything that Mother Nature intended, it's a trend that I'm likely to sidestep. Crazy colour is one thing, but glitter is quite another and, for now, I'm washing my hands, face, lips and eyes of it. Over and over and over again.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

#47 Who Cares?

The much-written about, hugely-hyped Stella McCartney Skincare Range, CARE, landed on the desk this week and it's already joined the regular rotation. I want to love it, because if 100% organic products (the range uses 100% organic active ingredients) can produce efficacy to rival the lab-lotions of the world, it'll make my green leanings so much easier. I'm not going to jump the gun here - I'm keeping schtum until I've given the products a few weeks to impress or disappoint. First impressions, however, are good. It's been two days and the ticked boxes include wonderful scent, great texture, no residue. I'm adding the 5 Benefits Moisturising Fluid and Calming & Soothing Elixir to my post-Spiezia cleansed skin, which now makes my skincare routine 100% chemical-free... until I cake myself in slap that is...

Thursday, 23 August 2007

#46 Return to Splendour

I've had a tropical couple of weeks in a country hotter than a body cavity and having flown out with a case, tagged with the dreaded 'Heavy' stickers, I returned a lot lighter (in luggage), calmer in mind and darker in skin. My stash did not let me down. Here's the verdict:

1. Liz Earle skincare - did the trick. In my opinion the Spiezia Organic Cleanser that I left behind still does the job better, but the Liz Earle combo certainly didn't let my sun/sea/pool-dried face down. Skin was soft, hydrated and clear all holiday.

2. The MOP stuff was hot too. The Conditioning Mist was particularly good - giving hair a simple dose of discipline - keeping it from puffing or frizzing in the heat. For days in the pool, the Styling Conditioner was a convenient choice. Combed through wet locks, it kept them in place, nourished and feeling softer when rinsed out later than night.

3. Aveda Damage Remedy. I used it every night - which is a bit OTT - but my hair never felt limp or greasy. Despite pool and sea marathons, the mane still feels silky and looked shiny every day.

4. Murad Oil-Free Sunblock Tinted SPF15. The hint of colour evened out imperfections whilst protecting me from the late afternoon sunlight. It felt nice and light, although as the mercury rose, it didn't stop me looking sweaty of shiny.

5. Derma Mum Stretch Mark Oil. This is even nicer than the cream. Every evening my limbs were soothed and left glistening with this nourishing blend of oils. I used it everywhere. It's fragrance-free too, so didn't compete with my choice of scent.

6. Sisley Phyto Touche Golden Oil. Used for one night only, on bronzed legs, whilst wearing a mini dress. Desired effect achieved. Wink wink.

7. Liz Earle Suncare. Hmmmm. Effective yes, attractive - h-Oh no. The face protector SPF 25, left a thick, bright, white layer on the skin - of course this is to be expected as it's a PHYSICAL suncreen - but even so, it wasn't sexy. I ended up using the body one a lot more (SPF 15) as it blended down to a less pallid finish and on my face I traded and pledged new allegience to Yon-Ka Ulta Protection Factor 40, which lasted very well, was waterproof and moisturised beautifully.

8. YSL Blush Variation in 16. Well, it ended up being just too pink. Once tanned, my skin longed for a hot red-pink or a golden apricot shade.

And, lest I provoke more wrath from the weather with my jealousy-inducing summer 'capades, I shall leave it there.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

#45 Hers & Hers

Packing for a summer holiday takes serious self-control. Or, if you're like me, you'll just nip out and buy a bigger suitcase and then go seriously nuts and cram in every last bottle, in the hope that you'll finally get around to using those summer goodies that the PRs have been sending over to you for the last four months. Hooray I say. It's been joyous. I've been rattling through my drawers and cupboards all week, pulling out saved sachets, myriad minis (I'm taking about 50 which'll take up legions more space than if I'd opted for full sizes) and best of all, make-up palettes with glittering ambers, bronzes, yellows, golds - colours I revel in wearing when I've got a bit of a tan. The entire bottom of my suitcase is now lined with various vessels and I'm all excited. I've got skimpy shorts, bright sundresses, three new bikinis and a product for every possible occassion. I've really given in to my inner beauty ed. this time and here's just a small selection of what I'm packing:

1. Liz Earle Skincare - Skin Repair Light, Cleanse + Polish, Instant Boost Skin Tonic. (I've actually been using Spiezia's Organic Cleanser of late - which I prefer as it's 100% chemical free - but I fear the oil blend would melt and leak all over the luggage if I were to take it with me on this particular escape. NOTE to Spiezia: please make a travel-sized tube!!)

2. MOP C System - Styling Conditioner, Conditioning Mist, Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner. Nourishing, never strips and smells yu-hummy.

3. Aveda Damage Remedy Intensive Restructuring Treatment. The BEST. No quibbles - works every time and smells wonderful. Bloody brilliant.

4. Murad Oil-Free Tinted Sun Block SPF 15. Have been using it every day - great healthy sheen, potent antioxidant protection.

5. Derma Mum Stretch Mark Oil. The bottle's smaller than the big mama tub of cream that I've been using, but with all the same skin-healing oils.

6. Sisley Phyto Touche Golden Oil. It's mini, looks precious and gives tanned limbs shimmer, without glitter.

7. Liz Earle Suncare. Never tried it, but the chemical-free, broad spectrum protection is just up my street. Let's see how it performs...

8. YSL Blush Variation in 16. A new, vibrant pink/peach shade that I've had stashed for weeks.

All packed. All excited. All done...

Thursday, 2 August 2007

#44 Keep Mum...

My friends and family are a curious bunch. Whilst stuck in the kitchen getting ready to serve tea to the Malcontent elders, my mother popped into the bedroom to have a nosey around - she's been dropping hints about throws and cushions for a while now, but I'm always too busy to invest time into a decorating 'scheme'. She would've been disappointed. The bedroom is pretty much in the same state as it was a year ago - a lovely bed, simple wardrobes and side tables and aside from the Calvin Klein bedwear which we got for a steal at our local TK Maxx, it's seriously lacking in homely, comforting touches. But hey, the Mr and I rather like it that way. Clean, fuss-free, airy.

No clutter, aside from a rather large pot of the new Derma Mum Stretch Mark Cream, nestled on the bedside table. It's fragrance free, fall of essential fatty acid-rich oils and helps to keep skin supple and moist. In other words, it's a perfect body cream - especially, if like me, you're prone to eczema on your body. What I was not expecting, was the assumption that, well, I was expecting. My mother, beside herself with excitement, whispered conspiratorially in my ear, 'Is there something you want to tell me darling?' Oh crap, I thought. She's finally found out about the flowers I killed off, having forgotten to water them when she went away on holiday. 'No,' I said confused. 'Are you?' she nodded, looking down at my belly, 'Are you trying?' Oh lord - Do I look pregnant? I thought, popping a Jaffa Cake back into the box. 'I saw the cream you're using - are you...?'

Mistake ironed out, and my mother visibly disappointed, the cream was popped back behind the cabinet doors - for fear of the same conclusion being reached by others. But, secretly, and between you and me, there might just be another, very tiny, practically insignificant reason for my choice. You see, the Mr and I are discussing the, ahem, possibilities of spawning a little Malcontent. It's certainly not something for the immediate present, but very possibly, we're hoping, something for the near future. And, having seen the stretch marks that my mother is burdened with, I've always been wary of how my own body will succumb to all of that scary 'swelling'. Fundamentally though, this cream has turned out to be a surprise cure for my recurrent patches of eczema, but, well, if pushed, I might also concede that alongside the curative, I'm also considering the preventative. Secretly of course... Derma Mum's the word.