Monday, 22 December 2008

#86 Best of 2008

Taking stock of the spare room, which is now a little sparser thanks to the annual clearout (AKA palming off products to friends & family, instead of buying gifts), has jogged the ol' memory and reminded me of the various things I have loved this year.

My most impressive find of 2008:

Illamasqua Eyelash Curlers
- I've used Shu, Mister Mascara, Suqqu, Shiseido... and they were all fine (Shu Uemura was probably the best out of the latter bunch) - but these babies make my lashes shoot for the stars in just a couple of seconds and without risk of wrist injury from repetitive compressing/depressing motion. A great find.

My favourite skincare launch of 2008:

Sarah Chapman Skinesis. I've been using it almost exclusively for the past four months and my skin is very soft, has been far less spotty than normal, and really does have a most un-winter-like glow. The Ultimate Cleanser isn't in the shops yet, but it's a winner. It melts into the skin just like soft butter and leaves it springy to the touch. I'm seriously impressed.

My favourite hair products of 2008:

KMS Makeover Spray
(grease? kapow!)has saved my life on more than one occasion

Kerastase Ciment Thermique for strengthening strands when they're feeling brittle

Redken Glass 01 before blow-drying, for when you want hair to look insanely shiny

And as far as failsafe hair-healing conditioners go, it's back to Aveda Damage Remedy Conditioner. A real star.

(p.s. I tried Shu Uemura Art of Hair Muroto Volume range yesterday and did not really like it. My hair was no bigger & the scent was too perfume-y. It did make my hair nice and shiny though - although a bit too static-prone. An overall thumbs down. Bah humbug, I know.)

My favourite body products of 2008:

I tried EVERYTHING this year and had short-lived love affairs with:
Yes to Carrots Body Butter (which I became less impressed with over time as it seemed to develop a knack of blocking pores on my arms and legs. Ick.)

Trilogy Everything Balm (lovely when skin is damp & hot e.g. after a sauna, as it sinks straight in and leaves you feeling like a basted chicken. In a really good way. Not so good at moisturising dry skin though.)

Then, I found my way back to Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse, and I'm very glad I did, because I'd almost forgotten how good this stuff is. And the scent - soft, powdery, chic with a hint of buttery honey - always makes me smile.

My favourite make-up of 2008:

Lipstick Queen in Medieval - makes skin look somehow brighter while never overpowering the face

Jemma Kidd new PRO line - just wait for 2009!

Ruby + Millie Lip Color in Orange 350C - the perfect pop of blood orange

Dior Addict High Shine Lipstick in 554 Backstage Pink - loved the fuchsia that Cheryl Cole kept sporting on X Factor? This is the closest I have come to finding it.

And, a surprise new entry in the long-lasting lippy category: TIGI Bedhead Lip Crayon in Perfect Pink - this stayed put through a 2-hour movie (+ popcorn & pick 'n' mix), followed by cocktails & dinner. Good stuff.

And my other big-thumbs-up beauty finds of 2008:

Origins Organics Totally Pure Deodorant
(antibacterial, refreshing & zingy on freshly shorn armpits)

Marc Jacobs Splash in Gardenia (granny in a really really good way)

Dr Weil for Origins Mega Mushroom Mask
(great for when skin is conjuring associations with Edward Munch's The Scream)

Dermalogica Stress Relief Candles (a smile-inducing scent even when unlit!)

NEOM Organic Luxury Unwind Skin Treatment Bath Oil
(the most perfect blend of lavender and patchouli)

And there you have it. What a cracker.

Monday, 8 December 2008

#85 Big Head

There's something happening with hair. Beeeg hair. The sort of hair that looks like you've held up a candyfloss man at a fair and woven his sugar confections into your own strands. Virginia Woolf sort of hair, that billows out from beneath a hat, streaks the forehead with nimbus fingers, catches the light as though it is a cocoon of woven silk. Diana Vickers was onto it. Amy W would've ended up there were it not for her mane's metamorphosis from beehive to egghead. Duffy has it a bit, and Blake Lively does it well, though where hair is concerned, she is at a genetic advantage. Growl.

Also catching on are the haircare brands, as the next few months see a spate of big hair launches (as in big hair, not big launches for hair).

There is Shu Uemura Art of Hair's new MUROTO VOLUME range; L'Oreal Volume Expand MINERAL CA and Age Densiforce lines and the launch of L'Oreal Professionnel's Texture Expert Expansion Mousse.

So far I have only tried the Volume Expand MINERAL CA range. I've used the shampoo and conditioner, minus the volumising styling mousse. The range is for fine hair - I have relatively fine strands, but lots of them - and yes, it did make a significant difference to the fatness of my head. It uses mineral calcium to bulk and stiffen strands. However, lathering it up felt incredibly bizarre, as though my hair were being rinsed with glue - there is no silkiness of slipperiness to be expected from this shampoo. After slowly rinsing it out (and being careful not to break strands with clumsy fingers which seemed to catch on my now-tacky, almost brittle, cuticles), I layered on the conditioner, left for a couple of minutes, rinsed. I could see that where my normal haircare duo keeps the damaged flyaways along my parting nice and flat, this lot made them stand up on end as though I were the lovechild of Mister Majeka. Combing through was tricky too - hair was far far knottier than normal. But, here is the genius part. Once hair was blowdried it just went 'pouff' (in a good way)- feeling thick, pliable, swishy, soft AND it didn't get greasy for 4 whole days, which I couldn't quite believe. I wouldn't recommend it for everyday use - my hair needs intensive conditioning at least twice a week - but for those times when you need a workable, grippable base - this will be just the ticket. All in all, this is a good bet for this season's big head. Not least of all because you'll develop a dangerous habit of catching your own reflection and double-taking at just how much hair you had all along, but just weren't making the most of. Swish.