Tuesday, 15 December 2009

# 114 Embargo Off!

What's with all the bloody embargoes?

If you're a dedicated beauty editor keen to go after the strongest possible story, the suspicious spate of recent embargoes will have ticked you off too.

There's nothing more frustrating than being sent all the relevant information for a new launch only to have it chased with an email from the PR, stating that nothing is to be mentioned until a given date (which is several weeks later than the print date you're actually working towards).

I had my first embargo burn while working at an EMAP weekly - and a rival weekly at another publishing house ignored the embargo on a Dior palette, printing their exclusive the day after ours would have run. I could have foamed at the mouth. By obeying the embargo while the other journo ignored it, I essentially lost a bit of credibility with my editor.

The trend started with certain fragrance houses & new-to-the-UK lines, then moved towards prestige & premium cosmetics & face creams... but now it's running away with itself, and I've seen embargoes applied to D-list bath lines, a pair of tweezers and a self-published diet book.

The final straw came last week when the exclusive I'd been promised by a brand new British make-up line was overruled by a US PR, who took the brand's launch direct to a top US magazine (it launches in the UK and US simultaneously) - which then negated the story I'd sold into another US magazine. The UK PR was left playing catch-up (and apologising profusely), while I lost out on yet another stellar story courtesy of the last-minute embargo slap.

Then today, an email about 'The Big Green Boob Survey' - which involves an online magazine asking a series of women what they want from an 'ethical bra' and then challenging a manufacturer to come up with the goods. I've read the press release twice and I'm still confused about the premise. There are now so many fair-trade and ethical companies producing beautiful underwear... the idea feels rather defunct. Yet, it's also (apparently) a story worthy of a strict embargo. Tits!

It seems that brands have been misled into believing that embargoes generate BUZZ...

... in my experience, they only ever result in bored beauty editors. And the knowledge that if something is embargoed (and interesting), it's already being written about elsewhere, and earlier, which is reason enough for me to assign my page-space to something else entirely.

Embargo? I say No Go.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

# 113 Nice & Easy

The trials and tribulations have stacked up this month.

Here's the good stuff:

Phyto Phytomist Instant Hydrating Conditioner For Colour Treated Or Permed Hair

Lovely scent, non-sticky feel, leaves hair glossy & soft - great for taming winter frizzies and stealing away static. I have neither colour-treated no permed hair (just naturally curly locks that go 'pouf' in the night), and this has made a big difference to the calmness of said curlies. When MOP discontinued their C-System style and hydrate spray, I was bereft. Now, thanks to this, I feel a bit better.

Sisley Eye Contour Mask

I was sent this by the obliging PR some months ago now, and given how my eye-bags always seem overladen come Christmas, I thought I'd give it a whirl. I use it around my eye contour while using other masks on the rest of my face, so it's a nice staple for that reason alone. It's a thick gel texture which glides on and stays where you put it, and does a good job of hydrating and smoothing out dehydration lines. It also seems to lift shadows slightly - not very noticeably I hasten to add - but just makes the area look a wee bit more 'rested.' As far as eye masks go, it's a keeper - but I'll confess that I probably wouldn't pay £61 for a top-up when this one runs out. Not because it isn't a good product, but simply because I'm inherently cynical of just how much difference an eye mask can make... and how short-lived even the best results can be.

And here's the stuff that's been chucked back into the 'unconvinced' box:

Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Perfecting Mask

I really wanted to like this one because had it been brilliant it would've solved all of my skin woes in a single swoop. It professes to hydrate, brighten, lift and tone facial contours, purify and smooth. A big ask - and unfortunately a product that left me cold (literally - it cools down on contact with skin, which left me uncomfortable - and the winter wind seemed doubly ferocious once I finally made it out of the house). I didn't see any dramatic brightening effect, nor did I notice improved tone. I've used Ole's products in the past and there are a couple I like - but I have to say, I've never liked the African Red Tea body line either (the heating cream & mask made my skin a bit rashy)... red tea's just not my bag.

Nivea SOS Lip Care SPF 15

According to Mister M, this one tastes like coal tar (erm, any idea what coal tar tastes like?)... and it's overly scented too. If it worked, this would be a small price to pay... but, it doesn't - after a sub-zero Northern weekend my lips were flakier than a coconut snowball. It's also sticky, and wind-swept hair + gluey lips is not a good look. Nope, just don't like this one at all!